E-Flame Newsletter December 2017
We warmly welcome you and thank you for subscribing to receive the  Ignite Your Faith  E-Flame newsletter. Each month, you will find information on current and past events, articles to cultivate your faith life, and a calendar of upcoming generosity, study, and prayer opportunities. We invite you to use this email as a one-stop resource center in Igniting Your Faith. 
Ignite Your Generosity!

8 Week Generosity Challenge

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
-Rabindranath Tagore-

Here are a few examples of acts of kindness taken from the challenge container in the gathering space

*Generous to the environment: 
Shorter showers to save water*

*Generous to the global community: 
Packed food at  Feed My Starving Children*

*Generous in my local community: 
Helped a neighbor after surgery*

*Generous with money:
Gave money to a friend for car repairs*

Can you believe that we are only one week away from the end of our 8 week generosity challenge? Wow! We have been challenged to look at generosity from many different perspectives; with our words, at work or school, in our environment, in our families, in our greater communities, through giving/money, with global sharing, and lastly (my personal favorite) with our time. 

With all these unique ways of being generous I wonder how you did with the challenge? Is your booklet almost empty or did you only get a chance to complete one or two acts of kindness? If you were not successful with completing the whole challenge, there is one week left... that means you still have time! I challenge you to be brave this week and to do one act of kindness, write it on one of the extra sheets of paper at the information desk and place it in the container.

Be a part of the St. Bart's generosity challenge! 
God knows your heart and with each act no matter the size,
He is well pleased.
Calendar of Events

Use our calendar of events to plan your generosity! 
*Be generous and invite others to be filled with the beautiful gift of sacred music!
A Festival of Lessons and Carols
Friday, December 15th, 7:00 PM-8:30 PM 
For more information, CLICK HERE

*Be generous to others and invite them to be a part of a miracle-the miracle of our Lord Jesus present in the Eucharist at mass as we celebrate His birth.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses
Sunday December 24, 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 10:00 PM
Monday December 25, 10:30 AM
For more information, CLICK HERE

*Show your generosity out in our local community provide others with one of the corporal works of mercy!
IOCP Food Shelf
Wednesday, December 27th, 5:30 PM-8:00 PM
CLICK HERE to sign up

Deacon Rick's Generosity Presentation 
"Seeing The Good in Others, Doing Good For Others"
By Victoria Siedlecki

The week of Thanksgiving at St. Bart's started with Deacon Rick Witucki giving an hour-long presentation , which actually felt like a fire-side chat, that included master storytelling and a variety  of examples of generous saints that can provide us with inspiration  to grow our own generous hearts. 

Besides the examples that we have heard many times throughout the generosity phase, Deacon Rick held St. Mother Teresa as a shining example of a giving and generous person. She knew what it took to be a servant of Jesus, of real generosity, and as Deacon Rick said, "She walked the walk." Many times Deacon Rick has quoted Mother Teresa and has been inspired by her faith and love in Jesus, and her giving spirit, and in turn this has supported him in his own generosity. Let us adopt Mother Teresa or another saint as a generous spiritual friend that can help nurture our hearts to love like Jesus. 

Of course, the most prominent example of generosity in history, (and forever will be) our Lord Jesus Christ. One example from scripture that permanently places Jesus at the center of our lives and a model to follow is found in Matthew 22:36-40. His death on the cross, His sacrifice, His love is the only reason we need to be generous people. 

36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a]  38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b]  40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

As the hour was coming to a close, Deacon Rick shared a story with the 60 or so listeners that actually inspired one of them to be brave in the name of generosity. One of the real ways that we can be like Mother Teresa and Jesus and "walk the walk" is to place ourselves around people who need help the most. 

Deacon Rick shared the story of how he and a friend were walking in downtown Minneapolis and passed by a person holding a sign that asked by-passers for money. The friend opened their wallet  and gave the person with the sign a 5 dollar bill. The friend didn't need to know what the money was being used for, all that mattered was that when given the opportunity to give, they gave, no questions asked. No opportunity should be wasted on judgment or fear when the Lord Jesus has commanded us to love others. Mother Teresa guides us by saying, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them." In turn, Deacon Rick was recently reminded of the example of love and was able to emulate the same act of kindness while downtown Minneapolis for a football game.

Read below the testimony of a similar act of kindness done by one of the listeners to Deacon Rick's presentation. "As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." Nelson Mandela.

Based on Deacon Rick's presentation, I did something I have never done.  There was a 40ish woman with a sign saying she was homeless and needed money on the exit off of 494 to 55.  I made contact with her - and then the traffic started to move.  She literally ran over as I was grabbing my wallet.  I only had a $20 bill - so handed that to her quickly as I had to move with the traffic.  She looked at the bill and had tears in her eyes and expressed so much gratitude.  I would not have done that had it none been for Deacon Rick's presentation last week.
Are We People or Disciples? 
New Pastor Secretly Poses As Homeless Man
New Pastor Secretly Poses
As Homeless Man

Inspirational Quote
Receiving Jesus  
Welcome Jesus This Season by Learning 
How to Receive Before Giving
Victoria Siedlecki

"To let yourself be loved means breaking down your walls of self-sufficiency and letting yourself need and opening your hands to receive." -Ann Voskamp
I've been pondering my capacity for giving and I've realized that I've been missing a major piece of the spiritual puzzle that actually doesn't start with how I give, but instead with how I receive. I can't help but question the idea of receiving other people's kind acts and, most importantly, how I will prepare myself to receive Jesus on Christmas.

After much prayerful, spiritual struggle trying to clearly hear the Holy Spirit, this is how I see one way of following the giving and receiving instruction manual.

I imagine I am a vessel, and in order to be used by God, I must be empty. To be emptied, I embrace prayer, silence, reflection, and saying yes to God's will. Once I'm emptied, I can fully receive Jesus; his love, his words, his gifts, his grace, and many times this also means I can receive Jesus in others. Lastly, I'm filled up by all Jesus gives me and be so overflowing with love and joy that I cannot help but "pour" it into others. Just like at the foot washing on the night of the last supper, Peter taught us that one must receive from Christ himself first, then be the example and go out to love others fully. 

In the spirit of giving and receiving, we can also take a look at the story of Mary and Martha. Below you will find Father Mike Schmitz making sure we understand that Mary and Martha both were doing the right thing. We should be servants to others, but let us not forget that God is calling us to be aware of his son Jesus and to receive from him first.

My prayer for you this advent and Christmas season is that you might humbly find ways to empty yourself, so that you can be filled up with Jesus, who is "the way, the truth, and the life" and in turn love others more fully, only so that you can live wholeheartedly with Emmanuel, Christ with us.

Generosity Testimony  
Generosity in Times of Trouble
By Graeme Braithwaite

Several years ago, I was faced with a lengthy period of unemployment.  During this time, a woman who I had befriended at church generously offered me a part time job.  Her husband had just passed away and left her with the immense responsibility of their family business.  She needed a lot of help with property management, accounting, and administrative tasks.

We both recognized that God was at work with some divine intervention for both of us.   As she grieved the loss of her husband and I grieved the loss of my job, God put us together to get us through this time of trouble.  To help her through such a difficult transition, I generously offered her all the time I could give while I searched for a new position.  She generously offered me a paycheck to get me through financial hardship.  I needed her and she needed me. 

Our friendship and our working relationship were based on our faith in God to get us through.  In His generosity, He helped us to recognize the needs of the other and how, even though times were tough, we, too, could still be generous with one another.  I still pray for this woman every day, and thank God for so generously putting her in my life.

Inspirational Video 

Generosity Is Gratitude In Action
Generosity Is Gratitude In Action

Past bulletin article written by Shelly Dau
"Gratitude and Generosity Go Hand in Hand"
Generosity Testimony  
As a Catholic, I am called to be generous with my time, my treasure, and my talent within my community and our global church.  So, how can I discern the sharing of time, treasure, and talent when no less than 50 respectable charitable causes, in addition to supporting my parish, capture my attention on an annual basis?  Proclaiming my belief in one holy catholic and apostolic Church allows me to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide, sustain and replenish my efforts in responding to the mission of the Church.  

Furthermore, recalling the message of Mary DeTurris Poust (from our advent reflections booklet)--embrace the Eucharist! "Jesus gave Himself in abundance because He knows we need sustenance." My time, my treasure, my talent are gifts from God that I gratefully offer back to Him to use as He sees fit. I volunteer at Centro Guadalupano (a program that helps immigrants learn English at Holy Rosary parish) and with MN trafficking justice (supporting restoration efforts for those afflicted by sex trafficking).  Additionally, I support our archdiocesan schools as a substitute teacher.   

Also,  I believe that any contributions of time, treasure and talent-- such as putting a friend's needs before one's own or giving out gift cards for meals to the homeless while waiting at a stoplight are actually grand gestures of generosity to our Creator and Sustainer.  Mary Jo Copeland summed it best. "YOU may be the WHOLE WORLD to someone in need."

-Carolyn Ondrey, St. Bart's parishioner-