Growing up in grade school, we had a very large backyard. There was nothing behind our yard except scrub brush and then woods and I used to have a blast playing in those trees.

On the edge of the scrub, next to our lawn, there was a single small tree that was almost completely covered in wild grape vines. I decided I was going to save this tree, and over the course of a summer I borrowed pruning shears from the garage, cut the vines, and started to tug them out of the tree. I even unwound individual tendrils from smaller branches. The tree didn’t immediately take off. Yet once it began to grow again, it grew quickly, more than doubling in size before we moved. Now, I’m not sure my Dad was too happy to have a huge cottonwood tree in our backyard blowing into the swimming pool, but I was certainly really proud of that tree.

In the spiritual life, we are often tempted to give up. We see things in ourselves that we wish we could change in an instant: I should be more patient, more generous, more kind. If we were those things already, surely life would be easier. Can’t we just skip the gym and go right to being strong?

Patience. Jesus today encourages patience. We do not see results instantly. And they will never arrive if we quit in despair. But for those of us who dedicate ourselves to the kingdom of God, it will bear fruit. The most reliable change is the change that takes a while to happen. What is fixed quickly can often snap back quickly the other way. If we are kind only when it is easy, then it will never become easier to be kind.

There is a second meaning to Jesus’ parables though. As we remove the vines that choke our own hearts, it’s not just our own hearts that flourish. Jesus describes a “kingdom” after all, and promises that birds will come and rest there. It can be difficult, but as we allow our hearts to be cleared of what holds them back, we become a place of rest and a sign of hope for others as well. When Christ is in our hearts, others can find him there too.

I don’t know what vines choke your heart, but I suspect you probably know all too well.  It might be an obvious sin, but it might be something like too much time in front of a screen or not listening enough when others are talking. So I would encourage you this week to reflect: what slow steady growth would you like to see in your own heart? What can you do today to cut the vines?

Peace ~ Fr. Dan

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St. Maximilian Kolbe Grief Support Group will next meet on Wednesday, June 27th, at 6pm in the East Pembroke Youth Center.  This is an informal get-together to share: the Loss of a Spouse, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Parent, Loss of a Marriage, the list can go on and on – basically we will talk about any kind of loss you are experiencing. Sharing loss and grief will help us begin to understand and heal. Spread the word, all are welcome. There is NO COST to these meetings. Let us all help each other. For more information contact Peggy Mead at (585) 201-7067, Bettina Lesh or contact the parish office.

 

Have you ever had a friend bring a meal to your family while you were ill or going through a difficult time? How did that make you feel? It’s like a burden is lifted, like getting through another day is possible. It’s a feeling of thankfulness, peace, and love. Are you interested in using your talents to meet the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ ~ our water family?

Delivering a ready-to-eat meal on someone’s doorstep during a difficult time shows unselfishness, unity, grace, and generosity. You took time out of your busy schedule to lovingly prepare a meal, take it to their home, and share in their sufferings. Isn’t that what believers in Jesus are called to do?

Here at St. Max we are happy to have begun a ministry that takes a meal to families like this that have a need. However, in order to make this work, we need volunteers that can sign up to take a family a meal once a month or once every six weeks. If you think you can help by making a meal contact Sue or Cindy at the parish office. We have a couple of families we are assisting right now. If you know of other members of our parish family that could use a helping hand once in a while, please let us know.

If you would like to help but aren’t able to cook a complete meal, here are a few suggestions that would also help:

  • Ask a friend to help you out, each make part of the meal.
  • Provide breakfast or lunch items (i.e. bagels/cream cheese, yogurt, snacks)
  • Provide a pizza, subs, take-out or a gift-card.
  • Supply drinks like juice, cider, etc.
  • Treats for family pets.
  • Paper plates, cups, paper towels, toiletries, etc.
  • Send an encouraging note or card.

After all Masses this weekend, there will be a display of handmade articles for sale including nativity scenes, crucifixes, rosaries, the Last Supper and many other beautiful religious items offered by Suhair Musleh. Because of conflict in the region, many Christian families in Bethlehem are struggling to make ends meet. Holy Land Gifts represents over 100 Christian families who make a living selling traditional olive wood handcrafts and religious articles. When you purchase one of these beautiful gifts, you are helping artisans in the Holy Land provide for their families and live and work with dignity in a region fraught with tension. Thank you for supporting this project to keep the Christians present in the holy land of Jesus birth.

Faith Formation is in need of adult volunteers, for Vacation Bible School this summer (July 9th – 13th). Please call Verna at 315-4798 or Sister Barbara at the parish office at 599-4833 for more information. No prior training is required, but all adult volunteers are REQUIRED to attend a free workshop on child safety. The next local class will be on Saturday, August 25th at 9AM at St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville. Other workshops are offered frequently, so please contact Sister Barbara or the parish office to find one convenient for you. You will not be allowed to help at VBS unless you have taken this free Protecting God’s Children workshop.

Working together to create a safe environment for our children.

Do you shop Amazon? Did you know that if you simply go to Smile.Amazon.com instead of just Amazon.com you could donate .5% of your purchase to the charity of your choice? St. Max is now a registered charity. Simply follow this link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/16-0784098 and you will automatically be giving .5% to our parish. To search for our parish by name enter: St. Maximilian Kolbe Roman Catholic Parish of Corfu NY.

We need your help in forming our teenagers in the faith. This help could take the form of being a teacher or teacher’s aide, but sharing our faith can be so much more than that. Do you volunteer at a service organization? You could help organize an afternoon of service.  Are you creative? Organizing the Live Nativity, Live Stations, or a youth retreat may be a great creative outlet. Do you like to cook? Maybe you can prepare a meal at a retreat. Would you like to teach but cannot commit to an entire academic year? Components of the curriculum can be split into semesters or trimesters so that the commitment is more manageable. The point is, regardless of how you can help, your presence and Christian example may be the best faith formation there is. Please pray about how you might be able to enhance our faith formation program in the 2018-2019 academic year and contact Joey Neth at 585-813-4382 if you feel called to offer some of your time and talent. Please note that attending the Protecting God’s Children class is required for all volunteers who will be working with youth. Check the bulletin or contact the parish office to find out about upcoming classes.