The Covenant Address
I am very pleased to participate in the ongoing rollout of this wonderful activity and important moment in our parish history. As you mentioned, the 5 pillars displayed on the altar were initially presented during the 4th quarter of last year in conjunction with launch of Pope Benedict’s “Year of Faith”. These 5 pillars represent the core elements of why we are sharing this with you today…to formally introduce the Covenant at Blessed Pope John XXIII.
The foundation for this covenant began a couple of years ago as the Strategic Planning Committee focused on further promoting our parish philosophy that “all are welcome.” The parish Credo is a constant reminder of that intent and commitment to inclusion and support for all who choose to worship and grow in faith and grace in this house of the Lord.
From these activities came the realization that we needed to know more about how our members felt regarding their spiritual well-being from participation in our liturgical services and ministerial activities. That led to the administration of the Parish survey in November 2011. From the responses more than 2,000 of you provided, we were gratified to learn many of you are very pleased with the opportunities available for spiritual enrichment and satisfaction. We also learned many others wished to know more about what they could be doing to increase their sense of contribution, belonging, and spiritual growth.
With that input we began by developing the BPJ Mission Statement…the one we read prior to Mass…which clearly establishes our parish commitment toward the achievement of each individual’s religious goals. In it we pledge to assist in the personal fulfillment and spiritual development of our parishioners by engaging them in ways to live out the message of Christ as we journey to become more responsible stewards of God’s gifts.
You may be thinking this is all good, logical and probably beneficial in some way, but are also wondering how the new BPJ Covenant truly relates to our parish life. Granted, “Covenant” is not a term used very often in our daily lives, yet it can be seen as a pact, convention, contract, or simply as a promise between two parties. Well-known biblical examples, where God actively and lovingly directs His people by establishing “COVENANTS” with them, include:
- ADAM to whom God said “you must not eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge or you will surely die”. But Adam and Eve broke God’s covenant and “the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken”.
- NOAH who found favor with God “as a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time”. God then destroyed the wicked by a flood but established a covenant in which He blessed Noah and his sons and told them “increase and multiply, fill the earth”.
- ABRAHAM who showed faithfulness in obeying God’s commands. God’s covenant committed that Abraham would have millions of descendants and gave them all the land of Canaan.
- MOSES who was selected to lead his people through the desert and God proclaiming the 10 Commandments to him and saying “Hear and observe the things the Lord has commanded thee that thy days may be prolonged”.
- …and DAVID’s obedience to God was key to the success and continuity of his nation. God’s covenant promised a “King on David’s throne”. That King was to be Jesus Christ.
But God didn’t reserve His love for only a few chosen leaders. His desire to establish a personal covenant with each of us is found in many passages: “They shall be my people and I will be their God. I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and will not cease to do them good”.
And certainly the strongest expression of His love is seen very clearly in Matthew’s account of the Last Supper: “All of you drink of this; for this is my blood of the NEW COVENANT which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins”.
Isn’t it comforting to know that all of us are covered by an agreement that guarantees our Heavenly reward!! But don’t you wonder what we could be doing now to enhance personal spiritual fulfillment while achieving greater happiness and increasing our chances of celebrating eternal heavenly joy?
Similar to each of the previous examples, the new Covenant at Blessed Pope John is intended to more clearly define what you get from this parish community and what you are expected, as a faithful Catholic, to give in return. Resulting from each of us embracing the covenant will be a parish family where a greater sense of belonging occurs while growing spiritually stronger together.
Whether you are a full-time or seasonal member, this covenant clearly states the parish’s commitment to each of you while providing specific actions that can be taken throughout the year to reinforce how you worship, grow, serve, connect, and give.
You might pledge to increase frequency of worship while enriching sacramental life; to invest more time toward spiritual growth and expanding your knowledge of our Catholic faith; to support some of the church’s worthy causes or events; to live a life of gratitude; or to simply make a new friend in the parish. By commencing this covenant you can create a solemn agreement, written upon your heart, leading to a flow of God’s divine grace.
Although not everyone will initially feel comfortable committing to the covenant, especially since it is something new for us, we suggest you prayerfully review and reflect upon the true meaning of this and how it can enrich your personal and spiritual life during this Year of Faith. Please refer to this week’s bulletin which includes the actual Covenant. Accepting and embracing the true spirit of the “what do I get” and “what do I give” aspects of the covenant will be most rewarding.
Pope Benedict has urged us to…1) better understand our faith…2) to take actions giving witness to our faith and…3) to share that faith with others. The pillars of our covenant identify very clearly ways each of us can meet this summons.
The COVENANT AT BLESSED POPE JOHN XXIII is meant to focus our minds and hearts. Please think about the Blessed Pope John Covenant this week, read more about it in the bulletin, and pray for God’s grace to help us all find ways we can become better partners in His loving offer. In conclusion, consider this reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah…”I the Lord have grasped you by the hand and set you as a covenant of the people”. Much more to follow over the next couple of weeks…
Thank you for your time and attention and may God continue to bless this wonderful parish.