“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

One of the changes that happened during the summer months was an evaluation of how best to serve the worship needs of regular parishioners as well as those newcomers seeking faith and a church home. We wanted to make it as easy and as economical as possible.

We tried a number of different things and received feedback and eventually made the decision to have these weekly worship aids with music, readings and common prayers all included so that someone unfamiliar with Sunday liturgy can easily follow along and know what to do.

One thing you may not have noticed, because it is on the back page, is that it is purposely left blank for you to write notes during Mass. Listening to the readings, what word or phrase catches your attention. Is there something from the homily that you want to remember to ponder? Is there something that you want to talk about on the way home with your children or spouse?

Then you are welcome to take these home with you after mass. We print enough copies just for that purpose.

Therefore, if you want to do that this morning, I would simply ask that you write down two words to take home with you. Just two words to think about and pray about this coming week. Two words: pay attention.

Our first reading from the book of Daniel and our gospel taken from what scripture scholars refer to as the “little apocalypse” of Mark, ask and even demand that we “pay attention.”

The word “apocalypse” means to unveil or reveal. In Scripture, it refers to the revelation of one great hidden truth: the manifestation of Jesus Christ as Victor over the forces of sin and death and who now reigns as supreme Lord and judge of heaven and earth.

That one great revealed truth gives meaning to all experiences of the Christian life, especially in moments of difficulty, persecution, and even martyrdom at the hands of oppressive earthly powers, which is exactly what Mark’s community was facing.

As Catholics living in Thurston County, we are not facing physical persecution or martyrdom. Yet, we are facing opposition, ridicule, rejection of our moral values, criticism and verbal persecution on many levels. Just ask any middle school or high school student. Many societal and cultural values and attitudes are in direct opposition to biblical teaching and Catholic social and moral teaching.

Planned Parenthood is welcome into the classroom with condoms and literature for “safe sex,” the morning after pill, and how to obtain an abortion, but we cannot possibly pray in the classroom or allow youth ministers to infiltrate classroom corridors.

On a national scale, recent tax reforms favor the rich and corporations while cutting needed social services for the most vulnerable in our society. Just in case you haven’t noticed, walk through downtown Olympia and go by the transit center.

Jesus tells us to pay attention to the signs of the time. 

This was reiterated during the Second Vatican Council when the Council fathers wrote, “The church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which people ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, his explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics.” 

These words from the document Gaudium et Spes are as important for us now as they were when they were written back in 1965.

It is so easy to get distracted from what is eternally important. Our devices bombard us with so much that is passing, superficial and peripheral. We lose focus on the heart of the matter, and what lasts for eternity.

Therefore, I invite you to pay attention this week to God’s blessings. At the end of each day, sit for a few minutes and write down God’s blessings during that day.

Pay attention to God’s invitation to be a good steward of your financial resources and to share them with the parish on behalf of others by making a pledge for this coming year.

Pay attention to how you speak to one another in your family.

Pay attention for opportunities to share your faith with others and to give simple witness to Jesus Christ.

Pay attention to your children and children to your parents when they are speaking.

Pay attention to your children’s screen time. Monitor your children’s devices. It is not healthy if they are keeping secrets from you.

Pay attention to how much time you spend in prayer, in conversation with and in listening to the Lord.

Pay attention to what God is speaking to you in sacred Scripture each day.

Pay attention to how God is calling you to bring gospel values to bear at home, at school, at work and in the community.

Pay attention for the opportunities to bring the joy of the Gospel to others.

Pay attention to the blessings that God longs to pour into your heart, into your life each and every day, each and every moment.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”