Every time Mass is celebrated, a miracle takes place right before our eyes, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. When the priest prays that the Holy Spirit make holy unleavened bread and ordinary wine, they are transformed into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. What mystery we celebrate and proclaim as a Catholic Church.

Faith is essential to what do not see. Yet, there are numerous miracles such as Lanciano, Italy in the 8th century that help us see.  While celebrating Mass the host changed shape and began to look like real flesh and the wine took on the attributes of real blood. Scientific research has revealed that the flesh consists of muscular tissue from a human heart and the blood type is the same as the blood on the Shroud of Turin.

This Eucharistic miracle happens each time we celebrate Mass, each time we gather as the Body of Christ and are sent out to be the Body of Christ for a hungry world.

Our Faithraising Campaign: “House of God, Gate to Heaven – Sharing Christ’s Light in our world” is our 2017 response to this feast. I want to answer three questions about the campaign: Why? What is it about? Why now?

Why? Simple answer: Jesus. Ultimately, it is all about Jesus, to proclaim him and his great love – a task that is incredibly profound and overwhelming.

Why? Because of ministry. “Go, make disciples.” “Whenever you did this to the least of my sisters and brothers, you did it to me.”

Why? Another answer is in response to question like this that I hear all the time: “Where are we going to put the mattresses, pillows, sheets and blankets for the men’s shelter, and the tables for hospitality on Sunday, and the sound cart for funerals and Sunday Mass and Life Teen, and, and, and…”

A personal answer to why is my first Holy Communion and St. John Vianney.

What are the pieces of the project?  Most of you have seen the video or have looked through the campaign brochure. Each piece in its own way speaks of a pervasive sense of welcome, we are glad you are here, we want to share our lives together and to be nourished by the Holy Eucharist and sent forth to share Christ’s light in our world.

A newly added piece to the project is providing a shower for the Men’s Shelter.

Our buildings ought to speak our mission and support our ministries. We yearn for great beauty that captivates and speaks to hearts and souls of seekers.

As disciples of Jesus, we need to have our souls uplifted, our hearts and minds nourished by age old ritual and worship that is truly life-giving, full, conscious and active for us each Sunday.

Why now? Because Pope St. John Paul II has called us to a new evangelization and Pope Francis has challenged us to embody the “joy of the Gospel.”

Because 72% of Thurston County claims no church affiliation.

Because our local community, our nation and our world needs the light of Christ that is proclaimed and lived at St. Michael Parish to shine into the darkness of fear, poverty, hatred, discrimination, greed, selfishness, relativism and secularism.

Because we need to become more and more transformed into missionary disciples for the salvation of souls.

Why now? I mentioned my first Holy Communion. It was then that I felt the first stirrings to priesthood. I was only seven years old. I never could have expected what God has done for me, with me and through me since then. Through the years, I have learned to listen to his voice in the stirring of my heart.

Many of you heard my story a few weeks back. It occurred a little over a year ago. I happened to be walking through the church on a sunny morning thinking about our next Building Committee meeting. We were going to talk about more storage and replacing our tired carpet. No big deal.

I stopped to bow to the altar and say hello to Jesus. I paused and looked at Jesus on the cross. The sun was casting a beautiful light on the bronze corpus. Then I took a good, long look around. It was then that I heard these words, “Make my house beautiful, Jim.”

I just stood there – looking, wondering, and pondering. As I have said, I did not share that experience with anyone, except my spiritual director because it was simply too overwhelming for me. It seemed too personal to talk about publically. Yet, that is why we are here tonight, because of that encounter with Jesus on that sunny morning.

I am no mystic and certainly no prophet. Yet I deeply believe that it is no accident that you and I live at this moment in history here at St. Michael Parish, Olympia, WA, and that God has a vision for us even more glorious than our parish Vision 2026.

Why now?  Because of a friend of mine. Part of my daily prayer each morning comes from this worn pamphlet of prayers to St. John Marie Vianney, patron saint of parish priests. It sits next to this second-class relic of St. John Vianney given to me by a parishioner.

Allow me to share what I prayed this morning:

“O holy priest of Ars, you lived in an age of much upheaval, in a time when people turned their backs on God. Your bishop assigned you to Ars and said that you would be the priest who would enable the people to know the love of God.

Not only did you draw these people back to God, but your saintly reputation soon spread and man people were converted to a life of holiness. You said that a good priest, a priest after Christ’s own heart is the greatest treasure that God can give a parish.

O great St. John Vianney, once again we are living in days of upheaval. There is much evil in the world. Obtain for me the grace to persevere in my faith and never to despair. May I walk with the Lord and trust in Him all the days of my life. Obtain through your heavenly intercession, for all priests, religious and seminarians, the grace of modeling their lives after that of Jesus Christ. We need, more than ever, priests full of the love of God, able to bring the world to Christ. Pray for good priests, O great priest of Ars.”

I am not a great priest by a long shot, but I strive to be a good priest full of the love of God, bringing Christ to the world.

As I have prayed and discerned these past months about what God is asking of me for our Faithraising Campaign, what would be sacrificial for me, I heard God give me a figure that literally took my breath away, frightened me and made me literally get up from prayer, thinking, “No way, Lord! I can’t do that.”

Yet, I knew God could. I would have to trust deeper.

Like each of our witness speakers there past three weeks at Mass, I have continued to pray about what my financial commitment would be to our Faithraising Campaign mindful of Equal Sacrifice, not Equal Gifts.

Thanks to Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University, I have no debt. I have savings for retirement – which when I look at Fr. Treacy I’m not sure will ever happen. My budget is simple because my needs are simple.

My salary is about $33,000 a year before taxes, which are 28% off the top for a single person, self-employed. I receive a food and car allowance and my housing is included. I have medical, dental and retirement as part of my compensation package – all determined by the Archdiocese. I am blessed. I have more than I need.

In my stewardship plan, I presently give away close to 20% of what I have left each month to the parish, the school, Pope John Paul II High School, the Annual Catholic Appeal, CCS, Catholic Charities, Maryknoll and numerous other charities. And I still have more money than I need.

I share all this with you because I want to be transparent. But most of all, I want to give praise to God for how God has blessed me and continues to bless me. I feel so undeserving.

I want to be obedient to the Lord and to sacrifice what I believe God is asking. What money I have is not my money. I’m only the steward, the manager of what God has given me. God will give me what I need if God is asking it of me. That is God’s promise, not only to me, but to all of us.

Back to that morning in prayer a few months ago. I felt God asking me to commit $25,000 to our Faithraising Campaign over the next three years in addition to my regular stewardship. As I said, I gasped at the amount. Yet, since then, the Lord has shown me how I can be even more generous over and above this amount. I know it might sound a bit crazy, but I can’t tell you the immense joy this has brought me. Asked by God to be part of God’s awesome plan, all I can say is “yes.”

Allow God to stretch your heart today. Allow God to take you into deeper trust than you have ever experienced as you make your financial gift. If God is asking you to stretch beyond what you thought you would pledge, do not be afraid. Give God your heart and truly experience God’s exquisite joy.

I am overwhelmed to announce to you that the Faithraising Campaign Cabinet Directors and some other parishioners have already pledged $1,357,333. Together with a few special designated gifts and bequests, we have a total pledged of $1,556,859. We are well on our way and we need each of you to help achieve our goals.

Would the folks at the ends of the pews please take these commitment cards, take one and then pass them down.

If you were not at the celebration dinners, now is your opportunity to make a financial commitment for the next three years over and above your regular weekly giving.

Please write your name and address, the amount and how you would like to pay for that. Then please place them in the offertory basket along with your regular offering. Thank you.