Sunday, Sept. 7 is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Pope Benedict XVI plans to make a one-day trip to the Italian island of Sardinia, the largest island in the Mediterranean.


Parish

EPriest.com offers “Best Practices” submitted by parishes.

With September here and the holiday season looming ahead, it’s a perfect time to look at the program practiced by Our Lady of the Way in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia.

St. Augustine became Catholic after the insistent prayers of his mother, St. Monica, whose feast day is Aug. 27.

The Catholics Returning Home program “provides a very practical strategy to welcome Catholics back to full and active participation in the life of their local faith communities,” says Archbishop John Barthesby.

The program gives three major promotional campaigns per year: before Christmas, during Lent and in the late summer. The same six-week follow-up series is repeated each time.

Participants are introduced to the faith through support-group formatted sessions that gently tell them everything they need to know. See the EPriest website for more details.


Family

Sept. 8 is Our Lady’s birthday. It’s our long-standing custom to treat this like any other birthday. We make a cake, we have birthday candles, we sing “Happy Birthday” and make a special dinner. The kids even sometimes make birthday cards for the occasion. The one thing we haven’t done to celebrate is don party hats.


Readings

Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20

EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.


Our Take

Today’s Gospel is unusual for two reasons: First, while most Gospels give us glimpses of uniquely divine wisdom, this one gives us basic human wisdom. And second, even though Jesus’ advice is simply good manners, it is one of the most difficult commands in the Gospels.

The advice: If you have an accusation to make, or a sin to confront someone with, you should first bring it to that person’s attention.

If that doesn’t work, find someone who shares your complaint and speak to the person.

Only when that doesn’t work either do you escalate your response by going to “officialdom,” which in this case is the Church.

But don’t we all tend to want to do this in backwards order?

If a priest says something we don’t like, we don’t speak to him about it. We speak to everyone else, and maybe even send a letter off to the bishop.

If a parish lay leader makes an error in judgment, we would rather report him to the pastor than speak to him about it directly.

It happens at work, in little league teams, in pro-life groups, in our families and circles of friends. It’s not only wrong, it’s ineffective. As an excuse, we decide that the person at fault is too far gone and won’t be interested in what we say.

But you’d be surprised how often someone will accept correction when he hears it honestly and charitably. What he is less likely to respond to is a word from on high about something no one has ever addressed in person, and even less so, a campaign of whispers and rumors and tales about his behavior.

The first reading adds another difficult dimension. It says you have no choice. Like it or not, you must speak to sinners. If you know the full import of their sins, and you don’t speak out about it, you share their guilt.

Saints from John the Baptist to Thomas More gave their lives for the principle that you must speak out to avoid guilt.

Pray to them for the strength.