Sunday, July 27, is the 17th Sunday in ordinary time (Year A, Cycle II). Pope Benedict will recite the noon Angelus at Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence.

Parish offers Best Practices helps for parishes.

St. Michael Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis understands the importance of missionary trips.

Once children (and adults!) actually put their faith at the service of others, they take their faith to heart.

Tupy heard about the Catholic Heart Workcamp weeks. The weeks include time for prayer, Mass, confession, worship and fellowship, along with a daily work schedule that runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The students help elderly or low-income housing owners complete projects: painting, fix-it jobs, cleaning, yard work, etc.

See ePriest for more details.


Today’s Gospel suggests an idea for the family this weekend: A mega treasure hunt.

Tom did this once for our children on a Saturday. We planned to go to Groton, Conn., and visit the U.S. Navy Submarine Force Museum. We planned to begin the day with Mass. But we didn’t tell the kids.

At the church we planned to attend for Mass, there is a statue of St. Martin de Porres. Tom went to the church ahead of time and hid a series of rhymed directions under the statue.

We told the children about St. Martin de Porres on Friday night. The next morning, the kids woke up to find instructions by their pillows inviting them to begin a treasure hunt by looking under the statue of a Peruvian Dominican.

The kids knew who that was, so we went to look — at 7:30 a.m. Mass. We found the directions for the rest of the day. The series of clues first directed us to go to Dunkin’ Donuts after Mass. After that, they asked us to go north on Interstate 95. The children didn’t understand that direction but, luckily, their parents did.

Finally, the trail ended at the museum, where we found the solution to several riddles left under the statue: What is the land of the blue midgets? The front lawn of the museum, with its midget submarines. What is the underwater home? The U.S.S. Nautilus, a submarine visitors are invited to stroll through.


1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-130; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46 offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take

An old children’s book offers a key to Gospel readings like this Sunday’s that are about the Kingdom of heaven.

“The Kingdom is the Church,” it repeats, again and again. And it’s true. The Kingdom of heaven is with us already in the Church. As we saw in last Sunday’s Gospel, that Kingdom has both wheat and weeds. As we hear today, it has both wicked and righteous people.

But the overwhelming reality of the Church is its slow, steady movement toward God. We recite in the Creed that the Church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” The Church is holy not because it’s free of weeds or bad fish — we all know it has its share. The Church is holy in its origin (Christ) and its ends (heaven).

To take a lesson from today’s first reading, the Church is holy because, through it, we effortlessly get the gift that Solomon got. He could have had any riches he wanted, but he asked for wisdom. In baptism, confirmation and the other sacraments, we’re given the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, counsel, understanding, knowledge, fear of the Lord, piety and courage.

These are the treasures we find in the Church. Just as Solomon passed up riches for wisdom, Christ compares the gifts the Church gives us to spectacular treasures found in a field or a great pearl found in an oyster. You would sell everything to buy that field. A merchant would divest himself of lots of lesser pearls to obtain that great one.

So must it be with us. The gifts of the Holy Spirit lead inexorably to interior peace in this life and heaven and eternal bliss in the next.

The question to ask is: Just what will we be willing to give up in order to get these great gifts? And then, specifically: What must we give up before we can have them?

The Hoopeses are

editorial directors of

Faith & Family magazine (