First Day of a Busy Week

Reflections on forthcoming Mass readings by Tom and April Hoopes.

Oct. 28, 2007, is the 30th Sunday in ordinary time (Year C), (an alternate Sunday for Life Chain. See Oct. 31, is Halloween and Nov. 1, is All Saints’ Day — a holy day of obligation.

Parish offers “Best Practices” resources to help parishes learn from the success of other parishes. Click “Best Practices” and “Outreach” for several suggestions.

One entry highlights “Hassle-free Pilgrimages for Parishes.” All Saints’ Day is a great day to promote pilgrimage to the saints. Holy Cross parish in Flatbush, N.Y., in the Brooklyn Archdiocese suggests using Unitours pilgrimages ( to bolster parishioners’ faith without overloading pastors’ schedules. explains how to put on your own prayer vigil for All Saints’ Day. Based on the experience of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, the website offers a “how-to” lesson. To find it, go to the search field and type: Put on your own vigil.

Family has easy Halloween saints’ costumes. Just type into the search field: Costume. is a good place to go to look up every family member’s patron saint. Click on “Saints and Angels” at the bottom to find an alphabetized search key.

At dinner, talk about your favorite saint stories.

Movies Demetrius and the Gladiators is a 1954 movie that depicts Christians in Rome’s Colosseum (the first All Saints’ Day was created when relics of martyrs were returned to Rome); provides contemporary cartoon saints videos.

Sunday Readings Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 34:2-3, 17-19, 23; Second Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Gospel of Luke 18:9-14.

Our Take The readings this week ask us to make a major shift in priorities. The Gospel sums it up the best when it compares the Pharisee and the humble publican.

Let’s face it: Our prayer is often like the Pharisee’s. We pray as if we are the center of the universe — our own universe, and God’s too. “Thank you that I am not like these others, for I at least go to Mass on Sunday.”

This prayer can be an exercise in sour grapes: “Thank you that I’m not greedy like so-and-so” we say, because we haven’t been able to make as much money as so-and-so. This prayer can also come disguised as a petition when we pray “please help so-and-so convert” while we forget that we, too, need to convert. When we pray this way, we think of ourselves as the teacher’s pet in God’s classroom. When Adam and Eve first ate the fruit, it was because the serpent promised they would be “like gods.” Ever since then, our predominant sin has been the sin of pride.

We are legends in our own minds. We are so impressed with ourselves that we close off the channels God has to reach us.

We forget that God “knows no favorites” as the first reading says, but that “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” Says the Psalm: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”

In the end, though, it is only when we acknowledge our own weakness that we can say, with St. Paul, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. … The Lord stood by me and gave me strength.”

Tom and April Hoopes are editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine (