During the month of November, many Sunday and daily readings of the holy Mass direct us to think about the “end times” and the fact that our lives are short. The gospel reading for this Sunday (Mt 25:14-30) is the “Parable of the Talents.” Many preachers tend to prepare a homily about “how we use our talents for Christ”— which is fine — but the message is particularly about the gift of faith. When God gives us the gift of faith, He is not expecting anything ordinary. Faith must be invested. It must be nurtured and shared in ways that help it grow and spread. We cannot simply wait around, avoid evil, and imagine all will be fine. True faith entails taking risks, exiting our comfort zones, and following the will of God even in the face of our human fear of failure. At the end of our lives, we will be judged by our faith in Christ and how this faith was expressed in deeds of love. If we buried our faith and it bore no fruit in our lives, then Jesus tells us we can expect a very harsh judgment (Mt 25:26-30).

Bishop Joseph Strickland will open the Diocese of Tyler’s observance of the Year of Consecrated Life with solemn vespers and benediction on Friday, November 21 at 6 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler.

Before the opening liturgy, clergy and religious from the diocese will attend a workshop focused on preparing for the Year and planning diocesan events.

Pope Francis proclaimed 2015 a Year of Consecrated Life, starting on the First Sunday of Advent, the weekend of November 29, 2014, and ending on February 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated life. The year also marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life, and Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church. Its purpose, as stated by the Vatican is to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past” while embracing “the future with hope.”

High School-aged students from across the Diocese of Tyler are invited to attend the 2015 “To the Heart” Retreat, Fr. Justin Braun, director of youth ministry, has announced.

The theme “To the Heart” is to not only to focus on keeping Christ in our heart, but also to live out our baptismal call as Catholics to witness to the truth from our hearts that are filled by the Holy Spirit. This is why we pray, “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful…”

When non-Catholics come to a Mass of Christian Burial, they often comment that Catholic funerals are the most beautiful funerals. Perhaps they are moved by the ritual, or the vestments, or the emphasis on praying for the beloved deceased, or maybe even the music and the chant. When my mother died in September 2005, Fr. McLaughlin and Fr. White celebrated the funeral rites along with several priests, seminarians and faithful of the Diocese of Tyler. My non-Catholic family members said they had never before experienced such a moving tribute. Some even said they wanted to become Catholic. It was a powerful way for my sister and me and the whole family to say goodbye, to pray for the eternal rest of my mother’s soul, and to turn to God for consolation and guidance.

The 27th national collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious will be held December 13-14 in the Diocese of Tyler. The annual, parish-based appeal is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) in Washington and benefits more than 35,000 senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests.

Last year, the Diocese of Tyler contributed $36,499.56 to this collection. Women and men religious who serve or have served in the diocese but whose communities are based elsewhere may benefit from the Retirement Fund for Religious.