According to American Express, “Membership has its privileges.” While I usually do not consider AMEX to be a great font of spiritual wisdom, on this point at least I find myself in agreement with them. All of us have a need to belong. Even that quintessentially Protestant theologian and poet John Dunne (1572–1631) recognized that “No man is an island entire of itself.” We are incomplete by ourselves. As God states very early in the Book of Genesis, “It is not good for the man [or the woman] to be alone.” (Gen 2:18)
As Catholics we are very fortunate and blessed to belong. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (1 Peter 2:9 ). We are members of the Body of Christ, as St. Paul impresses upon us (Romans 12:5). We are a part of the Church that connects us in a real and spiritual way to over a billion believers worldwide, as well as a very real connection to all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, with the Church Triumphant (all the saints and angels in glory) and the Church Suffering (the members of the Church still undergoing cleansing and purification). One of the many privileges of our membership is the very real connection we have with Catholics and Christians all over the world, of every nation and language and race, as well as people who lived centuries and centuries before us. It is really quite mind-boggling!
This membership expresses itself in concrete and palpable ways by our membership in a particular local Church (in our case, the Diocese of Austin) gathered around our Bishop (Joe Vásquez) and even more particularly in our specific, local parish. That would, of course, be the BEST parish in the Diocese (but I may be biased), St. Austin!
With membership comes not only privileges but also responsibilities. One responsibility is to show up. We are less without you. You add something to our community that no one else can. If they could, God would not have created you. Only you can be the gift that you are to our parish, so we are always happy to have you here.
Another responsibility is to let us know you are here, which you do by registering. Next weekend at all the Masses you will be invited to re-affirm your membership in our parish. The process is very simple: sign the statement of Affirmation of Membership and turn it in. The forms are in the pews. If any of your contact information has changed in the past year, please update it on the form. If you aren’t sure, then please give us your latest info. If we already have the information, then just sign and date the form. It is as simple as that.
Finally there is the responsibility to support our parish with your gifts of time, treasure and talent. We emphasize your gifts of treasure in the Spring, and we encourage and invite your gifts of time and talent all year long. You can always go online at www.staustin.org, click on the “Stewardship & Discipleship” button near the top right, and follow the links to give or volunteer. If you have questions about supporting the parish, you can always call Ida Malina, our Director of Stewardship, at 512-477-9471 ext 325.
Glad to have you as a member!