Speaking of fabulous content, great teaching, and gorgeous location . . . How could I forget Making Disciples?
Especially since we are offering discounts for multiple attendees so you don't have to go alone?
Let's see. Fabulous content?
Do you wonder how to get Catholics in your parish or diocese excited about their faith? Are you concerned about family, friends, and parishioners who seem to have lost their faith or left the Church but don’t know how to help? you involved in pastoral ministry or evangelization? Do you work in adult faith formation, sacramental prep, stewardship or RCIA? Are you a pastor, diocesan or parish staff?
Spend 5 days at at the Institute's Making Disciples Seminar this summer learning how to really help Catholics – active or lapsed - or any adult, make the journey to intentional discipleship. And you don’t have to go it alone. Come with a friend or colleague and enjoy a discounted rate, Save even more if you bring a whole group!
The heart of Making Disciples is learning the art of pre-evangelization and an initial proclamation of Christ that calls for a deliberate personal response. Making Disciples will help you
Understand why initial discipleship precedes catechesis and how life-changing catechesis and formation builds on discipleship.
Learn how to listen for and recognize pre-discipleship stages of spiritual growth.
Learn how to facilitate the spiritual growth of those - whether baptized and “active” or not - who are not yet disciples.
Learn how to articulate the basic kerygma that awakens initial faith in a gentle and non-threatening way.
Learn how to use these skills in a wide variety of settings: RCIA/inquiry, adult faith formation, sacramental prep, spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, gifts and vocational discernment, and in relationships with your family and friends.
Fr. Mike and I and the fabulous Barbara Elliott will be there along with Joe Waters of Duke who will be interning with us this summer. Pastoral leaders from 30 dioceses in the US and Australia have attended Making Disciples (and this summer we've got an attendee from Singapore!) and come away very excited:
The concept of intentional discipleship is absolutely exciting!! The team did a great job presenting, explaining, equipping, motivating, modeling it. THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH!
The conference truly lived up to and surpassed my deepest expectations.
This was a life-changing experience for me. I don't think I have ever gone through a program where I have taken back so much.
Maximize the impact in your parish or ministry. Bring a team - and save!
Discounts for groups: $50 off the second attendee if you have separate rooms $80 off the second attendee if you share a room $100 off per person for 3rd, 4th, 5th or more attendees!!!
June 8 - 12 Benet Lake, Wisconsin at a lovely lake-side Benedictine monastery
July 27 - 31 Colorado Springs, Colorado 7,000 feet high at Mt. St. Francis retreat center, complete with deer herd and spotted fawns
August 10 - 14 Spokane, Washington at the Immaculate Heart Retreat Center.
Consider spending a bit of your summer with us preparing to take your place in the new evangelization. For more info, send an e-mail to
Everyday Joe's is in Fort Collins up north near the Wyoming border. This is how they describe themselves:
..Everyday Joe’s desires to express the presence of the Living Christ in our community. Our means of doing this is a non-profit coffee house, where fantastic coffee and great live music are simply excuses to connect with people. We strive to be a sustainable, fully disclosed, environmentally & socially responsible business model that is an example to churches & secular organizations alike. We hope to be a picture of good stewardship, generousity, & community involvement. We dream of being a source of inspiration & hope to our community through the development of the arts. We strive to be a place where the disconnected can become connected. A place where community is fostered, personal relationships are created, & Love is shown... beginning with the best coffee east of Portland.
Everyday Joe's is run almost entirely by volunteers which enables them to give their profits away to local groups like Habitat for Humanity. They regularly have live music. A local congregation meets there on Sunday morning.
I've visited another Christian coffee shop in Portland, Oregon before - but it was less "emergent church" style, more standard evangelical. But it is a great idea.
Tickets are at $15. To order tickets or for more information, please contact Dominican School Advancement at 510-883-2085 or e-mail
This really interesting formation offering happening at St. Dominic's during the month of April:
Eucharist for a Hungry World
Description We attend Mass, but it is easy for us to just go through the motions, never really experiencing it fully. The Church calls our Eucharistic Celebration the source and summit of our faith. This means that the Mass is intimately connected to who we are as the People of God. Yet, we must break open that connection if we are to truly live out its reality. Join us as we explore ways of experiencing the Mass more profoundly and praying it more authentically. We will discover how we bring our lives to the Mass, and how we carry Christ back out into the world. As we connect the Mass to our lives, we break open our identity as Christians. Join us as we seek a deeper understanding of our God, our lives, and our world.
Scott Moyer, the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Dominic's is a very gifted teacher and a long time collaborator of ours. Scott also heads up our Bay area Called & Gifted team.
For more info on Eucharist for a Hungry World, e-mail Scott at
But I have been slowly doing the preliminary work that precedes blogging - reading my e-mail.
Just came across a couple of great quotes that make a critical point that we discuss at length in every Making Disciples seminar and which I made in a spur-of-the-moment consultation last week with a couple seeking help for their parish's evangelization efforts.
They come from a post entitled Evangelization Precedes Catechesis (Yes!) from a blog simply titled "Evangelization"sponsored by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon said, “Without an evangelized heart, without falling in love with Christ -- which is really what it means to be evangelized -- the practice of the faith redounds to duty and obligation. There is only a slim possibility of persevering in the practice of a faith that is viewed primarily or exclusively this way. Perhaps those properly evangelized would not so readily leave the One they love.”
and in another post:
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. recently spoke at the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) Convention hosted by our Archdiocese and the Office of Catholic Education in which over 8,000 Catholic educators attended from across the nation and other parts of the world. Archbishop Wuerl asked us to contextualize our entire catechetical effort in the wider initiative of evangelization. He encouraged us to “envision evangelization as an indispensable point of reference for catechesis whose aim must always be to arouse faith as well as to mature and inform faith.”
Here's a modified version of my homily for this past weekend.
I love college sports, and this weekend's one of the biggest such events in the year. But I'm really an Oregon Duck fan. I was hoping that UCLA would win because they're Pac-10, but their loss doesn't crush me any more than their victory would have given me joy. It doesn't impact me.
It's possible to feel somewhat the same way about the Easter Season. For 50 days we hear the recurring theme of great joy, ecstatic exultation, alleluias, and the scriptural equivalent of "Jesus is #1" and it can feel a bit forced. I think the Gospel today helps me understand why this is so.
What's the culminating moment of today's Gospel? Jesus, while he was with the two disciples at table, took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him. This really begs the question of why "they were prevented from recognizing him" in the first place.
Just as Jesus helped the two disciples understand what had happened to him by revealing how the OT spoke consistently of him in images like Abraham's attempted sacrifice of his son, or the Passover lamb, Isaiah's suffering servant, or of Wisdom 2's description of how the wicked want to destroy the righteous one, we have to see this moment of the Gospel in terms of the OT.
There's another significant moment in the Bible in which a sharing of food opens two people's eyes. It's the first meal we encounter in the Scriptures, in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve share a meal of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil and what happens? "The eyes of both of them were opened and they recognized they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together to make loincloths for themselves."
The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil did its job. Immediately upon eating it, Adam and Eve know that what they have done is evil. They had disrupted their relationship with God. They knew they had sinned – and the first thing they do is try to hide it with a few fig leaves. This doesn't mean that our sinfulness is primarily sexual. Adam and Eve, in disobeying God, experience death, as God had promised. Not a physical death, immediately, but a theological one. They experience a separation from God, the creator of life, and they specifically hide that part of them that God gave to make them co-creators with Him, capable of bringing new life into the world.
They also hide from one another the means through which we physically express our deepest intimacy and vulnerability with each other. The next thing they do is hide themselves from God, who had created them in love and had given them everything.
And then when confronted with their sin, they attempt to hide it by blaming someone else: Eve blames the serpent because Adam beat her to the punch; but Adam doesn't just blame Eve. He says to God, "the woman, whom You put here, gave me the fruit, and I ate."
This is still a favorite ruse of ours. We hide and deny our sinfulness in a multitude of ways, behind a whole wardrobe of fig leaves that help us maintain a veneer of respectability.
The power of God's revelation to us in all of scriptures isn't that we are helped to distinguish who are sinners and who aren't. The fundamental truth that the Scriptures tell us over and over is that we are all sinners (Mary and Our Lord – the new Eve and Adam – excepted). The distinction is between those who acknowledge they are sinners and those who don't. The great saints invariably lament their sinfulness (which sounds like false modesty to us), while Jesus has a word for those who deny their sin: hypocrites. They are the Pharisees of every age who take comfort in finding a worse sinner than them; who are most concerned with enforcing law of any kind.
This is our problem – this is why our Easter joy can seem rather forced. We have lost a sense of sin and its seriousness. We are blinded to it – and that has consequences. The death of Jesus is the definitive way in which God shows us the effects of sin – and all of scripture presumes sin’s existence. If you listen carefully to the words of Mass you'll hear our sin referred to again and again. This is not because God and the Church want to make us feel bad about ourselves or give us low self-esteem, but because this is reality. Meanwhile, we postmoderns are uncomfortable talking about it, admitting it. We'll talk instead about dysfunctional families, personality flaws, addiction, even social sin – but have a hard time looking in the mirror and saying, "I sin." And if we can say, "I sin," we often don't look very hard to find the specifics! When I prepare for confession, I often find it difficult to identify more than just a few obvious sins – and it's not because I'm so holy. I could ask the people I live and work with for help filling in the gaps, but I don’t. It would be like asking people to rip away my fig leaf.
Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have spoken out so consistently against moral relativism because they have seen that it leads directly and inevitably to a denial of sin's existence.
And what, fundamentally, is sin? It's not just doing what is against God's will. 1 Pt. 18 tells us we have been ransomed from our "futile conduct handed on by our ancestors." Sin is acting in a futile way. We were created for truth, goodness, and beauty. We were made for relationship with God and one another ("It is not good that the man should be alone"). Yet we frustrate these desires by lying, by thinking violence solves problems, whether that violence is abortion, war, or simply the refusal to forgive. We frustrate our need for relationship by valuing things over people, and, in general, desiring that the world revolve around us. And the deeper futility of sin is found in our denial that we do it!
1 Pt. says that we have been ransomed from this futile way through the New Passover of Jesus' death and resurrection. And this ransoming happens in two ways, I believe, and both of them are discovered in Luke’s account of how Cleopas and his companion’s eyes are opened by the breaking and sharing of bread with Jesus (Lk 24:30-32).
Genesis 2 names two trees in the Garden of Eden: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the fruit of which opened the eyes of Adam and Eve to the fact that they had sinned. We often forget the second tree.
There is a symmetry between the snack Adam and Eve have beneath the first tree, and the meal Jesus has with Cleopas and his companion – whom, for the sake of that symmetry, I'd like to think was Cleopas' wife. When Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, their eyes were opened because they were offered the fruit of the second tree, the other tree named in the garden of Eden – the tree of Life.
St. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, told the crowds that it was impossible for physical death to hold Jesus in its throes (Acts 2:24). Why not? Simply because Jesus, the new Adam, had never sinned. There was no break in his relationship with his Father, the Author of Life. No “theological death” had ever occurred, so no mortal death could hold him. But it was this very lack of sin that led him to his death. His holiness was so intolerable because it continually confronted the so-called holy people of his days – the Pharisees, scribes, and priests - with the sinfulness they denied. In their rage – which is our rage whenever we our shown our own sin - they hung him on a tree.
But the resurrection of Jesus reveals the cross as that Tree of Life, and when the two disciples ate that bread become his body, they ate the fruit that hangs from that tree of life, and their eyes were opened – like Adam and Eve's, and they recognized HIM – they saw the marks of his wounds. They were confronted with the effects of their sin – of our sin. But the crucified one had walked with them and not condemned them. He had opened the scriptures to them, and their hearts burned within them because they learned that the scriptures do not just tell us that we are sinners. They reveal that in spite of our sin, God continually pursues us, relentlessly woos us as our Lover, even to the point of living among us and dying for us.
The fruit of the first tree showed us we sin. The fruit of the second tree shows us we are loved anyway – and forgiven. This is the first ransoming from our futile way of life. We can stop the charade of thinking we've got things under control.
But the second effect of Jesus' ransoming is even greater! When we know we are loved by someone – when they've seen us at our worst and still pursue us - we are changed. We respond with a love of our own, in some way. Being loved helps us change our behavior willingly, joyfully – sometimes in ways we would have previously thought impossible. This is why the hearts of the two disciples burned within them; why immediately after Jesus reveals their sin and his love – which is the Father's love – they change their behavior and race back to Jerusalem.
It seems ironic that in order to really be joyful in this Easter season, I have to confront my sinfulness. But then, that is what Lent is all about. If we spend our Lent reflecting upon our lives and how we muck them up with our selfishness and pride, then we’ll be able to take more responsibility for Jesus’ death on the cross – and experience the true joy of forgiveness as we encounter the Risen Lord in the breaking of the bread.
ROME, APRIL 3, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal have gathered experts in Rome to discuss charisms and their role in the Church.
A congress that began today and ends Sunday brought together bishops, theologians and lay leaders to reflect on the doctrine and practice of charisms in the Church today.
The International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, based in the Vatican, and the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships, based in Bari, Italy, collaborated with the Pontifical Council for Laity in organizing the event.
According to a communiqué from the Vatican-based organization, the congress aims to go in-depth into the teaching of the Church on charisms and how they have been exercised throughout history, from the apostolic times to the present, and especially in the charismatic renewal movement.
Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for Laity, introduced the event. Other bishops and leaders of the charismatic organizations will also offer contributions. Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, will offer a reflection on the Fathers of the Church.
Oreste Pesare, executive director of the offices of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, said, "To speak of charisms does not mean to speak only of miraculous works. […] The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly reminds us,
'Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.' [CCC 799]"
In this sense, he added, the Catholic charismatic renewal desires "that all of the realities of the Catholic Church return to a full awareness of the essential role of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers, and the beauty of the rediscovery of the gifts of the Spirit -- the charisms -- that permit us to live as sons of God in an extraordinary way for the good of the whole Church."
Snowed every night in Seattle, Bumper to bumper out of the airport. Bumper to bumper into the airport. 300 of your closest friends to party with in the security line: at noon on a Tuesday.
Had lots of good conversations and a good training, though.
And stumbled into this interesting conversation in the security line today. Ran into a couple with a small boy who were headed to the Ukraine. Why? To attend the 14th anniversary of the "largest church in Europe" - a congregation with 25,000 members in Kiev alone, founded and pastored by a 40 year old Nigerian, Sunday Adelaja.
The name of the congregation? "The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations". Embassy of God for short. Apparently this is a new name. It used to known as Word of Faith Church.
Anyway, it started 14 years ago with 7 alcoholics and drug addicts in a little apartment in Kiev. It's a classic independent congregation. Pentecostal in worship and theology. Dynamic founder who is regarded as an "apostle". The mother church has "planted" 600 churches in 45 countries (most in Ukraine and other parts of Europe) according to their website. Feeds 1-2,000 daily. Outreaches to addicts and the poor. Television programs, tons of books, etc. The mayor of Kiev attends regularly.
And it was this church's anniversary that the smiling Seattle couple were flying off to attend. She was white, he was black. They indicated that they were part of an Embassy church plant in the Puget Sound area and that after the anniversary, they hoped to go as Embassy missionaries to the Caribbean. They were obviously excited.
I had heard of this church from a traveling missionary when I was staying in a Christian hostel in London two years ago. He clearly regarded western American Christianity as dead compared to the vibrancy he had encountered in the Ukraine,.
So I looked them up on You tube and sure enough, there were a number of Embassy videos up. I have to admit I cringed while watching it. What's with the pom-pom thing? Am I to believe that this is some kind of traditional Ukrainian religious symbol? I've never been crazy about pom poms when cheerleaders wield them. I really can't handle them at worship.
Here's a BBC report on the Embassy:
Here's a church produced video of their worship, pom-poms and all.
Remember, independents like Embassy of God now make up 20% of all Christians in the world. They are larger than historic Protestantism, larger than Orthodoxy. Second only to Roman Catholics.
They aren't going away. How can and should we respond to them?