A group blog devoted to the baptismal call, spirituality, gifts, vocations, ministry, work, history, theology, evangelization, formation, bad jokes, and pastoral support of lay Christians seeking to live their faith in the 21st century.
Sponsored by the Catherine of Siena Institute --- www.siena.org.
An amazing thing is happening in a Chicagoland parish that we have worked with over the past two years. They have come up with and are implementing the most amazing parish mission statement I have ever read. This Mission Statement and Guiding Behaviors document has been worked on and discussed by the Staff and Parish Council and is now the parish's official document.
To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, offering people the means to Eternal Life in Jesus—through our sacramental life and our apostolic witness. To this end, we will form disciples and send every member out as an apostle to work for the transformation of our world—home, neighborhood, and workplace—through the power of the Holy Spirit.
1. We will prepare every parishioner to live their faith in the world as intentional disciples of Jesus Christ, recognizing their secular competence and forming them to evangelize individuals, human structures, and culture in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
2. We recognize that every baptized man and woman is called by God to a state in life and a specific work of love (vocation), and as a community pledge to help each person discern that vocation so as to answer their call from God and take personal responsibility for the Church’s mission to the world.
3. We honor the charisms and recognize their importance both in building up the Body of Christ and in fulfilling our evangelistic mission to the world. Therefore, we will help every baptized man and woman discover their charisms and help connect them with opportunities to utilize these charisms in the world and in the parish.
4. We will always strive to remain centered on the Eucharist and the Sacramental life of the Church and pledge our fidelity to the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church
5. We will take seriously Christ’s call to acts of Charity and Social Justice so as to transform the world, seeking to restore creation to all its original dignity. In particular, we will apply the gospel to issues of injustice and need in our town.
Today is also the Catherine of Siena Institute's 14th birthday. This is a snippet of a post I wrote four years ago for our 10th birthday: The Existential Cost of Love.
"Perhaps it is because the Institute just celebrated her 10th anniversary but I've been meditating upon the experience of the past 17 years since I received my call. My conclusion would have to be Dickensian: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I can hardly put into words how astonishing, fulfilling, fruitful, and graced a journey it has been overall or how demanding, relentless, exhausting, and heart-breaking large parts of it have been. People are sometimes surprised that I don't answer with simple monosyllabic enthusiasm when asked how I'm doing. That's because "good" or "great!" doesn't begin to cover the waterfront.
In this, I don't imagine that I am different from most intentional disciples (and/or parents!) in mid-life, maxed out and overwhelmed by our commitments and vocation(s) (although I am feeling unusually relaxed because I've just finished a once in a lifetime 6 week sabbatical).
It is always infinitely more complicated and cross-grained to actually live a vocation than to dream about it or even say "yes" to it at the beginning. And how many of us begin to withdraw our "yes" in small or large ways when the inevitable, chronic struggles and pain associated with any significant work of love begins to rear its ugly head. How many of us feel that there is something wrong with us, with our discernment, with our situation, with our faith, when the price of love in a fallen world comes due? (Here I am not speaking of the sort of suffering which is not an intrinsic part of our vocation(s) and should move us to appropriate change.)"
What is your experience? Where have you or are you living the exhilirating, hair-raising cost of long commitment love? What has made it possible for you to keep on keeping-on? Are there specific blessings and rewards that those who are faithful to a long obedience receive that have surprised you?
This is a good conversation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
LOL! Take a few minutes on this Feast of the Sacred Heart to watch this very clever and funny video. (The guy in the video looks so much like Fr. Mike - except that Fr. Mike is better looking, of course - and this is so like how his brain works that I couldn't shake off the feeling that I was watching him)
You may not have heard but last year, the largest Archdiocese in the US, Los Angeles, adopted the four following pastoral priorities:
To seek out and draw in the unbelieving and the unchurched,
• To foster life-long discipleship and spiritual growth,
• To assist all the baptized in the discernment of their spiritual gifts (charisms) and vocations,
• To equip and support extraordinary apostolates.
Yes, we are deeply involved on the ground in LA and with this initiative but I think it would be a terrific set of priorities for any diocese or parish. Priorities that are central to the Church's understanding of herself and her mission and yet, could be adopted easily to the varying cultures and dynamics on the ground in a given community.
"Fewer adults said faith is their top priority in the 2010 study (12%) compared to 2006 (16%), although this is a slightly better proportion than 2008 (when just 9% of adults described faith as their top objective in life). Despite the fact that more than three-quarters of adults identify themselves as Christians and nearly nine out of 10 Americans believe in God, matters of “faith” are surprisingly rare when Americans choose their highest priority in life. The types of responses categorized as “faith” include connecting with God, living consistent with their faith principles, and being at peace with God.
David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, commented on the relatively small proportion of Americans who place top emphasis on faith: “The gap is vast between self-described affiliation with Christianity and ascribing highest priority to that faith. When it comes to why so much of American religion seems merely skin-deep, this gap between what people call themselves and what they prioritize is perhaps most telling.”
Kinnaman indicated that even among some of the most actively involved faith groups, relatively small proportions of adults identify faith as their peak priority. Among Protestants (18%), churchgoers (18%), and non-evangelical born again Christians (16%) less than one-fifth identified faith as their top objective in life. The only exception seems to be evangelicals, among whom two out of every five mention that faith is their highest priority (39%). Among Catholics, just 4% mentioned faith, which is only slightly higher than the levels generated among unchurched adults (2%)."
So nearly 10 times as many evangelicals will name faith as their highest priority (39%) as Catholics (4%)?
This is gorgeous. In Poznan, Poland they celebrate the summer soltice by releasing 11,000 paper lanterns into the sky. I didn't get to visit Poznan last summer when I was in Poland but this looks like a blast!
I am going through old e-mails to make sure that I've saved all the important material and found this wonderful quote from Pope Benedict which Fr. Mike found and brought to my attention:
Our life is an open question, an incomplete project, still to be brought to fruition and realized. Each man's fundamental question is: How will this be realized—becoming man? How does one learn the art of living? Which is the path toward happiness? To evangelize means: to show this path—to teach the art of living.
Today is the 75th anniversary of G. K. Chesterton's memorial service in Westminister Cathedral. 2,000 were in attendance and Fr. Ronald Knox preached the panegyric which ended with the last stanza of Chesterton's famous poem:
After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.
The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.
For those of you who have Kindles, it is encouraging to know that much of G. K. C's work is available free online. I must download!
For those of you who are down under and those who have family and friends down under, a Called & Gifted workshop is going to be happening in Sydney in July:
Called and Gifted is a program of the Siena Institute offered in Sydney through the Catholic Adult Education Centre.
We are all called and gifted by God to fulfil a unique vocation. Through Baptism and Confirmation, every Christian receives special gifts from the Holy Spirit called charisms.
Discerning charisms can be a major clue in determining God’s plan for your life, as well as your role in God’s plan for humanity. Knowing your charisms can help you make better decisions, simplify your life, excel at work, free yourself from envy and better appreciate your family’s gifts.
The Called and Gifted Workshop is a tool for helping Catholics discern the spiritual gifts (charisms) they received at Baptism and Confirmation. These charisms are given so that we can be a source of God’s love and providence to others.
Melanie, a participant at a recent Called and Gifted Workshop, said: "The workshop proved to be transformative for me in the space of a few weeks. It was a paradigm shift - a real awakening,"
"What struck me from the beginning was that this was a structured program that let us through a process that involved deep thinking and a challenge to growth. It has a deep personal focus which led to exploring how to be more yourself for the sake of others. This was deeply revelatory"
We are all called and gifted by God to fulfil a unique vocation. Discerning charisms can be a major clue in determining God’s plan for your life, as well as your role in God’s plan for humanity. Knowing your charisms can help you make better decisions, simplify your life, excel at work, free yourself from envy and better appreciate your family’s gifts.
The workshop is run on a Friday evening and all day Saturday. Lunch on Saturday and all handouts are included in the registration cost ($85).
The workshop can be especially useful for: - "Cradle Catholics" and active parishioners - Young adults discerning career/vocational direction - Parents in assisting children live their faith and recognise their gifts - People in transition: changing jobs, empty nesters, returning to work, facing retirement - New or returning Catholics exploring what it means to live their faith as an adult - Catholics discerning a call to religious life or ordination - Parish staff and leaders who want to nurture and empower parishioners
For the registration form please email
or visit www.caec.com.au or call 02 9646 9010.
You have to see this on this Corpus Christi weekend.
In February, two Franciscan Capuchins held a Eucharistic Adoration Flash Mob in front of a busy mall in Preston, UK. They read out a powerful list of Jesus's atttributes in each book of the Bible and then call passers-by to "Come and Kneel Before Him Now". And slowly, one by one, they do. Then they begin to clap before him.
The comments on the You tube page add this information:
A small team of Catholic evangelists mingled with the crowd to hand out cards and explain what was going on. Here are some of the reactions....
"What is this about? What is happening? What is this about?"
One young girl said: "I've not seen anything like this since Church."
"Are they doing this all day? ... Will they be doing it again? ... Are they doing this any where else?"
Two young women asked: "Why does God allow hurt and pain in the world?" They agreed it was not God's fault but ours. Then they asked: "Why doesn't Jesus come again?" We explained that He is here in the form of bread, but would come again and we invited them to think about Him now.
"Is it religious? What is inside that thing?"
A man said: "What is that guy doing?" An old woman with him replied: "That's Jesus. Show respect."
"This is so moving! It is the first time I have seen it done outside. I can't wait to tell my parish priest!"
Talk about taking it to the streets!
The music behind the scenes is "Come, Now is the Time to Worship"
And a poignant side note for those familiar with English Catholic history:
The Capuchin Friars, Brs Mark, Prins & John, return to Preston after 467 years, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, to take responsibility for the Catholic Chaplaincy at the University of central Lancashire. The new Chaplaincy is on the site of the Leper Hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, founded c.1177. In about 1525 the hospital was transferred to the Franciscan Friars who left at the Dissolution in 1539.
It seems that the Franciscans aren't going to wait for students to come to them. It puts a new twist on the popular (if never said by St. Francis) adage: "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words."
I found the website of their Catholic Chaplaincy and noticed something really interesting. Adoration every morning and evening, M-F, and on Saturday & Sunday mornings. And - and this is the first time I have ever seen this in a Catholic setting - a "seeker service" at 11 am on Sunday (described as a "special Mass" for those seeking God). I have no idea how that would vary from a standard parish Mass but it is very interesting.
Obviously this community has a deeply missional focus.
The wonderful, simultaneously-erudite-and-down-to-earth Omar Gutierrez has a great piece on St. Thomas More over at his blog, Regnum Novum. The Uncompromising St. Thomas More and anything that Omar writes is very much worth your time!
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