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Ground Zero in Greensburg, Kansas PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 28 May 2007 21:15

A moving piece that gives you a sense of what it is like to live through and survive a F5 tornado as the citizens of Greensburg, Kansas did recently.

From the Wichita Eagle.

Then check out these pictures from the Diocese of Dodge City.
 
Ya Gotta Take the Long View PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 28 May 2007 20:15
I've posted about the first new Maltese saint, Dun Gorg, before. He was the founder of the MUSEUM movement and a pioneer in the formation of the laity. But it has been a while and an article in the Malta Times about him made me chuckle - because the story sounds so familiar.

A century ago, in 1907, parish priest Dun Gorg set out to form the laity of Malta, a country that was nearly 100% Catholic and overwhelming uneducated. (Sherry's note: in 1907, the vast majority of lay Catholics in the world were not hanging around theological salons with the likes of Jacques Maritain. The majority were in a situation much closer to that of the Maltese than to the educated elite of the US.)

What got Dun Gorg going? Experiences like this:

On one occasion, as he was teaching catechism in church, Dun Gorg overheard the sacristan tell a group of children that God had created Himself. It was one of those incidents, it seems, that made Dun Gorg decide to gather a group of young men and prepare them to teach catechism, to found an institution for such a purpose. Dun Gorg's intention was that the society would be made up of lay people who would commit themselves to live by God's word in everyday life, and give their lives to teaching.

Dun Gorg laid emphasis on the need for people to learn the Bible, even being able to recite parts off by heart, and on the need to know the moral teachings of Christ and the Church.


And the reaction? I suppose it was entirely predictable:

Certain priests thought that moral theology should not be taught to the "ill-mannered and socially inept". A fellow priest who said he had been "teaching moral theology to boors"

Some priests opposed it because they feared that the movement was a sect that would break off from the Church.

In one town, word spread that the society's members were sick people. Mothers stopped sending their children to catechism as a result, fearing they would get some kind of disease.

Dun Gorg started being compared to Manwel Dimech, an important progressive figure at the time who led an "anti-clerical" movement called Society of the Enlightened. One of the most controversial Maltese political figures, Mr Dimech was eventually exiled and died in Alexandria.

It was feared that MUSEUM was promulgating some kind of dubious spiritual illumination.

Various members of the society testified that he took into his home "known sinners and people not pertaining to the Catholic faith".

Suspicions, according to Crispin Mangion, a member of the society whose confessor was often Dun Gorg, also derived from the fact that the priest had established contacts with a mission of a British Protestant Church. Dun Gorg's ecumenical spirit led to suspicions that his covert intention was to protestantise the Church.



Short term result?

When Archbishop Mauro Caruana asked Dun Gorg to close the houses, the MUSEUM founder obeyed immediately. But soon after the first two were closed down, a counter order arrived as the Archbishop no longer doubted Dun Gorg's intentions.


Long term result?

The MUSEUM movement was approved by the Church in 1932, 25 years after its founding.

And next Sunday, Blessed Dun Gorg Preca will be canonized at St Peter's Basilica.

I happen to be one of those Catholics who really believes what Catholics are supposed to believe: that the Second Vatican Council was led by the Holy Spirit and ultimately, a really good thing for the Church.

And stories like that of that soon-to-be-Saint Dun Gorg Preca is one of the reasons why.
 
Discussion on Orthodox Blog: The Parish: Mission or Maintenance? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 28 May 2007 19:26
Fr. Gregory, an Orthodox priest over at Koinonia, has started a discussion of our vision booklet, The Parish: Mission or Maintenance, which Fr. Michael Sweeney and I gave as presentations to theologians and seminarians at the Angelicum and North American College in 2000.

Pope John Paul II inaugurated his pontificate with this invitation to the world; now he inaugurates a new Christian millennium with the same invitation. And, throughout the Church, we are witnessing a remarkable convergence of signs of renewal of the Church in her mission to the world. The apostolic role of the laity has been resoundingly affirmed and promoted at the highest levels of the Church for the first time in our history. The Holy Father has called the whole Church to re-dedicate all her energies to the new evangelization. Lay Catholics who assume personal responsibility for the Church’s evangelical mission are emerging by the millions all over the globe. A dramatic shift in the historic relationship between clergy and laity is well underway, which has important implications for all Catholic leaders who work with lay people.

It is our conviction that, through these historic developments, the Holy Spirit is both illumining and empowering the office of the ordained, and releasing the full vigor of the lay apostolate, for the sake of Christ’s redeeming purposes in the world. But something even more unexpected is happening. As the apostolic gifts and call of the laity have become evident, the apostolic potential of the parish – the one truly universal Catholic institution and the place where ninety-eight percent of Catholics have their only contact with the Church– has also been revealed in a whole new light. No longer can the parish be simply a place where the laity receive the spiritual goods of the Church. If all lay Catholics are apostles to the world as the Church teaches, then the institutions that nourish them must become places of apostolic formation, support, and consultation. The worldwide network of parishes that has sustained the faith of lay Catholics for centuries can and must become primary centers of lay formation and outreach to the world. We would like to explore with you the theological and practical implications of this new challenge.


To read (or download) the whole of PMM, go here.

(For those of you who like to hold a text or would like to discuss it in a group - as many parish leadership teams have done -, PMM can also be ordered in dead tree version for a mere $2 through our online bookstore).

To take part in the discussion at Koinonia, go here.
Koinonia: The Parish: Mission or Maintenance?

And, of course, be sure and tell us what you think below.
 
Philip Neri and the House of Mirth PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 28 May 2007 07:13
Today is Philip Neri's Feast day as well as Memorial Day. So I thought it appropriate to link to a post on Neri that I did back in March:

Philip Neri and the House of Mirth
 
Where's an Intentional Disciple When You Need One? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 28 May 2007 05:33


This is an excerpt from an essay (click here) by David Lazarus, who writes for the San Francisco Chronicle. The article is about the pulling of what's known as an "alcopop," an entry-level drink aimed at young adults, according to the beer industry, but very attractive to underage drinkers.

There's usually a lot of partying over Memorial Day weekend. But one thing
people -- particularly young people -- aren't drinking is Spykes, a
candy-colored beverage from Anheuser-Busch that the company has pulled
from the market after criticism from consumer watchdogs and the attorneys
general of California and 28 other states.

"This is great news," said Mike Scippa, advocacy director for the Marin
Institute, a San Rafael alcohol-awareness group. "We've been pushing for
this for as long as we've known about the product."

Spykes was introduced in 2005 with virtually no traditional marketing,
relying instead on the Internet and word of mouth to generate buzz among
consumers. It became available nationwide in January.

Spykes packed a considerable wallop, with 12 percent alcohol content and a
hit of caffeine to boot. It came in flavors like Spicy Mango and Spicy
Lime, and was packaged in little 2-ounce bottles that sold for about a
dollar apiece.

In a letter earlier this month to August Busch IV, Anheuser-Busch's chief
exec, the attorneys general expressed "serious concern about your
company's promotion and sale of alcoholic energy drinks -- alcoholic
beverages that contain caffeine and other stimulants and are highly
attractive to underage youth."

Anheuser-Busch announced about a week later that it was calling a halt to
Spykes. But the company pointedly insisted that there was nothing wrong
with its product or how it was marketed.

Spykes "has not performed up to expectations," Michael Owens, an
Anheuser-Busch vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "Due to
its limited volume potential and unfounded criticism, we are ceasing
production."

He added that Spykes had been "unduly attacked by perennial anti-alcohol
groups," including the Marin Institute.

To be sure, Spykes wasn't alone among what critics call "alcopops" --
flavored alcoholic beverages that some say are designed specifically for
teenagers, especially girls (although alcohol companies say the target
market is young adults).

The American Medical Association reported in late 2004 that about a third
of teenage girls had tried alcopop drinks, and that teenage girls consumed
more alcopops than any other alcoholic beverage.

Owens at Anheuser-Busch noted that the alcopops market "has more than 50
products available ... in all colors and flavors." He said Spykes had "the
lowest alcohol content product in this market segment."

But Scippa at the Marin Institute said Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser
and Michelob beers, "has distinguished itself with egregious products and
marketing tactics."

He called Spykes "an entry-level drink, particularly for young women," and
said the product "also crossed the line into energy drinks, which young
men enjoy."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has taken a similarly
strong stand against alcopops, said that "Anheuser-Busch did the
responsible thing, if begrudgingly, by pouring its caffeinated,
child-friendly alcoholic drink known as Spykes down the drain."

"But the real question is how this ill-considered product slithered from
the drawing board to the assembly line in the first place," said George
Hacker, the group's alcohol policies director. "One also wonders whether
the company truly hit bottom with Spykes or whether it will again stoop to
market kid-friendly drinks after the furor subsides."

One has to wonder; do any Catholics work for Anheuser-Busch? Any serious Christians at all? Or even anyone asking the question, "would MY underage child be attracted to alcohol by this product?" How does a product like this get off the drawing board?

I am guessing that there were people involved who had some serious reservations, but perhaps they didn't raise any objections for fear of losing their job, or losing their promotion. Wouldn't it be great if somehow our parishes could support parishioners who want to take a stand against the development of such products, and who might lose their jobs as a result? Or better, wouldn't it be great if our parishes could support these parishioners by letting a company know that doing the wrong thing would lead to financial and public relations woes!
 
Did you hear it? PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 May 2007 15:35

Written by  Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

...the Pentecost Sequence, that is. What is the Pentecost Sequence? It is a ancient and beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit which is often set to music. The prayer is better known as Come, Holy Spirit or Veni Sancte Spiritus. Here are the words of the prayer, with verses in Latin and English:


VENI, Sancte Spiritus,et emitte caelitus lucis tuae radium.

COME, Holy Ghost,send down those beams,which sweetly flow in silent streams from Thy bright throne above.

Veni, pater pauperum,veni, dator munerum, veni, lumen cordium.

O come, Thou Father of the poor;O come, Thou source of all our store, come, fill our hearts with love.

Consolator optime, dulcis hospes animae, dulce refrigerium.

O Thou, of comforters the best, O Thou, the soul's delightful guest, the pilgrim's sweet relief.

In labore requies, in aestu temperies, in fletu solatium.

Rest art Thou in our toil, most sweet refreshment in the noonday heat; and solace in our grief.

O lux beatissima, reple cordis intima tuorum fidelium.

O blessed Light of life Thou art; fill with Thy light the inmost heart of those who hope in Thee.

Sine tuo numine, nihil est in homine, nihil est innoxium.

Without Thy Godhead nothing can have any price or worth in man, nothing can harmless be.

Lava quod est sordidum, riga quod est aridum, sana quod est saucium.

Lord, wash our sinful stains away, refresh from heaven our barren clay, our wounds and bruises heal.

Flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est frigidum, rege quod est devium.

To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow, warm with Thy fire our hearts of snow, our wandering feet recall.

Da tuis fidelibus, in te confidentibus, sacrum septenarium.

Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord, whose only hope is Thy sure word, the sevenfold gifts of grace.

Da virtutis meritum, da salutis exitum, da perenne gaudium, Amen, Alleluia.

Grant us in life Thy grace that we, in peace may die and ever be, in joy before Thy face. Amen. Alleluia.


Here is the prayer set to different musical settings:

This is my favorite. It is a beautiful setting composed by a contemporary composer, Arvo Pärt.

Here is a setting by the 15th Century composer, John Dunstable.

Here is another by an early master of polyphony, Palestrina.

For something entirely different, here is a Nordic version of the Veni Sancte Spiritus.

So, did anyone hear this piece at Mass today? Do you know what version it is?


 
A Pentecost Homily PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Sunday, 27 May 2007 13:44
This was preached by a priest ordained almost one year, Fr. Brian Dolejsi, who teaches with the Institute (as you might gather from the content of his homily). He serves a cluster of parishes in South Tacoma.

A few years ago, I went hiking with two friends. Towards the end of the second day, our trail disappeared. We are all experienced hikers but our trail simply had not been maintained and so we were a little anxious. At this point, we had hiked many hours and miles that day and planned to return to our car that afternoon. The sun was starting to set and we thought we were almost there…what to do? We knew it would be difficult to stay another night not to mention there were people waiting for us at home. We could go down a different valley, far from our car but not sure where that would lead. We could go up, which we tried but there was an impassible crevasse on the other side. Our only option was to patiently retrace our steps for a little while in search of our trail. After a few minutes, we could see the continuation of our trail up a steep incline. We had to work hard but after several minutes of effort we blazed a new trail which led us to where we needed to go. Eventually, we made it to our car some three hours later in pitch black, happy for soft seats and a warm place.

This evening, we gather as a community of faith in south Tacoma. Where are we on our journey of faith as followers of Christ? Fundamentally why are we here as parishes? Are we to thrive or to fade out? Some might say, like me and my friends we have lost the trail, the path God has called us to. My friends and I could have stayed in the same place in fear, or we could have gone another more dangerous direction of our choosing either up or down but none of these options would have helped us attain our goal. Instead, we retraced our steps a little bit to get back to common and familiar ground, then we scanned the horizon for our destination and blazed a trail to get there.

I propose this evening that we now have the opportunity to do the same. We have the opportunity to look back to remember our identity and then to scan the horizon of our faith again to see where God is leading us, to final glory and the fulfillment of the kingdom of God here and now. The only way to get there is to blaze a new trail, by having hope, working hard and together and taking courage we are moving in the right direction.

I propose nothing less than a re-evangelization of south Tacoma through our parishes. This is the new trail we must blaze through the work of the Holy Spirit. We can accomplish this by shifting our paradigm, doing what we already do in an excellent way, and in creative new ministries.

First, we need to shift our paradigm of how we see ourselves. The only reason the church exists is to evangelize. We begin with evangelizing our own and then proclaiming the good news to the local community. In turn, our parishes are not to be seen as a hospital where people only come if they have problems to be solved. We are this for many; however, we are to be centers of evangelization where we form competent lay apostles able to respond to the various needs of the local community. The model of the parish as a house of lay formation proactively meets the needs of the local community. Instead of waiting for people to come to us, we move out into the world preaching the good news that we are redeemed, that God’s grace is at work in everyone’s life and can lead us to new life. In this area, we need to start with inviting back, indeed calling back those who have fallen away from regular participation in their parishes. These may be your family, friends, or co-workers, and it will take time but unless we invite we cannot expect a return. After this, we move to the larger community of those who have no experience of the church and the presence of the Risen Christ in their lives.

Secondly, we need to renew excellence in all of our ministries to accomplish our mission of re-evangelization. Many positive ministries are already taking place with many faithful people engaged in helping proclaim the message of Christ. What I am proposing is a thorough and prayerful reflection about the quality of each ministry in our parishes. Can they be improved? Are we accomplishing what we have set out to do? Can we do a better job of showing God’s love? Are we doing our ministry not just in an adequate way but in an excellent way? In our communities, perhaps more than most places in the Puget Sound, there are people hurting, lonely, lost, fearful, and in need of a place to call home. These needs stem from lack of jobs, drugs, depression, abusive relationships, discrimination and other injustices which infect our world. Yet, it is us, the people of God, who have a message of healing and grace to offer to all. Why should we not be the ones to offer these people a message of healing and grace? Indeed, we exist to do just this, to evangelize, to propose the faith, to invite, to be the risen Christ in the lives of others.

Thirdly, we are called to create new ministries. If what we are currently doing is not helping our church grow, then things need to change. We need to start with an honest evaluation of the place when we encounter 90% of our people, the weekend masses. We need to re-evaluate and do a better job of celebrating our Sunday liturgies in an excellent way. We should have a greeter and commentator at the beginning of each mass welcoming and educating the entire community before mass even begins. Our music, preaching, and liturgical ministries should be performed in the most excellent manner possible. There should be effective advertising of our parish services and opportunities for people to easily become engaged with us. We need to invest more time, energy and resources into making our Sunday liturgies consistent moments of evangelization. I also propose we take a new parish census. This would involve a systematic assessment of the local community in south Tacoma. This takes place with a series of phone calls to those already on our parish directory, thanking those that have remained engaged and welcoming those back that have fallen away from active participation. Following this, we can move out into the local community and go door to door if necessary and welcome Catholics back or at least make personal contact with our neighbors to let them know we are here as a resource for them.

No doubt this is a great deal of work but it must be supported by my other proposed new ministry. In order to strengthen and engage all parishioners, I propose a renewal of small faith sharing communities. Many of the most active and happy Catholics I have met in these parishes are the ones who are actively engaged in a ministry which on many levels functions as a smaller community within the larger parish, enabling a sense of place, support, and ongoing spiritual growth. We need to invite all members of the parish into similar types of groups, meditating upon the Gospel and living it in our lives in a spirit of prayer. I believe that a renewal of our Sunday liturgies, a parish census, and an increase in small Christian communities as a way for us to blaze a new trail of evangelization. These ministries will help us welcome all, proclaim the risen Christ in a tangible way, and give us all a new sense of mission as the baptized…and just maybe renew our own faith experience.

Many of you might be thinking…the new priest is full of unrealistic ideas…it can't be done. My question to you would be, why can’t we do it? Are we happy with our parishes right now? Sure, there are some good people and some ministries are functioning well, but could we do more to proclaim Christ? These are things I have prayed over…if you have other ideas, let’s hear them and bring them all before the Lord in prayer and ask God to show us the way and we will gladly follow.

Actually, I beg the Holy Spirit to show us this night, do you want these parishes to survive and thrive or not? If you don’t, if this is not your will, then give us the courage and patience to accept this and to find ways in which to fulfill our vocations. However, if by chance you do…then all of us gathered here this evening shows not only who we are but what we can be. If you do want us to thrive, then Holy Spirit blow through us this evening. Renew us again just as you did for the disciples, revealing to them the presence of the Risen Christ in the Church and giving them courage and wisdom to carry out your mission in the world as apostles. Holy Spirit, enliven our minds and hearts to know and love your goodness so that renewed in our love of you we may invite others into the wonders of your mystery.

Can we respond to the needs of our local community? YES. Can we form members of the community who can live out their baptismal call for their own benefit and benefit of others? YES. Can we inspire another generation of Catholics to live and love the faith? YES. Can we re-evangelize our community? YES. We can accomplish this mission - with the help of God alone. But this has been the experience of the Church throughout generations. Trusting in God’s grace, the mission continues. Indeed this process of re-evangelization will lead to your own perfection and growth in holiness as you fulfill again the mission Christ has given you through the use of our individual and common gifts of the Holy Spirit. This will not take place over night as we know, but if we are not moving towards this, blazing a new trail, if we do not have a goal as a cluster of parishes, as individual parishes, then we are lost. We trust that nothing is impossible for God, even bringing life from death and filling the people of God with grace when we say Amen!

Many would say that these parishes are like a smoldering fire. They once were great but now they are ashes, with only a few coals burning at the bottom. But what is in the coals simmering down below but an intense heat: the faithful that have remained true, that have been consistent in their love of God and the Church. And what do we do this evening is invite the Holy Spirit to come and breathe new life into these ashes…and, just like a real fire, have those smoldering embers catch blaze again and produce light, heat and goodness…to catch fire again, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and generate a blaze that will be seen for miles, all the miles of south Tacoma. A blaze of a new trail leading to our final destination, the proclamation and the building of the kingdom of God in the world and our own perfection in love. Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit!
 
Rose Petals at Pentecost PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 27 May 2007 11:40


Over at What Does This Prayer Really Say?, you'll find some pictures of the annual Rose Petal shower at Rome's Pantheon on the Feast of Pentecost. Find all the pictures at

(http://wdtprs.com/blog/2007/05/pentecost-at-the-pantheon/)

Shout-out to Fr. Mike: Consider your options for next Pentecost!
 
Have I Strayed From God's Purpose? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 27 May 2007 10:36
Fr. Mike preached at my parish this morning (my pastor is doing mission work in the Ukraine this week)on the mission and purpose for which all of us as individuals and the Church, as a whole, has received the Holy Spirit.

Here's an apropros post from Catholic Writings on the same theme

I watched “Pirates of the Carribean : At World’s End” today. I was struck by one line that was said to Davy Jones, who used to be a man but was transformed into an octopus-like creature. Someone in the movie says to him something like: You have strayed from your purpose, and that has changed who you are.

As Christians in the world today, we each have a God-given mission in life, and we are called to stick to our purpose. There are many things, good things in fact, that can make us stray from our purpose. For example, what may have started as a good means of evangelization, such as blogging for God, may make us so obsessed with gathering more hits for the blog that we stray from our purpose. Or what may have started as an interest in liturgy may become an obsession that turns into legalism that makes us stray from our purpose. Or what may have started as a love for tradition may become an obsession with tradition that makes us intolerant of others that makes us stray from our purpose.

Our purpose is not something that we create for ourselves. Rather, it is given to us by God and discovered by us. Let us all pray for the wisdom to discern our true purpose in life, and not stray from that purpose.

 
Pentecost and Mission PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 27 May 2007 09:21
As Fr. Mike noted below, the Feast of Pentecost is not only the birthday of the Church but simultaneously the reception of supernatural power for the sake of her primary mission: to preach Christ to all and make disciples.

So just a few things to contemplate:

Michael Green in Evangelism in the Early Church points out that conversion, as we know it, was something almost totally new in the ancient world, when Christianity was born. The Roman attitude was: if you encountered some new faith that appealed to you, you simply added that new god/goddess or devotion to your pantheon - and many of these gods were "local" deities. The idea of conversion to an exclusive devotion to a single, universal God was introduced by Judiasm. So the impact - and scandal - of the "great commission" to go out and make disciples of all nations.

Most Catholics tend to think of religious identity as basically stable, that most people stay in the faith of their birth. But, as David Barrett points out, religious affiliation is, in fact, remarkably fluid. He estimates, as of 2000, that

19 million people convert to Christianity every year.

16.5 million Christians leave the faith every year!

The old saying:"God has no grandchildren" certainly comes alive when contemplating this statistic.

It is staggering to realize that 35 mlllion people move in or out of the Christian faith every year! That does imply a net gain of 2.5 million Christians every year or 69,000 new Christians every 24 hours!

In a given 24 hour period 122,000 new Christians are baptized and 37,000 new Catholics are added to the Church.

The "New Evangelization" is directed to the 16.5 million and their families who leave every year. The Mission Ad Gentes is directed toward the 19 million who will hear and be baptized for the first time this year.

And both spring from Pentecost.
 
Blessed Pentecost PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Sunday, 27 May 2007 06:29

"Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you." John 14:23, 26

The Holy Spirit is given to us not only so that we can remember what Jesus taught, but also to help us "keep his word."

For each of us, that means applying that word in the various environments and situations in which we find ourselves. The great saints are always creative people. Not necessarily artists working with marble or oil paints, but creative in terms of responding to or anticipating the needs of the humanity around them. Often they begin doing things that the rest of us look at as quixotic, idealistic, simplistic, or doomed to fail.

And then they succeed.

Or at least they make a difference in the lives they touch - a difference that is supernatural, as they use the gifts the Holy Spirit has given them so that people experience a glimpse of the healing power, love, providence, and joy of the risen Lord.

Barbara Elliott, one of our Called & GIfted teachers, and a great supporter of the Institute along with her husband, Winston, has written a book of contemporary saints who are making a difference in the inner cities of some of our largest metro areas. I encourage you to visit her website, "Street Saints," (click here) to get a glimpse of the inspiring lives of individuals who are truly living in the Spirit.

Perhaps they may inspire you to respond to a call God has placed in your heart.
 
Lots Going On This Weekend PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 26 May 2007 07:30


This three day weekend won't exactly be a holiday.

It's full. Major landscaping, wall and bed building, sand and paver ordering - all in preparation for the creation of a new patio for the emerging rustic Tuscan garden. And probably planting tons of basil for pesto and impatients as well.

This is a picture of the starter garden on Labor Day weekend last year, with a portion of the really long (70 ft?)hand-built, dry stone wall snaking erratically down one side. Imagine a really big mountain looming over it and you get the idea.

Three strong, competent men planted 4 trees in the back this week so its already beginning to feel very different. Fr. Mike, the incredible weight-lifting OP gardener, will be over shortly to haul that dirt and lift those stones.

You get occasional glimpses of enchantment to reward you for your aching back and rapidly emptying bank account. (Even done mostly by generous, unskilled, free labor and as cheaply as possible, gardening isn't cheap).

It's an act of magninimity -especially at 6,700 feet high - aspiring to do something great for God and for the community. (When your home backs onto a city park and everyone in the neighborhood gets to meditate on a daily basis upon the sun-baked desolation that passes for your backyard, gardening is a corporal work of mercy)

Also I'll be trying to finish up my section of Making Disciples on how the exercise of charisms assist spiritual seekers on the journey to discipleship. (Interesting stuff!)

And I need to race through the 390 pages of Michael Green's Evangelism in the Early Church which looks at the practice of evangelism through about the year 300 AD. Just got last night from Amazon and it looks very good!

I will be blogging - but it will be intermittant and probably full of gardening, charisms, and/or the history of evangelism - at least from me.

My partners in crime on ID, no doubt, have many varied and brilliant things to say.
 
Erin Go Bragh with Kielbasa PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Saturday, 26 May 2007 05:46
My friend Pat, a lover of all things Irish, was lamenting the loss of Irish traditional culture under the tidal wave of cash generated by the "Celtic Tiger" the other day. The next day, she sent me an interesting link to a BBC article on the influence of immigrants from Poland, of all places, on the Irish Catholic Church. It's quite a change for Ireland to become a destination for immigrants. You can link to the article by double-clicking the title of this post (which was Pat's comment in her e-mail to me!)

The Irish Catholic Church has lost influence in Irish society due to sexual scandals similar to those that occurred in the U.S. immigrants often leave their homeland in search for a better life elsewhere, as millions of Irish men and women did when they came to this land. I wonder if Polish immigrants to Ireland are holding on to their Catholic faith and Polish Catholic traditions as a way to hold on to their identity in a new, foreign culture.

A few paragraphs got me thinking, too -

"The Polish mass lasts 90 minutes and many of the faithful remain afterwards for a separate service remembering the late Pope John Paul II. It is reminiscent of an Irish Catholic Church of 20 years ago. Vibrant, busy, dedicated.

The Bishop of Cork and Ross, John Buckley, drops into the service to greet this new congregation and to urge them to support Cork in upcoming sporting events. He readily accepts that the immigrant community is a lifeline for the Church, with many Irish Catholics having left following a difficult period of public scandals.

'We have had problems in the Church, but we have dealt with them, unlike secular society,' he told the BBC News website.

'I believe Irish people still have an affiliation with their Catholic faith. The Sunday obligation to attend mass may no longer be relevant in people's lives, but on the big occasions like weddings, funerals, baptisms, the faith is still there and evident.'"

1) It's disheartening to hear a bishop to sound like he's accepting a mere "affiliation" with the faith on the part of the people of his diocese. Can he truly be comfortable with a kind of cultural Catholicism? A living faith is more than Church attendance, particularly when it's only on "big occasions."

2) The American Church has experienced the same kind of scandals. I don't know if the sexual abuse by clergy was more widespread in Ireland, but why has participation in Church and a decrease in those claiming to be Catholic decreased in Ireland, but not in the U.S.?

3) The Irish Church of 20 years ago may have had busy parishes, but something was missing if it could be in collapse so suddenly. Perhaps the missing piece was a more intentional discipleship in which the faith was lived throughout the week, and informed decisions made at the workplace, home, and even the pub.

I welcome any comments and insights you may have.
 
My favorite image of Pentecost... PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 May 2007 17:38

Written by  Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

(click image to enlarge)
...is El Greco's

 
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