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Prayer Please PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 14 August 2009 07:16
Fr. Mike had to leave Omaha last night because his father, Ted, has unfortunately taken a turn for the worse.

So I'm off to Omaha in a few to do the day for RCIA leaders that he wrote. I can hardly wait to see the actual slides (waiting for me in Omaha) and figure out what I'm supposed to be saying!

Your prayers all round would be most gratefully received.

One mysterious bright note: When I called my faithful friends at Northwest to see if (per impossible) I could get a ticket to Omaha for the next day, the woman who helped me originally quoted me a price of over $1,000. After I gulped and said "yes" (because what were my options at that point?) she exclaimed:

"Wait. My computer is doing something really unusual. It has just dropped the price of that same ticket by $400! I've never seen anything like that before! Someone is looking out for you."

Thank God.

Please pray for God's mercy, comfort, peace, and healing to cover Ted Fones, his wife, Melba, his daughter, Barb, and his sons, Fr. Mike, and Dave.
 
The Gap, Part Deux PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 14 August 2009 06:21
There has been some interesting comments below on the post "Negotiating the Gap" but one in particular cried out for a specific response. I had started this before I found out last night that Fr. Mike's dad has taken a turn for the worse and I had to fly to Omaha today. So this is less comprehensive that it should and could be but I thought I'd start with what I had.

Peter Nixon wrote: " there are a LOT of assumptions there that I have issues with (e.g. the idea that one is more likely to find disciples at evangelical churches".

My response:

Peter:

After 21 years as a Catholic, having worked directly with 40,000 Catholics in nearly 100 dioceses on 5 continents, with hundreds of clergy and thousands of pastoral leaders of all kinds in hundreds of individual parishes and having personally listened to thousands of regular Joe and Jane Catholics talk about their actual lived relationship with God, I can tell you without a shred of hesitation that you are more likely to find disciples in the average evangelical church than in the average Catholic parish. Hands down. No comparison.

This is NOT because evangelicals are made of different stuff (hardly since large numbers of them were baptized Catholic as babies). It’s that they do behave, communally and institutionally, on all levels as though the intentional discipleship of all should and must be normative or there simply is no point in doing church.

Notice I’m NOT saying that all their members are, in fact, disciples! Evangelicals would be the first to tell you that’s not the case. But I’m saying that universal discipleship is the central, normative goal at the heart of practically all they do. It is the throbbing heart of their culture.

Therefore, they talk constantly about it, pray about it, wrestle with it, agonize over it, structure around it, and program around it. Millions of their best and brightest have spent lifetimes in the study and practice of evangelism and the basic formation of disciples. The completely predictable result is: they are much more likely to have developed local cultures of discipleship than we are.

Mission outward, and making disciples is their passion and genius. They approach the practical art of evangelism and the formation of disciples the way we approach theology and philosophy and liturgy. They give it the absolute best of their energies, resources, creativity, time, and personnel. We don’t. In many ways, we have a better, more nuanced, more sophisticated theology of evangelization than they do, but institutionally and practically, fostering the intentional discipleship of all the baptized is hardly on our mental map. It’s that simple.

For example, there are 283 Master’s level degrees in missions, evangelism, or cross-cultural studies in the US alone. (And many hundreds of similar programs all over the world.) 5 are Catholic, 2 are Orthodox, there is a sprinkling of main-line Protestants and the rest are evangelical. The same percentages are true of the 76 doctoral programs in missions or evangelism in the US. 2 are Catholic, 1 is Orthodox. Catholics have one pontifical degree program in evangelization in the world – at Sacred Heart in Detroit where I taught last month.

26% of American adults identify as evangelicals. 24% as Catholics. Our numbers are nearly identical but they have nearly 50 times as many graduate programs in mission and evangelization as we do. Think of the incredible amount of academic, institutional, cultural, and financial support that it takes for the evangelical community to support 270 graduate level academic programs with one basic focus. A community that does that sort of thing is a community who is very serious about that sort of thing. Why should we be surprised that they are manifestly better than we are at the thing they spend most of their time and energy doing - and we ignore?

Last year, when the Pew US Religious Landscape Survey came out, I did an comparison of the responses of Catholics and evangelicals across the board. I’ve never talked about it publically because simply the results were pretty stunning and I knew that few Catholics can bear to take in the whole picture. But this discussion seems like a good time to revisit the topic.

In practically every area related to personal faith and practice that Pew studied, evangelicals trounced us convincingly: including belief in God, the involvement of men in congregations (and women and in every age bracket as well), the religious practice of young adults, looking to religious teaching for guidance when making a moral decision, and opposition to abortion. They even came out ahead in areas that we are famous for. Here are a few selected results (to keep this post within reason)

Q: Does God exist?

Catholics:
Absolutely certain 72%
Fairly certain 21%

Evangelicals:
Absolutely certain 90%
Fairly certain 8%

Q: Religion important in life?

Catholic
Very 56%
Some 34%
Not 9%

Men 48%
Women 63%
18-29 45%
30-49 54%
50-64 57%
65+ 72%

Evangelical
Very 79%
Some 17%
Not 3%

Men 74%
Women 83%

18-29 71%
30-49 77%
50-64 81%
65+ 86%

Q: View God as personal God with whom you can have a relationship?

Catholic
60%

Evangelical
79%

Q: View God as impersonal force?

Catholic
29%

Evangelical
17%

Q: Attend services at least once a week?

Catholic
All 42%

Men 36%
Women 45%

18-29 34%
30-49 36%
50-64 42%
65+ 62%

Evangelical
All 58%

Men 54%
Women 62%

18-29 54%
30-49 57%
50-64 59%
65 + 65%

Note: The biggest attendance generation gap for all US religious groups is among Catholics: 62% of those 65 and older attend Mass at least once a week, only 34% of Catholics under 30 do so.


Q: Formal Membership in Religious Congregation? (registered)

Catholic
Yes 67%
No 32%

Evangelical
Yes 74%
No 26%

Q: Pray and Meditate Each Week?

Catholic
Pray 79%
Meditate 36%

Evangelical
Pray 92%
Meditate 46%

Q: Scripture Reading Outside Services?

Catholic
Weekly 21%
Monthly 21%
Seldom/Never 57%

Evangelical
Weekly 60%
Monthly 18%
Seldom/Never 21%

Q: Share Faith or View of God?

Catholic
Weekly 14%
Monthly 9%
Yearly 13%
Seldom/never 62%


Evangelical
Weekly 34%
Monthly 18%
Yearly 16%
Seldom/never 29%

Q: Receive Answers to Prayer?

Catholic
1x/more/week 15%
1,2x/month 11%
Several times/yr 20%
Seldom/never 31%

Evangelical
1x/more/week 29%
1,2x/month 17%
Several times/year 22%
Seldom/never 16%

Q: Source of guidance regarding moral decisions/right and wrong

Catholic
Religious teaching 22%
Philosophy/Reason 10%
Practical Experience/
Common Sense 57%

Scientific Knowledge 7%
Don’t Know 5%


Evangelical
Religious teaching 52%
Philosophy/Reason 4%
Practical Experience/
Common Sense 39%

Scientific Knowledge 2%
Don’t Know 3%

My comments to myself at the time:

For a Christian body that prides itself on a rich and sophisticated teaching Tradition, 22% (for religious teaching) seems really low for Catholics and 30 points below that of evangelicals. Again, the approach of Catholics seems remarkably similar to that of “religious” unaffiliated. Here we see clearly the difference that an emphasis on intentional discipleship and formation makes.

“Practical experience and common sense” of course, is the category most likely to be heavily colored by the popular culture and wisdom of our day which is 35 points higher than religious teaching for Catholics, while for evangelicals, religious teaching is 13 points higher than “practical experience”. The result: Catholics, as whole, are much less likely to have a basis to question and judge the norms of our popular culture and so be counter-cultural while evangelicals are more likely to approach the culture from a independent, even critical stance.

Q: Abortion Wrong?

Catholic
Abortion 45%

Evangelical
Abortion 61%

Note: These results seem to be directly related to the realities above. Especially noteworthy is the difference on abortion because Catholicism is completely, adamantly, and famously pro-life and the subject has been so highlighted in the past two elections while evangelical teaching and leadership is not unified on the topic.
 
Negotiating the Gap PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 13 August 2009 10:26
I get some very interesting questions, such as this one last night from parish staff member and alum of our Making Disciples seminar:

A little history: A woman who is our women's bible study leader, who is very dynamic and is an intentional disciple with a charism of pastoring or teaching, came and had a discussion with me. She was Catholic left the Church went to several evangelical churches had a profound experience of Christ there. She came back to the Catholic Church only because her daughter was reaching first communion age. Got involved with our parish. Felt called by the Holy Spirit to start a woman's bible study so she met with me, I introduced her to the Called &Gifted, and several converts' materials and work, people who made the journey from the evangelical church to the Catholic Church. She got very enthralled with the Early Church Fathers, etc.

Her questions to me today: "What can I tell my evangelical friends as to why they should be Catholic?

I am not talking about theologically but practically. They have a strong sense of community rooted in discipleship. I can tell them to come to this parish, but what can I tell them about the parishes they are close by, or in other states? One of my friends who is an evangelical said she believes everything that the Church teaches about the Eucharist, etc. but she can't see sending her children to Mass or religious education where they will be bored out of their minds, not experience real community, and not ever encounter another disciple? What can I tell them?"

I have to admit that I was at a loss for words...I did speak to her about why I am Catholic and how being Catholic is the fullest way for me to follow Jesus and be in greatest intimacy with Him...etc.

She asked me about how the church got into this state that it is in, in the first place. So I begun explaining the raise of Christendom and how the use of charisms, proclamation, and conversion tied with initiation became less and less in the forefront of the Church's pastoral practice, the rise of monasticism and its impact on charisms, proclamation, and catechetics and the laity. She was very intrigued but had to run to pick up her daughter. She left with, "I would love to continue this conversation..."

The question she is really asking is: How does one deal with the journey of discipleship when theologically one can accept the teachings of the Church, but can't embrace the pastoral practices of a Church that lacks discipleship?


I'm hearing variations on this question all over the country. Another diocesan staff person told me a story of recently getting to know a very savvy evangelical church planter who is immersing himself in the Fathers and magisterial teaching But as he told his new Catholic friend "you are the first Catholic I've ever met that actually believes all that the Church teaches. "

So I'll turn to our readers:

How would you advise disciples from other Christian traditions who considering entering the Church to negotiate the vast gap between the teaching of the Church and the great saints and mystics and the actual lived practice of the faith at the local parish level? How can they survive and even thrive in a parish culture where discipleship is not the norm?

What have you found helpful?
 
Flutter PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 13 August 2009 09:32
Bit of the flutter here this morning.

Fr. Mike's dad, Ted, wasn't doing that well last night and for a moment, it looked like I was going to flying out to Omaha today to take Fr. Mike's place at the INET RCIA conference there. I was fertilizing flowers in the backyard early this morning when I got Fr. Mike's call.

He talked me through the basics of his presentation and was e-mailing me his slides. And there was the truly last minute hunt for a plane ticket (or was I going to get to drive to Omaha? I've done it several times before but normally I'd leave at 5 am for such a trip. It was beginning to look like a very long day.) and conversations with the Archdiocese, etc.

This was the ultimate version of the traditional Thursday-before-a-trip conversation with our staff: "Ok, Where am I going, when do I leave, and what are the names of the local leaders? (Rule #1: Always remember where you are this weekend and who you are with! Name of the city, the parish, the pastor, and the major lay leaders and the person who is picking you up at the airport.)

I had just pulled out my suitcase when Fr. Mike called again.

The good news is that Ted Fones is stabilizing nicely (and joking around - a good sign) and so Fr. Mike feels free to go to Omaha as planned. Hurrah! Praise God!

But your continued prayer for Ted Fone's recovery would be most appreciated and helpful! Total hip replacement is no joke at 87!
 
Adoration is Back in Boston PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 22:18
24/7 Eucharistic Adoration is returning to Boston on April 15 after a 40 year absence.

According to the Boston Pilot, St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine on Boylston Street will mark the start of adoration with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley on Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption.

"The effort to bring perpetual adoration back to Boston is a direct response to the call of Pope Benedict XVI to have spaces dedicated to prayers for vocations and the sanctity of priests during the Year for Priests which began in June and runs to June 2010. St. Clement’s will be the designated site in the Central Region of the archdiocese.

Van Damm said the inspiration for his involvement came from his own need to adore the Lord in the Eucharist. Van Damm said adoration has “re-ignited” his faith and given him much peace.

Marie Baranko, another member of the St. Clement’s community, agreed. Before she came to the shrine, Baranko said she did not believe in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. Raised Catholic, she had never before seen adoration. After being invited to the shrine by a roommate, she attended adoration and recognized Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

“When you seek the truth, God honors that,” she said. “He reveals Himself to you.”

Her experience has also resulted in the discernment of her vocation. She will be entering the Sisters of Life order in September. She will be praying for the success of perpetual adoration at St. Clement’s from New York, she said.

“The shrine has played a major role in my vocation,” she said. “It’s centered around the Eucharist.”


Christ's Presence changes people.

We heard another amazing Real Presence story at Making Disciples two weeks ago. One of our participants is Catholic today because her local voting place was in the Catholic parish and she passed by the sanctuary and felt the Real Presence.

Just as I did as a completely clueless Protestant undergraduate when I stepped across the threshold of Blessed Sacrament Church in Seattle.

As did another Protestant women in Boise who attended an evangelization retreat at which the Eucharist was exposed and felt a force emanate from the host and hit her in the chest. I heard her story two weeks after she had been received into the Church.

Which is why we strongly suggest that Adoration is not a devotion just for the already devout. It can and should be made reverently accessible to all: non-Catholics, and non-anythings, the skeptical, doubting, the lapsed, the collapsed, and the seeking.

Because if He is lifted up, he will draw all men and women to Him.
 
Prayer Request PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 11 August 2009 14:23
Please pray for God's comfort and healing for Fr. Mike's father, Ted Fones, who fell and broke his hip this morning in Arizona. Fortunately, Fr. Mike and his sister Barbara are both there for a little family reunion. Please pray for Fr. Mike, his mom, and his siblings, Dave and Barbara.

Thanks, you prayer warriors!

Update:

Fr. Mike just wrote to say that his father's surgery is scheduled for 5:30pm today. Thanks for your prayers!

Further Update:

Fr. MIke wrote to say that his father's surgery took place early, that his dad had a complete hip replacement, and that the surgeon said that it went very well. It will take Ted about a year to fully recover. Thanks very much for your prayers and add one for post-surgical pain, complications, and a swift and uneventful recovery!
 
Colorado Morning PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 11 August 2009 07:52
This has been a essentially Colorado morning - the sort of morning I would never expect to have in Seattle.

First off, we had one of those killer hail storms last night - the worst we've seen in the 8 years we have been here. It was the prospect of such storms in years past that would send me out frantically throughout June and July to cover newly planted perennials nearly every afternoon. Fr. Mike used to find my anxiety funny.

HA! He should have witnessed those 15 minutes last night as the backyard turned white with bean sized hail. Dominicans who laugh at me now will get what they deserve.

Since it happened just before sunset and the hail covered everything, there was no point in going out in inspecting the damage right away. Much better after a good night's sleep and a strong latte. And consulting the Hail chapter of one of my mainstays, The Undaunted Garden, which is all about gardening in the challenging climate of the Rocky Mountains and the High Plains. Gardening books written for the Pacific Northwest have chapters on rain and slugs, not hail.

I was out at first light - and happy to discover that the damage was not nearly as bad as it looked. Most of the perennials were chosen specifically with this climate and the possibility of hail in mind - tough, xeric, cold hardy, and narrow leafed. The black eyed Susans and penstemons laughed at the storm the way St. Teresa of Avila laughed when she was told that she had been reported to the Spanish Inquisition. Resilient and undaunted. A sense of humor goes a long way at this altitude.

The California poppies had already been decimated by the hail storm two weeks ago, so this one made no difference. Even my my newly planted roses which had struggled constantly with poor drainage and hail, seemed unfazed. That which does not kill them apparently makes them stronger. Thank God.

I had just reached this cheering conclusion when a group of older women who walk the park every morning, called to me: "You have deer in your yard!" Amazingly, in the spot by the back fence where I had just stood 3 minutes earlier, were two does. They looked a bit trapped between the fence, the women, and me now contemplating them with wide eyes. But that didn't last long, As soon as the women moved a few yards down the trail, they lightly leapt over the fence from a standing start and were trotting off. I had wondered when a deer would come and pay a visit and if they could jump the fence and now I had my answer. Fortunately, I haven't planted a vegetable garden which is better known locally as a "deer salad bar".

Just at that moment, the waterfall started up. Nature's loveliest on a timer. 7 am to 9:30pm. With a newly created 30 foot stream that snakes along the shade line of the silver maple tree, passes through a small pool and a couple little falls on the way down and then pours over the wall into a small pool and bed of stones. It is not finished but already the sound of the falls and the light shimmering on the moving water has transfigured the whole backyard.

And my sense of relief, joy, and gratitude was complete. Blessed be God in all his gifts.
 
Prime Minister says Britain still a "Christian Nation" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 10 August 2009 07:12
From the Telegraph. In a comment that is sure to get a lot of play, Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Britain, told Premier Christian Radio, that Britain is still a "Christian nation" and that

"I think the role of religion and faith in what people sometimes call the public square is incredibly important.

"In Britain we are not a secular state as France is, or some other countries. It's true that the role of official institutions changes from time to time, but I would submit that the values that all of us think important – if you held a survey around the country of what people thought was important, what it is they really believed in, these would come back to Judeo-Christian values, and the values that underpin all the faiths that diverse groups in our society feel part of."


Asked if he thought it would be better if Christianity were "privatised", he replied: "I think it's impossible because when we talk about faith, we are talking about what people believe in, we are talking about the values that underpin what they do, we are talking about the convictions that they have about how you can make for a better society.

"So I don't accept this idea of privatisation – I think what people want to do is to make their views current.
"There is a moral sense that people have, perhaps 50 years ago the rules were more detailed and intrusive, perhaps now what we're talking about is boundaries, beyond which people should not go.
"And I think that's where it's important that we have the views of all religions and all faiths, and it's important particularly that we're clear about what kind of society we want to be.


Snip.

"So I think the idea that you can say: 'What I do in my own life is privatised and I'm not going to try to suggest that these are values that can bind your society together', would be wrong."

For readers, who might not be familiar with French ecclesiastical history:

In France, the final, absolute break between the Church and the State happened in 1905 and was precipitated in part by Pius X's demand that the French President not visit the reigning King of Italy. The President refused and France recalled its ambassador to the Vatican. The Pope disciplined two French bishops who had republican sympathies. This was seen by France as a violation of the Concordat of 1801 which had recognized 4 "official religions" of which Catholicism was one. France broke diplomatic relations with Vatican.

(The Vatican had not recognized the Italian state since it was set up in 1870 and took the papal states away upon which the Pope declared himself the "prisoner of the Vatican". Italian Catholics were told they could not vote or participate in the Italian government although that began to change after 1905)

The 1905 Law of Separation instituted complete separation of religion and state in France The Church was no longer funded by the state. One immediate impact: the number of seminarians dropped 50% until after World War I, largely because they lost some of their privileges such as immunity from the draft.

Laicite is a core concept in the French constitution, which defines France as a secular republic. Laicite relies on the division between private life - where religion belongs - and the public sphere, in which each individual is a simple citizen equal to all other citizens, devoid of ethnic, religious or other particularities. As a result, many see being discreet with one's religion as a necessary part of being French.

The de facto spread of similar ideas in Britain is what prompted the Prime Minister, who was raised in a Presbyterian manse, to make his comments.
 
Catechesis in China PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 09 August 2009 21:38
There are many Catholic worlds within the great Catholic world. For instance, this word of a ground-breaking initiative in China via NZ Catholic.

The Diocese of Beijing offered the first formal catechist's training to 120 participants last month. The course was taught by a German sister, Helene Reichl, who has worked in Taiwan for nearly 40 years.

The trainees were introduced to the universal catechism and to parts of the RCIA process for reasons that may startle us.

Reichl observed "Participating catechists had no idea about the stage of inquiry" prior to the catechumenate process, she said. "They used to admit someone as a catechumen merely by asking a question -- if he or she is interested in knowing Jesus and the Catholic faith."

Catechism classes in Beijing parishes usually last for three months, and catechumens need not undergo a series of preparatory rites before baptism, she said. Baptisms are often administered once the three-month cycle of catechism classes ends, and the catechists had no idea of the significance of matching the catechumenate process with the seasons in the church's liturgical year, she said.


Snip.

Bishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing told participants at the start of the course that the diocese normally baptizes about 2,000 people annually and has plans to build six churches in 2010 to meet increasing pastoral needs.

"The duty of evangelization is upon each of us, especially parish priests and catechists," he stressed.

A priest who serves at a parish in downtown Beijing said parishes generally do not set any requirements for parishioners willing to teach catechism, although they will provide some formation. This training course was a new undertaking at the diocesan level, he said.

Since the 1980s, when China's Catholic Church began emerging from decades of communist suppression, its leaders have worked to facilitate education and spiritual formation for its young priests and nuns, many of whom have gone abroad to study. At least one former seminary official has said that an increased role for the laity could help Chinese priests, who often are isolated socially and spiritually and face a variety of pressures.

So a western woman who has spent 40 years in a state that Beijing refuses to recognize has gone to Beijing to publicly train Catholic catechists. As difficult as times still are in China, how far things have come . . .

I loved this description of Sr. Helen in a related article in the China Post in 2007 about 80 Catholic leaders in Taiwan who were honored for their long service.

"German-born Helene Reichl was one of the honored nuns. She came to Taiwan in 1970. Reichl works at “Bible camps” for children and teenagers, visits prisons and hospitals to help people and teach them about religion.

“The world is so big that I didn’t know what Taiwan was like before I came here. Now I am a part of Taiwan, I dedicate myself to Jesus and to the Taiwanese people,” said Reichl.

“I’ll stay in Taiwan for the rest of my life. I came here with a Catholic mission. It’s a lifetime contribution. I wish I could help more people and let them know Jesus,” she added."

 
Coming Home to Mary PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 09 August 2009 17:13
My friend Mark Shea is going to be on Marcus Grodi's Journey Home Monday evening at 8pm eastern, 6 pm Mountain (and not for the first time!) I'm sure his new triology on Mary, Mother of the Son will be the primary topic.

Mark is always fun, witty, and articulate - and this is his magnum opus to date. You'll enjoy it! Be sure and tune in.
 
How Does Your Garden Grow? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 07 August 2009 10:39


Long time readers of this blog may have wondered how the garden is doing this year.

One word: rain.

For the first time in 8 years, we are experiencing a "normal" amount of rainfall and cooler than normal temperatures. (Our MD participants who went to the top of Pike's Peak last Thursday had to borrow some jackets from the staff since it was 31 degrees on top and snowing! Our low of 48 degrees down in the lowlands of 7,000 feet set a new record.)

So lush and Ireland-like is the word for our landscape. And wild. The wildflower garden is exactly that this year.



Here's the ultimate before and after:

Summer, 2002 - at the beginning:



Excavation begins - summer, 2004:



Today - summer, 2009:



And the really cool addition is 2/3 of the way done. I don't want to spoil the surprise but I'll post pictures when the time is ripe. It was always part of the plan but has evolved a bit in execution and is going to be really, really cool.
 
Gloria Strauss: The Rest of the Story PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 07 August 2009 08:52
Two years ago, I wrote 7 posts chronicling the illness and death of Gloria Strauss, a radiant 11 year old Catholic in the Seattle area and her family. Gloria's life was covered intensively by the Seattle Times and transfixed the city and many thousands of people around the world. But her death was not the end of the story.

Last week, Catholic Online did a wonderful follow-up piece on what has happened in the time since Gloria's death in September of 2007.

"Immediately following Gloria’s death, the family realized the large impact that Gloria had on the community.

Doug explained that people came all over to view her body before and after the Rosary. He added that he received a letter from a Lutheran man who attends Eucharistic adoration at a Catholic church who said that he had to go so that he could “see a saint in person.”

Then at the funeral, over 3,200 showed up and the family began to hear stories of how’ Gloria’s life and struggle had transformed lives.

One man from Virginia had read about Gloria and explained that he felt like he was “hit over the head by a 2 x 4.” The man had been on a four-day drinking binge and he completely gave up alcohol after reading the story on her illness and strength of faith.

Not only do the Strausses have a list of others who have quit different drug addictions because of Gloria, but they are aware of at least ten people who have become Catholic directly due to Gloria’s story – and more are continuing to convert. One in particular was a nurse at the Children’s hospital who didn’t grow up going to church. After seeing little Gloria’s faith, she knew she had to do something about it.

According to the Catholic Northwest Progress, one Presbyterian family became Catholic after Gloria attended a camp for ill children and their families. One of the volunteers, Brinn Funai continued to keep in touch with Kristen Strauss, Gloria’s mother, after the week’s activities.

Brinn explained that she had been checking into Catholicism, but meeting Kristen and the Strausses “was a big turning point for me.” They “really helped kin of soften that road so to speak, to coming into the church.”
“I told her right before she died, ‘Gloria, we’re going to become Catholic,’” said Brinn. “And she said, ‘Wow!’” The Funais were received into Catholic Church at Easter 2008.


Not only did the girl’s life, touch individuals, but she also inspired the organization, “Gloria’s Angels.”

Gloria's Angels walks with families from end to end when families are faced with a life-threatening illness. Our organization maintains a network of community-based volunteers, in-kind service providers and relationships with other service agencies (e.g., hospitals, DSHS, etc.). We do not intend to replace services already provided by other agencies. However, we do intend to serve as the "Guardian Angel" that can help families navigate the confusing maze of services available. Where gaps exist, we will provide offerings to fill those gaps.

"It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life."
The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis.
 
From Tucson . . . to the Entire Christian World PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 06 August 2009 23:13
From the Knight's of Columbus Convention and Jack Smith's Catholic Key blog comes this funny bit from Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted:

"In AD 1880, Arizona got connected to the rest of the world. The first telephones were installed that year, and on March 20, 1880, the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Tucson. It was a momentous occasion. The Mayor of the town, the Honorable R.N. Leatherwood, was so thrilled that he sent telegrams to the President of the United States and other dignitaries. He even sent a telegram to the Holy Father in Rome. The text of the telegram read as follows:

“The mayor of Tucson begs your honor of reminding your Holiness that this ancient and honorable pueblo was founded by the Spaniards under the sanctions of the Church more than three centuries ago, and to inform Your Holiness that a railroad from San Francisco, California, now connects us with the entire Christian world.
R.N. Leatherwood, Mayor”

We don’t know if the pope ever got the Mayor’s message. However, some pranksters of the town, learning of the telegram to the pope, crafted a reply of their own, forged the signature of His Holiness, and sent it to the Mayor. It read as follows: “His Holiness the Pope acknowledges with appreciation receipt of your telegram informing him that the ancient City of Tucson at last has been connected by rail with the outside world, and sends his benediction, but for his own satisfaction would ask—where in hell is Tucson?”

Fr. Mike?
 
Jesus Christ: "a Russian God"? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 06 August 2009 20:02
I have been lazy about blogging. Not for lack of material but because there was so much and I had many others thing to think about.

First of all, check out this very nifty website, sponsored by the Forum of Bible Agencies, where you can find the source for Bibles in any language into which it has been translated. For grins and giggles, pick a letter like "A" and then pick a continent and contemplate the incredible number of languages there are in the world about which most of us know nothing!

"A" brings me to a tongue, San Pedro Amuzgos, in which the Old Testament only became available in 1993. Or Northern Azerbijani in which the New Testament was finally made available just last year (and which you can download from the internet!)

The website also lays out the realities: the 6.5 billion people in our world speak 6,909 different languages.

As of 2007, 438 language groups (6.3% ) have an adequate Bible; 1,168 (another 16.9%) have an adequate New Testament; and 848 (12.3%) have only Scripture portions. 35.5% of all the language groups in the world have a portion of Scripture in their own language.

Strange, isn't it? How easy it is for us in the west who speak a major European language and are the heirs of Christendom to assume that everyone has access to Scripture in their own language? I have several versions on my bookshelf along with concordances and a fat volume that contains the text of all the Scriptural and magisterial references in the universal catechism. And I can always whip over to the US Bishop's website to see how the New American words a particular passage. In this, as in so much else, we are spoiled the heirs of centuries of Christian civilization. But the Scriptures and the Lord they speak of belongs just as much to those who have never heard as much as it does to us.

The good news is that the situation is changing rapidly. There are currently translation projects underway in nearly 2,000 additional languages. The vast majority done by evangelical Protestant, of course.

But 2,251 languages spoken by 193 million people are still awaiting translation of any portion of the Bible at all.

For someone who grows up in a culture where Christianity is not known, encountering Scripture in your own tongue can be absolutely life-changing.

Here's one story from the Kalmyk people, who number about 200 000. They live in the Republic of Kalmykia in southern Russia. The Kalmyk language belongs to the Mongolian language family. The Kalmyks are Buddhists.

"Nina gathers elderly Kalmyk women and reads to them from the Kalmyk NT. “Often they say ‘You speak about a Russian God – we are Buddhists, we have our own belief.’ But when I speak to them in Kalmyk and read from the New Testament, they listen with interest. A woman, 99 years old, said ‘If Jesus Christ is a God who forgives sins, then I want to become a Christian!’ The Kalmyks need to hear God’s Word in their mother tongue in order to understand that God is also their God and not only the God of the Russians.”

“When we distribute the Kalymk New Testament in villages we read out the most important passages about the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and also from Revelation where it states that peoples of every country and language shall one day pray to the Lord,” Nina says. “Most of the Kalymyk people know Russian, but they say: ‘When we read in our language we receive God as our own, but when we read in Russian then Jesus Christ is a Russian God.’”

“Twice a month we travel to a man and read the New Testament with him. Once when we arrived he was waiting impatiently for us. He pointed to the Gospel of Luke that lay open on the table. ‘Look, here it says that a man should not hate his enemy but should love him.’ He told us that it had been a shock to discover this. He had thought about it for several days and then finally decided that if it was in the Holy Scriptures then it had to be right. He was to go to a wedding where he knew that he would meet a bitter enemy with whom he had intended to settle an account. He went to the wedding and after some inner struggles he approached his enemy and offered him his hand. It felt as if a great weight had been lifted from the old man’s heart.


"The Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than a two edged sword, piercing even unto the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" - or so Hebrews 4:12 went in the version that I memorized as a child and heard quoted literally thousands of times by the time I was a young adult.

Let us handle our Bibles with reverence and awe. For knowledge of Scripture is knowledge of Christ.
 
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