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Youtube Summer Project PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 04 June 2007 09:01
PhatCatholic Apologetics is sponsoring the Catholic Youtube Summer Project - cataloging all the Catholic videos available through Youtube.

Take a look and consider helping out.

Hat tip: Whispers
Making Disciples PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 04 June 2007 07:46
We (Fr. Mike and I) are really up against a deadline on finalizing Making Disciples so blogging will be sporadic this week, I think. But I will try to post short items as I come across them.

Miraculously, the patio was finished this weekend and looks fabulous. I did manage to find 4 pallets of the right colored pavers and snatched them while the snatching was good. I'll post pictures when the rubble is cleared away.
Amazing Grace: Catholics & Evangelical Hymnody PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 04 June 2007 07:24
Todd over at Catholic Sensibiliy is hosting a discussion of the influence of Evangelical hymnody on Catholic worship and invites ID readers to take part. It features a lovely article by Mark Noll from Christianity Today on the place of singing in evangelical worship and hearts.

When I was still at Blessed Sacrament, Nan Holcomb used to host periodic hymn sings in which the Other Sherry and I took enthusiastic part. We drew from a collection of both Catholic and Protestant hymns but the ones most of us wanted to sing were classic Protestant ones.And we sang non stop for two hours.

I can even remember a party at my apartment in which the group (all Catholics but many converts) started singing hymns and choruses and sang them, one after another, for a solid hour. I can't imagine singing Glory and Praise songs spontaneously at a party - or Gregorian chants.

But the classic hymns and choruses of evangelicalism are an altogether different species from either of those - and the loss of that kind of singing is one of the things that nearly every convert I know still mourns. I'm no musician so I don't have language for all this but the spiritual impact of such singing is real and very powerful and there doesn't seem to be any reason why Catholics can't incoporate it - except that it isn't what we are used to and it smacks of them.

But this isn't necessarily the case outside the Anglo Catholic world. I used to live in Wales and it was the first time in my life that I attended a Catholic church on a regular basis and experienced the liturgical year. But one thing I remember - Welsh Catholics sing. They sang large parts of the liturgy in parts - spontaneously. What else can you expect from a people who sing hymns at football games and erect large monuments to choral conductors?

But the Welsh are, like the US, a culturally Protestant country - specifically an evangelical country - and choral singing is hard-wired in their collective psyche. The difference is that they are Celts, not Anglo-Saxons. Even Catholics in Wales can sing.

Many of the hymns of my Mississippi childhood are to be found in the Catholic missal I pick up on Sunday. But when sung, they are so often done so without gusto, too slowly, almost in a funeral dirge manner.

Anglo Catholics know the words but they don't get the tune.
It's our loss.
Ghana Girl PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 02 June 2007 13:53
Follow the adventuries of a young Catholic convert working in refugee camps in Ghana over at Ghana Girl.

One of the perks of my job is that we get Ghanian and American holidays, so over Memorial Day weekend I also had Friday off for African Unity Day. I seemed to remember the cathedral that I attend having Pepetual Adoration (the adoration of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist) on Fridays so I planned on praying for some hours there. It’s something I really miss and inspired some of my writings that I posted. I and many others have had rich, spiritual experiences in prayer at Perpetual Adoration so I was excited.

I turned on my housemate’s shortwave radio over breakfast to catch some BBC news (since I’ve been in a news-hole) and heard instead the dire story of a Congolese woman. Needing a break from the stories of persecution and torture I hear now at work, they proceeded to tell me how this woman had been kidapped from her village by Rwandan rebels, had seen each of her children killed, was forced to kill her youngest baby, was raped by a number of men and then had to dig her own grave. She was the only one to survive from a village of a couple hundred people. Why am I telling you this?

Time was moving forward so I made my way to church. Seeing no monstrance with Jesus inside I asked a fellow near me what was happening. He said mass was just starting. I had made it in time for mass! Now, when you’re subject to the whims of African city traffic, traffic lights out due to power outages and few masses in a day, it’s really hard to “just accidentally make it in time” for mass. I was tickled. As the mass began and the priest began talking about Africa Unity Day I suddenly realized why I was there. I was there for the Congolese woman. I was there to pray personally for her and to intercede for her suffering. I was there for the Africans who are yet to see unity in their country. Who live generation after generation suffering from conflict and division.

I stayed there for a couple hours praying for her, for you and so many other things and people. I saw the simple and deep humility of my African brothers and sisters kneeling prostrate on the floor in front of the tabernacle in love of Jesus and filled with love, removed my shoes also to lay on this holy ground with my face to the floor in adoration.

The last thing I want to share before moving on to the fun facts section is something delightful that happened yesterday at work. One of the hardest things for me to deal with here is being in the spiritual minority. I may work for a Christian non-profit but that doesn’t really translate to much on the ground. Faith isn’t a criteria for being hired which can be good and bad. Letting it be known in even quiet, overly-respectful ways that I am a person of active faith has distinguished me from my coworkers and makes itself felt in the lack of inclusion I sometimes experience socially and at work with them. We’re on different wavelengths, baby. So I’ve prayed a lot about it knowing it’s happening for a reason but is frankly hard to deal with.

Well! I waltzed in to work with my medals and crucifix around my neck for the first time and suddenly my Ghanian coworkers’ faces lit up and they asked if I was Christian. I said, “Yes! Of course.” And added my usual musical quip, “I’m a happy, Catholic convert”. They were so receptive and affirming of this. I cannot overemphasize with what love and enthusiasm they received this news.

I was rather floored because it’s the exact opposite of my American colleagues’ opinions. This was the solidarity and communion I had been craving for so long and I found myself once again in awe of the spiritual maturity and intelligence of those from the third world, and the lack of it in those from the first. We spent our lunches sharing our conversion/faith stories and had perfect Christian communion disregarding our less important denominational differences.

Catholic-Orthodox Conversation on Lay Formation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 02 June 2007 12:36
The Catholic-Orthodox Conversation on Lay Formation over at Koinonia is proving very interesting but many of the posts are too long for me to copy over here.

Be sure and check it out and join in.
Giants in Our Midst: Henrietta Mears PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 01 June 2007 11:49

Meanwhile, Henrietta Mears, she of the infinitely goofy hats, was American to the bone, and an evangelical Protestant who made her mark on a whole generation in a way that most of us would find laughable: as a Sunday School teacher. Mears never once saw her ministry as modest but as a way to impact the whole world for Christ.

Henrietta was the Director of Religious Education at a Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, California for 35 years. She had a passionate conviction that through her Sunday School, which provided Christian education for all ages, she was to challenge parishioners to follow Christ and to prepare for a unique personal vocation. Over 400 young adults entered full-time Christian ministry under her influence and many hundreds of others entered business, the arts, and education as dedicated secular apostles. Among those whose lives were redirected through Henrietta’s ministry were the founders of several global movements such as Young Life, Campus Crusade, and the young Billy Graham.

Henrietta would sometimes ask other teachers what they thought the purpose of their Sunday School program was. Almost inevitably someone would say “ to lead boys and gifts to Christ”. “No!” Henrietta would respond emphatically, “That, of course, is part of it, but if you stop there, you will never be successful. Every man and women, every boy and girl “must feel that there is a task for them to do, that there is a place marked X for every person in God’s Kingdom. Here is my X, no one can stand in this place but me. I must help others to find their places.” (Dream Big: The Henrietta Mears Story, p. 191).

You can find a detailed biography of Mears and a description of her impact here.
Giants in Our Midst: Dietrich Von Hildebrand PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 01 June 2007 11:32

A couple of lay Christians who had a huge impact on the 20th century were Dietrich von Hildebrand and Henrietta Mears.

They could not have come from more profoundly different backgrounds. Von Hildebrand was the son of sculptor and had an extraordinary childhood, growing up in a 16th century Franciscan monastary turned villa in Florence in an remarkably cultured and artistic non religious family.

He converted to Catholicism as a young man and moved to deeply Catholic Munich, was a brilliant philosopher but not a man of practical action. And yet, he was one of the first Catholics in Germany to see clearly and absolutely the profoundly anti-Christian nature of the Nazism and became a hero of the resistance.

I have found it almost unbearably poignant is to read in his biograph Soul of a Lion (a great read, by the way!) of the many Catholic leaders in one of the most sophisticated and Catholic cities in Europe who actively suppored Hitler: bishops, Dominican theologians and provincials, etc.

Discernment, real discernment, takes more than a knowledge of doctrine and more than being steeped in Catholic culture. The Catholics of Munich had those things in spades and they were still taken in. But Hildebrand had a remarkable ability to see to the root of things and an asbolute willingness to follow wherever the truth lead. He sacrificed everything to take a public stand against the rising tide.

He is a wonderful example of one type of lay apostle.

Visit the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project to learn more.

I'll talk about Henrietta Mears in a separate post.
Report from CELAM PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Friday, 01 June 2007 10:06
John Allen, the Vatican reporter for the National Catholic Reporter, has an interesting summary of the results of the Latin American and Caribbean bishops' meeting in Aparecida, Brazil that just ended.

One of the major concerns had to do with the state of evangelization and catechesis among the largest Catholic population in the world.

"Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil, the Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy in Rome, put the reality bluntly: "The majority of Catholics on this continent no longer participate, or never have participated, in the life of our ecclesial communities," he said. "We baptized them, but for many reasons, we never really evangelized them sufficiently."

The fruits of that inattention are obvious. During the 20th century, more Catholics converted to Protestantism in Latin America, especially Pentecostal and Evangelical movements, than in Europe during the 16th century Protestant Reformation. There's also a growing phenomenon of abandonment of religious faith altogether, especially among the poor along the peripheries of Latin America's sprawling mega-cities. In Brazil, to take one example, the percentage of people reporting no religious affiliation went from 0.7 percent in 1980 to 7.3 percent in 2000, more than a ten-fold increase in just 20 years.

In the past, the tendency of some Latin American bishops has been to blame these losses on outside forces -- on deceitful proselytism from the "sects," on financial and logistical support from Protestants in the United States, even on supposed policies of the United States government aimed at undermining the Catholic identity of Latin America as an impediment to the spread of free-market capitalism. In that light, the breakthrough in Aparecida may be the bishops' acknowledgement that the fault lays not in their stars, but in themselves."

The bishops called for a continent-wide re-evangelization that would include door-to-door visits. Because the ratio of priests to lay people is on average 1-7,000, many laity will have to be involved. Of course, the mission of evangelization, the Church's purpose, is always the responsibility of the laity with the guidance and collaboration of the clergy, so this really isn't news.

The difficulty, as always, is the bishops have the right idea, but in the course of their conversations, they are short on exactly how to implement this great mission. It's not even clear if it will be left up to individual bishops or bishops' conferences, or even CELAM, to come up with a specific plan.

"Aside from committing themselves to promoting a "mature laity, co-responsible in the mission of announcing and making visible the Reign of God," the bishops did not offer any clear sense of what this lay empowerment might look like."

The bishops will take up this conundrum again in July, when they meet in Havana, Cuba. It would be wonderful if in the meanwhile the bishops go home to their dioceses and get some of their local clergy, religious and most active and faithful laity together to discuss possible implementation strategies. Surely the laity and local clergy are aware of what techniques the sects use to evangelize nominal or lapsed Catholics. They can also look first in the Scriptures and in the great evangelizing movements within Catholic history to find out how God has worked through His Church in the past. They'd be wise to enlist the help of those involved in the charismatic renewal, and some of the new lay movements. But clearly, the success of the "Great Continental Mission" will require well-formed Catholic laity, and that may take some time.

The bishops also took up a dialogue with liberation theologians, who were among the theological experts present at the meeting.

John Allen writes, "The bishops explicitly affirmed liberation theology's famous option for the poor, but tweaked it to become a "preferential and evangelical option," making clear this is no merely political or social commitment. At a concluding press conference, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras took pains to stress that this option "is not ideologized." Similarly, the bishops said that their final document was structured according to the "see-judge-act" method, but gave it a Trinitarian frame (seeing "with the eyes of faith," judging "according to the Gospel of Jesus," and acting under "the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.") The explicit confirmation of the "see-judge-act" method was considered especially telling, since it had been dropped in the 1992 edition of CELAM in Santo Domingo."

Allen comments, "With regard to liberation theology, the texts from Aparecida often read like compromise documents, with something to please both friends and foes."

I disagree with him here. Rather, it sounds to me like liberation theology is growing closer to its scriptural roots, and closer to the Church's vision of life and mission. It's great that the need for evangelization is linked to the preferential option for the poor. The poor need the basic necessities of life, as is their right. They also need, as do we all, to hear the Gospel. That, too, is our right. Jesus said there's no profit in gaining the world, but losing your soul.

The see-judge-act method was something I became familiar with in South Africa, when I worked there during the summer of 1991. There, it was specifically linked to the Trinity as the bishops just did in Aparecida. I don't think it's anything new, and I hope it wouldn't be considered a compromise. It's the way Christians should all see, judge and act.

And not just in Latin America.
Of Blogging and Fleabite Airways PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 01 June 2007 06:54
Blogging will happen - but sporadically again this weekend.

Fr. Mike and I are in last minute throes of finishing the basic draft of our new four day seminar on helping Catholics, practicing or not, become intentional Disciples (We call it Making Disciples: Growing Extraordinary Catholics) before we take off to Iowa next weekend to train a diocesan team of new Called & Gifted teachers.

Training C & G teachers is a very intense weekend affair which including 8 hours of theology: of the laity, of the secular mission of the Church, as well as grace,redemption, the theology and history of charisms, etc. Each teacher also prepares to teach a section of the C & G workshop and teaches that section in front of the rest of us and gets feed-back. It is always amazing to see how differently individual teachers approach the same material - and yet are equally effective.

Really good, high energy, high content, life-changing, funny popular teaching, is an art form. If the tens of thousands of evaluations I've read over the past 14 years are any indication, its not a common one in the Catholic world.

Our teachers are mostly non-professionals who are so excited by the C & G process that they come up to us during workshops and volunteer. They give up their weekends to fly around the country with us (or teach in their own parish or deanery or diocese)because of the difference discernment made in their lives and can make in the lives of other Catholics.

Our teachers are incredible and serve out of love. We have national level speakers, who normally get $200 an hour for a presentation, flying in on Fleabite airways to Hays, Kansas or Pedukah, Kentucky to put on a Called & Gifted workshop in exchange for an honorarium that just about covers a movie and nice dinner for two. Apostles indeed.

I remember how terrified I was in the early days when a professional teacher or counselor or pastor or other "authority" was in attendance, certain that they could tell that I had cobbled this together on my own without certification from the official Catholic-charism-teachers-factory that I still thought existed somewhere out there.

It didn't, so we created out own traveling show. And since the demand for local
C & G teaching teams keeps going up, we keep going out.

But this morning,it looks like the pavers for the patio due to be delivered today aren't the right color so I'm going to have to drive down to the yard and do a visual inspection rather than deal with several tons of ureally ugly pavers in the backyard.

And I felt like I had a touch of some low level virus last night.

So you'll hear from us - but it will be intermittant.
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