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Word from Down Under PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 06:42
And here's an enthusiastic Aussie fan of WYD: Fr. John Speekman

During WYD week I'll be putting up 8 priests from different parts of the world. They are mainly MC priests (Missisionaries of Charity - Mother Teresa's priests) but there are others too. It will be good to meet new friends. Also some Australian priests and a deacon will bring their blowup mattresses and sleeping bags and spread themselves around the available floor space in the presbytery. And then there's even a few laymen, musicians no less.

Can't wait for it to start and I bet I'll be glad it's over. But that's the way things go.

The Holy Father is coming - Peter himself; the one who keeps us together, the earthly centre of our unity - a man, representing the Man - God.

What a blessing to welcome him to our poor, sad, scattered, watered-down, split-down-the-middle Catholic Church in Australia! May his presence make us all think again.

We have 150 young people allocated to St Jospeh's Church here on three of the WYD catechesis days. They will come from overseas to sit in our church, before the Lord in our Tabernacle, to hear a bishop from 'somewhere' teach them the life-giving truths of the Catholic Faith. I'll be there too, eagerly listening.

Then we take them upstairs to the hall and feed them, and get to talk to some of them. Exciting!!!

Well, may the Holy Spirit of God come to us here in Australia, and to all who have made the pilgrimage. May he flood (baptise) us with Himself and bring new energy to the Faith, new life, new hope, new members.

 
24 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 06:37
Twenty Four young adults will be confirmed by Pope Benedict at World Youth Day next month. Very cool

Pope Benedict XVI will confirm 24 young people at the World Youth Day Final Mass near Sydney on Sunday July 20, it has been announced.

Twenty-four candidates for confirmation, 14 Australians and ten people from other countries, will receive the sacrament that marks the completion of baptismal grace through Pope Benedict.

“It’s not every day that one is confirmed by the global leader of the Catholic Church before hundreds of thousands of people,” said World Youth Day 2008 Coordinator, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP.

“The sacrament is life changing and to receive the sacrament in this way will prove an unforgettable experience, one that they will each carry with them for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Bishop Fisher said the Australian candidates were selected as representatives of their regions by bishops across the country. The Australian candidates range in age from 16 to 43 and are from every state and territory.


I haven't seen any new information about the numbers of WYD pilgrim registrations in a while. Anyone know?
 
Mary and Me PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 06:07
Speaking of Called & Gifted alumni, I'd like to bring a new book and author to your attention:

Ginny Moyer, who is married to Scott, our Bay area Called & Gifted team leader and Director of Adult Faith Formation at wonderful St. Dominic's Church in San Francisco, has her first book in print and it looks wonderful.

It is titled "Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God." It is a well-written, inspiring read that draws upon the experiences of many contemporary women, Catholic or not, who have developed a devotion to Mary.

As Ginny points out in her forward, it was going through the Called & Gifted process that clarified her call to write. (And I should add, she also met Scott, her future husband through the C & G. We are a full service discernment process!)

(As I like to playfully point out to trainee teachers, teaching the C & G has unexpected side benefits. Many of our single teachers soon meet their future spouses, seminarians become pastors, and priests become bishops after teaching with us. Actually, only one priest teacher has been made a Bishop so far and all the seminarians and priest in training groan at the very thought of a bishopric, so guess it isn't much of an incentive - but the marriage possibility is very popular.)

Be sure and check out Ginny's book.
 
The Word from the Street PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 05:17
Called & Gifted news from all over:

This saga from Sandy, one of our trainee Called & Gifted teachers from Orange, CA this weekend: She said that the taxi driver who picked her up at O'Hare was from the Dominican Republic. In a way that I forget, the subject of faith came up. He starting grinning from ear to ear, telling her in animated terms about his conversion from a life of drugs and how he wanted to serve and please Jesus. Sandy asked him if there was a special woman in his life and he seemed a bit flustered but tried to explain" "No mam, I was impure before and I want to keep myself pure for Jesus. My mother doesn't understand."

At which point Sandy made an inspired guess "you may have a charism of celibacy". She said he was so startled, he nearly drove off the road. "That's it, mam, that's it!" And so they talked about the charism of celibacy until he dropped her off. "Can I take you back to the airport, mam, so we can talk some more about this?" he asked.


And this tale from Barbara, one of our local champions in chicago-land. She was doing a one-on-one session (which we call interviews) with a woman who attended their recent Called & Gifted workshop and the woman told her:

"I was on the verge of leaving the Church for a Protestant group. I was so discouraged. I just couldn't seem to find the help that I needed to grow in my faith in the Catholic Church. But after the Called & Gifted, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I was supposed to offer my gifts to the Catholic community rather than primarily focus upon being fed."


And this from Mary Sharon, one of our teachers in Eugene who has spent a lot of time in western Kansas teaching C & G's::

"Our ministries received favorable mention recently in an article concerning the June 1st "DRE Day," in the Southwest Kansas Register (bimonthly newspaper for the Diocese of Dodge City):

Called and Gifted

Designed to help people recognize gifts of the Holy Spirit (charisms) that are at work in their life. Nearly 800 people from across the diocese have participated in the 17 Called and Gifted workshops that have been held in southwest Kansas.

"Why is it important to know your charisms?" asked Becky Hessman, coordinator of the Called and Gifted process. "Charisms are a major clue in discovering God’s plan for your life. By Baptism and Confirmation, we are called and gifted by God to fulfill a unique vocation."

For more information, call Becky at (620) 227-1530."


Vocations

Vocations coordinator Becky Hessman is passionate about helping men and women of all ages discover their vocation in life.

Imagine the parish, the diocese, in which everyone actively expects God’s calling and has the competence to discern God’s desire for their life. A DVD, which was shown during the day, features Mary Sharon Moore, founder of Awakening Vocations. Moore says, "Stop believing that vocation discernment is for someone else. Vocation discernment is for you." ###

(Sherry's note: To give you some perspective, Dodge City is one of the smallest dioceses in the US with about 42,000 Catholics. The Chicagoland parish I was in last weekend had 22,000 members and was 1/2 the size of the entire Diocese of Dodge City. In Dodge, practically every leader in the diocese from Bishop Gilmore on down, has been through the Called & Gifted. 800 attendees would be almost 2% of the total Catholic population. I've probably spent a month of my life driving across western Kansas!)


And then there is this from Cathy, one of our new teachers from the Diocese of Orange: Bishop Tod Brown, in a recent pastoral letter on Adult Faith Formation, wrote this:

“Recently I have been reflecting on what has happened since the release of my Pastoral Letter Learning, Loving and Living Our Faith. It is hard to believe it has been just over a year since the challenge went out for adults in the Diocese of Orange to re-focus their priorities to include a deepening of their knowledge about what it means to be Catholic. I have encouraged the Office of Faith Formation to make this adult focus their priority also. I am pleased to report that they have taken steps to help parishes identify ways to move in this direction and provided them with the support it takes to do so.

A second area offering great promise, Called and Gifted, is a collaborative effort between stewardship and faith
formation. The initial training attracted 68 people from 22 parishes. The training introduced people to the signs and
characteristics of the 24 most common spiritual gifts and helped participants begin the discernment process of discovering
their charisms—“special gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed on individuals for the good of others, the needs of the world, and
in particular for the building up of the Church” (Compendium CCC, 160). Just think what ministry in the diocese might be
like if everyone had a chance to discern their individual charisms and be matched with a ministry where that gift could be
used to its fullest!

There seems to be an ever-present desire in people to learn more about themselves. In the coming months, consider
participating in the additional workshops in this area, along with the necessary training to build parish teams. It will be most
effective when parishes can provide training for parishioners on site. "



It's been what you could call a long obedience. 15 years this summer, I was sketching out the first workshop for 20 as a volunteer in Seattle. A million air miles, 360 live workshops, 40,000 + inventories circulating, thousands of Catholics trained to facilitate the discernment of others, tens of thousands of personal conversations.

Now when diocesan staff call and I ask "how did you hear about us?", they say, as did the young man I talked to yesterday: "I have been hearing good things about your Institute for years. Several of our leaders have been through your Called & Gifted workshop and I've read some of your material on the internet."

Nibbled to death by a persistent minnow. Never underestimate what God will do through a long series of small obediences.
 
Back PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 16 June 2008 06:45
Back. From Wisconsin and Illinois.

8 days, several tornado watches, severe thunderstorms, cancelled plane flights, floods, dams breaking, one lake emptying out, social time filled with panicked cell phone messages from family members because the monastery where we are has no internet access or TV. Instructions on where to go if a tornado is sighted. Dead hard drive and unplanned visit to Genius Bar in Chicago mall.

The usual.

And the chance to talk to and pray with 40 fascinating people from all over the country and all over the spectrum. The gamut. East coast, west coast, deep south, and of course, the upper mid west. Battle of the councils. Liberals certain we are trying to turn the clock back to 1950 because we are focusing on the proclamation of Christ and initial faith despite reams of quotes from conciliar and post-conciliar sources. Cause we quote from the Council of Trent, ya know.

The traditionally minded who have "heard" that we are trying to raise up a lay cadre to undermine priests. Despite the fact that we quote from the council of Trent. Cause we're talking about the the gifts, mission, and formation of the laity and trying to actually do what the Second Vatican council asked us to do. Parishes from different parts of the spectrum looking at one another and saying "what are you doing here?" The usual in a highly polarized church.

Over the days, the tension and suspicion begins to dissipate and understanding and interest grows. God is at work.

Amazing stories of God at work in the lives of people who are open. Lots of energy as the implications of intentional discipleship dawns. Lots of invitations to come to various parishes and dioceses. 6 new Called & Gifted teachers trained including fellow blogger Gashwin Gomes who writes about his experience here. God is at work.

Oh - and the phrase of the week. Stunning. Told by ecclesially savvy participant that he had heard two different seminarians from two different seminaries refer to lay Catholics as "lay trash". It was supposed to be a joke but clearly wasn't. When men preparing for spiritual fatherhood talk about their prospective sons and daughters in that way, something is seriously, seriously wrong.

And now I'm home. Got a conference call with a diocesan director of evangelization at 8 am. 600 e-mails to work through. Visit office. Figure out which files and applications might have been corrupted by dying hard drive. Wrap my head around the very different sort of work that awaits me here.

More topical blogging later.
 
St Columbanus, on the front lines of mission, Synod of Bishops, and WYD social networking PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 June 2008 14:11

Written by Joe Waters

I am back in Colorado Springs after a successful Making Disciples in Benet Lake, Wisconsin, but Fr Mike and Sherry are still on the road doing Called and Gifted teacher training at St. Isidore’s parish in Bloomingdale, Illinois.
There were a number of things worth looking at that came through this week:
First, the Pope touched on evangelization during his weekly audience in which he discussed the Irish monk St Columbanus. The Pope summarized his address saying:
"St. Columbanus' message focuses on a powerful call to conversion and detachment from worldly goods, with a view to the eternal reward. With his ascetic life and his uncompromising attitude to the corruption of the powerful, he evokes the severe figure of John the Baptist. Yet his austerity ... was only a means to open himself freely to the love of God and to respond with his entire being to the gifts received from Him, reconstructing the image of God in himself, and at the same time ploughing the earth and renewing human society".

"A man of great culture and rich in gifts of grace, both as a tireless builder of monasteries and as an uncompromising penitential preacher", the Pope concluded, Columbanus "spent all his energies to nourish the Christian roots of the nascent Europe. With his spiritual strength, with his faith, with his love of God and neighbour, he became one of the Fathers of Europe, showing us today the way to those roots from which our continent may be reborn".
The complete text is here.
Also, Zenit had an interesting piece up about the Order of the Sisters of Adoration, Slaves of the Blessed Sacrament and of Charity and their work with women trapped in prostitution or who are victims of other forms of trafficking and exploitation. They are not only doing some very interesting outreach and mission work on the front lines of one of our greatest social evils, but they are finding their energy for this work in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, they say that "they find the same God in the Blessed Sacrament that they see in the girls with whom they work -- young women rescued from the prostitution trade."
The full article is here.
In preparation for the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops this fall, a working document entitled "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church" has been prepared and presented by the synod secretary. The secretary said that they synod
"should foster knowledge and love of the word of God which is living, effective and penetrating, in order to rediscover the infinite goodness of God who reveals himself to man as friend, encounters him and invites him to communion."
"Moreover," he added, "through the word of God, there is the hope of reinforcing the ecclesial community, fomenting the universal vocation to salvation, reinforcing the mission to those who are close and those far away, renewing imaginative charity, and attempting to contribute to the search for solutions to the many problems of contemporary man, who is hungry both for bread as well as for every word that comes from the mouth of God."
It will be great to see what comes out of the synod. The complete story and link to the document is at Zenit.
Finally, the folks preparing for World Youth Day in Sydney have started a social networking site along the lines of Facebook so that the energy and friendships coming out of World Youth Day can be continued in cyberspace once the festivities down under are over. I imagine this will lead to some remarkable connectivity and friendship between young Catholics from all over the world well after the lights have gone out on WYD 2008. The site is Xt3.com. By the way, there are just 32 days to go before the festivities begin.

 
"Generations" of Catholic theologians PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 07 June 2008 12:33

Written by Joe Waters

Fr Mike and Sherry are on their way to Wisconsin this afternoon to gear up for Making Disciples, which starts tomorrow evening. Barbara Elliot and I will follow them to the Badger State tomorrow morning. I, for one, am looking forward to a lower elevation and temperatures more in my summer comfort zone (Colorado is a little cool for a South Carolinian!).
John Allen has a fascinating piece this week on the opening session of the Catholic Theological Society of America annual convention going on this weekend in Miami. This year's convention theme is "Generations" and in her opening address Prof. Maureen O'Connell (Ph.D., Boston College) of Fordham University reflected on the gaps between four generations of Catholic theologians (and American Catholics generally). The sociological data she worked with was provided by a study done by James Davidson of Purdue University.
Highlights:
“O’Connell had been asked to reflect theologically on a presentation from Catholic sociologist James Davidson of Purdue University, reviewed data from surveys of what he identified as four distinct generations of American Catholics, grouped with respect to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65):?
• Pre-Vatican Catholics, meaning those born before 1941, representing 17 percent of American Catholics;
• Vatican II Catholics, born between 1941 and 1960, at 35 percent;
• Post-Vatican II Catholics, born between 1961 and 1982, at 40 percent;?
• Millennial Catholics, born since 1983, at 8 percent.”
Snip
“Davidson argued that the results of surveys from 1987, 1993, 1999 and 2005 show a clear trend, amplified in each succeeding generation, away from what Catholic writer Eugene Kennedy calls “Culture One Catholicism,” with a high emphasis on religious practice, clerical authority and doctrinal conformity, towards “Culture Two Catholicism,” emphasizing lay autonomy and the individual conscience.

Asserting that church leaders are today attempting to return the church to a “culture one” model, Davidson said that because the socio-economic status of American Catholics is not in decline and because “laity are not willing to grant control” to the hierarchy, “the percentage of Catholics who are culture one will continue to decline.”

If older liberal Catholics are over-represented in reform groups such as Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful, Davidson said, younger conservative Catholics are equally over-represented among new priests, seminarians, and even theologians.

Speaking specifically about theologians, Davidson said that a growing tendency for younger theologians to reflect a “culture one” mentality reflects “a larger pattern of separation between the laity and the leaders of the institutional church.”

O’Connell largely agreed, saying that one distinguishing feature of her generation of theologians is that it came of age in an era of a “near-total disconnect between a culture one hierarchy and a culture two laity.”

Facing that situation, O’Connell said, many younger theologians today feel a need to try to be of pastoral service to the church – working with disparate movements such as Voice of the Faithful, the Focolare and Sant’Egidio, for example, or writing for non-specialized audiences outside the academy. Those activities, she said, represent an attempt to “fill in the pastoral gaps.””
Snip
“In that light, O’Connell proposed that amid today’s tensions over Catholic identity, perhaps a defining characteristic of what constitutes a “good Catholic theologian” ought to be what she called “pedagogical excellence” – meaning a commitment to teaching and formation.”
Complete story here.
This is interesting stuff and not all that surprising given the broad landscape of American Catholicism today. I am truly grateful for her insight about the excellence of a theologian being constituted by a commitment to "teaching and formation." Theological work is not worth much if it does nothing to serve the Church, help bring people to Jesus Christ, and form disciples. However, I am disappointed to see this data strictly interpreted through lens of the culture one v. culture two Catholicism. I really do think the positions of theologians young and old are far more nuanced than such a hard and fast distinction allows.

 
The Stag of Christ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 06 June 2008 08:41

There is a herd of deer that live on the trail above my house but we never see them in the park behind the house. Until this morning, when I was walking around the park just after dawn and a doe suddenly leaped out of the wild area of the park and ran eagerly across the lawn toward me. She ran the way a dog would run to a beloved owner. I couldn't believe it. "Is she tame?" I thought?

Then the deer suddenly stopped 30 feet from me and hesitated - as though she suddenly realized that I was not the person she expected. After a few moments of sizing each other up, she circled round me and ran off down the street. She did not seem to be car savvy so I was worried about her but couldn't possibly catch up and successfully herd her toward the trailhead a quarter mile up the hill by myself.

I've had a number of magical early morning encounters with our local herd, including having a buck with a rull rack of antlers pass me on the trail with the casual aplomb of a fellow jogger.

But the most magical was the morning when the same stag seemed to be leading me along the trail for a mile at least, waiting for me patiently around every new bend or viewpoint and then moving on ahead as my guide.

I was irresistibly reminded of the story of Placidus, a noble pagan who is hunting in the forest. He was" following an extraordinarily large stag, when the beast stood still, and Eustace (Placidus) saw between his horns a tall and glorious figure of the Lord Christ hanging upon the Cross, whence came a voice bidding him to follow after life eternal. Thereupon Eustace and his wife Theopista, and their two little sons Agapitus and Theopistus, enlisted themselves as soldiers under the Great Captain, Christ. " (from the Golden Legend)

This magnificent 15th century painting captures the original legend. Why not on a suburban greenway in the Rockies?
 
The Week Ahead PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 06 June 2008 08:33
Fr. Mike, Joe and I will be blasting off this weekend to Benet Lake, Wisconsin where we will join Barbara Elliott to put on Making Disciples.

Fr. Mike and I will then go on to Chicago to train new Called & Gifted teachers in English and Spanish. We leave Saturday and I won't return home for 8 days. Fr. Mike will be going on to Tucson for a couple weeks before returning to CS.

So blogging will be limited next week. I won't know how limited until I see how much internet access there is in Benet Lake.

Meanwhile for those of you in the San Francisco area, our team at stunningly beautiful St. Dominic's will be offering a Called & Gifted workshop on the weekend of June 13/14.
 
Doctrine Aimed at the Gut PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 05 June 2008 08:53
Warning long, juicy post ahead!

Thought provoking article over at First Things this morning:

Tim Kelleher is both a seminarian and "an actor, writer, and director, with nearly one hundred film and TV credits. He recently completed his own television pilot and can be seen this fall in films starring Will Smith and Greg Kinnear." (He must be a hoot in the seminary! I'll bet Barb Nicolosi knows him.) Tim begins with the Fr. Pfleger incident but quickly segues into his real topic:

The human maturity of priests and its effect on preaching:

. . . in my experience many Catholic priests seem daunted by the commission to speak in the emotional idiom of their own backgrounds, let alone someone else’s. Let’s be honest—it’s just rare to hear a good homily in a typical Catholic church unless you’ve done some advance scouting. I make this observation with regret and hope.

The situation affects everyone, not least of all the one struggling in the pulpit. But, in an era of widespread illiteracy among Catholics when it comes to the Tradition generally, and the central Mystery of the Eucharist specifically, the homily is a critical key to an infinite treasure.

It used to be thought that better education was the remedy, and a case can be made that in recent decades big strides have been made in this area. For the last few years I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by intellectually gifted young men receiving a world-class education in philosophy and theology as they prepare for Holy Orders. It’s unquestionably important, but it’s not enough. The difficulty in communicating in an emotionally resonant idiom—the language of the heart, if you will—persists. If this is true, we need to ask, Why? At this point, two things come immediately to mind.

First, as Heraclitus pointed out a long while back, “the learning of many things does not teach understanding.” I think this speaks to some strong tendencies in Catholicism toward dogmatic fundamentalism. By this I mean a disposition you could sum up to the tune of “I don’t have to understand all this—the Church has already done it for me.” Von Balthasar once said that “there’s no getting around Being”—in academic terms, metaphysics. How practical Aristotle therefore seems when he opines that no one under the age of fifty is ready to monkey around with matters metaphysical. That’s not a view Thomas Aquinas shared, but I think we can see the Greek philosopher’s point. It’s possible that the unfortunately dubbed trend of “second-career vocations” could exert some positive influence here.

Second, I think it may be useful to recall the 1971 Kennedy-Heckler study of priests in the United States, which concluded that an overwhelming percentage of those exercising sacerdotal office were in some state of emotional underdevelopment. Lest we pogo-stick to conclusions, we should remind ourselves that this study was commissioned by no less a Catholic-baiting group than the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Snip.

I recently had a conversation with a seminarian who has the potential of becoming a very bright light. His intellectual gifts have been apparent to every superior and professor he’s encountered. What’s more, his heterosexuality is as certain as his comportment is awkward. This fellow told me something that seems beyond the grasp of those pushing him to ordination: “I’m not ready to be a priest—I mean, to be responsible for the people of a parish. I hardly know how to be responsible for myself. I’m a kid. I like going to my room and playing Nintendo.”

Now, some might say a good swift kick is in order. But, in such a situation, who’s to administer it? The Monsignor D’Arcys (of Bernanos’ Diary of a Country Priest) are in short supply, and those pushing him are, statistically at least, likely to rank among the emotionally underdeveloped. For that matter, so am I.

The vocabulary necessary to point compellingly to the rich inner dynamisms of any given doctrine needs to be developed in the years of seminary formation. These doctrines are not dots on a map which once connected lead to the Promised Land. They are the fruits of serious human grappling with the deep mysteries of grace. They may be intellectually elegant but they are also aimed at the gut. (sherry's emphasis)

The Tradition into which many of us were born seems to more than a few outside it an opaque system of rituals intended to conjure rather alchemical results. But rituals are indeed central to the Catholic sacramental view of reality. It’s troubling, then, that the language they form is spoken fluently by so few.


Be sure and read the whole First Things thing.

As I (Sherry) have written before relative to the formation of the laity:

Unfortunately, we have tended in recent years to look upon wrestling with the content of the faith as an optional form of self-enrichment for the few lay people who are so inclined. The intuitive, heartfelt, and experiential have been regarded as sufficient foundation for the majority of lay people while ideas, doctrine, and thought are assumed to be the province of bishops and theologians. We have confused being an intellectual with understanding and discerning the real life implications of fundamental truths.

Few Catholics are gifted intellectuals but all of us need to be familiar with the essential of the Church teaching because through her we have access to revelation. Revelation contains truths that God must reveal to us because we human beings could not discover them on our own. These truths are beyond the grasp of our reason, intuition, and experience and yet they are critical to our happiness and destiny as human beings. Most of us will never read St. Thomas Aquinas for fun, but we can still ponder the significance of St. Thomas’ insistence that the ultimate destiny of human beings is perfect, eternal happiness. You don’t need an Ivy League education to ask “Is this true and if so, what does that mean for me and those I love?”

To make the essentials of the Church’s teaching available to lay men and women at the parish level will require a great effort but it is worth it. We need a remedy that will clear our minds and open our hearts to realities that we could not have guessed. The ability to critically evaluate the truth and implications of a proposed idea or action is particularly important for American Catholics because of the power that each of us has to influence the world around us. We elect our own leaders, form our government, determine our social policy and shape the future of our nation and the world. We are the apostles to this world, and we stand in Christ’s place. We must see our world as he does. As C. S. Lewis observed: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” (The Weight of Glory, “Is Theology Poetry?” 1944, p. 92)

The nagging fear that lay Catholics will be bored to tears by doctrine has never been borne out in our experience. Over the past 11 years, we have taught over 29,000 adult Catholics how to discern the gifts and call of the Holy Spirit in live workshops across North America, Australia, and Indonesia. When we first offered the Called & Gifted workshop, we too were afraid that participants would be bored by the theology of the lay office and mission in the Church. Priests were puzzled as to why we would teach lay people concepts that they had wrestled with in seminary. Parish leaders would tell us that six hours of solid content was asking too much of those who attended. To our constant delight and astonishment, many attendees have told us that the theological portion of the workshop is the best part and a number have even informed us that the weekend is too short!

Our teachers have consistently found that if we present the essential truths of the faith with clarity and conviction, people do not find the Church’s teaching mystifying but compelling. The central doctrines of the faith are not abstractions for would-be scholastics longing for a return to the middle ages. The truths of revelation are alive and they speak profoundly to the hunger of 21st century hearts.


Your thoughts?

By the way:

The reality that Tim describes is one reason that I'm so pumped about the work of the Institute for Priestly Formation located at Creighton in Omaha. Founded by a team (2 priests, 1 deacon, and a lay women) IPF focused on spiritual and human formation for seminarians and priests - the stuff most seminary education doesn't deal with in depth. Living relationship with God. Experiencing God's love. Yes, Intentional discipleship as the heart of priesthood. Emotional, human, and relationship healing and formation. The relationship of the priesthood with the laity. The 30 day Ignatian exercises. All integrated with absolutely rock solid theology but not a head trip.

Fr. Mike and I will be meeting with the IPF team in November between offering Making Disciples for the Archdiocese of Omaha and an ecumenical Orthodox-Catholic Called & Gifted in Ohio. I'm so looking forward to hearing more about their work from the horse's mouth. So it will be an intense week but a privileged and fruitful one.
 
The Year of St. Paul is About to Begin PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 04 June 2008 07:50
Catholic Online has a great video piece about the Year of St. Paul which begins June 28, 2008 and runs through June 29, 2009. Unfortunately, there's no embed code but you can watch it here.

The report notes:

The most important aspect of the year will be its emphasis on Christian unity. Cardinal Lanza di Montezemolo, rector of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (site of St. Paul's tomb) says "The year will allow everyone to pray for the unity of Christians. This aspect is very important for the Holy Father and he has recommended that we have this always in mind in everything we do."

As Pope Benedict said in his Homily for the Vespers on the Eve of Saints Peter & Paul, 2007:

"This Basilica, which has seen events of profound ecumenical significance, reminds us how important it is to pray together for the gift of unity, that unity for which St. Peter and St. Paul offered their existence up to the supreme sacrifice of their own blood.

In an unprecedented move, an ecumenical chapel will be set up next to St. Paul's Basilica in Rome for non-Catholics to pray. A two euro coin is going to issued in honor of St. Paul. For the year 2009, the Vatican has authorized the celebration of the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on the usual day, January 25, although the date falls on the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Benedict XVI has granted a Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of the Apostle Paul. The Plenary Indulgence will be valid throughout the Pauline Year which is due to run from 28 June 2008 to 29 June 2009.

There is a website dedicted to the year: www.annopaolino.org.

The MIssionary Society of St. Paul has this website for the Pauline year which features a somewhat shaky video tour of the Basilica and a very interesting 30 Day Walk with St. Paul. The MSP were founded in Nigeria in 1977 and have 200 priests who work all over Africa and parts of Europe. Apostles from the global south walking in the footsteps of their spiritual father, St. Paul.

In any case, we are starting to get requests related to the Pauline year: for Called & Gifted workshops, including our first for a mixed Orthodox-Catholic group (I'll let you know more when it is finalized). I've been asked to speak at a convocation for the Pauline year with Archbishop Chaput - I hope I finally get the chance to meet him.

I do wish I could visit the Basilica in Rome - but probably only in my dreams! Don't you feel a call to visit Rome this year? Come on. You know you do!
 
"The Great Divorce" and the Challenge of Faith PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 June 2008 22:53

Written by Kathleen Lundquist

Just a note to let you all know about a new essay of mine that's up today on Catholic Exchange entitled The Great Divorce and the Challenge of Faith (click on the title to go there).  It's a meditation on faith and our heavenly destiny, based on C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce with insights from Fr. Luigi Giussani's new book Is It Possible to Live This Way?

This sometimes happens when you read two books at the same time - ideas can collide in an amazing way!
Here's a taste:
Fr. Giussani thus radically reorganizes the categories of the faith vs. reason debate. Since faith is the foundation of our knowledge about the world, faith is the most reasonable choice to make when evaluating the testimony of someone you know and trust — especially if the encounter is exceptional in some way. He continues: “From a rational point of view, it’s clear that if you become certain that another person knows what he or she is saying and doesn’t want to deceive, then logically you should trust, because if you don’t trust you go against yourself, against the judgment you formulated that that person knows what he or she says and doesn’t want to deceive you.”[v] For Lewis’ fellow bus travelers to the heavenly valley, faith is actually the most reasonable response to the extraordinary encounters they are having, but in denying and rejecting the new vision, the visitors are acting in a most tragically irrational, unreasonable way. The human bond of trust they had with their now Bright friend or loved one should have enabled them to trust the information they were receiving and to allow themselves to be led by that love and trust into the mountains. But alas — they could not overcome their pride, their bitterness, their greed — that is, their insistence that Heaven’s infinite glory conform to their finite conceptions. And they go against themselves.
Enjoy!
 
"Whatever is truly Christian" Part II PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 June 2008 15:55

Written by Joe Waters

Sherry asked me to comment on her post "Whatever is truly Christian” in light of my own experiences studying in a Protestant, though thoroughly ecumenical (at least five faculty members are Catholic), Divinity School. I think it would be easiest simply to offer my insights into what I have learned from Protestants at Duke that I probably would not have learned or been exposed to in a Catholic setting.

As I was reflecting on what those lessons were, I was reminded that none of them are alien to the Catholic tradition or stand in opposition to it. In fact, they are all very “Catholic” and deserve our recognition and affirmation as such. Of course, Protestantism is a protest and my time at Duke has also reminded me of why I am Catholic and strengthened my Catholic identity. From its nativity, Protestantism has rejected the authority of the bishop of Rome to govern and guide the Universal Church and in so doing has lost a great deal of what is essential to Christian faith and the life of grace. But, with that caveat in mind, let me tell you a bit more about what I think is worth learning from our Protestant brothers and sisters.

My experience at Duke Divinity School, which was founded as and continues to be a Methodist institution, has been primarily with Methodists, conservative Episcopalians (mostly of the conservative Anglo-Catholic variety), and assorted others including AME, AME Zion, Nazarene, Lutherans, and Baptists (mostly Cooperative Baptists).

Methodists at Duke have a strong sense of their own distinctive heritage as spiritual children of John and Charles Wesley. And, believe it or not, John and Charles Wesley have much to teach all Christians, including Catholics and Orthodox, about what it means to live life in the Holy Spirit. These were two men who really knew Jesus and knew him well. Their “Holy Clubs” and group meetings provide a tremendous pattern for the formation of disciples committed to personal sanctification.

The Methodists I have encountered at Duke truly have a living, personal knowledge of Jesus that, unlike some other Protestants, spills over into a radical commitment to the care of the poor and marginalized (understood as an implication of Eucharistic communion) and to evangelization and discipleship formation. They talk openly about their relationship with Jesus and the relationship of their communities with Christ. The result of this is a lived, experiential understanding of the Church’s communio that is often lacking in the lived experience of most of American Catholics.

The Methodists that I know also have a praiseworthy commitment to racial reconciliation and are always willing to stretch out the hand of friendship and include those who are often marginalized in the mainline Protestant churches. Especially laudable is their ongoing deep commitment to rural communities and congregations.

Methodist commitment to discipleship formation is evidenced by their press (Abingdon, and its retail arm, Cokesbury), which provides some tremendous resources for parishes, including the wildly popular and effective Disciple bible study.

Methodists are often delightfully humorous people who don’t take themselves seriously or their denomination too seriously and are always open to good-natured, ecumenical ribbing. They live comfortably and cheerfully with one another even through significant theological disagreements (which admittedly, as a Catholic, I sometimes find a frustrating trait) and have an ironic sense of humor about Methodist culture, polity, politics, and idiosyncrasies.

On a final note, many Catholics may be surprised to find out that many of the best hymns that we sing at Mass are from the Methodist hymn tradition, many written by Charles Wesley himself. This demonstrates the great Methodist commitment to the formation of disciples by reaching the heart through stirring music and theologically rich texts. Some of the more famous ones are: “Come, thou long expected Jesus,” “Christ the Lord is risen today,” “Love Divine, all love’s excelling,” “Rejoice, the Lord is King,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” and, my personal favorite, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” which is always the first hymn in every Methodist hymnal.

Perhaps, in a future post I will consider some of the other Protestant groups I know well and what lessons they bring for Catholics.

 
Can Business Be Catholic? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 02 June 2008 21:06
Very interesting Zenit article today: an interview with Michael Naughton, who holds the Moss Endowed Chair in Catholic Social Thought and is director of the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

The topic: Can Business Be Catholic?

It's a long piece and worth reading in its entirely but here are some particularly intriguing quotes:

"Q: Many critics believe a business school has no place in a Catholic university because business promotes selfish ends. How would you respond? Can business really be a professional calling?

Naughton: There is, as you say, a bias against business, particularly among some of the faculty in the liberal arts. They often operate with a Platonic/Aristotelian bias against commerce, since they understand business only in terms of its economic and instrumental dimensions.

Once I had a theologian say to me that success for him was persuading students away from majoring in business, since he saw little redeemable value in pursuing such a line of work.

However, if we look at some of the great Catholic thinkers on education -- Cardinal John Henry Newman, Jacques Maritain, Poe John Paul II, etc. -- what we find is that they all see a role for professional education within the university, precisely because they hold to the importance of the dignity of work.

Today, business is one of the major forms of work for our students; a Catholic university, as a cultural institution, plays an important role in the formation of students as to what this work should be.

Q: How should the principles and pillars of Catholic social teaching -- subsidiarity, solidarity, respect for human dignity and the common good, and a preferential option for the poor -- shape the curriculum and culture of a Catholic business school? Do Catholic business schools currently live up to this standard?

Naughton: It is important to remember that all business education involves an education in principles. The question is in what principles are we forming our students -- Machiavellian principles, economic principles, Catholic social principles, etc."


Snip.

As to the culture part of your question, I see four important areas to engage these principles that can shape the identity of a Catholic business school.

The first is hiring. When Catholic business schools hire faculty, they should have candidates read an essay on Catholic social principles and ask them how they would engage such principles in their discipline. This would give a good sense of mission fit of potential new faculty.

Faculty development is a second area. If a Catholic business school is going to take its mission seriously, it has to devote time to engage faculty on the Catholic social tradition.

The third is research. Father Ted Hesburgh, former president of Notre Dame, once said that the Catholic university is where the Church does its thinking.

In a Catholic business school some of that thinking as it relates to the Church’s social principles should be engaging questions within finance, marketing, human resources, entrepreneurship, etc.


Snip.

Q: Benedict XVI stated in his recent address to American college and university presidents that a Catholic institution of higher education should assist students in deepening their relationship with Jesus Christ. Can this really be accomplished in a business education program?

Naughton: John Henry Newman wrote that “every profession has its dangers,” and business is no exception.

The excessive pursuit and desire for money and power, the cold pragmatic instrumental reasoning of treating employees as means only, rather than ends, the prideful conceit of understanding business as only a career, etc. are all indicators to a destiny that excludes God.

The Second Vatican Council document “Gaudium et Spes” warns us that the split between one’s professional life and one’s religious commitments is a dangerous error of our age. This divided life, particularly for Christian businesspersons, seriously impairs their relationship with Christ.

A Catholic university, if it takes its mission seriously, needs to engage its business students in ideas of vocation, faith and reason, spirituality of work, principles of the Catholic social tradition, the cardinal and theological virtues, responsibilities to poor and marginalized, all of which can move the student to a richer understanding and relationship with God.
The last area is curriculum. There should be specific courses on Catholic social thought and business in which Catholic social principles and business theory and practice are specifically engaged.


Comments?
 
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