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Fantastastic Pictures of Vigil for Life in DC PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 02 March 2007 03:14

An amazing photo essay of this year's Vigil for Life at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. It's the biggest Mass of the year in the US - 10,000 strong!
Away to Cali-forn-i-a PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 March 2007 20:48

Written by Keith Strohm

I'm off again to teach a Called & Gifted Workshop--this time to Woodland Hills, CA. Sorry I've been so scarce lately. Things should return to normal after my trip. God bless you all. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Catholic Quote of the Day PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 01 March 2007 14:53
From the Lenten retreat that Cardinal Giacomo Biffi is conducting for the Pope and curia:

"The Antichrist is the reduction of Christianity to an ideology, instead of a personal encounter with the Savior."

Hat tip: Mark Shea
Milwaukee Catholics Inviting 60,000 to "come home" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 01 March 2007 14:17

2/3 of American Catholic adults leave the Church for some portion of their life. In the Archdiocese of Milwuakee's district 16, they are doing something about it - on a large scale.

They are inviting 60,000 people to attend a "Come Home" Day on March 25. They hope for 250 to respond. Our prayers for the work of the Holy Spirit through this outreach would be wonderful.

Maybe I'll hear more when I'm in Milwaukee this weekend for this C & G.
How do I know what my "calling" might be? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 March 2007 13:32

Written by Kathleen Lundquist

I once had the opportunity to hear a Jesuit priest being interviewed about his sense of ‘calling’ and his view of his vocation. He told a surprising story:

He was nearing the end of his formation, and his ordination date was drawing near. As the day approached, he began to get “cold feet”; he began to doubt himself, wondering whether he’d really been led by the Holy Spirit in responding to God’s call or whether he had just been deluded by a passing fancy. Dread began to pile up in his heart and mind, and he sought out his director, who gently helped him in dealing with his fears and encouraged him to continue on the pathway toward priesthood.

His ordination day arrived, and then passed; however, the nagging feeling that he’d made a huge mistake didn’t go away in the midst of the joy and celebration of the end of the long formation process. Even after years of intense study, examination, spiritual direction, and practicum, deep down he didn’t feel prepared at all for the situations he imagined he might face as a priest. He accepted his first assignment with obedience, but still struggling with his fear.

After a year and a half in his parish in a small Alaskan village, including the stresses and strains of adjustment to the culture and some initial awkwardness in carrying out his duties, he realized one day that he felt better – he felt at home, he felt confident and useful, he no longer felt the sense of dread that had dogged his steps. He considered how this transformation had happened in his heart, and he came up with this answer:

He realized that he had been taught to be a priest by those whom he was called to serve. The people who surrounded him had brought their needs and problems to him, and he had somehow found within himself the resources to help them – and he realized that those resources had been placed in him by virtue of his vocation and his obedience to it. From his parishioners, he learned what was needed, and God seemed to have supplied him as the conduit through which they could receive the grace they sought. From their feedback, he learned how best to provide and care for them.

I think that the experience of this priest applies to each one of us in our vocation as lay Christians, i.e. the priesthood we received by our baptism, which we exercise each day in our roles as parents, teachers, managers, administrators, etc. People come to us to draw out what God has welled up within us – for them. This underlines an important idea that all Called & Gifted seminar participants hear: Your spiritual gifts are not for your own edification; they are for others. As a comfort, recognize this: Other’s spiritual gifts are for you.

Paying attention to our interactions with friends and family is one way that we can get a glimpse of what our specific charisms are. If you wonder what your personal spiritual gifts or vocational direction might be, ask yourself this: What is it about yourself that you find constant joy in giving away to others?

Corrie Ten Boom PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 01 March 2007 12:45
Also featured in this month's Lausanne Gobal report is one of my favorite Protestant heroines, Corrie Ten Boom. A single, middle-aged watchmaker when the Nazis marched into Holland, Corrie and her devout family hid large numbers of Jews as part of the underground. (Their house is now a museum) They were betrayed and sent to concentrations camps in 1944. Four of her family died but Corrie survived, released due to a typographical error one week before all the women her age were gassed.

For the rest of her long life, Corrie became a traveling evangelist, telling anyone who would listen that "There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still". As her sister told Corrie before she died in the camp, "they will believe us because we were here."

A lovely film was made about Corrie and her family called the Hiding Place. It is available on dvd and worth a viewing.
April 29: Feast of St. Catherine of Siena or Internet Evangelism Day? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 01 March 2007 12:20
Or both.

I can't imagine St. Catherine objecting. Check it out here.

From the March edition of the Lausanne World Pulse - always full of interesting news re global missions as seen through evangelical eyes.
Rant of the Week: Don't Dis Lay "Ministry" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 01 March 2007 08:48

I feel another rant coming on:

The subject: Lay Ministers and Catechists.

First of all, the big picture:

In Vatican-speak, the generic term “catechists” means all Catholics who work intra-ecclesially – full or part-time, paid or volunteer – and who are not a bishop, priest, deacon, seminarian, or religious. They are critically important because “catechists” make up 69% of the global “ecclesial work force”. All 2.76 million of them.

In most parts of the world, the role of a catechists runs the gamut from open air evangelistic meetings, religious education, leading weekly prayer services in remote mountain villages in Ecuador, or providing trauma counseling to victims of religious violence in the Sudan. Whatever is essential to the life of the Christian community and doesn't require ordination. That’s why the Vatican tracks and publicizes their numbers. That’s why the Apostolate of Prayer has dedicated the month of March to praying for their formation. Because the life and work of the Church in most of the world would simply be impossible without these dedicated lay apostles.

Since the Vatican doesn’t have a statistical category for “lay ecclesial minister”, the term “catechist” includes people that both sides of the American Catholic spectrum love to hate. The 1.6 million “catechists” listed for "America" (which for the Vatican includes the entire western hemisphere, north and south) would include professional lay ecclesial ministers in Seattle, LA, and Boston and the volunteer CCD teachers in western Kansas for whom we put on a Called & Gifted workshop two weeks ago. “Catechists” would also include the 140 young lay evangelists who preached the three week “Great Mission” in the Peruvian Andes that culminated in the baptism of 1,000 young people last week.

“Catechist” would include people like Scott Hahn and theologians like Tracey Rolland at the JP II center in Melbourne who is known as an theological soulmate to the former Cardinal Ratzinger. To the extent that they give ecclesially sponsored presentations, it would include Mark Shea and Amy Welborn. And the term would include people like me and Clara, my Australian equivalent, and our many part-part-part-time lay collaborators who buzz around on weekends putting on formation events.

Why am I ranting?

Because I have witnessed innumerable conversations at St. Blogs over the past three years that ooze distain and heap ridicule upon lay people - especially women - in some form of ecclesial ministry. Over and over, lay people who work inside the Church are portrayed as self-absorbed, irony-impaired, power-hungry, dissenting ideologues who are out to hijack and shipwreck the faith of anyone unwary enough to go near them. Oh, and for reasons that I don't even want to contemplate, the women are often described as old, fat, and remarkably unattractive. The horror of "lay ecclesial ministry" has become an urban legend with conservative Catholic bloggers. It's time to say "Stop it!"

Rant the first:

No one has put more time and energy into preaching the gospel of the secular nature of the lay apostolate than we have. It is one of the first things we cover in every single Called & Gifted. We sell Russell Shaw's excellent "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church" at every event and at our webstore.

But it does not therefore follow that lay Catholics who are called to work inside ecclesial structures are betraying that secularity or that mission. We don't cease to be lay or lose our secularity when we work inside the Church for the sake of the mission to the world; it is one of the unique things we bring to our common mission. And it is lay involvement in and especially outside the ecclesial structures that makes that mission possible.

In a 1.1 billion member Church which has formally declared that formation for mission is a "right and duty" of all Catholics (Christifideles Laici, 63), do we really imagine that a mere 405,000 priests can tackle that in addition to their already heavy sacramental responsibilities? (Fides: there are 2,642 Catholics per priest in the world.) Not to mention this little matter of the Church's primary mission: evangelizing the people and cultures and structure of the world? (Fides: there are 12, 108 persons per priest in the world.) I've worked with a lot of hard working priests but have never known one who bilocated.

As those of you know who followed the debate in the US Bishop's conclave about the use of the word "minister" with regard to the laity, it was the legendary Cardinal Avery Dulles who made the crucial intervention that ensured that the word "minister" was retained when referring to lay ministry. We are not faced with a choice between the "good" secular apostolate and "bad" lay ministry within the Church. As Dulles noted in his 2006 lecture on The Mission of the Laity:

"It would be a mistake, I believe, to make a sharp dichotomy between ministry in the church and apostolate in the world, as if it were necessary to choose between them," Cardinal Dulles said. He said those in lay ministry have an important role in forming "a Catholic people sufficiently united to Christ in prayer and sufficiently firm and well instructed in their faith to carry out the kinds of apostolate that Vatican II envisaged."

Rant the second:

It is so time to get over the 70s. Regarding the wacky 70s, I only know what I've heard from those who were there, but I can tell you that the American Church in 2007 is enormously different. Over the past 10 years, I've worked directly with hundreds of lay pastoral leaders in 75 dioceses in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Indonesia.

The vast majority are there simply to serve God and the Church
. They didn't create the priest shortage and most would be really happy to have more good priests. They don't have any problems knowing the difference between their ministry and that of a priest and they aren't dying to be ordained. This is going to be a dreadful disappointment to the conspiracy theory fans among us but it really is that simple most of the time. Most started out as volunteers (many still are volunteers) and their work gradually grew into something larger.

I've met lay ideologues, of course, just as I've met ordained and religious ideologues on both sides of the spectrum but they tend to congregate with fellow-travelers in ideologically charged environments such as universities and large urban dioceses. But out in the trenches, most people are acting in non-ideological good faith, even if they aren't well catechized. Many are are making considerable personal sacrifices in order to do so. And some are very, very impressive lay apostles who are responding to a call of God and giving themselves utterly to the building up of the Christian community and the furthering of its mission. But you wouldn't know it from what you hear around St. Blogs'.
Rant the third: It is sin plain and simple. To ooze blanket contempt for a whole group of fellow Christians whom you have no direct knowledge of and who are, in their stumbling fashion, attempting to serve Christ is calumny. It is reducing their attempt to follow Christ and serve his Church to a weapon in the culture wars. It is about as far as you can get from St. Paul's admonition that love is "not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes." (I Corinthians 13)

The next time you come across someone dissing the idea of lay Catholics in ministry, ask Marko Makuec Shir to pray for him or her.

In February 2003, Marko, a married man with three children, was trained to do trauma counseling by his diocese. In April 2003, his little village was attacked by rebel forces. Marko sent his wife and children to Khartoum but stayed behind to spiritually assist the 12 Christian families and the 500 soldiers defending the town, most of whom were Christians as well.

In August, the rebels finally took his town. While visited a wounded friend in the hospital, Marko was shot and killed by a rebel who thought he was a soldier. FIDES calls him a "martyr catechist".

Marko Makuec Shir, pray for us.

Apostleship of Prayer Intention: Lay Formation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 01 March 2007 06:57

From the US Apostleship of Prayer website:

"The Apostleship of Prayer began in France in 1844. At that time Fr. Francis X. Gautrelet told a group of Jesuit seminarians who were eager to work on the missions:

"Be apostles now, apostles of prayer! Offer everything you are doing each day in union with the Heart of our Lord for what He wishes, the spread of the Kingdom for the salvation of souls."

In 1861 the first Messenger of the Sacred Heart was published. Besides promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this periodical also tried to develop in its readers an awareness of the needs of the Universal Church. In time the Pope himself proposed a particular monthly intention and since 1929 a specific mission intention has also been proposed to the faithful for their prayerful attention.

On its 100th anniversary in 1944, Pope Pius XII gave thanks to God for the Apostleship of Prayer, calling it “one of the most efficacious means for the salvation of souls, since it concerns prayer and prayer in common.” He commended the organization for its goal: “to pray assiduously for the needs of the Church and to try to satisfy them through daily offering.”

March Intentions:

Hearing God’s Word:

That the Word of God may be ever more listened to, contemplated, loved, and lived.

Lay Formation:

That the training of catechists and lay people may be the constant concern of those responsible for the young Churches.

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