You may not have heard but last year, the largest Archdiocese in the US, Los Angeles, adopted the four following pastoral priorities:
To seek out and draw in the unbelieving and the unchurched,
• To foster life-long discipleship and spiritual growth,
• To assist all the baptized in the discernment of their spiritual gifts (charisms) and vocations,
• To equip and support extraordinary apostolates.
Yes, we are deeply involved on the ground in LA and with this initiative but I think it would be a terrific set of priorities for any diocese or parish. Priorities that are central to the Church's understanding of herself and her mission and yet, could be adopted easily to the varying cultures and dynamics on the ground in a given community.
"Fewer adults said faith is their top priority in the 2010 study (12%) compared to 2006 (16%), although this is a slightly better proportion than 2008 (when just 9% of adults described faith as their top objective in life). Despite the fact that more than three-quarters of adults identify themselves as Christians and nearly nine out of 10 Americans believe in God, matters of “faith” are surprisingly rare when Americans choose their highest priority in life. The types of responses categorized as “faith” include connecting with God, living consistent with their faith principles, and being at peace with God.
David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, commented on the relatively small proportion of Americans who place top emphasis on faith: “The gap is vast between self-described affiliation with Christianity and ascribing highest priority to that faith. When it comes to why so much of American religion seems merely skin-deep, this gap between what people call themselves and what they prioritize is perhaps most telling.”
Kinnaman indicated that even among some of the most actively involved faith groups, relatively small proportions of adults identify faith as their peak priority. Among Protestants (18%), churchgoers (18%), and non-evangelical born again Christians (16%) less than one-fifth identified faith as their top objective in life. The only exception seems to be evangelicals, among whom two out of every five mention that faith is their highest priority (39%). Among Catholics, just 4% mentioned faith, which is only slightly higher than the levels generated among unchurched adults (2%)."
So nearly 10 times as many evangelicals will name faith as their highest priority (39%) as Catholics (4%)?
This is gorgeous. In Poznan, Poland they celebrate the summer soltice by releasing 11,000 paper lanterns into the sky. I didn't get to visit Poznan last summer when I was in Poland but this looks like a blast!
I am going through old e-mails to make sure that I've saved all the important material and found this wonderful quote from Pope Benedict which Fr. Mike found and brought to my attention:
Our life is an open question, an incomplete project, still to be brought to fruition and realized. Each man's fundamental question is: How will this be realized—becoming man? How does one learn the art of living? Which is the path toward happiness? To evangelize means: to show this path—to teach the art of living.
Today is the 75th anniversary of G. K. Chesterton's memorial service in Westminister Cathedral. 2,000 were in attendance and Fr. Ronald Knox preached the panegyric which ended with the last stanza of Chesterton's famous poem:
After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.
The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.
For those of you who have Kindles, it is encouraging to know that much of G. K. C's work is available free online. I must download!
For those of you who are down under and those who have family and friends down under, a Called & Gifted workshop is going to be happening in Sydney in July:
Called and Gifted is a program of the Siena Institute offered in Sydney through the Catholic Adult Education Centre.
We are all called and gifted by God to fulfil a unique vocation. Through Baptism and Confirmation, every Christian receives special gifts from the Holy Spirit called charisms.
Discerning charisms can be a major clue in determining God’s plan for your life, as well as your role in God’s plan for humanity. Knowing your charisms can help you make better decisions, simplify your life, excel at work, free yourself from envy and better appreciate your family’s gifts.
The Called and Gifted Workshop is a tool for helping Catholics discern the spiritual gifts (charisms) they received at Baptism and Confirmation. These charisms are given so that we can be a source of God’s love and providence to others.
Melanie, a participant at a recent Called and Gifted Workshop, said: "The workshop proved to be transformative for me in the space of a few weeks. It was a paradigm shift - a real awakening,"
"What struck me from the beginning was that this was a structured program that let us through a process that involved deep thinking and a challenge to growth. It has a deep personal focus which led to exploring how to be more yourself for the sake of others. This was deeply revelatory"
We are all called and gifted by God to fulfil a unique vocation. Discerning charisms can be a major clue in determining God’s plan for your life, as well as your role in God’s plan for humanity. Knowing your charisms can help you make better decisions, simplify your life, excel at work, free yourself from envy and better appreciate your family’s gifts.
The workshop is run on a Friday evening and all day Saturday. Lunch on Saturday and all handouts are included in the registration cost ($85).
The workshop can be especially useful for: - "Cradle Catholics" and active parishioners - Young adults discerning career/vocational direction - Parents in assisting children live their faith and recognise their gifts - People in transition: changing jobs, empty nesters, returning to work, facing retirement - New or returning Catholics exploring what it means to live their faith as an adult - Catholics discerning a call to religious life or ordination - Parish staff and leaders who want to nurture and empower parishioners
For the registration form please email
or visit www.caec.com.au or call 02 9646 9010.
You have to see this on this Corpus Christi weekend.
In February, two Franciscan Capuchins held a Eucharistic Adoration Flash Mob in front of a busy mall in Preston, UK. They read out a powerful list of Jesus's atttributes in each book of the Bible and then call passers-by to "Come and Kneel Before Him Now". And slowly, one by one, they do. Then they begin to clap before him.
The comments on the You tube page add this information:
A small team of Catholic evangelists mingled with the crowd to hand out cards and explain what was going on. Here are some of the reactions....
"What is this about? What is happening? What is this about?"
One young girl said: "I've not seen anything like this since Church."
"Are they doing this all day? ... Will they be doing it again? ... Are they doing this any where else?"
Two young women asked: "Why does God allow hurt and pain in the world?" They agreed it was not God's fault but ours. Then they asked: "Why doesn't Jesus come again?" We explained that He is here in the form of bread, but would come again and we invited them to think about Him now.
"Is it religious? What is inside that thing?"
A man said: "What is that guy doing?" An old woman with him replied: "That's Jesus. Show respect."
"This is so moving! It is the first time I have seen it done outside. I can't wait to tell my parish priest!"
Talk about taking it to the streets!
The music behind the scenes is "Come, Now is the Time to Worship"
And a poignant side note for those familiar with English Catholic history:
The Capuchin Friars, Brs Mark, Prins & John, return to Preston after 467 years, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, to take responsibility for the Catholic Chaplaincy at the University of central Lancashire. The new Chaplaincy is on the site of the Leper Hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, founded c.1177. In about 1525 the hospital was transferred to the Franciscan Friars who left at the Dissolution in 1539.
It seems that the Franciscans aren't going to wait for students to come to them. It puts a new twist on the popular (if never said by St. Francis) adage: "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words."
I found the website of their Catholic Chaplaincy and noticed something really interesting. Adoration every morning and evening, M-F, and on Saturday & Sunday mornings. And - and this is the first time I have ever seen this in a Catholic setting - a "seeker service" at 11 am on Sunday (described as a "special Mass" for those seeking God). I have no idea how that would vary from a standard parish Mass but it is very interesting.
Obviously this community has a deeply missional focus.
The wonderful, simultaneously-erudite-and-down-to-earth Omar Gutierrez has a great piece on St. Thomas More over at his blog, Regnum Novum. The Uncompromising St. Thomas More and anything that Omar writes is very much worth your time!
You must read and watch this mutli-media NYT interview with Catholic psychotherapist Marsha Linehan. Once a profoundly mentally ill young woman, she was transformed by a incredible encounter with God's love before the Blessed Sacrament and has developed the world's first effective treatment for border line personalities - for people like herself. Be sure and watch the brief video in which Dr. Linehan describes her transforming encounter with God.
It is a must-see if you or family or friends have lived the heart-breaking reality of serious mental illness.
I first heard about her in Seattle while trying to find help for a family member. That she was BD herself was widely known in Seattle so I'm a little puzzled about the "she's coming out" tone of the article. My heart sang, wept, and prayed as I read her story. All I could think was of concentration camp survivor Corrie Ten Boom's saying: "There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will believe us because we were here."
"The patient wanted to know, and her therapist — Marsha M. Linehan of the University of Washington, creator of a treatment used worldwide for severely suicidal people — had a ready answer. It was the one she always used to cut the question short, whether a patient asked it hopefully, accusingly or knowingly, having glimpsed the macramé of faded burns, cuts andwelts on Dr. Linehan’s arms:
“You mean, have I suffered?”
“No, Marsha,” the patient replied, in an encounter last spring. “I mean one of us. Like us. Because if you were, it would give all of us so much hope.”
Notice that in the picture of Dr. Linehan's scarred arm, she is wearing a bracelet medal of Our Lady.
Imagine: our parishes are centers of intercessory prayer where the Blessed Sacrament is regularly exposed in a reverent way for anyone - the mentally ill, non-Catholics, agnostics, seekers, skeptics, anyone - to encounter. A parish where pastors like one I know - who annoints the sick repeatedly in his parish and routinely sees out and out miracles (infertile women become pregnant, clincial depression vanishes, tumors disappear) - and trained prayer teams which include members with the charism of healing are available.
What God might do in our midst. The miracles that would be possible.