The Feast of our founder St Ignatius is celebrated on 31st July by Jesuits and our friends all over the world.
This year we invite you to honour the feast by joining 31 Days of St Ignatius – a series of 31 daily messages of Ignatian inspiration and reflection throughout July.
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Luke 10:1-2. NRSV
Research indicates that people volunteer for a variety of reasons.
"I enjoy sharing faith with children and enriching my own spirituality. It was a way of giving back what I received from my parents and 16 years of Catholic education."
"Jesus challenged us to go forth and teach. Since I wasn’t comfortable doing it from a street corner, it was ideal for me to do it with a small group of children."
"I was looking for an opportunity to meet people from the parish. Volunteering connects me to others and benefits both me and the parish."
"I want to learn more about my Catholic faith. As a catechist, I can now learn what I teach."
With these reasons in mind the parish catechetical leader and the recruitment team can now proceed to personally invite parishoners to explore the role and responsibilities of being a catechist.
Why Do People Volunteer
Summer is upon us and parents everywhere are getting ready. Families are scheduling their getaways, camps for kids, Vacation Bible Schools. Soon they will be pulling out last year’s swim suits, checking to see if their outdoor grills still work and planning their gardens.
Now is the perfect time for parish catechetical leaders to introduce families to Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home; University of Georgia Action Plan for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
This guide explains how families can put Pope Francis’ vision of caring for the earth into practice. The easy to read Action Plan discusses the beauty of God’s gift of creation and the important role we play as stewards. It has loads of environmental information, prayers and practical ideas for families to share faith and nurture the earth at the same time.
Parents can plan easy and fun activities such as biking instead of driving, or visits to state parks, botanical gardens, zoos and aquariums. These are things families would probably do during the summer anyway, but now they can do them with an added appreciation for the sacredness of nature, as well as for the sacredness of the time they spend together.
So while they are cleaning out closets, planting flowers, spending time outdoors relaxing or just conserving energy and water (which also saves money) let parents and children know God is in their midst and what they are doing is holy!
For free copies in both English and Spanish of Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home; University of Georgia Action Plan for the Archdiocese of Atlanta go to http://archatl.com/catholic-life/refreshatl/
Patrice Spirou serves as assistant director of religious education in the office of formation and discipleship in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
“So how long is Pentecost season supposed to last?” I asked my husband the other day. Since he is a professor of worship, I figured he would know the answer.
“Well, Pentecost isn’t really a season. It’s a feast day,” he replied.
“So you mean everything after Pentecost is actually ordinary time, all the way to Advent.”
“Well, yeah, officially.”
This was news to me, since at our church we have fashioned for ourselves a several-week period after Pentecost that we handle with nearly as much seasonal fanfare as Advent or Lent. We bring out the flame-themed liturgical art, we string up banners with Galatians 5:22-23 written out in numerous languages, and we sing through our repertoire of songs about the Spirit.
Maybe we are kidding ourselves. That outburst of Spirit-energy we managed to whump up on Pentecost is tough to maintain, especially for an average, mild-mannered Reformed congregation like mine. Maybe we should admit that what we’re really facing starting the Monday after Pentecost is ordinary time, the long slog of the liturgical year.
I’ve been thinking about long slogs lately, mostly because of my elderly parents and their incremental but recently accelerated decline. Some of us experience long slogs at work, when we’re overloaded and underappreciated and there’s no end in sight. Church communities have their tough times, too, when conflicts plague us and we wonder what unity in Christ might look like because we sure haven’t seen it around here for a long while. Probably everyone experiences private long-slogs in their spiritual life, times of dryness and absence when the path feels lonely and the burden heavy.
We seem to associate the Spirit either with giddy excitement, miraculous power, and sudden change—or with the gentle breath of God, the still small voice, blessed assurance. Those are all actions of the Spirit, of course, but when Paul writes that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, I think he is talking about what the Spirit does in those long stretches of ordinary time that make up most of our lives.
When I was a kid, I made a cute little banner of the fruits of the Spirit. It was colorful and neat and cheerful. I realize now, however, that there’s nothing cute or tidy about receiving the fruits of the Spirit. They demand of us, instead, a long, painful, and messy process of self-emptying, the kind of self-emptying that is the necessary preparation for Spirit-filling.
With that in mind, I wonder if Galatians 5:22-23 is a trail map for that sanctification process. And I wonder if the Apostle Paul—who understood a thing or two about ego-stripping—has given us the map in backwards order. Because it seems to me that self-control is a first and necessary step, and in its own way the easiest, being as it is about deeds and words rather than inner states. Self-control is what enables us to turn aside from unfaithfulness, quell the angry retort of the wounded ego, bite the nasty tongue, count to ten, and do the good deed even when the warm feeling isn’t there, just because it’s right. Daily repetitions of kind deeds and gentle words sooner or later add up to patterns, and patterns eventually mature into qualities—gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness. All that tough spiritual labor, in turn, develops patience as surely as months of regular training develop endurance.
The last three fruits, I suspect, are the most advanced because they describe not just choices or qualities but inner states. Who of us can claim more than fleeting moments of deep, divine peace? Or joy, for that matter? Or perfect love: who can claim that? Yet peace is the necessary prerequisite for joy, and joy makes up the largest portion of the fullness of love. And love is the fullest expression of God’s presence, by the Spirit, in the human soul.
This is advanced spiritual stuff for sure, and those few people who get that far on the path tend to radiate with God-power and we tend to call them saints. Yes, I know: we don’t achieve or work for the fruits of the Spirit. They are gifts. But I think they come, when they come, not so much in the rush of mighty wind and flame, nor in the serenity of a Taizé chant or a quiet moment—but through thousands of small and ordinary Spirit-promptings in the long slog of our ordinary days.
Follow Debra Rienstra at The 12
From: The Management Tip of the Day
Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 4 p.m. EDT
Learn more at www.Sadlier.com/ReligionWebinars
Open the virtual doors to effective catechesis. Effective catechists engage their students. Today, engaging students requires opening the virtual doors to our digital world. Join Don Kurre for a webinar on the benefits, opportunities, and tools available only when you open those virtual doors. You’ll leave ready to implement these digital strategies right away to enrich your ministry.
Don Kurre has served as a Director of Religious Education in parishes in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Diocese of Grand Island, as well as Supervisor of the North Platte Catholic Offices. Past President of NCCL and an author of many articles, Don was the 2013 recipient of the F. Sadlier Dinger Award for outstanding leadership and achievements in catechetical ministry. He earned his MA in religious studies from Indiana University.
During the worship service last Sunday at my church, we were saying the Apostle’s Creed together, and naturally in this Easter season I noticed especially the words focusing on the Easter event. “On the third day he rose again from the dead,” we proclaimed. And in the section on the Holy Spirit, we professed our faith in “the resurrection of the body.” Familiar, precious words. Suddenly it occurred to me, though: do we believe in the resurrection of the mind?
I had spent the week before helping my 85-year-old parents through the latest crisis. Dad had been in the hospital for bronchitis and then went to a nursing home temporarily for rehab. He’s still there now. The plan is to get him stronger through physical therapy and then get him home again, with daily visits from nurses and home health aids. We’re all hopeful that this will happen soon. The present crisis will resolve. But I have watched him for several years getting physically weaker and mentally more forgetful, more confused, more distant. The truth is, we may see occasional upturns, but the overall trend is downward. Diminishment is the unavoidable, relentless, cruel truth of old age.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is probably the most famous and most loved woman. This is because of her unique role as Mother of God. God chose Mary of Nazareth above all women to be the mother of the Savior, the Son of God. Luke’s Gospel reveals that the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary her role in God’s plan for salvation, and she agreed, calling herself the handmaid of God. As a result of Mary’s yes, the human race regained eternal life. For this reason she is called the second Eve. Certain privileges flow from Mary’s special mission.
I like what Archbishop Blasé Cupich has been about this past year. He is with his people at daily mass, visitations hither, thither and yon, an ongoing Twitter presence to engage people, significant statements and vision about immigration, family, Pope Francis. And now he has challenged the Archdiocese of Chicago to dream big.
While he is focusing on Chicago, I suggest that we as catechetical leaders take a serious look at his seven priorities for a vital parish community. What are the implications for us in our own parishes? What do we as parish catechetical leaders need to be about.
I am looking for individuals to share reflections on one of the seven priorities.
How can parish catechetical leaders contribute to the vision "renew my church" in parishes throughout the United States? What are you doing in your parish? What would you like to do next year? I look forward to hearing from you. I will include in future issues of www.eCatechist.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will share your responses with Archbishop Cupich.
Image from the National Catholic Reporter
Each generation attempts to fill the gaps in the generation that preceded it. In the pre- and Vatican II generations we have a situation where Catholics grew up in a religion. Everything was in place to enforce the rules and regulations that defined a good Catholic. There was an ideal to strive for. A bar to be reached. The line between good and bad behavior was clearly defined and publicly proclaimed. A good Catholic was one who toed the line. The gap in this approach was the lack of recognition that faith is a gift to be received, not a command to be obeyed. Faith elicits commitment, not subservience.
The post-Vatican II generations find themselves lost in place. Today's Catholic community is not stable. The values and practices it models are diverse and often contradictory. As a result, for many post-Vatican II Catholics there seems to be no firm ground to stand on. They are tired of an on-going search for faith which they believe is readily available in the formal teachings and traditional practices of the Catholic Church. Unlike their predecessors, they find value in rules and regulations and are drawn to more traditional practices and orthodoxy.
When we were born, where we were born and the experiences surrounding our growing up not only shape our identity but also influence our theological vision and tactics. They are our generational "mini-narratives" that always travel with us. As a result, we, as catechetical leaders, have a professional responsibility to reflect critically on our generational tendencies and biases and to be aware of how they impact our theological vision and pastoral practice. God placed us all in the exact moment in time where he wanted us to be; now it is up to each of us to be aware of the crucial key of generational differences in our interactions with each other and in our formal efforts to share effectively the light of faith.
For Further Reading The Next America
I recommend Paul Taylor's The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and Looming Generational Showdown (New York: Public Affairs, 2014). It is well-written and provides an insightful picture of the generational shifts in America that are redefining who we are and where we may be headed. Paul Taylor is the executive vice-president of the Pew Research Center and a former reporter for the Washington Post.
Dr. Tom Walters is emeritus professor of Religious Education at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. His research interests have centered on parish and diocesan catechetical leaders in the United States: who they are, what they do and their effectiveness.
He has served as president of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL), Midwest Association of Theological Schools (MATS), and Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry (AGPIM), and a member of the board for the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education (APPRE).
His most recent book is A Crucial Key (National Catholic Educational Association, 2009), a study of generational differences among current and future catechetical leaders, which he co-authored with his wife, Rita. Tom and Rita are the recipients of the NCEA's 2012 C. Albert Koob Award for outstanding contribution to Catholic education.
Pope Paul VI and the United States Catholic Bishops addressed this very question in some of their writings. They suggest a three-fold process.
“The study of sacred Scriptures must be a door opened to every believer.”
- Pope Francis. The Joy of the Gospel #175
All dioceses throughout the United States offer opportunities for the education, formation, and certification of catechists.
Such training is offered in a variety of formats for individual study, small group study, classes and conferences.
To assist diocesan directors and parish catechetical leaders, eCatechist.com introduces a process to educate catechists and other adults using two books by Steve Mueller.
The Catechist’s Guide to Reading Your Bible: A Catholic View
Who Do You Say That I Am? The Catechist’s Guide to Jesus in the Gospels
This is simple, low tech, and easy to facilitate.
To learn more about The Catechist’s Guide to Reading Your Bible: A Catholic View.
To learn more about Who Do You Say That I Am? The Catechist’s Guide to Jesus in the Gospels.
To download a copy of the “Catechist’s Learning Page.”
As you can see, this process of reading, understanding and application is simple and low tech. It can be used individually or is easily facilitated in small and large groups. Furthermore, eCatechist.com will recommend additional titles specifically selected for the education and formation of catechists in coming months.
This process of reading, studying, and using the “Catechist Learning Page” will be used with additional titles specifically selected for education and formation of catechists.
Please contact Dan Pierson with questions or for ideas about implementation in your diocese or parish. email@example.com or 616.956.5044
Former CRS Board Chair and Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan frames the season of Lent by reflecting on our journey back to God. Watch the video now.
Click below to see all the videos in the CRS What Is Lent? series:
You can view, share, and subscribe to all CRS videos on the CRS YouTube Channel.
How late is too late for confirmation?
By Father Mark R. Francis, C.S.V., who is currently President and Professor of Liturgy at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. His most recent book, Local Worship, Global Church, Popular Religion and the Liturgy was published by Liturgical Press in 2013.
Please take the survey that follows this essay.
It’s time to stop celebrating confirmation as the sacrament of departure. There’s an old joke about two pastors discussing their mutual problem with bats in the attics of their respective churches. “I’ve tried everything,” Father Brown complains to Father Smith, “exterminators, electric wires, traps, poison—everything…but I just can’t seem to get rid of them.” Father Smith smiles and says “Don’t worry. I have found the perfect solution…. I had the bishop come to confirm the bats … and they never returned!”