Quote and Thought of the Week:question mark in sky

“What most prevents us from becoming saints is undoubtedly the difficulty we have in consenting fully to everything that happens to us, not, as we have seen, in the sense of a fatalistic passivity, but n the sense of a trusting total abandonment into the hands of our Father God.”

~ Fr. Jacques Philippe: In the School of the Holy Spirit

 

Fr. Phillipe speaks about the reality that when we encounter trials we often rebel or bear them unwillingly.  His solution is to accept God’s invitation to embrace a positive and fruitful attitude quoting St. Therese as a model: “I choose it all!” He says this means “I choose everything that God wants for me.  I won’t content myself with merely enduring, but by a free act of my will; I decide to choose what I have not chosen”.  The exterior reality does not change but ones interior attitude does and that makes a significant difference.  “This consent”, says Fr. Philippe, “inspired by love and trust, makes us free and active instead of passive, and enables God to draw good out of everything that happens to us whether good or bad” (Pg. 34).

 

Come Holy Spirit assist me to respond to the grace you’ve given me to practice abandonment!


Our Father

I remember when I first became a DRE I had just graduated from grad. school and once I settled into the job I was dumbfounded how many things I needed to do that I didn’t remember learning.  Here are a few things, for what they are worth, to consider as you get started.

 

1. Come up with a Calendar.  I realized early on that I needed to come up with a calender both for the days we were meeting and the days we were not going to meet as well as a catechist schedule so they knew what they needed to cover each week.  I will cover this one further in my next segment.

2. Consider how you are going communicate.  When I began in the late 90’s, the best way to communicate was through the bulletin and flyers.  Today that has expanded to much more – social media, websites and emails to name a few.  It’s important to discern in your parish what are best ways to communicate with parents, new and seasoned volunteers, and the parish at large.

3. Seek to work with your fellow staff members.  In a parish many things are going on to proclaim the Gospel to those in your parish and probably beyond your parish boundaries.  What are your colleagues doing and how can you work with them to make an impact in your parish.  Working together benefits the whole parish not to mention the various ministry leaders.

 

Anyone else have something to add regarding one of these considerations?  Please do share.


over hereMany new DRE’s that I have known either have a degree in theology but have not had much practical experience as they enter into parish ministry or they have been asked by their pastor to take on this position but have not had much catechetical training or theology.  I would like to begin a series to new DRE’s/CRE’s about what to consider as you begin your endeavor of directing and coordinating the ministry of Catechesis in your parish.

#1: Take your Time

Too often I’ve seen DRE/CRE’s begin to make too many changes too quickly.  Each one of us has gifts and talents that can really help impact the parish programs of Religious Education of children, teens and adults.  And many new ideas and changes that one wants to make are good.  However, my cautionary note is to be careful when making changes.  I want to give you 3 things I have had to learn at a new parish:

1) Listen to those who have been around longer than you and carefully discern the wisdom they have even if you don’t agree with some of their ideas.  This can cause great frustration and division if one does not prudently and slowly make changes.

2) Find out what makes those around you tick.  This really helps you understand why catechists, fellow staff, and/or parishioners feel strongly about how things are currently done.

3) To keep morale up be positive about what others around you are doing.  Granted you may not love everything they are doing but let them know that you believe that together God is going to use you and them to do something wonderful.

 

What tip do you have for new DRE/CRE’s?unlock


I recently gave a catechist retreat/In-Service to a group of catechists at a parish in the Archdiocese.  One of the things I shared with them is the importance of them bringing everything together.  It is not the textbook, the DVD, the music, the pictures or the great use of the powerpoint/smartboard you used that helped make your class a fruitful one.  Although helpful and very important in passing on the faith in a suitable manner to young people in the Third Millennium, nothing replaces the person of the catechist.  The catechist is the person who unites, organizes and links all the great tools available together in order that our Catholic Faith can be made known in the lives of their students.  Our Faith is full of life and has the potential to draw students into the life and mission of the Church.  It is the person of the catechist who is the linchpin, the crux, and central to helping students encounter Christ and the Gospel Message.

The National Directory of Catechesis says: “No number of attractive personal qualities, no amount of skill and training, and no level of scholarship of erudition can replace the power of God’s word communicated through a life lived in the Spirit (pg. 243).” A person who desires to grow in holiness and proclaim in word and deed a life rooted in Christ is irreplaceable in the ministry of Catechesis.

Come Holy Spirit lead us as catechists to radiate you through our teaching, and through our very being!  And students will be saying…Ahh see how they love Jesus…I want that too”.


sacred heartToday in our catechesis there is a great need to renew our devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  St. Thomas Aquinas defines devotion as a willingness “to give oneself readily to what concerns the service of God” (Summa, II-II, q. 82 a. 1).  As you’ve probably read many many times that our goal, our mission, our aim in catechesis is to “put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy, with Jesus Christ” (GDC 80).  What better way to do this than fostering a devotion to the Sacred Heart.  Pope Pius XII said:

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by its very nature is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us, and at the same time, an exercise of our love by which we are related to God and to other men.

Fr. Timothy O’Donnel, who wrote a book on the Sacred Heart, The Heart of the Redeemer said the following:

From this definition it can be seen that authentic devotion to the Sacred Heart is not merely an optional set of pious practices (which may be very helpful) but an essential element of the Christian way of life. All Christians are called to the comprehension of certain truths concerning God and to a response in love to them. In living a life in imitation of Christ, as found in the Gospels and taught by the Church, the Christian should use all the spiritual aids offered to him by God. He should fill his life with an ever growing and deepening love for God and his fellow man. Every Christian will build his own unique spirituality upon this common foundation, which should include a response to the Heart of Christ that gives honor to the divine love and is offered for the sake of that love.

 

How Can we renew this Devotion in our Catechesis?

1) Expose students to images of the Sacred Heart and reference it so they can make the connection between Christ’s heart and our hearts which are called to respond to His love and grace.  Fr. James Kubicki, in his book Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus said that this devotion is the devotion of devotions because, “devotion to the Heart of Jesus is a response to God’s devotion to us.”  Therefore, providing art that reveals this helps students and adults alike draw closer to Christ.

 

2) Always help students keep in mind that God has loved us first and his heart burns for us.  Pope John Paul II said “It is invaluable to converse with Christ and, leaning against Jesus’ breast like his beloved disciple, we can feel the infinite love of his Heart.”  Taking the time in our catechesis to do this is important.  Yes, it will require some silence, yes it will require us to maybe do things differently when we help kids enter into prayer, but it is infinitely valuable and worth it.

 

3) A few concrete ways to engage your students: Sacred Heart3

 

I close with words from the Catechism about the significant of the Sacred Heart image:

Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: “The Son of God. . . loved me and gave himself for me.”116 He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation,117 “is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings” without exception.118

 

 

 

 


Monsignor Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington posted a wonderful explanation of the qualities of an evangelist.  I have included most of the post below.  The General Directory for Catechesis and the National Directory for Catechesis are clear about the need to evangelize those we are catechizing.  Here a 7 qualities to consider:

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.  (Luke 10:1).

Now these lead teams, these evangelizers,  received seven basic instructions from the Lord on how to effectively evangelize. These seven basic habits are also for us who have receive the mandate to evangelize (cf Matt 28: 19). Let’s look at them briefly:

1. Supplication - Jesus said, The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Hence before any effective evangelizing takes place there must be prayer. In my own parish we are preparing to go out two by two in the Fall. Prior to this we have prayed for over a year, holding Eucharistic holy hours, praying at Mass and Bible study for a fruitful team of laborers sent, not by man, but by God. On Pentecost Sunday 50 people signed up to walk door to door. They are the fruit of prayer. So step one for effective evangelization is to have a praying community asking for laborers. When we go door to door fifty others have signed up to stay in Church and pray as we walk. Habit one: Pray!

2: Sobriety. The Lord tells them Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3) We do have to be sober about the fact that we are in world that is both critical of and hostile to our faith. We are bound to experience persecution, ridicule, anger, being ignored,  misunderstanding, misinterpretation, misrepresentations and just plain missiles. That we experience the world’s hatred or anger does not mean we have done anything wrong. The Lord was clear that the hatred of the world was a sign of true discipleship: If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:18-20). Too many Christians today want the world to like them and think that holiness is about winning a popularity contest and being nice. Well the fact is that Jesus did not end up on the cross by winning a popularity contest and just being nice. He had enemies and so do we. We are not to hate them. We are to love them but we have to be sober about accepting some degree of hatred from the world. And to those who have won the popularity contest and have no enemies Jesus warns: Woe to you when all men speak well of you,  for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets (Luke 6:26). The true disciple and true evangelizer will experience some degree of hatred, anger and scorn. We must be sober about this. We do not look for a fight, but hatred will come. An old spiritual says, “I been ‘buked and I been scorned. I been talked ’bout sures yo’ born…..” Habit 2 is sobriety

3. Simplicity – The Lord tells us to travel light: Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way (Lk 10:4) We are to bring nothing along that will weigh us down or hinder our task. The fact is we all have a lot of baggage in this life that hinders us from the more important work of Evangelizing our family and others. Too many parents barely know their kids because they work long hours at jobs to pay for a life style that is too expensive. On top of this we add endless projects and pursuits that keep us running all over God’s green acre. Perhaps good in themselves, they become too much of a good thing and we end up barely knowing the first people we are to evangelize, our children. The Lord says, lighten up, less, is more, simplify and do with less. Do what is more important first: God, family, parish and community. Learn to prioritize and say “no” when necessary. Bottom line is that we have too much baggage, too many distractions and the Gospel goes unlived and unpreached. The unusual instruction “Greet no one along the way” means that we ought not allow any relationship to hinder us either. There are folks who can sidetrack us hinder our progress and we ought to limit such contacts charitably.

4.  Serenity – The Lord says, Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household’ (Luke 10: 5) Though the world may be hostile at times, the Lord tells us, upon entering into any place to say “Peace to the his household.” We do not go forth with hostility but with a serene joy and love. We must love those to whom we announce the Gospel. We are to radiate a serene confidence, joy and peace. We are not picking a fight or trying to win an argument. If we need to clarify a misunderstanding someone has we ought to do so peacefully and with serene confidence.  Because we are confident in the truth we are serene in it. Shalom, peace is at our core, not hostility or aggressiveness.

5.  Stability– The Lord instructs us Stay in the same house…..Do not move about from one house to another. (Luke 10:7) Thus the Lord tells us to find our place and stay there. In the end, the best evangelization takes place where there are deeper relationships. But deep relationships cannot exist when we are running all over the place and relating to others only superficially. We ought to stay put more with family, parish and community and have deep roots. Too many people barely know their own family. No wonder the faith is not passed on in the diffuse, rushed and sporadic climate of the family. Find home and stay there routinely. Build deep relationships.

6. Sensitivity – the Lord says Eat and drink what is offered to you,…..cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ In other words the Lord counsels simple human kindness where we do not criticize about unnecessary things like the quality of food, or matters of preference. Further he counsels that we have a charge to bring healing and help to others. We may cure the sick by physical cures but the kind of healing necessary is often more emotional and spiritual. We ought to manifest care for others. Even the simple act of listening to someone can bring great healing. Without simple human kindness, declaring that the Kingdom of God is at hand can not only be empty but it can make the kingdom seem odious. The say to others that the Kingdom of God is at hand means that they can start living a whole new life. We ought then to manifest kindness, bring forth cures by helping people find wholeness and healing from the many blows this world inflicts. The Kingdom of God is not only about doctrine, it is about healing, holiness, and the wholeness that comes from both as well as from true doctrine.

7. Soulful Joy– The disciples returned with great joy and the Lord celebrates with them and helps to deepen their joy. There is nothing worse than a sour-faced saint or a bored believer. In the end, the greatest evangelization is to manifest a joy at what God is doing in our lives. This joy is not a sentimental emotional joy necessarily but a deeper serene joy rooted in confidence, hope and love. Do people see you in this way? If they do the ground is fertile for evangelization. St. Peter says, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15). Now of course giving an answer presupposes that someone notices the hope and joy in us and noticing this they ask. Does anyone notice this about you?


New-IdeasOver the last number of months I’ve been thinking about how the New Evangelization can affect parish life and ministry. Matthew Kelly gave an interesting talk to religious educators that makes some excellent points on things we need to consider in parish ministry today.  There is a great need to consider new ways and approaches to meet the needs of parishioners in the Third Millennium.

 

http://youtu.be/JLmp6u74KN8 

 

Here are some questions and reflections about the New Evangelization and parish ministry.

     1) In what ways are parishes in maintenance mode vs. mission mode?

     2) What needs to be considered today in ministry that get’s us out of merely being in                        maintenance mode towards mission mode?

     3) What does a parish in “mission mode” love like?

     4) In what ways do Q&S Catholics affect your ministry?

     5) What principles can we empower, inspire and implement to help ourselves, those in ministry and the faithful in general make Catholicism intriguing.  It is so rich and inspiring but what do we need to consider in ministry to bring that out?

6) Do you find that this video and it’s content contribute to the discussion on the new evangelization?

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