Archive for the ‘Formation’ category

Men’s Evening of Reflection planned

August 6, 2013

A group of Catholic men will be gathering on Thursday, August 22nd for an evening of prayer, formation, food and fellowship.  The evening will begin at 6:30 at St Monica’s Church in West Wyoming where the men will pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in honor of the Queenship of Mary.  The Rosary will be followed immediately by Mass.  The men will then travel to Dino’s Italian Bistro in Shavertown.  Pizza and beverages will be served.  A video presentation entitled “The Man Talk” by Matt Fradd of Catholic Answers will be shown.  In the talk, Matt Fradd lays out a vision of authentic Catholic masculinity and how to achieve it.  This will be a great opportunity for fathers and sons to hear the truth together on some sensitive topics like sexual integrity and respect for women.  The evening will end at 10:00.  A free-will offering will be accepted to defray the cost of the refreshments. Expect an awesome night!

Please email your registration (with the number of men attending) so we can plan how much pizza to order (email to Glenn at gmyanik [at] epix [dot] net).

If you’re not sure you should make the effort to attend, perhaps this video will motivate you.

Retreat talks from Michigan

February 25, 2013
Paco

Paco

On the website of Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan (so prominently mentioned in Forming Intentional Disciples as an exemplary Catholic parish), in their Audio Library, you’ll find the four talks given by Paco Gavrilides at the parish’s recent men’s retreat:

 

Talk 1
Talk 2
Talk 3
Talk 4

The theme of the retreat was “Discipleship, the Authentic Christian Life.”
Paco is a member of Christ the King parish, works for the Archdiocese of Detroit, teaches at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and is part of the Speakers Bureau of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men.

At the beginning of his first talk, Paco recalls his mild pre-retreat anxiety concerning the potential low turnout of men for the retreat, and shares something that the Lord said to him in his prayer time:

Don’t be afraid for the lack of men.  Rather, be afraid for the lack of grace.

As history has proven, God can do great things with just a few committed men, empowered by the Spirit of Pentecost, who are open and willing to cooperate with his grace!

Holy Men Utilize the Gifts of the Holy Spirit — #7: Fear of the Lord

May 26, 2012

The Gift of Fear of the Lord generates within us an awe, reverence and respect for God based upon his sovereignty, especially in contrast to our littleness and weakness.

Bd John Paul II:

[The Gift of Fear of the Lord] is a sincere and reverential feeling that a person experiences before the tremendous majesty of God, especially when he reflects upon his own infidelity and the danger of being “found wanting” at the eternal judgment which no one can escape. The believer goes and places himself before God with a “contrite spirit” and a “humbled heart”, knowing well that he must await his own salvation “with fear and trembling”. Nonetheless, that does not mean an irrational fear, but a sense of responsibility and fidelity to the law.

All this is what the Holy Spirit takes up and elevates with the gift of the Fear of the Lord. It certainly does not exclude the trepidation that arises from an awareness of the faults committed and the prospect of divine chastisement, but mitigates it with faith in the divine mercy and with the certitude of the fatherly concern of God who wills the eternal salvation of each one. With this gift, however, the Holy Spirit instills in the soul most of all a filial love which is a sentiment rooted in love of God. The soul is now concerned not to displease God, whom he loves as a Father, not to offend him in anything, to “abide in him” and grow in charity.

The filial love mentioned by JP2 produces a filial fear, which Fr Gabriel contrasts with servile fear:

Captured by love for such a good Father, the soul has but one desire, to return Him love for love, to give Him pleasure and to be united with Him forever.  Consequently, it fears nothing but sin, which offends God and alone can separate it from Him.  What a difference there is between this filial fear, which is the fruit of love, and servile fear, which arises from the dread of punishment!  It is true that the fear of judgment and the divine punishment is salutary and in certain cases can serve greatly to hold a soul back from sin; but if it does not change gradually into filial fear, it will never be sufficient to impel the soul on to sanctity.  Fear that is merely servile contracts the soul and makes it petty, whereas filial fear dilates it and spurs it on in the way of generosity and perfection.

Here are some occasions on which we should engage (or ask for more of) the Gift of Fear of the Lord:

  • If we have been taking God for granted
  • If we have been ignoring God
  • If we neglect to acknowledge God’s action in our lives
  • If you’ve become complacent about the existence of certain sins or imperfections in your life
  • If you’ve never prostrated yourself before God in your personal prayer time
  • If you tend to go months at a time without receiving the Sacrament of Penance
  • If your spirituality has led you to fall into an excessive familiarity with God, tending to treat God as an equal

If you can think of other times when we should engage the Gift of Fear of the Lord, please share them with us in the Comment Box.

Holy Men Utilize the Gifts of the Holy Spirit — #6: Fortitude

May 25, 2012

I enjoy the vigor of Fr Tanquerey’s description of the Gift of Fortitude:

The Gift of Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and an energy which enable it to do great things joyfully and fearlessly despite all obstacles …. To act and to endure, even amid difficulties of the most arduous nature, and at the price of heroic effort are the two acts to which the Gift of Fortitude leads us …. In many an instance we must do the heroic in order to preserve the state of grace, and it is precisely this Gift of Fortitude that enables us to perform in a spirit of generosity these acts.

Fr Cameron seems to add a defensive perspective:

Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that Fortitude (also called Courage), is that kind of firmness of mind and spirit that we need both for doing good and for enduring evil. We require this steadfastness especially when embracing good and eschewing evil become more difficult. The Spirit’s Gift of Fortitude preserves us from yielding to untoward pressure.

The Fortitude that is a Gift of the Holy Spirit operates as a certain, unshakable confidence that will see us through the terrors and trials of earthly life to the eternal joys of heaven. Endowed with Fortitude, we are prevented from giving in to any fear that menaces us on the way to God. Fortitude will not grant these fears a hearing. As a kind of holy censor, Fortitude removes all credibility and influence from the fear and discouragement that would turn us back from the way of Christ.

Here are some occasions on which we should engage (or ask for more of) the Gift of Fortitude:

  • When we are faced with temptation
  • To help us be kind to those who we don’t really like very much
  • In order to better persevere through a trial or suffering, whether brief or protracted
  • For the persistence and endurance required when we have challenging tasks to perform
  • When we have no desire to pray, but know we should
  • When we are about to face martyrdom
  • To help us keep silence, when our impulse would compel us to make our opinion known

If you can think of other times when we should engage the Gift of Fortitude, please share them with us in the Comment Box.

Holy Men Utilize the Gifts of the Holy Spirit — #5: Counsel

May 24, 2012

Fr Peter John Cameron OP reminds us

The human person stands in a constant state of searching. The Catechism tells us that “only in God will man find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for …. He cannot live fully according to the truth unless he freely acknowledges God’s love and entrusts himself to his Creator.”  In our searching, we need the invaluable guidance — the advice or “counsel” — of God, who knows all things. Such direction comes to us from heaven through the Spirit’s Gift of Counsel, whereby we are guided by the very advice of God.

Saint Thomas Aquinas compares it to the experience of those involved in human affairs who lack what they need to work things out for themselves. In such a case, we simply turn to those more suitably qualified in order to benefit from their wisdom and expertise. The divine gift of counsel so moves us to avail ourselves of the guiding insights and direction of the Holy Spirit.

With the Gift of Counsel the Holy Spirit gives a supernatural ability to regulate one’s personal life in regard to the difficult actions to be accomplished and the hard choices to be made, as well as in the governance and direction given to others.

Bd John Paul II explains it well:

…the Gift of Counsel…guides the soul from within, enlightening it about what to do, especially when it is a matter of important choices (for example, of responding to a vocation), or about a path to be followed among difficulties and obstacles. In fact experience confirms that “the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans”, as the Book of Wisdom says (9:14).

The Gift of Counsel acts like a new breath in the conscience, suggesting to it what is licit, what is becoming, what is more fitting for the soul (St Bonaventure). Thus the conscience becomes like the “healthy eye” of which the Gospel speaks (Mt 6:21), an eye which acquires, as it were, a new pupil, by means of which it is able to see better what to do in a given situation, no matter how intricate and difficult. Aided by this gift, the Christian penetrates the true meaning of gospel values, in particular those expressed in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5:7).

Here are some occasions on which we should engage (or ask for more of) the Gift of Counsel:

  • Whenever you are faced with a difficult decision about an important matter
  • Any time someone asks you for advice about an important situation in their life
  • If you are presented with a moral dilemma, especially if it involves a loved one (e.g., should you attend the lakeshore wedding ceremony of your daughter who has decided to marry a divorced Buddhist with a Scientology ‘minister’ officiating?)
  • When you are attempting to discern God’s will in a situation
  • If you are providing spiritual direction to someone
  • If you are in a position in which you are frequently asked spiritual or moral questions (a teacher in CCD, RCIA, religion class, etc.)

If you can think of other times when we should engage the Gift of Counsel, please share them with us in the Comment Box.

Holy Men Utilize the Gifts of the Holy Spirit — #4: Wisdom

May 23, 2012

The Gift of Wisdom helps us “to judge and order all things in accordance with divine norms and with a connaturality that flows from loving union with God,” as defined by Fr Jordan Aumann OP.

Bd John Paul II describes the Gift of Wisdom as

…the root of a new awareness, a knowledge permeated by charity, by means of which the soul becomes familiar, so to say, with divine things, and tastes them.  St Thomas speaks precisely of “a certain taste of God,” through which the truly wise person is not simply the one who knows the things of God but rather the one who experiences and lives them.

Fr Peter John Cameron OP summarizes this definition in this way:  “Wisdom is where Knowledge and experience coexist.”

Fr Tanquerey teaches that the Gift of Wisdom “enables us to discern God and divine things in their ultimate principles, and [gives] us a relish for them.”  Following St Thomas, he says that it gives us “a supernatural taste which acts upon the will and enables it to relish divine things as by a sort of natural attraction.”  He offers this analogy:

It is like the sunbeam, a ray of light illuminating and delighting the eyes of the soul, and a ray of heat that warms the heart, inflames it with love, and fills it with joy.

It seems to me that the Christians who are most attractive are the ones in whom the Gift of Wisdom is operating.  Often their very countenance exudes their authentic communion with God and their love of others, and their humble demeanor is a witness to their confidence and comfort in the Father’s love.

Here are some occasions on which we should engage (or ask for more of) the Gift of Wisdom:

  • If you find that you’re still sulking because your parish has been closed
  • If you lose your joy easily when things don’t go the way you had hoped
  • If, upon returning to your pew immediately after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, you are easily distracted, unable or unwilling to engage in a fervent, heartfelt thanksgiving
  • If you never weep during your personal prayer time
  • If your heart never burns within you as you read Sacred Scripture (cf. Luke 24:32)
  • If you simply cannot envision your Heavenly Father wrapping his arms around you in a big, manly, affectionate bear hug
  • If you lack an abiding peace, joy, confidence
  • If you spend too much time dissatisfied, complaining, immersed in negativity

If you can think of other times when we should engage the Gift of Wisdom, please share them with us in the Comment Box.

Holy Men Utilize the Gifts of the Holy Spirit — #3: Understanding

May 22, 2012

The Gift of Understanding gives us a deep insight into revealed truths and divine mysteries.  It helps us to see the truths of faith under so full a light that, though we do not fully comprehend their nature, we are confirmed in our belief through this penetration into these truths and mysteries.  [Notice that its scope is not limited to created things, as was the Gift of Knowledge.]

Fr Peter John Cameron OP explains it this way:

…because we have been created for and ordained to supernatural happiness, we remain ever restless and unfulfilled unless we reach beyond ourselves to certain deeper and ineffable truths. Yet we are not alone in our desire to understand and to be understood. God also wants to be understood — by us! And so he blesses us through the Holy Spirit with the Gift of Understanding, to endow us with a certain, intimate knowledge of himself.

We rely on the Holy Spirit through the Gift of Understanding to enlighten our minds to recognize the supernatural truth on which our wills should be intent. In the process, we come to see all human deeds in relation to the rule of the Eternal Law and our goal of divine communion.  The supernatural light of Understanding surpasses the range of natural reason as it endows us with the knowledge of the truth of how human acts are measured by divine law.  Herein lies the supreme value of the Gift of Understanding. 

For Understanding reveals to us how God’s eternal and necessary truths serve as steadfast standards for human conduct. Since the field of the Gift of Understanding extends to all interests relevant to the faith, Understanding also encompasses the good deeds we perform. Understanding enlightens us regarding works to be done. For human actions are governed by eternal reasons. And our human reason cleaves to God’s providential reasons by contemplating and being advised by them. In this way our human reason is perfected by the Gift of Understanding so as to facilitate our ready undertaking of good deeds.

In Divine Intimacy, Fr Gabriel explains how the Gift of Understanding helps us to progress in prayer:

The Gift of Understanding will…intervene with its light to illuminate our studies and our meditations on divine things, making us penetrate into their depths, making us “see” the intimate sense of the sacred texts and giving us a correct understanding of God’s commandments and counsels.  In this way, the Holy Spirit introduces the soul to a form of prayer more simple and profound:  the mind no longer needs to reason or to look for convincing motives; under the illuminating touch of the Holy Spirit, the soul’s gaze is arrested and fixed on truth.  This simple contemplative gaze reveals God to the soul better than any theological study…

Here are some occasions on which we should engage (or ask for more of) the Gift of Understanding:

  • If we find our purity of heart, our single-heartedness for God’s kingdom, is challenged by the rationalizations and allurements of the culture
  • When we know we should have a better answer for those who ask “How can a God of love allow all this suffering?”
  • If we have trouble recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread, the words of Absolution, the baptism of a baby, etc.
  • When we think God may be working in our lives in a specific situation, but aren’t sure
  • When we are unsure if some good work that we would like to undertake is really inspired, is really God’s will for us
  • If our reading of the Sacred Scriptures seems tedious, dry and uninspiring

If you can think of other times when we should engage the Gift of Understanding, please share them with us in the Comment Box.

Holy Men Utilize the Gifts of the Holy Spirit — #2: Knowledge

May 21, 2012

The Gift of Knowledge enables us to know the true value of creatures and created things in their relationship to the Creator and the principles of revealed truth.

As Bd John Paul II taught in his Regina Coeli address on 23 April 1989:

We know that modern man, precisely because of the development of the sciences, is particularly exposed to the temptation to give a naturalistic interpretation to the world.

Before the manifold magnificence of things, their complexity, variety and beauty, he runs the risk of absolutizing and almost divinizing them to the extent of making them the supreme purpose of his very life. This happens especially when it is a matter of riches, pleasure and power, which indeed can be drawn from material things. These are the principal idols before which the world too often prostrates.

In order to resist such subtle temptations and to remedy the pernicious consequences to which they can lead, the Holy Spirit aids people with the gift of Knowledge. It is this gift which helps them to value things correctly in their essential dependence on the Creator.

He thus discovers the theological meaning of creation, seeing things as true and real, although limited, manifestations of the Truth, Beauty, and infinite Love which is God, and consequently he feels impelled to translate this discovery into praise, song, prayer, and thanksgiving.

Enlightened by the gift of Knowledge, man discovers at the same time the infinite distance which separates things from the Creator, their intrinsic limitation, the danger that they can present, when, through sin, he makes improper use of them. It is a discovery which leads him to realize with remorse his misery and impels him to turn with greater drive and confidence to Him who alone can fully satisfy the need of the infinite which assails him.

I imagine that when St Paul fell to the ground on his approach to Damascus, part of what happened to him was an infusion of the Gift of Knowledge.  St Ignatius, too, received this gift, as evidenced by the way in which he incorporated it into the “Principle and Foundation” of his Spiritual Exercises:

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.
From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

Here are some occasions on which we should engage (or ask for more of) the Gift of Knowledge:

  • If we find our material pursuits or pleasures overshadowing our relationship with God
  • When the exterior busyness of our daily lives prevents us from taking the time to nurture an interior life
  • If viewpoints anchored in moral relativism cause us to be confused about some aspects of life and culture
  • When we find ourselves doubting or dissenting from the teaching of the Church

If you can think of other times when we should engage the Gift of Knowledge, please share them with us in the Comment Box (like Glenn did yesterday!).

Holy Men Utilize the Gifts of the Holy Spirit — #1: Piety

May 20, 2012

In the opening (Introduction) of his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI taught us that “Since God has first loved us, love is no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.”

Our lives should be characterized by an abiding desire for God, a desire to love him more and more each day.  Some indicators that we have this desire would be an eagerness to pray and read God’s word in Sacred Scripture, and to seek and embrace his will for us.

Fr Adolphe Tanquerey taught that the Gift of Piety will help us by “begetting in our hearts a filial affection for God and a tender devotion towards those persons and things consecrated to Him, in order to make us fulfill our religious duties with a holy joy…This gift makes us see in God not merely our Sovereign Master, but the best and most loving Father…This same sentiment makes us love those persons and things which have a participation in the Divine Being and in his perfections.”

Here are some occasions on which we should engage (or ask for more of) the Gift of Piety:

  • If we seem to be taking the Fatherly love of God for granted, or have no real sense of it in our daily lives
  • If our desire to pray and read Scripture is tepid, or we neglect our relationship with God in other ways
  • When we find ourselves distracted at Holy Mass, unable to sustain a lifting of our heart to the Lord
  • If we never take time to consider what God’s will is for us, but rather only follow our own will
  • When we find ourselves being cautious or reserved about serving others
  • If we find ourselves envious of others, or skeptical of their motives
  • When we find it difficult to see the Face of Christ in others
  • If we are harboring any bitterness or unforgiveness toward others

If you can think of other times when men striving for holiness should engage the Gift of Piety, please share them with us in the Comment Box.

“Life in the Spirit” at St Monica’s parish

March 30, 2012

Seeking to spiritually enhance your Easter season?

St Monica’s Parish, 363 West 8th St in West Wyoming, invites you to attend their “Life in the Spirit” program which will be held every Thursday from April 12 through May 24.  Each of those evenings will begin with Mass at 7pm, followed by a teaching on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  This 7-week program will lead each participant to a deeper encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, and a living sense of God’s presence in our life through the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Register by calling the parish office at 693-1991 or emailing monicaww [at] verizon [dot] net.

“Into the Wild” coming to Hickory Run

July 21, 2011

The King’s Men will be bringing their unique men’s formation and fellowship experience, known as “Into the Wild,” to Hickory Run State Park this year, August 11 to 14 (Thursday through Sunday). There are still spaces available!!  Register now to enjoy the Ten+ experiences on Into the Wild you’ll be sure to love:

1 – 24/7 Eucharistic Adoration

2 – Orienteering (map & compass) training and competition 

3 – Daily Mass with extraordinary priests such as Fr. John McFadden, Fr. Joe Freedy, Fr. Joe Coffey, Fr. Dean Borgmeyer.   (bios coming soon)

4 – Construction of an outdoor-style church

5 – Engaging talks on man’s role of Leader, Protector, and Provider

6 – Wild-game cooking training and feast!

7 – Training Under Torchlight (ask for details)

8 – Fishing on beautiful lakes and streams

9 – Rosary Procession through scenic woods

10 – Interaction with The King’s Men dynamic leader team.

Bonus#1:  Explore a 20,000 year old ice-age created National Natural Landmark – Boulder Field! (Hickory Run Location Only)

Bonus#2:  You’ll find out Friday night at the bonfire!

3 ways to register:

1 – Web www.intothewildweekend.com

2 – Email info@intothewildweekend.com

3 – Phone 215.906.8878

Resource for “Transformation”

July 9, 2011

An important part of the vision for parished-based Catholic Men’s Fellowship groups is that they be transformational, that the men who participate in them would gradually become holier, more responsible and effective in all of the manly Catholic roles in which they find themselves.

Msgr Charles Pope, who blogs for the Archdiocese of Washington DC, wrote recently about transformation.  In his article, he promotes a new set of his talks (on CD) dealing with our transformation as Christians.  I’ve been reading Msgr Pope for a couple years now, and can attest to the excellence of his teaching.  Because each talk is only 25-minutes long, perhaps some CMFs might be able to use these CDs as a resource for their meetings.

Growing in holiness

April 14, 2011

I’ve seen two very good articles on the net this week that provide helpful advice for growing in holiness:

Dr Jeff Mirus gave us nine indicators of our growth in holiness.

Dr Alice von Hildebrand offers advice on true love, which is really the essence of holiness.

Abp Chaput on “Knighthood”

December 2, 2010

A couple months ago, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver delivered an address to Catholic cadets at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.  The theme was “Thoughts on a New Knighthood.”

A snippet:

Knighthood is an institution with very deep roots in the memory of the Church.  Nearly 900 years ago, one of the great monastic reformers of the Church, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, described the ideal Christian knights as Godly men who “shun every excess in clothing and food.  They live as brothers in joyful and sober company (with) one heart and one soul. … There is no distinction of persons among them, and deference is shown to merit rather than to noble blood.  They rival one another in mutual consideration, and they carry one another’s burdens, thus fulfilling the law of Christ.”

He concluded with:

A new “spirit of knighthood” is what we need now — unselfish, tireless, devoted disciples willing to face derision and persecution for Jesus Christ. We serve our nation best by serving God first, and by proving our faith with the example of our lives.

New initiative for liturgical formation

November 13, 2010

Zenit has announced a new, biweekly series of articles entitled “Spirit of the Liturgy” to help us better understand the Church’s liturgy:

Having received various requests, we have decided to experiment this year with a piece that is more accessible, as will be noted by the greater brevity of the articles and of the further reduction of the number of references and notes. This choice sacrifices, on one hand, the just desire of the columnists to furnish more details and references on the topics treated; but, on the other, we hope that it can favor a wider diffusion of our reflections, so as to be able to reach a larger number of readers.

A better understanding of the liturgy enhances our ability to have a personal encounter with our Lord during our participation in it.  Well-done liturgy also helps to teach the faith.

Sanctity

November 10, 2010

I was trying to pray this evening, but kept nodding off.  So I decided to catch up on some internet reading.  (Can’t stay awake one hour with Jesus, but I have no problem on the worldwide web…what does that say about me?!)  Here are a few things that caught my attention:

In his All Saints Day homily, Pope Benedict dropped this brief definition of holiness on us:

Sanctity, to imprint Christ in oneself, is the objective of a Christian’s life.

Clear.  Direct.  Succinct.  “To imprint Christ in oneself.”

His teaching on St Bridget of Sweden a couple weeks ago contained this line about St Bridget’s husband:

Together with his wife, Ulf learned to improve his character and to advance in the Christian life.

I know he was speaking generally and summarizing, but it somehow implies an all-too-easy graceful ascent to sanctity.  So does this line that the monks of Christ in the Desert monastery heard from Abbott Jerome Kodell OSB who is leading their annual retreat this week:

One of the statements of Abbot Jerome during our retreat struck me very much. The statement is something that probably all of us already know at one or the other level in our lives, but to which we don’t always give much attention. He said simply that all of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures can probably be summed up with these words of God:  “I am with you. I love you. Trust me.”

True, of course.  Yet, while sounding incredibly simple, it is extremely difficult to keep in mind and to live.  We are so prone to put ourselves at the center and take control.

So just how do we “imprint Christ” in ourselves?

When Pope Benedict was fielding questions from some youth recently, he gave them this advice:

Dear children, dear young people:  being “big” means loving Jesus very much, listening to him and talking to him in prayer, meeting him in the sacraments, in Holy Mass, in confession; it means getting to know him more and more and also letting others know about him, it means standing with our friends, the poorest ones too, the sick ones, to grow together.

Ahhh, we begin to see that there’s some hard work involved, and grace to be begged.  We can’t just run ourselves through some kind of spiritual copier to have Christ imprinted in us.  From that same group of youth, one of their teachers solicited instruction from our Holy Father, and was told:

I would say that being educators means having a joy in your heart and communicating it to all to make life beautiful and good; it means offering reasons and objectives for the journey of life, offering the beauty of the person of Jesus and making others fall in love with him, his way of life, his freedom, his great love full of confidence in God the Father. It means above all always keeping the goal of every existence high toward that “more” that comes from God. This demands a personal knowledge of Jesus, a personal, daily, loving contact with him in prayer, in meditation on God’s Word, in fidelity to the sacraments, to the Eucharist, to confession; it demands communicating the joy of being in the Church, of having friends to share not only problems but also the beautiful things and surprises of the life of faith.

So, let’s get to the task of imprinting Christ in ourselves!

Exploring the New Evangelization

October 15, 2010

Over the past few days, I listened to the first four talks from the Institute for Priestly Formation’s 2010 symposium which was held back in March.

I don’t often listen to talks given specifically to priests and seminarians.  However, in this case, I was attracted first by the lineup of speakers, and also by the theme of “The New Evangelization.”  [Now that the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization is underway, it’s cool to listen to talks on that subject!]

The first four talks are on the first DVD of the two-disc set (I haven’t gotten to the second disc yet).  They were given by Deacon James Keating, Ralph Martin, Dr Mary Healey, and Fr John Riccardo.  In sum, the talks delivered a sobering assessment of the deep need for a heightened focus on the mission of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, both within the Church and throughout the world.  They suggested aspects of priestly formation that would support that goal.  Very, very inspiring!  And highly recommended.

Perhaps you might want to consider the DVDs as a gift for your Pastor or a seminarian that you know [Question to Fr Leo:  Do priests like getting stuff like this as gifts?].  The two-disc DVD set costs $20 including shipping, and can be obtained from:

Kelsa Brazell, Program Coordinator
Institute for Priestly Formation
Campion House
Ph:  402.280.3486 or 402.546.6384
Fx:  402.280.3529
Email:  kelsabrazell@creighton.edu

More Madrid

June 14, 2010

Having just read Glenn’s post below called The Fellowship of the Unashamed, which was taken from Patrick Madrid’s CD “WHY I AM A CATHOLIC,” I wanted to take a moment to encourage everyone to listen to this important talk.  After hearing Madrid’s personal reflections, I would like to get this in the hands of as many people as possible.  It is a CD I would hope every Catholic [and non-Catholic] would listen to and think about.  He is insightful, interesting and humorous. Try to get your hands on it, and if you are not receiving Lighthouse Catholic Media‘s “CD of the Month,” I highly recommend it as a good way to grow in your faith.

Leadership Training Retreat/Workshop

May 20, 2010

We are pleased to announce our 2nd annual summer Leadership Training Retreat/Workshop to be held on June 25-26. We again plan to gather men in order to spiritually invigorate and practically equip current leaders and prospective leaders to enable them to serve more effectively the Catholic men in their existing and yet-to-be-formed parish men’s fellowship groups, and to continue to form a network of relationships among these leaders in the Diocese of Scranton. A light supper on Friday will precede communal prayer and an inspirational talk, followed by some evening conviviality. After Mass and breakfast on Saturday morning, we’ll get down to the business of organizing and improving our parish men’s fellowship groups. You’ll have the opportunity to share your men’s group experiences, and to solicit helpful advice from the group. Space is limited, so please register early! Printable Flyer-Registration Form

Loving Jesus

May 9, 2010

Despite the variety of topics investigated on this blog, by far the most important one is our faith in Jesus Christ, and our growth in love for him.  In the first couple verses of today’s Gospel reading at Mass (John 14:23-29), Jesus speaks a bit about loving him.  More than 20 years ago, Fr Francis Martin wrote about “Falling in Love with Jesus” in his book entitled “The Life-Changer.”  You can read that section here: Falling in Love with Jesus

Prayer, fellowship and teaching in Scranton

April 26, 2010

Starting this Wednesday, April 28th, The St Thomas More Society in Scranton will present a 4-week adult education series on “The Priesthood” taught by Fr Eric Bergman.  The details are in this pdf:

Adult Ed with St Thomas More Society

Better than winning the lottery!

April 7, 2010

As I surfed the Catholic web today, I found some descriptions about the Archbishop-designate of Los Angeles very intriguing.  Abp Jose Gomez, currently the Archbishop of San Antonio, was described on Rocco’s blog as “the lone American bishop ever to be a full member of Opus Dei,” and was quoted by Tim Drake as saying “In the Archdiocese of San Antonio we started a new marriage preparation program based on the Theology of the Body.”  Tim also mentioned the Abp’s 2007 pastoral letter entitled “The Tender Mercy of Our God.”  Since we’re in the middle of the Novena to Divine Mercy, that seemed too coincidental to pass up, so I searched it out and began reading.

Wow!!!  What an awesome letter!  The very first paragraph uses the phrase “called to holiness and mission.”  The second paragraph is in-your-face Trinitarian.  So, already, by the third paragraph, I am deeply appreciating Abp Gomez’s teaching style.  After reading the sixth paragraph (still on the first page [of the pdf]), I’m addicted.  And it continued.  Nothing new, mind you.  What was so striking to me was the JP2-esque pastoral clarity with which he presented the Truth.  Christocentric throughout.  Challenging us to “deepening a personal relationship with [Jesus] in order to be his follower and his friend.”

More specifically relevant to Catholic Men’s Fellowships was this role model to whom he directed us:

“Let us remind our culture of people like Blessed Luis Magaña Servin, one of our newest American blesseds, a devoted husband and father, martyred in Mexico in 1928. Facing a firing squad, he was able to speak words of forgiveness to the soldiers about to execute him: ‘I pardon you and I promise you that on arriving in the presence of God you are the first ones I will intercede for. Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Santa María de Guadalupe!’”

All in all, a tremendous read in this ‘mercy week,’ and a great resource for teaching about the Sacrament of Penance.

Catholic men’s parish event in Michigan

February 13, 2010

On January 23rd, Fr John Riccardo addressed the Bravehearts Men’s Group of St Joseph Catholic Church in Lake Orion, MI.  Fr John’s talk was entitled “What Makes Kings from Slaves – Courage.”  With his usual focused passion, Fr Riccardo brings to life Matthew 8:23-27 (Jesus calming the sea), as well as the martyrdom of St Maximilian Kolbe.  He gives the men three questions for reflection:

What are the storms in my life?  What is tempting me to be afraid?

What do I need to do concretely on a daily basis to know that the Lord is with me?

Do I really know who I am?

After his talk, you’ll hear the audio of this video which was played at their gathering:

Fr Riccardo then concludes the event with this prayer.

Why do we go to Mass?

January 15, 2010

(this post prompted by a brief discussion prior to our Service Team meeting this morning)

Here’s how I would answer if someone asked me why I go to Mass:

  • To give thanks (Eucharist) to God by offering and worship, and express my love to Him
  • To offer Jesus to the Father
  • To offer myself and all aspects of my life, in union with Jesus and my brethren, to the Father
  • To hear God’s word in Sacred Scripture (and be changed by it, through the power of the Holy Spirit)
  • To have the Paschal sacrifice of Jesus re-presented to me
  • To worthily receive the Real Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion (and be changed by Him)
  • To unite myself with the heavenly liturgy, and remember with hope that Jesus will come again in glory at the end of history
  • To be sent forth (Ite, missa est) to proclaim by my life and words the love I have received, that the world might be imbued with Christian values

How would you answer the question?

The Call to Discipleship – Part 3 of 3

December 22, 2009

4. A Shepherd’s Heart

There was a time not too long ago when the expectations upon the laity were very minimal. Some would even joke that the laity are expected to pray, pay and obey. This is hardly a flattering way to look upon the exalted calling of a disciple of Jesus, especially when you consider the Church of the first Century. Today the doors are wide open up for lay persons to share their witness and spiritual gifts inside and outside our Church. How should a man of God bring compassion to the people he meets? I suggest with a shepherd’s heart. I chose the word shepherd because of the beautiful imagery of Psalm 23, and the words of Jesus found in John 10:1-18. The heart of a shepherd is moved to serve the sheep in whatever way is needed: rest, food and water, guidance, correction, encouragement and protection. Thus the men of the Christian community, guardians of the flock, should pray for a heart like that of Jesus.

It is easy for us to become overwhelmed with the tremendous spiritual needs we find in the Church today. We cannot deny obvious facts: church attendance is down and churches are consolidating; priests are getting older with few candidates in seminaries; vowed religious are very scarce; deficit church budgets are common; the sexual abuse scandals of the clergy have hurt the faith of God’s people, etc. In the midst of all this we hopeful Christians continue to light a candle rather than curse the darkness. When Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was asked by a reporter if she was discouraged that she could not help all the people on the streets of Calcutta she said, “No. I just love them one at a time.” Good advice for all of us.

Disciples are expected to give loving service to the Church and society around them according to model of stewardship: time, treasure and talent. In one season of a person’s life there may be more to give than at another time. But one should always be careful not to ignore family commitments. It is good to pray for wisdom to know the call of God in our lives, and courage to fulfill our promises. There are several key passages in the New Testament which indicate the quality of community life and service that existed in the early Church before the persecutions began. I think these are normative for all times, and worthy of reflection. (Acts 2:42-47; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12 and 13; Ephesians 4:1-16.)

Closing

We are privileged to be called disciples of Jesus Christ. Each of us is unique and we have different talents and functions to fulfill in the Church. Cardinal John Henry Newman put it this way: “God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission; I have a part in a great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.” It is humbling to realize that God relies on us to bring his kingdom to earth. The frame of mind we should have is captured nicely in the prophet Micah 6:8: “This is what the Lord requires of you: to do what is right, to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

St. Joseph is the patron saint for the Guardian of the Redeemer Catholic Men’s Fellowship. Though the Gospels portray him as a silent witness, his actions speak volumes about his faith and dependence upon God for what he was asked to do as a husband and foster father. May St. Joseph help us to be better men, better disciples of Jesus, who bring God’s love to a troubled world, one person at a time.

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Recommended Reading:

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, The Cost of Discipleship
Cassaude, Jean-Pierre, Abandonment to Divine Providence
Ciszek, Walter, He Leadeth Me and With God in Russia (autobiography)
Dulles, Cardinal Avery, Models of the Church
Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
Green, Thomas, When the Well Runs Dry and Darkness in the Marketplace
Kelley, Bennet, Spiritual Direction According to St. Paul of the Cross
Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle

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Many thanks to Fr Michael Salvagna CP for challenging us with this teaching!