February 2016

February 2016
Greetings!

As you receive this newsletter, we at Paulist Evangelization Ministries are packing to head to Los Angeles for the LA Religious Congress.

Closing Liturgy at the LA Religious Congress – Photo courtesy of The Tiding

Whatever statistics we read, or even local experiences of church we have, this Congress is an eye-opener. For four days, tens of thousands of Catholics will converge on Anaheim. Thursday features youth; Friday-Sunday are concentrated on leaders and catechists. Altogether, it’s a great cross-section of the wider American Church – and a great demonstration of the vitality of Catholicism today. Multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-generational, Catholicism shows its proudest face as people come to be enriched, educated, and to participate in powerful liturgies that involve thousands of people.

Images like this are helpful to keep in mind as we go through what can sometimes seem like a grind in our local settings: parents we wish would participate more, youth who seem hard to corral, multiple funerals in a week. We can see the struggles but not the achievements which our daily pastoral and evangelizing activities are accomplishing.

In this issue we continue reflecting on the Spiritual works of mercy, find out about a new devotional resource to further discipleship in the daily life of Catholics, explore social media with our friends at the Catholic Apostolate Center, have an opportunity share our stories of mercy, and offer a video to talk about a new program (The Journey/El Camino) to help Catholics, and others, reaffirm their personal relationship with Christ.

Here, in the middle of Lent, we rejoice for the path of conversion we have undertaken, and look ahead to Christ’s glorious Resurrection.

Sincerely in Christ,

Father Frank DeSiano

 

The Second Spiritual Work of Mercy:

To Counsel the Doubtful

Along with our wonderful brains comes the ability to doubt.

Because if I know something, I can imagine it another way. And if I can imagine things other ways, then I can begin to question what I know.

“A thousand doubts do not denial make.” So went the older slogan when, as people grew up, it was a usual thing to have questions about one’s faith. The list of potential questions is endless – Where did the Bible come from? Or, Who made God? – and we were encouraged to work our way through the questions, with assurances that St. Thomas Aquinas had already asked and answered most of them.

That was in the old days. Then things seemed solid and our doubts arose in the face of that solidity. Now everything seems up to question, and nothing seems solid, and doubt has almost become a way of life. Perhaps we think the basic doubt is about God; in actuality our doubt of God reflects the massive doubts that define what it means to live and think today.

A fancy phrase one hears: “the hermeneutics of suspicion.” This tendency to suspect what another says, especially when the other is powerful, has long roots in Western thought and philosophy. But now the tendency has spilled way beyond the world of thinking. We suspect – doubt the sincerity of – everything: government, business, education, and particularly religion. “They are all in it for themselves. It’s just a power game. You can see right through it.”

New for the Easter Season

While we are just beginning the forty days of Lent, we are excited to announce a new resource for your parish for the upcoming Easter Season. Following in the footsteps of the very popular, From Exodus to Easter, My Daily Journey Through Lent comes a new devotional for Easter: From Passover to Pentecost, My Daily Journey Through the Easter Season. 
 
The contents offer ample opportunities to encounter the Risen Christ, participate more fully in the upcoming Sunday Mass, and grow in faith as a missionary disciple. Also available in Spanish.
Use From Passover to Pentecost to connect with your many guests at all your Easter Masses
 
Many less-than-active Catholics attend Masses at Easter as well as those with no religious affiliation who may be searching for a community of faith. Be proactive! Be an inviting and welcoming parish. Affix a label on the back of From Passover to Pentecost with your welcoming message and contact information. Or prepare a card to insert into the booklet. Easter Sunday is the perfect time to invite and welcome, and From Passover to Pentecost is an effective vehicle to connect with your visitors in a personal and spiritually fulfilling way.
Social Media Crash Course

From our friends at the Catholic Apostolate Center
WASHINGTON, DC – With the ever increasing use of social media amongst the Church’s population, parishes, ministries, and other Catholic organizations are looking for ways to engage their constituencies through this medium. In response to this need, the Catholic Apostolate Center, through its pilot program with the Archdiocese of Washington: Apostles on Mission, has created the Social Media Crash Course.
This new resource features guides, tips, and tricks on how you can utilize Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube effectively in your ministries. Step-by-step instructions on how to set up each of these platforms are available along with suggestions for how to get the most out of each of the platforms. Catholic Apostolate Center Director, Fr. Frank Donio, said, “The Center’s new Social Media Crash Course will help parishes, organizations, and individuals use well these powerful tools for the work of evangelization.”
Working alongside Apostles on Mission participant Emily Smith and Director of Marketing for Paulist Evangelization Ministries, the Center’s Information Technology Coordinator, Nick Wagman and Assistant Director of Programs, Jonathan Sitko, compiled the information needed to make the resource easy to use and easy to share.
Webinar Recording

Lent in the Year of Mercy
From January 28th
Presented by Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
This year, Lent should stand out even more than usual. It’s a Jubilee Year – a year of Mercy – when Holy Doors are opening across the Christian world. But what about our own parishes? How can mercy be a special point of emphasis for our parishioners and others? Reflections on mercy, with examples for both personal and parish activities, will stimulate your thinking even more.
#MercyMoments

As part of Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy, we would like to share your stories of mercy – both given and received. Share with us your story at the link below, or share them on Facebook or Twitter – make sure to use the hashtag #MercyMoments.

Through sharing our own stories of mercy, we hope to begin a conversation about mercy in our lives and inspire others to show mercy.
Key Catholic Trends in Mexico

From CARA

Pope Francis is making a Lenten season trip to Mexico this week (Feb. 12-18). Since 2010, approximately 82% of adult residents in Mexico have self-identified their religious affiliation as Catholic in national surveys, on average. This is equivalent to a population of about 97 million self-identified Catholics of all ages as of 2013, the most recent year for which Vatican statistics about parishes, priests, and sacraments are available (the self-identified Catholic population is estimated to have been 99.8 million at mid-year 2015). The Catholic affiliation percentage has fallen from where it was in the 1980s. In that decade, approximately 88% of adults self-identified as such. However, Mexico’s total population has grown and even with this lower affiliation percentage there were 42 million more Catholics in Mexico in 2013 than in 1980 (63% growth).

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