January 2017

January 2017

Greetings,

Here in Washington, everyone is getting ready for the shift in Administrations and the pomp of the Inauguration.

While the drama of a non-stop campaign season and a hotly-contested election will linger for a long time, most of us are involved in practical things that pertain to our ministry. This month we continue our reflections on Young Adult ministry with another account of Fr. Bill Eden’s outreach to Young Adults in Portland. The feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle is on January 25th. We evangelizers need always to be thinking of what conversion means, and what is the heart of the Gospel. St. Paul situates these questions for us very well.

We have news about Part 2 of The Journey/El Camino–we hope this program fills an essential need in evangelization: helping Catholics and others reaffirm and re-experience their personal relationship with Christ.  Parishes that have used this process cannot speak highly enough about it.  Part 2 deals with our relationship with the Community of Jesus–the Church and sacraments. Be sure to check out the video trailer below.

Fr. Kenneth Boyack, CSP, of our office gives us a short reflection on “illumination” through Living the Eucharist – a transformative Lenten ministry.

Other articles come from Pew Research, affirming again what a different world we are in today compared to the one most of us grew up in. Further reflection on this comes from an article in America Magazine; it probes important questions about religious education.

One final note: I’ve started a little theme–let’s stop using “Ordinary Time” and start talking about “Sundays after Pentecost.” We need to be so much more Spirit-conscious in our Church today.

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

Young Adult Evangelization & Ministry

Fr. Bill Edens, CSP

Portland, Oregon, and the Northwest in general, is a land of “nones.” That is, a large concentration of people with no religious affiliation. As figurative sons and daughters of the pioneers who came on the Oregon Trail they are a breed of independents who find their spirit in the great outdoors. Vast Douglas Fir forests form sanctuaries. The rugged Oregon coast and the volcanic mountains provide sublime beauty.

These geographic features are the result of powerful tectonic and erosive forces. There are sociological forces, too. Young adults flock to the Portland area from other parts of the country. It is a place of great creativity, in food, beer, wine, technology, and homegrown music.

Using social media is a must for connecting with young adults. We mainly used Facebook and Meetup.com to promote a wide-spread invitation to our Friday night “Open Sanctuary,” with Praise and Adoration, followed by a visit to a local pub.

From the very beginning we attracted fifteen or twenty young adults from all over the city. But we connected with very few in our local neighborhood, despite the fact that it is a young adult mecca on the Southeast side of Portland.

Previous Essays in this series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

January 25: Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

We read so much of Paul, and from so many different contexts, that it is hard to get a sense of what his main mission and passion was. Paul makes many people feel uncomfortable today; he does not seem to many people to be a “modern” person with sensitivities to slaves, women, and people of various sexual orientations. He has been used historically as a hammer to bash one’s opponents; many Protestants have read Paul primarily as anti-Catholic for 500 years, just as Christians have read Paul as anti-non-Christian for centuries. Paul’s missionary zeal, too, has been used as a justification for aspects of colonial aggression: we have to change these people into Catholics, and make their culture conform to that of Western Europe.

Nevertheless, Paul’s main thrust apostolically carries a broad and universal legacy of love, one that can inform all faith attitudes, particularly those of evangelists and those of ecumenists. Before Paul stands for any one thing-whether it be one doctrine or another-he stands for this: the transforming experience of God’s love, and the openness of that love to bring about huge changes in the lives of people and churches.

Paul’s starting point was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which lead, of course, to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all who are open to God. As a Jew, how astonishing it was for him to encounter a crucified and risen Lord! Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, something decisive had happened in human history, something that would change the very meaning of history. We have domesticated crucifixion with the plethora of crosses all around us; we likewise have made the pain of Jesus the key point of his dying. (Mel Gibson tapped a long vein of imagery and reflection!)

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Introducing The Journey Part 2
We are excited to announce the release of Part 2 of The Journey: My Encounter with the Community of Jesus. The Journey/El Camino is a three-part* small group resource designed to help Catholics today deepen their personal relationship with Christ.

There are six sessions in Part 2 which explore Jesus and his community. Through sharing, videos, and various forms of prayer, participants will reinforce each other as they explore different dimensions of Jesus and grow in their faith. Watch the trailer for the powerful videos in Part 2 below!

To celebrate the release of Part 2 we are offering special savings now through the end of January – just in time for Lent! Save 20% on your order with the savings code PART2. (See coupon below for offer details.)
 
Bring The Journey to your parish this Lent, Easter, or any time of the year to help your parishioners grow more deeply in their faith and encounter Jesus Christ in their lives.
 

* Part 2 Youth and Part 3 materials coming Spring 2017.

CouponSAVE 20% WITH CODE PART2

Save 20% on any The Journey/El Camino purchase of $100 or more! Use savings code PART2 when you order online below or call 1-800-435-7116.

Offer Expires 01/31/2017. Offer does not include shipping and handling.
Watch the trailer for Part 2!Trailer
Click the image above to watch!
Give the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Fr. Kenneth Boyack, CSP

An essential gift that pastoral leaders can give to their parishioners is opportunities to develop a vibrant, meaningful, and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are approaching Lent, a season of illumination, purification, and enlightenment that prepares parishioners to renew their baptismal promises at Easter. Illumination occurs through new and varied encounters with Christ that produce “ah-ha” moments, where parishioners experience an awareness of God’s love and presence in both powerful and subtle ways. The Holy Spirit produces specific outcomes from these encounters, geared to foster the spiritual growth of the each individual. The transformative outcomes include a desire to follow Christ more intentionally as missionary disciples, an awareness of sin and the need for repentance, and a yearning to participate more fully in the saving mission of Jesus Christ through the Mass.

Living the Eucharist, a ministry of Paulist Evangelization Ministries, creates occasions for parishioners to experience these transformative personal encounters with Christ. The encounters occur as small group participants use lectio divina to pray over the readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass. The group members also learn about the Eucharist and share their faith regarding the impact of this sacrament in their lives. The result is many “ah-ha” moments in which participants experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as wisdom, understanding, and wonder and awe in God’s presence. You can preview the Participant Booklet here, and read what the participants are saying about their small group experience here.

The Living the Eucharist daily devotional titled From Exodus to Easter, My Daily Journey Through Lent, offers life-changing opportunities to pray over the upcoming Sunday Mass readings and learn about the Eucharist in short, daily prayer times. Illumination and enlightenment occur as the person spends quality time with God, guided by the Holy Spirit through reflections, questions, suggested actions, and personal prayer. You can preview From Exodus to Easter here.

I invite you to preview all the Living the Eucharist materials here, and then give your parishioners the gift of Living the Eucharist this Lent. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. See www.LivingtheEucharist.org for more information.

Make sure to place your order by January 25th to ensure delivery for Lent!
Living the Eucharist Daily Devotionals App for Lent
Download for Lent Today! 

The Living the Eucharist App is a powerful new tool to reignite faith, build community, and empower discipleship during Lent and beyond. Using the widely popular devotional from Living the Eucharist, From Exodus to Easter, the app offers individual Catholics an inspiring way of praying with the scriptures and preparing for the upcoming Sunday Mass.

The App includes three free videos–Learn to Grow Spiritually, Learn Lectio Divina, and Learn About Seasonal Devotionals. These three videos help participants better understand lectio divina and how to deepen their own spirituality through daily reflection and prayer.

See it for yourself!  
Download the FREE Living the Eucharist app right now including a free preview of the Lenten devotional!

Why most people leave religion? They just ‘stop believing’
From Religion News Service, © Copyright 2017

(RNS) It’s bad news for organized religion: A majority of the religiously unaffiliated – the so-called “nones” – say they fell away from faith not because of any negative experience, but because they “stopped believing,” usually before the age of 30.

Gloomier still for religion is this – nones now make up 25 percent of the American population, making them the single largest “faith group” in the U.S., ahead of Catholics (21 percent) and white evangelicals (16 percent).

And only a fraction – seven percent – say they are looking for a religion to belong to at all.

Those are among the more salient findings of a new study of the religiously unaffiliated conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.

The study challenges the assumption that the unaffiliated are leaving religion because they are offended by religious institutions’ treatment of gay and lesbian people or clergy sex abuse scandals, said Daniel Cox, PRRI’s research director.

It Is Time to Fix Our Sunday School Culture
From America Magazine, © Copyright 2017
(CNS photo_Gregory A. Shemitz)

(America) A public school with a dropout rate of 50 percent and two-thirds of area parents opting out of it would be considered failing. If the school were unable to turn those numbers around in a few years, it would likely be shut down. And yet for decades, Catholic parishes in the United States have invested in religious education programs that have proven no more effective. Today, more than half of Catholic millennials report going to Mass a few times a year or less, and, according to a 2014 poll, 68 percent of Catholic parents decide not to enroll their child in any formal Catholic religious education.

To say that there is a crisis in religious education in this country is not to discount the profound generosity of many volunteers and teachers who sustain parish programs around the country. If their dedication were the only factor determining success, there would be no problem. Yet in many if not most settings, religious education is not accomplishing its purpose: to hand on the faith from generation to generation. Both surveys and our experience tell us the U.S. church is reaching a possible breaking point in that chain. Ineffective catechesis-whether in the parish setting or in Catholic schools-is not the sole cause of the rise of the so-called nones; but for the most part, religious education as presently conducted does not give these young people a compelling reason to believe.

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