March 2016

 

March 2016
Greetings!

There is no more exciting part of the year for us…the upcoming celebration of Easter and the continuing celebration of the Holy Spirit during the days between Easter and Pentecost. Folks dress themselves up for Easter, but the Church dresses itself up for 50 days, showing the wonderful gifts the Spirit has generated in us-t he Word, the Sacraments, the mission of Good News, community, and discipleship.

Our newsletter has various items should be of help to you. We continue my series that relates the Spiritual Works of Mercy to the mission of evangelization. Feel free to steal it for your Bulletins! We are also happy to feature something new – an app that brings daily meditations on the Easter Season (Easter Monday through Pentecost) right to your smartphone. This new electronic venture is a dimension of the Living the Eucharist program which has touched the lives of thousands of Catholics.

We link to John Roberto’s project of relating family and faith in contemporary Catholic life – this is one of the major apostolic projects we face as evangelizers: stimulating the elements of faith in our Catholic households. We also link to an important CARA study that tries to pin down the elusive – and often falsely reported – data about who stays in the Church after baptism as adults.

I have a short book review of “The Nones are Okay,” which furthers our reflection on one of the most important phenomena of contemporary Catholic life. And we continue soliciting stories of mercy in the Year of Mercy.

A blessed Holy Week and celebration of the life given us by the Risen Christ.

Sincerely in Christ, Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

 

The Third Spiritual Work of Mercy:

To Admonish Sinners

The word “admonish” basically means to “warn” people. We have the example of Ezekiel, called to be a watchman, as an enduring symbol of what it means to warn people of sin. (Cf. Ezekiel 33:7, where the word “sentinel” is used.) The “Watchtower” brand of the Jehovah Witnesses comes from this verse!This points to one of the essential dimensions of forming a moral vision: to describe for the world the structure of good and evil. Some of the most world-transforming power has come from the moral description of evil: in ancient time, to denounce child sacrifice; in more recent times, to denounce slavery; in contemporary times, to denounce exploitation of other people, both economically and sexually.

Humans can blunt their visions. The most normal tendency is for people to try to shape the world according to their preferences. Sure, we feel, everyone else is evil; but we allow ourselves our own addictions, prejudices, laziness, passions, and angers. It takes little effort to see how much of the twentieth-century-the fruit of so much progressive thinking-created massive distortions of human society in the forms of Communism, Nazism, Fascism – and, in more subtle ways, certain forms of Capitalism and Consummerism. These movements and philosophies saw themselves as changing things for the better. But their attempt to reshape what was good and bad has been repudiated by history.

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Coming Soon!

Connect with the Living the Eucharist Daily Devotionals from the convenience of your phone! 

Just in time for Easter, the Living the Eucharist Daily Devotionals app will have our new devotional, From Passover to Pentecost, My Daily Journey Through the Easter Season.

Click the link below to learn more and be the first to know when the app is available for both Apple and Android!

Keep Updated Here!

“The Nones are Alright” Book Review

A review by Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
“The Nones are Alright,” by Kaya Oakes, Orbis Books, (2015)

Kaya Oakes gives us a tremendous amount to think about. She presents many portraits of the growing number of “in-between” people who constitute a large part of the present religious landscape. She began a project of talking with the “nones”- that amorphous category of people who choose no explicit religious identity when answering surveys. In her presentation of many of the stories of the nones, she shows just how varied and complex the situation is.

The easiest response is for believers to places the nones into a fixed category; even more, to label that category with words like agnostic or even atheist. Oakes brings us more deeply into the lives of many of these people, revealing just how tentative religious identity is in the modern world. Very few of the many she has interviewed would call themselves “atheist”- by the same token, hardly anyone she presents easily accepts the label “Catholic” as a self-description.

Oakes forces us to realize the massive changes that are taking place in religious identity. We have moved from a world where social cohesion aided the transmission of faith along ethnic and family lines. Rather, the world of Internet and choice has produced at least a generation of people who can easily visit other faith traditions, or put their own tradition on hold, as they explore who they are and what they ultimately believe.
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Welcome New Catholics with Encountering the Living God

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Looking for a gift to welcome a new Catholics into the Church? Encountering the Living God is a wonderful choice which can help recently received Catholics on their journey through the mystagogy.This beautiful hard-bound book contains one hundred reflections on God as our Father, Savior, and Sanctifier. Short, poignant reflections lead to contemplation and prayer. Generous pages give the reader space to journal their growing relationship with God.

Order Here

Upcoming Webinar
Organizing for Evangelization: A Diocesan Perspective
April 5th at 1:00pm ET

Presented by Terrie Baldwin, Director of the Diocese of Cleveland Office of Evangelization

A unique perspective on evangelization efforts from a diocesan perspective.

#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.

Listening to the Stories of Families

By Leif Kehrwald (From the new book, Families at the Center of Faith Formation, edited by John Roberto, LifelongFaith Associates. © 2016)

 

Nearly a generation ago, in 1993, Gene Roehlkepartain and Search Institute published The Teaching Church: Moving Christian Education to Center Stage. It was a ground-breaking book at the time, filled with research-based conclusions and insights for how Christian faith should be transmitted to the next generation. The book essentially reports out the findings of what Search Institute called Effective Christian Education: A National Study of Protestant Congregations.

I was working in family ministry at the time (and a parent of two young sons), so I immediately gravitated to chapter eleven “Nurturing Faith in Families.” What I read in that chapter has had a great influence on both my professional life as a teacher/trainer in family ministry, and on my personal family life as a father. This was the first time I had come face-to-face with solid research that provided a glimpse of what parents and families ought to do to nurture lasting faith in their children. I was particularly drawn to the text that offered these findings:

How Many Catholic Converts Stay?
A Quick Back of the Envelope Reality Check

From CARA

It is Lent and Easter will soon be upon us. This is the time of year when the Church welcomes many new adults into the faith after they complete the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). One of the most common inquiries we get at CARA is a request for “retention rates” for those who went through RCIA. How many stay Catholic? How many stay active in parish life?

Here is an example of an RCIA director seeking and discussing these figures on a Catholic message board:

“Hello! I am the RCIA director at my parish. The first class after Easter, I like to hit the class with a cold, hard statistic that I once heard. For new converts, 50% will not be attending Mass regularly one year after Holy Saturday. Is there any credible source for statistics like this? In looking around my parish, it seems that number is just about right. This is in spite of students attending classes every week for a year, making both 1/2 day retreats, Rite of Enrollment, Rite of Election, three scrutinies, and a 2-3 [hour] marathon Mass to welcome them into the church! Then, it seems they kind of just vaporize.”

The Journey Video Sessions Trailer