May God continue to send his blessings upon us in this Easter season, especially on the newly-baptized and newly-received into the Church!
This month we begin by highlighting “Gaudete et Exultate,” Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on holiness. We can think of this as a precis on Catholic discipleship.
I continue my series on discipleship, this month talking about the role of community for growth as disciples. We all know that modern society downplays the need for church and community.
In addition, we have a link to an article about the debate on the future of Catholicism, and another highlighting initial steps that new Catholics can make as they settle into the Church. We also link to some recent Gallup research which does not spell good news for us Catholics, and we conclude with a heart-warming story about a son, and his father, both becoming priests.
As summer comes, it’s a great time to think about Young Adult ministry, so we are featuring Fr. Nicholas Lombardo’s book on 20s-30s ministry. It is also an excellent time to think about how we continue to invite and welcome people into the Catholic Church. We have to keep the invitations going all the time!
Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
By Evan Cummings, Paulist Seminarian
Father Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulist Fathers, once wrote that:
Through the new Papal exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), Pope Francis delivers a powerful reminder to the whole Church of this same call to holiness, reminding us that “[God] wants us to be saints” (§ 1) and that this will lead us to true happiness.
What Pope Francis offers is the hope and reality that not only are we called to holiness, but that holiness is possible for everyone. Holiness can be achieved in everyone’s life, and Pope Francis gives some helpful guidelines while not demanding a “one-size-fits-all” understanding of holiness.
To be holy does not require a total abandonment of one’s self or of life, but in fact, is found in the ordinary, in the everyday. Pope Francis writes:
“We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.” (§ 14).
Evan Cummings is a seminarian with the Paulist Fathers finishing his fifth year of formation in Washington, DC. Evan originally hails from Clearfield, Utah, and originally encountered the Paulists through the internet and felt called to the mission of evangelizing America. He hopes to continue to use media and technology to reach others and help them grow in their faith and holiness.
This year, the essays in the Evangelization Exchange focus on how we can help form Catholics as missionary disciples. This series, entitled “Catholics. Disciples. Missionaries.” will offer concrete examples of forming missionary disciples, as well as an exploration of the theme in terms of Catholic evangelization and faith formation. Read past articles here.
by Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
Why does it take a tragedy for us to know how much we need each other?
Facebook makes for very strange experiences. Someone will put up the face of a suffering, or even a deformed, child, urging us to pray. Another will show pictures from a funeral. When floods wipe out cities, we see overhead shots from helicopters or drones and on-the-ground photos of people crying or lining up for shelter. Camps of refugees in Syria, images of people on-the-run from war in Africa, earthquakes in one or another part of Asia-these images flash by on our screens. Immediately we feel great compassion and, for the religious among us, a rush of prayer comes forth.
All these people whom we never met… but we feel somehow connected to their lives.
I’ve seen it happen up close as well. An unexpected death in the family, especially if it’s a child or teenager, brings out the whole neighborhood. Friends take turns bringing things to eat, but even strangers drop off flowers or sympathy cards. Seemingly out of nowhere, people stroll by the house, stopping and looking in prayerful sympathy.
Someone’s pain belongs to all of us. As does their joy. We are all connected. As St. Paul says, with reference to the body of the Church: “If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy” (1 Cor. 12:26).
Is Your Parish Ready to Reach Out to Young Adults?
In “20s-30s Ministry: A Guide for Parishes,” Fr. Nicholas Lombardo, O.P., shares his experience and learning from his successful Young Adult Ministry.
By Sean Salai, S.J., Copyright © 2018 America Press Inc.<
Ross Douthat is a New York Times columnist specializing in religion and politics and author o To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism (Simon and Schuster) .Mr. Douthat also serves as a film critic for National Review and contributes articles to The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Slate. On March 26, I interviewed Mr. Douthat by telephone about his work. The following transcript of has been edited for style and length.
What led you to convert to Catholicism as a teenager?
I grew up in a household that spent most of my childhood on a religious pilgrimage through American Christianity. We started out as Episcopalians and then we spent a certain amount of time loosely connected with various evangelical and Pentecostal churches. The driving force behind most of this was my mother, who had been chronically ill when I was young. She ended up being invited to a faith healing service by a friend of hers where she had an intense religious experience that redirected her own life and all of ours. She converted to Catholicism when I was 15 or 16, and then I converted a year later.
My own experience, though, was less mystical. I wasn’t having any kind of dramatic spiritual encounters. I had just been sort of raised and formed in a general Christian context, and it seemed to my teenage self that I found the argument for Catholicism very compelling. To the extent that there was a personal driving force, it was more on the intellectual side of things than the mystical or deeply personal. When I converted, I thought it was true.
By Shaun McAfee, Copyright © 2018 EWTN News, Inc.
If you just entered the Catholic Church on Easter, I would like to give you my welcome. If you know someone who just entered the Catholic Church on Easter, please welcome them, and share this short article with them.
For whatever reason you joined, you made the most important decision of your life: to follow Christ. In doing this, you’ve entered into his flock, his body, his eternal spouse-his Church. The years ahead of you will be mixed with wonderful memories and some challenges, too. I want to share some advice with you to aid you in your transition. What I have here is some suggestions, but also some important things to keep in mind for the rest of your journey.
(1) Appreciate and frequently make use of the sacraments
No matter your current state or in the future, I implore you to go to confession regularly, go to Mass weekly (daily, if you are able), and to nurture and grow in your vocation. Making regular confessions is the best means of avoiding sin, period. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, you receive special sacramental graces, you will receive absolution and atonement for what you’ve done and what you’ve failed to do, and you’ll have access to some of the best direction and general advice. Going to Mass each Sunday is not just a part of our law; it’s required for communion with Christ. At the Mass, we are filled with a superabundant, supernatural meal: Christ’s flesh and blood. The more often you go, the more change you will see within yourself, so I recommend going more than the weekly mandated feast days.
By Lydia Saad, Gallup, Copyright © 2018 Gallup, Inc<
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Weekly church attendance has declined among U.S. Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.
From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955.
By contrast, the 45% of Protestants who reported attending church weekly from 2014 to 2017 is essentially unchanged from a decade ago and is largely consistent with the long-term trend.
As Gallup first reported in 2009, the steepest decline in church attendance among U.S. Catholics occurred between the 1950s and 1970s, when the percentage saying they had attended church in the past seven days fell by more than 20 percentage points. It then fell an average of four points per decade through the mid-1990s before stabilizing in the mid-2000s. Since then, the downward trend has resumed, with the percentage attending in the past week falling another six points in the past decade.
This analysis is based on multiple Gallup surveys conducted near the middle of each decade from the 1950s through the present. The data for each period provide sufficient sample sizes to examine church attendance among Protestants and Catholics, the two largest religious groups in the country, as well as the patterns by age within those groups. The sample sizes are not sufficient to allow for analysis of specific Protestant denominations or non-Christian religions.
By Clara Hatcher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Andrew Infanger is talking about his path to the priesthood.
He went to Mass every Sunday, studied at parochial schools and spent part of several summers at a camp run by Benedictine monks. He earned his bachelor’s degree in theology at a small Catholic university.
Still, he never really considered himself a model Christian or pious enough to become a member of the clergy. He made other career plans. “I sometimes think I was the last person you would’ve expected to become a priest,” he said.
Yet today, Infanger is less than two months shy of ordination. Sitting in the chapel at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, the deacon is dressed in all black, except for a white clerical collar. Next to him sits his father, Peter. The two have an easy rapport and smile frequently at each other while they speak. When one pauses, the other often finishes the sentence. It’s clear they are close.
And there’s more than that.
Peter Infanger is completing his fourth year at Mundelein Seminary just outside Chicago. In another year, he will be a deacon, and then – “God willing” – he expects to follow his son into the priesthood.