January 2016

January 2016

Dear Friend,

Lent comes rushing upon us this year, making most of our staffs scramble with plans and deadlines.
This year, Lent offers us special opportunities because of the “Year of Mercy” theme Pope Francis has given us. All our programming should be influenced by the theme of Mercy: how can we make our ministries more welcoming, inviting, and involving for all people, especially those who we judge, or who judge themselves, as on the margins? Be sure to register for our webinar next week on the theme of “Lent in the Year of Mercy.”
Lent should also be influenced by the ongoing crises of war: Syria in disarray, with violence – in the name of religion – spilling out all over the Middle East, not to mention the conflicts in parts of Africa and Asia. How can we make the theme of peace – rooted in God’s love – more clear throughout our Lenten ministries?
We begin reflecting on the particular Spiritual Works of Mercy and how they relate to the broad theme of us becoming a more evangelizing people. I hope you feel free to copy and paste the ideas and use them as they will help you. Similarly, we are asking you to share any stories of mercy as a way to resource our ideas, and experiences, of mercy. We are happy to include a short piece on Millennials and their different take on things. This can supplement the webinars Dennis Mahaney did in December and January which you can hear, or re-hear in our Webinar Archive.
May the God of Mercy and Peace bless our communities of faith, and particularly our catechumens.
Fr. Frank DeSiano

The First Spiritual Work of Mercy:

To Instruct the Ignorant

This first Spiritual Work of Mercy sounds pretty garish right off the top.

Ignorant? This is a word we only use when insulting people.

Instruct? As in, “I know something you don’t know?”

So we need to unpack the phrase a bit so that it does not come off as entirely patronizing, or worse.

Another way to think about “ignorant” is simply people who do not (yet) know. A category, for sure, that includes almost all of us one way or another. Indeed, the ancient philosopher, Plato, thought that intelligence rose in proportion to one’s awareness of how much one did not know. Indeed, all of us have yet so much more to know, particularly when it comes to God.

Is not God the utter depth of mystery, One whose mystery grows deeper the closer I move into his presence? Do I not in fact grow as I wonder more about God? And does not my wisdom directly correlate to my pursuit of knowing the utter Mystery that is God? In this sense, being unknowing is to be human. Recognizing the vastness and indescribable love of God is common to all humans. To help each other grope for the glimmers of light in the darkness that surrounds us-this has to be the starting point for all of us!

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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.

Webinar Next Week!

Lent in the Year of Mercy

January 28th at 3:00pm ET

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?

Join Fr. Frank DeSiano, as he looks ahead toward our most sacred season through the lens of “mercy.” How can the theme of mercy bring focus and energy to our Lenten activities? Reflections on mercy, with examples for both personal and parish activities, will stimulate your thinking even more.

“Repent and believe in the Good News!” And that Good News is…God’s Mercy.

Get to know The Journey

US Catholics make Year of Mercy plans
From the National Catholic Reporter

The Year of Mercy began Dec. 8, and churches and church organizations across the United States have special observances and services planned throughout the year.

Churches across the U.S. have been designated as pilgrimage churches, and one parish per diocese will open a designated “Holy Door” like the ones Pope Francis opened in Central Africa Republic and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. All four basilicas in Rome have had their Holy Doors opened.

New from Paulist Press:
Crossing the Threshold of Mercy – 
Spiritual Guide for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy

Edited by Mark-David Janus, CSP, PhD
The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person.” + Pope Francis With these words Pope Francis invites the Church to celebrate an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which is a pilgrimage, a journey to the mercy of God. In this book, readers follow along the events of this important year, taking inspiration from prayers, words of Sacred Scripture, the thoughts of Pope Francis, and the words of those that inspire him.

Q&A: Why Millennials are less religious than older Americans
Michael Hout, Professor of Sociology, New York University. (Credits: New York University, Eva Seto)
From the Pew Research Center
While the U.S. public in general is becoming less religious, the nation’s youngest adults are by many measures much less religious than everyone else. Indeed, one of the most striking findings in the recently released Religious Landscape Study is that Millennials (young adults born between 1981 and 1996) are much less likely than older Americans to pray or attend church regularly or to consider religion an important part of their lives.