The fruit of much of our evangelizing and catechesis will become evident as we approach the Easter Vigil.
At the same time, the power of conversion in our neophytes should stir us to reflect on how every moment of Catholic life deepens and challenges conversion. In this issue, I reflect on the Eucharist as an evangelizing event, and Fr. Bruce Nieli, a Paulist who serves in Austin TX, narrates all the ways his relationships with Latino people have brought him to a more powerful experience of faith. How much more powerful would our evangelizing action be if we saw conversion woven into the fabric of Catholic life.
We also have links to a story about Sister Jean and her involvement with the Loyola-Chicago basketball team, and a story about using “memes” as a way to share faith. Finally, a link with an NCR article talks about how seven different evangelizers share faith with others.
As Holy Week approaches, be assured of our prayers, and ongoing support, from all of us here at Paulist Evangelization Ministries.
Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
This year, the essays in the Evangelization Exchange will 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 from various pastoral viewpoints, as well as an exploration of the theme in terms of Catholic evangelization and faith formation. Read past articles here. This piece on prayer is part of a longer treatment on Catholic Discipleship which will be made available in booklet form. We appreciate any comments.
by Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
We open ourselves to God’s love in our personal prayer. And we open ourselves to God’s love, as a community of disciples, when we worship in liturgical prayer-particularly when we celebrate the Eucharist. If personal prayer has so much power, how much more spiritual power opens for us believers when we gather for Mass?
We know what gathering as a community does. We watch a parade and begin to sense the pride behind our daily lives. Our children process in graduation, and we see more clearly their achievement in the world. We walk down a busy street and realize that we are not alone in our thoughts. We go to the stadium and see tens of thousands shouting as if they were one person. We go to Mass and see our faith reflected in, and reinforced by, hundreds of other believers
Although modern society has preferred a primarily private sense of faith-it’s about “my personal” belief in God-all belief needs support. Were there only one person in the world who believed Jesus rose from the dead, that person would be deemed crazy. The most solid of our thoughts and beliefs echo in the lives of those around us. Does not the singer know one thing about herself while humming in the shower and something very different when belting a song before a thousand fans?
Liturgical Prayer: The Mass
We come together to create a space for our faith, to be strengthened because of the experience of the presence of Christ, in his Spirit, and the presence of our brothers and sisters. In this space we sense not only what God continues to do in our individual lives; more importantly, we sense what God is doing in the world and in the community of faith which God gathers in grace. Our hymns allow us to feel the force of the community whose lives now spill out in song. Our quiet allows us to perceive the subtly powerful work of God in all our lives. The reading of Scripture challenges all of us to conversion: we hear that word together and, therefore, have a common obligation to fulfill it in our lives. We kneel to acknowledge the grace given to the world, now shown in our gathering.
By Fr. D. Bruce Nieli, C.S.P.
“In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization…In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the people of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Matthew 28:19).”
-Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 119-120
My first “encounter” with the living Jesus Christ occurred in my mother Vivian’s arms, when, as an asthmatic toddler, I would hear her sing to me a song she had learned as an Evangelical child:” Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!” I knew by those words, sung with motherly affection, that I was loved by Jesus and that I would be OK! The inner music of the Holy Spirit has been my lifelong Comforter. This was the beginning of my becoming a “missionary disciple.”
This movement was renewed and intensified when I entered the Paulist minor seminary in Baltimore and met the Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest, a marvelous community of women religious of Mexican origin who have collaborated with us Paulists since 1952. Learning that I spoke Spanish and played the guitar, they asked me to give them guitar lessons. I had studied guitar in the sixth grade (I wanted to be a rock and roll star!) and Spanish in the seventh grade (They told me it was easier than French!). So I taught the Sisters guitar, and, in doing so, grew to deeply love both them and their culture. They embodied for me Latino evangelization.
Fr. Bruce Nieli, CSP is an evangelist and missionary based at St. Austin Church in Austin, TX. As part of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, he was named a Missionary of Mercy of Pope Francis. A native of Long Island, NY, Fr. Bruce was ordained in 1973. He is past director of evangelization of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
By Angelo Jesus Canta, Copyright © 2018 America Press Inc.
An image of St. Ignatius Loyola wearing clear Wayfarer-style glasses has the superimposed text HIPSTER ST IGNATIUS/ CANNONIZED BEFORE BECOMING A SAINT. To get the joke, first you need to know that hipsters irritatingly tend to do things “before they are cool”; second, you must know that St. Ignatius was shot in the leg by cannonfire before his conversion. Hence: “cannon-ized.”
Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene as a shortened form of the word mimeme (drawn from the Greek for “imitated thing”). Memes transmit cultural ideas, behaviors and attitudes from person to person through imitation and variation. An internet meme, at its basic level, is anything that can be spread from person to person on the internet. This includes videos, catchphrases, links and, most popularly, images with overlaid text.
While almost anything shared on the internet can be considered a meme, the term is mostly used for particularly successful and long-lasting examples. It is difficult to predict what will catch on, but the memes that go viral tend to exhibit a perfect balance between absurd humor and replicability. Viral memes work insofar as they can be understood as jokes and can also be customized to apply to different situations or audiences. Most popular memes can be repurposed for inside jokes among groups of friends.
That’s where Catholic Memes begins. Brandon Ocampo, a campus minister for the Archdiocese of Newark, recalled the birth of Catholic Memes on Tumblr in an interview with America.
Are the teens in your parish growing into disciples of Christ who will be willing to form life-long faith commitments? Help them to grow in understanding and relationship through The Journey!
The Journey is ideal for helping teens in your parish grow in their relationship with Christ and each other. Let The Journey transform the experience of our youth. This material can also be easily adapted for Confirmation Preparation and teen retreats.
What do the sessions look like?
Teens meet each week in small groups where they will experience something different. Through sharing, prayer, video, and community youth can experience Jesus in a new, direct way. The Youth Booklet has been specially designed to foster sharing and growth. The video experience makes the Gospel come alive for teens. The Youth Leader Guide will make the process easy for parish leadership and youth ministers!
Click here to view a sample of one of the sessions from Part 2 for Youth, “Jesus, Host of Meals” and watch the video for session below!
|Video from “Jesus, Host of Meals”|
By Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune, Copyright © 2018, Chicago Tribune
“Dear gracious God,” she started. She asked for players to remain uninjured and that they play to their potential. As it has before nearly every Loyola home game for decades, her pregame blessing morphed into advice a coach would give.
“Don’t worry about the opponents’ height,” the 5-foot nun told the Ramblers. “We need your win.”
Sister Jean, as seemingly everyone on campus knows her, has served as the team chaplain since 1994. She provides the Ramblers with prayer, comfort and – believe it or not – scouting reports.
By Jim Graves, Copyright © 2018 EWTN News, Inc.
Many Catholics may want to share their faith with others, but not know the best way to do it. I asked seven Catholics involved in full-time evangelization apostolates for tips on how one may best share his Catholic faith with others.
Matthew Arnold, founder of Pro Multis Media, Catholic radio show host and author
Matthew converted to the Catholic faith after marrying a Catholic. He recalled the ineffective attempts of well-meaning Evangelical Christian friends to convert him while he was an unbelieving teen. He said, “They made appeals to Scripture to someone who didn’t believe it.”
Another turnoff was the lax behavior of Catholics at Mass when he began attending as a non-Catholic with his future wife. He said, “They’d be chewing gum, leaving early and otherwise not taking it seriously.”
His advice to win converts is what he terms “the three B’s”: (1) Be bold, (2) Be brief, make your points, but realize you can’t explain the whole Catholic faith in a few minutes, and (3) Be biblical when speaking with non-Catholic Christians, as they’ll be impressed with Catholics who know their faith and Scripture.
And, he added a fourth “B”: Be Catholic all the time. He explained, “Make the sign of the cross and say grace before meals, for example, whether you’re at home or at McDonald’s. As a non-Catholic, when I met Catholics who really lived their faith it was very compelling.”