Dads and Daughters

August 25, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

Between the day you hold her in your arms on her birth-day and the day you share a dance at her wedding reception, your experiences with your daughter are sure to offer emotional peaks and valleys.  The unique relationships of dads and daughters are a gift to be sure.  How are you handling this “gift?”

Objective

We all want to have beautiful young daughters that blossom into capable and confident young women.  Studies have shown that females grow from winsome little girls into vulnerable adolescents and to competent adults most consistently when there is the stability that a father’s love provides.  Fathers must understand that daughters test boundaries just like sons and dads need to keep emotions in balance and offer tough love at times.  Fathers need to bring consistent behavior demonstrating love, faith, and fairness that a daughter can rely on.  Though there will be times that you will find yourself “talking to the hand” or getting the “quiet treatment” know that daughters go through phases of development and you thankfully have your wife as an invaluable and influential teammate in this nurturing journey.  So it is usually best to hold the volume in check when discussions get heated, understand that sometimes you just have to accept that you are “not cool,” and be the dad that is always there when she needs you, as ultimately she will.  In all likelihood the other man that your daughter will be dancing with at her wedding will have many of the characteristics you possess….and will also be crazy about her! 

Bible Readings

1.       Ephesians 6 : 4

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord.

2.       Timothy 1 Chapter 4 : 12

Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.

Catechism Readings

1.       Paragraph 2199

The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it.

 

This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons.

 

2.       Paragraph 2200

Observing the fourth commandment brings its reward: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”   Respecting this commandment provides, along with spiritual fruits, temporal fruits of peace and prosperity. Conversely, failure to observe it brings great harm to communities and to individuals.

Small Group Questions

1.       Where are you on the dad and daughter relationship journey?

2.       What actions are you taking to nurture the relationship that you have with your daughter?

3.       If you have a grown daughter, what do you wish you had done differently?

 

Accountability

1.       What are you doing this week to spend time with your daughter?

2.       Have you written your daughter a letter lately?

3.       Tell your daughter ……what it felt like when you broke-up with a girlfriend.

……what attracted you to your wife.

……what your hopes are for her.

 

Recommended Resources

Dealing with …

1.        http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=128

2.        http://catholicmom.com/2011/06/11/a-fathers-joy/

3.        http://www.catholicmatch.com/institute/2008/06/fathers-and-daughters-why-dads-need-to-be-heroes/

4.        http://www.catholicdadsonline.org/posts/5446/strong-fathers-strong-daughters-meg-meeker/

5.        http://catholicism.about.com/u/sty/catholicliving/Returning_to_Catholicism/The-Most-Beautiful-Treasure-a-Father-Can-Bestow-Upon-His-Daughter.htm

Author(s)

David Connors / Reid Rooney

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Man and His Wife-What Kind of Marriage Do You Have?

August 25, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

If a stranger were to ask you, “What kind of marriage do you have?” would the question catch you off guard? How would you respond on such short notice? Would it sound like any of the following?

 

·         “We are doing great because everything is 50/50”

·         “We’re living the dream. I make all the decisions and plans and my wife likes it that way”

·         “I think we have a good marriage because we have a shared vision and we check in with each other to make sure we remain on the same page”

 

St. John Chrysostom suggests that we say to our wives,” I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself.  For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us…. I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you”

Objective

Engage the large group in a discussion to explore different types of marriage styles. The intention is not to judge one better than the other but rather gain insight into why certain styles work for varying couples. Keeping in mind that God’s call for our marriages is to move toward agape love.

 

·         Top down

o   You or your wife commands the ship and the other may just be living in the others reality

§  Is this healthy and sustainable?

§  What makes it work?

§  Have you or she checked in with each other to see if you are happy living in this style?

·         The “Equal” marriage

o   Tasks and effort are divided equally and scores are kept

§  Divide and conquer

§  Is this a business arrangement?

§  What happens when perception of who is carrying the load is other than 50/50?

·         Coexist

o   Living day to day

§  Just keeping it together

§  Lack of intention in the relationship

§  Is the marriage at risk?

·         Side by Side

o   Shared vision and shared goals

§  Intentional about how you both want the relationship to grow

§  Mutual respect

·         Agape

o   St. John Chrysostom’s quote

§  I live for you and you live for me

o   Definition of Catholic marriage

§  My role is to get my wife into heaven and her role is to get me into heaven

·         Are you and your wife intentional about this?

 

Bible Readings

1.       Ephesians 5:31

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Catechism Readings

1.       Paragraph 2364

The married couple forms “the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent.” Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. The covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble.

Small Group Questions

1.       Has your marriage morphed in or out of any of the types discussed this morning?

2.       Have you had the guts to check in with your wife lately to ask her what she likes about your marriage and what she doesn’t?

3.       If your marriage is in trouble are you willing to seek counseling?

4.       What role does God play in your marriage?

 

Recommended Resources

1.       Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

Accountability:

1.       Give thought to and report back as to what your marriage looks like

2.       Discuss with your wife her vision for the marriage

Author(s)

Mitch West

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Becoming a Better Listener

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

Often when someone else is talking, we are either thinking of the next thing we want to say, or we are thinking of something else entirely. How can husbands be more present to our wives and our kids? Come learn techniques for really hearing others.

Objective

As the old saying goes, God gave us two ears and one mouth because we should listen twice as much as we talk. And yet, we tend to talk more than we listen. “Active listening” is not passive but helps us to focus on what the other person is saying. This makes the other person feel valued and helps strengthen our relationships with a spouse, child, co-worker, etc. Using methods of reflecting back the other’s feelings and statements, receiving and giving verbal and non-verbal cues, and waiting to respond are among the ways to improve your listening skills and creating stronger bonds with those who are important in your life.

Bible Readings

1. Proverbs 18:13

If one gives answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

2. Matthew 13:43

He who has ears, let him hear.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2604

The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John.50 Thanksgiving precedes the event: “Father, I thank you for having heard me,” which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: “I know that you always hear me,” which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the “treasure”; in him abides his Son’s heart; the gift is given “as well.”

2. Paragraph 2716

Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the “Yes” of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God’s lowly handmaid.

Small Group Questions

1. Do you think you are a good listener? Would your wife and children agree?

2. Think of a specific situation from this week where you were in a conversation. How well did you listen?

3. Who do you know is an example of a great listener? What makes that person a great listener?

Recommended Resources

1. It’s Not About the Nail (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

2. Active Listening is Not a Spectator Sport (Archdiocese of Detroit): http://www.aod.org/being-catholic/marriage-and-family/marriage-support/enrichment-articles/active-listening-is-not-a-spectator-sport/

3. LISTEN techniques (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENkwUBPhMJw&list=PLB429DDA7B7DC2E70

4. Reflective Listening (Archdiocese of Indianapolis): http://www.archindy.org/family/documents/Reflective%20Listening.pdf

Accountability

1. In your next conversation this week with your wife or children, use one or more aspects of active or reflective listening.

2. This week ask your wife or children how you can be a better listener.

3. One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is understanding. Pray to the Holy Spirit this week to help you listen better in your daily conversations so as to gain greater understanding about the other person.

Author(s)

Pete Caccavari

Included Resources

Three qualities essential to deep listening
The Sacred Art of Listening by Kay Lindahl, p. 16

Silence creates the space for listening to God. It provides time to explore our relationship to Source. The practice of being in this silence nurtures our capacity to listen to others.

Reflection gives us access to listening for our inner voice. The practice of taking a few breaths before responding to a situation, question, or comment gives time for your true wisdom to reveal itself. It’s a slowing down, waiting, practicing patience.

Presence is the awareness of listening to another, of connecting at the heart level. The practice of taking a mundane, ordinary activity and giving it your full attention, for example, washing your hands or brushing your teeth, trains your concentration and your ability to be in the present moment with another.

Listening and being assertive
Speak Up! Christian Assertiveness by Randolph K. Sanders and H. Newton Malony, p. 109

Again, knowing when to shut up is helpful because it means we believe other people’s ideas are just as important as our own. Notice we did not say that others’ ideas are necessarily more correct than ours. We said that others’ opinions are as important as our own. Listening to what they have to say does not mean we have to agree with them, only that we have to respect them. This is an important part of being assertive.

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How to get your career unstuck

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

In a rut career-wise? Does it seem like others are getting much more out of their careers…. and you are struggling to find satisfaction in yours? How do you take action to find fulfillment in your work or put a plan in place to make a career change?

Objective

Are you unhappy in your current job? Has the changing economy or a “re-organization” forced you to consider a new career? Whatever your reason for seeking out a new path, it’s a decision that you can’t take lightly. Changing careers can be very stressful on both you and your family, and be very costly. Before you give your two-week notice, take a moment to look at your current situation. Are you really stuck?

Maybe you are way better off than you think. Things always seem to look better on the other side of the street….from a distance. Are there options available to you that you have not investigated? Have you considered that your career dissatisfaction may be coming from a lack of “balance” in your life? Sometimes all we know is that we want a change.

No plan…no road map…no destination.

Take an objective look at your current situation, level of satisfaction, assess your options and put a plan in place to make a change….or not.

Bible Readings

1. Proverbs 3: 5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely;

In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.

2. Isaiah 43: 11-13

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.

When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you.

For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 378

The sign of man’s familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden.255 There he lives “to till it and keep it”. Work is not yet a burden, but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.

2. Paragraph 901

Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit maybe produced in them. For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit – indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born – all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Small Group Questions

1. Are the career expectations that you had when you started your job being met?

2. Who do you know that made a successful career change or transition?

3. What would cause you make a change? External conditions or internal desire?

Recommended Resources

1. Changing Careers is a Big Decision. Make Sure You Plan Ahead http://financialplan.about.com/od/planningforlifestages/a/ready-for-a-career-change.htm

2. 10 Steps to a Successful Career Change http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/careerresources/a/10steps.htm

3. 3 Ways To Get Unstuck In Your Career – Forbes – Nov 2012 http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2012/11/30/3-ways-to-get-unstuck-in-your-career/

4. Job Loss Support Group at IHM

http://ihom.org/Serve/HealthMinistrySupport/JobLossSupportGroup.aspx

Accountability

1. What do you like about your career?

2. Are you taking action to at least assess, or better yet, change job and career issues that are dissatisfying for you?

3. Can you be helping someone making a career change?

Author(s)

Reid Rooney

Included Resources

8 Career Change Tips

http://animalcareers.about.com/od/Animals/a/8-Career-Change-Tips.htm

Making the change to a new career can certainly be difficult in a tough economy, but it is far from an impossible task. Here are a few key steps that will prepare you for making a successful transition from one career path to another:

1. Research the career fully by searching the internet and reading books and career guides at your local library. There is a wealth of information available from both the web and the library if you take the time to look for it. Be sure you are familiar with all of the duties that will be required of you in your new career, and be sure that these duties are things that you will enjoy. It is also important to research the salary range that you can expect in the new career so that you can be sure you will be able to meet your current financial obligations (mortgage, car payment, and other bills). If a pay cut is involved it might be a good time to review your budget.

2. Connect with a professional who has the type of job you are intending to pursue. This could be someone you know personally, someone you are referred to by a friend, or someone recommended to you by your college alumni association or a professional group. Prepare a list of questions to ask and see if it would be possible to shadow them for a day while they complete their duties. An up close and personal view of the job’s responsibilities can be invaluable, so if this is possible be sure to take advantage of the opportunity.

3. Identify transferable skills that you will be able to use in your new position. Making a list of skills that you have developed on your current job or through participation in sports and hobbies is a good starting point. There is also a site on the U.S. Department of Labor website, known as O*Net, that lists skills necessary for success in over 25,000 career paths. This is another great place to look for specific qualities that may deserve some emphasis on your resume.

4. Seek additional training or education if it will improve your chances of making a successful career change. There are many colleges, universities, and trade schools that offer night or weekend classes designed for adult students who have full time jobs. Even if you just take a semester-long professional training course it will show that you have current knowledge of the field. You can also highlight this additional education on your resume.

5. Volunteer in positions related to your intended career. While you probably can’t commit to a full time internship while also holding down a full time job, you can often find weekend or evening activities that will help you add skills that will enhance your resume. It is especially true in the animal industry that there is no substitute for having practical hands on experience. If you don’t have experience working with a particular type of animal (and it will factor into your new position) be sure to tailor your volunteering or internship experiences to correct that lack of experience.

6. Utilize social media networking to expand your job search through person to person contacts and referrals. It is always easier to get your foot in the door when someone puts in a good word for you. Networking through social media sites such as LinkedIn can put you in contact with the professional contacts of your friends and business connections. The wider you cast your net in a career search, especially when changing careers, the better.

7. Prepare a resume that highlights your transferable skills and the strengths that you developed in your previous career. Using the functional resume format will highlight the skills that you have developed in your other positions. The functional resume lists each major skill as a heading and then lists a few achievements related to the skill. This style minimizes any work experience that doesn’t enhance your job prospects in the new field while maximizing exposure for skills and abilities gained through volunteer work, internships, or other non-work activities.

8. Be persistent and keep trying to make the change, even if it takes a while to find the right employer that is willing to give you a chance. In the current job market there are many applicants for each available position, and employers may have quite a few qualified candidates to select from. Networking, preparing a great resume, gaining additional training, and volunteering should help career changers enhance their job prospects.

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Are We called to be Saints?

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

In one sense, everyone who is baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection is a saint. This is not to diminish the special role of the canonized saints but to highlight the immense gift that is all of ours in Christ. Because of the power of the cross, each Christian has the same inheritance in heaven as the great saints whose lives we commemorated in a special way on All Saints Day.!

Objective

“Are you a saint?” If someone were to ask you this question, how would you answer it? At the very beginning of his letter to the Philippians, Paul called his readers “saints,” or “holy ones” (Note: many Bible translations use the word saints in place of “holy ones.”) When we hear the word “saint,” most of us think of the special Christians of the past-canonized saints-who are renowned because of their extraordinary holiness and witness, in some cases to the point of martyrdom. However, when Paul used the word “saint,” he used it with a small “s” not a capital “S.” and thus meant all Christians-even us today!

Bible Readings

1. 2 Timothy Chapter 1, 9

He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.

2. Philippians Chapter 1, 1-11

Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and ministers: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 823

“The Church… is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy,’ loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.” The Church, then, is “the holy People of God,” and her members are called “saints.”

Small Group Questions

1. How would you answer the question: “Are you a saint? Are you Holy?

a. Correct answer is: “yes I am holy, not because of me, but because of Christ, Who lives inside of me. The day I was chosen and baptized, god set me apart as His own. Now I am holy in God.”

2. What steps can you take to open yourself more to the work of the Holy Spirit to form you more and more into a “saint”?

3. At the end of your meeting, pray for one another that each of you would be empowered to be saints and a witness to this broken and hurting world. Use this prayer as a starting point.

“Father, thank you for giving me a share in the fellowship of your saints. By your Spirit, empower me to embrace Jesus and his life in me. Empower me to be a saint.”

Recommended Resources

http://catholicexchange.com/what-does-it-means-to-be-a-saint/

Based on the characteristics that Paul mentioned in the first few verses of Philippians, we can begin to define what makes a person a “saint.”:

  • Saints are “in Christ” (Philippians 1:1).
  • They are united with Jesus; they are “partners . . . in grace” (1:7).
  • They have access to the love and power of the Spirit in their everyday lives.
  • Because of their “partnership for the gospel” (1:5), they are all called and empowered to proclaim the gospel and build the kingdom of God.
  • Baptized into Christ and filled with the Spirit, saints stand as a sign to the world of the love and power of God.

Author(s)

Fr Larry Richards, Be a Man Chapter 9.

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Strategies for Keeping Your Kids or Grandkids Catholic

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

A child’s faith trajectory is fairly established by the time they reach 14 years of age. Young adults are considered one of the most un-churched generations. The challenge is to help young people experience Catholicism as fulfilling their spiritual hunger. What can we do to help our children and grandchildren nurture and remain active in their faith?

Objective

Children tend to follow the faith of their parents. Roman Catholic families have traditionally had a passive approach to educating their children about the Catholic faith, delegating the responsibility of teaching our faith to others (teachers, schools, priests, nuns, etc.). As Fathers, we have a critical role in establishing the importance of faith in our families. Our children look to us for guidance. We have a narrow window of time to influence their beliefs and establish the faith as an important part of their lives. The powerful memories that we give our kids will sustain them and give them roots, when temptations of the world challenge them. Research has consistently shown that the chosen path of Faith by Adult Children is more impacted by Fathers than Mothers (even very devout Mothers). As Leaders of our Families, Fathers must lead by the example of “living our Faith” and teaching our children/grandchildren the Truths revealed by Jesus in the Bible and in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Bible Readings

1. Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

2. Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

3. Matthew 19:13-14

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2223

“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.”

2. Paragraph 2228

“Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.”

Small Group Questions

1. What type of spiritual example are you setting for your children?

2. Do you pray with your kids? (ie, evening meal or bedtime) Do you look for opportunities to pray the Rosary with them. (ie, on a routine basis like once each week or in the car on the way to a fun activity or after a death in the Family or to thank God for something good in the Family or when they are grounded or punished, etc)

3. What events/things do you do with your kids to put faith in action?

4. Do you use the Bible and/or Catechism to teach the Catholic Faith (ie, about the Mass and the Holy Eucharist or about morality or current social issues, etc)

5. Do you focus unique Catholic teachings that separate us from other Christians? (ie, the Holy Eucharist, the Mass, Sacrament of Reconciliation, moral teachings that are counter-cultural like marriage or contraception, the Virgin Mary, teachings on salvation, Sacred Tradition, Papal Authority, the Saints, etc)

6. Can you explain how Jesus founded the Catholic Church and all other Christian Churches were founded by another human being?

Recommended Resources

1. “8 Strategies for Keeping Your Kids Catholic”, by Robert McCarty, 2008 Liguori Publications (Most of pamphlet included below)

2. Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth by Michael Theisen (National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry):

http://www.diojeffcity.org/Ministries/ChristianEd/ReligiousEd/Strong%20Catholic%20Families/A2FamilyFaithResourceBookBWrevised.pdf

3. “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers”, by Christian Smith and Melina Lundquist Denton, 2009

4. “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults”, by Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, 2009

5. http://www.catholic.com which is an excellent resource to answer Catholic questions and to find Biblical and Catechism references (ie, great search engine)

Accountability

1. Set a positive image and be your child’s spiritual example.

2. Review the 8 strategies with your wife and look for ways to be engaged with your kids regarding putting the faith in action.

3. Conversation starters about faith and religion you can use with you kids:

a. Do you understand the Church’s teachings on the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and do you know what the Bible says about this Sacrament? How much of this is just accepting what Jesus says about the Holy Eucharist? Can you accept this teaching because “Jesus says so” or must this be proven scientifically before you can accept this teaching? Are there other things that you accept as true without scientific testing?

b. How and why do you pray? What kind of relationship do you have with God?

c. Why do you love Jesus?

d. What is sin and why is avoiding sin important? Can you name sins that are common in our society? Do the 10 Commandments apply to today’s world?

e. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is going to Mass on Sunday for you? What makes it that number?

f. Have you ever had an experience where your faith was really tested?

g. Have you ever had an experience where your faith has really helped you?

h. Who do you consider to be a genuine person of faith?

i. What church teaching most confuses you?

j. How is your faith different now from when you were younger?

k. What experiences, places, or persons have really fostered your growth in faith?

l. Should we conform to what God has revealed through the Bible and His Church or should we pick and choose what we like best? Why?

Author(s): Michael Copfer and Ken Mai (amended by George Cullen)

Included Resources

8 Strategies for Keeping Your Kids Catholic, by Robert McCarty, 2008 Liguori Publications

1. Practice and Participate:

Contrary to popular opinion, the Number 1 influence in the faith life of young people is the faith life of their parents. Young people really do mirror the faith life of their parents, so the way we practice our religion is very important. Our participation is Sunday Mass and other special liturgical celebrations, as well as our active involvement in the life of the parish, shows our children that our religion is a significant part of our lives. In addition to Mass attendance, we can participate in retreats, Bible study groups, church organizations and ministries, or adult catechesis sessions.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, invite them to go with you – even if it’s just on a special holy day or anniversary. They may decline, but your invitation will remind them that Mass is a meaningful part of your life and that you wish to share your faith with them.

2. Model Our Faith:

In addition to worshiping with our children, we can have a great impact on the faith of young people when our faith guides our daily routines and interactions. Faith should influence our lifestyle choices, use of time, how we handle conflicts, the relationships we form, and even how we handle work issues. It may sound trite, but the two most obvious challenges to the practice of faith in real life are how adults drive their cars and how they behave at sports events! Our spontaneous reactions in emotional situations can reveal to others whether our faith and values influence our behavior.

So we might ask ourselves: Do we pray at home in the evening? Before family meals? In restaurants? Do we remember people who are less fortunate in our prayers? Do we pray for our children’s intentions? For their friends? Do we model forgiveness and reconciliation in our lives by admitting when we are wrong and forgiving others who hurt us? How do we handle crises such as death, divorce and illnesses? Does our faith impact how we celebrate Christmas, Easter, or other holy days? Do we volunteer our time and talent to ant service organizations or civic programs? All of these situations are part of life. Our young people watch to see if faith makes sense to us, if faith works for us. They are looking for a faith that provides meaning in all areas of their life, not just on Sundays.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass on Sunday, model your Catholicism at all times and in all settings.

3. Include Young Adults:

What a blessing it would be if all our young people were greeted by name when they walked through the church doors! We begin to meet their hunger for connection by welcoming them on Sunday and fostering their participation in the faith community. A sense of belonging is a very strong bond.

These experiences begin with the parish young adult ministry program. Young adults need to gather with their peers right in their own church. They need opportunities to build community with their peers, to feel connected with other faith-filled persons, and to interact with caring, believing adults. Parents should encourage their young adult’s participation in appropriate parish activities Parishes must be intentional in including young adults in their liturgical, pastoral, and leadership ministries. We can’t wait until young people ask or volunteer: we must actively invite them into responsible participation in the life, work and mission of the faith community.

Of course, the experience of community goes beyond the local Church. Gathering with other young adults through national groups such as Theology on Tap or at diocesan or international events like World Youth Day will give them a sense of belonging to something bigger. One of the main benefits of these events is that participants connect with their peers from other regions and cultures. It helps bring home the truth that they are part of an important and inclusive global community.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, help them experience their membership in the greater Catholic family. Encourage them to be involved in liturgical ministries and invite them to be leaders in parish programs.

4. Doing Faith:

One of the most important characteristics of the spirituality of young adults is their need to “do faith.” Actions inspired by faith are powerful experiences. Perhaps the most profound experience of doing faith is involvement in justice and service projects. Serving in soup kitchens, participating in a work camp, working in a community shelter program or emergency-outreach center, tutoring children, or participating in public events for justice can have a significant impact on the faith of young adults and respond to their hunger for justice.

Similarly, young people “do faith” when they participate in retreats, pilgrimages, or public Stations of the Cross. These can be moving experiences of faith in action, too. All of these experiences are even more powerful when young adults and their parents participate in events together.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, encourage them to “do faith” through their participation in service to the community, in parish ministries and in special liturgical events.

5. Learning Opportunities:

Young adults do need to know the traditions, creed, teachings and stories of our faith community. They need to know the story of Jesus and the gospel message. Many are genuinely interested in reading and understanding Scripture. They need to know to know what it means to be Catholic, and they want to learn how to participate in the rituals and worship of the Church. The faith community needs to be a safe place where young adults can bring their questions and where they can search with others for answers that make sense, meet their needs and provide meaning and purpose in their lives.

Further, our young people need to know about that unique dimension of our faith often described as our Catholic “imagination.” Catholics “see” the world differently. Through our sacramental lens, we encounter a world filled with God’s presence. Our traditional practices, our use of images, our symbols, and our rituals provide an avenue to an encounter with an imminent, loving God.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, find opportunities for them to learn more about their faith through Bible study, faith-sharing groups, or other diocesan programs-and offer to go with them!

6. Prayer Skills:

Young adults need both personal and communal experiences of prayer. They can be creative and enthusiastic when they are invited to compose original prayers or spiritual poems that incorporate their favorite music and symbols. Often they are very open to traditional contemplative Catholic approaches to prayer, such as the Ignatian exercises, which enable them to connect with Spirit within.

They should also be encouraged to participate with the faith community in worship experiences, sharing in the Catholic community’s understanding of God, our traditions, our unique rituals and our ways of prayer. This “both/and” approach to the personal and communal dimension fosters their experience of prayer as the outpouring of their relationship with God and deepens their faith.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, talk with them about personal prayer and the value of praying together at Mass.

7. Faith Sharing:

As young adults search for a personal understanding of God, they must be able and encouraged to look for God’s presence in their lived experiences. Young adults should be assisted in naming their experience of a God who is active and present in their lives. God does not wait to be invited into the lives of young people. God takes the initiative and is present, but God waits to be identified or named. Many young adults need language to help them understand and express their experiences of God.

Parents and other caring, faith-filled adults can assist young adults in identifying God’s presence in their joys and sorrows, in their hopes and dreams and in their day-to-day lives. Of course, this requires that we have the language to name the presence of God in our own lives. We can ask our young adults where they experience God, where they pray best, where they feel joy and sorrow, for God is present there. And we can share our own experiences.

This faith sharing is a very important task because young people will never understand the Hebrew-Christian Scriptures until they can read the Scriptures of their own lives. Therein young adults experience the God who is always active and resent. And we should be open to having our own understanding of God challenged and perhaps deepened by our young adults’ experience of God.

If you want young adults to go to Mass, ask them questions about their faith life.

8. Compelling Adventure:

At the heart of their spiritual hunger is the desire of young adults for a compelling vision of life that provides a genuine sense of meaning and purpose-a noble adventure worthy of their commitment. The Catholic Church inherited the noble adventure and compelling mission of Jesus Christ-to build the reign of god-to make the world better for all people.

Participation in this spiritual adventure requires a community of companions also committed to thus mission-that is, the Church. There is also a need to celebrate this adventure regularly-that is, at Mass. At its best, liturgy is a spiritual drama that tells the story of Jesus and connects that story with building the reign here and now.

If you want your young adults to go to Mass, call them to a compelling adventure worthy of their lives.

The Holy Rosary

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

We, as Catholics, know and understand that the Mass is the most powerful prayer since Jesus commanded us to “do this in memory of me”. As Vatican II stated, the Holy Eucharist is the “Source, Center, and Summit of our Faith.” Of the numerous Catholic prayers and devotions, the Holy Rosary is arguably the second most powerful prayer.

Objective

History and Origin of the Rosary: before Christianity, the ancient Hebrews used to pray the 150 Psalms and used to tie 150 knots to represent all of the Psalms in the Bible. The origin of the Rosary is rooted in the 13th Century, when Saint Dominic de Guzman was sadly praying to the Blessed Mother about his lack of progress in his preaching to the Albigensians who were a growing group of heretics in France at that time. The Albigensians denounced the Incarnation and the dignity of human life and even praised suicide. In response to Saint Dominic’s lamentations, the Blessed Mother appeared to him and taught him to pray the Holy Rosary to which she referred as “heavenly dew” which would bring an “abundant harvest” and that it did for St Dominic. In subsequent apparitions (ie, Lourdes and Fatima), our Blessed Mother has strongly encouraged us to pray the Rosary. Starting with Pope Urban IV, numerous Popes throughout the centuries have strongly endorsed the Holy Rosary including Pope John Paul II who wrote an encyclical on the Rosary. In fact, it was Pope John Paul II, a staunch advocate of the Rosary, who added 5 more decades to the traditional 15 decades.

The mechanics of the Rosary are simple with the main prayers being the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. However, the real power of the Rosary is that it is a meditative prayer with which we pray to both Jesus and His Blessed Mother and meditate on the Scriptural verses which depicts key events in the lives of Jesus and His Blessed Mother which are found in the Sorrowful, Joyful, Glorious, and Luminous Mysteries. 18 of the 20 decades have direct links to Sacred Scripture while 2 have indirect references in Sacred Scripture. According to St Louis de Montfort, a spiritual disciple of St Dominic who was strongly devoted to our Blessed Mother, meditating on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary will produce some wonderful results:

1. It will gradually give us perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ

2. It purifies our souls, washing away sins

3. It gives us victory over our enemies

4. It makes it easy to practice virtue

5. It sets us on fire with a love of Jesus

6. It enriches us with graces and merits.

Note: Meditation is very easy. You just think about the mystery that is described in the Bible as you pray the decade of Our Father with 10 Hail Mary’s. For example, for the sorrowful mystery of the Crucifixion, you visualize the stripping of Jesus’ clothes; nailing Jesus to the cross; Jesus’ suffering on the cross; people shouting at Jesus; etc

Bible Readings

1. Luke 1: 28 (what the Angel Gabriel said to Mary at the Annunciation)

And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”

2. Luke 1: 42 (how Elizabeth greeted Mary at the Visitation)

And she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2708

“Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.”

Small Group Questions

1. For those of you who already say the Rosary regularly, what have been the benefits for you, your Family, and the people for whom you pray?

2. If you meditate on Sacred Scripture as you pray the Rosary, why is this NOT boring?

3. What opportunities do you have to pray the Rosary in your busy schedule?

4. What makes the Rosary such a powerful prayer?

5. Do you have opportunities to pray the Rosary with your Family? If so, when?

Recommended Resources

1. The Rosary “The Little Summa” by Robert Feeney

2. Real Men Pray the Rosary: A Practical Guide to a Powerful Prayer by David N Calvillo

3. David Calvillo’s website: http://www.realmenpraytherosary.org

Accountability

1. Take the 33 day challenge offered by David Calvillo at his website.

2. Before you begin your Rosary, look at the Sacred Scripture that describes the mysteries. For example, the scriptural verses related to the Sorrowful Mysteries (the Passion and Death) will provide you with much for your meditation. After you do that for the Sorrowful Mysteries, repeat this process of reading applicable scriptural verses for the Glorious, the Joyful, and the Luminous Mysteries. This will help your meditation tremendously.

3. If you need help, purchase a Rosary prayer book at your local Catholic book store. These prayer books normally have the scriptural verses related to mysteries of the Rosary.

Author(s)

George Cullen

Included Resources

1. The 33 Day Challenge from David Calvillo’s website
http://www.realmenpraytherosary.org

Pray the Rosary daily. Not for 30 days but 33 days. 33 represents the number of years that Jesus dwelt among us in the fullness of his humanity. 33 constitutes a direct connection to the fullness of the Divine- made man, a connection to Jesus himself. One day of praying the Rosary for every year that Jesus gave us, setting aside his glory as God, and living and breathing and walking among us. Pray the Rosary daily for 33 days. Focus on the content of the mysteries. Meditate upon that Gospel story and apply the lessons to your life. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to receive the fullness of His mystery-the fullness of faith.

You won’t be alone. We’ll all be praying with you. Beginning May 1, the entire RMPTR community, the Body of Christ, will pray along with you. Share your journey with us – on Facebook- or post a comment on this page. Share your reflection on a mystery of the day. You can subscribe to our daily reflection and receive it by email. Ask the RMPTR community to join in your intentions. Share your journey. Share your laughter. Invite someone you love to join the journey. We know it will change your prayer life. We know praying the Rosary daily will change your life.

Praying the Rosary daily permits us to employ the full gospel story — the new covenant salvation story — within our continuing faith journey. Those who pray the Rosary daily and who respond to the call to faithfully meditate on each day’s mysteries, find that within one week, they have lived through it. They revisit the imminent joy of Advent and the birth of our Lord; they cherish the illuminating reality that Jesus walked among us, talked to and taught us directly; they intimately observe, with Mary by their side, the sorrowful cruelty meted upon him by our sinful humanity and marvel at his loving response; they experience the glory and wonder of promises kept as they stand at the tomb and begin to understand the reality of the covenant satisfied.

Our circle of faith is completed by the visceral story prayed by us and lived by us in this daily prayer.

Such frequent relationship with Jesus and Mary for 25-30 minutes a day is bound to change us. As Pope John Paul II reminded us:  “Just as two friends, frequently in each other’s company, tend to develop similar friends, tend to develop similar habits, so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, … we can become similar to them” and live that elusive, virtuous holy life.

At the end of the 33 days, pray it forward. Share your experience with a loved one. Invite them to continue the 33 day Rosary challenge for themselves. And for you, notice the arrow on the logo- it continues in perpetuity. The 33 day Rosary challenge invites you to make praying the Rosary a permanent and integral part of your spiritual journey. Pray it forward.

Take the “Real Men Pray the Rosary 33 day Challenge.” Love made you do it!

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Four ways to Encounter Jesus in the Mass

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Objective

Pay more attention during mass and learn to encounter Jesus

1. In the community

2. In His Word

3. Through the Priest

4. Through the Eucharist

When we learn how to “be on the lookout for Jesus Christ at Mass; when the Mass is no longer just a ritual that repeats the same old thing every time, but becomes an event through which we encounter Jesus Christ, then it will be anything but boring.

Bible Readings

1. 1 Cor. 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant of my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”

2. Matthew. 5:23–24

Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice.

3. Luke 22:19

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1382

The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.

2. Paragraph 1378

Worship of the Eucharist.

In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession.

Small Group Questions

1. What effort do you put in to understanding what is going on during Mass? You only get out of it what you put in.

2. Do you challenge your family to participate and be attentive during Mass?

Recommended Resources

1. The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life, Dr. Tom Curran

2. “The Holy Mass- The Testimony of Catalina” – Document is on the Father’s Team website

3. “The Lamb’s Supper – Scott Hahn

Accountability

1. Next time you attend Mass actively try to encounter Jesus through your fellow parishioners, in the readings, through the priest’s homily and through the Eucharist.

Author(s)

Tony Heekin and Graham Galloway

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How to commit to giving God 10 Minutes a day

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

We are each called as Catholic Men to a deepening relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. A daily habit of committing 10 minutes for prayer should be an attainable goal for each of us to strive for.

Objective

Can Catholic daily prayers change your life? Absolutely! You can develop
a fuller relationship with God and live a better life through prayer. You have a better chance at finding fulfillment (to say nothing of salvation!), from daily prayers than from the many distractions bombarding us these days!

Think of all the promises we hear on TV and elsewhere: you’ll find happiness if you buy this car, this book, this exercise bike, or this pill
(after checking with your doctor first on that last one)! Yet many times our souls feel as empty as our wallets afterwards.

Developing a good prayer life can really change you for the better. Praying can become a most satisfying routine in many ways. It might not be an easy habit to start at first, but it’s definitely one you won’t want to break! Catholic daily prayers can give you a sense of peace and purpose.

Prayer has often been called “the raising up of the mind and heart to God”. We engage in a literally divine conversation with Him. You get a wonderful opportunity from prayer to strengthen and deepen your relationship with our Creator and with your fellow human beings by praying for their needs as well as your own.

Bible Readings

1. Luke 11: 1-13

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”

2. 1 Thessalonians 4: 10-11

We urge you….to progress even more and to aspire to live a tranquil life

3. Seeking Her Intercession
The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2697

Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all. This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life in the Deuteronomic and prophetic traditions insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart “We must remember God more often than we draw breath.”1 But we cannot pray “at all times” if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it These are the special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration.

2. Paragraph 2698

The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer. Some are daily, such as morning and evening prayer, grace before and after meals, the Liturgy of the Hours. Sundays, centered on the Eucharist, are kept holy primarily by prayer. the cycle of the liturgical year and its great feasts are also basic rhythms of the Christian’s life of prayer.

3. Paragraph 2699

The Lord leads all persons by paths and in ways pleasing to him, and each believer responds according to his heart’s resolve and the personal expressions of his prayer. However, Christian Tradition has retained three major expressions of prayer: vocal meditative, and contemplative. They have one basic trait in common: composure of heart. This vigilance in keeping the Word and dwelling in the presence of God makes these three expressions intense times in the life of prayer.

Small Group Questions

1. What time of day is the best for you to pray?

2. What resources i.e. daily devotions, scripture or quiet reflections help to put you in a state of grace?

Recommended Resources

1. http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/catholic-daily-prayers.html

2. http://www.livingfaith.com/

3. http://thereasonforourhope.org/meet_father/homilies.php

Accountability

1. Did you carve out a time this week to devote 10 minutes of daily prayer?

2. Did you Pray for your small group members to help him reach his goals?

Author(s)

Bob Considine

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Many Parts, One Body: Different Catholic Spiritualities

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

The saints have left us the legacy of their spiritual journeys to God. We will look at St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. John of the Cross and the spiritual practices they left for their orders and the universal Church.

Objective

The history of the Church is rich in people who have shared their experience of how they came close to God. The saints provide us roadmaps to God. As with any roadmap, there are many different ways to arrive at the same place. One path is not superior to another as long as their destination is the same: eternal union with God in heaven as part of the Communion of Saints. While every person’s path to God is unique, there is also no reason to “reinvent the wheel” completely. God has given us the saints as guides, and we can benefit from their experience as we have benefited from the experience of our parents and as our children have benefited from our experience.

St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscans. St. John of the Cross helped found the Discalced (“shoeless”) Carmelites. All three were reformers in their day. St. Ignatius was an important part of the Catholic Counter-Reformation; St. Francis answered Jesus’ call to him to “rebuild my Church”; St. John helped to reform the Carmelite order to return it to a greater simplicity. Starting from their own personal encounters with God, these men were sent by the Holy Spirit to touch others and help bring them closer to God. The spiritual approaches these saints developed can speak to us across the centuries and be as applicable to us in this day and age as it was to them in theirs.

Bible Readings

1. 1 Corinthians 12:12-20

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

2. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers, you are God’s field, God’s building.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2684

In the communion of saints, many and varied spiritualities have been developed throughout the history of the churches. The personal charism of some witnesses to God’s love for men has been handed on, like “the spirit” of Elijah to Elisha and John the Baptist, so that their followers may have a share in this spirit. A distinct spirituality can also arise at the point of convergence of liturgical and theological currents, bearing witness to the integration of the faith into a particular human environment and its history. The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are essential guides for the faithful. In their rich diversity they are refractions of the one pure light of the Holy Spirit.

2. Paragraph 2663

In the living tradition of prayer, each Church proposes to its faithful, according to its historical, social, and cultural context, a language for prayer: words, melodies, gestures, iconography. The Magisterium of the Church has the task of discerning the fidelity of these ways of praying to the tradition of apostolic faith; it is for pastors and catechists to explain their meaning, always in relation to Jesus Christ.

Small Group Questions

1. Do you have experience with Jesuit, Franciscan, or Carmelite spirituality? If not, is there another Catholic spirituality (for example, Marianist, Benedictine, Dominican, Trappist, etc.) with which you have experience? What has that experience been? What about that spirituality speaks to you? Is there anything about that spirituality that does not work for you?

2. Although these spiritualities have their roots in religious orders, these spiritualities are not only applicable to priests, brothers, or sisters in those orders. In fact, Franciscan and Carmelite orders have “third order” or secular/lay groups, and Jesuit practices such as the examen are used by many lay people. How can one of these spiritualities be applied in your daily life in the secular world?

3. Is there anything in the life of St. Ignatius, St. Francis, or St. John that speaks to you? St. Ignatius started out as a worldly, vain, and ambitious aristocrat/soldier who was wounded in battle and during his convalescence began to turn toward God; it took him quite a while to discern the path God had set for him and a great deal of growth in his relationship with God. He saw God working in every aspect of his daily life. St. Francis gave up his family’s wealthy lifestyle to live simply upon the providence of God, living as an example of God’s love for other people and all of creation. St. John helped reform the Carmelite order to make it simpler, facing much opposition and persecution. He also emphasized the importance of contemplation and direct encounters with God. All three of these saints placed Jesus at the center of their lives.

Recommended Resources

1. St. Ignatius and Jesuit Spirituality: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/prs/stign/ignatian_spirit.html

2. What is Ignatian Prayer? (video): http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/what-is-ignatian-spirituality/the-ignatian-way/what-is-ignatian-prayer/

3. St. Francis and Franciscan Spirituality: http://www.ofmqc.ca/eng/spirituality/spirituality01.htm

4. Franciscan Spirituality (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kwDEDgPWro

5. St. John of the Cross and Carmelite Spirituality: http://www.carmelite.com/spirituality/default.cfm?loadref=4

6. Carmelite Spirituality: lectio divina: http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/what-lectio-divina

7. St. John of the Cross (video): http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=st.+john+of+the+cross&qs=SC&sk=&FORM=VBREQY&pq=st.%20john%20of%20the%20co&sc=2-18&sp=1&qs=SC&sk=#view=detail&mid=2AB0B536A3B7DBABD5912AB0B536A3B7DBABD591

Accountability

1. This week would be a good time to learn a little more about Jesuit, Franciscan, or Carmelite spirituality (or another spirituality you are interested in). Or you might want to learn more about the life of St. Ignatius, St. Francis, or St. John.

2. Sometime this week pray to St. Ignatius, St. Francis, or St. John (or another saint whose spirituality appeals to you) for his intercession as you seek to deepen your relationship with God.

3. Engage in some specific practice particular to one of these spiritualities. For example, you could use the Jesuit examen. You could sit outside and meditate on the Franciscan way of seeing creation as pointing toward God and being in relationship with us as created by God (as in the Canticle of the Sun). You could read Scripture using lectio divina as Carmelites (and others) do, moving towards contemplation.

4. St. Ignatius, St. Francis, and St. John all put Christ at the center of their lives. This week take a concrete action to put Christ more at the center of your life. Some possibilities are: pray 10 minutes each day (or a little more if already praying daily), take 10 minutes in Eucharistic adoration, read a chapter of one of the Gospels, pray the Jesus Prayer – “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” repeatedly in contemplation, or meditate on a crucifix.

Author(s)

Pete Caccavari

Included Resources

1. Pope Francis’ homily on the Feast of St. Ignatius (July 31, 2013)

The emblem of us Jesuits is a monogram, the acronym of “Jesus, the Saviour of Mankind” (IHS). Every one of you can tell me: we know that very well! But this crest continually reminds us of a reality that we must never forget: the centrality of Christ for each one of us and for the whole Company, the Company that Saint Ignatius wanted to name “of Jesus” to indicate the point of reference. Moreover, even at the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises he places our Lord Jesus Christ, our Creator and Saviour (Spiritual Exercises, 6) in front of us. And this leads all of us Jesuits, and the whole Company, to be “decentred,” to have “Christ more and more” before us, the “Deus semper maior” [“God always greater”], the “intimior intimo meo” [God is “more intimate than I am to myself”], that leads us continually outside ourselves, that brings us to a certain kenosis, a “going beyond our own loves, desires, and interests” (Spiritual Exercises, 189). Isn’t it obvious, the question for us? For all of us? “Is Christ the centre of my life? Do I really put Christ at the centre of my life?” Because there is always the temptation to want to put ourselves in the centre. And when a Jesuit puts himself and not Christ in the centre, he goes astray. In the first Reading, Moses forcefully calls upon the people to love the Lord, to walk in His ways, “because He is your life” (cf. Deut. 30, 16-20). Christ is our life! The centrality of Christ corresponds also to the centrality of the Church: they are two flames that cannot be separated: I cannot follow Christ except in and with the Church. And even in this case we Jesuits and the whole Company, are not at the centre, we are, so to speak, “displaced”, we are at the service of Christ and of the Church, the Bride of Christ our Lord, who is our Holy Mother Hierarchical Church (cf. Spiritual Exercises, 353). To be men routed and grounded in the Church: that is what Jesus desires of us. There cannot be parallel or isolated paths for us. Yes, paths of searching, creative paths, yes, this is important: to go to the peripheries, so many peripheries. This takes creativity, but always in community, in the Church, with this membership that give us the courage to go forward. To serve Christ is to love this concrete Church, and to serve her with generosity and with the spirit of obedience.

2. Prayer of St. Francis: Canticle of the Sun

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing. To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention Your name. Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who brings the day and through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather through which You give sustenance to Your creatures. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs. Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for love of You and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no living man can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

3. St. John of the Cross: The Sayings of Light and Love, 27

Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father’s table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.

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