Clearing the Heart to See the Truth

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Clearing the Heart to See the Truth

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Blueprint For Happiness

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in featured, Morality, Theology | 1 comment

Blueprint For Happiness

I am now in the second year of a two-year walk through the Catechism sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas during the Year of Faith. This spring we are focusing on Section Three of the Catechism. The response has been amazing, as we have taken hundreds of Catholics on a journey of faith through the doctrinal patrimony of the Church. I have received the most enthusiastic feedback from this current section of the Catechism, perhaps because it is the most controversial: the Moral section. Recently, our class examined the sections pertaining to the moral law and how it relates both to  the human person and to Jesus. As the Catechism explains, the moral law is the same as moral reality; it is how we can understand the difference between right and wrong. As article 1950 tells us, the Moral Law is God’s Fatherly instruction for Happiness. It is God our Father saying to us, “I designed you; I know how you work. DO what is right and you will thrive. DO what is wrong and you will diminish and destroy yourselves. I give you intelligence so that you can understand your own design.” This moral law, then, is a law written on our hearts and can therefore be known by anyone through use of reason. It is God’s blueprint for our happiness and contentment. If we could examine every decision that we have to make in life, every option which presents itself to us, and we could recognize which choice would be the best and lead us most directly to our own personal fulfillment and contentment, and then compare those choices to God’s will for us in these same instances, we would find that they are one and the same. The choice that is best for me is always the one that God wills and plans for me! This is different than seeking which choice seems most pleasing, or appears easiest. Hence, the moral law tells us what to do if we want to be happy; what not to do if we want to avoid our own demise. How different is this view of law compared to contemporary society. We view law as merely arbitrary rules that seek to limit our freedom. If we truly want to be happy, according to this view, we must limit law and expand our freedoms, freedom as defined as being able to choose whatever I deem fulfilling (versus what God deems fulfilling.) This is what is meant by the term rights. Any law that seeks to tell me that I don’t have a right to seek that which I deem fulfilling is therefore bad and needs to be eliminated. This sounds good and pleasing to the ear, but reveals a sad and tragic irony. Any society seeking to define for itself what constitutes human fulfillment and contentment apart from God’s law chooses for itself the very path of destruction God warns us about. Because such laws reject Divine Wisdom, they lose any binding force and can only be enforced through coercion. This is what Pope Benedict XVI referred to as the ‘tyranny of relativism, ’which sounds the death knell to freedom, fulfillment, and contentment, the very things we moderns claim to be achieving. At the end of one of my recent...

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Mars Hill and the Blueprint for the New Evangelization

Posted by on Oct 22, 2013 in featured, History, Theology | 4 comments

Mars Hill and the Blueprint for the New Evangelization

“The times of ignorance God overlooked but now he commands all men everywhere to repent…” (St. Paul’s address to the Areopagus in Athens, Act 17:30.) I just recently returned from a pilgrimage of the footsteps of St. Paul to Greece and Turkey. I went with my wonderful Archbishop, Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, as well as the Midwestern region of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. While journeying the ancient mission routes of St. Paul and companions, this eleven-day pilgrimage proffered many interesting sights and experiences. I don’t have the space to recount them all here, but encountering the ancient Roman provincial cities where Paul preached and proclaimed the Gospel left me speechless at times. There was one experience, however, that exceeded the others, and because it was so amazing I must recount it for you. On the last day of the pilgrimage, we celebrated Mass on Mars hill, the famed meeting place of the Athenian governing council known as the Areopagus. Our tour guide knew of a perfect place on the craggy hilltop to celebrate Mass. The ancient Greeks had carved some steps and a flat spot out of the rocky face to use as a meeting space. Our guide told us that these carved steps predated the time of St. Paul. As this was the only spot on Mars Hill that had level ground with what was clearly intended to be used as a platform, an exciting question sparked my mind: could this be the very spot where St. Paul addressed the Areopagus some 2000 years prior? Although there is no way of knowing, I was nevertheless sure of his powerful presence there. Msgr. Brier asked me to offer the reading for the Mass. I also had time afterward to offer a brief catechesis on Paul’s address. Msgr. chose the passage from Acts where St. Paul confronts the leading men of Athens with his Gospel message. Here, this bold saint offers us a five-point blueprint for evangelizing the culture: “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” (Act 17:16.) Point 1: Boldness in proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ in the face of obvious error. The idolatry of the Athenians motivated Paul to be so bold as to proclaim the Gospel any place where he thought he would have a hearing—the synagogue, the market place, the pagan temples, engaging groups of people as diverse as observant Jews to Greek philosophers. The error and confusion he found in them only motivated him all the more to engage the culture. He was not put off by their selfish pride and false pretenses of intellectual superiority. He engaged in actions but also in word! He was not concerned for his own personal well-being. ”Now all the Athenians and foreigners who lived there spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” (Act 17: 21.) Point 2: Knowing your audience and crafting your approach in order to engage it. By pointing out this detail about the Athenians, St. Luke, the author of Acts, reveals his own keen awareness to detail. This audience, unlike others, occupied themselves with novel ideas. So, on the one hand, they would show interest in Paul’s proclamation...

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The Pope, the Eucharist, and Mary

Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in featured, Interior Life, Theology, Uncategorized | 8 comments

The Pope, the Eucharist, and Mary

The Pope, the Eucharist, and Mary. These three words summarize the most vivid area of disagreement between Catholics and other Christians. Most converts will admit that confusion with one of these realities was the last obstacle they had to overcome before finally entering the Church. As to those who do not convert, Catholic teaching on these three areas appears extravagantly theoretical and foreign to the basic gospel message. After all, where is “transubstantiation” in Scripture? What about “infallibility” or “immaculately conceived”? The Catholic doctrines concerning Mary, the Eucharist, and the Pope seem to many to be utterly groundless innovations of a Roman theology that has become hopelessly speculative. After all, what’s the point? Why do we need Mary and the Pope and the Eucharist? Why become distracted with these fringe issues when all that matters is that the Christian grow in divine life? All we want, all we need, is a personal relationship with God. Fair enough. That is all we want, and that is all we need. But there are two things to keep in mind when we talk about a personal relationship with God. The first is that God isn’t a person, He’s Three Persons. The second thing to remember is that a personal relationship can only be cultivated if there’s a point of contact – it might be through words, or through physical connection or through some other kind of expression, but you can’t build a relationship in a vacuum. So the question becomes: what are those contact points where Christians can relate to God, where they can cultivate a loving connection between themselves and the Father, Son and Spirit? Well, the answer of the Scriptures and the Catholic Church of today is pretty clear; those contact points are Mary, the Eucharist, and the Pope.   The Pope: Point of Contact with the Father             The Catholic Church has always seen the establishment of the papacy as being rooted in Matthew 16:13ff, where Christ gives Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Before doing so, however, Jesus quizzes the Apostles on what people are saying about his identity. Of course, the poll comes back inconsistent, inconclusive and ultimately, inaccurate: “John the Baptist,” “Elijah,” “Jeremiah,” or some other prophet. So you can’t get the truth about Jesus just by doing a survey. Then Jesus asks the Apostles as a group, “Who do you say that I am?” The Apostles are silent. No one, apart from Peter, says a word. Maybe that’s why the Orthodox, who still have successors of the Apostles, haven’t been able to call a general council since they separated from the Pope. Apart from Peter, they are silent. In any case, Peter steps forward and gets the right answer, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” How does Jesus react? By saying this, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” What, then, is the source of Peter’s gift, of Peter’s true and reliable profession of faith? It is the heavenly Father. He who before all Ages uttered the Eternal Word now gives His revealed word through the lips of Peter, the Rock. People form relationships through words. If there’s someone you love, you ask that person to...

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DAMNATION AND DIVINE MERCY

Posted by on Sep 6, 2013 in featured, Interior Life, Morality, Theology | 15 comments

DAMNATION AND DIVINE MERCY

One of the constant challenges I get from my classes regarding the Church’s teaching on the existence of hell is that this doctrine is incompatible with their idea of a merciful God. “My God is a God of Mercy, Troy, and He wants all to be saved. That’s in the Bible!” Which is true, God does will all men to be saved, but under certain conditions. Ah, there’s the rub! Not abiding by these conditions may cause some souls, perhaps even many souls, to end up going to hell forever. This brings us back to the problem of Divine Mercy. Many Catholics believe that there is a contradiction between Divine Mercy and the existence of hell. When Luke recounts the episode in his Gospel where Jesus is approached by someone from the crowd who asks Him a direct question regarding the number of those saved, Jesus, in His typical mystifying fashion, responds by saying, “Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough” (Lk 13: 24 NAB. See also Mt 7:14.) I recognize the difficulty in Jesus’ response. If God wills that all men be saved (1 Tim 2:4,) then why would He make the door to salvation so difficult to open for so many? There could only be three possible answers: God makes it difficult despite willing all to be saved, Satan makes it difficult, or we make it difficult. Which answer is implied by Jesus? The first answer is simply implausible based on what we know about God. As stated earlier, God wishes all men to be saved. Further, He sent His only begotten Son to save us, not to condemn us, even though that is what we deserve. Thus, in sending His Infinite Son, God offers the most magnificent and powerful gift He can give to get us all into heaven. Since He is infinite, His gift—namely, His own Son—lacks nothing. Therefore, we can conclude that God can’t be the cause of difficulty for souls getting into heaven. Satan is certainly a likely culprit.  The problem with this possibility, however, is that he is defeated by the blood of the Lamb of God who is Jesus, and his power is vanquished. (Rev. 12: 11, 20:10; 1 Jn 3:8; Lk 11: 21,22, Mt 16: 18; et al.) Therefore, Satan is incapable of barring the doors of heaven since God became incarnate precisely to defeat him and to despoil him of his goods and power. It would make no sense to still leave him the power to prevent persons from entering heaven (see Lk 11: 22.) This can’t be the answer, either. This leaves only one final option: that the door is narrow and heavy because we have made it so. Yet, this understanding is not without its problems. Christ came to save us, and this includes making us strong (see Eph 6:10-11; 2 Cor. 12:10.) How, then, do we make the door to heaven heavy if Christ came to make us strong? The answer is sadly very simple: through our pride, we compromise our ability in Christ to make our way through the narrow gate. Part of the message of Christ is to repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. This repentance...

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Is the Catholic Faith Too Hard To Live?

Posted by on Aug 17, 2013 in featured, Interior Life, Theology | 35 comments

Is the Catholic Faith Too Hard To Live?

“I’d go to Church more often, but I don’t need that Catholic guilt.” “I go to confession, but it doesn’t work for me. I only confess the same sins again and again anyway. What’s the point?” “Who can follow all of those rules, rules, RULES!”  “I’ve left that religion with all of those man-made rituals and regulations in order to have a personal relationship with Jesus.” I have formed adults in the Catholic faith for almost twenty years. During this time, I have heard so many reasons why lukewarm Catholics, fallen away Catholics, and Ex-Catholics are they way that they are. These folks are utterly convinced that the Catholic faith is too demanding and too arbitrary. Practicing the Catholic faith has become heavy-laden with too many rules to follow by popes who apparently had nothing better to do than to invent a myriad of ways to suffocate liberty and joy from the Gospel, or so they say. Of course, this implies that all of us dumb Catholics who actually try to follow this convoluted labyrinth of man-made hocus pocus are, well, dumb—and gullible; or worse, warped. I can appreciate these false understandings, as the Catholic faith demands much from us, and when we choose not to give it our very best, we can unwittingly leave a very insipid taste in those we encounter.  Thus, we help to create the indifferent or disillusioned. Yet, if it is correct that the Catholic faith is riddled with arbitrary laws that are not true or helpful, why hasn’t the Church fallen into complete corruption and disintegration, like the Roman Empire, the Soviet Union, the East India Trading Company, the Oakland Raiders… (o.k. I’m originally from Denver…)?? Why didn’t the Church collapse like Luther and Calvin and Marx and many others predicted? Clearly, the Church doesn’t operate according to worldly standards. One of the strengths of the old Baltimore Catechism was that it did a tremendous job of presenting the richness of the Catholic faith in a simple format that combined memorization with questions and answers. Yet, this strength was also its weakness. Too many Catholics were left with the impression that Catholicism merely consisted in following a bunch of rote rules and sets of obligations. Where is the joy and liberty of being a child of God in that? Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that the old Baltimore Catechism offered some great content, much more than what I received growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, but it appeared to lack sophistication and relied heavily on memorization.  The catechism gave the impression that the Catholic life reduced to lists of   ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts.’   Couple this with concupiscence, and it seems that in trying to obey all of the rules we are merely being set up for a fall. Didn’t Jesus come to deliver us from such a Pharisaical approach to religion? This way of viewing Catholicism seems to be the normative paradigm against which too many people react. This is the Catholicism that can foster the exodus of former Catholics into evangelical Christianity. This is the Catholicism that creates the more liberal approach that seeks to free us from the rules by simply eliminating them. This is the approach that can lead to fallen away Catholics looking for joy in all of...

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Loving Good Music and the Soul

Posted by on Jul 15, 2013 in Current Events, featured, Interior Life, Theology | 10 comments

Loving Good Music and the Soul

…there is a special quality in the essence of beauty, a special quality in the status of art: the conviction carried by a genuine work of art is absolutely indisputable and tames even the strongly opposed heart…Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn In his 1970 Nobel acceptance speech in Literature, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn offered an address entitled, Beauty Will Save the World, a title he borrowed from Dostoevsky. Solzhenitsyn argued that Dostoevsky was not simply offering a passing thought when he articulated this phrase, but instead was providing a prophetic insight into how modern man may be saved from his own self-destructive tendencies. A world paradoxically convinced of the truth of relativism is a world lost in incoherence and inconsistency, the final result of which is cynicism. If one is proclaiming a so-called truth, that person must have the ulterior motive of simply trying to impose his truth on me so as to control me, so the cynic concludes. Thus, when evangelists seek to save such a world by proclaiming the truth of Christ, they will be seen as intolerant busybodies imposing their truth on others. It was for such an era that Solzhenitsyn, through Dostoevsky, offered these words. We are that era. I have run across this same phrase in several different places lately, especially in a  Fr. Robert Barron Word on Fire video discussing this very idea.  As Fr. Barron so eloquently articulates, beauty saving the world is a strategy for re-evangelizing the culture. My work with catechizing Catholic school teachers and parishioners has convinced me that these thinkers are on to something. Relativism is so ingrained in our culture that truth-seeking/finding is now viewed as a bigoted position. In a shocking and strange twist, it is Christians now who aren’t tolerated and will soon, it seems, be attacked for holding to the truth of Christ. We must evangelize with beauty, but how? A few nights ago, I was invited to a backyard concert at a friend’s house. They had willingly offered up their beautiful yard for an evening soirée in order to promote a group of young people touring the country and entertaining audiences with their music and art inspired by their love of God; or, more appropriately, the discovery of their being loved by God and thus love Him in return. What a pleasant coincidence! While musing on how to go about evangelizing the culture, God led me to some Catholics who were well ahead of me in doing something about it. This evening concert was a beautiful idea at a crucial time. This fusion of disparate groups of Catholic musicians and artists in order to form a traveling band of evangelizing entertainers was the brain-child of Jimmy Mitchell, musician and founder of Mysterium Records. Mitchell selected each of the musicians and artists based on their talent, their love of Christ, and their ability to engage and transmit beauty. He called his concert simply, Love Good Music.  I found each artist as excellent as they were young, and their message was as fresh as it was old. Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever! (Heb 13:8.) I brought my family simply hoping for something different to spend our evening together, not expecting the overwhelming confluence of multiple generations of families flooding my friends’ backyard with picnic blankets, folding chairs, and hordes...

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THE TRUTH, THE LIE, AND THE LAST BATTLE

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Current Events, featured, Interior Life, Politics, Theology | 6 comments

THE TRUTH, THE LIE, AND THE LAST BATTLE

The thing that bugs me most about all of the unfolding scandals and problems sprouting and spreading in our culture is the manifest inability for people to distinguish truth from fiction.  Worse, I fear that people are growing disinterested from even pursuing the truth. It seems as though we have taken Pilate’s words to Jesus, “What is truth,” as our own. When a political figure utters all kinds of obvious falsehoods to the media-fed public that is too distracted, disinterested, skeptical, or cynical to notice, this is horribly frustrating and frightening, and has led to a series of inconsistent and sometimes contrary states of affairs. For instance, when President Obama made his speech to Planned Parenthood recently and thanked them for the hard work that they do to make parenthood possible, and then invoked God’s blessing on their brutal assault on life in the womb, his contradictory platitudes were mostly received with approval, with only a thin minority in the media expressing shock or outrage.   Similarly, when debating atheists, my colleagues and I are always vexed at the atheist’s ability to take whatever point we are trying to make and twist it to his advantage. “You say that your God shows mercy to the sinner, but why did He make such evil people in the first place?” Try criticizing Obama in a room full of college students or professors and regardless of the evidence provided, you will be judged personally, and your evidence will be ignored or explained away. It is becoming commonplace to disdain authority when it is authoritative (meaning when those in authority are held accountable to the truth), and rally around authority when it is authoritarian (complete lack of accountability to the truth).  Benghazi, the AP and Fox news phone-tapping and email snooping, the IRS targeting groups at odds with the President’s agenda, Federal Programs that proffered assault weapons to drug cartels only to hide behind executive privilege in order to avoid scrutiny,  etc. are all examples of unaccountable government leaders. What gives? This absurd situation is as troubling as it is perplexing. I have spent many an evening racking collective brains with friends over a glass of scotch dissecting such strange affairs. Recently, a friend of mine asked me when the last time was that I read C.S. Lewis’ conclusion to his Narnia series, The Last Battle? Hmm. I thought for a minute, and then realized I had never read that particular book! He couldn’t believe it, and assigned it to me as homework like a high school English teacher. “That way we can discuss it next time we get together,” which was all the inspiration that I needed. I don’t intend to offer this post as a book review for this great story. Instead, I encourage you to read it for yourself. I do, however, want to offer some of the more prophetic and insightful points from Lewis that help me make more sense out of what is going on. There are many profound themes Lewis skillfully weaves through his book: manipulation of sentiment versus pursuing the truth, ends justifying means, cynicism versus conversion, as well as a scary portrait of the minimum necessary conditions needed for evil to appear triumphant over good. Lewis, like any Christian, knows that evil can never totally triumph....

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Following the Footsteps of the Early Christians in a Debate with Atheists

Posted by on Apr 23, 2013 in Current Events, featured, Morality, Theology | 12 comments

Following the Footsteps of the Early Christians in a Debate with Atheists

A couple of nights ago, my dear friend and colleague (and co-blogger) John-Mark Miravalle participated in his third debate in a year sponsored by SOMA (the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics) at the University of Kansas. The topic of the debate centered on whether or not one can tell the difference between right from wrong without the existence of God. For some reason, SOMA is quite interested in pursuing ongoing debates with Christians of whom they openly despise.  Praise God! They are willing to do what Christians too often lack the interest or courage to do–engage opponents on important points of divergence. As in the past, folks at SOMA brought in another professional debater and invited John-Mark to debate him, a backhanded compliment to John-Mark if there ever was one (both previous debates are still on You Tube.) This time, John-Mark was joined by his dad, Mark Miravalle, one of my former professors when I was in graduate school at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH. As in previous cases, the atmosphere prior to the debate was tense, as the crowd of some 500 people filled Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas University Student Union.  Although the Christians were well represented (I would say over half), there were enough folks from SOMA or fellow travelers of SOMA to create a sense of anxiety visible on all involved. The debate was video- taped yet again and will be posted on the School of Faith website once it is posted on You Tube, so I won’t recount the entire two hours here. Instead, I would like to offer some brief reflections on the night: All presenters were logical and well prepared. They articulated their positions well, and it was often difficult to identify the weakness of their argument. Both sides were passionate regarding their position. Both atheist presenters seemed to assume that all theists, or at least Christians, believed that our morality rests on what is called the Divine Command Theory; meaning, given actions are good or bad because God says so, a weakness team Miravalle was able to exploit. As Catholics, we agree things are right or wrong because God says so, but also because they either respond or fail to respond to fulfilling our design. Actions that do are good, actions that do not are bad. The atheist team scored highest on offering what I call ‘rousting’ points, or statements that rousted the audience to an energetic response: “When I see a picture of a starving child I want to feed that child. I don’t need God to tell me, and I don’t accept the answer that some day that child will receive his reward!  Anyone who could help should help, and a god that does not help only proves that Christian morality is vastly unjust, at least more so than a moral system that recognizes how reasonable it is to help that child now!” To which much of the crowd responded with hoots and hollers. Of course, this particular version of the problem of evil retort has been addressed in several excellent books, not the least of which is C.S. Lewis’ classic, ‘The Problem with Pain.’ Team Miravalle scored the highest on the ‘torpedo’ scale because they asked questions that, if not answered, would sink their opponents. When the...

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THE PURIFYING WELL-SPRING OF PRAYER

Posted by on Feb 13, 2013 in featured, Interior Life, Theology | Comments Off on THE PURIFYING WELL-SPRING OF PRAYER

THE PURIFYING WELL-SPRING OF PRAYER

Lent initiates our time to recommit ourselves as disciples of the Lord; to be trained by the Master by imitating him in his 40 days in the desert.Our Lord prays and fasts for 40 days and is tempted by the devil. After three consecutive temptations to satisfy the weakness of the flesh, plus temptations for wealth and power, Jesus defeats the devil in this first encounter.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers an interesting insight into why our Lord enjoyed the strength in His sacred humanity to rebuff the temptations of Satan in the desert: “It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony…Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer.” CCC 2849 Jesus allows his flesh to be weakened by his fasting in order to reveal the strength of his Holy Spirit. This strength is fostered and then unleashed because of his prayer. He models for us the way to prepare for his ultimate victory at Easter, and ours! This is why Lent is especially important. It is our time to return to our training grounds to be prepared as his beloved disciple. This training consists in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, as outlined by him in his Sermons on the Mount as narrated by Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 5-6. All three disciplines are in a sense prayer, because in all three, we are forced to confront our own limitations and weaknesses. They all force us to admit our guilt and need for repentance and forgiveness. In other words, why pray, fast, and alms give if I am innocent and guilty of nothing in God’s eyes? The Catechism gives special emphasis to our prayer life, dedicating an entire section to it (Section 4; #’s  2558-2865). It is through prayer that Jesus himself received the strength in his human nature to overcome Satan. Why is this so? Why is prayer so important? Because it strikes at the root—or, rather, at the heart—of the human problem. The problems of life flow from  acting on our desires for sin. Since the fall, we humans desire things over God, our will over His. We want to decide for ourselves what is good and what is evil, instead of accepting what is good and evil objectively, based on God’s plan and not ours. This is a complex problem, for God doesn’t desire to destroy our freedom, or to wrench it into place, which would have a similar effect, but, rather, to keep our freedom so that we can love Him. That’s why he gives us the example of prayer. Prayer is what transforms our desires which are world-centered into desires that are heaven-centered. Let’s examine the scene of the woman at the well in John’s Gospel chapter 4 as an example of this transforming power of prayer. Jesus leaves Jerusalem for Galilee, stopping at Sychar in Samaria on his way north. He goes to the most famous well in the region, Jacob’s Well, to stop for a drink, and there meets a woman of ill-repute and a Samaritan to boot. He does the unthinkable when he asks her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink of water. Incredulous, she asks him why he, a Jew, would...

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FRONT-LINE TRAINING FOR THE NEW EVANGELISM

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in Current Events, featured, Interior Life, Theology | 1 comment

FRONT-LINE TRAINING FOR THE NEW EVANGELISM

There are evident signs of the spring time for the Church. The most obvious is the growing number of laity being trained for the front lines of the new evangelism. The second obvious sign is the number of laity who take seriously their call to holiness. When there exists a program that combines these two realities, God is readying His troops for an offensive. Scott rushed home from his last session of the Spiritual Mentorship Program because he received a frantic call from his wife regarding their plumbing. Water was gushing, things were soaking, and his wife was trying to contain her hysteria while handling a family of five kids. By the time Scott arrived home, the plumber was there vacuuming up the water and replacing the busted hot-water heater. Somehow, Scott recounted, their conversation turned to why Scott was rushing home on a Saturday night. “I told him that I was involved in a Catholic experience called the Spiritual Mentorship Program, where I was being trained to assist other lay people in their interior life.” “Interior Life?” He asked, “what is that?.” Scott explained to him that he was being trained to help other Catholics grow in their relationship with the Lord through prayer, study, and sacraments. The plumber raised his hand in the air and said, ‘Can I be your first guinea pig? “ He was a fallen-away Catholic on his way back into the Church and told Scott that he had been asking God in prayer for direction and help. Then he met Scott! The new springtime in the Church is quietly growing underneath the ice that has settled on the moral and spiritual landscape of this country. Like green blades of grass barely visible beneath the blanket of snow but then seem to magically pop up at the first sign of warmth, the Holy Spirit is preparing for new growth in His Church. In Kansas City, Kansas, a new program called “The Spiritual Mentorship Program” just graduated its first class of trained laity, religious, and deacons to assist the interior life of those who are beginning to experience a thaw from the long, post-Vatican II winter. This new program is being blessed by the Holy Spirit in so many ways. Stories like Scott’s filled the conversation areas during every break time. This program is a beautiful result of an apparent random conversation that had taken place a few years earlier in Italy, of all places. In the sweltering June heat in Rome, on a bus crammed full of commuters, Sr. Susan Pieper, co-foundress of the Roman-based Apostles of the Interior Life Community, asked the visiting Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas what his hopes were regarding the recent establishment of an American Provincial House of her community in his archdiocese.  Without batting an eye, the Archbishop exclaimed, “I want you, Sr. Susan, to train laity to do what your community does for the new evangelization. I want an army of trained spiritual mentors to address the needs of the Church.” So began the odyssey of putting together the Spiritual Mentorship Program, a collaborative effort between the Apostles of the Interior Life and the Holy Family School of Faith to forge a new army of spiritual mentors for Christ. This two-year program, a combination of on-location and distance education...

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