I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.
The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis
… the angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream.
I imagine he was angry and confused when he found out that his betrothed was pregnant with a child that was not his. His thoughts must have raced around his mind like a roller-coaster and his emotions were spinning like a top. But Joseph did not want any harm to come to his beloved, so he decided to end things quietly so that Mary would not be in danger.
Then, while he slept, Joseph had a powerful encounter with the Lord. It changed his plans and transformed his life. Joseph opened himself to a mystery beyond his understanding. He had always been a “good man,” but this was different. This was a personal encounter with the Lord’s messenger. The Scripture doesn’t give us a detailed account of what Joseph thought and felt at this point but I imagine that his heart overflowed with joy. He responds to that encounter with faith. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”
Every moment of our lives we are called to a personal encounter with the Lord. Like Joseph we are probably “good people,” but there is more to life than being good. Maybe our thoughts are running wild or our emotions are out of control. No matter what the state of our soul, the Lord comes to meet us and bring us the same joy he brought Joseph. How will you respond?
Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Into the hillside country Mary went
Carrying Christ, and all along the road
The Christ she carried generously bestowed
His grace on those she met. She had not meant
To tell she carried Christ. She was content
To hide His love for her. But about her glowed
Such joy that into stony hearts love flowed,
And even to the unborn John Christ’s grace was sent.
Christ in His Sacrament of love each day
Dwells in my soul a little space and then
I walk life’s crowded highway, jostling men
Who seldom think of God. To these I pray
That I may carry Christ, for it may be
Some would not know of Him except through me.
Ruth Mary Fox
A poem shared by Bishop Morneau with the deacons this weekend.
Should we aspire to be… annoying?
What do you think?
Should be required reading for all parish leadership.
Yesterday I posted some thoughts about forming a strong Catholic subculture. In the car today I came across this program on the radio: How Culture Clashes Define Us .
In the discussion, Alana Conner, a cultural psychologist, makes the point that if you want to make a change, one of the best ways to do that is to associate with a new culture. It struck me that this is one of the strongest reasons to form a strong Catholic subculture.
1. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have a living, growing love relationship with God.
2. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be excited Christian activists.
3. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be knowledgeable about their faith, the Scriptures, the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church, and the history of the Church.
4. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to know what their charisms of service are and to be using them effectively in the fulfillment of their vocation or call in life.
5. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to know that they have a vocation/mission in life (primarily in the secular world) given to them by God. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be actively engaged in discerning and living this vocation.
6. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have the fellowship of other committed lay Catholics available to them, to encourage, nurture,and discern as they attempt to follow Jesus.
7. It is NORMAL for the local parish to function consciously as a house of formation for lay Catholics, which enables and empowers lay Catholics to do #1-6 above.
Sherry A. Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples
I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelization a lot these days. A recent article by Russel Shaw Thank God for Separation of Church and State. makes the case that one of the major things that needs to be done is
rebuilding a strong Catholic subculture committed to sustaining the religious identity of American Catholics and forming them for the task of evangelizing America.
Is it really true that Catholics need to rebuild a strong subculture? I have resisted this idea for a long time. It strikes me as too confrontational. It smacks of parochialism at its worse. God is present in the culture as well as in the church. Aren’t we called to embrace all that is good within the culture we find ourselves in?
We are. But lately the tensions have increased. If Catholics do not have a strong subculture, we have no place to stand. We have nothing to offer the culture for its transformation. We are adrift. When a strong subculture is present, there is the possibility of true engagement with the culture. Rather than merely following the culture’s lead, the Catholic subculture can affirm and challenge the surrounding culture.
I am coming around to the opinion that a strong Catholic subculture is important not just for the church, but for the culture as well. A look back at history and scripture makes it clear that there are times when God calls His people “apart” from the world to witness to the world.
Christ shows us the way to life, and those who embark on this way are like a fountain of living water bubbling forth from the earth, which steadily moves in all directions in spite of the obstacles blocking it. One who follows Christ’s way can just as little ask what he must positively do as the spring of water flowing from the earth can ask such a question. It flows, refreshing the soil, the earth, the trees, the birds, the animals, and people. The same is true for the one who genuinely believes in Christ.