As part of a four-week faith formation series on the new evangelization, I gave a talk yesterday at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church in Minneapolis on the theme of Intentional Discipleship and the New Evangelization.
In his Apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici, Pope John Paul II wrote that the entire mission of the Church is concentrated and manifested in evangelization. The question fo rus is ow do we evangelize in the world in which we live today?
I began my talk by discussing some of the challenges we face in evangelizing today’s world, such as the secular society in which we live, the reality that religious identity s not static, and that most American Catholics are (in the words of Sherry Weddell in her book Forming Intentional Disciples, which I referred to a number of times in my talk) are “still at an early, essentially passive stage of spiritual development.” I then talked about the fact that active, personal discipleship in Christ is not optional or reserved for the few, but something we are all called to.
For us to be able to help others to be conscious, intentional disciples of Christ, we ourselves must encounter Christ in a direct way. I talked a little about how we encounter Christ and what difference that makes in our life. Finally, I shared several suggestions for helping others to do the same. Following my talk, we had a lively discussion about how all of this plays out in the lives (and parishes) in which the participants are involved.
You can access a recording of my talk here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast, which does not include the dialogue that followed my talk, runs for 30:17.
Bill Nolan and I are in the middle of a three-week program at St. Thomas Apostle on the Sacraments of Initiation. Our subject this week was the sacrament of Baptism.
Bill provided some historical context for Baptism, focusing on Jewish roots, the early church, Augustine and original sun, the movement from adult to child baptism, and the eventual separation of the initiation sacraments into separate rituals.
I then spoke about the spiritual significance of baptism, focusing on the radical nature of our baptismal promises. I also noted the Vatican II emphasis on baptism as a sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been reborn in Christ and as that from which we “are assigned to the apostolate by the Lord himself.” (For that portion of the discussion, I shared some thoughts of Michael Himes on the meaning of our Baptismal promises.) We then moved to a discussion of the power of symbol and some initiation rites in other faith traditions.
In the discussion we had, we talked about Baptism not only as event, but as process, as we gain a deeper and deeper appreciation of the meaning of our baptismal promises as we grow in our faith.
You can access a recording of Bill and my talk here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 55:29.
Yesterday was the last gathering of Weekly Manna at UST for this academic year, as classes end next week. It was a bittersweet session, as my dear friend Chato Hazelbaker, who has been the guiding force behind Manna will be leaving the law school next week to take a new position at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington.
After we offered a little tribute to Chato, I gave the reflection for the day. I began by reading a poem I shared here last month, Follow by the late Roland Flint, which asks why the disciples left everything behind to follow Jesus.
With that introduction, I talked about relationship with Christ as the motivation for discipleship. In my reflection I also shared descriptions by Thomas Merton and C.S.Lewis of experiences of God that affected them deeply. My hope in doing so was to encourage the students, as we approach the end of another academic year, to take some time to reflect back on their experiences of God over the past year, to focus on where their life’s landscape has been transfigured by God’s presence and love.
You can access a recording of my reflection here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 13:03.
Yesterday was the final Mid-Day Reflection of the 2012-13 academic year and the theme was Jesus’ post resurrection appearances.
AsI’ve written before, we don’t tend to put as much energy into celebrating the Easter season as we do getting ready for Easter. I often say Catholics are great at Lent and the Triduum liturgies, but then we go to Easter Mass, have a big family dinner and act like we’re done. I suspect the same if true for many other Christians.
For that reason, I thought I would be worth having a mid-day reflection on the subject of Jesus’ Post-Resurrection appearances as an encouragement to participants to spend some time reflecting on those appearances during these remaining weeks of Easter. During my talk, I reflected on two of these post-resurrection encounters: the disciples on the road to Emmaus, recorded in Luke’s Gospel, and the appearance on the shore of Galilee, recorded in John’s Gospel. I then invited participants to share some of their own experience of celebrating this Easter season.
You can access a recording of the talk I gave here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 21:41. You can find the handout I distributed (which I refer to at the end of the podcase here.
Note: Last year, Bill Nolan and I presented a four-week series on the Post-Resurrection appearances at St. Thomas Apostle. If you are interested in spending more time reflecting on the appearances, go to the “podcast” page and scroll down to “Reflections on the Post-Resurrection Appearances.”
Yesterday was the final gathering of participants in the Lent Retreat in Daily Living I’m offering this year at UST Law School on the theme In the Desert with Jesus. (UST is on spring break next week, so there will be no session during Holy Week.)
During the past week, the participants walked with Jesus on his final steps toward Jerusalem – looking at what happened to him and his followers in the weeks leading up to the entry into Jerusalem. They prayed with several episodes from that period, including the Cleansing of the Temple, The Raising of Lazarus, and the Anointing at Bethany.
After sharing the fruits of their prayer experience of the past week, I gave a reflection on the theme of the final week of prayer: Following Jesus from Arrest to Death. I began by talking a little about Peter’s denial of Jesus, an episode that is a fruitful one for us to pray with. I then talked about the reasons it is importnat for us to pray with Jesus in his passion, finally speaking a little about the remainder of the prayer material for the retreat.
You can access a recording of the talk I gave here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 21:41. You can find the daily prayer material for this final week here.
Yesterday was the fifth gathering of participants in the Lent Retreat in Daily Living I’m offering this year at UST Law School on the theme In the Desert with Jesus.
During the past week, the participants walked with Jesus on his final steps toward Jerusalem, praying with what happened to Jesus and his followers in the weeks leading up to his entry into Jerusalem. Their prayer material included, among others, the Cleansing of the Temple, The Raising of Lazarus, and the Anointing at Bethany.
After participants shared the fruits of that prayer, Chato Hazelbaker offered the reflection on this week’s theme: The Final Hours Before Arrest. Lamentably, I was in the air between New York and Minneapolis at the time, and so didn’t get to hear his talk in real time, which focused on Jesus’ final hours before his arrest – his suffering and prayer in the garden. He also spoke a little about some of the other material participants will pray with this week.
You can access a recording of the talk Chato gave here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 20:26. You can find the daily prayer material for this week here.
Yesterday was the fourth gathering of participants in the Lent Retreat in Daily Living I’m offering this year at UST Law School on the theme In the Desert with Jesus.
During the past week, the participants prayed with passages that reveal hints, some well before we get to Jesus’ final trip toward Jerusalem, that being with Jesus is not all wedding feasts and healings and feeding the multitudes. Hints about what Jesus will face – and about the cost of discipleship.
After some sharing about the fruits of their prayer this past week, I gave a reflection on several episodes the participants will pray with this week, as we walk with Jesus on his final steps toward Jerusalem – looking at what happened to him and his followers in the weeks leading up to the entry into Jerusalem. The three episodes I offered some thoughts about are the Cleansing of the Temple, The Raising of Lazarus, and the Anointing at Bethany.
You can access a recording of the talk I gave here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 18:57. You can find the daily prayer material for this week here.
Yesterday was the second gathering of participants in the Lent Retreat in Daily Living I’m offering this year at UST Law School on the theme In the Desert with Jesus.
During the past week, the participants prayed with the invitation extended to each of us to follow Jesus and with those things that prevent us from fully accepting that invitation. As we usually do, we began the session by giving participants a chance to share in small groups some of the fruits of that prayer.
I then offered a brief reflection on one of the episodes participants will pray with this week, as they focus on the early part of Jesus’ public ministry: the temptation in the desert. I shared some thoughts by Pope Benedict XVI, Rowan Williams and Henri Nouwen to help us think about how to understand the temptation Jesus faced in the desert and to reflect on what temptation looks like in our lives.
After I stopped recording, I spoke a little more about the other episodes participants will pray with and we continued a discussion about the temptations.
You can access a recording of the talk I gave here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 15:36. You can find the daily prayer material for this week here.
This weekend I gave an Ignatian retreat for UST undergraduate students. For many of the students (quite a number of whom were freshman or sophomores), this was their first silent retreat and their first exposure to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Igantius. I was impressed with their diligence in keeping the silence and engaging seriously in the prayer exercises, and absolutely thrilled at the depth of many of their prayer experiences. For all of us involved, it was a grace-filled weekend.
One of the talks I gave focused on Week 1 of the Exercises, during which we seek for God to reveal to us our sinfulness. It is when God reveals my sinfulness that I can let God begin the process of healing in my hearts.
The grace of Week 1 of the Exercises is not a laundry list of our sins, but rather a sense of our sinfulness and a greater understanding of our patterns of sinfulness. For the students the movement from simply looking at sinful actions to trying to get underneath the acts themselves to the underlying ways in which we are broken, the underlying causes of our sinful acts was a very significant one. So too was the movement from thinking of sin merely in terms of breaking a rule or law to understanding it as a rupturing of the proper relationship between myself and God, and between myself and those whom God has given me to love and to move from thinking about punishment to an awareness of our need for healing.
You can access a recording of the talk I gave here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 35:31 and addresses both the subject of sin and the basic exercises that are part of Week 1 prayer.
Note: I also recorded my talk on Week 2 of the Spiritual Exercises, which you can access here. That podcast runs for 39:53.)
Yesterday was the initial gathering of participants in the Lent Retreat in Daily Living I’m offering this year at UST Law School.
The theme of this year’s retreat in daily living is In the Desert with Jesus. As I explained to the participants yesterday, by that I mean more than desert in the narrow sense of Jesus’ actual days in the desert facing temptation (although we will pray with that). But desert in the broader sense of place of testing, place of struggle, place of pain – place of darkness as well as light. During this retreat, we will walk with Jesus in the desert and, by so doing, get more deeply in touch with our own desires and longings, our temptations, our weaknesses…and our strengths.
My reflection, and the participant’s prayer this first week, focused on the invitation to each of us to follow Jesus, an invitation extended to each of us. I talked about some of the things the prevent us from fully accepting that invitation and also gave some instruction on praying with scripture for the benefit of the newcomers among the group.
You can access a recording of the talk I gave here or stream it from the icon below. The podcast runs for 30:17. You can find the daily prayer material for this week here. (Day 2 prayer is listed as a separate handout. A version of that exercise is here.)
Growing in Love and Wisdom: Tibetan Buddhist Sources for Christian Meditation can be purchased from Amazon here. Or you can order it directly from the Oxford University Press here. For information on upcoming book talks and signings of Growing in Love and Wisdom, see my Facebook page here.
My Upcoming Offerings
Sacraments of Initiation - St. Thomas Apostle (Minneapolis) Adult Faith Formation (with Bill Nolan). April 10, 17 and 24, 6:45-8:00p.m.
Growing in Love and Wisdom - Augsburg College, April 18, 7:30p.m..[to be rescheduled due to snow
Intentional Discipleship and the New Evangelization - Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Minneapolis, April 28, 10:00a.m..
For information on upcoming book talks and signings ofGrowing in Love and Wisdom, see my Facebook page here. For more information about any of the events above, contact me by e-mail.