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Mary & Evangelization

Posted by on 1:59 pm in Frankly Speaking | 0 comments

Mary & Evangelization

After receiving the Good News told to her by the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, in her Magnificat, prophetically sings of the mercy whereby God chose her. The Virgin of Nazareth, betrothed to Joseph, thus becomes the perfect icon of the Church which evangelizes, for she was, and continues to be, evangelized by the Holy Spirit, who made her virginal womb fruitful. – Pope Francis Pope Francis has upheld Mary, the Mother of God as an example of both someone who is open to continually be evangelized and as an Evangelist. 3 Ways Mary Teaches Us to Be Evangelized   1. Always Say Yes. (Luke 1:38) Jesus will ask of you the impossible. When you give Jesus your “yes” he will change your life. 2. Meditate of God’s Word. (Luke 2:19) God’s Word will always change you if you take the time to meditate and “store it up” in your heart. 3. Cling to the Cross. (John 19:25) The path to new life in Christ always goes through the cross. Allow the sufferings of your life to draw you closer to Jesus. 3 Ways Mary Teaches us to Evangelize   1. In all things point to Jesus (John 2:5) Obedience to Christ is the beginning of conversion. Encourage others to listen and obey to Jesus. 2. Don’t wait around, take Jesus to others. (Luke 1:39) Look for every opportunity to introduce your best friend Jesus to others. 3. Intercede for others. Praying for others is critical for evangelization. Spend your day praying for the conversion of people in your...

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Six Essential Prayer Principals for every Missionary Disciple

Posted by on 1:49 pm in Called to be Missionary Disciples | 0 comments

Six Essential Prayer Principals for every Missionary Disciple

“Only the interior life can sustain us in the hidden, backbreaking labor of planting the seed that seems to go so long without fruit.” ― Jean-Baptiste Chautard, Soul of the Apostolate Think of some of the busiest, most energetic, most fruitful Missionary Disciples of our time (people like Bl. Mother Teresa, St John Paul II, and Pope Francis) all of these Evangelists had one thing in common – they dedicated an inordinate amount of time to personal prayer. In order to be a Missionary Disciple we must do the same. We can do nothing apart from Christ. The saints called this dedication to personal prayer the “interior life.” The foundation of the interior life is daily mental prayer. One classic spiritual manual on prayer that is a must read for those striving for Missionary Discipleship is the Soul of the Apostolate by Jean-Baptiste Chautard. In this manual Chautard gives 6 Principals to follow to grow in the interior life. 1. Pray before your act. Always seek God’s will before jumping headlong into an activity, even the most noble or heroic act of service or evangelization. 2. No activity is important enough to harm your prayer life It doesn’t matter how righteous an activity is, if it keeps you from habitual and consistent prayer then cut it out of your life. 3. Schedule your prayer time. You schedule the most important activities in your life. What does it say about the importance of your prayer life if you not schedule that time and hold yourself to that appointment with God? 4. The busier you are the more you need a consistent prayer life. The success of our own activity and good works can blind us to the need for a consistent prayer life. All of our activity is for nothing if it is not the fruit of an active life of prayer. 5. No one is perfect, but do not lose your desire to pray. We are going to have days – or days on end – when we fail at prayer. On those days it is important to take your spiritual temperature. Do you still desire a deep connection with Christ? If so, there is still hope to get back on track! 6. Keep the goal in mind. The goal is a habitual prayer life in which you are totally dependent on God’s grace for all of your activity. I know for me this will be a life-long...

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The Globalization of Indifference

Posted by on 3:29 pm in Frankly Speaking | 0 comments

The Globalization of Indifference

“Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.” – Pope Francis Indifference is one of the greatest sins against evangelization for modern people. Our culture breeds indifference to our neighbor. We become desensitized to the suffering of our neighbor as we become more and more isolated from our neighbor. If I do not know you as a person, if I can keep you as a faceless statistic, I can continue to keep you at a distance. During Lent we make a special effort to pray, fast, and give. Here are some ways we can use our Lenten practices as a way to encounter others and break down our indifference to our neighbor. Pray: When someone asks for prayers, do not say “I will pray for you.” Stop what you are doing and pray with that person right then and there. Fast: Give up something extra this Lent, not for yourself but for the intentions of someone else. Whenever you are suffering the loss of what you are fasting from, offer it up for that person. Give: On top of giving financially to the poor, on top of giving your time and talent in serving the poor give someone the gift of a listening ear. Ask someone who is poor or suffering to share their story with you....

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Confession & Mission

Posted by on 3:24 pm in Called to be Missionary Disciples | 0 comments

Confession & Mission

Examining our consciences teaches us how to “look squarely at our life” to see how well we are living the Gospel (Pope Benedict XVI) Examining our Missionary Activity Frequent Confession is a must for the Missionary Disciple. Evangelization is nothing more than loving the people around us in the same way Jesus would. If you really love someone, how could you keep from introducing that person to Christ? How could you help yourself from doing everything you could to help that person grow in their relationship with Jesus? Frequently attending the Sacrament of Reconciliation gives the Missionary Disciples a regular way to examine her conscience. Many times our lack of evangelization turns out to be the “things we have failed to do.” Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation absolves us of those sins and gives us the grace to continue our mission of Evangelization. Restoring Right Relationships Evangelization is all about relationship. It is first and foremost about our relationship with Jesus Christ. We cannot get what we do not have. Secondly, Evangelization is about our relationship with others. Jesus uses us to communicate his love to others through the friendships that we build and nourish. The Sacrament of Reconciliation restores us both to right relationship with God as well as heals the damage our sinfulness does to others. Our Penance works to repair the relationships that we have damaged for the purpose of continuing our mission of evangelization – that of truly loving our...

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Vatican II & the New Evangelization

Posted by on 9:09 pm in Frankly Speaking | 0 comments

Vatican II & the New Evangelization

“[The Second Vatican Council was ] an encounter marked by the power of the Spirit, who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces. Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel. After these decades, we again take up this missionary drive with the same power and enthusiasm.” – Pope Francis I use the term “New Evangelization” a lot. Lately I’ve been looking at the New Evangelization much as I view the Second Vatican Council. Both Vatican II and the New Evangelization are revolutionary in nature. They both call us to aggiornamento (a bringing up to date), and challenge us to bring a new ardor to our missionary zeal. While Vatican II was revolutionary, it was also a ressourcement (a return to earlier sources). The New Evangelization is, in my opinion, also a call to return to the source of our evangelical mission. Jesus Christ is our source for the New Evangelization.  His methods should be our methods. One thing we know about how Jesus’ method for spreading the Good News is that he did not stay in one place for long. Jesus was always seeking out people with tireless enthusiasm. He met people in their homes, in the cities, in the small towns, in their workplace, and in the public meeting spaces. During this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is calling us to the same zeal and enthusiasm to meet people where they are with the Good News of Jesus Christ....

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Bridge the Gap

Posted by on 9:03 pm in Called to be Missionary Disciples | 0 comments

Bridge the Gap

Different Perspectives Making any lifestyle change is always a challenge. Yet once a change is made and practiced over time it becomes difficult to imaging going back to the way you were. Living a healthy lifestyle is a good example. Those who exercise and eat healthy cannot imagine a life without the energy and vitality that comes with that lifestyle. Those people look at the rest of us and think, “What is so difficult about this? If only they would eat right and work out they would know how great it is!” But for those of us whose eating and exercise habits are less than ideal, that may seem like the worst thing in the world! A Joyful, Difficult Journey Those of us trying to grow as Missionary Disciples need to keep this dynamic in mind. The journey of conversion is, at its heart, a journey of repentance. It is a turning away from your old life and putting on a new life in Christ. The journey of conversion is joyful, hopeful, and life-giving. It is also very, very difficult. When someone is open to thinking about changing his or her life to conform to Christ, it can often seem overwhelming. Many people will look at those of us striving to live a life of authentic discipleship and think, “I could never be like that.” They may compare their lives to ours and think, “I must be a bad Catholic.” You Are Needed What can we do to help others make a lasting change in their lives? We can learn from people who begin a workout routine. Statistics show that people who work out alone have as low as a 43 percent success rate. What is the secret to success? For those who work out with a partner the success rate jumps to 95 percent! Do you have a friend who is open to the change that comes from conversion? The most essential thing such friends need is you. They need you to help them establish a spiritual life. They need you to introduce them to prayer, to a fruitful participation in the Sacraments, to an understanding of the faith, to living out the moral life. They need you to help them bridge the gap that might seem to them to be unbridgeable – the gap between their old life and the life Christ is calling them...

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Know Mercy Before You Show Mercy #KnowMercyShowMercy

Posted by on 7:48 pm in Frankly Speaking | 0 comments

Know Mercy Before You Show Mercy #KnowMercyShowMercy

“We want to live this Jubilee Year in light of the Lord’s words: Merciful like the Father. The Evangelist reminds us of the teaching of Jesus who says, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). It is a programme of life as demanding as it is rich with joy and peace. Jesus’s command is directed to anyone willing to listen to his voice (cf. Lk 6:27). In order to be capable of mercy, therefore, we must first of all dispose ourselves to listen to the Word of God. This means rediscovering the value of silence in order to meditate on the Word that comes to us. In this way, it will be possible to contemplate God’s mercy and adopt it as our lifestyle.” – Pope Francis Misericordiae Vultus We have to know the mercy of God the Father before we can possibly show His mercy to others. I remember a conversation I had with a college student when I was a Graduate Assistant. This young lady had poured her entire life into advocating for and working for justice and charity. She was doing amazing things. Yet her life, by her own admission, was a wreck. She had lost all hope, she was depressed, and she could not even eat a healthy diet without feeling the weight of guilt and despair for the injustice she had witnessed. She was a very merciful person but she had run dry, she had hit her limit. She could no longer give what she did not have. Pope Francis implores us to know the mercy of God before we show the mercy of God. How do we do this? We make time for it! Every day. We carve out time in our day for silence and to reflect on the Word of God. God’s Word is effective, it changes us, it challenges us, and it fills us with joy and peace. If we attempt to show mercy on our own our well will inevitably run dry. The mercy of Christ is unending and we must spend an inordinate amount of our time making Christ the center of our lives.  ...

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Mercy & Mission

Posted by on 7:44 pm in Called to be Missionary Disciples | 0 comments

Mercy & Mission

We are now full swing into the Jubilee Year of Mercy for the Church. It’s kind of a big deal. Why such an emphasis on mercy? One reason is that mercy is a key virtue to becoming a Missionary Disciple. In Evangellii Gaudium, Pope Francis introduces the connection between mercy and mission: The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy. Here are 8 practical ways to make mercy part of your missionary outreach from Evangelli Gaudium Take the first step Jesus did not wait for the disciples to ask him to wash their feet. Mercy is an offensive sport. It looks for opportunities to take the first step in loving others Abase yourself Sometimes mercy calls us to humble ourselves, to take a posture of repentance and service to others. This is especially the case when we have wronged others, but it can even be true when we are not at fault. Suffer with others Mercy often means being present with those who suffer, to walk with them in times of pain and darkness Smell like the sheep Mercy challenges us to get out of our comfort zone, to associate with people that make us uncomfortable. We may have to risk our reputation, just like Jesus did, in order to become friends with sinners. Disregard constraints of time Mercy demands patience. It forces us not to make people into projects. Cares for the grain, does not grow inpatient with the weeds Mercy demands we love people enough to challenge them to grow in holiness. At the same time mercy calls us to be infinitely patience with people’s sins and shortcomings. Put it all on the line When the father of the Prodigal Son saw his son returning, he did not pause to think how his son would receive him. He rushed out and lavished his love and mercy on him. Celebrate victories, even small ones Conversion and repentance rarely happens overnight. Be on the lookout for small victories and celebrate them so as to encourage the journey of...

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Be a Believable Witness

Posted by on 2:39 pm in Frankly Speaking | 0 comments

Be a Believable Witness

“Christ can be witnessed by those who have had a personal experience of him in prayer and in the Church through the sacraments and continual return to confession…a witness is more believable when it “shines” through by living the Gospel joyously, courageously, mildly, peacefully and with mercy.” – Pope Francis In order to live out our vocation as a Missionary Disciple we must witness Christ in our lives. We live out our witness by following two main principles. Evangelization has two main principles. 1. The first and most important is our own personal connection to Christ. We cannot give what we do not have. In order to share with others our own personal witness, we need to be praying daily, celebrating the Sacraments, and making Confession a regular habit in our lives. Continual Conversion means that we are consistently repenting of our sin and striving to grow in holiness and faith. Be intentional about growing in your connection to Christ. Create a SMART Goal for your spiritual growth. (SMART = specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound.) For instance, “I will pray and reflect on Scripture for 15 minutes every morning for one month beginning with the Gospel of Matthew.” 2. Evangelization is always accomplished person to person. If you have developed and practiced your own personal witness, who is God calling you to share it with? Pray for God to open conversational doors for you. Reflect on the people God has placed in your life. Write down the names of those people God places on your heart. Pray specifically for these people every day. Expect that God will answer your prayers and be ready to share your witness!...

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What’s your Story?

Posted by on 2:34 pm in Called to be Missionary Disciples | 0 comments

What’s your Story?

“Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice, or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” ~Pope Benedict XVI “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” This is one of the most quoted phrases from Evangelii Nuntiandi and for good reason.  For many, the Catholic faith looks like a club of people who share the same ethical choices, or agree on the same lofty ideas. But when we share our own personal faith journey, people have the opportunity to see how the Catholic faith is about a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that being prepared to share your personal witness is one of the most basic and important skills for a Missionary Disciple. Catholics are often hesitant to share their personal witness. They may even struggle to identify a concrete personal story to share. I find that there are usually two reasons this for this. One, many times we have not taken the time to prayerfully and intentionally reflect on our own spiritual journey, write down significant moments, and practice sharing that story. Two, it is entirely possible that a practicing Catholic might NOT have had a personal encounter with Christ. Catholicism might be an “ethical choice, or a lofty idea.” If you are reading this and that is the case, there is no time like the present. Right now could be the beginning of your story of conversion! Use the questions and template below to begin to reflect on your personal witness. Write it down, practice it, and perfect it so that you can share it in three minutes or less. Your Personal Witness Can you think of a big moment where you met Christ and it changed your life forever? A moment where your parents’ faith became your faith? Where you took up the faith and made Jesus your own Lord and Savior? Maybe you can you think of smaller moments, where Christ revealed more of himself to you or you rededicated yourself to Jesus in a new, stronger, more dedicated way? Were there significant “seasons” of life in which you grew in your relationship with God over time? How did you come to know Christ? What were the circumstances and why was this significant? Before that moment(s), what were you like? What was your life like? What things did you struggle with? Jot down some adjectives/ideas. After that moment(s), what were you like? What was your life like? What things did you do to overcome what you previously struggled with? How did you grow? Jot down some adjectives/ideas. Fill in the blanks with the words that best characterize those moments for you: _____________________________–CHRIST-____________________________________ If you were to write all of this into the narrative of how Jesus has worked in your life and changed your life, what would you say? (Think about what you have written down. Consider major struggles, trials and triumphs in your life. How has your relationship with Jesus changed overall? How have you changed overall?) Note: Our faith stories never end. They are always to be continued! Excerpt based on “Writing your...

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