EVANGELIZATION

The Office of New Evangelization exists
To support parishes in forming
Joy-Filled, Intentional,
Missionary Disciples of Jesus Christ
So that On Fire with the Holy Spirit
They will be witnesses that
transform the culture around them.

Book Review: Food for the Soul

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Food for the Soul: Reflections on the Mass Readings – Cycle A

Last year around Christmas, I received a present of the Cycle C version of this book published by Word on Fire. It was such a wonderful way to prepare for the Sunday readings that as soon as the Cycle A version became available, I purchased it. If you are looking for a great Advent/Christmas present, I highly recommend this book which will be Food for the Soul for the entire liturgical year.

In each volume, the three weekly Mass readings are included, each followed by Peter Kreeft's reflections, musings, explanations, and insights on the readings. Peter Kreeft is a Professor of Philosophy at Boston College and a fabulous author of books on theology, philosophy, prayer, logic, and culture. This is not some dry acamic commentary, but Kreeft's philosophical wit and wisdom on display, reminding the reader that what really matters in life and beyond is our relationship with God in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

This would make a great Christmas present for anyone wanting to prepare for Mass, go deeper into the Scriptures, and strengthen their understanding and their faith. It is truly food for the soul.

 

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RESOURCE: FREE ONLINE ADVENT RETREAT

 

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Come to Bethehem - An Advent Retreat with the Daughters of St. Paul

Advent is a season of hope and transformation.
Through this five-week online series of video reflections, music and prayer, we invite you to “come to Bethlehem” with us — not the romantic vision of Bethlehem we so often carry around, but the oppressed Bethlehem of history where God met and saved his people, and where he saves us still.

This online Advent retreat celebrates the Good News that “God is with us” and offers invitations and insights to help you come, search, journey, enter, and welcome Jesus this Christmas. Especially where you least expect to find him.

Free: Sign up at https://connect.pauline.org/advent-series/


 

 

A simple way to start evangelization in your parish

A couple of days ago, I watched a webinar from the Amazing Parish team. The Amazing Parish is an organization that hosts conferences and webinars in parish leadership, organization and how to rejuvenate parishes for mission. There are free parish leadership training videos on the site that would be helpful to any parish leadership team. 

 

The webinar recording I would like to recommend to you is on a simple way to start evangelizing that ANYONE can do. It does not require any special classes or theological knowledge. It is so simple that you might think this can't possibly work. Isn't it strange how we often think that in order for something to be fruitful it must be difficult and complicated. Here is the simple one step process to begin evangelizing in and beyond your parish: 

Step 1: care about someone and ask them: "What is going on in your life that I can pray for."  That's it! 

 

The video has a few more details: start with your parish staff, then your parishioners in the pew, then have them go out at their place of work, their neighbors, their school ... The video also features the experience of a pastor in using this method. Check it out.  

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Click image above to play the video.

 

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The source of Life:  Exploring the Mystery of the Eucharist by Christoff Cardinal Schönborn

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This little book is a collection of catechetical talks that Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna gave to his congregation at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. The book covers three main themes. First is the celebration of Mass itself and the Jewish roots of the liturgy. How did Jesus celebrate the last supper and what did he mean by the words, "This is my Body, and This is my Blood?" The second theme is looking at the Mystery of the Eucharist and what is meant by words such as memorial, sacrifice, consecration, and presence. Lastly, the book explores how we enter into the Eucharist by looking at reception of communion, Eucharistic fellowship and who can receive Eucharist.

This is a book to be read slowly, one chapter at a time, as if you are receiving the talks.  You would not expect to go to one talk after another or sit through ten talks in a row.  Similarly, I would recommend reading this one chapter at a time and allowing yourself time to reflect on the content and the ideas presented. I could very easily see this book as a resource at adoration: to read a chapter (or a section of a chapter) and just sit with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to discuss the content with Jesus in prayer. 

This is also a wonderful book for catechists to learn for themselves about the Eucharist and how to enter more fully into communion, but also as an example of how to catechize others by the example that Cardinal Schönborn gives. Although the content of the book is highly theological and teaches in depth about the meaning of the mystery of the Eucharist, it does so in the context of storytelling and by reflecting on normal experiences. You do not need a theology degree or a theological dictionary to read and enjoy this book.

If you have ever taken Eucharist for granted, this book is also for you. The last few chapters of the book focuses on the practical aspects of preparing for Mass and Communion.  How often have do we go to Communion on autopilot?  How does knowing that I am going to receive communion tomorrow change how I live today?  It also answers such difficult questions as why the Eucharist is not open to everyone, and why our Eucharistic Fellowship has boundaries.

If you have questions about the Eucharist or simply want to seek a deeper understanding of this most marvelous Sacrament, I highly recommend The source of Life:  Exploring the Mystery of the Eucharist by Christoff Cardinal Schönborn

 

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NEW Workshop available: Eucharist and the Call to Discipleship

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The Office of the New Evangelization has a new one-hour presentation available for parishes or other groups on the topic of Eucharist and the Call to Discipleship.  At the end of each Mass, we are sent out to GO and share the Gospel. What we have received we must share "out there."  It is not enough to just check the box each Sunday that we have been to Mass. We are to be transformed and bring Christ's peace out to the world. We must enter in with the knowledge that we will be going out.  Transformed by the Eucharist, we go out to transform the world. We are also called to bring what we see out in the world back in prayer to Jesus in the Eucharist.

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For other workshops offered by the Office of the New Evangelization please see click HERE.

For more information or to schedule a workshop contact Marika Donders at mdonders@rcdony.org


 

BOOK REVIEW: Real Presence: What Does It Mean and Why Does it Matter?

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Real Presence: What Does It Mean and Why Does it Matter?, by Timoth P. O'Malley,  may be a small book , but it is densely packed with information countering modern obstacles to recognizing Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist.  The author suggests three prominent issues that cause confusion and keep almost 70% of Catholics from recognizing the Real Presence: An overly physical or technical explanation of the Real Presence, a lack of Eucharistic reverence, and a false dichotomy between the Eucharist reverence and recognizing Jesus in the in the hungry, thirsty, and poor in our midst.  

There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding of the meaning of Real Presence. Some err on the side of thinking the Eucharist a mere symbol, others err on the side of materialism focussing on Eucharistic miracles such as bleeding hosts.  Even the Pew Study on the Real presence used imprecisely worded questions like "Do the bread and wine become the actual (as opposed to the substantial) Body and Blood of Christ. Doctrine and precise language are important because they can "help us to encounter Christ in a deeper and profound way" as well as help us to explain what and why believe.

A lack of Eucharistic reverence can also be an obstacle to recognizing Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Hymns that speak of Eucharist as merely bread and wine, not body and blood, an over-emphasis on the meal aspect of Eucharist, resulting in prayer and actions that downplay faith in the Real Presence.  

Lastly there is a separation between recognizing the Real Presence in the Eucharist or recognizing Jesus in the poor. Of course, there should be a union between the two, because recognizing Christ present in the Eucharist should lead us to recognizing him in the poor in our midst. Eucharist should lead to communion. 

The book then continues to point out the real presence as found in scripture, in the Church Fathers, Thomas Aquinas' hymn Lauda Sion, which is the sequence for the feast of Corpus Christi, and concluding with examples of witnesses who shared in their writings the love of Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. 

This is a wonderful little book to read slowly and savor, and perhaps use as as source of meditation and reflection in the presence of the Eucharist.

 

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BOOK REVIEW: Around the Table: Retelling the Story of the Eucharist through the Eyes of Jesus' First Followers

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In Around the Table, R. Scott Hurd uses his imagination fueled by scripture, archeology, traditions, and stories to tell the story of the first Eucharist from the point of view of the first disciples. Each chapter is a short story about various characters such as Cleopas, one of the disciples on the road to Emmaus; or Matthew, the tax collector as he looks back on his life; or Mark, whose family home was the site of the the upper room for the last supper. There is a story of Mary, the Mother of Jesus looking back on the last supper as the wedding feast of her Son, and Mary Magdalene, reflecting on the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  

Each story brings a different facet of the Eucharist to the fore through the life of his disciples. The stories are simply written, and easy to understand and enter into, and they provide a journey to meet friends of Jesus who tell us a little about their lives.  In so doing, they tell us about their relationship with Jesus and how they continue to encounter him under the species of bread and wine. 

This book is wonderful for those who want to just reflect on the meaning of the Eucharist without struggling through complex theological or philosophical writing.  Each chapter gives a summary of the disciple whose story will to be told, and it then tells the story in simple and imaginative ways.  Each chapter ends with couple of questions for reflection, discussion or journaling and concludes with a prayer. 

Around the Table is easy enough for high school students, and the stories are interesting enough for adults. In addition, the process of reading the stories is also a way to learn to pray with scriptures. Just like the author, you can read a familiar bible story and imagine yourself in the shoes of a major or minor character, and use your imagination to look around, discover what it might have looked like, smelled like, sounded like, what would the food taste like and what textures would you be able to feel as you touch clothes or tools or walk across the road …

Enter into Scripture and history to deepen your understanding of how the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity through the lives of those who walked with him.  

 

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