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.

CHRISTENDOM

 

BOOK REVIEW: 

From Christendom to Apostolic Mission: Pastoral Strategies for an Apostolic Age
Author: Msgr. James P. Shea
University of Mary Press

 

I finally got around to reading this gem of a book: it is short and to the point.

Do you know people who are discouraged about the faith and the state of the Church? Do you know people who are questioning why the transmission of faith that worked for them (CCD classes, going to Church on Sunday, praying the rosary) no longer works today, why it is so hard to raise our kids to be Catholics, and the fact that people are disaffiliating from the faith? Do you know people who are lamenting the polarization in the Church or who live on one of the extreme ends of the spectrum?

This book offers a good start to explain why our old strategies of evangelization and passing on the faith don’t seem to work the same way they used to: our culture and the corresponding worldview has changed. The Christendom culture whose values in many ways aligned with Christian values and worldview provided a scaffolding for faith and allowed faith to float on the culture with an occasional correction (like floating downstream in a canoe, occasionally paddling to keep going in the correct current). Today’s culture no longer supports Church values, and we are, as it were, paddling upstream while not being immune to our culture’s values of power and efficiency and comfort. Faith has become a quest and a challenge.

But we are not without hope! We need to change our strategy to meet the challenges of today. We need a conversion of mind and a new way of seeing. Our culture has altered our way of looking at the world, and the role of evangelization is to “present the Gospel in such a way that hearers can be transformed and see in a new way.” To do so, we need to understand the age in which we live and cooperate with the Holy Spirit, who is still at work calling us to a new Pentecost.

I would highly recommend this little book (it’s less than a 100 pages) to anyone who is interested in the mission and vision of the Church and participating in the adventure to which the Holy Spirit is calling us.

 

Bonus: If you are anxious, discouraged, Msgr. James P. Shea gave a marvelous keynote address at Seek2024 speaking to a crowd of college students and young adults:

 


 

 

cabrini2cabrini

 

Cabrini, the Movie and Too Small a World, the Book.

 

Last April 8, I went to the movies and watched the movie Cabrini and came away somewhat disappointed.  The movie was enjoyable, but I didn’t find it inspirational or thought provoking. Other than Cabrini, all the secondary characters felt like cardboard cutouts. We don’t even get to know the names of any of the other sisters.  We never get to know the motivations behind any of the actions of any of the people, including Mother Cabrini herself. People just get in her way and somehow, she overcomes all obstacles.

Going into the movie, I knew very little about Mother Cabrini. When I lived in New York, some of the first houses were pointed out to me and I knew she was the first American citizen to be canonized, but that was all I knew. The movie didn’t tell me much more.  What the movie did accomplish was that I realized if I wanted to know more about this saint, I needed to read a good biography. I purchased and read Too Small a World: The Life of Mother Frances Cabrini which was written in 1945, a year before she was canonized by Pope Pius XII.

Unlike the movie, the book is not just set in New York but follows Mother Cabrini as she opens houses around the world and travels back and forth between Italy, around the United States, England, South and Central America. Reading the book. I realized that many of the events and scenes portrayed in the movie were actually events that happened in cities other than New York.  The book also made sense of some of the symbolism in the movie such as the paper boats with flowers that she plays with in the river (boats being sent to the missions with “flowers” of missionaries).  Most of all, the book supplies the motivation behind the actions of both the saint herself as well as those who cautioned her to limit herself to a smaller mission. 

If you want to know more about this amazing woman and American Saint than a plaster cast image that the movie portrays, I would highly recommend Too Small a World: The Life of Mother Frances Cabrini.


 

Leadership Podcast Rectangle

 

A NEW PODCAST: Leadership Where it Matters Most.

 

Looking to hone your leadership skills? Check out the new podcast, "Leadership Where It Matters Most," which focuses on leadership in families and the Church.

The host, Brett Powell (a leadership coach for both business and pastoral leaders), dives into practical information about mission-oriented leadership through conversations with various leaders. While there are a few introductory episodes, there are already five packed with valuable insights. I've listened to episodes featuring Father James Mallon, Carey Nieuwhof, and Shaila Visser, and all three were excellent.

Powell's core belief is that strong leadership is key to achieving any mission, whether in business or the Church. Since families and churches have arguably the most important missions, these are the areas where leadership matters most.

This podcast is a great resource for anyone wanting to improve their leadership skills, be it for raising a family or contributing to the mission of evangelization. You can find it on Brett Powell's website (brettpowell.org) or search for "Leadership Where It Matters Most" in your favorite podcast app.

 


 

 

240104 autistic mind

BOOK REVIEW:

God Loves the Autistic Mind: Prayer Guide for Those on the Spectrum and Those Who Love Us
Author: Father Matthew P. Schneider, LC
Pauline Books and Media 2022

 

The first part of this book is an exploration of the unique strengths and challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum from the perspective of a priest who himself is on the spectrum. As is often said, if you know one autistic person, you know one autistic person, and not every topic will relate to every neurodiverse person, because there is a great diversity in the autistic community.  Yet, the book helps the reader gain insight and understanding of what it means to be autistic from the inside out. Society tends to view autism from the disability perspective, but it can also be seen as an asset, a strength and a unique way into a relationship with Christ and his Church.

The second part of the book is a series of 52 meditations to assist the autistic individual to develop that deeper relationship with Jesus.  Each meditation includes a story, a biblical passage, a reflection, and a short prayer to help the reader enter into prayer in whatever unique way they are comfortable communicating.  

This is book is primarily aimed at the autistic individual, to assist them in prayer and navigating the challenges of their unique neurodiversity within the Church and faith environment. But this book is also for those who love someone on the spectrum, equipping them with a deeper understanding of the autistic experience and providing insight in how they can support and accompany autistic individuals on their spiritual journey. This book should also be read by catechists and other leaders of parish ministries to help them create welcoming and inclusive spaces for neurodiverse persons.

What struck me as I was reading this book is that when we make accommodations for people who are differently abled, whether it is a physical disability or a matter of neurodiversity, it accommodates everyone.  Although the 52 meditations in the second part of the book are written with the autistic individual in mind, these meditations would be fruitful for anyone, whether on the spectrum or not. If you are looking for practical material to help you deepen your own prayer life, this might be the book for you.