Charisms: Your Superpowers from the Holy Spirit

Sometimes thinking about it, I say “No, can’t be. Superpowers!?”

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But when you learn more about the Charisms – special supernatural gifts given by the Holy Spirit to every person for his or her personal Mission, for their Calling to perform his or her task in the Church and in the World. These special gifts are given for the benefit of others, not for ourselves. But when we are exercising our Charisms we feel “in the flow” and as if the action “fits us” in a special way. The other wonderful thing about Charisms is that when you are exercising yours, you are effective in a remarkable or extra-ordinary way: when a person with the Charism of Teaching teaches, people learn as if God were teaching, when a person exercises the Charism of Healing, people are Healed as if God were healing.

Interested in learning more? Check out the Catherine of Siena Institute: http://siena.org/

I am hoping to be able to offer a small group workshop soon for the Discernment of Charisms at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown. Stay tuned.

Pray without Ceasing – Offer it Up

Great Homily this weekend by Fr. Luke Suarez about how all that we do can be a prayer, not just our formal prayers at Mass or saying a rosary. We can offer all we do as parents, as employees, as students in praise. And then every action becomes a prayer.IMG_1254-1024x774

It’s a beautiful and powerful idea. I just wish I was better at it. This summer has been tough so far, with a lot of family needs and obligations which means very little “fun time” and no vacation for us this year. I know, even as I write it I think “My goodness, you’re selfish! As if you didn’t have an abundance of blessings in your life.”

Yet, I’m finding it difficult… to offer it up, to take my “trials and sufferings” (as minimal as they are) and offer them as a prayer and as praise to the One who provides all the blessings in my life. And then, I get angry at myself for NOT being able to offer it up and let it go. A vicious cycle.

This morning, I found this great quote at http://www.fisheaters.com/offeringitup.html

It’s quite a discipline to react to suffering this way! In mental or physical pain? Drop something on your toe? Putting up with a co-worker who is making your life a living Hell? Enduring the constant ache of arthritis? Standing in line at the grocery and hating every minute of it? Spill the milk? Accept these things in peace, and ask God to use them for the good of the Church or for a more specific intention close to your heart. This isn’t easy to do (and I in no way claim to be good at it), but it does make the suffering more meaningful and less — well, less insufferable!

So, today, I offer my “sufferings” to God and ask that he use them for the good of those who need (so much more than I do) the blessings of food, shelter, health and comfort. Amen.

References:

Do Catholics Pray to Mary?

Growing up Catholic it never occurred to me that there was anything different about saying the Hail Mary or that other Christians would find that strange or even, offensive. It was only later, when I spent more time talking to other Christians about their beliefs that I realized that many of them believe that Catholics pray TO Mary and the Saints and are thereby constantly breaking the first commandment; “You shall have no other gods before me.

Mary statue at Sacred Heart Church in Georgetown, Connecticut

I found a few websites that explain pretty well what Catholics believe about Mary (and the Saints). In my words… we ask Mary and the Saints to “pray for us” the same way we would ask a friend or relative to pray for us. So, we aren’t praying TO Mary and the Saints but instead asking them to pray WITH us. This makes sense to me.

However, I also found a website that articulates beautifully why Catholics so deeply revere the Virgin Mary:

Mary is the Mother of God. Catholics do not believe that God was bound by any compulsion to have a Mother; they believe that He chose to have a Mother and all that this implies. He chose to permit His human body to be formed in her womb.

I love the line about God not being bound to have a Mother… that he Chose to have a Mother and that by so choosing, gave a Mother to the human race like none we had ever had before.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
Amen

 

References:

Catholic Evangelization: Revitalizing the Catholic Church

Last night I was reading Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly in preparation for a book study on Saturday morning. He made a comment that in the time of Francis of Assisi, Church had become a practice of habit instead of a true conviction and spiritual connection. Seems to me that we’re in a time like that right now. Of course, there are the core groups of Dynamic Catholics that are fully engaged in the practice of their faith, but sometimes it gets discouraging to look at the trends of attendance and growth in the church. And the really scary statistics of how many teenagers leave the church after Confirmation.

However, there’s always hope! And the Dynamic Catholic Institute is an organization that I think embodies the hope for the future.

Dynamic Catholic Mission

 

I love the idea of developing World-Class Resources. Right now, each Parish and Diocese tends to operate entirely on it’s own for Spiritual and Religious Education Programs. By supporting Dynamic Catholic in creating “World Class” programs, we get the best of the best and save each individual parish a lot of time in the development. Here’s is the 10 year plan for resource development:

Dynamic Catholic 10 Year Plan

 

Just imagine that it would mean to have programs around these life-moments, Catholic-Moments that are the best of the best. It could totally revitalize the experience of Catholics around the world… re-opening their eyes to the beauty and genius of their faith.

It’s a future I will do whatever it takes to create. What about you?

Why Confess? The Healing Power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

How long has it been since you’ve celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation? For me, it had been over 20 years….since I was a teen active in our church youth group. I’d been through college, the early years of my marriage, two miscarriages and the young years of my children’s lives before I was drawn back to the church, to confession and to a very powerful conversion experience as a result.

Matthew Kelly calls Confession the First Pillar of Catholic Spirituality.


The process of celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation is very simple and deeply healing. Yes, I know it’s scary to think of stepping into a confessional and telling a priest your sins. But it really is quite easy and you’ll walk away feeling a lightness of spirit you may not have believed was possible.

Today I’m not going to talk about the process of preparing for confession, the examination of conscience.  I will just assume, that like me, it may have been many years since you’ve gone to confession and that you KNOW what you need to confess… the acts taken or not taken that hurt yourself or someone else, the things you have done or said that you know were contrary to living a life of loving kindness.

So, you know what you want to confess, how do you do it?

First, find out when the Sacrament is celebrated at your church, or call the priest and make an appointment.

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The priest will (should) warmly greet you and you may both make the Sign of the Cross. Most of us are used to the formula of  ”In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. My last confession was _________ weeks (months, years) ago.” You don’t have to start that way…. but it is helpful for the priest to know “where you are” in your spiritual journey, especially if it has been many years since your last confession.

The priest may read from Scripture and then it’s time for you to confess your sins and express your sorrow for having sinned.

After you’ve confessed, the priest will assign you a penance (prayers to say, acts to make amends, etc.). In my experience, the priests have been very gentle with me and the penance I’ve been assigned was simple and easy to do… no self-flagellation required.

Next you say an Act of Contrition (I can never remember the more complex one, so I use the one my children learned at their first Reconciliation).

My God,
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His Name, my God, have mercy.
Amen.

The priest then prays the Prayer of Absolution. For me, this is the most beautiful part of the Sacrament. During the Sacrament, the priest is acting in the person of Christ. Through his words, sins are washed away. Trust in God that you are washed clean of the sins you have confessed and that there is no longer a need to hang onto guilt or shame or pain related to those sins. It’s a beautiful thing.

“Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 ”If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” John 20:22-23

References:

Dynamic Catholic Book Program: Rediscover Catholicism

Rediscover CatholicismThis year, at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, we participated in the Dynamic Catholic Book Program, distributing copies of Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly to all the people attending Ash Wednesday services and Easter Masses.

This post is just a quick recap of our experience from my viewpoint as coordinator of the program.

It first must be said that the Dynamic Catholic Institute team is friendly, helpful and responsive, which makes a program like this much easier to implement.

Because I was a bit intimidated by the process of distributing a couple thousand books, we decided to split the program into two (Ash Wednesday and Easter) instead of doing the whole distribution at one time (like at Christmas or Easter Masses).

We started by ordering 1000 books from Dynamic Catholic for Ash Wednesday. They were delivered a week ahead of time. We solicited volunteers by sending out emails to our parish ministries and our religious education family lists. We got a lot of volunteers, especially teens needing community service hours.

Book Program Insert

Before Ash Wednesday services we unpacked books and stacked as many as possible at the doors of the church. We also used the book distribution as a way to gather email addresses of parishioners (to save money on communications) and enclosed in each book a postcard that asked for name and email address to update our parish database.

During services on Ash Wednesday we distributed almost all of the 1000 books. According to Dynamic Catholic you should order books for 75% of your registered parishioners. We ordered slightly less than that in total. We repeated the process for Easter weekend and ordered 1500 books which were delivered the week before Easter.

Just a note for anyone considering coordinating a program like this… it’s a bit harder to get volunteers on Easter than it is for Ash Wednesday, so be prepared to pray and humbly beg for help. 🙂

Over Easter weekend, we distributed another 900 books. I think we would have distributed more, except that many parishioners have a copy of this book because they attended the Passion and Purpose Retreat with Matthew that we hosted in January 2011. We will use the extra books to give to families entering their children into our first grade religious education program, since many of them are Rediscovering Catholicism as they enroll their children into the First Holy Communion preparation program.

We also started a book study of Rediscover Catholicism as way to encourage people to read the book and have a forum to discuss it. Here is a link to the study guide in PDF format: http://askjo.co/rediscover-catholicism-sg This is a reformatted version of what’s available from Dynamic Catholic because I wanted it to be able to print in booklet format.

So, are you ready to become an evangelist in your parish and participate in the Dynamic Catholic Book Program? Or have you done so already and have advice to share? Please comment below.