Called to be Joyful – Part I

What a joy and privilege it was for me to lead this retreat on how we are called to live JOYFULLY in a world that is hungry for happiness. If you like the conference, or insights on the topic, please leave a comment. Or, consider visiting our Lay Canossian blog. It’s going to be a great year with a challenge to live in the heart of the world with the joy of the Gospel to guide us.

Have a blessed day!

Lay Canossians

Our Lay Canossians in Albuquerque held their annual retreat, choosing for their theme, “Called to be Joyful in a Joyless World.” This year’s retreat was recorded so that it could be shared with our brother and sister Lay Canossians in other areas of our Province.

Here is a brief introduction. You will find the audio link below. Enjoy!

The purpose of choosing the theme, on joy, came about due to several things:

  • At the last General Chapter of the Canossian Sisters set their plan for the next six years to journey with the theme, “Joyful and Prophetic Witnesses, so that the World may Believe.”
  • At the time the Chapter Sisters were finishing their sessions, Pope Francis’ encyclical Evangelii Gaudium was released. These themes truly appeared to be the work of the Holy Spirit in their timing, that the Sisters were able to tie into their post-chapter work some of the encyclical’s encouragement…

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Dialogue with a ‘Heretic’

Now, how does one respond to this kind of message on Twitter:

In truth, I didn’t know a lot about Joyce Meyer when I retweeted her message, a quotation from Scripture: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” -Proverbs 3:5. I knew she is not Catholic; she is a professed Christian. Questions swirled around in my head, the words “heretic” and “oneHolyCatholicApostolic” bouncing back and forth in an odd game of ping-pong.

Is a non-Catholic Christian a heretic? What should be our attitude toward those who believe in Christ, yet who remain outside the loving arms of our mother, the Church?

One definition of a heretic: “a dissenter from established religious dogma; especially : a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church who disavows a revealed truth; one who dissents from an accepted belief or doctrine.”

So, can one be a dissenter (heretic) if one was never a part of the established religion to begin with? The use of the word sounds so archaic in an age where dialogue between Christian churches and their people is commonplace. It gives the sense that Catholics have no business socializing with non-Catholics, as though they have nothing to offer us.

The pro-life movement gives us a different view: it is one great example of how Christians have united for the protection of the unborn. Common ground is a great place to start when there are differences. Does that mean we, as Catholics, are to lay down our Rosary beads for the sake of ecumenical dialogue (there, I said it!)? Absolutely not. We must not shy away from our Christian brothers and sisters by hiding our faith like a frightened ostrich with its head in the sand. Rather, we must know our faith and be willing to share it when others ask, and to affirm our brothers and sisters when we are on common ground. Blessed John Paul II gave us a great teaching in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint:

Ut unum sint! The call for Christian unity made by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council with such impassioned commitment is finding an ever greater echo in the hearts of believers, especially as the Year 2000 approaches, a year which Christians will celebrate as a sacred Jubilee, the commemoration of the Incarnation of the Son of God, who became man in order to save humanity.

The courageous witness of so many martyrs of our century, including members of Churches and Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church, gives new vigour to the Council’s call and reminds us of our duty to listen to and put into practice its exhortation. These brothers and sisters of ours, united in the selfless offering of their lives for the Kingdom of God, are the most powerful proof that every factor of division can be transcended and overcome in the total gift of self for the sake of the Gospel.

Christ calls all his disciples to unity. My earnest desire is to renew this call today, to propose it once more with determination, repeating what I said at the Roman Colosseum on Good Friday 1994, at the end of the meditation on the Via Crucis prepared by my Venerable Brother Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. There I stated that believers in Christ, united in following in the footsteps of the martyrs, cannot remain divided. If they wish truly and effectively to oppose the world’s tendency to reduce to powerlessness the Mystery of Redemption, they must profess together the same truth about the Cross. The Cross! (#1).

This led me to respond back to Mr Posh the following way:

Let us boldly hold on to our faith, and ask the Lord to give us courage, that we will not avoid our non-Catholic brothers and sisters, but be reminded by Blessed John Paul II, and look to the common ground of the Cross, by which to build bridges towards a true unity. Charity does demand it.

Originally posted at:

What Will it Take for Us to Wake Up?

Over at his blog, Fr. Longenecker asked the question, “What will it take for us (Catholics in America) to wake up?” He explains:

“…the last forty years Catholics themselves have not taught Catholicism to their children. They’ve taught ‘American Catholicism’ which is a watered down blend of sentimentalism, political correctness, community activism and utilitarianism….(a) ‘feeling good about yourself, being just to others and trying to change the world.’ The next generation have drawn the obvious conclusion that you don’t need to go to Mass to do all that.”

He states that the solution is simple (old-school evangelization like the Apostles of the Early Church did). The difference between today’s evangelization and that of the Apostles though, needs to be addressed:

“The big difference is that the Apostles knew their targets were pagans and the pagans knew they weren’t Christians…It is very difficult to evangelize people who already think they’re fine just as they are…”

Father Zuhlsdorf wrote a commentary on Fr. Longenecker’s post in true-to-FatherZ-fashion, and adds another critical element of the problem to the collapse of cultural Catholicism:

“It may be that some of those pagans of whom Fr. Longenecker speaks above are also wearing Roman collars.  They just don’t realize they actually belong to a different religion.”

This is an unfortunate reality indeed.

The correction of the problem, will definitely require an evangelization. Fr. Z adds that, perhaps, the Liturgical reforms have a part to play as well:

“We must return to teaching and demonstrating that there is a supernatural dimension to our lives.  We must take people beyond their immanentism-lite.  This is why the Holy Father has been trying to point us toward, in small steps, a new approach to liturgical worship.   It is precisely in worship that we can make great strides quickly.”

I would like to add another humble point, and that is, the importance of prayer – and in particular, devotional prayer – that has been the door of holiness for many.

Devotional prayer such as the Holy Rosary and Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, helps a person to know our Lord and Savior through the contemplation of the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection, and be better disposed to love Him, and follow His example. Saint Magdalene of Canossa explains this concept in the first rule to the Daughters of Charity:

“Prayer is the exercise by which the soul draws close to the Lord. By thus learning to know him in some way, the soul becomes ever more disposed, and enkindled with the desire, to love Him.”

She goes on to explain how, through prayer and contemplation of our Lord Jesus, and Him Crucified, the soul is better able to correctly imitate the life of Christ, with the same love for the Father that Jesus demonstrated on the Cross. She stressed numerous times to her Daughters and Sons of Charity the essential place of prayer in any work, evangelization being the fruit of it:

“Saint Paul says, even martyrdom would be useless without charity, that is, the love of God, the Source and Substance of Holiness, but also becasue the first fruit produced in our neighbor is all work of Grace.” (Unabridged Rule, Preface – paragraph 4, referencing 1 Corinthians 13:3).

So therefore, in order to properly evangelize the uncatechized Catholic, and to embrace the liturgical reforms and the truths held within them, prayer must be the foundation of this holy work. St Magdalene’s words are echoed throughout the history of the Church through the Saints who have grown close to the desires of God through their prayer, which in turn spurned them into action out of that love. Many of the Saints were uneducated, yet they were able to understand Truth easily, and to recognize folly just as easily.

So too, like the Saints of past centuries, we must begin here, at the font of prayer, through which God fortifies our hearts to Love Him and desire to do all we can to Serve the Church, and bring souls back to Her.


Related Posts:

Sherry, blogging at the Catherine of Sienna Institute, gives a good summary of how this conversation began, with her post, Unintentional Mega-Blogging: the Collapse of Cultural Catholicism

Responses to that included Father Longenecker’s post, The Collapse of Cultural Catholicism;

and Father Z’s The Slipping Away of Catholic Identity;

Mark P. Shea’s response to Sherry’s comment on his post.

The Cowboy Papist writes a summary of the discussion with his post, Cultural Catholicism: Means What, and Does it Matter?

And from Down Under, And They Will Know We are Pagans