Tag Archives: evangelization

Bits and Bytes on Thriving Parishes (Review: “Great Catholic Parishes”)

Since I stopped working in ministry, I’ve been a regular parishioner, just like everyone else. Having seen things from both ends of the pew, in a sense, I remain interested in the state of American parishes and efforts to right the wrongs and fulfill our mission as Christians. So I read a lot of books about parish improvement. My most recent read in that vein is Great Catholic Parishes: How Four Essential Practices Make Them Thrive, by William E. Simon Jr. of Parish Catalyst. It’s not my favorite in this niche, but I found some gems nonetheless.

Simon begins with an interesting overview of the history of Catholicism in the U.S. I’d never really thought about it from the perspective of the parish before. In Catholic countries, Simon writes, the parish wasn’t important because the Faith was everywhere. In the New World, however, Catholics clung to their parishes as cultural, social, and religious centers. It wasn’t everywhere anymore. Considering that difference got me to thinking about what the ideal situation would be today: to have the faith “in the water,” or to have it be something you have to choose and fight for. One could make a good argument for either.

Cristo Redentor statue

Unfortunately… Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Advertising the Church

I’m intrigued by CatholicsComeHome.org. It’s beautifully designed, and it has a lot of information. They even recommend the RSV, which gets a big thumbs-up from me.

I visited the “I’m Catholic” section, but I also watched the “Epic” video. It, too, is high-quality and compelling. I’m just wary of advertisements for the Catholic Church. The Light Is On for You is a great program, but promoting an underused sacrament is different than selling the whole Church. Who doesn’t scoff at LDS ads? I don’t want my church to solicit that kind of response, even though I believe in evangelization and apologetics.

This reminds me of my Morning Prayer intercessions, in which I pray for people who’ve fallen away from the Church. What am I doing to help them come back, besides praying? Not a whole lot. Jesus doesn’t want excuses; he wants to save us.

Catholic Carnival 152

Here’s my notes on the Christmas Catholic Carnival, number 152, hosted at A Catholic Mum Climbing the Pillars.

Heidi at Mommy Monsters Inc. (love the title!) offers a reflection on Mary’s and Elizabeth’s feelings during the Visitation. How did Mary feel after consenting to be the Theotokos? How can we compare Mary’s situation to modern times? It’s hard to analyze our Blessed Mother. I run into the same problem with her that I have trying to ponder Jesus during the hidden years of his childhood and early adulthood. In Bible study sophomore year, Maura, Tim, Jim, Ali, and I discussed whether Jesus would have ever dated. Fact notwithstanding that young Nazoreans didn’t date like people do today, it’s an interesting idea to ponder. He would have been incapable of lusting or any sin again chastity, of course, but even though he knew he would die without marrying, would he have gone walking by the well with a nice Nazorean girl?

Sr. Edith Brogue, OSB, shares a reflection presented to her sisters about St. Joseph’s role in the Holy Family and the Nativity, in light of this year’s Vatican nativity scene. St. Joseph gets left out almost all the time. It’s sad that in a world where fatherhood isn’t valued or popular, the greatest earthly father we have gets pushed aside as well. When I finally worked out a personal method of praying the rosary, I was proud to add “St. Joseph, pray for us” to my daily prayers.

Christine, of Domestic Vocation, recounts yet another harried health scare. Despite the challenges that come with being human, she managed to survive with a good outlook on redemptive suffering. I can relate.

Erin of Bearing Blog, who I also enjoyed in Carnival 151, offers a post I read last week about responding to rude questions about the size of your family. It’s none of their business how many children you have! A few weeks ago, when I went to replace my broken holy medal chain at the Shrine, I saw a woman with 5 small children, one of whom was carrying the second-smallest. In another part of my life, I would have shaken my head in pity, much like my mother would to this day. This time, I smiled, though with a worry in the back of my mind that the girl carrying her sister might not be holding on quite tight enough. Holiness takes time.

A different Heidi, of Streams of Mercy, wrote a beautiful story about how her understanding of evangelization (and evangelism) has changed over the course of her conversion to Catholicism. I believe that lifestyle evangelization is very important. If people can’t relate to you, they’ll never pay enough attention to see Christ in you. They won’t hear the Gospel if they’re not already willing to listen. I really must get around to reading that CDF document. Maybe, just maybe, I can squeeze it in before winter break ends.

Catholic Carnival 151

I remember when reading the Catholic Carnival was the height of my week. Now I’m excited to finally be able to read one again! Last week’s was up at Aussie Coffee Shop.

Ian of Musings from a Catholic Bookstore comments on a Time article about the rising trend of large families among the affluent. I’m not seeing anyone right now, and discerning my vocation is a whole trial I’m not going to get into, but if I marry, I hope to have as large a family as God wants. Ian makes some good points about the reality of large families, even among the middle class. I can’t quite wrap my head around it, since I’m still a poor college student and my parents are still willing to help me out, but I know from FAFSA experience that when the government tries to make estimates about real people and money, they are often wrong.

Sean at A Catholic Canadian muses on whether online communities can–or should–replace real-life camaraderie. t’s important to think of technology-based communication as a scaffold to relationships, not a substitute. For example, Jim and I have a great friendship. I’ve even asked him to recommend me for grad school. We met on a CSC retreat, and then had Bible study together, but since we don’t see each other in person all the time, our friendship is supported by AIM. Without it, our friendship wouldn’t be as strong. Likewise, I’ve connected with some old friends using facebook. I make it a point to see people in person, though. It’s trickier when you don’t have much money, but sometimes quality time is worth it. Sean also mentions his interest in building community through the Knights of Columbus, which I, CDA Regent, think is a lovely idea.

At Bearing Blog (which is a neat title), Erin offers an analysis of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s recent document on the need for evangelization. The whole Church could use some good, strong pointers on how to evangelize effectively. As Maura puts it, we need better marketing. I’ll have to keep her pointers in mind, and read the whole document myself one of these days.

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