Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Unusual Easter, To Say the Least

Happy Easter to all.

It turned out to be a rather unusual Easter for me. After having attended the Passion Service at Noon on Good Friday at my parish, Old Saint Patrick's here in Chicago, I began to feel a cold coming on. By Saturday afternoon, I was in bed with what I guess is the flu and only this morning have I returned to work. Not sure how long I will last here at the office.

I had to settle for watching Easter services on television; first time ever that I missed most of the Triduum.

At least I had some flowers in the house to bring in some Easter joy:

Not much else to report; just need to have some take-care-of-Jerry time, I guess. Not used to this stuff.

I hope your experience of the Triduum was filled with grace and joy.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How Long, O Lord?

Against the backdrop of the horrific terrorist attacks this morning in Belgium, the following "stories" were part of a report in this morning's Chicago Tribune.

I drove through some of those neighborhoods on my way to the office this morning. Young black men were hanging on corners and in vacant lots; lives with seemingly no direction or purpose.
Then, at Austin and Lake Street, I watched a crossing guard help a young black mom walking her two absolutely adorable young daughters across the avenue. One of the little girls, her hair in pigtails and carrying a banana that was almost as big as she, just turned around and gave me a smile that went right through me.
The Sacred Triduum, upon which we are about to embark, celebrates the paradox of the cross of Christ. At the very beginning of these holy days, the Church puts this song into our hearts: "We should glory in the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in him is our salvation, life, and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered."
How long, O Lord?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

A 14-year-old was shot in the abdomen and went to Stroger Hospital. A 15-year-old was shot in the leg and went to Stroger. A 16-year-old and a 11-year-old each were shot in the abdomen and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. All their conditions were stabilized, police said.
— At 1:05 a.m. Tuesday, a 35-year-old man was shot in Lawndale, police said. He walked in to Westlake Hospital in suburban Melrose Park with a gunshot wound to the foot and told investigators he was at a Chicago gas station in the 600 block of South Independence Boulevard when he heard people arguing and then realized he had been shot. He was treated at the hospital and released.
— About 10:15 p.m. a 22-year-old man walked in to Christ Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the thigh. He told investigators he had been shot in the 7000 block of South Wabash Avenue. He was listed in good condition.
— At 9:45 p.m., a 21-year-old man was shot in Englewood, police said. He was in the 6900 block of South Laflin street when he was shot in the shoulder. He was taken to Stroger Hospital and his condition was stabilized.
— About 8:20 p.m. a 22-year-old man was shot in the 7900 block of South Indiana Avenue. He was shot in the buttocks and taken to Christ Medical Center in good condition.
— At 5:45 p.m., two 20-year-old men were shot in the 10200 block of South Indiana Avenue. They both were shot in the leg and went to Stroger Hospital in good condition.
— About 5:15 p.m., a 20-year-old man walked into Loretto Hospital after being shot in the left leg in the 4200 block of West Madison Street in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, police said. An attacker ran up to the man and fired shots, then got into a red vehicle and fled, police said. He was listed in good condition at Loretto Hospital. The same man wasshot on the same block about 11:30 p.m. on March 15, police said. In that attack, he suffered a graze wound to the right leg, police said at the time. 
— About 1:40 p.m. an 18-year-old man was shot in the 11200 block of South Eggleston Avenue in the Roseland neighborhood, police said. The man was walking when a sedan pulled up with four people inside, and three of them got out. One of them took out a handgun and shot the man in the hip, then fled, police said. The man was taken to Christ Medical Center in good condition.
— At 10 a.m., a 22-year-old man was shot in Little Village. He was in the 2800 block of South Komensky Avenue when someone in a dark sedan fired shots, hitting him in the hip and buttocks. He went to Mount Sinai Hospital, and his condition was stabilized. 
— At 11:40 p.m. police initially said a man had been shot in the 9200 block of South Stony Island Avenue. It was later determined that he had been pistol-whipped, not shot.

Monday, March 21, 2016

For to live with the Lord . . .

Greetings on this Monday of Holy Week.

I attended the 9:30 A.M. Mass yesterday at Old Saint Patrick's, my parish.

It began with our pastor, at the edge of the large gallery, welcoming all, and proclaiming the Gospel of Luke that recounts the Lord's entry into Jerusalem, followed by the procession, during which our palm branches were blessed with large amounts of holy water. My view:

When I was a little kid, my grandmother, "Memere Galipeau," taught us how to weave the palms. Back then, we received a palm frond with lots of pieces of palms, so one could really do a beautiful weave. I have noticed that in parishes in recent years, the palms are split apart so that one only gets a few pieces. But, as I do every year, in honor of my grandmother and my Dad, who weaves his beautifully as well, I did my best with the weave.

It now adorns a little sacred area in my office here at WLP.

The Passion was proclaimed in narrative sections by three readers and the refrain and one Good Friday verse to Tony Alonso's We Should Glory in the Cross was sung at three key moments. It really worked beautifully. My pastor in the center:

So many memories are stirred within me as Holy Week dawns each year. I remember going to the liturgies as a nine-year-old at my home parish in Woburn Massachusetts, Saint Charles. I was fascinated by all that was going on. I loved standing for the passion reading on Palm Sunday and Good Friday (sadly, most places I have been in recent years have people sit during the proclamation.) I remember those Palm Sunday liturgies when I was in the seminary. I remember the beautiful red cope being worn by the celebrant for the first part of the liturgy and watching him change into the chasuble for the Liturgy of the Word.

These holiest of days reach deeply into that most Catholic part of me. It is also a time where I feel the cross so poignantly. When we sang David Haas' Now We Remain at communion yesterday, I couldn't help but think about how that song, sung at a Good Friday liturgy over thirty years ago, brought me back into the Catholic faith. My sister, who died in 2001, had been diagnosed that year over thirty years ago with multiple sclerosis and my anger at God was so fierce that my ministry turned into a job; I was just going through the motions, angry at God for striking my sister, and my heart was filled with resentment that was eating away at me. But those words from that song, "for to live with the Lord, we must die with the Lord," grabbed my heart and brought me back. And since that day, I feel like my Catholic faith has become more real, an adult Catholic faith, permeated by the paschal mystery and my own being drawn into that mystery.

That all came back yesterday. I thought about my sister, Joanne, and how painful was much of her life. And I remembered her smile as well. It's all wrapped up in the dying and rising of Christ, isn't it?

I look forward to the rest of the week. I hope your Holy Week is filled with God's grace and mercy.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, March 18, 2016

I Watched Spotlight Last Night

Friday greetings. The Midwest is sunny and quite cold this morning; possibility of snow showers tomorrow.

Last night, I watched the movie Spotlight. I rented it at home and watched with two friends. As you may know, I grew up in Boston. I spent eight years preparing for the ordained priesthood at Saint John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. I was not ordained and left the seminary after having earned the Master of Divinity.

When I left Boston for Florida, Bernard Law had been named as Archbishop of Boston, succeeding the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros. When the Boston Globe's Spotlight team began to report on the clergy abuse scandal, I had already finished my time in Florida and was living here in Illinois. To be honest, I devoured every piece of information that was uncovered by the Spotlight team. I knew many of those priests; I swam in the Boys Club pool where some of the abuse took place between a priest and those young boys. I knew the parishes where these men had been assigned. And I knew the bishops whose letters and memos were exposed in the investigation.

I believe that one of the most positive things to come out of the investigation really had nothing to do with the Church. The investigation opened the world to the stories of childhood sexual abuse as told from those who had been abused. What was once considered a subject not to be breached suddenly was all over the media. I remember reading and listening to these stories and feeling such sympathy in my heart for these men and women who had been abused as children. The positive thing that grew out of all of this was an open-ness in many families finally to discuss what had happened in the lives of these men and women when they were children. When moms and dads read or heard these accounts, they recognized, too late of course, what had been going on right under their noses and in their own homes when their child was being "groomed." Never did it enter their minds at the time of the abuse that someone in a position of trust would violate the innocence of their son or daughter.

Suddenly, while being exposed, finally, to the stories that ultimately were told, moms and dads began to put two and two together. I know, for some, this meant an immense sense of guilt: "How could I not have seen or noticed what was going on?" We have to remember that most of this abuse took place in a time when we just never talked about this stuff; in a time when talking about sex was not part of a family's, especially a Catholic family's, usual day-to-day routine. I believe that what the Spotlight team did was to help break the silence and open the hearts, minds, and eyes of parents so that they became much, much more aware that the world can be a very dangerous place for their kids. And it also helped families be more open about all of this. Parents helped their children, in ways never done before, to recognize when an adult was becoming too close, and what areas of their own bodies were not to be touched by any adult. And parents were letting children know that their kids could come to mom and dad at any time if their safety was threatened in any way.

There is a deep sadness that lingers in my own heart about all of this. I wonder, often, how those baptized into Christ could have perpetrated such evil; could have snatched the childhood away from the most innocent.

The Church has done much in the intervening years to address these issues, and so much more needs to be done.

As I prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery in the next week, I will bring this heaviness to the cross and try to make sense out of something that is evil to the core.

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing, Gotta pray.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It Ain't Easy Being a Catholic Sometimes

Sometimes witnessing to the power of the love and mercy of God can be acutely challenging.

At the final night of the parish mission at Sacred Heart parish in Winnetka, Illinois last night, I talked to those gathered about the Eucharist from the standpoint of the eucharistic table as a table of reconciliation. I witnessed personally about the fact that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and that the hardest thing for me to wrap my brain around, when talking about God's reconciling love in the Eucharist, is whether or not I can come to believe that God's love and mercy is so boundless that it is possible that it can be extended to someone who abuses a child. I still struggle with this week in and week out as I go to Mass and to Communion. I often reach the inevitable conclusion that God is God and I am not. And I believe that I cannot limit God's love and mercy in what I construct as a container in my own mind and heart.

It was especially painful last night given the two reports that emerged yesterday; the first being the apparent suicide of Fr. Virgilio Elizondo. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be in such an emotional state that one turns to suicide. I don't know if it was related to an impending trial that involves an accusation of childhood sexual abuse against him. I pray for the repose of his soul.

The second report hit a lot closer to home for me. Three former provincials of the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regular, have had criminal charges filed against them for allegedly moving one of their friars from place to place, even thought they allegedly knew of sexual abuse allegations that had been brought against him. During my time serving in the Diocese of Orlando, I often had dinner with two of these friars and grew to know them and have an appreciation for their ministry to people in the diocese. This news came as such a shock to me, and to so many others in Orlando.

As a man of the Church, each time these stories come to light, there is that part of me, deeply scarred and forever-healing, that stings with pain. Every single person with whom I have spoken who has been abused in any way as a child says that they longed for protection against the abuser, but felt trapped when no protection could be or was afforded them. The thing that hurts the most with these stories is that there were people who were responsible for protecting children and in too many cases, the leaders chose to protect the abuser. I understand that fraternal love warrants an understanding and compassionate heart, but to this end?

I know that as we approached the altar of sacrifice, nourishment, and reconciliation at last night's mission, my heart was aching for all who have been abused in any way. It also ached for those who thought they were doing the right thing in caring for a friar, those who are now ordered to surrender to the authorities. And I even prayed once again that I could be open to not limiting God's love and mercy in my own container. My heart ached for those parishioners who sought God's boundless love and mercy as they approached to venerate the altar.

It's never easy being a Catholic, is it?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Touching a Sacred Heart

Tuesday greetings from a still-overcast Midwest.

Last night at the parish mission at Sacred Heart parish in Winnetka, Illinois, our focus was on reclaiming the power and potential of the sacrament of Baptism. I showed several of my "home movies" of baptisteries in Italy and Turkey. The one of the Arian Baptistery in Ravenna is one of my favorites because of the splendid ceiling mosaic.

Here is a photo of the entire ceiling, which depicts the baptism of the Lord by John. Surrounding the central image are the apostles.

Here is a close-up of the central image.

And here is a close-up of a few of the apostles.

I ask people to notice the feet of the apostles. Both feet are definitely not on the ground; the apostles are depicted dancing around in the circle, carrying crowns in their hands. I ask people why they are depicted this way. I know it is a bit of a stretch when I answer: "They are gazing down on the one being baptized below and they are dancing with pure joy as a new Christian is made just below them. And they hold those crowns, awaiting that day when that Christian will join them in the circle and receive the crown of glory." "The Apostles danced on the day you were baptized," I tell folks.

At the conclusion of my presentation, I asked the people to join me in the large sanctuary at Sacred Heart to surround the baptismal font. You can see it toward the back of the sanctuary, behind the altar, in this photo.

After a ritual of baptismal remembrance, I asked those gathered to reflect on the experience. One woman, a young mother, simply said, "I was grateful." And I said "Grateful?" And she said "Yes, I am grateful because in Baptism I have everything."

I was so grateful for this woman's words; they touched my heart deeply. Being a traveling "preacher," (such as I am), I really never know what ways the Lord speaks to peoples' hearts through my own words. But it was so obvious last night that what occurred at Sacred Heart touched her sacred heart.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Weekend of Prayer and Song

Hard to believe that we are just a week away from Holy Week. The Midwest is currently overcast, and they are hinting at a little snow on Saturday morning. But I did see crocuses in bloom over the weekend.

Speaking of the weekend, I gave a ten minute reflection at each of the five weekend Masses at Sacred Heart parish in Winnetka. When I present parish missions and am invited to offer a reflection and an invitation to the mission on the previous weekend, I always stay for the entirety of the Masses. I love to hear the way that congregations respond in prayer and song. Even though the music selections were the same for each of the five Masses, it was interesting to see them lead by a small women's choir at the 5:00 on Saturday, a cantor and piano at the 7:30 on Sunday, a cantor and trumpet and piano at the 9:00, a wonderful choir in the loft with a fabulous pipe organ at the 10:30, and then a delightful childrens choir, with trumpet and piano at the 4:30 Mass on Sunday afternoon. The choir sang a lovely rendition of There Is a Balm in Gilead at the 10:30. 

I am not too familiar with the cities and parishes directly north of Chicago. 

These are places where many of the wealthier people in the Chicago area live. With the time change on Sunday morning, that 7:30 Mass was sparsely attended, perhaps thirty people tops.

I really loved just praying and singing all weekend with the folks at Sacred Heart. I have been told that, for a variety of reasons, lots of people tend not to come to evening parish events, so I am not expecting crowds for the mission sessions tonight and tomorrow. A nice intimate group will be just fine with me. After praying in this beautiful space all weekend, I am in a mellow kind of spiritual mood. I am so looking forward to talking about baptism tonight and confirmation and Eucharist tomorrow night. 

I'll try to get some photos to share with you over the next few days.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lenten Mission: Sacred Heart Parish in Winnetka, Illinois

Friday greetings. Cool and sunny here in the Midwest.

I am getting ready for the Lenten mission I will be presenting at Sacred Heart Parish in Winnetka, Illinois. Exterior and interior of the church:

It begins with introductory comments at all five weekend Masses. The mission sessions will take place for two nights, Monday and Tuesday.

Our focus will be on the sacraments of initiation and how they relate to God's mercy in this time of jubilee, all in preparation for our renewal of baptism promises at Easter. I am looking forward to these next several days of service to the people of the parish.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

One in Faith Hymnal: Grateful to Serve

Wednesday greetings from a still Spring-like Chicago.

In the past few days, we received a large order for WLP's new hardbound hymnal, One in Faith. The pastor of the parish told our staff something like this: "Our traditional choir and our contemporary choir met together to review the various options for hardbound hymnals and they came to a collaborative decision for your One in Faith hymnal."

We strive here at WLP to embrace our mission "to serve and inspire the singing, praying, initiating church." When we hear from parishes, like the one that ordered our hymnals, our hearts are lifted with joy. Nearly six years ago, when WLP launched the massive project to publish a hardbound hymnal, we came to a decision pretty early in the process about what this hymnal should be. Our questions? "Should this be a hymnal with more traditional hymnody and chant as its core?" "Should this hymnal move in the direction of more contemporary music?" "What would serve parishes in the best possible way?"

We decided that a hymnal that would serve parishes in the best possible way needed to be one that embraced the diversity of musical styles and expressions found in most Catholic parishes today. Our choice of the title for the hymnal, One in Faith, reflected that decision. And the pastor of the parish that just ordered the hymnal reflected our intention with his words.

We have our ups and downs in Catholic publishing, for sure. This call from the pastor of that parish was certainly one of those "ups" for us here at WLP. It just feels good inside when our intentions end up fulfilling a real parish need.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hopeful Abstaining: Hold On

Tuesday greetings on a Spring-like day here in the Midwest.

I had quite a few comments to yesterday's post, both here on the blog and on the blog's Facebook page.

One comment, in particular, touched me.

"I am one of 'those Catholics.' I still call myself Catholic and tend to abstain on Lenten Fridays, even though my Mass attendance is sporadic, and it is not because of some idea that not eating meat on Friday will grant me salvation. If I was really worried about salvation, I'd be better about going to Mass. I think the abstaining, for me, is a somewhat painless tradition that keeps me connected by that thread to a faith I once had, sorely miss, and wish I could grasp again, but struggle with because of many reasons, none of which have to do with the words of the Mass. So, I guess it is hopeful abstaining. I liken it to people who may celebrate Thanksgiving even if their past family celebrations were fraught with discord or alienation or pain or loss. Sometimes you hold on to what you can even if, for now or forever, it is something small and not everything. Sometimes you do the best you can, even if to others it is seen as not enough."

First of all, "Anonymous," I will be praying for you. And my remaining Lenten abstinence from meat will be joined to your "hopeful abstaining."

This comment gave me pause, as I looked at my own Catholic life. I realize that there are different "degrees" of practice among Catholics. For many, there are threads on which they grasp, threads that are the remnants of what was once a lived faith. I firmly believe that these threads can be lifelines that keep people afloat in a society and world that defines lifelines as money, power, wealth, success, over-achievement. The list goes on. There is something inside all of us, no matter our "degree" of Catholicism, that beckons us to something beyond ourselves, our society, and our world. And I am convinced that that "something" is the person and presence of Jesus Christ, the source of all our hope.

Over the past several days, moving through some of my own personal struggles and difficulties, I have had a song in my heart, John Angotti's Hold On. If found this recording of the piece performed live at a concert on the East Coast. For "those Catholics," and for all who, like me, have our moments of struggle, take the time to listen.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Occasional Catholics, Lenten Rules, and the New Translation

Greetings on a glorious morning here in the Midwest, where it is currently sunny and in the low 50's. Heard lots of cardinals chirping this morning as I left the gym at 7:00.

I wanted to share the contents of a conversation I had last Friday. After finishing the week at work, I met a friend at a new local bar in my neighborhood and had some "small bites" and drinks to unwind after the week. It's one of those new "hip" places.

A couple in their late 30's sat next to us at the bar and I watched as they carefully ordered food that had no meat, and I commented about them being "good Catholics." They responded, "We don't go to church anymore, but we still observe the no-meat-on-Friday rule." I found out in the conversation that ensued that they were preparing for their wedding and I asked if they would be getting married in a Catholic church, to which they replied, "No, we are getting married at the Girl and the Goat," which is one of the finest restaurants in Chicago and in the United States.

We kept the "Catholic" part of the conversation going; they were quite easy going and the conversation just unfolded casually. She told me that, after having been raised Catholic and going to Catholic schools her entire life, that she had felt a certain "comfort" and "at-home-ness" in the Catholic church when she would occasionally visit for a funeral or wedding, and at Christmas and Easter. "That is, until a few years ago."

She shared that when an aunt died about three years ago, she attended the funeral and that "comfort" and "at-home-ness" was no longer felt. "They had changed the words of the Mass, words that I had grown up with and which I had become so used to. Why on earth would they change the words of the Mass? I just didn't feel at home anymore."

I sat there, marveling at the fact that this kind of conversation happened on a simple Friday afternoon, basically in the shadows of my own parish, Old Saint Patrick's.

Two things came to me. One was how there are folks, like these two, who self-identify as Roman Catholic, who very rarely attend Mass at all, but still keep the Catholic Lenten fast and abstinence rules. Are they holding on to a thread of Catholicism in the hopes, somehow, of attaining the promise of salvation?

The second thing that came to me was, frankly, something I had really never considered. And that was how the new translation of The Roman Missal could elicit a sense of alienation in the very occasional Catholic. Those of us who attend Mass regularly have fallen into the new responses and acclamations over the years since the new translation became mandatory. Our ears, for the most part, have become used to an English that is foreign to our ears everywhere else but at Mass. I find it ironic that someone who was looking for that "sameness" of Catholic ritual and language, a "sameness," at least in her view, that was a sign of the unchanging Catholic Church in which she had been reared and into which she had been formed, would now find a sense of alienation in the "changes." The most ironic thing here, of course, is that those changes were meant precisely to restore a more traditional and exact translation of the Latin. It brought back memories of a parish census I was asked to help out with when I was a seminarian in the early 1980's in suburban Boston. When visiting the homes of people who lived in the parish boundaries, we were given the instruction to ask about their Mass attendance. And, on more than a few occasions, I would hear something like this: "Oh, since they changed the Mass from Latin to English, I just stopped going; I loved the traditional Latin Mass." Was my experience on Friday night in that bar simply more of the same kind of sentiment?

I said a prayer for that couple on Friday night and thought of them when I attended Mass at Old Saint Patrick's yesterday. And I prayed that somehow, those still holding on to a thread of Catholicism might somehow find their way home. I also wondered how much parishes can do to assist those "occasional" Catholics.

What do you think about all of this?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, March 4, 2016

"I watched the debate."

Friday greetings.

Last evening, I decided to watch the Republican presidential candidates' debate broadcast on FOX News.

I do not get into political wrangling on this blog, but I found myself simply observing that what I was watching and hearing, from at least three of the four candidates, was an unworthy display. I say unworthy because we are talking about men who would potentially sit down with other world leaders to hammer out agreements; we are talking about men to whom the children of this country would look for encouragement and inspiration. I found myself just so disappointed.

My only Facebook post last night was this: "I watched the debate." I could think of nothing else to say, until now of course.

And that will be my last political commentary for the election season.

I hope your weekend is a worthy one and that this Lenten Sunday fills you with God's grace.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Back Home: The RCIA's Implementation

Thursday greetings from the snowy Midwest.

What a week it has been. I was at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress with another 40,000 Catholics (youth and adults) from last Wednesday through Sunday evening, then spent a few days relaxing in the California desert.

I must say that I was heartened and disappointed at the same time in my discussions with RCIA ministers. I gave two presentations: "The RCIA: Who Really Belongs" and "The Catechumenate as the Inspiration for All Catechesis: Why and How." Both presentations seemed to be well received. Several people, either on site, or in email conversations since the Congress, have reached out.

Here are a few samples:

"Thank you for your presentation "RCIA:  Who Really Belongs" at the Los Angeles Religious Ed Congress last weekend.  I want to thank you for your sensitivity to Christians from other traditions who seek reception into full communion with the Catholic Church.
I am one of those other Christians.  I was received and confirmed in the Catholic Church during the Easter vigil in 2013, yet the process of entering the Catholic Church was difficult for me and led to some wounds that are still painful.  Your talk provided a step in my healing process, as it affirmed that the subtle condescension toward Protestant Christianity that I encountered from many RCIA instructors and other Catholics who were sincerely trying to help me on my journey, is not the way things are supposed to be.  It is hard for me to express how much this affirmation means to me.

Thank you for affirming the respect for other Christian traditions that is built into the RCIA rite, though not always expressed in practice."

"Your books and workshops have been an inspiration to both me and my predecessor as we've worked for a number of years to re-form our entire Adult Faith Formation process... turning it from a "traditional" yearly academic exercise to a year-round welcoming journey that considers each individual's needs."

These are truly heartwarming comments for me. The first is certainly eye-opening, pointing to the fact that at least in one RCIA parish process, someone who was already baptized was treated without the dignity that baptism affords.

And the second example really does my heart good, as those of you who are regular readers of this blog know.

What was disappointing? The fact that there are still so many people doing a course in Catholic dogmas and precepts and calling it the RCIA. I try to be as gently challenging as I can. Many complain that they would like to move the process into a direction that is much more holistic, embracing the apprenticeship model. But many of these ministers say that it is their pastors that are telling them to "teach, teach, teach."

All in all, I was so glad to be able to be with those who are earnestly trying to figure all of this catechumenate "stuff" out. 

The image I use for the implementation of the catechumenate in the United States and Canada is this:

"When I was in the first grade, Sister James Cecilia gave us each a styrofoam cup, a bag of soil and one bean seed. She instructed us to plant the seed, water it every day, and check it every day. I remember dutifully watering the seed in the little cup. I will never forget my glee one morning as I went to water the seed before going to school. There was a tiny green shoot that had just broken the surface of the soil. That is the metaphor I use for the current implementation of the RCIA; we have just about broken the soil. Lots more watering (and fertilizing!) needs to happen."

Glad to be back home.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.