Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2-16-14 Prayer & Sacramental Participation

Mark E. Ginter, Ph.D was the instructor.

This workshop will cover the following topics:
   Personal & Public prayer with Scripture
   Personal meditation on the mystery of God
   Liturgy of the Hours
   Participation in the Sacraments
   Marian devotion
   Planning communal prayer

Clerics have a special obligation to seek holiness in their lives "because they are consecrated to God by a new title in the reception of orders as dispensers of God's Mysteries in the service of His people"

The first thing we do is take a "spiritual inventory" in anticipation of the permanent diaconate.  (We grade ourselves on each of these statements from 1 (don't do at all) to 5 (do completely).

1)   I meditate (reflect) on my life with a sense of discovering God's will.
2)   I can convey examples of God's presence in my life.
3)   I am a lector or an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in my parish.
4)   I serve my parish community by participating in outreach to the needy.
5)   I am a natural leader, and, when appropriate, a good follower.
6)   I am committed to a pattern of personal prayer and reading of the Bible.
7)   I participate frequently in the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
8)   I participate in retreat experiences or a renewal group.
9)   I support others' growth in prayer.
10) I am interested in sharing and serving with others.

11) I use my knowledge to encourage others to reflect and share their experiences in dialogue and action.
12) I reflect theologically on my faith experience through regular spiritual direction.
13) I pray the Scriptures, meditating on the mystery of God as our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
14) I appreciate baptismal ministry among others, enabling others to reflect upon their faith journey in relationship to this call.
15) I pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily, especially morning and evening prayer.
16) I have a pattern of personal devotion to Mary and to the saints.
17) I plan and lead communal prayer.
18) My wife and I talk about my formation, and we agree that I continue towards ordination.

19) I participate in the Eucharist daily.
20) I receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation monthly.
21) I have adopted practices of personal penance and mortification.
22) I can identify, affirm, and critique the various Christian spiritualities operative in myself and in others.
23) I integrate a wide spectrum of human and moral issues into my consciousness and prayer.
24) My wife and I live marital chastity in conformity to the magisterial teaching on sexuality.
25) I value celibacy as a gift to the Church, and I am willing to accept it if so called.

When we're done with the evaluation, we wonder what we're doing here.   None of us "passed".
It gets a little better when we realize there are 3 stages to the test.  Questions 1-10 are where Aspirants should be. 
Questions 11-18 are where Deacon candidates should be. 
Questions 19-25 are where Ordinands should be. 
We are beginning Aspirants, so we are 1-10. 
The concensus is still that none of us passed, but we reckon it's a good thing to know what we are aspiring to.

Mark begins with a question:

"What good is all my intellectual knowledge if it does not lead others to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?"

How do we, as Catholics, read the Scriptures? 
What is the Bible?  It is a book of books.
But the word "Bible" is almost never used in the Catechism.  The word we use is "Scripture"
The Divinely inspired Word of God.

He urges us to read the letter "Divino Afflante Spiritu" of his Holiness Pope Pius XII at the beginning of the bible to get a sense of how the Church views the Bible:

"Inspired by the Divine Spirit, the Sacred Writers composed those books, which God, in His paternal charity towards the human race, deigned to bestow on them in order "to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice: that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work."  This heaven-sent treasure Holy Church considers as the most precious source of doctrine on faith and morals.  No wonder therefore that, as she received it intact from the hands of the Apostles, so she kept it with all care, defended it from every false and perverse interpretation and used it diligently as an instrument for securing the eternal salvation of souls, as almost countless documents in every age strikingly bear witness." ...

And it continues for 5 pages, touching on:

Biblical Studies at the Present Day
Recourse to Original Texts
Importance of Textual Criticism
Meaning of Tridentine Decree
Interpretation of Sacred Books
Right Use of Spiritual Sense
Character of Sacred Writer
Importance of Mode of Writing
Treating Difficult Questions
Definite Solutions Sought
Use of Scripture in Instruction of Faithful
Value of Divine Word

After a short break, he moves us to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Catechism is broken up into four parts: 
1) Believe
2) Celebrate
3) Live
4) Pray

This was also the basis for the Catechism that was produced from the Council of Trent, in 1545. 
It is called the Four Pillars of Catechesis:

1) Believe ........ Creed
2) Celebrate ..... Sacraments
3) Live ............. Commandments
4) Pray ............. Our Father

It is taken from Acts 2, Verse 42:  "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers."

If we were in a court of law, would we be convicted of being a Christian?

It's pretty simple:  four things.

The Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Sacraments

The Sacraments of Initiation

The Sacraments of Healing
Anointing of the Sick

The Sacraments at the Service of Communion
Holy Orders

Through the Sacraments, God shares his holiness with us so that we, in turn, can make the world holier.

The Commandments

1) I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.
2) You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
3) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
4) Honor your father and your mother
5) You shall not kill
6) You shall not commit adultery
7) You shall not steal
8) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
9) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s
10) You shall not covet... anything that is your neighbor’s.... You shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s

The Beatitudes
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward is great in heaven.
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

These four Pillars of Catechesis hold up the Church, which has 4 marks:
One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic.

So what is our Mission, our Goal, our Objectives and our Strategies?

The Mission - the Purpose of Life - is BEATITUDE:  Happiness with God.
The perfect happiness resulting from the direct vision of God.

The Goal - to seek, to know, to love, to serve,  God

Objectives - to evangelize, to baptize (initiate), to catechize (to grow the church)

Strategies - What we believe, what we celebrate, how we live, how we pray.

The Liturgy of the Hours is a Sacrifice and a Liturgy... but it is not a EUCHARISTIC sacrifice.

Silence... is the key to reading the Liturgy of the Hours well.
Reading must become a habit... a discipline.

Why don't we do it?  2 hypothesis:

1)  Satan will distract us with our most difficult problems or with a slew of great ideas. 
2)  We must attain self mastery over our own fallen nature.  To attain self mastery requires discipline.  This is why we fast:  to give up something for something better.

"Great is the Mystery of Faith!"

How is it professed?  In the Apostle's Creed
How is it celebrated?  In the Sacramental Liturgy.
How is it lived?  In conformity to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the Glory of God the Father.
How is it prayed?  In a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God.

What is the foundation of prayer?    Humility (it is very hard to pray if you think you are the center of the universe)

With the Holy Spirit... what is an image that works?     Wind... Fire ... Dove?

"At the foot of the Master..."

The Holy Spirit is the Master of the interior life.  Put yourself at the foot of the Master.

The Bishop's charge at Ordination of Deacons:

"Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become.  Believe what you read, teach what you believe, practice what you teach."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

1-11-14 Theological Reflection

Fr. Brendan Moss from St. Meinrad was the instructor.

Theological Reflection:  Where Faith and Life intersect.
Theological Reflection is not complicated:  Read; Reflect; Rest; Reverence.  

But you must do it with regularity!  You have to do it more than once a month!  We can't wait for God and Faith to come to us.  We must go out and get it.

Informal Theological Reflection is Theology from below:  "Where is God in this?" 
We are not seeking God in Heaven, we are seeking God incarnate

Formal Theological Reflection is Seeking God in Service to the Church.  Ministry is more than service: it should be an encounter with God. 

"Theological reflection is believing that our everyday living is an important agenda for our faith and that our faith has a voice in our everyday life.  It's an activity of integration.   It's an activity of reciprocity.  In our ancient tradition this would have been called searching for wisdom..."  (Joyce Gros)

Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching tells us that we have inherent dignity.  This dignity falls with Adam, and is restored with Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

1) We look at an experience
2) We look at Scripture and Tradition
3) We look at Culture

Theological reflection requires reflection ... which limits the knee-jerk reaction.  It allows us to connect faith and real life, and it helps us be more intentional in our lives and decisions.

There is nothing where God is not.

Theological reflection works on:
     Experience - it's all about everyday life.
     Feelings - what makes the feelings?  ask "Why?"
     Images - prodigal son and his Dad
     Insight - what do you want FOR me?
     Action - the next move.  The "So What?" ... the "Do What?"

We are called to be theological diagnosticians.  Spirits can not be 'fixed', they can be journeyed with.

The Pastoral skill of listening. 
What does it mean to "listen with the ear of one's heart"?

Listening required mutuality.  Listen for the wisdom in front of you.  Listen for the reality of the relationship.

Theological Reflection:  Looking for God in our lives.

Monday, December 16, 2013

12-14-13 The New Evangelization, Ecumenism, and Introduction to Catechism

Deacon Arden Wolterman from Lexington, KY was the instructor. 

We start with a discussion of the most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church, and how it is inspired by the historical tradition of Catholic catechisms, which build catechesis on four pillars:

- the baptismal profession of faith (the Creed)
- the sacraments of faith
- the life of faith (Commandments)
- the prayer of the believer (the Lord's Prayer)

A brief history of catechisms of the Catholic church:

Early Middle Ages (300-400)

Gregory of Nyssa's Catechetical Instruction (before 385)
Augustine's Enchiridion (about 421)

These were not intended to be comprehensive or historical presentations of Christian Doctrine.  They were intended to be used for the catechist... "to impart such instruction it will not suffice to place a small manual in one's hand; rather it will be necessary to enkindle a great zeal in one's heart."  - Augustine.

Latter Middle Ages (1000-1500)

Catechism for Clergy & Scholars  (intended for the clergy)
Catechism for Children & the Uneducated

The Catechism for Children began the question & answer format, and had simplistic answers suitable for memorization.  This catechism lost some of the depth of the Christian Mystery in its simplistic format.

The Reformation
There were three significant catechisms written around the time of the reformation.  They all shared two characteristics:  there was a large version and a small version.

The small catechism used a question & answer format with short, memorizable answers summarizing Christian belief.
The large catechisms did not use a Q&A format; they are theological in nature, and were intended for clergy, scholars and designers of catechetical materials.

- Martin Luther
- Peter Canisius, S.J.
- Roman Catechism (Council of Trent)

Martin Luther led the first of the protestant schisms of the Reformation, and his catechisms were instrumental in spreading his beliefs.

Peter Canisius was a Jesuit.  His catechisms had two main sections headed "Wisdom" and "Justice".  Wisdom is what we believe.  Justice is how we live.

The Roman Catechism was produced by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent, and was in response to the split caused by Luther and the reformers.   The council convened over 18 years from 1545 to 1563.  The large catechism was issued in 1566.  There was no small Q&A version of this catechism produced.

300 years later, 1870, the Council of Vatican I voted to approve a universal "small" catechism to be published, but the council ended without a plan for implementing this new catechism.

In 1884 the US Bishops approved a national catechism, and the first "Baltimore Catechism" was published in 1885.

Vatican II
The Council of Vatican II started in 1962 under the pontificate of John XXIII and closed in 1965 under the pontificate of Paul VI.  It was the largest gathering of any Council in Church history.

An interesting note:  of those who took part in the council's opening session, four have become popes:  Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini (Paul VI), Bishop Albino Luciani (John Paul I), Bishop Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), and Father Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI).

"A catechism should faithfully and systematically present the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition in the Church and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers, Doctors, and saints of the Church, to allow for a better knowledge of the Christian mystery and for enlivening the faith of the People of God."

In 1971, six years after the end of the Vatican II council, the "General Catechetical Directory" was published. 
A Directory serves as a guide for addressing issues and seeks unity in the diversity of a pluralistic church.  In 1979 the U.S. National Directory was published in the United States. 
It is called "Sharing the light of Faith:  The National Catechetical Directory."

In 1992, 30 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council , the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published. 

In 1997, 35 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the official version of Catechism of the Catholic Church was approved and promulgated.

It was the first new Catechism from the Catholic church in 431 years.

Pope John Paul II spoke of the Catechism: 
... "while the catechism is a compendium of the doctrine of the church, catechesis ... (is what) transmits this doctrine - with methods adapted to the age - so that Christian truth may become, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the life of the believers."

The Four Parts of the Catechism
The Profession of Faith
The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
Life in Christ
Christian Prayer

Each Part has two Sections

Monday, November 11, 2013

11-9-13 Research & Writing in Formation

Theological writing is much like other technical writing, except for the subject matter.

"Join the 'Great Conversation' in which ideas throughout the world and time are invented, discussed or refuted."  -Fairfield University

Step 1:  Pre-writing.

From what  perspective or ecclesial role am I writing?
What am I writing about?
For whom am I writing?
What is the genre of writing?
What is the organization pattern?
What is the theological language I should use?
What is the theological voice?

There are tactics and techniques that can be used to help prepare.

Free Writing:  Choose a topic; Set a time limit; Start writing and don't stop until time is up; Write whatever comes to mind.

Cubing:  A cube has 6 sides.  Describe it; Compare it; Associate it; Analyze it; Apply it; Argue it.

Visualizing:  Used to organize ideas into groups.

Step 2:  Write.

Write so others want to read it.  Clear; Concise; Coherent; Considerate; Correct.

Research Plan
1.  Begin with questions
2.  Check out the community of scholars.  What have others already said about the subject?
3.  Read and Take Notes
4.  Write an outline.

A theological research project is always an attempt to answer a question.

What is the claim?
What reasons support the claim?
What evidence supports the reasons?
Are there alternatives or objections to the claim?

Assemble reasons to support the claim:

CLAIM... (because of) ... REASON ... (based on) ... EVIDENCE

There are three ways to reason: 

Ethos ... Ethical
Pathos ... Emotional
Logos ... Logical

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

10-12-13 Spiritual Direction

We are always in the process of becoming the person God created.
We are human, seeking to become filled with God.

There is a direction to Spiritual Direction.  It is THEOSIS:  Incorporation of the person into Divine Life without losing the person.

"Theosis" is an Eastern way of thinking
"Eternal Life" is a Western way of thinking

Both point to the same result

Spiritual Direction is to ascertain and discover our promise.  It is a process that occurs on an ongoing and regular basis.  Here are some reasons:

To learn to be attentive to God's Grace
To deepen awareness of God's Grace
To explore what obstructs our attention to God's Grace
To name and honor near occasions of God's Grace
To find the Grace offered in loss, grief, anger and fear
To be conscious of God's Grace in moments of transition
To make important decisions in light of God's Grace

The EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE is a daily discipline associated with the development of Spirit.  Its purpose is to look over each day from the perspective of our proximate direction.

As Aspirants to the Diaconate, our "proximate direction" is: ORDINATION.
Our long term direction is:  THEOSIS.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

10-12-13 The Spiritual Life

Principles of the Spiritual Life
Fr. Bede Cisco

1)  God Acts First.  God Takes the Initiative.

The Spiritual Life starts with God's initiation in us.  He started long before we were even aware of it.  But when WE finally decide to pursue "the Spiritual Life", it starts with Awareness:  paying attention to God working in our lives.

A corollary to the first principle is:  Watch and Wait for God. 
Since God Initiates... our response is what's important.

Waiting for the sun to rise is like waiting for God.  He is there - always - and there is nothing we can do to speed it up.  And the sun ALWAYS rises, so all we have to do is wait.
And if we really know what's going on, it is not that we are waiting for God to arrive, because He is always there:  stationary and pervasive.  It is US that are moving slowly toward Him.

2)  I am God's creature, and He made me Good.

It is easy to struggle with the allure of sin.  But remember how God made us, and our part is to develop the Goodness.

There was a very interesting ancillary discussion here:  be very careful about humility. 
We are not being humble if we view ourselves as less that what God made us.  Humility is NOT putting ourselves down... it is recognizing our true and correct relationship with God. 

3)  I am a Mystery to Myself.

Growth is a continuous process of becoming aware of our own selves.

How do we do grow spiritually? 
SILENCE:  The importance of silence is in the listening.
SOLITUDE:  Being alone with yourself.
PRAYER:  Prayer is at the heart of spiritual direction.

"When you pray, let the distractions go.  If you can't let them go, let them become your prayer"

"Pray 1/2 hour each day, unless you're busy.  Then pray for an hour".     -St. Francis DeSales

Sunday, September 15, 2013

9/15/13 - Liturgy of the Hours

The first day of the Diaconate training focused on "The Liturgy of the Hours". 

Here is what it looks like:

It is four volumes, comprised of 8140 pages of what St. Benedict called:  "The Work of God".

It is the Prayer of the Whole Church, and it's purpose is to sanctify the day.

Everything in the Church has an Instruction with it.  In Book 1 of the "Liturgy of the Hours", there is a "General Instruction" section, which starts on page 21.  It ends on page 98.  A brief overview which presents "The Mind of the Church".

When a man is ordained, he assumes a commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours faithfully.