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.