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When D(iagnosis)-Day isn’t an End . . .

Rapid advancements in perinatal testing equip families with information about their newest members as they prepare to welcome them. This information can be so valuable for families to prepare their hearts and homes for children with special needs or to prepare emotionally for what might be a short time with their children. Imagine the range of emotions: joy, devastation, anticipation, fear, stress, and others that they may experience. Read more

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Mission Matters: December 13, 2016

This week’s “Parish Table Talk”: Ministers of Communion resource; GIVEN success; Interpreters’ needs during Mass; Transitions; plus this Thursday’s blog post. Read more

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Welcoming Those Who Grieve

When we think of “welcome” as a mission priority, what comes to mind? A user-friendly website? Parking attendants? A family-friendly Sunday experience?

Yes, yes, and YES! Read more

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Our Young Adults: Single By Default

Two weeks ago, my colleague, Craig, wrote an excellent piece on bridging the gaps the Church is facing with the young adult population. It reminded me of an article on being single by default from America Magazine.  I found the author’s experience and reflections very helpful for ministering to young adults (YAs) discerning marriage and the consecrated life.

What is your opinion?

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Let’s Make Marriage Preparation Relevant

Too often, as lay ecclesial ministers, priests, and deacons, we complain that engaged couples require a great deal of time and energy from the parish but, in the end, many couples simply use the Church for their wedding after which they are never to be seen at the parish again.  Conversely, engaged couples complain about all the “hoops” that they are required to jump through in order to get married in the Church.

Both perspectives hold some truth. Read more

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Why – and How – We All Need to Read ‘Amoris Laetitia’

There has been a lot of buzz about Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love” which came out last Friday. There’s a good reason for that. And it’s not the one you’ve seen in the headlines.

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Religious Educators: Who’s On The Team?

Ten minutes. That’s today’s petition.

If you are involved in any way with the task of catechesis (formerly known as CCD) in your parish’s religious education programs, take ten minutes to read and reflect on the two articles linked in this blog post. (Hint: if you are a catechist, DRE, youth minister, pastoral associate or pastor: that definitely means you. If you are on parish council, are a parent, know a family at your parish, or if you have been baptized: that means you too!) Read more

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Lent and Marriage: A Match Made at the Synod

Pope Francis and the bishops at the Synod on the Family called for marriage preparation to take on a catechumenal form. What an exciting proposition! When preparing couples for marriage, I invite them to model their immediate marriage preparation after Lent and Advent. Read more

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How to (and How Not to) Welcome Families: Our Trip to Philly to See the Pope

My family was lucky enough to attend the Saturday “Festival of Families” in Philadelphia during the Pope’s visit to the US. There were some incredible moments. Read more

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Praying for Families in Philadelphia

Picture this. It is the morning hour of 6:00 o’clock. God’s children were nestled all snug in their beds, or preparing for a morning jog through the streets of Philadelphia, or having prayer time… whatever you would normally be doing at a hotel when you are attending the World Meeting of Families. Anyway, a voice comes from above (which was amazing for those of us having prayer time). The voice says “there is a reported emergency in our building” and advising us not to use the stairs or elevators. This leaves very few options for escape.

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Families in the Image of God: How is our Praise?

There’s no vocation crisis from the looks of the company I kept today – a twenty minute procession of priests, religious habits in all types of designs (amazing how many different shapes black and white can take!), and thousands of lay ministers of all variety imaginable. I guess that means my sample size is vibrantly Catholic and I’ve made it to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia!

A blessing of Church ministry is that our job is at the same time a ministry to others and a ministry to ourselves. This afternoon as I sat at the opening keynote address listening to and reflecting on Bishop Robert Barron’s challenging words, I found myself in a personal examine and a ministerial brainstorm. (Isn’t the Holy Spirit’s efficiency great?!)

How is my Praise?

The opening keynote by Bishop Barron walked us through an examination of what it means to be in the image of God. Resisting the desire to just transcribe all his profound and engaging presentation, allow me to dwell on one theme of his talk. The easiest way to answer the question “who are you?” he said, is by answering the follow up question “what do you worship?” When we worship false gods – of whatever variety – the result is emptiness and brokenness. I don’t have to think too hard to call to mind personal examples of that one playing out. As soon as I de-throne God as Lord of every aspect of my life, disaster awaits. Only when our hearts are ordered aright, with God as God and me as His beloved creature, is fulfillment possible.

Bishop Barron emphasized that right praise is foundational to our identity and vocation. “Our deepest task is to lead all of creation in a chorus of praise.” False worship rends the heart, while adoration aligns us to God. What is the core of our mission of evangelization? Simple answer from today’s keynote: teach people how to praise.

That means that we are praising God.

That means that we are praising God constantly, and in all areas of our life.

That means that we are praising God well, as God has revealed is proper to Him.

I invite you to join me in the reflection of what that means in our own lives, and what that means in our ministry of evangelization. How authentic is my praise – do I pray as I want, or as God wants and ought to be praised? Is my prayer me-centered, or Him-centered? How does obedience factor in – begrudged and done in resignation, or do I recognize God’s laws and God’s representatives as a privileged opportunity to show Him my praise? In the ministry entrusted to us, how are we teaching others to praise? Are our families praising God, and praising Him aright? In liturgical prayer, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is our focus the worship of God?

Challenging thoughts as day one comes to close. And for that, praise God!