David Ancell's Virtual Home

If You Struggle With Your Lenten Penance . . .

  /   Wednesday, March 30, 2022   /   Comments(0)

We’ve passed Laetere Sunday with the priest wearing rose (not pink!) vestments, so maybe we are on a sort of home stretch. You might find that you are doing well at your chosen penance this time around. However, maybe you’ve slipped, maybe more than once, maybe way more than once . . .

The good news is that, unless the thing that you gave up was sinful in and of itself, it’s not a sin if you don’t follow your voluntary penance. Now, a complete refusal to do penance is a serious sin and another issue altogether, but simply indulging in a good or neutral thing that you gave up is not a reason to go to Confession. You took this penance on voluntarily, and you can modify it or even set it aside. In some cases, it could be the right thing to do. But for most of us, not so fast . . .

The fact that you are struggling with your penance may be a sign that you are trying to detach from something which you really need to detach from. Maybe you just need to be strengthened more against self-indulgence (I’m no one to judge you, trust me!). Either way, don’t be surprised that it’s a struggle for you. Please, don’t be discouraged! The struggle is worthwhile even if you aren’t following through perfectly. The important thing is to do what any good Christian must do many times in life – get up and try again! You are fighting the good fight.

So, you find out that you aren’t as strong as you thought you were. This is a great opportunity to grow in the virtue of humility. It’s also a time to remember that we must depend on God. Every day, even every hour if we must, is another opportunity to begin again. Trust in God’s love for you and try again!

Category: Catholic, Spirituality


Don’t Be Discouraged

  /   Sunday, January 30, 2022   /   Comments(0)

Years ago, when I was still in my 20s, I remember going to Confession after what was, well, not a good week. There was an older priest whom I really liked to go to, and fortunately, he was there in the confessional. As I was leaving the confessional, I remember the last thing he said before I left was “don’t be discouraged.”

This sounds simple enough. I’m sure I wondered why he said that rather than something to the effect of “you need to get your act together.” The words came back to my mind when, probably a decade or more later, God lead me to unpack this more.

Have you ever thought that you had overcome some problem or sin (or at least hoped you had) only to commit some sin that demonstrated that the problem still existed? In that moment, you may see that you are still as you were, or at least you see that you still have some work to do. It’s very easy to get down on yourself. Don’t! This can be a manifestation of pride or even a trick of the Devil.

To be sure, we need to be sorry for our sins and resolve to do better next time. It is never okay to willfully choose to remain in sin, especially mortal sin. However, if we give in to discouraging thoughts that God must be really angry and that we can never be better, it will only drive us further into the sin.

If God allows us to fall into the sin and reveal to us where we are, it is to our benefit. We can thank God that we see this now and can repent and really make that change. We can humble ourselves in the realization that we are weak and can do nothing without Christ, but we need to also have confidence that Our Lord will give us his grace. We can recognize the love and mercy of God in this moment. We can, from this fall, strengthen our resolve not to commit this sin again. It also helps to become a more merciful and loving person if we use this to be come more understanding of the weaknesses of others.

As much as I’d like to say I’ve perfected this art now, well . . . Please realize the preceding paragraphs often apply to me very well. In fact, writing these things is a helpful tool for me to get these better embedded in my heart as well as to help others benefit.

One more note, I’d recommend How to Profit From Your Faults by Joseph Tissot if you want further reading on this.

Category: Spirituality


God’s Love and Our Weakness

  /   Sunday, January 23, 2022   /   Comments(0)

I remember hearing “God wants your weakness, too” at a retreat that I went on almost five years ago. I didn’t know what to make of this. In fact, I’m still not sure I really know what to make of it. However, through reading and retreats that I’ve been on in the years since then, I can see God leading me on a certain spiritual path. I think it really started with the beginning of my devotion to St Therese of Lisieux some years ago (and certainly also her intercession), but I didn’t realize it for a long time.

I’ve long been bothered by seeing God’s love and mercy being used as an excuse for sin or even as an excuse not to take God seriously at all. Sin is really an obstacle between us and God that needs to be rooted out of our lives. I never could stand it when I’d hear someone say that there was no problem with someone remaining in serious sin because God is so loving and forgiving. If you really believe this about God, how can you stand to see one who loves so much so offended?

With that said, I’m learning more about how our faults and failure should not keep us from coming to Our Lord.  Obviously, if it’s a mortal sin we are talking about, then Confession is how we must come to him – as soon as possible!  The best way I’ve heard it said is that holiness isn’t so much about strength but about clinging to Christ in our weakness.  After all, God’s love and mercy are real, and how great they are!  He loves each of us right now.  He’s not waiting until we are holier to begin to love us.

No matter how much we want to serve God, we fail. Many of us have some rather serious failings in our past. Jesus was not kidding when he said “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We cannot do anything good without God, and we must trust in God for our salvation. 

What is one very important way to trust in God rather than ourselves?  Dom Lorenzo Scupoli explained it well in Spiritual Combat.  How do we react when we have sinned?  Does it surprise us?  Do we lose our peace?  If we are trusting in God, we are neither surprised nor anxious and certainly not despairing.  Instead, we peacefully place our hope in the love and mercy of God.

To be honest, I haven’t fully unpacked this in my mind even though God has been trying to teach me this for years.   Probably my favorite book on this spiritual path is Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr Michael Gaitley, MIC.  If you want to hear a retreat based on the topic, I’d recommend Fr Bryce Sibley.  I went to this retreat a few years ago, and this is a good one also (but this one is probably better suited for men).  Another book I’d recommend is How to Profit from Your Faults by Joseph Tissot.  All of these have helped bring me to a better understanding of the love and mercy of God.

 

 

Category: Catholic, Spirituality


Well, The World Did Sort Of Stop

  /   Saturday, April 11, 2020   /   Comment(1)

A couple of years ago, I posted an article that I named Why Doesn’t the World Stop on this blog. I was talking about the world-changing events that we celebrate during the Easter Triduum.  It’s Holy Saturday as I write this after not having posted for a long time.  With the COVID 19 threat looming over us, I guess the world did sort of stop (except, of course, for essential businesses).  It is definitely not business as usual.  The problem is that even our churches our closed, but I plan to write more on that later.

I’m not one to claim that COVID 19 is a punishment from God.  I do not have knowledge of such things, nor will I claim to have.  However, I do think that God wants us to use this time to stop our normal busyness and hyperactivity to take the time to be able to reflect.  It may be that permanent changes in our lives for the better are going to result from this.  I, for one, am grateful to not have to waste 2 – 3 hours or more of my life commuting every day.

If you haven’t done much reflecting, this Holy Saturday is a perfect time to do so.  Even if we weren’t under the coronavirus threat, there wouldn’t be a Mass to go to right at this moment (at least not until the Easter Vigil).  The Eucharist can only be given as viaticum, and no other Sacraments may be celebrated except Penance and Anointing of the Sick (Yes, Confessions may be heard during the Triduum.).  On Holy Saturday, we remember when Jesus was in the tomb.  Fasting, though not required, is recommended.  Certainly the early Easter celebrations and the attending of venues of entertainment are out of character for this day.

This year, needless to say, is different in that the faithful will not be able to participate in a public celebration of Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday Mass.  In a sense, we will be waiting at the tomb and doing our own kind of penance.  However, with this comes some opportunities that we might not otherwise have.  I remember hearing on one podcast that we all said we needed more family time, and now that we have it, we have decided our old schedule was just fine.

For those of you who have families, this is a great time to strengthen your relationships.  For all of us, it should be a time to spend alone with God.  We can reach out to each other through all of the technology we have.  The fact is that it’s here for a reason even though our current crisis will definitely highlight how it is not enough.  At this point, it’s what we have.  Instead of longing to go back to the way things were before, we can take this time to think of how we want our lives to change and grow closer to God.  This isn’t going to be easy, and who knows when it will end.  Let’s pray for each other and for an end to this crisis, and let’s trust that God will bring good out of all of this.

Category: Catholic, Spirituality


They Knew Him Not

  /   Saturday, December 31, 2016   /   Comments(0)

We are nearing the end of the Octave of Christmas, and on January 1st we will celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Church gives us the reading of the first chapter of the Gospel of John for the day. What struck me was something that I see as a reflection of the saddest aspect of human society. The Gospel mentions that the world was made through the Word who is Jesus Christ, but despite this, the world did not know him. He even came among his own people, but they did not receive him.

If anyone is considering what is the greatest problem facing our society today, I think the root of it is simple. Today, we live in a secular society. That is nothing really new. As far as I know, as long as the Church has existed, there have been both the temporal rulers of society, and the bishops in the Church. The problem today is actually called secularism. It’s the running of our society and the going about of our lives as though God did not exist or, if he does, as though he doesn’t really have any effect on our lives.

Some people treat the very thought of God with contempt. You can see this is the angry atheists of our day who have bought into the absurd notion that this entire universe came about by itself. It’s also visible among the media people who mock Christians. Others just don’t give God the time of day. They just go about their business every day without it ever having seemed to occur to them that there is a greater purpose beyond what they are doing every day. Concerns about what would be the will of God or whether a certain act is sinful give way to a supposed “real life.” Some such people have really never thought about the matter. Others assume that we really can’t know the truth, but somehow they insist that they know we cannot know the truth. They never bother to try and find out. Still others are actually people who say they believe, and even go to church, but their belief is superficial at best because it hardly weighs in on the decisions they make on a daily basis.

It has always seemed strange to me how someone can really say that they believe in God, but not be ready to base every aspect of their lives on what he has to say to us. This ain’t small potatoes! I also cannot fathom how anyone can just ignore the question of God entirely as it were of little matter. Don’t they need to find out the truth? The fact is that we are all going to die one day, and we will leave behind whatever we had on this earth. One may wish to spend life doing good for others, and indeed we should. However, everyone whom we have helped will die one day no matter how much good we have done for them. Then, how will we have helped them? The good we do must have behind it a greater purpose.

In society today, we as Christians, and especially Catholics (as we have the fullness of truth), have a mission. We must evangelize. The atheist, of course, needs to be evangelized, but he may actually be better off than the sleepers who don’t seem to think it matters. The atheists, at least, are actively arguing and perhaps could be convinced. However, many times the problem that causes unbelief is a moral problem. There is some sinful behavior that they aren’t willing to give up that is at the root of their unbelief, whether they understand it or not. Still, if it becomes know to us, helping them to see another way to live may be what is needed.

The people whom I really think will be harder to believe are what we may call the “sleepers.” They are the people who go through life without much thought of God, as though the question were a topic of interest to some like science fiction. Unlike the atheists, they have to be convinced that they need an answer in the first place. Such people may see very little wrong with their lives. Yet, God wants to call these people to himself as well. We must pray that they come to know him before it is too late.

I’ve never liked the saying that we should “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Contrary to popular belief, St. Francis of Assisi did not say it. The saying can easily become an excuse not to preach the Gospel and not to use words when needed. However, we who follow Christ really do need to examine our lives. In a secularized society, we can easily fall into the trap of living at least some aspect of our lives as though God didn’t exist. Does Christ rule over everything . . . how we act, how we dress, how we run our businesses, how we raise and educate our kids, how we choose entertainment? We’ll never convince the world if we appear to be unconvinced. This doesn’t mean we wait until we are perfect to preach the Gospel or that we should appear perfect. This might actually discourage people who live troubled lives. Rather, we need to give God everything, and this also means that we need to learn to tell people about Christ, his Church, and his love for us.

Our societal problems won’t ultimately be solved by government leaders, though we do need good ones in office. They won’t be solved by some new product developed by a corporation, though they can be of assistance to us. They won’t be solved by education, though we need to be educated. They won’t even be solved by social justice and welfare programs, though we are obligated as Christians to help those in need. We must get to the root of everything, and to do so, we need to put everything under the reign of the King whose birth we celebrated almost a week ago.

Category: Catholic, Response, Spirituality


Preparing for Eternity

  /   Saturday, December 17, 2016   /   Comments(0)

In life, we know there are things for which we must prepare. If we are in school, we prepare for exams. If we want a good grade, we don’t write a term paper at the last minute. In the business world, we prepare for an important meeting, appointment, or presentation. Even a theatrical performance or a baseball or football game requires practice in order to prepare for the performance or game.

We in the Catholic Church don’t just carry out business as usual and then one day say “Oh, hey, it’s Christmas today” or “Oh, I guess today is Easter.” We have this season of Advent now to prepare us to celebrate the coming of Our Lord at Christmas. In a fairly short time, we will have the season of Lent to get us ready to celebrate Our Lord’s resurrection at Easter, or, really, the entire Paschal mystery in the Easter Triduum. Both seasons have a penitential aspect, with an emphasis on repentance of sins. We want to be holy in order to fully celebrate the great feast days. We don’t let these great and holy days sneak up on us.

When the day is over, we don’t just go right back to business as usual either. We celebrate the Octave of a Christmas and the Octave of Easter, and then we have a season in the Church afterward. In fact, the season of Easter is longer than Lent. We know that these days are not ordinary days in our lives. They are the celebration of the central events of our eternal salvation. The secular world, trapped in endless restlessness because its heart is not resting in God for whom we were made, just moves on.

Really, though, with the stores having Christmas stuff available just after Halloween, or even before, you’d have to live under a very heavy rock for Christmas to be able to sneak up on you. There will be plenty in the secular world – Christmas music, parties, gifts to buy. None of it is bad in and of itself. We just need to be careful not to be distracted from living the season of Advent for what it is.

Perhaps this Advent we can take a look at how we prepare for the daily things in life so that we live them out on purpose, and we live them for the purpose of serving God. If we don’t do some kind of preparation, we open ourselves to the possibility of just drifting along and/or being knocked in every direction like a pinball. How do we prepare ourselves for the day ahead of us?

Do we wake up promptly for our duties of the day? I can’t recommend the heroic minute enough. Do we pray in the morning and offer our day to God? Some people may do their daily prayer in the morning. For me, it’s the only time possible. Others may make a morning offering and save their main time with God for later.

There are a lot of moments while getting ready in the morning that you can stop to say a quick prayer. Take a look at Fr. Thomas Dailey’s excellent book Live Today Well for suggestions. This book has a lot of good rules to use for keeping the presence of God all day.

A particular area to look at is how we prepare ourselves for Sunday Mass. Is it the center of our Sunday, or is it just one more event on our agenda? Sunday Mass is the most important thing we do all week and needs to be treated that way. Do we pray about what we are to participate in? Do we make an effort to dress properly for it and arrive promptly (really, a few minutes early)? Do we keep reverential silence in the church before Mass starts? It is hard to keep little ones quiet, but I am really referring to not having unnecessary conversations in the church so that people can pray.

What are we doing in the morning before we head to Mass? God commanded a Sabbath rest on Sunday. We need not pray the whole time before or even a large part of it as we need to have breakfast, get dressed, and get to the church. Sometimes the kids don’t cooperate with keeping an atmosphere of preparation for Mass (or even getting there when we’d like). However, if we are conducting our usual business first and then rushing off to Mass, almost as though it’s an afterthought, something is really wrong. Also, what are we doing with the rest of Sunday? Remember the Sabbath rest, and beware of activities that interfere with the nature of Sunday. There are some things you may have to do because they are unavoidable or even because you enjoy them, and some jobs are essential (or people have no choice). However, there are a number of other things that can be avoided with, yes, you guessed it, appropriate preparation for Sunday.

All of this preparation can serve as a reminder to us that this life is a preparation for eternity. How we live now determines how we will be forever. It will determine whether we spend eternity forever in the presence of God in Heaven or separated from him in Hell. Even if we are saved, we won’t be all equal. Read Matthew 5:19 to hear what Jesus said about some being great and others least in the Kingdom. The sanctifying grace in our souls can be lost, but it can also be increased, making us able to experience more of the beatific vision. We need to strive to be as holy as we can be.

Category: Books, Catholic, Spirituality


An Important Part of Preparing the Way

  /   Saturday, December 10, 2016   /   Comments(0)

I’m writing this here in the Second Week of Advent. The reading from this past Sunday was about St. John the Baptist. He tells us to prepare the way of the Lord in a very certain way – by repenting of our sins. On Monday, the Gospel was about the man whose friends came through the roof of a house to bring him to Jesus, and the first thing that Jesus did, before healing him physically, was to forgive his sins. On Tuesday, he Gospel reading was about how there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one repentant sinner than over 99 who have no need of repentance. Jesus said he did not want anyone to be lost. On Wednesday, Jesus told us to come to him and rest because his home is easy and his burden light.

In a world where many seem to think that the whole Gospel can be summed up by being completely nonjudgmental, talking about sin isn’t fashionable. However, sin is a real obstacle to being close to God. When we sin, we go against our very purpose in life and offend the one who is holding us in existence. It is a really heavy burden to carry. The good news is that God really wants to forgive our sins, not because they are no big deal. They are a huge deal. God wants to forgive because his love is great. I want to suggest that this Advent, in order to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts, we need to go to Confession!

Please don’t be afraid to go.  I know I’ve experienced those times when I was expecting the priest to tell me what a jerk I am and give me a penance of fifty Rosaries while kneeling on hot coals and broken glass.  It almost never happens.  (That supposed penance was tongue in cheek for those of you who aren’t familiar with Confession.)

So you say … “I’ve done something that I could never tell to the priest.” Well, remember that the priest is there to represent Jesus and to forgive you in his name. Jesus already knows your sin. The priest is there to help bring to you the love and mercy of God in a tangible way. What seems like a big embarrassment to you is probably something he has dealt with many times, and he will be grateful for your courage in acknowledging what you have done so that he can bring you God’s mercy. Having to acknowledge the sin you committed can help you to see what love and mercy God is showing you and to love him in return.

So you say … “I keep confessing the same sins over and over again.” If that’s the case, then please don’t be discouraged. Would you rather be committing new and different sins all the time? Often times we do have things we struggle with for a long time and need to keep trying. Keep fighting the good fight. If you fail, hurry back to God and try again. The Sacrament will give you the grace to carry on the struggle, but do struggle against your sins. Never accept your sins as things that are just a part of you. Resolve to never commit them again, and if you do, know that God is full of mercy and compassion.

So you say … “I would only be confessing out of fear of Hell.” It turns out that if your motivation for being sorry for sin is fear of Hell, that is sufficient to receive forgiveness through the Sacrament. Yes, you heard me . . . it’s enough to go to have fear of Hell as your motivation.  It’s actually called imperfect contrition or attrition, and your sins will be forgiven in the Sacrament. You can think of it as a good starting point, but of course, you want to grow into being sorry out of love for God. It may be that knowing that God loves you and has forgiven you is what will help you learn to truly detest having offended a good and loving God.

So you say … “I am not sorry for my sins.” Well, you may have me there, but first let me be sure. Being sorry for sin is first and foremost an act of the will. You choose to repent. This means that you can choose to be sorry for your sins even if you don’t feel the sorrow. Maybe your sorrow is weak, but it is there. The grace of God is at work, and so is his forgiveness. Just meditate on how much he loved and forgave you, and it can help bring you to a deeper sorrow.

However, if you are really not sorry for a mortal sin, then don’t go to Confession. The absolution won’t work, and you will commit a sacrilege. This has the effect of making you a worse sinner than you were before you entered the Confessional. However, let me remind you that only God can bring you true happiness in this life and the next. You may think you are enjoying the pleasure of your sin, but in fact it is placing a major obstacle between you and the source of your ultimate happiness and fulfillment. This obstacle, if not removed, will separate you from him for all eternity. Why remain there a moment longer? Be sorry for your sin, and turn back to God. Prepare the way for him to be in your heart.

Category: Catholic, Doctrine, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Please Don’t Say This When I Die

  /   Sunday, November 06, 2016   /   Comment(1)

Death is never a pleasant subject. It was not part of God’s original plan for the human race, but it came into the world because of the sin of our first parents. When someone dies, it’s only natural to look to give or receive some consolation in light of this terrible reality. However, I don’t believe in trying to give comfort by compromising the truth.

November is the month of remembrance for the faithful departed in the Catholic Church. The first day is All Saints’ Day. The second day is All Souls’ Day. Often times, when someone dies, people say “He is not suffering anymore.” or “He is at peace.” This is especially tempting when a loved one has suffered a long illness. I ask that you please do not say these things if you are still here and learn of my death or are at my funeral. You may be doing me a great disservice.

I’d be afraid to meet someone who would not hope that I would be saved and be with Our Lord. It is a real possibility that I might not be. If that’s the case there is nothing you can do. However, the best thing to do is hope for the salvation of those who have left this world but realize that they may have to undergo their final purification in Purgatory before being admitted to Heaven. In fact, the primary purpose of a funeral Mass is to offer the Eucharist for the soul of the departed.

The souls in Purgatory are in fact suffering more than the worst suffering in earth. The magnitude of all sins committed and graces spurned by them is seen very clearly at this point. However, the Church teaches us that the purifying fire is altogether different from the punishment of the damned. In fact, such souls, though suffering, will never experience the punishment of the damned. Once a soul is in Purgatory, he or she has avoided Hell forever. There is nowhere to go from there but to Heaven. This is why we refer to the souls in Purgatory as holy souls.

Although I would love to be one of the souls who can go directly to Heaven, there’s a good chance I will need your prayers and other offerings for my soul. Your other departed friends and family will appreciate the same. It will mean far more to them than merely trying to comfort yourself with thoughts or statements that they are not suffering. It will mean more to you, too. After all, do you think that those whom you helped will forget you once they reach Heaven (or even before)? No way! You will have gained a grateful and powerful intercession for yourself before Our Lord. So, take the opportunity to pray for the faithful departed, and help them to reach the place where there truly is no more suffering and no more tears.

Category: Cathechesis, Doctrine, Spirituality, Uncategorized


Reflections on Young Adult Ministry, Part 2

  /   Sunday, August 24, 2014   /   Comments(0)

In my last post, I wrote about some wrong ideas that I’ve heard when people talk about young adult ministry.  In the second part of my reflections on young adult ministry, I want to talk about what young adult ministry should be like.  Young adult ministry is both very difficult to maintain but very important, and I do wish that parishes and dioceses would put more effort into it.

In order to talk about what a young adult ministry should be, I want to talk about why it’s needed.  We are in a period of time now where we are recovering from problematic faith formation.  The problem has gotten better, but I think it still exists.  My own passion for helping people learn the faith came from seeing the widespread ignorance that exists about the Catholic faith, even among Catholics.  While the Internet was very helpful to me, young adult ministry also helped me to understand what I was missing.  Something needs to be done to reach those who weren’t shown the fullness of truth as the positive good that it is.  Although many life decisions may have already been made or at least started, young adults are still in a position where they are charting a course for their careers, marriages, and other aspects of their lives.  The longer we go without reaching them, the more life choices they will make without a full understanding of what God wants for their lives.

Since I’m a big believer that helping people understand what not to do helps people understand what to do, I want to start by talking about some of the things worst things that someone can do while running a young adult ministry.  Here they are:

A well-done young adult ministry should have spiritual, catechetical/formational, service (with at least some being geared towards evangelization), and social aspects, and people who participate should be strongly urged to participate in all aspects of the ministry.  Prayer and devotion are essential to ensure that people have an encounter with Jesus Christ and not just an academic experience.  After all, God is a person who loves us and wants our love and a relationship with us.  Eucharistic Adoration, even if it just means spending some time before the tabernacle in the church, is essential.  The parish or diocese should have an annual retreat or conference (maybe both) for young adults to spend a period of time in the presence of God and in the presence of other Catholic young adults trying to live out their faith in the world.

Cathechesis is necessary to help everyone learn and understand the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith.  If young people are bored with the faith, it most likely isn’t because too much doctrine is being taught but because doctrine isn’t being taught.  Some formation programs have been little more than the sharing of our own feelings and experiences without reference to the truth that sets us free.  In fact, some people object to teaching concrete doctrine under the well-meaning idea of “meeting people where they are.”  People should be taken where they are and be treated with the love of Christ, but that means that we should not leave them there.  Young adults will vary widely in what they know about the faith, and many will learn important aspects for the first time and say things like “Why haven’t we heard this before?”

With this in mind, though, people do need to see concrete examples of a lived experience of the faith.  So, faith sharing informed by the Gospel is essential, whether it’s a group discussion or some people talking about what Jesus has done in their lives.  The Faith has definite doctrine because God has revealed himself, but this is something to be lived, not just an academic subject.

It’s also important to mention that cathechesis shouldn’t be the only aspect of a ministry.  Just remember that we are in a culture that is heavy on entertainment, and having something purely catechetical can easily foster an “entertain us” mentality.  The expectation to be entertained is very pervasive in the younger generations, and the faith must be something lived, not just a form of entertainment.  That form of entertainment won’t hold up well when living the faith becomes difficult.  Without aspects of service and evangelization, you can easily fill a ministry with people who expect to be entertained all the time and have little commitment to the ministry or to outreach.  At that point, the young adult ministry is already on life support from whoever is doing the work and is pretty much guaranteed to die once that person is no longer willing or able to continue.

Therefore, service activity is a must.  At least some of the service activities should be geared towards evangelization.  Young adults need to reach out to others to share their faith, especially other young adults who may no longer be going to church (or who may barely be still there).  Of course, service to those in need is important also.  However, even that service should be geared towards bringing others to Christ.  Also, some of the service events need to connect the young adults with other ministries in the Church.  The young adult ministry should not be the exclusive participation in the life of the parish for its participants.

I want to say just a little more about forming people to evangelize.  Service can include service within the ministry itself.  Some may be willing to help catechize the other young adults.  Forming leaders who are witnesses and who are willing to be speakers and teach the faith to the others is essential.  Young adults from the group should be doing a good part of the teaching and could even be available to be speakers at other events in the parish or diocese.  They will be a great inspiration to others, especially older people who are concerned about the faith of the younger generation.

Of course, there should be a social aspect of the ministry.  It is essential, but it should not be central.  In fact, social events that do not precede or follow a spiritual, service, or catechetical event should be few and far between.  We do not want the ministry to turn into a social club.  Having an annual picnic or baseball game or something is good, but, other than that, the social time should be, for example, right after a Holy Hour or a speaker.  The social time is essential to help form the community and give the sense of belonging that is needed, and care should be taken not to let the group turn into a cliche.  Also, any onlookers should notice the Christ-like manner in which the group interacts.  The social time is a great time to develop that sense of Christ-like socialization.

Of course, reaching out to young adults can be very difficult.  They tend to be super busy, and sometimes other aspects of life get in the way.  However, this is Jesus Christ and his Church that we are talking about, and people are hungry for the truth.  Greater commitment to both the Gospel and the generations of people who never knew their faith is necessary.  In fact, the results may be discouraging at first.  If a group is started, a certain time commitment (at least a year) before giving up needs to be established.  Be sure that there’s a web page that people can go to.  If you have the technology and capable people available, you can even have a site with articles about the faith and even downloadable MP3s of previous talks available.  All of these things will help reach people who will be eternally grateful.

Category: Catholic, Spirituality


Profit from Your Faults

  /   Thursday, January 16, 2014   /   Comments(0)

Sometimes I need to post something because I myself need to hear it.  This one is a tough one for me.  I try to avoid sin in my life and certainly don’t relish those moments when I find myself in it.  However, God does allow evil.  He allows it so that he can bring about a greater good.  In this case, he can even use our sin to bring us closer to him.  This doesn’t mean that we should be careless about sin.  In fact, this will really only work for those who wish never to offend God but fall into sin anyway.

For a good primer on this, take a look at this article from Catholic Exchange. For a longer treatment, try reading Scepter Publisher’s How to Profit from Your Faults by Joseph Tissot.  The main thing to realize is that we should not be surprised or upset by our faults but should trust in God’s mercy and hurry back to God when we sin.  I’ll summarize here what can be gained from our faults:

  1. We can grow in love for God when we realize the great mercy and love he has for us despite our faults.
  2. We can grow in our determination not to offend God again by our contrition for our sins.
  3. We can grow in humility.  We realize what we are and will do without the grace of God.  We learn to distrust ourselves and depend on God.
  4. By growing in humility, we will be more understanding of the faults of others around us.

Definitely read the article I linked to above.  It’s one of the best, most concise treatments I’ve read and something that will be a great help to every struggling Christian.

Category: Catholic, Spirituality


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