Posts Tagged ‘catechetical’

Francis and Ignatius: connections

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

This post  from Thinking Faith, the British Jesuits’ website, is very timely and not just because our Jesuit pope took the name of St. Francis of Assisi.  You may already know that Ignatius of Loyola esteemed Francis of Assisi.   Father James Hanvy, S.J., explains that affinity through his examination of  the philosophies of these two great saints and the communities they established.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Father Hanvy’s article has a particular relevance for me because of a place where I was yesterday.  I wish you could have been there.

I’ve just returned from a wonderful experience at Mt. Alvernia in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. This spirituality center, situated south of Poughkeepsie, is a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the New York Province of the Immaculate Conception and offers a range of retreats and other spiritual experiences in the Franciscan tradition. The retreats are primarily for Catholics but those of other beliefs are warmly welcomed.

While I was at Mt. Alvernia, I had the pleasure of spending the day with my colleagues and with Fr. Roch, the retreat director, who led us through Francis’ Canticle of the Sun. It really opened my mind to Francis and how his relationships with his brothers and with Clare, with all of creation actually,  enriched his life and ministry. I began to see the origins of the Ignatian call to find God in all things.  The more Fr. Roch spoke of Francis, the more I understood why Ignatius was drawn to him and why our new Bishop of Rome chose his name.

I had to leave early and could not stay another day but when I returned home, I checked the Mt. Alvernia website.  I suggest you take some time and do likewise. There are retreats upon retreats. Some are overnights. Some are one-day experiences.  There is an experience for almost every need, all delivered with the matchless Franciscan hospitality.  As the Franciscans say, peace and good.

Prayerful Discernment

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Last week, I posted a link to Sr. Patricia’s McCarthy’s wonderful column in Rhode Island Catholic, marking the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical for the world, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth). Like many other Catholics, I was feeling a little out of sorts. Uncertainty will do that.

What a difference a week makes. Yesterday most of my catechetical colleagues and I were up at the crack of dawn to watch the inauguration (am I the only one who smiles at that term?) of our new pope, Francis. When we got to work, albeit a trifle bleary-eyed, we couldn’t talk of anything else. Those of us in ministry were not the only ones mesmerized.  Everybody wanted to know everything that was happening in Vatican City. The media were positively giddy with excitement.

Watching our gracious, gentle but determined Pope Francis being driven around St. Peter’s Square, stopping periodically to kiss children and climbing down to hold a man with cerebral palsy, I couldn’t help smiling about all the speculation that had gone on about who would emerge from the conclave as pope. Very few pundits had Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio on their “A” lists. He looked a little surprised himself, standing on the balcony of St. Peter’s last Wednesday.

Yet, in retrospect, everyone realized that no one else could have emerged.  No one else would have been the right one. That was because the Holy Spirit had the vote that counted. The cardinals just had to figure out which man the Spirit had in mind.  That’s called prayerful discernment.

You don’t have to be a cardinal to practice prayerful discernment.  You don’t have to sit in what looked like rather uncomfortable chairs in the Sistine Chapel.  And you certainly don’t have to be selecting a pope.  You might be wondering about a relationship much closer to home, which school to choose for your child, what to do about a job offer that might force you to uproot your family or a decision you have to make for someone who is dependent on you.  Very little in life is not important enough for prayerful discernment. It’s a good habit to develop.

Just for curiosity’s sake, I Google-d the term and came up with some interesting results. Here’s something from Joe Paprocki  on the Loyola Press website.  That seems appropriate, considering we have our first Jesuit pope here. However, you can find many other resources on prayerful discernment.  Try it. You know it works.

Lent 2012: online or at the church around the corner

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Far be it from me to be giving anyone advice on how to observe the Season of Lent. However, I have come across some very creative websites that might appeal to those who are giving something up, but who are also looking for positive practices.

From our friends at the Environmental Outreach Committee of the Department of Peace and Justice, Archdiocese of Washington: The 2012 Caring for Creation Calendar.

From the Jesuits at Loyola Press– and they do have a gift for responding creatively and profoundly to the yearnings of young adults: “40 Lent: What do you give up when the world gives out?” It’s a social media series focusing on the way a group of adults copes with the aftermath of a disaster.

From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: a wealth of resources and answers to questions about the significance of Lent, the practices, the Rite of Christian Initiation and even an informative section of the Saints of Lent.

American  also offers  a variety of creative Lenten practices you might want to look at.

Our own Archdiocesan Catechetical Office website – – has a number of Lenten connections for you to make.

Now these are online resources but there comes a time when one might want to think about powering off the p.c., the smartphone, the tablet or whatever your device of choice may be and, instead, make a physical connection to a church. So many churches here in New York City have wonderful programs to offer.

One of my favorites is the Franciscan Church of St. Francis of Assisi. Check out the Lenten offerings for people of all ages at the parish, which is located just across from Penn Station in Manhattan. In truth, this parish does wonderful outreach all year but its Lenten programs are particularly fine.

There are lots of other parishes making a special effort this Lent. You may find one right near you. This church might not have a fancy website, so just stop in and chances are you’ll see some signs or weekly bulletins. Pick one up. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that your most meaningful Lent ever is right in your own neighborhood.

If you know of any parish or online Lenten programs you want to share, just  let me know by commenting below.

A blessed Lent to you.