Cardinal Newman, Personal Influence, and How Truth is Spread


How did the ancient Church spread the Truth of Catholicism so successfully?

We’re all about the new evangelization these days, but it’s a good idea to understand how evangelization worked in the past.

After all, authentic renewal is never a complete break from what came before. It’s about understanding and updating it to work for today.

Before we get into that, here’s a little background. This post is the major content of a keynote I did for a dinner at the Nashville Diocesan Catechetical Conference.

I hit on Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman and his ideas about the power of personal influence a while back. I was expanding on the “Enrichment of Faith” concept Fr. Michael Gaitley outlines in his book The ‘One Thing’ Is Three.

Since then, I looked up Gaitley’s source on Newman, Dr. John Crosby, who was my professor at Franciscan. Dr. Crosby’s book Personalist Papers has an amazing treatment on the personalist approach of Cardinal Newman that I’m fascinated with.

I think you’ll find this discussion of Cardinal Newman’s thought indispensable in implementing an evangelizing catechesis.
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I Have a Confession to Make


True confessions time. I hate confession.

Not the personal kind of confession but the sacramental kind.

I’ve read what all the Saints say about confession, and I know I’m supposed to love it. I know how important and freeing it is. I’m just not feeling it lately.

Not for a while actually.
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Book Review: Saint by Lino Rulli

T36668-cvr-5Have you ever thought about what you could be canonized for?

I think most of us are more preoccupied with what we could be condemned for.

Sainthood seems like something pretty distant.

Part of the problem is saints are often portrayed as somehow being perfect almost from birth. The other part is that almost all the saints are priests, nuns, and (lately) popes.

For those of us who worry more about paying the bills than getting closer to God and think silent contemplation is a 10 minute nap in the afternoon while the kids are sleeping, it can be hard to identify with the saints.

Lino Rulli has that same problem.

“When average Catholics look in the mirror, they don’t see a priest, nun, or pope. They don’t see a hallowed vision of a future saint. Instead they see a fluorescent-lit reflection of a layperson, a current sinner with all sorts of ugly struggles and failures.”

Is the Church perhaps inadvertently sending the message that regular lay Catholics can’t be saints? “If that’s the case, the consequences are huge,” says Rulli, “Regular laypeople—that is, the majority of people actually in the Catholic Church—don’t really believe we’re called to be saints.”
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Jesus Is Lord Series on Catholic Sistas

jesus-is-lordWhat makes a great parish adult education program?

For about a year, I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about an awesome one in the Austin, TX area. It’s at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock. 

I first heard mention of it from blogging friend Devin Rose of St. Joseph’s Vanguard. He credited it with a large part of his deepened conversion. From what I gather it’s been wildly successful and the source of many deepening conversions.

Then I found out the founder of the Catholic Sistas blog, Martina Kreitzer, is on the planning committee and core team for the program. I had to talk to her and find out more about it. What I found out from our limited Facebook message conversation was fascinating.
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Busy? You Need to Read This


Are you overwhelmed yet?

This is the busiest time of year for catechists and catechetical leaders.

Everyone’s going a mile a minute getting things ready for the new year–setting up programs, organizing volunteers, preparing class lists and lesson plans, etc.

I know for me it’s just one thing after another.

So, this is just a reminder during this frantic rush of getting things done to take some time for remembering what (or who) this is all for.
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Initiatory Catechesis: Introducing the Life of Faith


So far in your quest for evangelizing catechesis you have:

Those are the first two stages of the Church’s 5-stage evangelization process.

So when do you actually start teaching them something?

The third stage of the Church’s process is Initiatory Catechesis. Finally, we get to the actual catechesis.

But you didn’t think that just meant teaching lessons from the textbook…did you? The job now is to introduce them to the life of faith.

But as you’ll see, that’s more than merely teaching doctrine.
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7 Essential Steps For Converting First Communion Parents


I’m about to embark on a daring endeavor.

I’m starting an education program for parents of First Communion students. The goal is conversion.

In one of my last posts, I wrote about meeting a woman I met at the St. John Bosco Conference that does something very similar. She has seven parent classes every month during the sacramental preparation year.

When she told me about her program, I was in awe…and a bit jealous. I wanted one!
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5 Surprising Truths About Holiness


What do people think of when you talk about “holiness”?

Monks in silence with their hands folded? People praying on their knees for hours? Somber-faced sisters who never have any fun?

Someone once told me, “Who would want to be a Saint? They suffer a lot and have very hard lives.”

So holiness conjures lots of images…not all of them good. You want the people you’re evangelizing to desire holiness. So, you’ll have to help them understand what it means.

Here are 5 facts to help people understand holiness and open their hearts to desire it.
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How to Pray the Examen with Your Children

“I think the examen protects our children not only from drinking and premature sexuality, but also from getting caught up in the violence of our culture…the examen has taught our children to face the violence of their own shadow sides and bring it into the light for healing.” Sleeping with Bread

sleeping-with-breadMy oldest son just turned 12, and I’ve seen a lot of changes come quick.

He’s starting to notice more of the world.

He’s becoming more influenced by his friends and what they do. Being popular and well liked has become an issue now.

And, along with that, the latest shooter video games, pop music, and more adult movies occupy his mind.

But as these new interests capture his attention and imagination, I’ve also noticed them dulling his enthusiasm for God.

Religion is not as exhilarating. Video games are engrossing, the Mass is not. God is doing amazing things in his life, but they are harder for him to see.

So, I’ve been thinking lately about how to foster more of a relationship with Jesus in my son and help him recognize God in his life. To do that we started praying the examen prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola.
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My St. John Bosco Conference Takeaways


Sorry I’ve been a little AWOL for the last few weeks.

I always get a little engrossed while getting ready for big conference talks.

I just got back from speaking at the St. John Bosco Conference at Franciscan University.

I had two talks. One was called “Catechesis and Conversion.” I’ve actually been working through the content of that talk here on the blog in a series of posts on evangelizing catechesis. I’ll be pulling those all together in a tutorial soon.

The other was called “The Online Marketer’s Guide to Compelling Catechesis.” It was basically all the stuff I’ve learned about online writing applied to catechesis. It went over really well, and I’m anxious to share it with you.

As always, the conference was amazing! As I’ve said before, it’s the best catechetical conference you’ve never heard of.

People came from across the country to get certifications in youth ministry, campus ministry, RCIA, and as DREs and catechists. Most of them come for five consecutive years to get these certifications, although they’ve shortened it. Starting next year the certification will only take three years.
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