OUTLINE FOR THE PARISH CELEBRATION
OF THE YEAR OF FAITH
October 14, 2012 – November 25, 2013
October 14: Opening Mass 11:30am and Vespers 4:00pm
October 22: Holy Hour and Night Prayer for Mothers to pray for their children, 7:00pm
November 20: Holy Hour and Night Prayer for an increase of vocations to the priesthood from our parish for our Archdiocese, 7:00pm
December 2,3,& 4: Parish Retreat (The retreat will be on-line with tips on how to make the retreat at home or at work) All Organizations are asked to participate in this parish time of grace.
December 3: Blessing of our Holy Year Shrine to Saint Francis Xavier, Patron of Missionaries.
Advent Reflection on the Nicene Creed: Link to Catechesis from our homepage.
Lenten Catechesis on the great spiritual writers
February 17 – 19, 2013 Parish Forty Hours, Father Thomas Whittingham, preacher
March 25 -31, 2013 Holy Week (full participation)Evangelization effort to draw people into Holy Week
Reflections on Vatican Council Documents
June 2, 11:30 am – Principal Mass for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi with Traditional Eucharistic Procession
June 11, 2013 Holy Hour and Night Prayer for Fathers/Husbands to pray for their families.
Each organization develops a plan to celebrate faith through catechetical and liturgical encounters.
November 24, 2013, Feast of Christ the King, 11:30, Closing Mass.
October Mary, Mother of God, Patroness of Mothers and Families
November The Communion of Saints, Prayers for an increase of vocations to the priesthood in our parish
December Word made Flesh: the Incarnation and its effects in our lives.
January Saint Francis Xavier: our parish patron for our Year of Faith: “Going out” establishing the ‘new evangelization’ in our parish.
February Opportunities for establishing a sanctuary worthy of God’s dwelling: The Call to priesthood
March Saint Joseph, Patron of the Church, Fathers and of Men.
April “He has been raised” – the Sacred Triduum
May Mary, Mother of Divine Providence: The call to the Consecrated Life.
June the Sacred Heart of Jesus
September the Sacrament of Confession: A celebration of Reconciliation and Penance.
October Mary, Mother of the Church
November, 2013 Reflections on the Sacraments of Initiation
Week One: Sacramental Life
Week Two: Baptism
Week Three: Confirmation
Week Four: Eucharist
During this Year of Faith our Parish Council as well as our Organizational Teams will be discussing the question, What is a Catholic in “good standing.” What are the benefits inherit in our active particpation in the Church as the People of God.
Reflections on the Instrumentum Laboris of the XIII Synod of Bishops: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.
An Instrumentum Laboris is a working document that the Bishops who are attending the XIII Synod of Bishops in Rome will take with them to discuss, making recommendation to our Holy Father. The Instrumentum is developed from a Lineamenta which is an opening questionnaire of topics and questions sent to all the Bishops around the world to be considered.
There are some wonderful thoughts here that I think will help us in our own discussions about the new evangelization in parish life.
The question of a ‘new evangelization’ arises of course from the call of Blessed John Paul II and many Bishops responded that “the new evangelization is precisely the Church’s ability to renew her communal experience of faith, and to proclaim it within the new situations… which have arisen in cultures.” (IL, 47) Certainly our parish does share with one another an experience of faith. It is most obviously when we gather for worship, culturally through our parish carnival, our support for Catholic Education, and in the integrity of our Faith Formation, i.e Why Catholic? “Proclaiming it” within the new situations which have arisen gives me pause in that we probably could spend some time talking about what new situations there are in our community and in our society.
One factor which hits every parish is the reality that 25% of Catholics in our community join us for Sunday Worship of God. This break with the precepts of the Church, by its nature, weakens the faith of our community as a whole and brings about some inherent problems that we might not realize, namely: that more people ignore the teaching authority of the Bishops, and begin to think that their religion is a private affair and thus don’t feel a necessary obligation on their part to join us and to be a part of the People of God.
The most painful result of this lax in faith is that parents place themselves and their children in danger of losing the faith God gives them. It is sad that there are people among us who have lost their faith but don’t realize it. They still call themselves Christians believing that if they do keep saying it, they will justify the void they feel. In fact, their disengagement helps them become more of an island without the support and nourishment of the sacraments they are welcomed to receive. (IL,48)
So how do we, at Mother of Divine Providence, take on the new evangelization in the context of ‘proclaiming?’
We should think about this as we ourselves prepare for this Year of Faith, a year of clarity for us as Catholics. There are many signs of hope right here in our community. We are a people who ‘demonstrate by our activities, the real possibility of living the Christian faith through the proclamation of the Gospel even within a cultural setting.” (IL50)
The Instrument identifies five areas or ‘sectors,’ which our parish should consider in our attempt ‘to proclaim the Gospel and help people to experience the vitality of the Church (IL,51). These sectors include culture, society, economics, civic life and religion.
Recently our country has experienced a secularization of political and social thought which is having a profound effect on our lives; movements actively pursuing an attempt to eradicate Divine Life or even a transformed life from our national language.” The ‘death of God’ proclaimed by many intellectuals in recent decades has given way to an unproductive, hedonistic and consumer mentality, which leads to a highly superficial manner when facing life and responsibility (IL,53).
The Common Good becomes irrelevant to the needs of many smaller and diverse agendas litigating and pressuring the majority to acquiesce to their demands which makes it difficult for the Christian mind to focus on the Absolute Truth Who is God.
“To respond to religious needs, persons revert to individualistic forms of spirituality or forms of neo-paganism to the point of forcibly spreading a general climate of relativism (IL,53), i.e. whatever ‘I’ think matters, nothing else.
We might be tempted here to despair the state of the society today, but this next section of the Instrument thinks otherwise. It is precisely within the secularized world that Christ sends us. We can all interact here to experience our common humanity. It is here in our natural state that Christ can enter. “Purifying the human through the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth, Christians can create an encounter with people who are secularized but continue to question what is really and truly human. Our common search for truth, our natural desire to purify ourselves in order to encounter the truth can indeed help develop the Christian’s faith (IL,54).
The Bishops are interested in the initiative of the “Courtyard if the Gentiles,” which I think our parish would benefit from its own research into the idea and make practical use of it in King of Prussia which enjoys such a diverse population both transient and local.
Father Roger Landry, in his article “Reconstructing the Courtyard of the Gentiles,” April 11, 2011 wrote,
“ In Paris on March 24 and 25, a remarkable new Church initiative began. Born from the pastoral zeal, Biblical expertise and the university experience of Pope Benedict XVI, it is an attempt to establish a dialogue with non-believers modeled on the ancient Temple of Jerusalem’s courtyard of the gentiles, where non-Jews would come to query the scribes about the Jewish faith, debate the meaning of existence and, if they so desired, pray, either to a God who remained mysterious to them or to the One whom they believed had revealed Himself to the Jews. Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has worked very hard to establish an ecumenical dialogue with other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities as well as an interreligious dialogue with other major religions. Curiously absent from a structure conversation and joint search for truth, however, has been a forum for discussion with non-believers. The Courtyard of the Gentiles is an attempt to remedy that lacuna.
The idea for a Court of the Gentiles was first mentioned by Pope Benedict in his pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia in 2009. Reflecting on his pilgrimage to the Czech Republic, a country with many “seekers” — agnostics searching for the answers to the deepest human questions — Pope Benedict reflected on the words Jesus quoted from Isaiah, that the Temple “must be a house of prayer for all the nations” (Is 56:7; Mk 11:17). “Jesus,” the Pope said, “was thinking of the so-called ‘Courtyard of the Gentiles’ which he cleared of extraneous affairs so that it could be a free space for the Gentiles who wished to pray there to the one God, even if they could not take part in the mystery for whose service the inner part of the Temple was reserved.” Benedict said that there are many who “know God, so to speak, only from afar; who are dissatisfied with their own gods, rites and myths; who desire the Pure and the Great, even if God remains for them the ‘unknown God’” referred to by St. Paul in his speech at the Athenian Areopagus. “I think that today too the Church should open a sort of ‘Courtyard of the Gentiles,’ in which people might in some way latch on to God, without knowing him and before gaining access to his mystery … who nevertheless do not want to be left merely Godless, but rather to draw near to him, albeit as the Unknown.”
That desire was soon put into motion by Cardinal Giovanni Ravasi, the affable, engaging and learned President of the Pontifical Academy for Culture, who decided to launch the idea in Paris, the symbolic birthplace and home of the enlightenment. At three institutions with unimpeachable secular credentials — UNESCO, the Sorbonne and the L’Institut de France — there were discussions and presentations by believers and non-believers; the whole event culminated in the square or “courtyard” of Notre Dame Cathedral, where Pope Benedict gave a live televised address.
The next Courtyard, a dialogue on technology and science, will be held in Chicago. Others are being planned for Albania, Sweden, Quebec, and Asia.
In his address to those assembled in the Notre Dame plaza, Pope Benedict expressed his joy that the Pontifical Council for Culture had taken up his desire that a dialogue with non-believers be established and that so many believers and non-believers had responded. “At the heart of the ‘City of Light,’ in front of the magnificent masterwork of French religious culture which is Notre Dame, a great court has been created in order to give fresh impetus to respectful and friendly encounter between people of differing convictions,” Pope Benedict said. “Believers and nonbelievers alike have chosen to come together, as you do in your daily lives, in order to meet one another and to discuss the great questions of human existence.” Speaking about God together, he implied, should be as natural for believers and non-believers as going to school, to the grocer, or to work together.
He began the heart of his address by turning to non-believers, praising their deepest desires and validating some of their just criticisms of believers and religious institutions. “Nowadays,” he said, “many people acknowledge that they are not part of any religion, yet they long for a new world, a world that is freer, more just and united, more peaceful and happy. … Those of you who are nonbelievers challenge believers in a particular way to live in a way consistent with the faith they profess and by your rejection of any distortion of religion that would make it unworthy of man.” In saying this, Benedict was echoing one of the great, but hidden, insights of the Second Vatican Council, which noted that one of the principle causes for non-belief in the world is precisely the lack of integrity found in the lives of Christians. “Believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, believers must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion” (Gaudium et Spes, 19). Pope Benedict wanted to acknowledge that reality head on, especially after the sexual abuse scandals involving Catholic clergy concealed God’s and the Church’s true face to non-believers even further.
Pope Benedict, however, also wanted to tackle directly another disfigurement. He said that in a highly secularized society that often is prejudiced and intolerant to religious belief, believers have a deep desire to tell others that faith is a “treasure” rather than a poison. Questions about God, he stressed, ennoble rather than harm man. “The question of God is not a menace to society,” Benedict exclaimed. “It does not threaten a truly human life! The question of God must not be absent from the other great questions of our time.”
The path of dialogue, he indicated, is not just a path of mutual tolerance but rather of mutual cooperation and search for the truth. He called the participants to “build bridges between one another,” and “work to break down the barriers of fear of others … born of mutual ignorance, skepticism or indifference.” He asked them to make “a courageous decision to seek the truth,” and to help their fellow believers and nonbelievers to “rediscover the path of dialogue.” Just as non-believers have nothing to fear from God, so “religions have nothing to fear from a just secularity, one that is open and allows individuals to live in accordance with what they believe in their own consciences.” Taking up and applying the motto of the French revolutionaries, he said, “If we are to build a world of liberty, equality and fraternity, then believers and nonbelievers must feel free to be just that, equal in their right to live as individuals and in community in accord with their convictions; and fraternal in their relations with one another.” He declared that one of the reasons for the Courtyard of the Gentiles is “to encourage such feelings of fraternity, over and above our individual convictions yet not denying our differences.” He also suggested — in a point that ought to be pondered — that the bridges believers and nonbelievers build between each other might likewise prove to be bridges between both groups and God, since each person, as a creature of God, is “in some way the road that leads to God.”
After the successful inauguration of the Courtyard of the Gentiles, Cardinal Ravasi noted in an interview that the Church’s hope is not for the Courtyard to remain a series of itinerant events sponsored by a Vatican Pontifical Council but rather a “fixture of the pastoral activity of every diocese.” As the numbers of non-believers in the state of Massachusetts and elsewhere continues to grow, as we seek to give witness to the faith in the midst of the modern areopagus of so many colleges and universities, and as the number of misconceptions about the Church has multiplied due to the scandals as well as to the way the truth about the Church has been only partially portrayed in some secular news outlets, the time is doubtless at hand for us to respond to the Holy Father’s initiative and open up a courtyard — or several courtyards — here.”
The Instrument demonstrates an interesting development in what it calls ‘the phenomenon of the great migration.’ So many people even in the United States are on the move to new cities or to the urban experience where one can see easily ‘the erosion of a basic reference point to life, values and the very bonds through which people build their identity and come to know the meaning of life (IL,55). This movement of populations, linked to secularization can leave ‘less room for long standing traditions including religious ones (IL,55). The Bishops encourage us in the parish to ‘develop new forms of solidarity and new ways of sharing development for the good of all (IL,55).
This may take a more personalized approach to ‘coffees after Mass’ where priests and people can get to know each other better and trust each other to share family traditions and customs and come to understand better the commonality of our parishes even in our diversity.
Our plan for an approach to the new evangelization is actually rooted in older models: subdividing our parish into localities with a person assigned as ‘captain.’ This person would be responsible for getting to know their district, inviting neighbors to come together and reaching out with other neighbors to those who are lost, confused or who have abandoned their faith. Ways and methods of attracting people will be discussed in our new ‘think tank’ for the new evangelization. The formation of a think tank on this issue will help cultivate new ideas for all levels of our parish’s development and hopefully allow an outreach for more participation in the core mission of our Church: to save souls.
The issue of advertising the work of Jesus is not easy. Media today is not interested in the Good News and often time loses interest. Parishes do not have the resources to nurture a steady stream of interest in their particular work. Social media, at this point is proving to be a better outreach for people and I encourage our parishioners and others to connect with our work through our website: http://www.mdpparish.com/ . Social media offers an opportunity for people to choose us, to seek us out and learn more.
Parishes today lose out in very real ways if they do not use the social media to their advantage in the preaching and catechizing of their flocks whether faithful or not. Access to even spiritual information in ways that people are growing more and more familiar remains an important part of communicating God’s Word and invitation to live out the Sacramental Life of the Church.
The next section of the Instrumentum looks at changes in the religious sector. There is a concern ‘about naive and emotional character in a return to religion. “Instead of being a gradual and complex development in a person’s search for truth, the return to religion, in many cases, has not been a very liberating experience. Consequently, the positive aspects of rediscovering God and th sacred are viewed as impoverished and obscured by a fundamentalism which frequently manipulates religion to justify acts of vioence and, in extreme but fortunately limited cases, even terrorism” (65).
As a parish, I don’t think we can underestimate those who have fallen away from the practice of their religion or even given up their faith for another ecclesial community in an effort to find emotional satisfaction without any real commitment. I think this will take some real reflection, discernment and courage in address this challenge. How do Catholics announce the Good News to people who have already misplaced the source of Truth in their lives or have settled for an incomplete reveleation of God’s mercy and love.