An article up on Catholic Telegraph highlights an important milestone in the development of the priests of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati – leadership training.
Corporations, nonprofits and community organizations all use leadership training. A great deal of money is spent creating great leaders. So, why not priests?
The program is called ”Good Leaders, Good Shepherds” and is offered by the Catholic Leadership Institute. 30 priests took part from the Archdiocese with the full encouragement of the Archbishop.
To anyone who has been in a leadership course, the description from the article looks familiar -
“The training, which allows plenty of time for prayer, liturgy and building priestly fraternity, begins with the opportunity for participants to discover their own leadership skills and identify their strengths. Other modules deal with such topics as creating a vision for the priests’ ministerial role and identifying key areas of responsibility to bring focus and clarity to their ministry; learning to give effective feedback to staff members and volunteers, helping them follow action plans and solve their own problems; reviewing their committees and councils and learning to create high impact teams that get things accomplished for their parish or organization; creating a vision for that parish or organization and determining key ministry goals to achieve it; and learning the value of strategic relationships to help fulfill pastoral leadership with others.”
They are having another one in October. Good stuff.
Catholic Culture has an overview every month to guide the faithful in what to look for in the month ahead.
Each month, they give an overview of the following:
- the Monthly Dedication;
- the Holy Father’s Monthly Intentions;
- the Feasts for the Month;
- the Focus of the Liturgy for the each Sunday;
- the Highlights for the Month; and
- a short meditation on the month ahead.
Follow this link for their April Overview.
Our devotion this month is to the Holy Spirit. The highlights of this month are, of course, Holy Week and the Easter Octave. There are also some lesser known saints on the calendar; all of whom led fascinating lives from which we can all take a great deal to inspire our own lives. St. Francis of Paolo, St. Isidore of Seville, St. Vincent Ferrer, St. John Baptist de la Salle and St. Stanislaus of Cracow.
As we head into the last couple of weeks of Lent and then the holiest weeks of our year, let us keep in mind the words of Christ from today’s Gospel -
“The first [commandment] is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Remember, our love for God must be with ALL of our heart, ALL of our soul, ALL of our mind, and ALL of our strength. Our love for ALL of our neighbors (i.e. everyone else in the world) must be as we love ourselves (or want to be loved). It’s not some, or most. It’s our ALL.
Also, remember that today is the First Friday of the month and a day set aside for Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Go to Mass, pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart, consecrate yourself to the Sacred Heart, pray the Rosary (meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries). You will find yourself closer to Christ.
With the disaster unfolding in Japan, it is fitting to call upon the patron saints of Japan in prayer.
St. Francis Xavier, pray for the people of Japan.
St. Peter Baptist, pray for the people of Japan.
Our Lady of Akita, pray for the people of Japan.
And Deacon Keith Fournier has written this beautiful prayer (courtesy of Catholic.org) -
We come to you in the name of your Son Jesus Christ. We ask for your loving Mercy and kindness toward all who suffer as a result of the Earthquake, Tsunami and aftershocks which have devastated the people of Japan.
Lord, for those who lost their lives, and those who mourn them, we ask for your loving mercy.
Lord, for those who were wounded, we ask for healing and help.
Lord, for those reaching out to the wounded, give them the graces, and the practical and economic resources they need in their efforts.
Lord, for those who are searching for the dead, assist them in their effort so that all who lost their lives in this tragedy can be buried with dignity.
We also pray also for those who were affected by this horrible disaster in Hawaii and those who are ministering to their needs.
Father, may this natural disaster and true human tragedy become an invitation for your people to enter into the ongoing mission of reaching out to all of the poor and seeing in their face and in their need the face of your Son.
During this Lent, we say “Yes” to your invitation to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. May this human tragedy become for your people an occasion of grace and invitation to love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord
It may seem like ages ago, but last Sunday’s gospel bears special importance to us as we begin Lent.
The gospel from Matthew 7 has Jesus telling the parable about the houses built on sand and those built on rock. We, of course, are taught that we are expected to build our spiritual homes on the rock of Christ and the rock of the Church.
The Holy Father’s Sunday Angelus address takes this theme and hits a home run.
The takeaway from the address is this passage -
“Jesus is the living Word of God. When he taught, people recognized in his words the divine authority itself and they felt the Lord’s closeness, his merciful love, and praised God. In every epoch and in every place those who have the grace of knowing God, especially through reading the holy Gospel, are fascinated by him. They recognize that in his preaching, in his actions and in his Person, he reveals the true face of God to us and at the same time reveals us to ourselves. This gives us the joy of being children of the Father who is in Heaven, and points out to us the solid foundation on which to build our life.
“Yet human beings often do not build their action and life on this identity; they prefer the sands of ideology, power, success and money, believing they will find in these things stability and the answer to the irrepressible demand for happiness and fullness that they carry in their soul.
“And as for us, on what do we wish to build our life? Who can truly respond to the restlessness of the human heart? Christ is the rock of our life! He is the eternal and definitive Word who overcomes every kind of adversity, difficulty or hardship.”
As we head into the first weekend of this season, let us focus on building our relationship with God as his children and in growing close to Christ through the Gospels. It’s this focus that will ensure we have rock supporting our lives and our faith.
Also, a great Friday devotion is the Stations of the Cross. When you’re thinking about your fish fry tonight, plan on stopping over at the church and walking the path of Christ in his Passion. This link is a guide from the U.S. Bishops.
Create a clean heart in me, O God; renew in me a steadfast spirit. (from Psalm 51)
This month’s issue of Columbia Magazine, published by the Knights of Columbus, has an excellent write-up on confession.
Be Reconciled to God is an interview with Father Peter Lynch of St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull, Connecticut. The Diocese of Bridgeport is promoting a Lenten campaign in which each parish in the diocese will be open one night a week for prayer and confession. It doesn’t sound like much, but considering how often church doors are locked, the campaign is a huge step in the right direction.
I encourage you to read the interview, but there are three takeaway question and answers that bear note.
Columbia: What would you say to someone who has been away from the sacrament for a long time?
Father Lynch: The sacrament of reconciliation is a place for mercy, a place for healing. Jesus gave us this sacrament for two reasons: First, he wanted us to use it, so that we could remain close to him. Second, he knew we would need it in order to stay faithful. People are so relieved every time they walk out of that confessional. It is like the weight of the world has been lifted from them.
Columbia: What if a person has done something that they think cannot be forgiven?
Father Lynch: I think as we continue in this journey with Christ, we really find that is most difficult to forgive ourselves. It is really amazing and humbling that God can and will forgive us, if we just ask him, if we just come to the sacrament. The reason is that God does not count whether we are worthy. He loves us. It is like the love of any parent for a child, but greater. He doesn’t want any of us lost, no matter what we’ve done, and all we need to do is go and ask him to forgive us.
Columbia: Has there been a renewal in the sacrament of confession in recent years?
Father Lynch: I think there is definitely a rise in the use of the sacrament, and I think it’s partially because people are not finding the peace, fulfillment and rest for their souls and consciences anywhere else. God is really communicating his love and his life to us through this sacrament. It’s not just talking about stuff and getting it off our chest; there is also the very active and real action on the part of God, who washes away our sins and makes a new creation again. As more and more people experience this again, maybe because of conferences or youth events or confession campaigns, then the word gets out.
It doesn’t matter how long it’s been; it doesn’t matter what you have done; just get thee to a confessional. Your life, your relationship with Christ, your relationship with others and your perception of your self will better for it.
To hear these words is the salve to any wounds that we may have -
“Through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Go in peace.”
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his mercy endures forever.
It is Ash Wednesday. Thus begins the Lenten season – a time of repentence, conversion and renewal.
Will you go to Mass today? Will you wear the ashes in public? Will you fast and abstain? Will you make this day a day of prayer and reflection? Will you make this day holy?
Do you have your plan for the next 40 days? What are you going to do for fasting, almsgiving and prayer; keeping in mind that all of our Lenten practices should be aimed at bringing us closer to Christ and the way he intends for us to live?
Several bishops have posted articles to help their flock begin Lent. They make for some good reading as we begin this season.
Cardinal Roger Mahony (Los Angeles, emeritus) – How Would Jesus Tempt Satan in 2011?
Archbishop Timothy Dolan (New York) – Ash Wednesday (video)
Archbishop Charles Chaput (Denver) – This Lent, Accept God’s Gift, and Reflect It to Others
Bishop Kevin Farrell (Dallas) - What is Lent All About?
Bishop Fabien Bruskewitz (Lincoln) – Ashes to Glory
Your Father who sees in secret will repay you.