Sunday, October 12, 2014

St. Monica's Ablaze

I was invited to give the keynote address as part of the series "ABLAZE" at St. Monica's Catholic Church in Duluth, GA.

Ablaze is an effort to that combines evangelization and catechesis to help parishioners rekindle their faith, their relationship with the Lord, learn and be empowered to go out. Each four-week cycle line-up has a section on theory, practical advice, testimony and a panel. The entire event is about an hour long, in between the two morning Masses. They've been getting 200+ folks come out. I was the keynote for the launch of their second cycle on the New Evangelization. From their website:
On the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, our Holy Father called us to evangelize and to share our faith with the world. However, in order to become the Spirit-filled evangelists God wants us to be, we must first take the time to look inside. We need to be re-evangelized by that same Spirit first. ABLAZE is offering you the opportunity to rekindle that fire of the Holy Spirit you received at Confirmation, given for the express purpose that you set the world ablaze for the Glory of God.
One of the things the awesome priests at St. Monica's are doing (including my seminary classmate, good friend, and partner in crime, Fr. Michael) is teaching their people how to pray. (Pope St. John Paul II: The parish is to be a school of prayer!) Before the talk, there is a short (7-8) minute segment on prayer. On Wednesday, Fr. Michael called me and told me that he'd forgotten he was going to be away on a retreat, and asked if I could put something together. Thanks bud. :-) I pulled some stuff together from the Catechism (the section on prayer is simply phenomenal), emphasizing that prayer is not a technique, but something entered into with an attitude of humility, with the Blessed Virgin as our model. Here's that talk:

School of Prayer: Prayer is not a Techinque

The talk included one of my top 10 quotes from the Catechism. 
2567 God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God's initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation.
The whole operation exudes the charism of administration. These folks are well organized, exhibiting great collaboration from a hard-working, high-energy team of parishioners. The new St. Augustine hall is a great facility. The set up is also geared to table conversation -- which follows the talks with structured questions, and time for coffee and food. Very well thought out and planned! It was a joy and an honor to take part in this. 

Here's my keynote: "The Church Exists to Evangelize," which basically was focused on the essence of the new evangelization from the magisterium of recent Popes. The entire talk was a lot longer than the allotted 23 minutes, and I had to chop out a lot, including a raft of statistics from Forming Intentional Disciples, and amazing stuff from this talk by Cardinal Ratzinger on the New Evangelization from back in 2000.

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