I want to thank the core team of St. Michael's Catholic Church in St. Michael Minnesota for their hard work this last year. Last night we finished the 24 week Great Adventure. Thank you Sandy , Tony & Andrea , Anna , Aaron , Jamie & John. Love to hear from some of you that went through the Adventure at St. Michael's.
Many of you have or know of young people who will be going off to college next fall. It is in college that young people are searching for who they will become in life. In this video blog I talk to FOCUS missionary Katie Martinson who is currently reaching out to young people at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. FOCUS stands for Fellowship of Catholic University Students
Started back in 1998 by Curtis Martin, it shines as one of the outstanding college outreaches today. I'm sharing this with you with the hopes that you will support Katie and other FOCUS missionaries who are giving two years of their lives to change the world. The FOCUS website is www.focusonline.org and Katie's email is email@example.com. Once you go to the FOCUS website you can see a list of all the FOCUS missionaries that could use your support. I pray that lives will change as a result of the efforts of young people like Katie.
I'm excited to announce that on March 24th, the parish of St. Vincent de Paul and Advent Lutheran Church are co-sponsoring a one day Great Adventure Timeline seminar in Brooklyn Park, MN. Teaching the Great Adventure to both Catholics and Lutherans at the same time will be a first for me. Someone may ask, "how are you going to do that?" While there are differences in how the two churches interpret scripture, there is a lot we agree on. I will do the seminar as usual with the hopes that it will be an opportunity for ecumenical understanding. I do know that it is a great opportunity for those of you with Lutheran friends and relatives to invite them to the Great Adventure seminar.
I'm happy to partner with Fr. Jack Long and Pastor Tim Tengblad in this exciting ecumenical endeavor. For further information you can download the registration form by clicking here. You can also call Advent Lutheran Church at 763-425-4243 or email Chuck Pratt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Chuck is the Director of Faith Formation at St. Vincent de Paul, which is my home parish.
The following is John Paul II's July 12, 1995 message on ecumenism.
ALL MUST STRIVE FOR GOAL OF FULL UNITY
Pope John Paul II
General Audience July 12, 1995
1. The commitment to ecumenism is of primary importance for the Christian. It is in fact known that Jesus prayed at the Last Supper for the unity of his Disciples, with heartfelt intensity: "as you, Father are in me, and I in you, I pray that they may be [one] in us, that the world may believe that you sent me" (Jn 17:21).
Jesus did not hesitate to pray to the Father for his Disciples "that their unity may be complete" (Jn 17:23) in spite of the difficulties and tensions he knew they would encounter.
He himself had noticed the disagreements and tensions he knew they would encounter. He himself had noticed the disagreements between the Twelve even during the Last Supper, and foresaw those which were shortly to appear in the life of the Christian communities, scattered throughout such a vast and varied world.
Nonetheless, he prayed for the complete unity of his followers and for this end he offered the sacrifice of his own life.
Unity is, therefore, a gift of the Lord to his Church "a people gathered together by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" as St. Cyprian effectively points out (De Orat. Dom., 23, PL 4, 536). Indeed, "the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit" (Unitatis redintegratio, n. 2).
In reality, in the first community that gathered after Pentecost, we see that deep unity prevailed: all "devoted themselves to the Apostles' instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42); and "the community of believers were of one heart and one mind" (Acts 4:32).
2. Reading the pages of the Acts of the Apostles which describe the early experiences of life in the apostolic community, one is struck by the observation that this union and harmony owed much to Mary's presence (cf. Acts 1:13-14). Among the women present at the first gathering, she is the only one mentioned by name by Luke, who does not fail to describe her as "the Mother of Jesus", thus holding her up as a sign and an intimate force of koinonia. This title conferred upon her a singular position connected to her new maternity which was proclaimed by Christ on the Cross. In this text therefore, it cannot be ignored that the Church's unity is expressed as fidelity to Christ, supported and protected by Mary's maternal presence.
The essential value of this unity achieved at the beginning of the Church's life, will never disappear. The Second Vatican Council repeated that: "Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only" (Unitatis redintegratio, n. 1). It must however be observed that this original unity has suffered deep lacerations in the course of history. Love of Christ must spur his followers today to reconsider together their past, to return to the way of unity with renewed vigor.
3. The New Testament writings themselves tell us that from the very beginning of the Church's life there have been divisions among Christians. Paul speaks of discord in the Church in Corinth (cf. 1 Cor 1:10-12). John complains of those who spread false teaching (cf. 2 Jn 10) or who claim the most important place in the Church (cf. 3 Jn 9-10). It was the start of a painful history, recorded in every age, with the formation of particular groups of Christians who broke away from the Catholic Church, the emergence of schisms and heresies, and the birth of "separated" Churches. These were not in communion either with the other particular Churches nor with the universal Church, constituted as "one flock" under the care of "one Shepherd", Christ (Jn 10:16), represented by one universal Vicar, the Supreme Pontiff.
4. From the painful confrontation of this historical situation with the Gospel law of unity, the ecumenical movement arose, a movement which aims at restoring even visible unity among all Christians, "that the world may be converted to the Gospel and so be saved, to the glory of God" (Unitatis redintegratio, n. 1). The Second Vatican Council gave the greatest importance to this movement, pointing out how it implies, for those who work for it, a communion of faith in the Trinity and in Christ, and a common longing for the one and universal Church (cf. Ibid., n. 1). But authentic ecumenical commitment likewise requires of all Christians, motivated by a sincere desire for communion, freedom from prejudices which hinder the development of the dialogue of charity in truth.
The Council formulates a differentiated judgment on the historical evolution of the separations. "Large communities" it says, "became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame (Unitatis redintegratio, n. 3). This was the initial moment of separation. Subsequently, the situation changed: "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers" (ibid.).
With the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church committed herself definitively to follow the path of ecumenical research, setting herself to listen to the Spirit of the Lord. The way of ecumenism has become the way of the Church.
5. We must note further that, according to the Council, those who are separated from the Catholic Church preserve a certain communion-incomplete but real-with her. In fact, those who believe in Christ and have received Baptism, are rightly recognized by the children of the Catholic Church "as brothers in the Lord", even if there are differences "whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church" (ibid., n. 3). We can be united with them through several elements of great value, such as, "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements" (ibid.). All of this is the heritage of the one Church of Christ, which "subsists in the Catholic Church" (Lumen Gentium, n.8.)
Even with regard to the work of evangelization and sanctification, the Council's attitude is sincere and respectful.
It affirms that the Churches and ecclesial communities are not in fact deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. "For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation." (Unitatis redintegratio, n. 3).
All this contains the impelling appeal for full unity. It is not merely a matter of gathering up all the spiritual riches scattered throughout the Christian communities, as if in so doing we might arrive at a more perfect Church, the Church God would desire for the future. Instead, it is a question of bringing about fully that Church which God already manifested in her profound reality at Pentecost. This is the goal towards which all must strive, already united in hope, prayer, conversion of heart, and as is often demanded of us, in suffering which draws its value from the Cross of Christ.
Weekly Edition in English
19 July 1995, p. 11.
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Starting February 1st I will be teaching "Catholicism 101: Essentials for the Journey" at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton church in Hastings, MN. I will be teaching this course at other locations, but this is the only parish still open for registration. All other parishes are full.
We will be covering ten basic teachings of Catholicism:
Lesson One: "Conversion: From Chaos to Covenant"
Lesson Two: "The Word of God: A Father Speaks To His Children"
Lesson Three: "Prayer: Let's Communicate"
Lesson Four: "The Sacraments: I Will Be With You Always"
Lesson Five: "Mass: The Center of Our Faith"
Lesson Six: "Mary, Our Mother & Advocate"
Lesson Seven: "The Papacy: The Question of Authority"
Lesson Eight: "Reconciliation: I Must Confess"
Lesson Nine: "The Liturgical Year: The Rhythm of the Church"
Lesson Ten: "The Communion of Saints: The Unity of the Family"
Each week you will receive handouts to read, you will answer some practical questions in preparation for small group discussion, then I will give a talk. Click here for all the registration information.