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WYD 2016: A public enactment of much needed mercy

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The recent displays of merciless violence in France and the United States have increased social and political tensions and struck fear into ordinary citizens. Despite the flood of energy and resources into public security measures, unpredictable attacks are becoming more common. Is this the world we now live in?

Against this backdrop World Youth Day Krakow is set to begin next week. It’s difficult to ignore at least the possibility of a security breach as more than a million people gather to celebrate with Pope Francis. But there is an even greater risk for the Church to ponder: the absence of such a global witness to unity and fraternity.

This World Youth Day is infused with the theme of mercy: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy,” from the Gospel of Matthew. Krakow is the city of mercy, the home of Saint Faustina, the “prophet of mercy”, and Saint John Paul II, the “apostle of mercy.” The city will welcome Pope Francis, now considered the “pope of mercy” for his closeness to those on the margins and his relentless insistence on the absolute and unconditional mercy of God toward all people.

In preparing for our coverage of World Youth Day Krakow, I spent some time reading about mercy in the Gospels and in the Church’s long tradition. And I found that mercy has a singular, foundational significance for Christianity. I realized that what Francis, John Paul and Faustina have said about mercy, each in their own way, is essentially the same thing. In John Paul’s words, mercy is, “the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer.”

That statement comes from his 1980 encyclical dedicated entirely to the topic of mercy, Dives in Misericordia. Devotees of now-Saint John Paul have pointed out that this encyclical resembles theologically Saint Faustina’s famous diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul. In fact, it was John Paul who, as pope, promoted Faustina’s cause and devotion to the Divine Mercy, eventually canonizing Poland’s most beloved nun in 2000. Since then Divine Mercy has become the fastest growing devotion in the Catholic Church.

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When Pope Francis burst onto the scene in 2013, we all wondered what the leitmotif of his pontificate would be. The immediate signs pointed to something new for the modern papacy, something revolutionary. Clearly he wanted to bring the poor and those on the peripheries back into the center of the Church’s life. He spoke about the “globalization of indifference” and the need for structural and spiritual reform in the Vatican’s bureaucracy. But more than three years later, if we were to ask what the central theme of Francis’ pontificate is, who could refute the argument for mercy, “the greatest of all the virtues,” as Francis calls it?

What is somewhat perplexing about this whole development is the paradox at the center of it. It has to do with this lingering question of continuity and discontinuity around Francis. How is it that we have a Pope who, on the one hand, is often labelled a deviant from the pontifical path of his predecessors—especially John Paul and Benedict—and on the other hand, is preaching precisely the same foundational message of mercy that was at the heart of John Paul’s life and pontificate?

It’s not as if mercy were some peripheral theme of John Paul’s and Francis’ ministries. On the contrary, mercy is at the core of both of them. There must be something missing in that analysis. And, as is often the case, a biblical precedence can shed some light on the matter.

Both John Paul (in Dives in Misericordia) and Francis (in Misericordiae Vultus) astutely pointed out that the concept of mercy is integral to the relationship between God and the Jewish people articulated in the Old Testament. And in that historical framework Jesus arrived, “on ground already prepared,” as John Paul put it (DM, 4). But, the Pope continued, Christ’s mercy is simultaneously “simpler and more profound.” (DM, 5) After a penetrating exegesis of the parable of the Prodigal Son, John Paul concluded that:

“The true and proper meaning of mercy does not consist only in looking, however penetratingly and compassionately, at moral, physical or material evil: mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man.” (DM, 6)

This “more profound” articulation of mercy experienced in Jesus is not only difficult to grasp, but can be unsettling. It subverts our human conception of justice, often understood in a legalistic sense based on the OT law and image of God as “judge”. Both John Paul and Francis address this issue directly. Francis writes:

“For his part, Jesus speaks several times of the importance of faith over and above the observance of the law. It is in this sense that we must understand his words when, reclining at table with Matthew and other tax collectors and sinners, he says to the Pharisees raising objections to him, “Go and learn the meaning of ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’. I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9:13). Faced with a vision of justice as the mere observance of the law that judges people simply by dividing them into two groups—the just and sinners—Jesus is bent on revealing the great gift of mercy that searches out sinners and offers them pardon and salvation. One can see why, on the basis of such a liberating vision of mercy as a source of new life, Jesus was rejected by the Pharisees and the other teachers of the law.” (MV, 20)

Though John Paul did not write so candidly on the subject, he drew the same conclusion, namely that, “The primacy and superiority of love vis-à-vis justice—this is the mark of the whole of revelation—are revealed precisely through mercy.” (DM, 4)

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The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were people of the law; they were religiously formed and considered among the guardians of the tradition. From that tradition they knew God as “merciful.” Still, the “liberating vision of mercy” that Jesus embodied was deemed unorthodox, even heretical. Such was the primacy and potency of mercy revealed in Jesus’ life and teaching. His public displays of mercy changed individual lives and eventually the whole world. Think of the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15)—a favorite of John Paul II—or the woman caught in adultery (John 8). Think of the story of the sinful women who washed the feet of Jesus in Simon the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7). Think of Jesus’ instantaneous promise of eternal salvation to the criminal crucified next to him (Luke 23). Jesus never tempered his mercy in public for fear of confusion or undermining God’s established laws.  His mercy was the fulfillment of the whole of the law.

I remember one of the press briefings during the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the family when Mark Coleridge, a very astute, pastoral bishop from Brisbane, Australia, spoke about practicing mercy in the Church. He made the argument that the old distinction of speaking the truth in public but practicing mercy in private no longer works:

“I think what we need now—and this is what I’d like to see emerge from this synod—are public enactments of mercy, not just doing mercy in private behind closed doors or in a confessional. And it’s the sort of public enactment of mercy that we see I think in Pope Francis, who in a sense is modelling what the whole church has to ponder. But when you’ve been used to centuries of thinking about “mercy in private, truth in public,” it’s not always easy to even imagine what the public enactment of mercy might look like. And when you do see it, it can even be unsettling.”

Ahead of World Youth Day Krakow, where mercy will be discussed, prayed for, reflected upon, and put into practice, it’s worth recalling the “simple yet profound” development in our understanding of mercy that Jesus embodied.  In his day, the old understanding of mercy was not enough.  In our time, what’s needed are public enactments that unequivocally communicate the absolute mercy of God for people in their particular circumstances, whatever they may be.

For his part, Pope Francis promised to do one public act of mercy every month during the Year of Mercy, and he’s encouraged all Catholics to do the same. The World Youth Day in Krakow is poised to be the grandest of these public acts of mercy. It’s not so much what will be done as what will be seen: “a mosaic of different faces, from many races, languages, peoples and cultures, but all united in the name of Jesus, who is the Face of Mercy,” as Francis called it. In light of all the division, hatred and violence manifesting itself around the globe, such an authentic mosaic is sorely needed. In spite of everything, the young people at World Youth Day will take a stand for humanity and proclaim that the name of God is mercy.

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In the run-up to World Youth Day Krakow, Sebastian has been working on a story on mercy in the modern papacy entitled, “Mercy in Continuity.” You can watch it as part of S+L’s daily show World Youth Day Central, airing July 25-30 at 7:00pm ET. 


Photos courtesy of Bill Wittman and Catholic News Service

Taizé vs Cluny: spiritual centers that tell the story of a church in history

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(People gather in one of the catechesis tents at Taizé, France.  They begin each session by singing one of the widely popular chants of the community.)

In a remote east-central region of France sit two distinct spiritual centers that tell the remarkable story of a church that is always situated in a particular moment history.

The internationally known Taizé community, with its brothers from various Christian traditions dressed in white robes, occupies most of the land of the hilltop town in the countryside about an hour’s drive north of Lyons.  The remains of Cluny Abbey, the millennium-old center of medieval monasticism, are just a ten-minute drive south of Taizé.

Last weekend I visited the Taizé community—a visit well worth the long journey—and as I followed my Google Maps app, I was surprised to see “Cluny” pop up just down the road.  What a remarkable thing that these two places are neighbors in the rural countryside of Burgundy.

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Cluny was the headquarters of monastic reform in the 10th and 11th centuries.  By that time, Benedictine monasteries had sprung up across Europe—the order was already about 400 years old by that time—and monastic life had become a bit lax in practice or too closely aligned with political and economic forces.  Pope Francis would say they had become a bit “worldly”.  Cluny was a response.  The Cluniacs called for stricter adherence to the Rule of St. Benedict, challenged simony (the buying and selling of ecclesial posts), and promoted clerical celibacy.

The motherhouse at Cluny eventually became the spiritual head of more than a thousand satellite monasteries across Europe and some of their monks even became popes—a development which institutionalized for the universal church some of the Cluniac reforms.  What’s left of the physical monastery is still impressive.  Only one tower remains, but what struck me was the sheer size of the area where the cloister and church once were.  It must have been an imposing structure.  But today it is only a museum.  There are no monks, no libraries, no chanting.

Meanwhile, up the road at Taizé there were 750 young people sleeping in grungy cabins or in tents in the field, attending catechesis and chanting beautiful hymns of praise to God.  The Brothers are expecting the number of visitors to increase to four or five thousand by July.  Taizé is like a mini, perpetual World Youth Day, where you see new people every day, sleeping quarters are tight and the food is…well, it’s food.

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But it’s alive.  The fraternal spirit of Brother Roger—the founder who was brutally murdered during evening prayer in 2005—still permeates the place.  Dozens of Brothers (most of them young men) of all traditions and cultural backgrounds live and pray every day alongside their guests.  All are welcome.  It is a place of reconciliation, healing, peace and fraternity.  The music, which people around the world have come to know and love, is simply the audible expression of the experience people share when they are there.

I learned two important lessons from my experience in Taizé and Cluny.  First, there is no guarantee that building impressive churches, structures or institutions will inevitably draw people in or give them life—at least not forever.  We know that from the grandiose yet empty halls at Cluny, and from the grungy yet overflowing tent-city at Taizé.

Second, different spiritual reforms are needed at different moments in the church’s history.  You could argue that Cluny struck a spiritual nerve in the 10th century just as Taizé does today.  There was a need for monastic reform back then, just as there is a need for tangible expressions of ecumenism and fraternity in our church and world today.  There is something to be said for reading the signs of the times in light of our history, and the eruption of the Spirit in the Taizé movement should be cause for serious reflection on who we are as Christians in the world today.  Perhaps, like the Cluniac reforms a millennium ago, the vision of realized Christian unity will even become institutionalized.

That moment when the Church was founded – #SLPilgrimage at Caesarea Philippi

The flush region of Caesarea Philipi is about an hour’s drive north of the Sea of Galilee.  It was given to Herod the Great by Caesar Augustus around 20 BCE, who in turn handed it down to his son Philip.  Philip named it Caesarea in honor of Caesar, and his own name eventually became associated with it, thus Caesarea Philipi.  But the region also has another ancient name, Paneas, because at the time of Jesus there was a thriving religious cult around the fertility god Pan.  The temple of the cult was built around one of three natural springs feeding the Jordan River.  To pagans, these types of natural springs were gateways to the netherworld or Hades.

Seb3The scene must have been bustling with worshipers of all kinds when Jesus and his disciples ventured up there from their usual hang out in Capernaum.  There they had a conversation that would forever shape the history of the Church.  Surrounded by statues and images of the ancient gods, Jesus poses a pointed question, “who do people say that I am?”  Peter replies confidently, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus proclaims, “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah!  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

Peter’s proclamation of Jesus as the Son of the living God was an obvious rejection of the pagan cult and a vote of divine confidence in his teacher and friend.  Jesus’ pronouncement laid the foundation for the Petrine ministry embodied throughout history in the authority and primacy of the popes.  There are other suggestions of Peter’s primacy among the twelve in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, but this one is the most direct and consequential for how we understand the Petrine ministry.

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Reading this conversation between Jesus and Peter two thousand years later on the ruins of the pagan temple, a deeper question surfaced: why Peter?  By all Gospel accounts, Peter was not the ablest or most reliable disciple.  Surely Jesus could have built his church on a sturdier foundation.  In his commentary of this historic conversation, G.K. Chesterton captures the paradoxical truth hidden in Jesus’ choice of Peter:

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward—in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”

Sebastian Gomes is an English producer for Salt + Light.

The environment was calling, calling me!

wetlandIt’s “Laudato si’ Week”, an anniversary movement to celebrate and implement the landmark encyclical of Pope Francis on care for our common home. As the website indicates, this week is about reflection and action; it’s about bringing the rich teachings of the document to life in our communities.  Last week I heard a wonderful story that I wanted to share with our S+L readership.  I was teaching in the Summer Institute at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago; the course was on media and communications in the era of Pope Francis.  One of our class periods was dedicated entirely to Laudato si’ and how the Pope sees the ecological crisis as an opportunity to open lines of communication between countries and cultures.  During our discussion, one of the students, Maryellen Knuth shared this amazing story of Laudato si’ in action!

Let me preface this story by telling you that at the time I did not recognize this as a call.  I answered something that I felt deeply in my core, but I am not sure I could have expressed it in words at the time.

In 1999 I was disturbed by a soil testing truck that I saw out my kitchen window on the 88 acre wetland that backs up to our property.  I made some phone calls and found out that a housing developer was planning to build half million-dollar homes on that wetland.  Daily for almost three months I called neighbors, environmentalists, fish and wildlife preserves, conservation organizations and specialists, village trustees, forest preserve commissioners, and anybody I could find to help try to prevent the destruction of this beautiful piece of property, which was also a home to abundant wildlife.

What began as a disturbance in me quickly became a vision for the people living around the wetland, and they came together to save it.  We gathered in homes to strategize about how to fight the developer and the village, and to solicit the help of the forest preserve by bringing this piece of property to their attention as a piece of land they might be interested in purchasing.  We lived and sweated for that wetland as we educated ourselves about issue, made phone calls, obtained aerial photos of the area, circulated petitions to all four borders of the wetland, and attended each monthly village meeting for a year and a half.

The battle went into litigation, first circuit court (we lost and filed an appeal) and then appellate court.  I am proud to say that in February of 2004 (5 years later) we got word that the forest preserve was settling with the seller a fair price for the land.  The wetland had been saved!

Simply stated, I answered a call to be an advocate for the environment.  I didn’t really stop to think about it, I just acted on it, the call.  I think it was always part of me, no discernment was necessary, action started immediately.  I never said, “what if…”, “I don’t have time”, or “what will this entail?”  Answering the call quickly became a vision that was carried on many shoulders, embodied in the strong hearts of the people who fought for it.  People who didn’t know each other before came together in a remarkable way to realize that common vision.

My story can be summed up in a wonderful quote I had hanging on my back door along with my kids’ schoolwork.  I came across this quote in the midst of our battle for the wetland.  But it took on new meaning as we became the quote!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”
Margaret Mead
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Maryellen Knuth is the Director of the Emmaus Formation for Ministry Program for lay students studying advanced degrees at Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park, IL.  In 2005, she graduated with a MAPS degree from CTU.  She has been married for forty years, and has five children and four grandchildren. She lives on the edge of a preserved wetland in Bartlett, IL.

Woman and the Church: new episode of Subject Matters tackles the perennial question



Subject Matters: “Promise and Challenge: Catholic Women Reflect on Feminism, Complementarity, and the Church”
Mary Hasson, editor
Sunday, June 19 at 8:30pmET / 5:30pm PT

This Sunday’s all-new episode of Subject Matters features Mary Hasson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.  She’s the editor of this compilation of essays responding to Pope Francis’s call for a more “incisive presence of women” in the Church today.  Grounded in the Church’s clear teaching on feminism and complementarity–espoused by Pope John Paul II in particular–these women offer practical and theological considerations with the clear goal of taking another step forward.  Ahead of Sunday’s premiere, check out “My Take” on this timely and provocative book and tune in Sunday night!

Progress regarding women’s presence in the Church should be measured less by the numbers of women appointed to significant positions within the Church’s structure (although that is surely important) and more by the transformative impact of an integral complementarity put into practice more broadly, in parish ministries, education, social work, business, and health care.
Promise and Challenge, p.261

Remembering Cardinal Loris Capovilla, our link to a Saint and the Spirit

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We were once a Church of oral tradition. Long before the New Testament was codified, the stories of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection circulated the Mediterranean world by word of mouth. Chief among these evangelists were Paul and the twelve Apostles, who journeyed far and wide while facing enormous opposition and persecution, eventually being killed for the message they shared.

Tradition holds that John, perhaps the youngest of the twelve, outlived the others and eventually died an old man in Ephesus, in modern day Turkey. But not before he wrote or dictated what came to be the fourth gospel of the New Testament, the Gospel of John, dated sometime between 90-110 CE.

Some contemporary skeptics read a lot into that chasm of some sixty or more years between the death of Jesus in the early 30’s and the composition of the gospel, but there’s a real sense in the text that John’s understanding of the real Jesus was actually enhanced, rather than hindered, over time. John had the historical facts about Jesus, but also the benefit of hindsight that can illuminate the deeper truth about a person or event.

On May 26, 2016, the eldest member of the College of Cardinals passed away in a remote town in northern Italy. His name was Loris Capovilla and he was the personal secretary of Pope John XXIII. John died on June 3, 1963, fifty three years ago today. With the passing of Cardinal Capovalla, a significant part of the oral tradition of the life of Pope John and the historic Second Vatican Council has come to an end.

Pope Francis canonized his predecessor John on April 27, 2014, and I had the rare opportunity to visit Capovilla in Sotto il Monte a few days later (Click here to read Fr. Tom’s account of the visit). It was an experience I will never forget.

The Cardinal was fragile—98 years old at the time—but full of energy and excitement. He had known for years that Angelo Roncalli was a holy man, but certainly the Church’s official recognition of Roncalli’s holiness was cause for extra jubilation. We spent ninety minutes with him in private speaking about John and the Council, the past fifty years, and Pope Francis. It was a very moving experience to sit with such a man, the aging eyewitness to one of the most extraordinary moments in church history.

What he told us was equally extraordinary. Apparently John had run up against enormous resistance from within the Church (from cardinals and bishops) when he called and commenced the Second Vatican Council. Capovilla told us it weighed very heavily on him personally and that he was constantly expressing his concern to John. But there was a great tranquility about John, even in the face of internal pressure, overt criticism, and other enormous obstacles. On one occasion John told him, “Loris, if we stopped along the road to pick up all the stones they are throwing at us, we would never get anywhere.”

The pressure only increased when John passed away between the first and second sessions of the Council. Capovilla told us that the completion of the Council—especially in the direction of openness and mercy which John had charted—was in serious jeopardy. He himself was deliberately sidelined by the Curia, who for fear that the Church’s long-standing doctrine would be compromised, attempted to redirect the Council away from perceived novelty and an attitude of accommodation to the world.

For this reason Capovilla sang the praises of John’s successor, Paul VI. It fell to Paul to navigate the restless waters at the Vatican and maintain unity. Capovilla went so far to say that if it weren’t for Paul VI, “we wouldn’t be here right now” (meaning we wouldn’t be celebrating the canonizations of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII).

Capovilla also had high praises for Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the controversial philosopher and cosmologist who was censored by church authorities for his apparent heterodox views related to evolution and the nature of human beings. Since his death in 1955 his work began to seep into mainstream theology and is today experiencing a noteworthy resurgence. All the popes from John to Francis have acknowledged the importance of Teilhard de Chardin, most recently Pope Francis referenced his thought in paragraph 83 of Laudato si.

But during the pontificate of John XXIII from 1958-1963, Teilhard’s work was anathema to the institutional church. Nonetheless, John had a great respect for him and interest in his work. Capovilla told us it wouldn’t surprise him is Teilhard is made a saint one day.

As interesting as the conversation was, what I remember most about our meeting with Cardinal Capovilla was his contagious joy when speaking about his boss and friend, Pope John. It was clear he would never tire of speaking about John and the Council to anyone who was interested. It was as if the memory of ‘the good Pope’ over these five decades served as a timed-release pill, as Capovilla came to understand and appreciate him better and better, and tried to transmit that memory to others.

It’s true to say that what I experienced speaking with Cardinal Capovilla cannot be fully communicated on paper. I do not presume that anyone reading this will automatically feel the same way I felt when we were sitting around the table together back in 2014. It was not just what he said, but how he said it and the obvious effect it had on him all those years later that, in turn, led me to a deeper understanding of John and appreciation for what he did for the Church.

John was able to launch the Council in the face of great opposition and trepidation among church officials because he was totally open to the Holy Spirit, and that freed him from a narrow, defensive mentality that would unconsciously stifle the Spirit, essentially constraining the space in which the Spirit works. What was really ‘dangerous’ about Pope John—and what is also ‘dangerous’ about Pope Francis—is not that he might have changed this or that long-standing teaching of the Church, but that he was free, and his personal freedom brought freedom to others and freedom, in many ways, to the modern church. Needless to say, Cardinal Capovilla was very happy with Pope Francis, remarking with a smile when we asked him about this perceived freedom in John and Francis, “They are the same!”

Subject Matters: “The Vatican Prophecies: Investigating Supernatural Signs, Apparitions, and Miracles in the Modern Age”

Subject Matters: “The Vatican Prophecies: Investigating Supernatural Signs, Apparitions, and Miracles in the Modern Age”
by John Thavis
Sunday, June 5 at 8:30pmET / 5:30pm PT
This Sunday’s all-new episode of Subject Matters features best-selling author and Vaticanista John Thavis.  You will not be able to put this book down: relics, apparitions and exorcisms, they’re all there in this investigative book about how the Vatican deals with claims of the supernatural.  Ahead of Sunday’s premiere, check out “My Take” on John’s book and tune in Sunday night!

 

“One constant is that manifestations of the supernatural continue to simmer among the faithful, percolating up like hot spots on the global Catholic landscape.  In response, the Vatican attempts to coolly examine the facts and exercise quality control, extinguishing any hint of fanaticism.”
The Vatican Prophecies, p.12

Being an “expert in humanity”… is for everyone!

Subject Matters: “Experts in Humanity: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Healing”
by Josephine Lombardi, PhD
Sunday, May 29 at 8:30pmET / 5:30pm PT

This Sunday’s all-new episode of Subject Matters features a wonderful book that brings together Catholic spirituality and contemporary biology and psychology.  Theologian Josephine Lombardi takes us on a spiritual journey towards being our best selves in “Experts in Humanity: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Healing.”  Ahead of Sunday’s premiere, check out “My Take” on Professor Lombardi’s book and tune in Sunday night!

Your future depends on you knowing God and knowing yourself. This will bring you healing, and your own story of healing will inspire others to know God and to know themselves.
Experts in Humanity, p.127

 

Preview of Subject Matters Ep2 – Perspectives


Tonight on Perspectives: Best-selling authors Tom Corcoran and Fr. Michael White speak about their book series “Rebuilt” and “Rebuilding Your Message” ahead of our Sunday, May 22nd episode of Subject Matters.

Reignite your parish by “Rebuilding Your Message”, on Subject Matters

 

SebBlogSM1Every Catholic knows what life is like in the parish: a faith-filled community that sometimes struggles to share its message, bring about change, or try new things.  A new episode of Subject Matters airing this Sunday tackles the phenomenon of communication in today’s fast-paced world, including what works and what doesn’t.  Rebuilding Your Message: Practical Tools to Strengthen Your Preaching and Teaching is the latest book in a series by best-selling authors Tom Corcoran and Fr. Michael White of Timonium, Maryland.

Based on years of study and practical pastoral experience, Tom and Fr. Michael have compiled a comprehensive list of axioms that can help pastors and parishioners reflect on how they communicate their message, and more importantly, how to improve at it.  Teaching and preaching don’t just happen from the pulpit, say Tom and Fr. Michael, but also in classes and small groups, in bulletins, on the church website and social media, and through volunteers who welcome visitors through its doors.  Stagnation in the parish is not inevitable, they say, if the pastor together with the right parishioners, reflect honestly and think creatively about the core message, and what makes church matter to people today.  Tune in to Subject Matters…

Sunday, May 22nd at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT
featuring “Rebuilding Your Message:
Practical Tools to Strengthen Your Preaching and Teaching”

by Tom Corcoran and Fr. Michael White