Posts Tagged ‘Evangalization’

Mary Queen of Heaven

In the Catholic calendar, May is a month where we pay special homage to Mary our Mother, Our Blessed Lady. Here are some ideas on how to do that throughout the month:

  1. Attend daily Mass – if you are unable to attend Mass every day, try going an extra day or two during the week.
  2. Pray the rosary every day – Our Lady of Fatima urged the seers to pray the rosary every day, during each of her six apparitions in Portugal. Are you a bit rusty when it comes to praying the rosary? Check out EWTN’s guide , install a rosary app on your smartphone, ask a friend or family member to pray it with you, or pray the rosary with Mother Angelica and her Sisters . And if you’re unable to pray the rosary, why not start with a decade a day!
  3. Put a picture of Mary in every room, and every time your eyes fall on her, offer up a little prayer.  And if you don’t have that many pictures  of Mary (I don’t!) google ‘Mother Mary’ and print off your favourites.
  4. Talking about favourite pictures of Mary, choose your top picture and use is as the wallpaper or background to your phone/ tablet/ laptop/ work computer for the month! This makes for a great starting point for evangelisation when a friend or colleague catches a glimpse of your screen!
  5. Make a pilgrimage – you don’t have to go all the way to Lourdes, Fatima or Mexico City! Plan a week-end to Knock or Walsingham, or go visit a local shrine or grotto- and invite your friends! Take a picture and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram  AND Pinterest!
  6. Mary Prayer FocusCreate a prayer focus– a statue of Mary, some candles, rosary beads, a bible… and if you don’t have a statue of Mary, May is the time to get one! Veritas sell statues of Mary from e4.50 (and deliver free in Ireland!)
  7. Blue is the Marian colour, so, wear something blue every day– that way you’ll start your day by thinking about honouring our Heavenly Mother! And, if you don’t have many blue clothes, a good back up is blue nail varnish! Another opportunity to tell people about Mary when people comment on the  interesting colour of your nails!
  8. Read about Mary! Pope John Paul II wrote Redemptoris Mater, an encyclical on the blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the pilgrim Church. Or, just look up ‘Mary’ in the index in your Catechism or YouCat, and work your way through. Also, when he was cardinal, Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote an excellent book about  Mary entitled “Mary: The Church at the Source, with Hans Urs von Balthasar.
  9. Celebrate! Share the Marian love with colleagues and bring in some celebratory cakes into work to share! @UKCatholicGirl wrote a great blog post about what happened when she decided to buy cakes to share in the law firm’s office where she worked, to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. You could do this on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima (13th May) or  the Visitation (31st May), or any other day… just because its the month of Mary!
  10. Watch a film about Mary– and invite some friends round and watch The 13th Day, Lourdes, or The Story of Bernadette.

Several years ago, a priest suggested to me and a few other young adults that we go into Birmingham on a Saturday afternoon, and ask people if they knew about Jesus Christ. It sounded terrifying. I thought the priest was being mischevieous, testing us, and, if I was to do it, would only do so with suitable protection, like a stab proof vest! Approach strangers? Stop them in the street? Tell them about Christ? Surely, I thought, there must be some easier way to evangelize…

Nightfever at St Teresa's Carmelite Church, Clarendon Street, Dublin

Ireland’s first Nightfever, St Teresa’s Carmelite Church, Clarendon Street, Dublin

Yesterday, I found myself standing at the top of Grafton Street, a busy shopping and tourist area in the heart of Dublin, wearing a high-vis jacket greeting passers by and offering them a candle.

The reason for this was Nightfever. An idea born out of World Youth Day 2005, it is an ‘open church’ night. Young missionaries go out in in pairs, as Jesus sent the disciples, offering candles to passers-by, inviting them to light the candle inside the church.

Walking down Grafton Street last night, Dubliners and tourists would have heard the tunes from buskers as they ended a day’s shopping, or began a night out. However, when passing St Teresa’s Church, Clarendon Street, they would have heard beautiful hymns, pouring out of the church onto the street.

Inside, the beauty of the church was illuminated by candlelight, from the hundreds of votive lights placed around the altar. Priests were available for people who had questions, wanted to talk, or go to Confession. People flowed in from the streets to light their candles, hear the music, sit, kneel, think, look, talk, pray… For some, it had been a while since they visited a Catholic church, for others, it was their first visit.

Whether the visitors stayed for a few minutes, a half hour, or the whole evening. Some passers by accepted the candles offered by the missionaries and went on their way. Others simply said “no thank you” and walked on. But even these may remember the warm and welcoming smile of a stranger on a Saturday night. Seeds were planted last night. We pray that the Holy Spirit may nurture these seeds and pour out upon them His inspiration, grace and love.

The next Nightfever in Dublin will take place on 20th June. To get a flavour of the mission, take a look at the video below…

Generation Benedict

40 days, 40 reflections, 40 young people on how Pope Benedict has touched their hearts & why they are proud to be part of #GenerationBenedict

Pope Benedict has been responsible for the conversion, reversion, vocation and the deepening of faith of many young Catholics. At the time of his visit to the UK, many Catholics were luke-warm, even living their lives completely at odds to the Church. During this visit, and also World Youth Days in Cologne, Sydney and Madrid, he has connected with them through his eloquence, his love and genuine concern. Who is God calling you to be?

Pope Benedict will be truly missed by our generation. Those who have met him look upon him fondly as a gentle grandfatherly figure, as he has pointed us towards Christ, at a point in time when many of us were at a crossroads, telling us not to settle for second best, but to strive for sainthood.

Over the next 40 days of Lent, 40 young people from Generation Benedict will each be sharing how he has touched their hearts and changed their lives and changed their hearts.

Please visit our Lenten blog, our tribute to Pope Benedict. We invite you to comment and share your own experiences on the blog and on Twitter using #generationbenedict

At Mass today, on the feast of the Epiphany, the priest ended his sermon with a wonderful meditation by Howard Thurman, an American civil rights activist. As Christmas-tide draws to a close, it prompts us to consider our work as adopted sons and daughters of God.

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.”

A Challenge for 2013

St  Teresa tells us that she experienced continual periods of dryness in her prayer life. To combat this, she never began to pray without a book.

Below is a bookmark with some suggestions of books, mostly from saints, that may be useful for spiritual readings and aid prayer.

Why not print some copies and give them to friends and family members. You could also leave some at the back of the Church (ask your parish priest first) or in the adoration chapel.

Going a step further, you could give the gift of one of these books to someone, to encourage them on their Journey of Faith.

Guides to Prayer bookmark

Is God the source of your identity or is it your sexual self?

The topic of homosexuality is very prevalent at the moment, especially in countries like the UK where the government and campaigners want to ‘redefine marriage’.

At pro-life events, I have seen counter-demonstrations, where campaigners have waved placards stating ‘I hope the baby you saves will be gay’. It is very sad to see people with a hate-filled, distorted message, who have understood Catholic teaching.

The video above is an informative, catechetical resource that will equip you with the tools to be able to defend the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, and help you reveal to Truth to others.

Online resources:

http://couragerc.org/

http://letterstochristopher.wordpress.com/

http://questgaycatholic.org.uk/

How are your Christmas preparations coming along? I read somewhere before advent this year a suggestion to not spend more than two days on Christmas shopping. I set myself that microchallenge thinking it would be easy, thanks to online shopping. However I find even with that I have gone over the two days!

I great online reminder of the reason for the season is Busted Halo’s digital advent calender, complete with short daily jolts and reflections, which help prepare us for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Various celebrities, politicians and singers provide a thought on waiting and patience, as we prepare a way for the Lord (Isaiah 40:3).

As an example, here is a clip from the first day- Zac Effron and Elmo teaching us about, and demonstrating patience!

 

Check out Busted Halo’s digital advent calender for yourself! Add it to your favourites, tweet and tell your friends and family about it, helping them too to make a straight highway for our God accross the desert.

 

Busted Halo advent calender

Busted Halo advent calender

The Pope's Twitter page

The Pope’s Twitter page

The Pope is to begin tweeting from @pontifex on 12th December, when he will host a question and answer session! How blessed we are to have a leader of the church who is so in tune with modern communication and social media to reach out to so many people and evangelise!

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Today, at the Invocation 2012 festival, held at Oscott College, Birmingham, young adults and religious alike welcomed the relic of the heart of St John Vianney.

But what are relics? Why venerate them? And what can we learn from St John Vianney? Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury Diocese, who was instrumental in bringing the relic from France to the UK for the first time, gave an inspiring and engaging keynote addressing these topics.

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Bishop Davies began by saying that relics of Saints were brought over by Britain’s first missionaries, as they evangelised the island. They awaken hope of holiness in people, as they provide a tangible link with the Communion of Saints. As relics had a role in the first evangelisation of the British Isles, so they should have a role in the New Evangelisation.

We were reminded that we are given our lives, in order to give them away, to serve God. Each and every person was no accident, but willed and loved by God, and everyone has a place on His team, the winning team. There are different positions- centres, forwards, wing, but God’s team is unlike a football team, as there are no mistakes in God’s team selection. By giving ourselves wholeheartedly, we can serve God.

How can St John Vianney help us to become more holy? Bishop Mark gave us a punchy summary of this inspirational saint, who battled against the odds and overcame many hurdles in order to answer God’s call for him to become a priest.

Born in France in 1786, John Vianney grew up during the French revolution, where attending Mass was illegal and priests were forced into hiding, conducting secret services. Leaving school at the age of 9, he helped his father on the family farm, where eventually, his father reluctantly let him leave to train for the priesthood. He found this challenging, as he had left school at such a young age. His studies were interrupted after he was summoned to fight in Napoleon’s army. He quickly deserted and spent time in hiding. When deserters were pardoned, he returned and was sent to a seminary, although he was kicked out for being ‘too slow’. He eventually became a priest in 1815.

As a priest, he was appointed to the parish of Ars, a small parish known for its lack of faithful. There, his day started at 1am, when he heard confession of the locals and people who travelled far and wide. He spent up to 18 hours a day in the confessional and historians estimate he heard the confessions of 20% of the French population of the day!

As an  elderly priest, unable to talk, he would simply stand on the altar and point towards the altar to the tabernacle, in which the Real Presence was enclosed.

His body was exhumed in 1904, and found to be incorrupt.Image

Saint Vianney abandoned himself to God, filling his days with prayer and service to God. His heart symbolises a heart given and consumed by divine love. How can we draw inspiration from this in our everyday lives? Bishop Davies said we do not need to start our days at 1am in prayer, but had a more practical suggestion: get up two minutes earlier than necessary, and devoting those few minutes to God at the beginning of our day.

May the heart of St John Vianney awaken our hearts and bring  us closer to God, as we hobble along the path to holiness, and may his great sacrifices throughout his life encourage us to make small sacrifices every day.

See the video below for a short clip of Bishop Mark Davies’ talk