Thursday, December 31, 2009

The New Year

Read 2 Corinthians 13:5

It's the end of 2009. I think it would be a good idea to spend some quiet time with God contemplating 2009, much like the friar in Brother Lew's photo.

How did you do with your Resolutions from last year? Let's examine your conscience. You can go through the Ten Commandments like Catholics do before the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But look at your relationship with the Lord in 2009.

When were you close and when were you far? Why?

I bet you were close during the Arise Together in Christ sessions. What does that tell you?

Spending some time alone with God should be part of your daily life. Schedule some time every day; that should be your New Year's Resolution for 2010. Pray for the grace to do just this in the year ahead. I'll pray for you and you pray for me.

BTW, the reference for the Ten Commandments is Exodus 20: 1-17.

Have a blessed New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Announcing Planning Session

All those interested in Arise and would like to have some input in planning Session 4, are welcome to attend our plenary session. We will meet January 5, 2010, in the Rectory, at 7:00 PM.


The piety of us people depends, to a great extent, on the holiness of our clergy. We get what we deserve! The Bible tells us in Acts that the most terrible chastisement which almighty God inflicts upon perverse nations is to give them priests of their own kind. The formation of priests is then,of the utmost importance to all Catholics. We need to pray for them daily and support them in any way we can.

The above painting is by Blessed Fra Angelico (1400-1455). I think it is beautiful when you consider what and whom you're seeing. Saint Peter is ordaining Stephen to the diaconate while Saint John the Beloved (whose feast is today, December 27), holding his Gospel, looks on. The composition is remarkable: the three heads of Peter, John and Stephen form a triangle, a symbol of communion in the Three Divine Persons. Peter is handing over the chalice and paten; they are very large. Fra Angelico makes the Most Holy Eucharist central; he paints what Saint Thomas Aquinas taught, i.e. that the unity of the Church is constituted and held together by participation in the adorable Body and Blood of Christ.

Read: 1 Tim 4: 1-10

Amen! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Wreaths

All the previous pictures of Advent wreaths are drawn. This picture is real. It's too real. It's my Advent wreath. :-(

Life isn't perfect; that's for sure. This Advent wreath tells a tale of woe. The original wreath was a metal circle with four candle holders attached to it. When I took it out of the attic. It was broken. One of the candle holders was broken off.

Read Proverbs 16: 1.

So my plans for the wreath were sidelined. I had to do something. So I found 4 candle holders and put them around a little green wreath. Some of the candle holders are tall, some not.


It's an Advent Wreath. :-p

Read Psalm 33:11 (32)

Usually, the candles last all four weeks. But these candles are real, unlike the ones I've used for pictures in the previous postings. They're too real--they're burnt down to stubs. There's nothing left for Christmas.

Read Matt 7: 1-2.

I tried. Besides, appearances aren't important. It's the intention that counts.
We pray the Advent Wreath prayers. We are waiting for the birth of Christ.

Mercy Not Sacrifice

It's Christmas time. People seem to be in a good mood despite the economy, the weather, the news, and the cares of the day. So far. Why? I think because they're in the true Christmas spirit. People hear stories of Mary visiting Elizabeth, the innkeeper having compassion on a traveling pregnant woman, the Magi visiting the Holy Child. We seem to be more hospitable than usual.

Read: Luke 1:39-45

What a wonderful world this would be if we treated everyone as if they were angels, or pregnant with Jesus.

Why don't we?

Why can't we?

C'mon, let's.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Again I say Rejoice! It's almost Christmas. My Christmas cactus is about ready to bloom. Christ is coming. The baby Jesus is due any time. All reasons to rejoice.

Read Psalm 145 (146)

You know the best reasons for rejoicing? Because we are Catholics. We rejoice because we have hope. Hope for Catholics is based upon God and God alone. We put all our hope and trust in God.

What do we hope for? The object of Catholic hope is the coming of God's Kingdom. Our hope is that God's Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God's Will is what's best for everybody. He has the big picture and we need to trust that what God wants is whatever is best for all of us together.

Catholics, because of our Faith, act with hope and in that way give example to the rest of the world. This is a valuable contribution. Teachers, theologians, politicians, etc. talk, but ordinary Catholic Christians living their daily lives preach in their reality to help people to appreciate God and His Work in our lives.

Do I hear an AMEN?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Second week of Advent. It's about Hope. You need Faith to have Hope. Why would you hope if you didn't believe something would happen?

Read Romans 8:38-39

Don't ever forget that there is no sin that can ever separate you from God. No sin. Think about the thief on the cross beside Jesus. Jesus told him that he was saved because of his faith. Imagine, someone judged so evil to suffer capital punishment, he was the only one promised instant salvation. Jesus never told anyone else that.

There is always Hope. Have Faith


Friday, November 27, 2009


Shout with joy. Alleluia! The Lord is coming.

Sunday, November 29, 2009 marks the first Sunday of Advent.

Read: Luke 21:28

Luke was not one of the original apostles. Did you ever wonder how he prepared himself for writing his Gospel?

Think about it.

He prepared just like ever participant in the Arise program has prepared and is preparing. Luke studied. He prayed. He opened himself up to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He wanted to learn, to understand. He prayed for wisdom and knowledge--just like we did and do. He talked to others, learning the stories of the original apostles. He read scripture. He discussed. He questioned, and he prayed more.

You didn't know there were Arise Together in Christ Sessions back then did you?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Read Psalm 30

Read Psalm 116

Read 1Thessalonians 5:16-18

Around the Thanksgiving table each person gave one reason for being thankful. Little Sonny said, "I'm thankful I'm not a turkey."

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Breakfast with the priests. Actually they were busy; they were in and out. But it was a great success. More people came than I expected and we almost ran out of food. We had just enough.

From the conversations I overheard, everyone loved their Arise group. One group bought a cow. My group brought food every week for the food pantry. We also donated a dollar each, every week, so that at Christmas we could give the money to a family we adopted. There were other ideas that I forget. It was just so edifying to hear.

Wonderful season. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Party

You are invited to attend the celebration of the closing of another successful Arise Together in Christ Session.

Where: St. Mary's Church, Franklin, MA

When: November 22, 2009

Time: 10:30 Mass
Collation following in the Rectory Kitchen

Yes, after Mass we'll meet in the Rectory's Kitchen and Dining Room and pass in Evaluations and swap stories.

Who: All who participated in the Arise program and their families.

God is good!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Good Samaritan

I know you're probably sick of this parable, but I saw an episode on 60 minutes that put new life in an old parable. First, read Luke 10:25-37.

The story in 60 Minutes is called The Bad Samaritan. The story is about a young man named David Cash. Back in 1997, a 7-year old girl was at a casino in Las Vegas with her father. When the little girl went into the bathroom, she was followed by 18-year-Jeremy Strohmeyer. David Cash looked around for his friend, Jeremy. The only place he could have gone was the bathroom. Since it was after midnight, there was no one around. David went into the ladies room. David stated that Jeremy and Sherrice were playing around then Jeremy snatched little Sherrice and pushed her into a stall and put his hand on her mouth. David said he stood on the toilet in the next stall, and tapped Jeremy on the head to get his attention. David said that Jeremy's eyes were dazed and so he left Jeremy in the stall with his hand over little Sherrice's mouth. Jeremy and David later met up and went to other casinos. Jeremy later confessed to David that he'd killed the girl. David never called the police.

The crime is reprehensible.

But for this posting's purposes, I'm interested in David Cash's conduct.

How is what David did, or rather not do, different from the priest who just passed by the victim who needed help?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We are One who Won

It's a win/win situation when we all work together. Imagine if one leg wanted to go one way and the other--the other.



Read 1Cor. 12:12-14,24-27

This reading is so apropos to what's going on right now. On Tues. Oct. 21, 2009, it was announced by Cardinal Levada and Archbishop DiNoia, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that the Traditional Anglican Communion, from around the world, were seeking unity with Rome, and are going to be brought into communion with the Catholic Church.

This is the largest Protestant group to have ever come back home. We will all be richer for the union of faith traditions brought together.

Now Zenit announces that Bishop Tichon, from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is in discussion with Rome. "We must find unity as soon as possible and finally celebrate together," L'Osservatore Romano reported. "People don't understand our divisions and our discussions,"

Bishop Tichon said that "the theological dialogue that is going forward in these days in Cyprus is certainly important, but we should not be afraid to say that we must find as soon as possible the way to celebrate together."

"A Catholic will not become an Orthodox and vice versa, but we must approach the altar together," he added.

Let us pray that God's will prevail.

1 Corinthians 12:20

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Put Downs

This week in Arise we are reading Luke 4:14-22.

Although you who are reading this are not participating in the good fruits of sharing with others in the group, you can do your own meditation and reflection. After reading 4: 14-22 think about the reaction of those in the temple to Jesus' reading.

Now think about our own life. Have you ever been turned down for a job, or a promotion, and been told it was because you didn't have the credentials? Isn't that the response of some of those who heard Jesus give that reading? "Is this not the son of Joseph?"

I hope you eventually proved to those "nay sayers" that you could do better than that job. Wouldn't that be sweet!

BTW, the girl in this picture just wiffed out. She was a good player though, and was an asset to her team.

Hey, Jesus didn't win everybody over, either.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Arise starts this week. If you're not assigned to a group or haven't heard from your leader, call Joe DePalo: 508 528-6609

To get ready, read Luke 24:13-35. This is what your group will be sharing.

Ten points for fruitful Scripture Reading.*

1. Catholics can read the Bible. They should read the Bible. The Church encourages Catholics to make reading the Bible part of their daily prayer lives.

2. Pray at the beginning and the end. Reading the Bible is not a novel. Begin with a prayer to open your mind to understanding.

3. Use a Catholic Bible. The King James Bible is missing 5 books that are in the Catholic Bible. Get the entire Catholic edition. A Catholic edition will have an imprimatur notice on the back of the title page. An imprimatur indicates that it is Catholic.

4. The Bible isn't a book. It's a library. The Bible is a collection of 73 books written over many centuries. The books include history, prophecy, poetry, songs, letters, accounts, and geneology.

5. What the Bible is and what it isn't. The Bible is the story of God's relationship with His people. It is not history, science or a political manifesto.

6. The sum is greater than the parts. Read the Bible in context. What happens before and after helps us understand better.

7. The Old relates to the New. The Old Testament shed lights on the New.

8. You aren't alone. By reading and reflecting on Sacred Scripture, Catholics join others who have put Bible reading in their lives. We read the Bible within the tradition of the Church to benefit from the holiness and wisdom of all the faithful.

9. What is God saying to me? The Bible is addressed to each one of us in our own unique situations. Ask, "What is God saying to me?"

10. Reading isn't enough. You need to meditate on the message and put it into action in your life.

* United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Waiting for Arise to start, Oct. 4, 2009, I watched something unfold in front of me that brought me to reflect on God's ways. I'm not telling you what it is. Read and figure it out yourself.

The scene is my son's cat bringing up a mouse from the garage. She's an indoor cat but she manages to find mice. Read Job 38: 41.

The mouse was still alive. Read Job 15: 22.

I reflected upon James 4: 14-15.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Oh Ye of Little Faith

I want you to look at something closely. This is something I didn't see before and I was thinking maybe you haven't either.

Read Matt. 14:22-31.

This is the story of the disciples in a boat and they see Jesus walking on top of the water toward them. Peter gets out of the boat and tries to walk on the water, too.

That's it. Read that part again--Peter walking on the water.

What happened?

What did Jesus say about it? "Man of little faith, why did you doubt?"

I always thought that Jesus was speaking about Peter's faith in Jesus. But that can't be it.

Think about it.

Peter didn't doubt Jesus because Jesus wasn't sinking. Jesus' statement to Peter has nothing to do with Peter's faith in God.

It has to do with Peter's faith in himself.

Peter was sinking because he didn't think that he, Peter, could walk on water. He had no faith in himself.

If you trust that God has your best interest in His heart. If you place yourself in His hands, then let everything go and believe in yourself.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


It's not to late to sign up. Call Joe De Palo or email him. 528-6609 or

Monday night we leaders are going to be trained. That's Sept. 21, 2009. We're going to the new Archdiocesan Center in Braintree. If you'd like to come, you're welcome. We leave the Church, near the St. Vincent de Paul box, at 5:30 PM.

Sessions begin Oct. 4th.

Help us out by praying please.

Thanks and God bless.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reasons to Sign On

Today's Sign Up Sunday. Here are some reasons for you to sign up:

+ To improve yourself

+ To improve relationships

+ To put your money where your mouth is

+ To learn how to recognize the voice of God

+ To meet other parishioners

+ To help others

+ To feel part of the parish

+ to be rejuvenated

+ To change yourself for the better

+ To learn how to pray better

+ To see if we're lying to you

+ The best for last: when you've experienced all the above you'll agree that you've grown spiritually.

Amen? Amen

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Witness Sunday

Today is the Sunday before Sign Up Sunday. A participant from an Arise Session was to speak at each of our Masses and tell of their experience.

I was at the 7:00 PM, Saturday and my Witness rocked! She said it all. You'd think I paid her! Here is her testimony:

Good evening. My name is Carleen Delio and I am here to ask you to consider signing up for the Arise Program, next weekend. I participated in the Arise Program last year and I'm signing up again.

In all honesty I was a tad hesitant about committing for six weeks because I knew I would not be able to attend one session during that time period. No problem. The program is very flexible and not sequential, it is individualized and I had no trouble completing the lesson on my own. We met in small groups either during the day or at night, depending upon schedules, and I met people from all walks of life, in our parish, whom I had never seen before.

Another thing I wondered about was preparation and whether I would have the time to prepare adequately. I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to read the material; I actually enjoyed setting a little time aside each week because it made me take the time to think about God, read the Bible and relate the readings to my own life.

Even better was coming together as a group and talking about the lesson. The program made me realize that even though we adults are at various stages of faith development we have a common bond, our faith. So by coming together we learn from each other and benefit from others' view points.

I found Arise to be personally enriching and spiritually nourishing. For me it was an opportunity to share experiences of God working in our lives and to build community within our parish here at St. Mary's...I invite you to come and see!

Amen? Amen!

Sign Up Sunday

Arise will begin in October. Sign Up Sunday is Sept. 13, 2009. Arise is growing at each session.
You are called.


1Thes 5:24
Gal 1:6
Gal 5:7-8
1Cor 1:26
Matt 22:14
Matt 20:16
John 15:16

Don't you feel DRAWN to join Arise?

If you don't, you ain't human.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Who do you trust? Think about it. I bet you list those that you know best. Didn't you?

Well, if you're struggling to trust God, it may be because you don't really know Him.

How do we come to know God better?

Glad that you asked. Through the Arise Together in Christ Program. Sign ups are Sunday September 13, 2009.

As a sample of what we do, look up:

Psalm 27:1
Psalm 34:18
Psalm 100:5
Psalm 145:8

What does God have to do to get you to trust Him? Let go. Let God take care of you. He knows better and has the whole picture in mind, not just your little piece of it. Pray for trust.

I'll pray for you, too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I'm persevering. Last Sunday's post, Aug. 16, "Hang in There," is also today's. That's due to the fact that distractions bother me to distraction! I sometimes think that my prayers are useless because I spaced out when praying and don't even know what I've prayed. Sound familiar?

Read Ephesians 6:18

Prayer is so important, that you can't just give up. I've been advised, which I subscribe to wholeheartedly, that it is the intention that counts, not the result. I certainly hope so.

When I first became serious about praying, I couldn't believe what an "air head" I was. I'd start a Rosary and finished in 5 minutes wondering what I did, knowing that I couldn't have prayed each bead. I'd try centering prayer and fall asleep. I'd begin the Our Father and realize that I was saying "and lead us not into the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints..." What the...?

You know what I did? I kept at it. It use to upset me that I couldn't get rid of the distractions. I asked everyone for advice. I tried every suggestion:

Incorporating the distraction into the prayer
Pray to St. Michael to protect you from distractions.
Just start over (you'd never finish if you did this).
Try a different time of day when you could focus better. (Ha!)

You know what worked?


You can't be human and not have distractions. Period.

I kept trying. I keep trying.

You get use to the distractions. They don't upset me anymore. I don't just deal with them, because I can't deal with them. I can't ignore them. I acknowledge that I was just distracted and move on. Like I said, you get use them. You don't give up. Don't waste your energy on beating yourself up. As I said before, it's the intention that counts.

Just to back up my theory, I checked with St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica. In Vol. 2, Part 2, Question CXXXVII, paragraph 899, and Aquinas said that when we persevere we are strengthened by God's gifts of habitual grace. He points out that perseverance requires "gratuitous help of God sustaining the human being in the good until the end of life."

This sounds reasonable to me, because on my own, I certainly can't do it. It takes God's divine grace. Let us pray.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

You're Invited

St. Mary's Arise Team is meeting to plan the next session. Everyone is welcome to attend. It will be held in the Rectory Dining Room on August 31, 2009, at 7:15 PM. So come whether you want to be on team, or just have some ideas, or if you're just nosey and want to see what we're up to. We're a fun group and open minded/hearted.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hang In There

Read Hebrews 10:35-36

From August 14-16, St. Mary's Parish has been celebrating the Feast of St. Rocco. St. Rocco is an example of perseverance. And nothing will test one's perseverance like an illness. Faith will be tested. Look to Saint Rocco as inspiration. Not only did St. Rocco contract the plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century, he was thrown in prison. He looked so bedraggled, and scary that he was imprisoned for vagrancy and just looking suspicious. Having no resources to fight the unjust incarceration, he died in prison, after being there for five years.

Catholics are fortunate to be able to look to our saints for example, in our own trials. We also have Mary to make the path to God easier to follow. If she can endure watching a child be accused, scourged, suffer, humiliated, and crucified, then
we can persevere with confidence.

After reading Hebrews 10: 35-36; look up the definitions to Confident, Persevere and Complete. Which of these words mean the most to you, right now.

Praise be to God.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Listen to What You're Missing

Read: Deuteronomy 1:43, 2Chronicles 24:19, John 10:27

I know you're reading, but are you listening? By this I mean listening to God's voice. Do you know it? You can. You can recognize His voice. You do this the same way you recognize anyone's voice, by frequent contact with that person. If you spend time, even 10 minutes a day, reading scripture and meditating upon the verse, you'll hear God's voice. I promise.

What does He sound like? How do you know?

For me, it's a thought. I like to think of it as listening with my soul, not my ears. Most often it's an idea that flashes across my mind. Sometimes, I'm shocked by the idea because I would have never thought of it. That's how I know it's from God. I'm not that smart or creative to have come by such a revelation that just came to me. It has to be His grace. And it's always a good suggestion. God doesn't tell you to do wrong.

And one more thing. The more often, I spend time with God, the more frequently I hear His voice. He never shouts. He wants to converse with you, not have a shouting match. I know. I know because I've shouted at God and He didn't respond in kind. He just listened.

Kind of took the wind out of my sails. But if He can listen patiently to me, then the least I can do, is listen patiently, too.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Young Adults

Calling All Young Adult Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston……

This Fall, all Young Adult groups are encouraged to use the faith-sharing materials for ARISE Together in Christ: In The Footsteps of Christ. The six sessions focus on how Christ calls us to works of charity and justice in our daily lives. The cost is $6.95 per book.

Groups begin to meet the week of October 4th in parishes all around the Archdiocese!

Sign ups will occur in participating parishes the weekend of Sept 12-13, 2009. You may participate even if your parish is not formally involved in ARISE by contacting the Office for Worship and Spiritual Life for details and to order books.

ARISE offers the opportunity for new friendships, stronger

faith, and a deeper relationship with Christ and others

through prayer and the Scriptures in a small-group setting.

Sign-Up Weekend

September 12-13

For more information please contact:
Mary Ann McLaughlin or Ann Cussen
ARISE/Office for Worship and Spiritual Life
Archdiocesan Pastoral Center
Braintree, Ma 02184

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Bible

There's an an article in USCCB web site, by Mary Elizabeth Sperry on reading the Bible. She gives ten ways to read Scripture. These are very useful for all in the Arise program.

The two that my Arise group used were the praying at the beginning and end of the meeting, and discussing what God was saying to each of us.

That's what's so great about the Bible. It speaks to us individually. We each hear individually just what we need. That's why it's so neat to have the habit of reading Scripture.

And don't let anyone ever tell you that Catholics don't do that. Or that the Church discouraged private reading of the Bible before Vatican II. That is not the truth.

When the early church was just starting most people were illiterate, so the Bible had to be read and explained by the church. Also, books were expensive and had to be treasured, so they were protected from theft, not the people. The Bible was in Latin as was the custom of the times. You have to judge history by the culture and society of the times--not with our twentieth century eyes.

As the Mass was developed, so were the Scripture readings. Through the centuries we have the form of One Reading is Old Testament, then one of the Psalms, and then Readings from the New Testament. Through the ages, Mass goers would have heard this. And over the Church's three year liturgical cycle, the people hear almost all of the Bible.

Catholics may use the Bible differently than Protestants, but that doesn't mean that our knowledge of the Bible is less, or inferior. We weren't taught to memorize chapters and verses in Sunday School because our use of the Bible is different than most Protestants. Catholics use the Bible in worship, meditation, and study. Most Protestants use the Bible for knowledge in study and inspiration.

Catholics can tell the parable, the meaning, and faith share with the best. But we may not be able to give you the chapter and the verse number. That would be nice, even impressive, but we concentrate on the instruction, as instructed. (Rom 2: 28-29)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pop Quiz

We all have busy lives. We know it is important to make time for God, or you wouldn't be reading this blog. It is difficult, though. Put a check by the one or two that you find the most difficult. Now read the scripture next to what you checked.

_____ Unworthiness (Isaiah 41:9-10; Ephesians 2:13-14)

_____ Sick ( Proverbs 15:30; James 5:14)

_____ Tempted ( 1 Corinthians 10:13; James 4:7)

_____ Too Busy ( Psalm 90:12; Isaiah 40:29-31)

_____ Too Tired ( Matthew 11:28-30)

_____ Death ( John 11:26; 2 Timothy 1:10)

_____ Finances ( Matthew 10:29-31)

_____ Family ( Psalm 127:3-5; Ephesians 6:1-4)

Meditate on the verse(s) that you checked off. How does it speak to you? Scripture speaks to each of us, bringing to each of us, what we need in order to develop our spiritual wholeness. Reading the Bible is not to use a reference book to look up verses. It is a personal contact with what God is saying to you.

Read the verses again. Read them again, slower.

Think about it.


Thursday, July 16, 2009


Let's play "hop around the Bible." In these passages you'll see people: Elijah, Martha and the Apostles, ask Jesus "Don't you care? Well, DO SOMETHING!"

Have you ever wondered what God was doing after a discouraging trial? Were you afraid? Were you angry at God for not helping you in the manner you wanted him to? Believe me, you have no right to complain. Read 1 Kings 19: 1-18. You'll see that Elijah, a prophet of God ran and hid to save his life. Wouldn't you think he'd show more trust in God?

Well, remember that when you're afraid.

Read Luke 10: 38-42. Have you ever asked Martha's question, "Lord, don't You care?" Jesus didn't answer Martha's question the way she expected, did He? Our lives are only a tiny picture of God's entire scheme of the world. Trust Him. He'll always answer your questions, it's just that sometimes the answer is "No."

Read Mark: 4: 35-41, where the Apostles ask the same question Martha did, "Don't You care?"

We're human. We get discouraged, frightened, and doubtful. When you do feel like that, read Psalm 102, "Prayer in Time of Distress." I've read it so many times that I've almost got it memorized!

The Lord, Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 31:8

The thought that I find encouraging is when Jesus asked "My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?" God gave Jesus what He needed -- the people He loved the most, at the foot of His cross.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Join In

Read 1Cor. 14:12

Very short. What do you think it means?

My take:
It's talking about creating a vibrant parish community. Some people (not you, dear reader) complain that St. Mary's is cold and unwelcoming. The answer to that is to join, help out, create something. Look around and see what you think St. Mary's needs. What do you hear complaints about the most? What can you do to help fix that situation?

More choir members? A chant group?

Does the Word of God seem lackluster? Use your talent and be a lector!

Do Fr. Brian or Fr. Frank's homilies not touch you? Establish a relationship with them and give them some suggestions. (How else does one know that something is lacking?)

Would you like to help refurbish the downstairs into a little meeting area?

Do you complain about the parish's lack of attention to social justice issues and/or community outreach? Volunteer to start a committed group!

Has another parishioner never introduced him or herself to you? Make the first move.

You're obviously involved with Arise. How about joining the Team, and/or leading a group? (leave a comment)

Use your gifts to build up St. Mary's, i.e., 1Cor. 14:12.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Eye = Conscience

Read Matt 6: 22-23

What do you think the scripture is talking about?

Replace the word "eye" with conscience. Now read the verses.

Ah! We're reading about our consciences. Define "conscience." Try "googling" conscience. Understand that conscience is a judgment of reason. It uses the objective principles of the moral law to judge the morality of acts in specific circumstances. Conscience is not itself the source of the moral law.

What if you can't judge the right or wrong? What if you can't make a decision? What if what you think is against what the Church teaches? What to do!

First, Assume the church is correct. Do you think 2009 years of tradition is wrong? Do you think you are the one person in the world who has the correct answer and everyone else in the Church is wrong? C'mon! Let's be open about it and examine your line of thinking.

Second, learn more about the subject. Read and study. The internet is a plethora of information. Look up a few of the Catholic sites.

Third, need I tell you to pray about it? Be fair. You are open, so ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you. Pray for Divine Guidance.

Fourth, ask. Ask people in the know. Who is more knowledgeable than you? Ask a catechist? Ask a priest? Ask another priest? Try a parish priest and try a priest that belongs to a religious order. Try a religious sister. Hopefully, all this seeking will lead to discussion.

Unbelievably, after all the praying, reading, and asking, there are times that I still am not sure what is right. You know what I do? I still assume the Church is right and I keep on praying and seeking. Finally, one day, the light will dawn. And you know what? I've always come around to the Church's line of thinking.

A well-formed conscience will never contradict the objective moral law, as taught by Christ and his Church. (Catechism, # 1783-5, 1792, 2039)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Holy Makeover

Three verses to look at this time:

Ezekiel 36: 26-27
2 Corinthians 5:17
Philippians 1:6

Read them and meditate a few moments on what they are saying?

What do these verses say about our potential for change? What do you think about that? Have you ever heard that you can't change someone? Well, isn't that the truth? The only one you can change is yourself. We can make a conscious decision to change. Not that it's easy (Ask anyone who's tried to quit smoking.). It's hard work and one has to be persistent.

How about changing yourself to make yourself more lovable to God? Commit yourself to spend more time praying, reading spiritual books, writing in a "spiritual journal." Any other ideas to get closer to Jesus?
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Women marry men thinking that they'll change them.
Men marry women thinking they will never change.


Attention all Pastors, ARISE Leaders
and Participants!

Are you inviting young adult Catholics in their 20's and 30's to participate in
ARISE Together in Christ ...Fall, 2009?

Please consider doing so!

Looking for a way to meet other Catholics in their 20s and 30s in a comfortable setting?

Do you want to deepen your faith but aren't quite sure how to do it?

Are you yearning for real conversation about issues that really matter?

You are invited to participate in ARISE Together in Christ... a new approach to spiritual renewal that is catching fire throughout the Archdiocese of Boston!

Join a group or start your own group of 8-12 peers who will meet weekly for six weeks for real dialogue about faith and life. Materials will be provided. The meetings last for approximately 90 minutes.

Groups in the parish are forming at a variety of times and locations or create a location/time that is convenient for you and your peers!

Season Three is called In the Footsteps of Chist!

It will offer a theological explanation of the Catholic understanding of discipleship,
and in particular, how this implies active commitment to charity and justice. It will assist in the understanding of the social teachings of the Church and the communal
dimension of life in Christ.

For more information please contact:

Mary Ann McLaughlin or Ann Cussen

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Everybody Needs Martha

Read: Luke 10: 38-42

One word for Mary. One word for Martha. Whom do you relate to?

What would happen if Mary never did anything but pray, day-dream, and finger her Rosary, all day? What would happen if Martha just worked and worked and never had time for anything else?

Is this the lesson? Combine the two. Sometimes, we can. Sometimes, we can't. But that's the ideal.

My thoughts:
My husband is my Martha. THANK YOU, JESUS! He is the one who took care of me when I had that purgatorial illness (yuck). He's the one who has lunch ready for me when I come home (all retired hubbies should). He's the's a poem describing how I feel about him.

Martha and Mary

I sit in the kitchen reading the Word
husband treads the path from stove to table.

his quick eyes check out my coffe cup--
down enough to warm up.

he's buttered my toast and flipped my eggs
to greet the morning and me.

praise God for good cooks and thoughtful lovers;
thank you, I pray with full mouth.

hhrrmmpphh! he snaps the Globe open
looking over the paper and

into my heart with laughing eyes
and no words spoken.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Workshops for Session III

The next workshops, scheduled for the Fall of 2009 have the theme, "In the Footsteps of Christ." These workshops prepare small group leaders to facilitate. They offer theological explanations, for the lay person, in a Catholic understanding of discipleship, and in particular, how it implies active commitment to charity and justice. They will assist small community leaders to understand the social teachings of the church and the communal dimension of life. As always, there will be time to network and pick brains, as well as to further develop facilitation skills. Pick the workshop convenient for you. See you there.

Monday, September 14

7-9 PM Archdiocesan Pastoral Center,
Braintree -English

Tuesday, September 15

7-9 PM Blessed Sacrament, Saugus -English

Wednesday, September 16

7-9 PM Archdiocesan Pastoral Center,
Braintree -English

Thursday, September 17

7-9 PM St. Agatha, Milton -English

7:15-9:45 PM St. Anthony, Allston

Friday, September 18
7:15-9:45 PM Archdiocesan Pastoral Center,
Braintree -Spanish

Saturday, September 19
10-12 Noon Our Lady Help of Christians,
Newton -English

10-12 Noon St. John, Chelmsford -English

2:30PM St. Patrick, Lawrence -Spanish

5-7:30 PM St. Mary-St. Catherine,

Charlestown -Spanish

Sunday, September 20
7:15-9:45PM Archdiocesan Pastoral Center,
Braintree -Portuguese

Monday, September 21
7-9 PM Archdiocesan Pastoral Center,
Braintree -English

7:15-9:45 PM Cathedral of the Holy Cross,

Boston -Spanish

Tuesday, September 22

7:15-9:45 PM Saint John the Baptist,
Peabody -Spanish

Wednesday, September 23

7-9 PM St. Maria Goretti,
Lynnfield -English

Thursday, September 24

7-9 PM St. Michael, Bedford - English

Saturday, September 26

10-12 Noon St. Michael, North Andover -English

St. Mary's Arise Team needs to notify these locations as to how many are attending and where and when. Please contact Joe DePalo 528-6609

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

God draws straight with crooked lines.

Read Romans 8:28

What image strikes you? Anything pop out?

What do you think it is saying?

Does it apply to your life? Or someone you know?

My thoughts: God is writing a greater story than just my personal life. As Paul explains in Romans 8:28, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." It's is God's purpose, not mine that is important. Got that? It's not about me.
When God gave Joseph a dream of the moon and stars bowing to him, he didn't expect to be a slave in Egypt. But those terrible years shaped Joseph into a man that would eventually save his family and people.
When King Dariuis threw Daniel into the lions' den, Daniel didn't expect to be rescued miraculously, which resulted in the catalyst for the conversion of a nation.
When Lazarus died, Martha and Mary never expected to see him again.
But God always has a plan.
Keep that in mind when the bad happens.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Your Journey

While many people keep journals of daily events, feelings, dates, etc., a Bible reading journal will record what God is saying to us through His Word, and our response to him.

Here is a format that worked for me. Don't forget to date it. You'll be surprised as to how you've grown and changed over time.

Date____________________ What I read today __________________________

What word, phrase, or image from the Scripture reading touches my heart or speaks to my life, today?_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How do you feel about this message? (Consoled, anger, confused, etc.)

Are you prompted to take any action? (Change, Continue, etc.)

This week read Deuteronomy 4:32-40 and Matthew 28: 16-20

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Theology on Tap

ARISE/RENEW's Theology on Tap Comprehensive Young Adult Ministry Process

This comprehensive process is rooted in what RENEW's Young Adult Ministry Team has learned are the four essential elements of building and sustaining a successful young adult ministry program:
A strong core community
A commitment to personal invitation
A pervasive spirit of hospitality
Meaningful follow-up
RENEW's Young Adult Ministry Team will assist you in setting up a sustainable model for young adult ministry.

This informational session will be presented by Kathy Motyka of RENEW International and will introduce you to these essential elements. The workshop will also demonstrate "how to create" sustainable young adult ministry in the parish.


All parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston are invited to this workshop!


Wednesday, June 10

1:30 pm-3:00 pm - Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, Braintree
6:30 pm-8:00 pm - St. Luke Church, Belmont

Thursday, June 11

1:30 pm -3:00 pm - St. John the Evangelist, Chelmsford
6:30 pm -8:00 pm - St. Augustine, Andover

To register for this ARISE/Theology on Tap
Informational Workshop

Mary Ann McLaughlin or Ann Cussen

or call 617-779-3640

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Arise Meeting

Mandatory meeting for the team, but it is open to all interested people:

June 15, Rectory dining room, 7:15 PM.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spend time with Jesus

Now that Arise has put you personally in touch with Jesus, you might want to spend more time with Him. Our parish does have Eucharistic Adoration on Thursdays. This is where Jesus is exposed in a Monstrance on the altar for people to "adore." You go and spend some quiet time with Our Lord.

However, you might not have the time that you need. Here is a link to an online Eucharistic Adoration site. Imagine that! A link to the Real Presence via modern technology. Now even at work, you can reach out to Jesus.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Little History

In a letter to Fr. Dave Callahan, in June 2007, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM, wrote that the Bicentennial of the Archdiocese of Boston is a time to celebrate, remember, and honor the past, and give thanks for God's goodness. He also stated that it would be a time to renew the life of the Church in Boston.

After consultation with the Council of Priests, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, and other key leaders, Renew International was invited to create a process that would respond specifically to the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Church in the Archdiocese of Boston.

After listening to various groups, leaders in the archdiocese, etc., Arise Together in Christ was developed. An outline was presented in May 2007. The Cardinal appointed Mary Ann McLaughlin and Bishop John Dooher as Coordinators for Arise Together in Christ.

Presentations were made throughout the diocese. A prayer network consisting of seminarians, nuns, religious living in retirement homes, monasteries, and hospitals, prayed for the success of Arise.

St. Mary's itself gathered a team by personal invitation from Fr. Dave. Twelve were chosen: Brenda Delasanta, Dave Delasanta, Katie McNeice, Joe DePalo, Michael Rein, Robbie Clary, Paul Clary, Ray Cadorette, Christine Cadorette, Nancy Rappa, Neil Roche, and Faith Flaherty. We attended the workshops not really understanding what was expected of us.

Gradually, we began to get the picture. We began to get excited. We were starting a project to help our parish and we felt we were doing God's work. "We were psyched!"

After two sessions, we're in awe. We've grown. Arise is successful. The parish is thriving and happy. Praise God!

What's next?

Season Three: "In the Footsteps of Christ".

You can't hold back the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Season Three

Season Three ~ In the Footsteps of Christ

Small Community Leader Training Workshops:

September 14th through September 26th

(in all regions of the Archdiocese)

This workshop prepares small community leaders to lead Season Three: In the Footsteps of Christ.

It offers a theological explanation of the Catholic understanding of discipleship and how this implies active commitment to charity and justice.
It will assist small community leaders to understand the social teachings of the Church and the communal dimension of life as a disciple of Christ.

Audience: Small community leaders and the ARISE Parish Team



Sign Up Sunday ~ September 12th and 13th

Prayer Commitment Sunday ~ September 26th and 27th

Season Three Faith Sharing begins the week of October 4th!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reception for Fr. Dave and Fr. Ted

Reception is May 9, 2009 at the Senior Center, from noon to 3:00 PM. The Arise Team is cordially invited to come share favorite memories.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

From Sister Honora

Dear Pastors and ARISE Parish Teams,

We just completed a productive week's work in Boston at the Boston Catholic Men's and Women's Conferences, Preparing A Place Workshops at five sites and Theology on Tap at Hennesey's. If you attended Preparing A Place, please take a minute to evaluate it online by clicking here, thank you.

As you know, Season Three: In The Footsteps of Christ, begins with the small community leader workshop in September. All small community leaders should attend. Actual faith sharing begins in the parish the week of October 4th. In Season Three, the focus is the Social Teaching of the Church, a perfect topic into which to invite Young Adults to be involved. There are many attractive and creative tools on the website in the library under "Y" , to help you connect with and invite Young Adults into ARISE and parish life. In October there will be a collaborative Diocesan-wide Social Justice Event as well.

On June 29th, at St Mary's in Lynn, at 6 PM there will be a workshop for parishes recently starting ARISE. This will be a combination of Launcing ARISE (getting organized and started) and Evangelization (How to invite and welcome people into the process). If any parish has any new members on their teams, or any members who were unable to attend these workshops last year, this would be a good way to get them up to speed and/or to refresh anyone who may need some input. All are welcome, returnees as well! How to facilitate faith sharing and how to deal with specific issues in the small groups will be addressed. This is the last opportunity for these workshops before Season Three begins.

If you have anyone coming to this workshop please call Ann Cussen at (617) 779 - 3641, so we have sufficient materials for you.

If there is anything I can assist with please do not hesitate to call or Email me,


S Honora Nolty, O.P.

This electronic communication is being brought to you by RENEW International, Inc. For more articles and information about our ministries, please visit our website: We apologize if this email has reached you in error.

If you do not want to receive future newsletters please send an email to

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Fourth and Final Step

The last step in faith sharing is the "action."

After the intro, our story, and God's story, one should feel moved to act or commit oneself to perform some grace filled deed. Maybe a commitment to help someone, or join a parish ministry. Perhaps one could have a personal apostolate.

Pleasing God is the motive. It's like wanting to please the one you love, because that's what you're doing.

Then don't forget the end the session in prayer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Introverts Here is an excellent article suggesting why some people won't participate in the Arise Groups. It explains what makes Introverts tick.
I've often wondered why certain people weren't participating. Some are on the Spiritual Development Committee. Shouldn't they be involved in the parish's faith sharing groups? Or why members of the parish councils aren't involved in parish activities? The perception is that they don't support the groups or events.

This article will offer some understanding of personality types.

Step Three in Sharing

Step Three is the section where you should spend the most time--at least half an hour.

You read the scripture assigned. Reflect on what it means to you at the present time. How does it relate to your life?

Some people might feel like sharing. No commenting is necessary. There's no correction, certainly no judgment. The leader doesn't say anything. This is just sharing the fruits of contemplation.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Step Two of a Faith Sharing Session

After the opening prayer and social interactions, we get down to business. There's a sectioin in the book, "Breaking Open Our Story". We read it aloud.

We reflect a bit.

We share, if we feel like it.

I've always expected that no one will ever have anything to say. That has never happened. But just in case I'll have something prepared to share. Most of the time I don't because I won't the others to speak.

This should not be long--15 minutes at the most! We haven't gotten to the scripture part, yet.

It's not about us; it's about Him.

Monday, April 20, 2009

First Step in a Faith Sharing Session

There are four steps to a Faith Sharing Session. The first is a gathering/ice breaking/welcoming time. If its a first session, then introductions are in order. Other times, only new people have to be introduced.

Of course, we should always begin with prayer. Some people set the scene by lighting a candle, or having an open Bible on a table, or whatever the leader feels the group will be comfortable with.

Some small talk will relax the group and set the tone. If its the first session the conversation might be on some happenings in the parish, or the diocese. Maybe even commenting on politics. If its not the first session, then asking about whatever you talked about last week, is in order. "How your cold?" "Did you son come home from Iraq?" "How's your sister's chemo going?" "How's the situation at work?"

This step should take up about 15 minutes of time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Importance of Community

The Arise Together in Christ Group is more than a group of people socializing in a church setting. It is a community whose ongoing growth in prayer, faith sharing, and accomplished actions are integral to its formation. Scripture is a key resource for this formation; therefore it is important that quality time be given at each gathering of the group, to listening and sharing what the Scriptures are saying to them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Five Elemlents of a Dynamic Small Community

Pope Benedict XVI has said that small communities are the way to evangelization. So if you're participating in Arise you are seeing what our Pope is talking about.

There are five elements to our groups:

Prayer: We emphasice the centrality of God's presence and power in the life
of each one of us.

Mutual Support: Fedelity to the Gospel is encouraged and members are challenged to support one another in their everyday lives.

Sharing: Members talk freely about God and about their life experiences
and together we work out ways how to connect faith to life.

Mission: Members explore ways in which they can evangelize--show witness
to their faith in word and actions. They commit themselves, individually or as a group, to specific works of charity and acts of justice within their small community, in the family, parish, workplace, neighborhood, and wider society.

Learning: Members gain an even fuller knowledge and understanding of the gospel, the Church and its teaching on faith and morals, and the relationship of that teaching to the circumstances of life.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Session III

Season Two has completed. Next Session: In the Footsteps of Christ, September 2009---November 2009. The six faith sharing sessions of Season Three begin the first week of October (Sunday, October 4, 2009).

Thank you all.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Looking for a Few

I can't very well put "Looking for a Few Good Men" and be politically correct. And I think "Looking for a Few Good Men and Women," too trite, or "Looking for a Few Good People," silly. Nothing seems right. Hence, "Looking for a Few."

What am I looking for? I am looking for someone who is interested in helping to form the young adults in the parish (ages 20-40) in some sort of Arise group. It doesn't have to be "Arise," per se, but some sort of faith based initiative. A "theology" on tap idea is fine. How about a social service outreach? Any ideas at all? Anybody?

Sunday, April 5, 2009


The Arise Together in Christ Session II has finished this Holy Week. Christ has risen and Arise has made us appreciate that fact all the more.

If people who participated in the Arise small communities wish for more, a great resource is PRAYERTIME, published by Renew International. PRAYERTIME provides reflections on the Sunday Gospels throughout the year. It brings the familiar format we use in the Arise sessions. PRAYERTIME can be found on the website: or ordered by phone: 888-433-3221.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Boston Catholic Men and Women's Conference

Please consider attending the Catholic Men's Conference April 18 or the Catholic Women's Conference April 19. It is a good follow up to the ARISE program.

The Theme of the Men's Conference is "In the Footsteps of Christ." It will be at Boston College's Conte Forum on April 18th. The speakers are Jim Caviezel, Jerry Yourk and Curtis Martin.

The Theme of the Women's Conference is "Trust in the Lord with all Your Heart." Speakers include Jim Caviezel and his wife, Kerri, Sr. Nancy Keller SC, and Johnette Bencovic from EWTN.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley will celebrate Mass at both conferences.

Information as the times, price, lunch are available on the conference web site:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Testimonies

I had been angry with God, not going to church, my life was pretty messed up. My wife and I decided to be in different groups. While we respected confidentiality, we did compare what we experienced in our respective groups. It was beyond my expectations. Our conversations and sharing as a couple changed our marriage. I can hardly wait for Season Two.

Our group was so open and it was obvious that this was the work of the Spirit. Initially the sharing was a stretch for some but as the weeks went on they opened up beautifully. At every session each person brought a contribution for our food pantry. I was inspired to read the Gospel more.

In our group everyone was a minority. We were two men, only one person was born in the parish, one was a convert, two were from Cameroon, one from Ghana and two from Nigeria. We were so aware that Jesus was alive in our lives in all these places throughout our journeys. I was shocked at the sharing. We named our group Zaccheus because all Zaccheus had before he met Jesus was his curiosity…Jesus did the rest.

I met a man who shared with me about his great experience in Season One. Thursday, his WC? meeting day, always seemed to be the worst day of his week: the kids' schedules were crazy, work was stressful, life in general was tough. So even thinking about going to the small community was added stress but he made the decision to go anyway. He said that not only was the experience in the group wonderful but he began to notice that the following day after the meeting always was a really good day and he began to make the connections. Time spent in seeking God gave him a deeper sense of peace and purpose.

Our group was diverse in age; we had 20 year olds and 70 year olds. As we shared our images and knowledge of Jesus we learned that the elders in the group as children knew God, not necessarily Jesus. They are now coming to know Jesus. The opposite is true for the younger folks, at least in our group. One of the actions we did was to get the names of our seminarians. We wrote to them, told them what we were doing and promised to pray for them. They are writing back and sharing who and what they are about. It has been wonderful for all.

In the third session of Season One we were encouraged to read the Cardinal’s letter on Jewish-Catholic Dialogue. I read it and found it wonderful. It is a tremendous reminder of how the Roman Catholic Church is reaching out to its closest relative - the Jewish community. As a result of reading this letter, I reached out to our local rabbi. I met with him and was shocked with how much he knows about Jesus! I thought I’d know more than he. As a result, we have met on more than one occasion and we extended an invitation to the rabbi to come and speak on discipleship at our parish this Lent. He has graciously accepted and looks forward to meeting our parishioners in order to continue this outreach.

In our group we learned we had very common experiences of Jesus but that Jesus was also uniquely a part of each one’s life.

We learned so much about the divinity and humanity of Jesus and the challenge of discipleship. We came to understand how difficult it is to change one’s heart. We saw how Jesus in the midst of activity always took time for silence and prayer and we realized how important it is for us to do the same. Moving to action was simple for our group; things just fell into our laps. It was so obvious that this was the work of the Holy Spirit.

In the beginning the sharing was difficult; our group was very diverse. As the weeks progressed it got easier. The mutual support and learning came easier all the time.

Our group shared easily on the Scripture and we learned a lot. Most of the group was reluctant to lead prayer. We didn’t do any action as a group but relied on the individuals who are fairly involved already.

For me what was so good was that I realized Jesus is happy for me. I never knew this before.

I learned that Jesus is not only my Savior but my friend; “you have to love the guy!”

All the people in our group have a special relationship with Jesus Christ and that was really great to see and hear about.

Our group got increasingly more comfortable with sharing about Jesus and who he is.

One of the women in our group shared how she believes that God answers her prayers - always! At one of our ARISE Together in Christ sessions she stated how she was feeling she should spend more time with her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, and resides in a local nursing home. That week the woman fell and broke her hip. She ended up in the same nursing home as her mother. At first she felt sorry for herself but then she realized - there was God answering her prayer. Now she gets to have breakfast with her Mom, plays bingo and meets her for tea in the afternoon.

Our group came into contact with a family in our town that has a four-year old child with cancer. We took the whole family under our care for Christmas, purchased gifts and even arranged for a baby-sitter so the parents could get out.

As a facilitator I was so concerned with listening and including everyone that I don’t think I internalized as much as I could have. This will be my goal for Season 2.

I didn’t participate in Season One (even though I was on the ARISE Together in Christ Parish Team and responsible for bringing it to the parish). We had more people sign up the two weeks after Sign-up Sunday than on Sign-Up Sunday which is not a bad thing but it drove us crazy. In spite of it all the preparation and working with the team profoundly impacted my personal relationship with Jesus.

I came to look at Jesus Christ as a friend rather than Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for being my friend today.

I am a soccer mom who wrote to a friend who lives down the block because we hadn’t been in touch for a long time. I know her address as well as I know my own but the card came back in the mail, “undeliverable”. Duh! It was clear to me, go in person to say hello and re-kindle the relationship.

We pray for students in our Confirmation classes and many of us in my group worked at the Cor Unum Meal Center in Lawrence over the Christmas weekend. We prepared and served dinner. We brought our spouses and children with us. It was an awesome experience and many people are asking to go back.

In our group we became aware that many of us, even those who are cradle Catholics, do not know a lot about our faith. Out of this awareness we spoke with our pastor who has scheduled a “teaching Mass” for Feb 21st. As he celebrates the Eucharist, he will stop and tell us what he is doing and why. We will learn about the gestures, the ritual, the prayer and the sacrament.

In our group we had a woman who was estranged from her Mom and Dad. Her birth mother had died when she was young and her father re-married. There was never a good relationship between her and her step-mother. As a result of one of our sessions she decided to reach out to her step-mother in a gesture of reconciliation. She asked the group to support her with prayer which we did willingly and God was with her.

We had someone in our small community who was from Ghana. This person has a friend who is a doctor there and who works with children afflicted with diabetes. This doctor was having a difficult time acquiring needed medications. Another woman in the group has a son who is a doctor at Mass General Hospital. She asked her son for help. The two doctors were put in communication and now pediatric medications for diabetic children are arriving in Ghana from Boston.

One of our groups took the names of the sick and the deceased from Sunday’s Mass and read them into our prayer each week. Another group is actively advocating for a larger and more visible chapel at our local hospital which is in the midst of renovations. A third group heard about the Cor Unum Meal program in Lawrence and have begun a commitment of service there.

As part of the ARISE Together in Christ Team, I responsible for assigning people to their groups. I prayed a lot about doing this. After the first week a woman, a woman came and said that she was not comfortable in her group and asked if she could come to my group. I knew she had had a son who committed suicide and she is still pretty fragile. She fit in well with our group and as we progressed through the sessions, another woman shared for the first time about her son’s suicide. It was so clear that these two women were meant to be together. The mutual support was wonderful and our group became a strong community. For me, Jesus was certainly present in this situation.

We had a group of twelve men, sound familiar? We always started with music. It was the fastest hour and a half any of us experienced. We had a 91 year old who explained how he felt he had grown so much closer to Jesus as a result of our sharing. We were humbled.

I want to speak to the absolute importance of confidentiality within the group. I was inspired by the depth of sharing that was done, especially by the men in our group. Honoring the experience of others is a huge responsibility.

I so enjoyed the aspect that everyone in our group had a stake in the process. No one was teaching; the sharing on the gospel was deep and everyone got something out of it.

As a leader, I felt inspired by the sharing in my group and they challenged me to “elevate my game.”

I felt challenged by the questions that were raised in my group and I want to add more members – more people need to hear this.

My experience is that we all came from different places on the faith journey but with the sharing, we found we are all going to the same place and we are richer for it. We are just beginning with one group of twelve. Our hope is to have twelve groups come the next season.

Our group had a brand new Catholic in it. We were all so happy to be involved in this adult faith formation for we have seen the lack of it for so long.

I am a member of our Pastoral Staff and we decided to do ARISE together. The blessings of our working together are great but now to be praying together is even better!

As the DRE using the ARISE children’s materials, we asked the first graders to bring in from home their activity page and they did. We displayed them all on a huge bulleting board in the foyer of the church. Many parents came by to take a look.

We found the children’s materials worked well at our Family Mass, where we had both Religious Education and Catholic school children present.

We were able to use the children’s materials in conjunction with the Sadlier program and highlight the gospel story. We were able to get the buy-in of the teachers this way.

We were happy to have some parents call in to inquire were the children doing ARISE? Apparently, their first grader came home talking about how Jesus cured the man who came through the roof! (1st session of Season 1)

We are using the ARISE Youth materials for 9th and 10th graders preparing for Confirmation. The teachers love it! We ask the youth to journal some of their reflections.

There is a great comfort in knowing that 30,000 people are sharing on the same topics in all the groups around the Archdiocese. Isn’t it great that so many are coming to know Jesus in a more intimate way? Jesus really came alive for me in my group.

My group was all middle-age Moms but so diverse in their experiences. What a blessing to see Jesus come alive for us in our messy, chaotic worlds!

I had a few converts in my group and what came to us was how simple the message of Jesus is. Making eye contact and smiling at someone on the street, greeting one another – you would be surprised at the reaction one gets!

A young adult shared that her group (all young adults) mostly all have work experiences that involve people who don’t understand or accept their value systems and whom they find it difficult to engage. They decided to practice tolerance and patience with these co-workers and they saw a change happen, not right away but eventually, the working rapport became much more pleasant.

Our group was mostly elderly and we had a 95 year old (he just passed away this month) who was legally blind and somewhat deaf. He decided that for his action one week, he would memorize the Sermon on the Mount. When he came back the next week, he performed the sermon as he thought Jesus would have preached it. He did a great job and we honor his life by sharing this story. Another action our group did was to gather the names of all the sick in the parish and send them get well cards.

I led a group after the 9 am Mass each week. There were mostly widows in the group. One week we focused on how Jesus “touched” people. I realized that many of these women had no physical contact with anyone in the course of the week so we decided to be more conscious of the gentle touch, pat on the back or hug and be freer in offering what was appropriate to one another and others in the course of our day. There was one woman who was challenging and I thought she must be very lonely- so she became for me the one I focused on in this way – giving her a hug at the end of each session. As the weeks went on, she became more patient and less apt to monopolize the conversation.

Two things happened in our group that was very inspiring. One was that, the participants found they were reading the bible much more and enjoying it. The other is that they decided to reach out in these difficult economic times by buying gift cards to supermarkets, Target, etc. to leave at the rectory in order to respond to people who came by asking for help.

My group expressed having difficulty in dealing with certain people in their lives. This was especially true when it came to exhibiting patience. We made a pact to stop and pray a decade of the Rosary for patience when we were feeling stressed in this way. People came back to share that it actually worked! Praise God!

As the leader of the group I felt compelled to articulate what action I would do each week. One of my actions involved a phone call that needed to be made to initiate reconciliation. Initially, I felt resistance because I had, in the past, reached out and it didn’t go anywhere. I felt it was the other person’s turn to reach out to me. At one of our sessions, I experienced a heart-felt desire to be the one to extend a hand. I did and my call was received positively and we were reconciled. It was not nearly as difficult as I had envisioned it.

In our group we were so aware that Jesus is different for each person and yet the same for all. As the Season progressed, people shared more deeply. The “silver birds” in our group were pleasantly shocked when they heard the twenty-six year old share about his relationship with Jesus. I became aware that living in Jesus can often happen in very little things as well as big ones. For example, I was on line at the supermarket, thinking about the sharing we had done the night before. The lady in front of me was paying her bill and was short three cents. She searched and fumbled through her bag and pockets for the pennies. I realized that I had change in my pocket and put the needed three pennies on the counter. I saw a burden be lifted from her shoulders and she displayed surprise and gratitude. It was really nothing but it was a big deal for her.

I always saw Jesus as God and I related him as God the Father, somewhat distanced from me and my life. As Season One progressed, I realized that my understanding of Jesus was changing. I now see him as my best friend, walking with me, never abandoning me, always there.

We became aware of how easily Jesus forgives us and how hard it is for us to forgive ourselves. We seem to torture ourselves. We struggled with moving our faith to action because everyone is so busy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More on taking home the Crucifix

The March 4th post talked about each person taking turns bringing a crucifix to their session. Mmmmmmmmmmm I think I have a couple of people in my group who don't own a crucifix. There must be others in other groups, also.

My solution is to bring one crucifix and have someone bring it home, each week--much like St. Mary's Vocation Crucifix. I have an interesting cross that my group likes and the taking home has been working very well.

The cross is old and well ugly. Maybe crude would be a better word. Ugly is fine because dying on a cross is ugly. The cross is black and about a foot tall. The corpus is metal. You can barely see the face on the corpus, yet it manages to convey agony. The eyes are just slits. There is a nose. It's the mouth that gives the face expression; it's open in an "O". It's poignant.

The left hand of Jesus has broken off its nail. But you can sort of clip it back. So essentially, you're putting Jesus back on the cross. The nail through the feet must have fallen out because the nail that's holding them there, now, is too long. That nail has been bent down so that it's not protruding out. Yet, be careful when you pick up this crucifix, because you'll get stabbed by that nail. How apropos!

I've often thought of throwing it out. It's old and broken. But it has often been a means of meditation (after nailing the hand back on and getting stabbed by the nail through the feet).

I guess I'll keep it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Addition to the Resurrection Cookies

I made these cookies last night. They didn't come out like they should. They weren't little peaks. They tasted fine but they weren't tall enough to be hollow inside. This is an important part of the lesson of Resurrection Cookies--Jesus' tomb is empty, as the hollow cookie would demonstrate.

Tonight, at the Sunday night group at the Olive Branch we ate the cookies. I learned that what I did wrong was add the sugar too fast. They are correct. I just threw the entire cup in at once. I should have added the sugar in very slowly, while beating it. That's why the mixture didn't stay in firm peaks.

Outside of the flatness, the cookies were a hit. Everyone loved the idea of the theology lesson, along with the making of the cookies.

They tasted good, too.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Resurrection Cookies

Make these cookies with children (or not) and bring them to share with your Arise group. Print out and distribute the recipe because everyone's going to want to make them. Enjoy God's bounty.

Resurrection Cookies

Resurrection cookies are as much about making as they are about eating. Make these cookies with the young people in your life on Holy Saturday and they’ll be ready to eat on Easter Sunday. Follow the directions and give the children a Bible lesson at the same time.


1 cup whole pecans 1 teaspoon vinegar, plus some to taste
3 egg whites pinch salt, plus some to taste
1 cup sugar, plus taste


Rolling pin or wooden spoon cookie sheet
Plastic bag with a zipper lock wax paper

Preheat oven to 300* F. Place pecans in the zipper bag and let children or someone beat them with a rolling pin or wooden spoon, to break them into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.
Read John 19: 1-3
Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head…They kept coming up to Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking Him, again and again.

Let each child smell and taste the vinegar. Put vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the Cross He was given vinegar to drink.
Read John 19: 28-30
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, He said (in order to fulfill the Scripture). “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, He said, “It is finished.” Then He bowed his head and gave up His spirit.

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life.
Read John 10: 10-11
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it as you put the teaspoon of salt into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.
Read Luke 23:27
A great number of the people followed Him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for Him.

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.
Read Isaiah 1:18
Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add the sugar to the egg mixture and give some to the children to taste. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him.
Read John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Fold in the broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper-covered cookie sheet (do not use a baking stone!). Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.
Read Matt 27: 59-60
So Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Joseph, wrapped it in a clean linen sheet and laid it in his own tomb which had been cut out of rock.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door, and turn the oven off. Give each child a piece of tape to seal the “tomb.” (oven door) Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed.
Read Matt 27: 66
So they made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

Go to bed. The children may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Explain that Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.
Read John 16:20
Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice: you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Take a bite and notice the cookies are hollow! On the first Easter, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.
Read Matt 28: 5-6
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He has been raised, as He said, Come, see the place where He lay.”

Found in the April 2009 edition of Catholic Digest, "Easter Cookies."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Theology On Tap

The Office for the New Evangelization
of Youth and Young Adults
and ARISE Together in Christ

RENEW International's

is a discussion series for
Catholic young adults and
their friends, married and
single, in their 20s & 30s.

Hennessy's Irish Pub
25 Union St.
Boston, MA 02108
7 pm
WEDNESDAY, April 22nd
Free admission!

To register or for more information please call:

Lauren Hardegen
Young Adult Ministries Coordinator

The Office for the New Evangelization of
Youth and Young Adults

ARISE Together in Christ
Office of Worship and Spiritual Life

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Arise for the Homebound

The homebound can participate in the ARISE Program through Boston Catholic TV. The six week series which began on March 2nd features readings and reflections on Lenten themes and faith sharing. Tune in Mondays at 12:30pm, Fridays at 11:30am and Saturdays at 10:30am.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Practical Conversion

1. First step in conversion is to admit that something in us might be wrong, why else would we change? We must first accept whatever is to changed and then move forward to make the change. "Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self." - Francis of Assisi

2. There is a relationship between conversation and conversion. To be in conversation is to turn together in interaction. Conversion is to turn one's heart, behavior, thoughts, or actions to Christ. Conversion demands relationships. We need to be conversing in order to be converted--conversing with the poor, with those who know suffering, with those who are wise, with those we look up to.

3. The Church is a mediator between conversation and conversion; the community is necessary for conversion. The Church is where we participate in the celebration of the Eucharist--hope for the world; a place of renewal; a place of unexpected moments of grace.

4. No one of us contributes it all to conversion and peacemaking. BUT we all have something to contribute! Father Richard Rohr says that dialogue and faith sharing is the gospel's opening tool and means for conversion. Should this be in quotes? From dialogue to conversion.