Saturday, February 28, 2009

Invitation to Act

There's a section in every chapter of the Arise workbook called "Invitation to Act." This is about putting our faith into action. This is very important because " by itself, if it has no works is dead." James 2:17.

Where do we get ideas as how to put our faith into action? How come some groups find this easy to do, some don't, and some skip it? Hopefully, these ideas will be doable for you:

* Pay attention to the "small talk" before the meeting starts, the breaking open of our story,
the sharing, in the Scripture and subsequent faith-sharing, and the intentions when praying.
Listening is the key. You must listen carefully to the prayers of concern and petition, the
issues discussed, and the experiences shared. Our actions can come from what we pick up
here. The suggestions in the book are just possibilities and stimulation.

* Concerns that are articulated during the session can be raised and offer to pray. Follow
up with concern the following sessions.

* Our awareness of issues in the parish, community, and in the lives of one another is
a source for "Invitation to Act."

Following the session don't dwell on the issue whether or not I performed any actions. Rather, focus on:

* How was my faith impacted by what I did or didn't do?
* Was my understanding of God deepened?
* Was my understanding of others deepened?
* Am I progressing as a Catholic Christian?
* Remember, this is not about a check list, this is about personal growth.

May God bless your efforts.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Workshop for Young Adults

This workshop is about making St. Mary's more "Young Adult-Responsive." Young adult is defined as the 18-39 year olds. As part of the Arise Together in Christ process, the parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston are getting together for a workshop that addresses this important issue and offers practical approaches.

The workshop features experts and leaders of young adult ministry. Fr. John Cusick is the preeminent expert on young adult ministry. He is best known for founding Theology on Tap, the innovative young adult ministry that meets young adults in bars and restaurants. They listen to speakers and discuss relevant faith topics. It is wildly successful.

The workshops are on:

Monday, April 20, 2009 -- Archdiocesan Pastoral Center

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 -- St. Patrick, Stoneham

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 -- St. Julia, Weston

Thursday, April 23, 2009 -- St. Theresa, West Roxbury

Friday, April 24, 2009 -- St. Theresa, Billerica

Registration 12:30 pm with light lunch and the workshop is from 1:00 pm -- 4:00 pm

I'm thinking of going on April 23rd. Anyone want to go with me?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Arise on TV

ARISE on Catholic TV

Join priests, religious and members of the laity for this special ARISE Lenten series beginning March 2nd on CATHOLIC TV.

For six weeks,each half hour show will feature readings and reflections on Lenten themes and faith sharing.

Tune in Mondays at 12:30 pm, Fridays at 11:30 pm and Saturdays at 10:30am to see this ARISE series.

For more information you may contact

Monday, February 23, 2009

History of Lent

The Arise office thought the following may be helpful for you.

History of Lent
Lent as we know it, has at its roots in the celebration of Easter. Easter was the only
celebration during the first three centuries of Christianity. The Edict of Milan (313 CE),
the “first globalization process” making the Catholic Church the official Church of the
Empire brought multitudes of pagans (or gentiles) into the Catholic Church. The Church
experienced a severe challenge in transmitting to the new converts the true meaning of
belonging. Before the Edict of Milan, there were only “house” churches, the community
was quite small and hidden because of the persecutions they endured. Sts Athanasius
and Augustine, the Church Fathers, wrote much about how to help catechize this new
influx of people. It was very important to help them understand and value the impact
conversion would have on them. In their teaching and preaching the emphasis for these
new followers of The Way was:
† The Paschal Mystery of Jesus which remains the centerpiece of our faith
As the Jews prepared for the Passover, it became necessary for the
Christian community to prepare these new converts to understand the
significance of the Paschal Mystery and the Passover of Jesus.
† Lent and Holy week eventually become the ritualized time for this preparation.
Jesus’ forty days in the desert served as the structure for this time of
† Readings and symbols took on a significant role in the preparation and
celebration. The readings were developed over the centuries. The Gospel of
Matthew became the most popular but the gospel of John also is used and has a
very significant place in the celebration of Lent. Symbols such as: ashes, light,
water, oil, and the practices of fasting, prayer and almsgiving (Jewish
spirituality) remain important into our own day.
The Christian community played an important role. The only way to know if people
were ready to be baptized was through the companionship with the community. These
relationships guaranteed that the people understood the challenge they were
Lent began as a retreat for the catechumenate, a time of preparation for their coming
into the church at Easter. Lent pointed toward Easter. The catechumens had been
learning about Jesus over a period of years and as the time for their reception into the
community of believers approached they more intensely began to ready themselves
with prayer, fasting and almsgiving. They were turning from a former way of living
toward Christ.
Easter Vigil began on Holy Thursday and ended on Easter Sunday. In the darkness,
those to be received into the church would be taken to living water, a river or lake and
be immersed. They would be held under the water three separate times and as they
came up gasping for air, would be asked, “Do you believe in God, the Father, do you
believe in Jesus his Son, and do you believe in the Holy Spirit?” Going down into the
water was a symbol of their dying to a former way of life and rising to a new life in
As they came out of the water (naked) they would be clothed in a white garment. In
Baptism their sins were forgiven; hence the white garment symbolizing the purity and
wholeness of their new status as loved and saved children of God.
“A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from
your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Ez. 36: 26
They would then be brought into the gathered community. It was still night and dark. In
the abundance of candle light, the story of salvation would be re‐told from Genesis to
Paul’s letter to the Romans. The entire ritual was an experience from death to life.
The catechumens would not have been told ahead of time about these symbols and
their use in the ritual. It was meant to shock them into an overwhelming experience of
the love and lavishness of God to whom they were turning over their lives.
We recognize these elements as we experience them in the Easter Vigil each year.
Every Lent we again take the journey with our catechumens and hopefully renew our
own journey toward God and away from anything that distracts us from that

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sunday Night Arise at the Olive Branch

Due to the bad weather prediction, the Sunday night group will be postponed. We will start March 1st, 7:30 PM, at the Olive Branch.

Please bring Bibles.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Setting the Mood

You know how candle light and soft music will set the mood for a romantic evening. Well, here are some suggestions to set the mood for the Arise Together in Christ Session II meetings:

Week One--Crucifix, Bible, candle, ashes, old Palms, a backpack (Lenten journey), cactus (relates to desert from the Gospel)

Week Two--Crucifix, Bible, candle, an icon of the Transfiguration - there are royalty free images of the Transfiguration at or the mountain image that is the background for all the Arise books.

Week Three--Crucifix, Bible, candle, pitcher or clear bowl of water

Week Four--Crucifix, Bible, many candles, start by lighting one and light an additional one at each new sections of the session (from darkness to light)

Week Five--Crucifix, Bible, candle, stone on which you have written words like war, abuse, violence, racism, sexism, etc.

Week Six--Crucifix placed on a purple cloth, Bible, candle, an image/icon of Christ as High Priest on the Cross

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Comments About Arise Session I

These comments are from other parishes' Arise program, Session I:

Ihad 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.I

n 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.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Evaluation Form for Small Group Leaders

Arise Together in Christ: Session One Evaluation

1. What was your personal experience with Season One? What did you achieve in Season One? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. Now that you have completed Season One of Arise, please tell us how your group worked out. Do you know of any changes we should make to improve Arise in Season 2? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Did your group perform or hear about an impressive act of faith? If so, what was it? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
4. What other suggestions do you have, if any. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
5. What would you do to get even more parishioners to participate in Arise Together In Christ? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. Was there a particular moment in any one of the sessions when you were keenly aware that God was present within your group? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7. What did you like best/least? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Season II begins Monday Feb. 23, 2009
Please return this form to Joe DePalo at

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Te Deum

Joe DePalo is the coordinator of "sign ups." The following quote is from the email he sent this morning.

"I am much more comfortable tonight than I was last night! In fact, I am VERY happy. We still need to determine if a number of people will be participating in Season 2, However, with the new sign up sheets I got last night, overall we have about a 30% increase in participation over season 1! That is FANTASTIC! The best part is that this increase does not even include the approximately 60 or 70 10th & 11th grade CCD students that will participating in Season 2."

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord: we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.

To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sin in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you...

And I, and the Arise Team,
And the entire parish of St. Mary's,
Franklin, Massachusetts, praise,
Give thanks and glorify You

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Arise Team Meeting

Last night, the Arise Team met. One thing we are planning is a celebration at the end of Session II. We're thinking an Easter Egg Hunt would be fun to do. What do you think? Any other ideas?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Arise Meeting on February 10, 2009

It's an open meeting. It will be in the rectory. Just ask. It will start at 7:15 PM.

The Agenda

I. Prayer
Arise Prayer
Faith Sharing
Mark 1: 40-45

II. Assessment
Where are we?

III. Needs

IV. Immediate Next Steps

V. Plans for Evaluations and Celebration

VI. Closing Prayer
Invitation to Closing Prayer
PrayerTime, Cycle B, p. 156

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Second Page

Arise Advertisement from the Catholic Extension Family Appointment Calendar

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Pilot's Arise Ad

The last page of the Pilot has a full page beautiful poster of Arise Together in Christ Program. There's a picture of a family on a ski lift. And the grabber is the sentence: It might be the mountain-top experience you have been looking for!

I like their reasons:

Experience the new approach to Catholic spiritual renewal that is spreading across the Archdiocese of Boston.

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.

Small groups now forming for Lent.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sign Up Sunday

Success! Everything went off without a hitch. Sign Ups were taken at all the Masses. Since the sessions don't start until February 22nd, we'll probably have a few people contacting us to join. That's all right. We're flexible and can accomodate anybody.

Anyone on team can sign you up, but the one in charge of sign ups and assigning people to groups is Joe DePalo. (508) 528-6609