Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Evangelization and the Preferential Option for the Poor

Testimony to Christ's charity, through works of justice, peace, and development, is part and parcel of evangelization... Benedict XVI - Caritas in Vertitate

Between evangelization and human advancement - development and liberation - there are in fact profound links. Paul VI - EvangeliiNuntiandi

" And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' " Matthew 25:40

The necessary link between human advancement and evangelization spoken of by Paul VI is reiterated in Benedict XVFs latest encyclical. He reminds us that we are not only responsible for our own personal growth, but also for giving testimony to Christ in works of love and for helping others - family, friends, fellow parishioners, members of the Cenacle family, neighbors, fellow citizens of our country, and even people all around the globe. A particular emphasis of this love is the preferential option for the poor "which requires that the [needy], the marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern." (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church - 182). These deeds of charity, which show this special concern, are traditionally referred to as the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Father Judge not only undertook these works of mercy in traditional ways, but looked for ways to do them in the particular circumstances of early 20th North America. To mention 2 such efforts: he led the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity to staff the settlement house which the Rev. Dr. White was developing in Brooklyn - Gold Street - to counteract the influence of the Protestant institutions and to care for recent Catholic immigrants. It was a center, not only of apostolate, but also of the social work outreach that was soon to grow in Catholic circles. Father also made it possible for members of the clergy who battled with alcoholism to serve as chaplains at various Cenacle missions, since before Alcoholics Anonymous, there was not suitable help for these men. And the Cenacle family has continued these works of mercy and many others, in institutional ways and particularly as individuals in the providence of everyday life.

It is a happy paradox that in helping others - giving of ourselves - we often receive a gift of developing latent talents and in turn being helped by those we aim to help. Each of us needs to think about what we are currently doing to care for the needs of others, how we can improve the service that we offer, and how we can get others involved in this work. It could be that we could volunteer with groups that manage soup kitchens and food pantries; perhaps it is to develop professional skills so that people in need have access to clean water or to instruct people who are illiterate, etc.; maybe, for the laity especially, it is to take an active role in civic affairs, and advocate for measures that meet the pressing needs in our local communities, home countries, and in international hotspots. However, we need to keep in mind, that no government structures can replace the personal contact and concern of individuals and local groups that are right on the ground in areas in want.

Perhaps it is time to question ourselves, knowing that each of us needs to personalize this examen:

How am I providing for the material and spiritual needs of those Our Lord has placed around me? What more could I be doing ?

Am I familiar with the Church's social doctrine and do I help others understand the power of these principles?

Is my prayer narrow and concerned only with my own and local needs? Or does it reach to global concerns?

Do stories of want in the media move me to pray for those involved? And to get involved myself in alleviating the sufferings of others?

Theresa Panzera Ad Hoc Committee for the New Evangelization 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reflection for New Evangelization: Witness of Life

Missionary Cenacle Family - Reflection for New Evangelization:

We know that the primary actor in the New Evangelization is the Holy Spirit, and that in the first place, we must pray for this intention. But we also know that although God could carry out the spread of His Kingdom directly, He has chosen to use each of us baptized faithful as His instruments to spread the Gospel.
Martyrdom is the supreme act of witness, and an old saying tells us that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. There are many stories of the onlookers to the sufferings of the early martyrs being converted. One such story took place in what is now Turkey. Forty Christian Roman soldiers were sentenced to death by exposure on a frozen lake. They prayed that as forty would suffer, there would be forty crowns of victory. As the ordeal dragged on, one of them weakened and went to offer pagan worship. Then one of the non-Christians guarding the group, moved by the courage of his Christian comrades, took the place of the one who left and 40 crowns were earned!

John Paul II reminded us that more Christians were martyred in the 20th century than in all the others combined. Even today there are Christians in many parts of the world being imprisoned, tortured, and even killed for their faith. It is unlikely that any of us will be martyred. But in a society which is growing ever more secular, we can seem old-fashioned and unenlightened, and perhaps suffer social and/or economic discrimination because of our beliefs.
Our Lord Himself told us that we are to be the light of the world (Mt.5:14) and to make sure that our good deeds are done with rectitude of intention. This is a moral obligation related to the 8th commandment. Our way of living, speaking, etc. must be in keeping with the fact that we profess to be Christians.
We do not only need to give witness; we have need to receive the witness of others. Many times we are edified by the virtues of those around us, Christians and even non-Christians. Religious families in the Church serve precisely this purpose: to provide mutual support and good example. We are helped by being a member of a parish, a prayer group, the MCF ...

At Baptism and Confirmation, we are given the name(s) of (a) member(s) of the heavenly "cloud of witnesses" to serve as examples and as intercessors for us. Fr. Judge, Mother Boniface, and Dr. Healy are special witnesses for us as to how we are to live the Spirit of the Cenacle, and the customs and practices we have grew out of the early experiences of Father Judge and the first members. Father Judge said:... Our communities have been trained to be neighborly, to go out of their way to do a service, ... and never to get into any kind of contention, to be peaceful even though they have to suffer a trespass ... Fr. Judge (Archives 12939)

The Catholic Catechism and recent papal documents describe the peculiar characteristics of the witness demanded by contemporary society: people follow witnesses more readily than teachers. In the history of the Church, there have always been situations were the apostolate of witness was the only one feasible. In the early days of the Cenacle in eastern Alabama, where anti-Catholicism was rampant, this was the case. Fr. Judge encouraged the first associates who went South to be involved with enterprises which would put them in contact with people in every day situations, and they even ran a dairy! In the flu pandemic at the end of World War I, the Cenacle members assisted the doctors in caring for the sick, preparing healthy meals, etc. The help extended to the Sisters by neighbors when their motherhouse burnt down, and they literally possessed only the clothes on their backs, shows that the witness of Sisters' charitable lives worked to combat the prejudice they faced.
Each of us has to give this witness in "the providence of one's everyday life". And Paul VI spoke of a situation that is part of the lives of many in the Cenacle family - the immigrant experience. He said that migrants need to be conscious of the witness they bear to their beliefs in their host countries. And we can add that people of host countries need to strive to bear witness by their hospitality, concern for justice for new comers, etc.
Our witness is not that of outsiders in our communities - we need to share in all that is good and noble in our cultures and strive to correct and elevate it when the standards of our societies are not truly Christian, nor even fully human.

As we continue to consider different aspects of the New Evangelization perhaps we can think about and consider in prayer the following questions:
Do I have a good grasp of Catholic doctrine and morals so that I can bear true witness in my own life?

Do I receive the Eucharist frequently and do I make regular use of the sacrament of Reconciliation so that I may have the grace necessary to live an authentically Catholic life?
Do I try to purify my intentions so that my thoughts, words, and actions truly glorify God and edify my neighbors?

As far as I am able, do I try to become familiar with the lives of the founders of the Cenacle family so that I may grow in understanding of the Cenacle spirit and can apply it in the "providence of my every day life"?

Am I familiar with the life/lives and virtues of the special patron(s) given me at Baptism/Confirmation and do I ask for their intercession?

Do I realize that I need the witness given by those around me (as well as ongoing formation), especially those in the MCF? Does this move me to be faithful to Cenacle meetings, retreats, days of reflections, etc.

Do I take an active part in civic, parish, family and cultural life in keeping with the time I have available, the talents, education and training that I have received, and the treasure that I have at my disposal so that I can bear witness - be the leaven - in the society where I live?
Theresa Panzera Ad Hoc Committee for the New Evangelization February 2012 

Friday, September 14, 2012

MCF New Evangelization The Holy Spirit

MCF New Evangelization 
Renewing our personal and communal 
devotion to the Holy Spirit    

Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will." Mark 11: 24
"...Collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now the mission of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.... By prayer every baptized
person works for the coming of the Kingdom." The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2642
"Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit... It is in the consolation of the Holy Spirit that the Church increases." EN #75

"It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization; it is He Who impels each individual to proclaim the Gospel and it is He Who in the depths of conscience causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood.... The faithful [ought] to pray without ceasing to the Holy Spirit... and let themselves be prudently guided by Him as the decisive inspirer of their plans, their initiatives, and their evangelizing activity." EN # 75

"Our prayer should not be narrow, personal prayer; it should reach to the throne of God only after having touched the farthest bounds of God's creation and mourned in every human misery, and rejoiced in God's goodness to men. We should pray for the Church, the Holy Father... We should pray ... that the reign of the Holy Spirit will come in the hearts of men ..." -
Missionary Cenacle Meditations: Wednesday Fifth Week of Easter
In 1976, Paul VI wrote EN following up on the bishops' synod on evangelization. As the Church
prepares for another bishops' synod to be held in October, 2012 dealing with the New Evangelization, we can use EV as a sure guide as we study, pray, and plan so that each of us in the MCF can take an active part in this new evangelization.
What makes this the NEW evangelization? Following up on the thoughts of Paul VI, John Paul II and our present pope, Benedict XVI, point out circumstances in our modem world which call for
different approaches. Not only does the Church in this age continue her mission ad gentes - to those who have never known of Jesus Christ, but she is especially concerned with
- people of age-old Christian countries like those in Europe and North America where radical secularism, consumerism, etc. are eating at the soul of cultures, and where knowledge and
practice of the faith is way down;- and people of traditionally Catholic countries like those in Central and South America where non-catholic groups are growing exponentially, as many baptized Catholics who have had little opportunity for learning more about the faith and often infrequent chances to attend Mass and receive the sacraments, find a welcome among these other communities.

Evangelization is both a supernatural and human undertaking. And while not underestimating the human means needed - religious and cultural studies, catechesis, preaching, lives of Catholic witness, etc. - the primary means employed will be the supernatural means, especially prayer and acts of self sacrifice (mortification) which some authors refer to as " prayer of the body". Perhaps the importance of these means is shown by the Church's naming St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower to whom Fr. Judge has great devotion, a young woman who lived a short and cloistered life, as the patron of her mission! along with St. Francis Xavier who went to the farthest ends of the earth to spread the Good News.

As we ponder the quotes cited at the beginning of this note, we can ask ourselves
1. How and when do I pray for the coming of the Kingdom? Certainly each time I say the Our Father, but is this an intention that I include when I celebrate or assist at the Mass?
2. Do I ask the Holy Spirit for His aid as I attempt to be an apostle, an evangelizer in the providence of my every day life as a member of the MCF, whatever branch I am part of and whatever my position in life?

3. Do I make use of the Cenacle's customary prayers to the Holy Spirit - the novena and the litany to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity - in asking for His gifts especially wisdom and fortitude?

4. If I am not now using these prayers, can I incorporate one or the other or both of them into my day, and if I do recite them daily, can I take them to my personal prayer so as to
deepen my "devotional knowledge" and love for the Holy Spirit?
5. Can I concretize my efforts to take part in this New Evangelization by asking the Holy Spirit to help me formulate a specific plan for each day - be it prayer, self-sacrifice,
speaking to a friend, reading or preaching from one of the sources suggested to the MCF during this time before the Synod of Bishops, teaching catechism, etc. depending upon my
personal circumstances?

Let us ask Mary, the Queen of the Missionary Cenacle, to help us with the efforts we will make for the preservation of the faith and to think with the Church as the Church concentrates on the
New Evangelization in 2012.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Missionary Methods

MSBT Emblem
A Power for Good
This past year we published a small booklet of our Missionary Methods.
These have been the ways and means of carrying out our ministries since our beginnings.

By our lives as Missionary Servants we seek first to glorify the Triune God.
We follow in the footsteps of the Apostles who, filled with the Holy Spirit, went forth from the Cenacle to spread everywhere the knowledge and love of Jesus.
We live and work that God’s name may be hallowed, that his kingdom come,
that his holy will be done.     Rule of Life, article 3

Practice of Taking Council
We invite people to share in the mission of the Church by taking counsel with them about ways and means to bring God into the lives of the people.
We determine the needs of an area and a population by listening to the people, the ministers, the leaders of the community and seeking their counsel before creating any plan of action. After prayer and council, we attempt to respond to the needs brought to light by using any means appropriate.

(See Taking Council available from the Missionary Cenacle Press.
See also Building a Life-giving Parish: The Gift of Counsel in the Modern World by Sister Brenda Hermann, MSBT and Msgr. James Gaston, MA, STL.)

Every Catholic a Missionary 
We work with the Cenacle Family to bring about in all Catholics a missionary spirit. We encourage Catholics, especially young people, to be involved with local parish programs such as Renew, RCIA, and evangelization projects.
We take every opportunity to encourage and collaborate with the laity, encouraging co-workers and volunteers to participate in our ministries. We engage the participation of parishioners in various aspects of serving people in
We encourage all to become involved in strengthening the faith of Catholics who are in danger of losing their faith; of demonstrating by their personal witness the care of the Church for those in need;
MSBT Constitution article 5.1

Sentire Cum Ecclesia
We strive to make the Church a welcoming place for adults as well as youth and children.
We make it a practice to be aware of Church teachings and to remain current about local issues affecting the Church.
We read the local diocesan newspaper to keep current.
We stay aware of Church documents as they become available from Diocesan offices and from local Catholic book stores (if one is available)
We are aware of Catholic Social Teaching by reading documents as they come out, ex: A Place at the Table, Faithful Citizenship, etc.
We actively participate in Ecumenical efforts to serve the needy and to take part in prayerful opportunities to work for peace, justice and Christian unity.

Missionary Visiting
Home visiting is a long standing custom, no matter the particular work. Prayer to the Holy Spirit precedes any home visit.
We are used to making ourselves available to people according to their schedules, including evenings and on week-ends.
We work to create a non-judgmental attitude, taking people as they are.
By means of home visitation we seek to discover the needs of individuals and families and then locate appropriate programs to respond to these needs.
We “work out of the trunk of our cars” and thus take our programs to the people rather than waiting for people to come to us.
We make no promises to people at the time of a home visit, except perhaps the promise to return if needs be.

The Providence of everyday life.
In order to learn about the “providence of the everyday lives” of the people we serve, we take care to learn about the culture, customs and history of the area. We consult the local newspapers for items of interest regarding the
people and the locale.
We do this before making missionary plans. This is in conjunction with the idea of
taking council with people.
We share our Gospel spirit. Our approach always includes devotion to the Holy Spirit.
We encourage the people we serve to create opportunities to be a Gospel presence within the providence of their everyday lives.
We take opportunities to reflect on the Gospel with people as a means of “following in the footsteps of Jesus.”
We communicate to people that where they are, their families, their neighborhoods, their local communities, their work environment, IS the providence of their everyday lives and that is where they are called to be

Save the Child / Concern for Families
The family is the “domestic Church.” We set up programs to guide families in Christian values. We strive to create
an atmosphere for people to see the Church as the center for their activities.
We strive to bring families, youth and children to a knowledge of the Holy Trinity and the love that God has for them.
We participate with other groups and agencies serving the same people in an area so that our collaboration and creative effort may better serve the people and that they may discover the fullness of Christian living.
We make connections between families with needs and people with the skills or means to respond to these needs.
We develop thrift shops, food pantries, etc., following on the principle that we do whatever is required to respond to the needs of people.
We strive to be open to youth and children, listening to them, becoming friends with them, and respecting them, not as the “Church of the future” but as the Young Church today.

Devotions and Virtues the bedrock of our methodology
There is an individual piety... and there is a... community spirit... A community spirit is very distinctive...
Our spirit is taken from the practice of our devotions. There is nothing comparable to these devotions. What is comparable to the Mystery of the Holy Trinity? What is
comparable to the Mystery of the Incarnation, to the abiding of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the souls of the faithful? What is comparable to the Mental Sorrows of Jesus?

We are to have a particular devotion to the angels, the Apostles. We are to be noted for a particular loyalty to the Holy Father. The Church has not anything more
wonderful than the Mystery of the Holy Trinity.
Everything in our holy faith is taprooted in that Mystery, all the Christ mysteries, all the Mary mysteries are in it. If you take over these devotions you will have a certain spirit... You will have the Cenacle spirit.

You are to practice virtues, the virtues of simplicity, prudence, humility, charity, sacrifice, patience and the virtue of self-denial. You cannot practice these virtues,
you cannot give yourself over to these devotions without producing a distinct type in the Church of God...
Pray that you may persevere in these qualities and that you may possess all that will make you more useful to the honor and glory of God and the good of the Church.
(Missionary Cenacle Meditations, p. 314)

Friday, August 24, 2012

An Encounter of the Best KindFrom Sr. Mary Kay McDonald's blog Trinitarian Times http://www.missionaryservant.blogspot.com/

After a long hiatus I have decided to resume this blog.  There have been just too many interesting things not to share them.

The first thing I'd like to share is that this summer I had the privilege of a lifetime experience, a thirty day retreat at a beautiful Jesuit retreat house overlooking the Atlantic in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  As one friend said to me, "you couldn't have found a better to place to hang out with God"! This is definitely true.

The timing was perfect.  This has been a year of "running":  from Columbia to Costa Rica, to Mexico (several times!) as well as various parts of the U.S.  The good news is that we have young women from Latin America who are interested in joining us.  So my co-worker, Sister Olivia and I have been looking for a house in Mexico where they can live with us and discern their vocation. I am grateful to have had this retreat opportunity before beginning the next "phase".

Back to the retreat.  It was the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, a tried and true method for encounter with God that has been in existence over 400 years. One thing St. Ignatius wants people to understand is God's unconditional love for us, so gazing over the Atlantic certainly reinforced the knowledge of God's unfathomable love. 

Besides basking in God's love, we pondered the life of Christ in the Gospels during 5 different daily prayer periods.  I came to understand why this retreat is called the "Exercises".  It truly was an exercise in spiritual growth.  This was such an impressionable experience that I'm sure I'll be sharing more as time goes on.  In the meantime to see some photos of this beautiful place, click the following link:

Please know you were all in my prayers during the retreat.  God's love is reflected to us in all those people who love us and share their lives with us.  Thank you for that.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Evangelization and the MCF

We are part of a family in the Church, the Missionary Cenacle family. There are four branches, the Missionary Cenacle Apostalate, the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, the Blessed Trinity Missionary Institute and we the Sisters the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity.

Our gift to the Church has always been that of preservation of the faith so the call to the New Evangelization is a perfect fit for us. As a family we are planning together to prepare for the Synod on the New Evangelization. This is being done through prayer, reflection, dialogue and action. Our Plan is detailed below:
Plan for the Missionary Cenacle Family to prepare for the Synod on the New Evangelization - October 2012.
1. Prayer: Each member of the Missionary Cenacle Family will make a renewed effort to live out our devotion to the Holy Spirit.
To pray the traditional Novena and Litany of the Holy Spirit, or any of the other Novena Prayers personally and with others.
To renew our efforts to make the Holy Spirit part of our daily lives.
2. Reflection: In all of the various ways that Cenacle people gather; Missionary Cenacle meetings, Local Councils, Family Area Councils, etc - to make every effort that each gathering take time to reflect on the Holy Spirit and our evangelizing efforts, using the writings from Scripture, the Church and Father Judge. The following documents on Evangelization are proposed as resources.
Nuntiandi) written by Pope Paul VI in 1975.
ON THE MISSION OF THE REDEEMER (Redemptoris Missio) written by Pope John Paul II in 1990.
GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES - a national plan for Catholic Evangelization in
the US put out by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1992.
(Although 20 years old it contains material that is useful for reflection).
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION FOR THE TRANSMISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH - Lineamenta for the Synod of Bishops meeting October 7-28, 2012
Documents from the V Celam meeting in Aparecida, Brazil - available on line in English and Spanish.
Also, many other documents and articles are available online in both English and Spanish. "Google" New Evangelization and you will be surprised at the number of resources there are.

Upcoming Reflections on "how" evangelization takes place:
a. Witness of life (EN 41; RM 42)
b. Preaching (EN 42-43; RM 20)
c. Catechesis (EN 55; RM 73)
d. Mass Media (EN 45)
e. Sacraments (EN 47)
f. Popular Piety (EN 48)
g. Solidarity with the Poor (EN 31; RM 60)
h. Comunidades eclesiales de base (RM51)
Each month a reflection on one of the above will be sent out to keep us focused on the New Evangelization throughout the coming year.
3. Dialogue:
To share with your group how evangelization has a place in the providence of YOUR everyday life. To set and share PERSONAL goals regarding evangelization.
To set and share goals regarding evangelization with the Cenacle group with
which you take council.
To share the Gospel values inherent in your living out of your Catholic faith. To share those values which are inherent in humanity and could provide a foundation for Gospel values.
To set out to learn how others incorporate different customs into their expression of faith.
4. Action
Prepare a response from your group based on the dialogues you have held and return these to the Committee members for creating a final report to the Missionary Cenacle Family. These may be returned at any time, but prior to September 2012.
Create an action plan for implementing some aspect of the "New Evangelization" in your Cenacle group or in your place of ministry and share this with the Committee as per the above. These may be returned at any time, but prior to September 2012.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In 2007 we adopted "...a power for good" In our community as part of our trade mark along with our pin/emblem. In our in our Religious Family, the Missionary Cenacle Family, this saying is used all the time a  a guideline, an inspiration and a reminder.
One of our brothers Br. Steve, ST was able to find a letter, from our founder Fr. Thomas Judge, in which we think the saying originated.

... a power for good

MSBT LogoOur founder Fr. Thomas A. Judge, CM said,” throw yourself confidingly, generously into the hands of Divine Providence and never worry about tomorrow. You will always find then, that your program is God’s plan. Leave home with only this thought, “I wish to be good; I wish to do good; I wish to become a power for good.”

Although our sisters are trained in many professions and active in many types of ministries what is important is not the type of ministry we do but how we do it. The way we are in prayer, in ministry and with others needs to reflect our personal love of God our Father, of his son Jesus and of the Holy Spirit who abides with us.

"Our specific mission is the preservation of the faith in those areas and among those people who are spiritually neglected and abandoned, especially the poor.  Our chief effort is to develop a missionary spirit in the laity, with the goal that every Catholic be an apostle."         MSBT Rule of Life #5