<![CDATA[The Pastoral Center Blog - Main Blog]]>Tue, 08 Dec 2015 00:55:20 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[What are Dioceses Doing to Promote the Year of Mercy?]]>Fri, 30 Oct 2015 18:26:50 GMThttp://blog.pastoralcenter.com/main-blog/what-are-dioceses-doing-to-promote-the-year-of-mercyWe are handling many, many inquiries from both parishes and dioceses about the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy. One of the common questions we are asked by diocesan leaders is: what are other dioceses doing? We asked three dioceses (two of which happen to be in Louisiana) if we could share the approaches that they are taking.

It's not too late to help your parishes.  While organized parishes have been putting plans in place for months, many are just starting to consider what they might do to celebrate the year.
Archdiocese of New Orleans, Louisiana

The Archdiocese of New Orleans compiled a packet of resources, including the two-page flyer from The Pastoral Center, and sent it to all of its diocesan priests. They have set up a page on their evangelization website for the Jubilee of Mercy, have designated a Holy Year Door at their cathedral, and are sending out “Traveling Mercies: A Toolbox for the Jubilee” to each of their parishes, schools, and campus ministry centers.

Fr. Caron, Vicar of Evangelization and Promoter of the Year of Mercy for the Archdiocese shared, “The Year of Mercy provides our local Archdiocese and the entire Church with very practical resources to reflect and act on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy as found in the Scriptures so that all can come to believe in the mercy of God who is able to transform hearts.”
Diocese of London, Ontario

The Diocese of London, Ontario puts a strong focus on resourcing their parishes. They have purchased a diocese-wide license for seven of our Year of Mercy eResources, which they are making available to all of its parishes, schools, and organizations for free. The Pastoral Center has designed a custom web page for the diocese to share these resources and other ideas for the Jubilee Year.

"The leadership of the Pastoral Center always has a pulse on pastoral needs," says Connie Pare, Director of Pastoral Planning and Parish Support for the diocese. "Their commitment to making their resources accessible to dioceses and parishes through their generous and creative approach to sharing copyright at an affordable fee is worthy of praise and gratitude. The resources they produce are meaningful, timely and understandable to those seeking to deepen their faith whether they are on an individual journey or participating in parish programs."
Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana

The Diocese of Lafayette has formed a committee of representatives from several diocesan offices.  They have gathered all of their priests and school religion administrators about the Year of Mercy and have made pastoral resources available at those meetings for review.  They asked us for permission to print all of our eResources for display at those events.  Each parish will decide which materials will best meet their needs.  
Other steps they are taking:
  • Promoting the official hymn for the Year of Mercy, written by Paul Inwood, at these gatherings.  It was well received, and they encouraged use the song during the Holy Year.
  • Developing their own Jubilee Year logo, which will be featured on prayer booklets they will distribute. 
  • Holding listening sessions in their four regions.
  • Opening the Holy Door at their cathedral on December 13.
  • Observing the Twenty-Four Hours with the Lord during Lent throughout their parishes, as requested in the papal bull.
  • Designating about ten churches and shrines in the diocese as points of pilgrimage.  
  • Ending the year with the closing of the Holy Door at the cathedral.

"We have made these efforts in planning the Year of Mercy in answer to Pope Francis’ call that we, both as individuals and as a church, become more effective signs of God’s action in our lives," said Faye Drobnic of the Office of Worship.  "It is our hope that through these various activities we will become more merciful in our words and actions, that we will open our hearts to those who are on the fringes of society, and that we will practice more consciously the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It is our hope that these observances will lead to conversion."
What about you?

Every diocese is unique, of course, and your plans for this special year should be, as well.  Let us know if you'd like to talk about options or ideas... we're glad to chat by phone.

Or does your diocese have ideas and approaches that you want to share?  Contact us!

Mercy Booklets Sampler Packs

Get a sampler pack of our nine Year of Mercy booklets and leaflets for $8.25, or preview them for free online!

Free Two-Page Mercy Resources Flyer!

Understand what we offer, and help your parishes discover options.
<![CDATA[Joining the Advent Conspiracy]]>Sat, 29 Nov 2014 19:31:23 GMThttp://blog.pastoralcenter.com/main-blog/joining-the-advent-conspiracy
Our Gospel.link site is joining the Advent Conspiracy, an international movement of thousands of churches rethinking how to approach Advent as Christians amidst an over-the-top culture.

We've gathered many of the already available online resources, including some excellent videos, and placed them online for each week of Advent. We also created a leader's guide that has tips for preaching on this topic based on the lectionary readings. Take 2 minutes to watch the first video:
The Christmas story is a story of love, hope, redemption and relationship. So, what happened? How did it turn into stuff, stress and debt? Somehow, we’ve traded the best story in the world for the story of what’s on sale.
In 2006 five pastors imagined a better Christmas practice for their own communities. Today, Advent Conspiracy is a global movement of people and churches resisting the cultural Christmas narrative of consumption by choosing a revolutionary Christmas through Worshipping Fully, Spending Less, Giving More and Loving All.
Learn more...

Also from The Pastoral Center:

Simply Advent: 
Handouts/inserts for a simpler, more faith-filled Advent

Advent can be a very stressful time, and we're not just talking about church leaders! Use these visually striking, thoughtful, reproducible handouts in your community to invite everyone to rediscover the joy of a simpler and more faith-filled Advent and Christmas.
<![CDATA[The Advent Wreath at Home]]>Tue, 04 Nov 2014 18:43:03 GMThttp://blog.pastoralcenter.com/main-blog/the-advent-wreath-at-home
The Advent wreath is a special tradition in our home that we look forward to each December. We can tell our girls until we're blue (or purple) in the face that Jesus is the Light of the World coming on Christmas. But lowering the overhead lights and lighting the Advent candles helps them experience it in a much different way.

The wreath helps our children slow down and pay attention, but just as importantly it does the same for us parents. In our home, we fit it into our kids' usual nighttime ritual, cuddled on the couch for stories (sometimes from a great family story bible). Nothing fancy, but what a difference it makes.

When I recently gave our Growing Up Catholic presentation, I was surprised how few of the ministry leader attendees had grown up with the tradition of the Advent wreath in their homes. We'd love to see parishes, schools, and families share this wonderful experience with other families, so we've written a guide for leaders to coach parents through Advent and a companion handout for parents. Check them out below.

Sometimes we can forget that the home is the main place where our faith is passed on from one generation to the next. If it doesn't happen there, it likely won't happen at all.

Download our free Advent planning guide to help you coach parents to pass on their faith at this special time of year. 

Plus, get our free reproducible "Using Your Advent Wreath" parent handout!
<![CDATA[Crèchember]]>Tue, 04 Nov 2014 18:02:24 GMThttp://blog.pastoralcenter.com/main-blog/crechemberWe're not the only family whose crèche animals come to life at night, are we?

Last November we learned of the very creative antics of Dinovember, a hilarious phenomena in which plastic dinosaurs come to life and make mischief while a household is sleeping. We were amazed and inspired by Dinovember, and wondered if anything like that could ever happen in our house. We didn't have any feisty dinosaurs around.

Our family sets up our Christmas crèche at the beginning of Advent, with the animals, shepherd, and empty manger prepared for Mary and Joseph to arrive. We set up the magi elsewhere in the room, starting their long journey.

Each Advent morning we woke up to find our crèche animals had been busy the night before. Fortunately, they were much less messy and destructive than plastic dinosaurs seem to be. Our photography skills aren't up to par with dinosaur keepers, but we did keep a record.

Each morning, our girls would wake up excitedly and look for the animals. It added a bit of extra fun to the season for our family, and didn't cost anything. Take a look at our photos below, and think about how you can add a little fun to your household this Advent and Christmas.

Products from The Pastoral Center:

The "Real" Christmas Creche Story

What is the "real story" behind the Christmas Creche many of us keep under our trees during the holiday season? Let scripture scholar Art Zannoni introduce you to this story in an unforgettable and beautifully illustrated resource.
Simply Advent: 
Handouts/inserts for a simpler, more faith-filled Advent

Advent can be a very stressful time, and we're not just talking about church leaders! Use these visually striking, thoughtful, reproducible handouts in your community to invite everyone to rediscover the joy of a simpler and more faith-filled Advent and Christmas.
FREE Coaching Parents for Advent Guide

Download our free Advent planning guide to help you coach parents to pass on their faith at this special time of year. Plus, get our free reproducible "Using Your Advent Wreath" parent handout!
<![CDATA[Jesus and Narnia]]>Wed, 30 Apr 2014 16:34:42 GMThttp://blog.pastoralcenter.com/main-blog/jesus-and-narniaPicture
This month we read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with our five-year-old and seven-year-old daughters.  As you may know, the C.S. Lewis classic anchors the Chronicles of Narnia series and features a lion named Aslan as Christ figure.  By coincidence, we came to Aslan's death and resurrection during Holy Week.

The book really took over the girls' imagination as they pondered the events and implications.  We didn't point out any of the Christian parallels, but as we tucked Madeleine in one night she whispered, "Aslan reminds me of Jesus."

Sometimes we can get deeper insight into our faith by coming at it from a different angle.  Many times, I find that insight coming from children.  "I wonder why Aslan doesn't fight back," Madeleine asked as he approached his death.

Here is an excerpt from the book, after Aslan's death:

At that moment they heard from behind them a loud noise—a great cracking, deafening noise as if a giant had broken a giant's plate.... 

The rising of the sun had made everything look so different--all colors and shadows were changed--that for a moment they didn't see the important thing.  Then they did.  The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan....

“Who's done it?” cried Susan. “What does it mean? Is it more magic?”

“Yes!” said a great voice from behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.

“Oh, Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad....

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”
May your Easter season be filled with experiences of Death working backward!

<![CDATA[Bleeding For Others on Good Friday]]>Tue, 22 Apr 2014 00:00:14 GMThttp://blog.pastoralcenter.com/main-blog/bleeding-for-others-on-good-fridayPicture
Happy Easter!  This year I had a rather unique experience in the midst of the Triduum.  While I didn't plan it this way, I ended up donating blood on Good Friday, smack in the middle of the traditional noon to 3pm observance.  I discovered years ago that I have a particular gift that compels me to donate blood.  

First off, my O negative blood makes me a universal donor.  Under 7% have this blood type, which can be given to someone of any other blood type (especially in trauma situations when the blood type of the recipient is unknown).

But beyond that, my blood is CMV negative.  That means I have never been exposed to
a common virus (cytomegalovirus) that is dangerous to newborns.  Along with other donation limitations, this makes me an elite universal baby donor.  Less than 1 out of 200 people qualify, and most are oblivious to this gift.  Needless to say, the Red Cross calls me regularly so I get my butt in and donate every 56 days.

Of course, we follow a suffering servant who was (and continues to be) a real universal blood donor, bearing a unique gift of life.  Lying down in a climate-controlled room bleeding out a carefully measured pint doesn't begin to approach that, but still, it feels like something sacramental is going on in those rooms.  Physically giving part of our bodies to literally save a life... wow.

For all our focus on the Blood of Christ I'm surprised how rarely Catholic parishes promote blood drives (kudos if yours does!). Try donating if you are physically able, regardless of your blood type (all are needed).  If you already donate, next time bring someone along.  Promote it within your parish (the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is June 22!).  The gift of blood is the gift of life!