Small Groups: The Best Most Dangerous Thing That Can Happen to Your Parish

Today at New Evangelizers, I write about "Small Groups."  By that what I mean is a handful of parishioners -- say, less than 15 -- getting together to do Christian stuff together.  Learn about the faith, do a work of mercy, pray, whatever it is that particular group does.Your parish has to have small groups.  If it doesn't, everyone dies on the vine:But everybody – everybody – in your parish needs a small community.  Human beings literally cannot socialize in large gatherings.  You’ll not … [Read more...]

#Synod14 – Prostitute Nation and a Jar of Perfume

If you want to understand the clerical food fight portion of this month's Synod on the Family, what you need to know about is sexting.Not the Catholic kind, the other kind.Your must-read article for this month is The Atlantic's feature Why Kids Sext.  It's long, and you should read the whole thing.Points to ponder as you do so:Louisa County is normal America.  There's nothing "different" that explains why there was suddenly a website full of students' naked images running on I … [Read more...]

#Synod14 – In Which Justice & Mercy Try Dating for a Bit

The overall theme of this month's Extraordinary Synod on the Family seems to be this: Catholics stink at being Catholic.  No, really, we're terrible at it.  Now what?The specific topic is everything that has to do with family life, marriage residing at the heart of that.  It turns out Catholics, like the rest of the world, aren't any better at marrying than we are at, say, remembering to read the parish bulletin.  And yet, weirdly, we still long for a deep, lasting, soul-rousing relationship … [Read more...]

If It Doesn’t Cost You Everything, You’re Not on the Little Way

I once made a mother cry by telling her it was the vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.I thought I was doing her, and all the other 5th grade religious education parents, a favor.  We had failed to account for the feast in making our class schedule.  I knew that most of my students would not be able to slip out for a noon Mass on the day, and many had mandatory school activities in the evening.  But look! A vigil mass was scheduled during my class time, so please, parents, come gr … [Read more...]

The Mass is Not Your Evangelization Event

Over at Sherry Weddell's intentional disciples forum, Fr. Guarav Shroff (whose blog you should read) posted a link to an article from the Homiletic & Pastorial Review on The Liturgy and the New Evangelization.  It's worth reading the whole thing, which looks dense and intimidating but isn't actually that bad if you make yourself a cup of tea and relax while you read.  But here's the quote that is behind the story I'm about to tell you: Without an initial acceptance of the Gospel, and u … [Read more...]

Three Secret Spiritual Benefits (for You!) of Bringing Your Children to Mass

At ladies' Bible study this past week we were talking about our prayer lives, and one of the moms worried that with small children in tow, she just wasn't "getting much out of Mass."  This is a common worry, but it's unfounded.  Yesterday as I watched the mom in front of me do her best with a pair pew-scramblers, I was reminded of the three genuine spiritual benefits that can only be had by bringing wiggly, noisy, naughty children to Mass. 1. You learn the Mass. Want to learn something?  Teach … [Read more...]

3 Things We Need From Our Priests Before We Can Evangelize

I don't go in for clergy-policing, to the point that I have to remind myself it's okay to give a guy a compliment when he does a good job. Likewise, as my husband pointed out one day when I was whining about some trivial shortcoming on the part of Fr. Excellent, most pastors are trying to do the job of five men, and if they manage to do the job of three men well, they're ahead of the game. I write now with both those perspectives firmly in mind.  Executive Summary: If you want your parishioners … [Read more...]