A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee,
the professor went to the kitchen
and returned with a large pot of coffee
and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal,
some plain-looking, some expensive, and some exquisite -
elling them to help themselves to the coffee.
After all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:
"If you noticed,
all the nice-looking, expensive cups were taken up,
leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.
While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves,
that is the source of your problems and stress.
"Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.
In most cases, it's just more expensive
and in some cases even hides what we drink.
What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup,
but you consciously went for the best cups...
and then began eyeing each other's cups.
"Now consider this:
Life is the coffee,
and the jobs, money and position in society are the cups.
They are just tools to hold and contain life,
and the type of cup we have does not define
nor change the quality of life we live.
Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup,
we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us."
God brews the coffee, not the cups . . .
enjoy your coffee.
On March 1st, Tom East, Director of the Center for Ministry Development facilitated a one day training in Ravenna for about 25 parish and campus ministry leaders on Accompanying Youth on their Journey of Faith and Discernment.
After an opening prayer, we discussed the concept of accompaniment. We have to let go of preconceived frameworks for our ministries with young people, including our tendency to wait for the teens to come to our programs... we have to change our perspective.
When we read the Emmaus story (Luke 24: 13 - 35), notice that Christ LISTENED first to the travelers and allowed them to share their disappointments and hopes. He walked along side them and listened.
How can we better listen without judgement and walk along side the young people of our community? (We can also notice that Jesus was not waiting in a temple... he joined the travelers on the road...)
Mr. East reminded us that we are to reach out to all the young people of the parish community (and geography), not just those who show up at Mass and programs, and not even only those that have been Baptized.
One key to this ministry of accompaniment is to recognize that God is already part of each young people's life, since conception. We need to talk with them about the conversation God has been having in his/her life... they may need help recognizing it in themselves, and to see how God is at work in their daily lives, but we seldom "bring them to Christ" as Christ is and has been with them!
Tom shared many tools for accompanying, transforming our programs, and becoming a faith companion. It is important for parents, grandparents, godparents, catechists, teachers, youth ministers, coaches, group leaders, Confirmation sponsors, and even peers to take time to pray, connect, listen, empathize, care, and witness with young people.
The second session of the workshop was regarding ways to guide youth in discernment. One of the many resources shared on this topic was a "Simple Three-Minute Ignation Method" that can be used every day:
1. Spend the first minute thanking God the Father for all the blessings received that day.
2. Spend the second minute reviewing your failings and ask Jesus the Son for forgiveness.
3. In the final minute, ask the Holy Spirit for the strength and courage to live a better tomorrow.
One of the biggest differences we can make in the lives of young people is to foster a habit of daily prayer. Workshop participants were challenged to brainstorm ways to help youth pray. We also shared resources that can help. A great example that was shared was of a young man who set 4 alarms on his cell phone to remind him when the phone vibrated to pray.
Tom also shared ideas on breaking open the Synod Preparatory document, which can be found online at:
The key questions include:
> What should we do to transform our ministries using accompaniment as a model?
> What should we stop doing?
> What are some ways to encourage the faith community in walking with youth?
To learn more about the Center for Ministry Development,
visit their website at:
To read a blog post by Tom East on this topic, visit:
If you participated in the workshop, please comment below with any additional insights, ideas or strategies that you noted during the day!
At the Convocation of Catholic Leaders (July 1-4, 2017 in Orlando), I was honored to be one of the five delegates from the Diocese of Youngstown. The event included break- out sessions, one being "Youth on the Margins: Understanding Those Struggling with Depression, Suicide, Gangs and Discrimination." Obviously, the panel of speakers addressed each of those areas. They also discussed the opioid epidemic and how some of the heroin sold these days is immediately addicting. There is also an increase in reported anxiety issues with teens. It can be difficult to share the Joy of the Gospel (theme of the Convocation) when people are struggling to find joy in any area of their life!
In an interview with Antonio Spadaro SJ in August 2013,
Pope Francis said: “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds."
As adults called to work with and for young people, we need to be available to assist as needed. In addition to just being available to LISTEN to a young person, here are a few suggestions:
1. Continue to pray for young people and their families, knowing that everyone is going through something or has a loved one that they worry about that is going through something. Pray that they have the strength they need to get through it and to rely on God.
A few Scriptures to consider in your prayer:
• “The Lord heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
• “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, thus declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:17).
• “Come to me, all who are heavy burdened...” (Matthew 11:28)
• “The news about [Jesus] spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and he healed them” (Matthew 4:24).
2. Have a "Referral List" handy and updated.
To read more about how to create your list, see:
as well as an idea for helping parents connect for support:
3. Learn more about Pastoral Care so that you can better be of service. Once great option is called "Youth Mental Health First Aid." This is a quick course that covers the basics on identifying and working with youth who may experience anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders, suicidal tendencies, etc. It comes with a manual that you can keep on hand for reference over and over again. (Perhaps a good idea to reread a chapter each month as well as to have on hand as a certain situation arises.)
The diocese is looking into the possibility of hosting a training for parish ministers, but I also found that there is a FREE option offered by the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board. One training day is coming up on August 25th in Warren. The flyer can be found below. If you are unavailable that day, perhaps contact them for future dates.
What else might you add to this list?
Final thought, Pope Francis encourages us in taking the time necessary to journey with people as Church, "An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be." (Evaneglii Gaudium #24)
"Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties." (Evaneglii Gaudium #167)
On Saturday, July 1
in the Hyatt Regency Orlando,
a couple thousand Catholics gathered for
an Evening Marian Devotion
focused around Mary, Mother of Evangelization
as part of the Convocation of Catholic Leaders
organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Allow me to pause to say that despite my birthday falling on a Marian feast
(Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15),
and my name including a Marian-variation (Marie),
I have not found myself to have a strong Marian devotion.
Not that I have anything against this amazing woman who said YES to God,
gave birth to our Savior and raised Jesus;
I was just raised to believe that I can go directly to Christ with my prayers.
So I didn't "need" Mary as much.
Please do not judge me harshly as I share this only to admit that I may have considered
skipping this Saturday night event....
but I did go,
and I was so glad that I did.
It was a highlight of the Convocation for me.
I left inspired and faith-filled.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS of San Antonio and
Bishop Martin D. Holley, DD of Memphis
each shared their appreciation for and strong devotions to Mary that began during their childhoods,
nurtured them as they grew up and how she assist them now as they serve the Church.
They also discussed that Mary is called upon by Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium:
"Mary let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit on a journey of faith toward a destiny of service and fruitfulness. Today we look to her and ask her to help us proclaim the message of salvation to all and to enable new disciples to become evangelizers in turn." ~ EG, no. 287.
We then prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary,
with an amazing couple of twists:
1. a myriad of languages were used to pray the Hail Mary, including English, French, Vietnamese, Igbo, Tagalog, Italian, Creole, Polish, Gaelic/Irish, and Spanish;
2. different styles of songs that connected to each Mystery were sung at the completion of each decade ("The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came," "Mary's Canticle," "What Child is This," "Mary's Song," and "El Perpetuo Socorro," along with "Immaculate Mary" at the end.)
The changing up of languages during the Hail Mary really made one pause and listen to the words,
rather than speeding through it as can happen in some recitations that I have been part of (and even led that way, as though there is a prize for finishing fastest!) and the songs assisted me in reflecting upon that Mystery.
All the while, different images of Mary were displayed on large screens in the room.
This helped to show the various ways in which people relate to the Holy Mother around the world,
and in the U.S.
Together, we prayed through the songs, prayers and images.
It was an inspiring and up-lifting evening that I wished you could have all been part of with us.
However, you can participate in spirit in the following ways:
1. Watch recordings of some parts of the evening devotion:
Part 1 (bishop's talks, Ave Maria)
Part 2 (praying the Rosary)
2. Pray the Special Prayer of Dedication to Mary taken from Evangelii Gaudium:
Mary, Virgin and Mother,
you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,
welcomed the word of life
in the depths of your humble faith:
as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,
help us to say our own “yes”
to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,
to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
Filled with Christ’s presence,
you brought joy to John the Baptist,
making him exult in the womb of his mother.
Brimming over with joy,
you sang of the great things done by God.
Standing at the foot of the cross
with unyielding faith,
you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection,
and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit
so that the evangelizing Church might be born.
Obtain for us now a new ardor born of the resurrection,
that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
which triumphs over death.
Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
that the gift of unfading beauty
may reach every man and woman.
Virgin of listening and contemplation,
Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,
pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,
that she may never be closed in on herself
or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.
Star of the new evangelization,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of our world.
Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
pray for us.
May Mary, Star of the New Evangelization and Patroness of the Americas continue to pray for us!
For those of you unable to read this article published on December 7, 2016 on LinkedIn at:
I am sharing this for your consideration and thoughts.
Today’s new insight comes from Sharon Galgay Ketcham: “Helping teenagers imagine how they might contribute to God’s redemptive movement in the world [unveils] their potential. When parents, youth pastors, and church leaders train their eyes to look beyond [society’s] ‘dominant problem narrative’ (that is, most teenagers are broken, deficient and in need of our help), to recognize teenage potential and provide a place in the church for teenagers to practice using their gifts – teenagers will find a meaningful purpose in the church.
“The busyness of teenagers is connected to the longing of adults to help problematized teenagers make it into adulthood. Imagine if we saw teenagers as Christ does: full of potential to join God’s purpose.”
I would add to see youth as Christ does means to recognize and affirm how teens are already engaged in God’s work in the world. I do not wonder that many young people are engaged in making a difference for good in their schools, their work places, their families, their circles of friends, in the local communities. Church leaders do not necessarily see it because all of this is taking place outside the Church. And teens may simply lack the religious language to explain it to us. But the Second Vatican Council affirms that “the laity ... make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can she become the salt of the earth” (Lumen Gentium, no. 33).
Now this is not to say that some young people are not experiencing problems or even crisis at this moment in their lives and they are in need genuine care. But adolescence itself is not a disease.
Ketcham proposes that we flip the script. What would the Church’s ministry with youth look like if it started from a place of affirmation? Teenagers are not a problem to be solved; they are the possibility for parents and youth ministers and church leaders to recognize how God is at work in the world… and perhaps, more importantly, at work in our lives.
[The quote is an extract from an interview with Sharon Galgay Ketcham, published in "The State of Youth Ministry", a report from Barna in partnership with Youth Specialties and YouthWorks, 2016.]
Fr. Walker shared this brief reflection, and I send it along for your consideration:
A young lady was having a heart to heart conversation with her grandmother about school, careers, and relationships. "Tell me, Grandma," she asked, "at what age are men most fun?"
Grandma replied, "Men are like record players.
They play at different speeds according to age but they are nice to have around at 33, 45, or 78."
Grandma, turns out, was only partly right. All of us, not only men, play at different speeds, and many of us, much like the world, find ourselves moving faster all the time. Sometimes we have no choice. Our lives are busy. We have responsibilities. People depend on us and so we have to be where we're needed.
However, in life, we need a slower gear. We have that slower gear but it often falls into disuse. Life is more than the sum of our days. It's more a matter of the depth and experience of our relationships. And going slow must start with an inner awareness of ourselves and knowing that our happiness and peace can only come to us in the simple and profound appreciation for our lives as a gift from God.
Do you know the average adult breathes 32,040 times per day? Each breath is a miracle and a gift from the God who knew each of us in his mind and heart BEFORE we were conceived. Take time each day, slow down, become aware of each breath and the mystery of your life.
Don't have time?
Can't afford it?
Better yet, can you afford not to?
25 C's for Evaluating Religion Internet Sites
After months of preparation with the National Association of Catholic Youth Ministry Leaders (NACYML), I am so excited that the MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) has begun. We are now in week 2 and have already heard:
-- The Most Reverend Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport,
--Tom East,. Joan Weber and Angel Barrera with the Center for Ministry Development and
--Dr. Ansel Augustine from the Archdiocese of New Orleans
They discussed points from chapters 1 and 2 of the Holy Father's "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel).
There have also been Live Chat/discussions on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET.
Furthermore, these presentations are breaking open in our Networking Learning Groups, including the "Ohio Dioceses" group.
And if that wasn't enough, quotes from the documents and speakers are being tweeted (#NACYMLMOOC), Pinned (https://www.pinterest.com/nfcym/fostering-a-culture-of-encounter-with-young-discip/ ) and Facebooked (https://www.facebook.com/NACYML).
There are participants from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, etc. as well as from all over the US. Some are new volunteers, others have been involved in ministry for decades. I LOVE the variety as the different perspectives are helping me expand my own understanding.
IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO GET INVOLVED!
We still have 3 full weeks of class,
and the past presentations and chats have all been recorded and posted.
You can do this work at any time you have available (i.e. 5 a.m. over coffee before the household is awake....on your lunch break.... midnight if you are a night-owl) and it is FREE!
Upcoming presentations will be by Fr. Joe Espaillat, Dr. Carolyn Woo and Bob Rice.
If you complete the Learning Journals and submit them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for review, you can also earn hours towards your Catechist certification.
Enroll now at: www.nacyml.org/moocRegister.htm
For those of you already part of it: THANKS for join in. I hope you have been able to enjoy the presentations, discussions and insights shared. There will be time at the May 27th Youth Ministers Gathering for you to share some of your learnings with the group face-to-face. So, jot down a few notes on what has been inspiring you and what practical ideas you have taken from the course.
If I had my life to live over again, I would ask that not a thing be changed, but that my eyes be opened wider.
~ Jules Renard
I will admit, there are many times when I replay memories and yearn to have a "do - over" -- too often I speak too flippantly,
or I missed moments I could have savored,
or I have been in too much of a hurry to truly experience a moment...
Sound at all familiar? I am sure I cannot be on the only one, but I envy you if you have already mastered this (perhaps you can help teach me?)
This must help to explain the wisdom of the Church in giving us the season of Lent each year.... time for us to examine our lives,
and see what can be done differently in the future
(not a do-over, but at least a do-better opportunity!)
Today's quote now shapes my Lenten reflection:
How can I live with my eyes open wider more often in the future...
... to see needs of others that I may be able to assist?
... to see the good in stressful or negative situations?
... to see pain behind forced smiles?
... to see love rather than malice, hostility, anger, or hatred?
... to see more of God's amazing creations?
....to see the face of Christ in more of the people I encounter!
The lyrics to Jesse Manibusan's "Open My Eyes, Lord" continues to have deeper meaning for me:
and St. Joseph, on your feast day, may you also strengthen me!
Great reflection for Spy Wednesday
(Did you know this term used by some folks for today?)
The first time I recall being really challenged by the question of "Why would Judas do this" was after seeing the Passion play/musical "Tetelestai" as a teen wherein the creators placed Judas in a prominent role.
As much as I may want to be like John or Peter,
I have to ask:
How am I like Judas?
When do my greed...
Desire to be connected to powerful people...
Feelings of knowing-it-all...
Lack of trust...
betray my love of Jesus?
Looks like I have much on which to reflect today...
Thank you Fr. Jim for posting this on Facebook for many of us to contemplate. It brings a new/different aspect to this most Holy Week.
By Fr. James Martin, SJ
Why did Judas do it?
The Gospel readings for today and tomorrow ("Spy Wednesday") focus on Judas's betrayal of Jesus. But why did Judas do it?
. . . . . .
A few years ago I served as a “theological adviser” to an Off-Broadway play, called “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” that put Judas on trial for Jesus’s death. We spent many hours sifting through the possible reasons for history’s most famous betrayal.
The Gospel of Mark gives no motivation for Judas's sudden betrayal. Confusing things further, Matthew has Jesus telling Judas at the Last Supper, "Do what you are here to do," which seems to imply some acquiescence, or at least foreknowledge, on Jesus’s part. Matthew attempts to clarify things in his account by introducing the motive of greed: "What will you give me if I betray him to you?" Judas asks the Jewish high priests.
The Gospel of John echoes this theme: before the Last Supper, Judas is depicted by the evangelist as the greedy keeper of the common purse. When Jesus is anointed in Bethany, shortly before his crucifixion, Judas complains, asking why the money was not given to the poor. In an aside, John writes, "He [Judas] said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it."
Thus John paints Judas as greedy, and dishonest as well. Finally, Luke's gospel tells us that at the Last Supper "Satan had entered into Judas." Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, told me that this phrase from Luke explained "either everything or nothing."
There is another hypothesis that sometimes remains unstated by commentators: the evangelists concocted the entire story of Judas's betrayal for dramatic purposes. Some have posited that the one who betrayed Jesus could have come from outside the Twelve, and that Judas was simply a convenient fall guy. Similarly, Judas may have been invented as a generic "Jewish" character in order to lay the blame for the crucifixion on the Jewish people. The name “Judas” (the Hebrew would be Judah) lends credence to this idea. So might Paul, who suggests that Jesus was “handed over” not by Judas or anyone else but by God.
But a wholesale invention is unlikely. Mark wrote his gospel around 70 A.D., only a few decades after the death of Jesus. Luke and Matthew wrote some 10 to 15 years later. The Christian community of that time still would have counted among its members those who were friends of Jesus, who were eyewitnesses to the Passion, or who knew the sequence of events from conversations with the previous generation. They most likely would have criticized any wild liberties taken with the story. Rather, as Father Harrington told me, "Judas's betrayal of Jesus was a known and most embarrassing fact." The ignominy of having Jesus betrayed by one of his closest friends is something the Gospel writers would have wanted to avoid, not invent.
Overall, none of the Gospels provides a convincing reason for why one of the 12 disciples would betray the teacher he esteemed so highly. Greed fails as an explanation—why would someone who had traveled with the penniless rabbi for three years suddenly be consumed with greed? (Unless he was indeed stealing from the common purse.)
William Barclay conjectured that the most compelling explanation is that by handing Jesus over to the Romans, Judas was trying to force Jesus's hand, to get him to act in a decisive way. Perhaps Judas expected the arrest to prompt Jesus to reveal himself as the long-awaited Messiah by not only ushering in an era of peace, but overthrowing the Roman occupiers. Barclay noted that none of the other traditional explanations (greed, disillusionment, jealousy) explain why Judas would have been so shattered after the crucifixion that the Gospel of Matthew has him committing suicide; only if Judas had expected a measure of good to come from his actions would suicide make any sense. "This is in fact the view which best suits all the facts," Barclay concluded.
Finally, there is an explanation at once simple and complex: sin. Why do we do what we know is wrong? It is an inexplicable mystery. Perhaps Judas’s reasons for betrayal were obscure even to himself.
. . . . .
From "Jesus: A Pilgrimage":http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Jesus-James-Martin/?isbn=9780062024237
Image: "The Taking of Christ in the Garden," by Caravaggio.
Cindee Case, MAPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
Development Of The Minister
Synod On Youth
Young Adult Ministry