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Posts tagged ‘Catholic evangelization’

A Word: Catholic Women’s Conferences; Catholic Men’s Conferences

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Finally, dioceses/archdioceses across the nation are stepping up and answering the call to evangelize by putting money and effort into establishing conferences for women and for men.

We each have unique needs. Women aren’t men. Men aren’t women. We need each other, but we also need a day set aside to minister to us – a day that affirms our gender and dignity as a woman made in the image of God, as a man made in the image of God.

And that is unique. It is not the same. I am so far and completely and hilariously different from my husband. I am not my father. Not my son. Not like any man.

I am a woman. The evangelizing of my soul looks different from the evangelizing of my husband’s soul.

In part, we need a break from our duties at home and work to gather with other women, with other men to be nurtured and filled.

And yet…

I noticed something Saturday that is essential. When the teams gather in the quiet of a diocesan room and plan our conferences, there is one aspect that is often forgotten.

It was not forgotten at the women’s conference here in St. Louis last Saturday.

In between the two female speakers, for a space of time following the female MC’s introduction, gracing the stage beside the Blessed Mother, to stand before the thousand-plus Catholic women, was Monsignor Eugene Morris.

He was the highlight of the day.

His mother watched from one balcony window. She looked down upon her son. He honored her, praised her, and then talked of Our Lady and Confession and Our Faith.

We laughed. We felt his mother’s gaze. We saw the love. We entered for a few minutes into their connection.

And I thought about the importance of seeing a man in the midst of this women’s conference. A son. A brother. A priest.

He belongs to us as women in a unique way. We need him. He needed us.

It is true that we needed a day away from our homes, a day just for us. But that day was made better – the best – because one man had been permitted to break up the day with all the female voices with a call to remember who we are as “woman.” A reminder that only a man, only a priest can deliver.

It’s like our children when they hear our voice all day long, and then daddy comes home.

He can say the same thing we have said, repeatedly. Now, they hear it. Now, they respond.

It made me think.

What if men’s and women’s conferences began adding one segment where a priest (for the women) or a woman religious (for the men) or a grandfather (for the women) or a grandmother (for the men) had a space of time to speak.

I’m going to sound like goldilocks…

not too young

not too attractive

not too distracting in that way.

But a voice with a cadence and timbre we would otherwise miss.

Telling us the same things in another way.

As the conference ended, we quieted our spirits and made a space for the Lord to come to us in the Mass.

The deacons and priests and Archbishop processed.

The Knights of Columbus raised their swords.

The women felt something. The renewal was coming full-circle. These are our men, our sons, our brothers, our fathers and priests. They are here because of us. We are here because of them. We are uniquely made. Knit together male or female in our mother’s wombs for distinct roles, then knit together in the fabric of the Church for distinct roles. We need a day filled with voices of women. But nothing can take away our need to hear a man’s voice calling us to the Confessional. A man’s sword raised as the Archbishop enters. A young man enters with eyes on the cross he carries as his alb flows and the belt swings at his side.

Gather in your little rooms. Eat your finger sandwiches. Jot your notes down for next year’s conference. Assign the action-items. Send the emails to the prospective speaker.

But in a deliberate and lovely way, preserve a space for us to see and hear from the one not like us.

They are flesh from our flesh. Flesh of our flesh. And male and female He created us.

The perfect women’s conference comes full-circle.

We are created in the image of God.

I came back home and saw my husband. My grandsons.

Thought of my priest.

Saw my deacon with new eyes Sunday morning.

Wondered if my husband had a calling to be a deacon (probably not). Or my son. Or my sons-in-law.

I wondered if my grandsons had a vocation to the priesthood. I imagined them as altar servers.

I felt my feminine genius acutely. And it made me see all of us more clearly.

I imagined talking to a Catholic men’s conference. Oh, there are many things I would say. But mostly, it would be this:

She needs you to be the man God created you to be. She.

Your wife.

Your daughter.

Your sister.

Your mother.

They need you to be firmly planted in Christ Jesus.

So listen to these male speakers. And go from this place changed. And ready.

Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years

Recently, I interviewed for a new position. Most people dread interviews; I love them.

My favorite question is: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

It is an oldie but a goody. How would you answer that question?

I have never answered it the way I did a few days ago. I paused, just for a second or two, and thought about it. The answer came to me more strongly than if I my mind had practiced the answer over and over. It wasn’t a case of my mind searching for a good sound bite. It wasn’t about where I would be working. It wasn’t about what title I would have. It had nothing to do with where I would be living or what kind of clothes I would be putting on each morning. It had nothing to do with what hairstyle I would have, how much I would weigh then, or if I would be driving to work or putting on my slippers and sitting at my computer most days.

It wouldn’t matter if my commute required a plane, train or automobile.

Only one answer fits, and the older I get, the more that answer rings true. It is unshakable truth. If I deny this reality or deviate from this path, I will not be happy.

I will not be me.

It is who I was created to be.

I know this. There is no way I will not be sharing the good news of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is what I was born to do. Whether here – I don’t know. On that, I don’t know the mind of Christ. But I will share Christ and His Church.

I haven’t heard back about the interview.

It went well, but I trust in Divine Providence. He really does order all things for the good of those who serve Him. I serve Him, and so does each person who applied and interviewed  for the position. For one of us, sharing Christ matches perfectly with the job description. For the rest of us, only God knows – and I mean that truly. It is no cliche.

So, while I wonder what I will be doing in the years to come, I don’t wonder all that much.

The last time we were in the Liturgical C-cycle of the Missal, we had the same reading on Sunday. The passage from Sacred Scripture is a comfort to me. I have had the verse taped to my bathroom mirror for three years.

The page from the Magnifcat is worn and torn.

My confidence in the verse is stronger than it was three years ago, or eleven years ago when I came into the Church, or 40+ years ago when I asked Jesus Christ to be the Lord of my life.

I know who I am.

I am called.

You have been called, too.

Come, let us share this One with the world, for nothing else matters. It is what we were born to do. Let the truth of it be enough.

Catholics and Movie God’s Not Dead

I went to the movie God’s Not Dead a few days ago. It was moving – something like a contemporary  twist on themes common to old Billy Graham films. Instead of ending at a Billy Graham crusade, it ended at a Christian rock concert. Other than that, it fit the model.

As the credits rolled, I noticed a familiar name. Cary Solomon. Writer. Later that day, I sent Cary a LinkedIn note. It wasn’t presumptuous of me because Cary had sent me the LinkedIn invitation months ago and followed it up with a personal message.

Back then, he wondered if I had any good Catholic material that I wanted to see produced. If I did have something in mind, I don’t have the funds to see it through to the big screen. But I remembered the name.

I wrote Cary the other day. I congratulated him on his latest movie and asked him when he was going to do a Catholic film – a Eucharist-centered film.

He wrote back to say he wants to do a Catholic film, but the funds just don’t support it.

I guess he’s right. Catholics tend to send their money to missions and local parishes and diocesan-wide initiatives. They fund CRS and Catholic Charities and local food pantries. And those things should get top billing. And we do evangelize.

We just don’t do it with modern cinematography featuring Eucharistic themes.

We retell the old, old story. Passion of the Christ.

We support movies about saints. The canonized. Not modern Joes who stumble along and find the Eucharist.

But Cary said he would like to do something thoroughly Catholic. I promised to pray for him and his heart’s desire.

Who knows. With God, anything is possible.