Faith in God
"We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." (Deus Caritats Est by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, para 1)
The Church's call is to spread the seeds of faith, to nurture and develop those seeds in each child of God, to become fruit for God's kingdom, and to help every member come to this "fundamental decision of his (or her) life." The prayer of the Church is an experience of Christ. The Sacraments is an experience of Christ. "Where two or three gather in my name" (Mt 18:20), is an experience of Christ. And it begins with faith in God.
We start at prayer, but it all begins with God's grace, leading all people of good will and open heart to faith. Then the seed of faith can be planted through Baptism, leading to greater fruit. Mission is the call of all the Baptized. Prayer gives us the spiritual material or food, and mission is the result of prayer.
What is mission? In the Christian context, its the call of every disciple of Christ, to go out and proclaim God's kingdom of love. At the end of Catholic Mass, everyone gathered is given the comman - Go and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. The word Mass comes from the Latin word missa which means "sent." We are sent to BE CHRIST, to continue HIS MISSION on Earth. Not to just go back to the same old same old, but to see the hand of God working in our lives and in those around us, that God puts into our lives.
The documents of the 2nd Vatican Council (which concluded in 1965) had 2, not 1 major theme. Most people think just of the universal call to holiness (Lumen Gentium) began with the council. This call didn't start in 1965. It was from the very beginning of the Church, founded on Christ. The other major theme, often not mentioned, or overlooked, is the call to mission (Ad Gentes), or to be missionaries. Again, this was at the heart and core of Christ's call to discipleship, at the beginning, for each of us.
Many think the purpose of the II Vatican Council, was to open up "ministries" formly done by priests to the laity, such as lectoring, and assisting the priest in Communion Distribution as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. That is far from the truth. The council's real purpose was to help Catholics rediscover Church teaching in the modern culture. Specifically, to help Catholics RE-discover their baptismal call to be Holy and to be Missionaries.
Most people sort of get the 1st one, to be holy. To be holy means to be without sin. To "be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" Mt 5:48. But the 2nd calling? And actually clearly stated far more often by Jesus, such as Mt 28:19. What does it mean to be a missionary? It can mean traveling to distant lands, to people who have never heard the name of Jesus, and teaching and baptizing them. But if every Christian has the call to be missionary, it has to be more; has to be something more basic, since not everyone is called to travel to foreign lands. Its in the simple, day in day out, experience of our lives, the people we encounter, that we can be missionaries. But only if we have a personal, daily, encounter with Christ. We need to be spiritually fed daily through prayer. We need to see our Sunday Mass attendance not as an obligation, but as a time to be spiritually fed and strengthened, so that we can be Christ during the coming week. We need to frequent the sacraments, especially the sacrament of confession, to know that the gift of God's mercy is offered to us always but the one real encounter with God's mercy is in His Sacrament of Forgiveness. And that we are to be his embassadors of mercy to others.
There are many good books out there that lay out what it means to be a Christian missionary disciple. Also there are good resources on social media, easily accessible with the click of a mouse.
Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by Sherry Weddell
Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish by Fr. James Mallon
Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger
A series of good podcasts to look for are done by Father Charles Klamut and can be found on SoundCloud.com under PastoralQuotient.
Some good YouTube videos were done by Father Mike Schmitz, under Ascension Presents.
Also Bishop Barron under wordonfire.org.
Some movements that help foster discipleship, include Cursillo, and TEC, as well as Evangelical Catholic (evangelicalcatholic.org) and Alpha (alphausa.org). A true missionary organization that fosters young college age adults to be disciples is FOCUS (Focus.org).
And of course for cable television, there is EWTN.
Daily prayer must be seen not as something forced, or an obligation, but a spiritual movement, a desire, to spend time with the Lord, to be fed, and offer real opportunities to give thanks, to give glory, to seek light and strength, and to offer prayers for self and to those in need. Rout prayer is part of this, but also reflective, meditative and contemplative prayer. Lectio Divina is a very powerful method of using Scripture as a basis for reflection and meditation. Its just one way. But it all begins with making the intentional committment to spend time with God.
Devotions to Saints are a major part of our regular prayer life. Saints are real people, all different and unique, who lived with real struggles, who can offer us hope and friendship, guiding us to join them in the Kingdom of God.
A short biography on St. Patrick is available in the following document.
Beginning March 8th its encouraged to offer prayers to our patron, Saint Patrick, whose Feast is March 17th.Here is a link to a novena and a copy of the Lorica (or Breastplate prayer).
Since January of 2012, Bishop Jenky has asked every Catholic in the Diocese of Peoria to join him in reciting the Prayer to St Michael the Archangel, in response to the attack on our religious freedom resulting from some regulations contained in the Affordable Healthcare Act. While some of the the HHS (US Dept of Health & Human Services) mandates have been lifted through a Presidential Executive Act, our bishop has asked us to continue praying for religious freedom in our diocese due to ongoing threats to our basic rights.
The devotion to the child Jesus, really goes back to the beginning of the Church, with the visit of the Three Magi from the East. It has taken on various forms, in different countries, ever since. The Infant of Prague devotion began in the 17th Century.One of the fruits of this devotion is seeking financial assistance for a parish. And so, since Lent of 2014 we've turned back to this devotion for our parish.
The Solemnity of St Joseph, husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus is March 19th.Here is a link to a novena which begins March 10th
On March 25th (proper liturgical date, sometimes moved depending on where if falls in the Holy Week, or Easter calendar) we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Various devotions surround our Blessed Mother and her call and fiat to be the Mother of God, including the Angelus and the Novena of the Annunciation
Here is a link to the Angelus prayer, a common devotion to be said at noon daily,or anytime of the day, traditionally at the ringing of the Angelus Bell.
Here is a link to a Novena: EWTN Annunciation Novena