Friday, December 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
-Mary Ellen M.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Next speaker: Wednesday, November 4 at Holy Name Cathedral.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
For many of us, this is a familiar story, one in which we take comfort in knowing that God will provide for whatever we need. But Fr. Ken gave us a different message to think about. When Jesus sent the Apostles out, he told them to "take nothing" with them. He then elaborates: "neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic." He is sending them out with absolutely nothing so that they must become beggars. These men who care for the needy must first become needy themselves and allow others to take care of them.
Most of us are willing to care for those in need, but how often are we willing to humble ourselves and let others take care of us?
Matt Stevens is currently a graduate student at Loyola University Chicago.
-Mary Ellen M.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Fr. Akpan is a Jesuit from the East Africa Province who also studied at Creighton University and Gonzaga University before returning to his home.
Monday, September 21, 2009
During our time there, we swept and mopped each of the dorms, moving beds out of the way to give a thorough cleaning. The dorm that houses the regulars is for those who have a job or who are working with a case worker to improve their situation and eventually move into their own apartments. Everything that these people have is neatly on or under their beds. You can really tell what the guests value by what they choose to keep in this limited space.
One of the things that I learned on Saturday was that the Franciscan House turns more people away each night during the summer than in the winter. I assumed that the opposite would be the case, but the Franciscan House is one of the few year round shelters in the city. Most shelters are just open for the winter.
The Franciscan Outreach Association who runs the shelter is a wonderful ministry that provides many services for the homeless in our community. If you're looking for a way to get involved and serve Jesus through the least of our brothers and sisters, check out what they provide.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
His letter references the welcome speech he gave before Obama spoke. Check his speech out on YouTube.
It's great to continue the discussion and look for ways that we can promote the dignity of life at all phases.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Coming back from a long hiatus, the Ark Café greeted a packed house of ministers, representatives and young adult Catholics looking to connect with different groups in Chicago and try the hors d’oeuvres. We had a great time meeting a ton of new people and hearing the enthusiasm so many people have for ours and other ministries.
We really want to thank all our sponsoring partners for the support they gave in putting on the event and for everyone who took the time to come and support our different ministries.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
When I reflect on my favorite moments throughout the weekend, I think of all the “ah-ha” moments in my mind. I journeyed through the weekend hearing women and men reveal their very personal and deep relationship with God through struggle and triumph; receiving the sacrament of reconciliation with Eucharistic adoration; participating in Lexio Devina; personal spiritual reading; walking the stations of the Cross; and the many great conversations. I walked away Sunday a more grounded person in the Lord.
As the band Depeche Mode had so eloquently bantered, “Your own Personal Jesus. Someone to hear your prayers, someone who cares. Someone who’s there…Reach out and touch Faith.” A very Personal Jesus was present and alive throughout this deeply spiritual weekend!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
We are finding ourselves right at home here in Pontotoc. Our days have been filled with everything from building stairs to laying sod and landscaping. Keith, Habitat's Project Manager, has been very patient in teaching us the many skills it takes to build a home. After a hard day's work, the gracious community fills our evenings with good company and mouth-watering meals. We've enjoyed some of the best biscuits, chicken, and deserts we've ever tasted. We're all jotting down several new recipes, but we'll be hard pressed to recreate that Southern hospitality that makes these meals so special.
Monday, June 15, 2009
What do you have in your house? This is a question that I didn’t think about much before I came to Pontotoc, Mississippi. It did not even cross my mind when I signed up to go on the trip with Charis. I thought I was going to be volunteering to help build houses.
Well, in just three days my life has been transformed, and my spirit has come alive in so many ways. I am now getting in touch with the very gifts I already have inside of me and learning how to use them for good. I am learning that it does not take a whole lot to be a servant for God.
Living in Chicago, I am used to being surrounded by noise, staying connected to Internet, cell phones, and, of course, finding ways to keep busy. I didn’t remember how important it is to receive the gifts of warmth and comfort. I am in the country now where life is quiet and simple. This is the life. I am sure the 13 participants of this group can all agree that this is the way life should be.
This morning was the first day of work. We watched a video to introduce us to the mission of Habitat for Humanity. In the video, the speaker talked about the story in the Bible from 2 Kings: 4. A woman who had lost her husband was about to lose everything, and her two sons were about to become slaves in order to pay off her husband’s debt. She thought she had nothing to offer, but The prophet Elisha showed her how she could use what she already had in her home to pay the debt and supply her families needs for years to come.
The passage stayed with me throughout the day. I am learning how to use the fruits of the Spirit. I am soul searching, but I was looking for the gifts somewhere out there. We are in the South to help build a home for someone in need, but I am finding that many of my own needs are being met on this trip. The new friends I have met on this trip and here in this town have melted my heart. They have helped me find what service really means.
I think I am seeing how God can be found just in a simple smile, a wonderful home cooked meal prepared by the town’s people, or His love could be found just in an honest and encouraging conversation that uplifts someone in a time of a tough life decision. These are gifts we already have. This week we are tapping into them. I am looking forward to the rest of the week. After all, this is only the beginning of our mission.
I believe we are all learning what it means to be a Christian who walks in the spirit. Being around other young people who love God and want to do his work is a beautiful thing. I am witnessing what it means to be blessed and how I can be a blessing to others just by being myself. I am learning what it means to feel God’s love and give love.
Monday, June 8, 2009
We are so grateful to have such a wonderful group of young adults involved in the ministry and who give of their time and energy to serve their peers. Some have been musicians on retreats or at Masses or served on a team for one of our retreats. Others have helped with logistics and hospitality for one of our evening speakers or Masses.
After dinner, we were honored to have Patrick Curran tell us a bit about his experiences with Charis over the last several years and what that has meant in his life. Then Jenene Francis shared some of the fruits of Charis both in Chicago and around the country at national retreats. If you'd like to hear what Patrick and Jenene had to say, check out the Charis Ministries podcast on iTunes.
To all who have been involved in the various programs of Charis Ministries, we want to say a big THANK YOU! We couldn't do any of this without you!
Friday, May 22, 2009
If you missed the talk, check it out on YouTube, or download the podcast on iTunes.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Right now, check out some of our recent Living Ignatian speakers and talks from the For the Least retreat.
Don't want to use iTunes? No problem. You can subscribe directly to the RSS feed and listen online by clicking here.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Fear not. The social justice...err, I mean For the Least retreat just might be for you.
Like any retreat, the weekend revolved around a number of talks. These aren't Catholics speculating about the meaning of their faith; they are living it. A professor of Ecology building green spaces on the tops of roofs and making diesel fuel out of french fry grease(!); A woman working to overturn destructive laws that target refugees and immigrants; Catholics lending a helping hand overseas (or in their own country) who are victims of war, genocide or grueling working conditions.
This retreat could have just as easily been called For the Least: We Mean Business. I found myself challenged to think about my own actions on the grandest scale: how my tiny behaviors, when multiplied, contributed to the burden of social injustice in the world. If your idea of focusing on your faith means "thinking about your faith in action," then you've found your place.
I wasn't sure what to expect over this past weekend, but what I got were: 1) A lot of questions and 2) A lot of inspiration. The issues of social justice will always be difficult. The gray areas are many, and the solutions are never easy to come by. But there is empowerment in education and the hope that one small difference, when multiplied, fulfills the will of God.
Monday, April 27, 2009
He gave a fantastic overview of how we should be making our decisions based on what we would do if Jesus was standing next to us.
Check out his talk on YouTube.
Monday, April 6, 2009
From many different stalks of wheat
Which were picked, crushed, ground and baked
That it might be one loaf,
As this wine was fashioned from many grapes
Picked in different parts of the field,
Crushed, fermented in darkness and aged
That it might be one sweet drink,
So we pray that we who are many and different
By the joy we share and the sorrow we endure
Might be formed into a people of praise
For the glory of Your name.
Our Lenten and Easter observances are meant to remind us of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit at work in Jesus’ life. And they are meant to stir our faith in the great hope that the same will be true for us. St. Paul wrote in Galatians 2, “I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”
These words sound so beautiful, don’t they? Yet the process of this truth is no less than the dying and rising of Christ within us. God is at work fashioning and forming us, like the bread and wine at Mass, into a more perfect representation of the Body of Christ. It is one thing to affirm this in the abstract. It is quite another to live this through the suffering of our lives.
Nowhere have I seen this Paschal Mystery more perfectly realized than in the death of my dear brother priest, Fr. Jim Willig. Fr. Jim and I were best friends, and for years we led pilgrimages around the world to holy sites. Ten years ago this summer, we returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to discover that Jim had developed renal cell cancer, a particularly deadly strain because it usually shows no symptoms until it is too late. In the operation, they discovered a football size tumor that had metastasized and traveled to his lungs.
Jim wanted to live. He didn’t want “early retirement” as he put it. But as Fr. Jim’s body grew weaker and weaker, his faith grew stronger and stronger. His voice became more and more frail, but his parish became larger and larger. Daily Fr. Jim would pray St. Ignatius’ famous prayer: “Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my will, my entire self. All I have you have given to me. Now I return it to be used only according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace. With these I am rich enough and desire nothing more.”
For the first year of the cancer journey, Fr. Jim could only pray these words and half mean them. He wanted a physical healing, and he continued to beg God for this grace. But a year and a half into his sickness, Fr. Jim’s heart surrendered more completely to the transformation that God was working in him. He started to pray: "I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future."
With this change in attitude came a profound change in Fr. Jim’s spirit. He went from being a good priest to an extraordinarily holy priest. He went from being a very good preacher to an extraordinarily powerful man of God. We began to see so clearly Christ at work in Fr. Jim’s life.
When he died, just about two years after his diagnosis, there was no one who knew him who doubted that Fr. Jim was taking his place among God’s saints. Fr. Jim had chronicled this remarked transformation in a book entitled Lessons from the School of Suffering.
All of us want to grow into the image and likeness of Christ. That is the goal of our faith. We are called to this transformation not just as individuals but also as Church, as the people of God. And the surest way to allow this transformation to occur is to walk the path of suffering in faith as Jesus did. This Paschal Mystery is not just about what occurred to Jesus two thousand years ago. It is the pattern of every Christian who embraces Jesus call to “Pick up your cross and follow.” (Mt 16:24)
During this Holy Week and into the Easter season, with every Mass we attend and every communion we receive, let us pray for a deeper surrender to God’s will in our lives that “in the joy we share and the sorrow we endure, we might be formed into a people of praise for the glory of your name.”
-Fr J. Michael Sparough, SJ
Lessons from the School of Suffering is available through Heart to Heart.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I leave the prayer groups pumped up for my coming week and have new thoughts and prayers floating in my head, I love hearing how other people are doing on their journey of faith and having the opportunity to share my own journey.
- Tina F.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Did you happen to miss Claire Noonan in October or Mike Hayes in February? Well, now you can catch up by enjoying these podcasts.
Finding God in the Every Day: Claire Noonan
Click to listen >>> Part I & Part II
Claire Noonan of the Siena Center of Dominican University talks about finding God in our every day experiences, and leads us through an Examen. Her talk is posted on mycatholicvoice.com, a new online resource for spiritual media, in two parts. We're excited to be a part of this new online Catholic community!
Finding God in the Crossroads: Mike Hayes
Click to listen >>> Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9
Ok, so Mike Hayes of BustedHalo.com split up his talk into MANY different parts. But it's video! The talk is posted on good ol' fashioned YouTube.
Let us know what you think! Email us with your opinions of the talks themselves and the podcasts.
Don't miss our next speaker, Fr. Pat McGrath, SJ, as he talks about Finding God in the Hard Questions on April 23.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
When our group departed in last July, we were pretty proud of the fact that we framed the whole house, put up walls and put together the roof. But our work was only one piece of the puzzle. Thanks to the staff and many other volunteers, the skeleton of a house was completed in just last month. The new home is complete with cabinets, painted walls, windows, the whole nine yards - all sorts of things that many people worked hard to finish.
We were lucky enough to meet the Chaperno family before we left Pontotoc, and we're delighted to see and hear about the house dedication ceremony. So much work, so many people, so much time - and Habitat for Humanity keeps on doing it.
If you'd like to have this kind of experience this summer, find out how to sign up for the 2009 Pontotoc Service Trip.
I think you'll find that it's wonderfully overwhelming to be part of something larger than yourself.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
There were so many volunteers from different organizations that over 200 people had breakfast and picked up their food in less than two hours. After we were done, Fr. Bob Lombardo, CFR, the founder of the Mission, gave us a tour of Kelly Hall and described all the programs they offer to the neighbors. They provide everything from basketball programs to after school tutoring to a workout facility for the elderly. As one 27 year resident of the neighborhood put it, "the Mission is restoring hope to a neighborhood that has been through a lot."
It is truly amazing to see what has been done in just a few short years through the partnerships between the Mission, different organizations, and the neighbors. Go to the website to check out the programs and volunteer opportunities they have available and join us for our next Service Day!
Monday, March 9, 2009
The day was centered around powerful live-performances of African American spirituals, ranging from a moving solo of “Motherless Child” to an upbeat version “This Little Light of Mine." Fr. Brown reflected that these spirituals characterize the dignity and faith upheld by the slaves, despite the cruel oppression and abuse to which they were subjected. The music and reflections encouraged us to be moved and humbled by this dignity as we are by the dignity of Christ’s life, suffering, and death.
As Fr. Brown reminded us, Jesus’ persecution and sacrifice resulted from his commitment to overturning the social order and liberating the oppressed. Lent calls us to bear witness to the love and commitment to social justice personified in Jesus’ life, suffering, and death. May this witness move us to recognize our responsibility to follow Christ’s example of liberating the oppressed and marginalized in our world today in the hope of creating the Kingdom of God here on Earth.
Many thanks to Fr. Brown, the awe-inspiring musicians, and our co-hosts Catholics on Call and The Tolton Scholars Program, without whom the day would not have been possible!
Friday, March 6, 2009
On February 19th our friend and buddy Mike Hayes from BustedHalo.com joined us as the next speaker in our Living Ignatian Series. In fact, Mike is so talented that he posted a portion of his talk on his blog, Googling God. Take a peek.
"Finding God in the Crossroads" is how we titled Mike's talk. Where is God when we face decisions? How can we hear where God is leading us? Can we be honest with ourselves about what drives us, what we're capable of, and where we're willing to go? Mike walked us through the path he ended up on that led to BustedHalo, along with all the successes and pitfalls. We hope to get all of Mike's presentation available to you, and we'll let you know how that goes. (This presentation one again confirmed that my personal calling does NOT involve being good with technology.)
That may be trite, but little bits of knowledge about ourselves can lead to great things - and as the Jesuits will tell you, for the greater glory of God!
- Lauren B.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The readings revolved around the Spirit of the Lord being upon us, and Fr. Michael's homily spoke to nurturing that spirit through the development of "7 Holy Habits for a Happier New Year." Below are the habits and some reflections shared during the homily and afterwards with other young adults:
1. Practice writing Thanksgiving: Tell people you're thankful for their presence in your life or the work they do. Make a mental list of the things you're grateful for in a given day or week. Develop an attitude of gratitude!
2. Practice holy nostalgia: Look at your life without feelings of guilt or regret. Focus on times when you felt loved and genuine happiness.
3. Practice forgiveness: Having an attitude of gratitude helps us to recognize the need for healing and compels us to share love.
4. Practice virtue: Invest in the goodness in ourselves, others, and the world.
5. Practice health: Take care of yourself and have respect for the gift of your body.
6. Picture your 100th Birthday: What will your be proud of when you look back on your life?
7. Picture God smiling at you: Behold God delighting in you - he likes and loves you and wants to be your friend. Embrace that acceptance and friendship.
May you all have a blessed 2009!