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May 2, 2012     

Celebrating Spirit and Community

THIS MONTH: In this time of mystagogy, when our new members explore the mysteries celebrated at the Easter Vigil, we are all invited to consider the signficance of our membership in the Body of Christ. As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost on May 27, we explore the role of the Spirit in forming, animating, sustaining, and guiding the Church community.

How the Spirit Guides the Church
by Joan McKamey

Longtime friend of Franciscan Media, Msgr. William H. Shannon, passed to his eternal reward on April 29th after a long illness. He was 94. May he rest in peace.

As I consider the Church and the movement of the Spirit within it, I look to people like Msgr. Shannon, who have helped form me in my own understanding of Church. The Church is a living and dynamic reality. Just as we individuals must keep learning, growing, and changing through our lifetimes—and Msgr. Shannon was a wise and humble example of this—so must the Church continually form and reform itself.

The Holy Spirit guides the Church in its movement, growth, and response to changing times. Msgr. Shannon’s Catholic Update “How the Spirit Guides the Church: Two Views in Matthew and John” provides insight from the different perspectives of the writers of the Gospels of Matthew and John. The hierarchical Church of Matthew’s experience is balanced by the “community of love” of John’s. Msgr. Shannon helps readers see the value and pitfalls of each. We learn that both perspectives are needed if we are to be true to our calling as the Body of Christ.

Purchase copies of this Catholic Update to share with your parishioners as you celebrate the birthday of the Church through the action of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost. I pray that we all may be as open to the movement of the Holy Spirit as Msgr. William Shannon was in his long years as a servant of the kingdom of God.

Spirit Alive in Community
by Joan McKamey

“She’s been here,” says a friend’s mother when she senses the Spirit at work in her life. If we “tune in,” we, too, will be able to identify ways that the Spirit is at work in our lives.

The Spirit is present in our faith communities—forming, animating, sustaining, and guiding us. We’re at our best when we allow the Spirit to guide us to true Christian living and discipleship. When we come together in a faith response, particularly to a need outside ourselves, that’s a sure sign of the Spirit moving among us.

In the story of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41), we see how the Spirit freed the apostles from their fear and opened their minds and hearts to the meaning of Jesus’s life and teachings. Fear is a great inhibitor of the Spirit’s movement. When we move beyond fear, we’ll live more fully the life of the Spirit, the life of community. How appropriate that we call Pentecost the “birthday of the Church.”

The DVD Spirit and Community explores ways the Holy Spirit enlivens the Church. In addition to a program for adults (story, witness, teaching, and music video segments), it offers a program that presents a child’s perspective of the Church. (Some parishes use this “children’s program” successfully with adults as well!) I’ve selected a clip from the teaching segment of the program for adults to share with you (Windows Media).

Share this DVD with those to whom and with whom you minister. It’s especially appropriate for neophytes and those preparing for Confirmation.

Be attentive to the movement and guidance of the Spirit. Pray to let go of fear in order to allow the Spirit to move freely.

Sharing the Spirit
by Angela Glassmeyer

I’m sure there are a variety of reactions when a teen asks an adult to be his or her Confirmation sponsor. Even if being asked isn’t a total surprise, many adults still wonder if they can handle what they’re saying yes to. It’s a valid concern, one that shows that the adult desires to take the role of sponsor seriously.

What is the role of a Confirmation sponsor? How do you go about being a spiritual guide for a teen or young adult to help him or her grow in faith, especially in today’s society?

When a Teen Chooses You: Practical Advice for Any Adult is a gift for Confirmation sponsors. It provides insight into how teens think and gives practical tips to help adults talk with a teen about sensitive issues (e.g., prayer, morality, sin, guilt). This book has been a trusted resource for many years and is newly revised and expanded to include more current topics.

I know of one parish that purchases a copy for each Confirmation sponsor (at a bulk discount). Each Confirmation candidate writes a personal note in the book before giving it to his or her sponsor as a gift. What a great way to help both sponsor and candidate at the same time—and a beautiful symbol of their relationship!

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Faith Formation Update
is your bridge to a community of readers who share your passion for catechesis. For our part, we offer monthly encouragement, ideas, and resources to assist you in your catechetical ministry. We are honored to serve you in this e-newsletter and hope you find it useful. God bless you in your important ministry of sharing the Good News!

Angela Glassmeyer and Joan McKamey (Find out more about us by clicking here.)

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