with Bill and Joanne McElroy
The Adventure Continues...
Our year-long Adventures in Grace pilgrimage culminated with a Spirit-filled Pentecost celebration in June. At that mass, we stood, fully aware of our identity as Beloved of God, and committed ourselves, actively and passionately, to continued grace-filled adventures in both our daily lives, and as a faith community. With that commitment in mind, we’d like to inform you of how we will continue to pursue Adventures in Grace (AiG) over the next year here at Holy Family.
Pope Francis has often called for a “revolution of tenderness” in the world. He says, “Tenderness is the love that comes close and becomes real….Tenderness is a properly Christian attitude. Christianity without tenderness does not work.” Inspired by these words we have developed a series of four Wednesday evening events based on the spirituality of tenderness: Tenderness in Forgiveness, Tenderness in Prayer, Tenderness toward Creation, and Tenderness in Relationships. Inspired by these words we have developed a series of four Wednesday evening events based on the spirituality of tenderness. These events will take place in the church, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM, and will include a noted speaker, opportunity for small-group discussion, and hospitality.
We will also be promoting, and offering book discussions on, Fr. Greg Boyle’s newest book The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness, a call to witness the transformative power of tenderness, rooted in Fr. Boyle’s lifetime of experience ministering to gang members in Los Angeles.
There will be a renewed focus on the creation of small Christian communities (Gatherings in Grace) devoted to small-group discussions of experiences of Grace in daily life and in the Sunday scripture readings, as well as other topics.
During Lent, our pastor, Fr. Terry, will lead a two-day parish mission on the spirituality of Holy Week.
We will also be continuing our popular Bible Journey program and powerful Beloved Retreat, as well as opportunities to serve in a variety of social justice/outreach projects.
Please watch the bulletin, our parish website, and social media for exact dates and more information on all these Adventures in Grace!
Adventures in Grace: a pilgrimage Revisited
Our year-long Adventures in Grace pilgrimage culminated with a Spirit-filled Pentecost celebration in June. At that mass, we stood, fully aware of our identity as Beloved of God, and committed ourselves, actively and passionately, to continued grace-filled adventures in both our daily lives, and as a faith community. As we look forward, however, it might prove beneficial for us to remind ourselves of some of the key take-aways from each of the Wednesday evening sessions with Dr. Terry Nelson Johnson. They will serve as a foundation for our future Adventures in Grace. We begin this week with Grace and Sacrament.
- Grace is the verb of God; God’s desperate desire to give us a portion of God’s Self over and over again. Mediation is the process by which God communicates God’s Self to us through daily life in the material world. Sacrament is any moment when we experience God’s Presence and Gift of Self. How do you relate to these definitions?
- Pat McGrath, S.J. suggests that the Heart and Soul of Catholicism are intricately and intimately woven into this holy rhythm and dynamic: grace, mediation, and sacrament. We are encouraged to engage in this reality of faith in our daily lives by using one of these spiritual exercises regularly:
“I received the sacrament of _____________ mediated by __________.”
“I witnessed the sacrament of _________ given to __________, mediated by_______.”
“Hail, Mary, full of Grace…, Hail, (person, place, or thing) full of Grace.”
“Where’s the Grace? Where’s the Grace? Where’s the Grace?”
- Our pilgrimage song was “Everything is Grace.” Are you able to imagine that everything (creation, life, ourselves, etc.) is full of grace?
- In referring to the Cross of New Life, Terry Nelson Johnson used the phrase that “Jesus is straining to give us God.” How does that description resonate with you?
- Sacraments are lived before they are celebrated.
- God comes to us disguised as our life.
- A sacramental is a physical item that bears the fingerprint – the DNA – of the Author of Grace (the “DNA” of God.) A sacramental honors that which mediated the grace. A sacramental, by definition, is Holy to the recipient of Grace. To someone else it may simply be memorabilia, a mere knickknack, or even junk. What are some of your personal sacramentals; that is, what objects, actions, events stand for something else that is of special significance to you? What do these symbols bring to mind when you see or recall them? How do they mediate God’s presence/activity in your life?
Adventures in Grace: a pilgrimage Revisited
Adventure Two: Baptism (Drenched!)
As we continue to remind ourselves of the key take-aways from each of the Wednesday evening adventures with Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson, this week we revisit the Sacrament of Baptism.
- Baptism, like all sacraments, is contemporary – dynamic and a verb – suggesting that we are subject to encountering Baptism – to being DRENCHED in the mysterious Love of God at any juncture – today – this minute. Baptism is NOT limited to a one-time, long ago event. On any given day, we are more, OR less, baptized. Thus, we must continually renew our baptismal identities. We do this liturgically a number of times over the course of the year, but most of us do not take this seriously and/or are oblivious to our responsibility, our privilege, to actively and intentionally renew our lived experience and FELT sense of ourselves as Baptized, as the Beloved of God.
Based on this understanding of Baptism, Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson recommended the following spiritual exercises:
- Who am I? (I am baptized!)
- Who has helped minister Baptism to me?
- What keeps me from knowing myself as baptized?
- TODAY, what can I do to renew my baptismal identity?
- TODAY, where did I notice “Little Moments of Baptism”?
- One of the primary, if not THE PRIMARY, fruit of Baptism is FREEDOM. What does this statement mean to you?
- Read Romans 6:3-4. Coming to know ourselves as baptized will involve some surrender. It will involve dying to all the parts of ourselves that we deem unworthy of such Love. What does this mean to you? Is it worth the risk?
- There’s a reason that Baptism is the Portal (First) sacrament; it’s a cooperative venture. God cannot “do” Baptism to us. If Baptism “works,” then we are open to receiving and cooperating with all the Grace that God aches to lavish on us. If Baptism does not “work,” if we don’t KNOW ourselves as baptized, then we can go through all the rituals we want and still be a captive. Baptism, like all Sacraments and Grace, is not earned and is not a magic trick; it’s a GIFT that must be received and responded to every day. Read Galatians 3:26-28.
- Fr. Richard Rohr suggests that the core characteristic of Love is Flow. If God is Love, then the Trinity is an endless Flow of Love that literally drives the universe. When we experience God as Trinity, we see a relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a Relationship of Love. That relationship is then shared between the Creator and creation, and is bound together in Love. We are baptized into this relational flow calling us to be in relationship with each other. We are called into community.
- Religious ritual is supposed to be emotional and take our breath away. Being Church is supposed to change us. How is this your experience?
Adventures in Grace: a pilgrimage Revisited
Adventure Three: Confirmation (Affirmed!)
As we continue to remind ourselves of the key take-aways from each of the Wednesday evening adventures with Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson, this week we revisit the Sacrament of Confirmation.
- Confirmation is a deepening of our Christian identity; a time for us to RE-member the GIFT of Baptism, to AFFIRM who we are as a Beloved Child of God. We identify, cultivate, and give thanks for our God-given gifts/charisms. We receive these gifts that we might delight in them AND give them away in the service of life and love. (“You got it, you give it; get it?”). Based on this understanding of Confirmation, the following spiritual exercises are recommended:
- How might I RE-member my Baptism?
- Whose gifts can I affirm, call forth, give thanks for?
- When might I say …?
- “Bless me, O Lord, for these Thy Gifts which I am currently receiving (from thy Bounty) and giving away in the service of life and love.”
- “Bless me, O Lord, for these Thy Gifts which I am receiving from _____ AND your Bounty.”
- Terry Nelson-Johnson told Fr. Richard Rohr’s story about the young child who wanted to speak with his new baby brother alone. He said, “Quick, tell me who I am; remind me where I came from, I am beginning to forget.” What does this story mean to you?
- Benedict said, “Always we begin again.” What does this statement mean to you?
- Your Baptism is not a private affair. God, all creation, all humanity has a vested interest in your baptismal status. What does this statement mean to you?
- Thomas Merton said, “For me to be a saint means to be myself.” Francis de Sales , “Be who said you are and be that perfectly well.” Fr. James Martin says, “To be holy is to have the courage to really be who you are.” What do these statements mean to you?
- The sacrament of Confirmation seals us with the Holy Spirit received in the sacrament of Baptism. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity; the deepest inner life of God, the very person who is the mutual love of God the Father and God the Son. As that inner life, the Spirit is that Divine Love that God gives us to share. Read Galatians 5: 22-23. What does this passage suggest about distinguishing God’s presence in the Spirit?
Please join us in the church as we focus on the gift of Tenderness in Prayer. Our speakers, JoAnne and Bill McElroy, will introduce us to contemplative prayer in order to awaken in us the desire to move into a deeper relationship with God through contemplative practice.
JoAnne holds a Master of Arts degree in Contemporary Spirituality and a post-graduate Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University of Chicago. She is a commissioned presenter of Centering Prayer, which she has practiced for over ten years.
Bill has a Master’s degree in Spirituality and Spiritual Direction from the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University of Chicago. He has served as a lay minister and spiritual leader at the parish, diocesan and national level for the past three-plus decades. He is a commissioned presenter of Centering Prayer, which he has practiced for over 20 years. He was the Founding Convener of Illinois Men As Learners and Elders, a men’s spirituality organization founded by Richard Rohr, OFM.
JoAnne and Bill have been married for 47 years and are the parents of three adult children and grandparents of two grandsons. They both enjoy exploring nature and have a deep connection to the natural world in support of their spiritual journeys.
More information on the other events will follow in the near future.
All are welcome, but registration is requested for planning purposes. To register, please contact Mary Whiteside at email@example.com.
October 5, 2022 Tenderness in Forgiveness Fr. Ed Shea, OFM
Friar Ed Shea, OFM is a Franciscan Friar who graduated from CTU in 1987, and has worked as Formation Director. Since his ordination in 1987, he has had a wide variety of experiences and has worked for 15 years as a Pastor in three different churches. He is the third of 8 children from an Irish-Catholic family, is crazy about his 19 nieces and nephews, and is an avid Notre Dame fan. He loves to sing and tell stories and celebrate the sacraments of the Church. “As a true follower of St. Francis, it is my mission in life to find reasons to rejoice in the goodness of God’s presence in our world.”