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December 25, 1987     The Message
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December 25, 1987

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The pilgrimage goes on By Joe Michael Feist NC Neva.Service r swelteringafternoOn,PaUlnlicrcphoneOW:lrdli stepped the Septcmberpopeendin UPsaxlCfJohn:ltAn.a tonio's Plaza de Guadalupe and offered a succinct model for parish life. The parish is a "family of families," the pope said in Spanish to a mainly Hispanic audience, ,for parish,' is especially related to the strengths andweaknesses and • needs of the families that make it up." He went on to.discuss family catechesis, the parish as a com- munity and the sacramental life at the heart of every parish. In the aftermath of the pope's visit, the bishops of Texas dedded that the message of Plaza dc Guadalupe was too vital to simply end up in a collectkm of papal speeches, lnstead, they decided to icmePllaa d on an theeVangelizati°npope,s speech pr°" that would reach all Catholics in the vast state's 14 dioceses. Paulist Father Bruce Nieli, direc- tor of evangelization for the Texas Catholic Conference and the Diocese of Austin, heads the pro- cess, dubbed "Mission: Texas." The process, Father Nieli said, will mirror the pope's message by communities and, ultimately, the entire parish. ing while he spoke to us on the vCW and opened the Scriptures to us?" (24:32) This is particularly interesting because it anticipates the ex- perience of so many people today. In their pilgrimage to the truth, people are led to encounter Jesus in Scripture. This leads them to their goal, to a personal relation- ship with Jesus. The experience of the disciples in the Emmaus account is par- ticularly interesting because the disciples had just about given up all 74pe. But their hearts were not yet closed and the Lord took the in- itiative to enter their lives and guide them on their way. It was a surprise, but the God of Luke is a God of surprises. Can you imagine anyone being more surprised than Paul was while on his own sinister pilgrimage to I)amascus? (Father Castelot is a professor of Scripture at St. John's Seminam.', Plymouth, Mich.) "We want to get Catholics to think liturgically on a daily basis and a Sunday basis," he said. Catechesis, he added, "should begin in the family. Parents should teach their children about the St. Augustines and the St. Elizabeths and the St. Joan of Arcs...teach Scripture through the lives of the people who lived out the message of Scripture. Basically, teach our tradition to a Catholic people. And the best way to do that is to follow the liturgical cycle of the universal church." Father Nieli said that "Mission: Texas" will emphasize the church's two great liturgical seasons: Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter. The next step in the process, said Father Nieli, will be to cluster families into base communities "to share the impact of the Sunday Scripture readings on our fives." The communities, in turn, ""will share their Christian friendship with their religiously inactive neighbors and invite them to par- ticipate in the life of the base com- munity and eventually in the life of the total parish." Families and base communities "will be the parish's main vehicles of Catholic evangelization," Father Nieli said. The priest said the entire pro- cess is basically that already in place among people preparing to become church members in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. "In a nutshell, 'Mission: Texas' can be described as RCIA for everyone," he said. Like the RCIA, "Mission: Texas" gives peo- ple "the opportunity to make the liturgy the summit and font of their spiritual life, to take those. lectionary readings and really delve into them." The evangelization process will begin during Advent 1988. The project "will culminate in a statewide, inter-American celebra- tion Oct. 12, 1992, the 500th an- niversary of evangelization in the New World," said Father Nieli. Texas is uniquely located."as a bridge between the First World and the Third World, between North America and Latin America," the priest said. So the anniversary of Columbus' landing will be an occa- sion to celebrate the unity of the people of the Americas. Father Nieli feels "Mission: Texas" will succeed for two reasons: Since it is statewide, the process will allow for much mutual support. The second reason is the pope's visit. The visit's impact "is still very much felt among Catholics here in Texas," he said. The project "will take advantage of that impact, of the spiritual high that we had and really do something with it." x (Feist is editor of The Texas Catholic in Dallas.) =r T. .N FOOD FOR THOUGHT I One goal of Pope John Paul 'II's 1987 U.S. pilgrimage was to direct attention to the ongoing pilgrimage that each individual and each com- munity makes in the Christian life. Miami, Fla., was one city the pope visited. Katharine Bird tells how planning for the pope's visit led to a unique pilgrimage in Miami's cathedral parish -- an ongoing effort to unite parishioners who are divided by language, culture and race. • After reading Ms. Bird's article, can you think of any similar stories to illustrate how communities of Christians are "on pilgrimage," pursu- ing goals that will profoundly influence them as Christians? • What does it mean to say that each individual is "on pilgrimage" in the Christian life? What are they on pilgrimage toward? • Why is it difficult to measure one's progress, one's growth in the Christian life? • What are some questions you would ask in assessing whether you are growing -- maturing -- as a Christian? Second Helpings. Comparing life to a journey suggests that any life will be full of mountains and valleys, deserts and gardens, crises and happy times. And spiritual writers often poim out that people can experience quite different omcomes in life, even after going through similar experiences, writes Capuchin Father Benedict Groeschel in Stumbling Blocks. Stepping Stones. Father Groeschd, a psychologist, discusses how human weaknesses "may be changed into stepping stones on the road to God." The ways to transform these obstacles "are not limited to our own ideas or attitudes," he writes. "Grace, combined with insight and choice, is the means of change" too. For instance, he says that making attitudinal changes like forgiveness of self and of others is a means of changing which often goes beyond the power of a person's mind and will. "This is where prayer and grace must become elements of change," he writes. (Paulist Press, 997 Macar- thur Blvd., Mahwah, N.J. 07430. 1987. Paperback, $8.95.) Help others while you help yourself An Extension Charitable Gift Annui- ty offers a unique opportunity to help yourself as you help home missioners bring the Faith to the most isolated and impoverished regions of our nation. Consider these benefits: Financial Security Our plan assures you of a fixed income for the rest of your life. Tax Advantages Besides an initial charitable contribution deduction, a portionof your annual income is tax free. Maximum Safety Extension has never missed a payment- even during the Great Depression. High Yield The older you are, the higher the rate of return. You may also designate a loved one as a beneficiary, or defer your pay- ments for a better rate. Send today for no-obligation details on how you can help others and y°ursielyf.Annut through an Extension ) 351gXTlN[|oNTheEastCath°llCwackerChurChorve • Chtcago. S°c'ety II,,no,s 60601 FT 0945 Dear Father Slattery: Please send me information on Extension's Charitable Gift Annuities. Rev./Sr./Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. Address City Birthdate State Zip / / Phone ( ) This information will be kept strictly confidential 4 i