Convocations are means of spiritual growth - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Convocations are means of spiritual growth

I ask your affectionate prayer for our community of permanent deacons as they gather in convocation on Saturday, March 29, and for our priests and pastoral administrators whose convocation will be in Auburn from Monday afternoon, April 1 until noon on Wednesday, April 3.

These gatherings, now a regular part of our spring calendar, bring these constituencies together around themes of pastoral importance. They help us to keep abreast of important issues; to share pastoral experiences, hopes and dreams with one another; and to renew and strengthen friendships that are important in all of our lives.

The Easter season invites all of us to savor, to appreciate more deeply the wondrous gift of life that Christ has won for us by his victory over death. Such contemplation strengthens us to share that life through the ways in which we speak to and treat others, and through the ways we make the judgments that shape and direct our lives.

The theme for our diaconal community’s gathering is “Responding to the Signs of the Times.” Think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 16: 2-3: “In the evening you say, ‘Red sky at night, the day will be bright’; but in the morning ‘Sky red and gloomy, the day will be stormy!’ If you know how to interpret the look of the sky, can you not read the signs of the times?” The context for the Lord’s words was another attempt by the Pharisees and Sadducees to entrap him. Jesus knew their intentions and their hearts. And so, he rebuked them, speaking of humankind’s pride in being able to predict future weather and yet its indifference to the signs of the coming kingdom.

The point is that these signs of the times are one of the ways in which God speaks to the hearts of individuals and communities of faith. Hear these words from “Gaudium et Spes”, Vatican Council II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: “‚Ķthe Church always has the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the gospel”.

We’ll be blessed to have a keynote address by our own Monsignor William Shannon who will help us all to reflect on questions like: To what is God calling our diaconal community, now with 25 years of experience? What are the signs of the times to which we should be attentive? What old works do we leave behind? To what new ones should we devote our energies?

Our Auburn convocation for priests and pastoral administrators will explore the mystery of the Eucharist and its critical and central importance in Catholic life. We’ll enjoy the expertise and experience of Jerry Galipeau, working editor for World Library Publications, and Father Ed Foley, OFM Cap., professor of liturgy at Chicago Theological Union.

Each of these scholars will present twice. Mr. Galipeau’s topics are: 1) Eucharist: Engaging the Mystery in Song and Spirit: Singing a New Song of Evangelization; and, 2) Engaging the Mystery: The Power of the Table of the Eucharist: The Table of Nourishment; The Table of Sacrifice; The Table of Reconciliation; and the Table of Mission.

Father Foley’s themes will be 1) Mystagogical Presentation: The Eucharistic Prayer and 2) Mystagogical Presentation: The Communion Rite.

Mystagogy is liturgical catechesis that aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing significant, from the “sacraments” to the “mysteries”.

I look forward to these presentations with a personal desire to come closer to Christ during this Easter season. It will be enriching for us all, I am sure, to have these two gentlemen lead us deeper in our understanding of the great mystery of the Eucharist and the power of this great sacrament in all of our lives.

In this season of Spirit Alive!, all of us priests, pastoral administrators and permanent deacons want to grow in our relationships with Christ – for our personal spiritual maturity and for the depth and quality of our ministry among you. Please pray for us during these convocations, and be assured of our daily prayers for you.

Peace to all.

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