I worked up some of my material from the Synod on the New Evangelization from Rome this past October into an E-Book for Paulist Press. Now it's titled: New Perspectives: A Report on the Synod for the New Evangelization. It has six chapters. The final one is a re-write of some material I wrote that was accepted by America magazine.
I am also working on a process for parents when they bring children for baptism. This idea came from one of our Board Members, Tom Quinlan, at our last Board meeting. It has a four step process: Initial Meeting, DVD, Reflection Booklet, and Concluding Meeting.
Some projects that we've worked on: A BASIC EVANGELIZATION STARTER KIT FOR PARISHES, which will contain booklets for parish teams, book resources of essential documents on evangelization, and a DVD that accompanies "The Evangelizing Catholic." Many parishes asked for this in a survey, so I hope it fills a need.
We are near completion of a parish tool kit for invitation, "Neighbors Reaching Neighbors," thanks to kind grants from the ACTA and Koch Foundations. Once the final video is complete, we will be offering this to parishes and parish leadership teams.
We are also sketching, with Tom Sonni of Greater Mission, a parish retreat process that would lead to regular small-group sharing on the Scriptures.
Most of what I call "spare time" seems to be going into writing theology, trying to deal with some aspects of Catholic thought that might have a better interface with modernity. (I consider addressing modernity, which Vatican II began but which seems to have recently sputtered, the essential task of theology and pastoral life today.) I find I have sketched some nineteen sections already, with a lot of attention going into the relationship of the divine and the created, the idea of salvation and how that happens, and new approaches to grace. Several of these (very) initial draft chapters are viewable on the "documents" section of this website. Feedback is welcome.
I am provisionally organizing the work into four areas: Father (creation, grace, causality, etc.), Son (salvation, redemption, sin) and Spirit (church, discipleship, personal renewal) and, lastly, the Kingdom. The draft on sacraments took much longer than I wanted, and more pages than I'd planned. But the basic concepts, the tie-in to discipleship, and an appreciation of the fundamental gestures in sacramental life--all this cannot be easily, or briefly, treated. A final secion on the "eschaton" (the Kingdom) will be the conclusion of this work; I have placed this section in the "documents" page of this website. It was a great relief to sketch this, as it was a range of thinking I had not done before. In all of this, I find the idea of the Kingdom taking on more and more of a structural role in holding the ideas together.
I have two exploratory notes in the "documents" webpage, one on the divine self-actualization, which attempts to deal with the problem of God, change, time, etc. The other, on human transcendence, attempts to deal with how to envision the possibility of life beyond what we presently know. Although short, they provide summaries of the direction of my writing and ways to handle issues otherwise not handled all that well in theology.
It will take years, if I have that long, to get these ideas down, with the appropriate documentation (references and footnotes) that will be needed. But it's fun to try to nail down what, after 45 years of theological thinking, I actually might think. Doing the exercise helps me pull different ideas together and forces me to relate them to each other.
Update: I've linked all the various documents together and come up with a larger number of pages than I suspected, 256, which my computer-savvy friends say is very significant. Now to see how the pieces fit together and what to make of the various ideas. It's been several months since I've gone at these essays, so perhaps I'll see clearer what the underlying continuity between them is.
My Manuscript for less-than-active Catholics, called now "Reactivating our Catholic Faith," has been published by Paulist Press. I hope for a publication that will facilitate distribution to Catholics "on the edge" when, for example, they come to church for baptism, weddings, enrollment of school children, etc. This is a large-pamphlet kind of publication which parishes can purchase in bulk.
The manuscript "Why Not Consider Becoming a Catholic?" was published by Paulist Evangelization Ministries and is part of a larger "new apologetic" effort, an effort to help persuade people of the cogency of the Catholic way of life in terms of their own experience and culture. This book is not long but it presents a modern appeal in the form of considerations for thoughtful people about why they should consider becoming a Catholic.
I have finished work on "Seeking Christ," a program designed to help parishes pastorally involve people who show interest in the RCIA process after the RCIA group has been formed. It has 8 sessions which involve (a) Audio-visual presentation; (b) Scripture Sharing and (c) Take home reflection with an opportunity for journaling. The idea is for a parishioner to be able to share with a prospective Catholic in a one-to-one or one-to-group format. Seekers can take the sessions in any order, and there is not need to complete them all. This is basically pre-Inquiry material.
I have complete two items that follow-up to "Awakening Faith," for people who have been through that process. It is part of a series we call "Faith Series," with six sessions entitled "Deepening Faith" which emphasize the kinds of connections we have in faith through the sacraments with God and each other. Also "Empowering Faith," with seven sessions that explore the virtues that are essential for moral life.
I've completed the Catholic Daily Prayer Book for everyday families and Catholics. I think there's a huge vacuum in this daily practice and hope that, along with other Paulists, we might begin a campaign of Catholic Daily Prayer.
All of these can be seen at www.pemdc.org/store.
Paulist Evangelization Ministries, our Paulist evangelization office in Washington, has launched "Awakening Faith: Reconnecting with Your Catholic Faith," a program designed to help less-then-active Catholics become active in the faith once again. The program has six basic modules, with four optional ones. Each module forms a process of conversation and sharing around a short reading; these readings, along with the other process elements (introductions, hospitality, reflection, prayer, conversation) help Catholics begin to feel connected to the Church again.
The first six modules talk of spirituality, God and Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Forgiveness, the Mass and the Church; the four follow-up modules talk about faith today, love, marriage-divorce-annulments, and the use of money.
An initial parish kit, replete with a CD rom with publicity materials for downloading, 3 Parish Guides, 3 Group Leader Guides, and Participants Booklets, along with the US Catholic Catechism for Adults (the program references this Catechism often) sells for less than $60, with options for parishes to buy more packets of other needed items. Supplemental material on the Mass, Reconciliation and Annulments arel also be included for each participant. Fr. Ken Boyack, CSP, is co-author with me of the various elements of "Awakening Faith."
Hundreds of parishes have begun "Awakening Faith," almost all of them with very positive feed-back. Testimony from some of these parishes can be found on the Awakening Faith website. Soon the Participant's Booklet and the Group Leader Guide will appear in Spanish on the website as a free download.
A website (www.awakeningfaith.org) will have a variety of materials, including video training.
Paulist Evangeligation Ministries can be contacted at www.pemdc.org.org, or at 202-832-5022.
I'm working on a booklet for prisoners, going through the Bible and giving reflections on figures who have been imprisoned or otherwise trapped. Reaching out to prisoners is one of the great ministries of PNCEA. Society hardly realizes what happens to the imprisoned, or their families. Catholics hardly realize how important supporting the faith of prisoners can be.
MISSION AMERICA HAS NOW APPEARED
AVAILABLE THROUGH PAULIST PRESS (WWW.PAULISTPRESS.COM) AND
PAULIST EVANGELIZATION MINISTRIES (WWW.PEMDC.ORG)
$12.95, 124 PAGES
This manuscript has gone through quite a lot of revisions. This book primarily serves pastoral leaders to help them think out the actual situation of today's parishes and what an evangelization agenda might look like today.
The motive for this book is a widespread sense I have that people do not see reasons for mission, that we look at faith only as some kind of accessory to our lives--nice but not really important. This work will be pubished by Paulist Evangelization Ministries in Washington. It contains the following
1. An initial chapter on conversion, personal conversion, and the challenge that certain forms of evangelical Protestantism make today
2. A discussion about what conversion might mean in American society today
3. An set of arguments in favor of the need for mission today, putting the ideas that quash mission impulse into perspective
4. A look at five elements in American religion and what they challenges they lay before parishes today
5. A sketch of what the future of faith will look like, given the trends of modern society, particularly as seen in young people
6. The statement of what an evangelizing agenda for parishes today would look like
7. An appendix that treats the New Testament basis of mission
Another theme to explore: whether religions that demand exclusivity (i.e., only their members are saved) are the only ones that grow. If so, why would that be? This is provoked by a friend's question to me: "If Gandhi is saved, why be a Christian?" Hmmm....