During my retreat in January at the Monastery of the Precious Blood, my spiritual guide told me an anecdote. He went with a group to Manitoulin Island where they celebrated the Eucharist. He said he will never forget this line from the homily: “The Eucharist is God’s love made edible!”
I reflected on how God loves my humanity and how he wants me to know him through all the possible ways that I can obtain knowledge – through my senses. I can actually eat his flesh so that he can penetrate physically into my whole being! I can smell incense that reminds me of my worship of him. I can feel the oils of confirmation and anointing as God’s minister uses them on my hands and my forehead.
God reaches out to us, especially through the ministries within the parish church, the “central meeting place” by which he enters into our lives. In tonight's Catholic Focus episode entitled “Touched by God” I explore just that.
One such ministry is the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a program of religious formation for children based on the Montessori method. If you ever want your heart to melt, go and visit any atrium of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which is available in many parishes all over the world. You’ll see adorable little materials and things like a little altar, shelves with little chalices, little vestments, a floor with little chairs and little tables, little sheep for the story of the Good Shepherd. And these are all made by parishioners and other generous donors! The purpose of the atrium is to provide a retreat place for children from the early years all the way to adolescence, where they can feed on the Word and use the materials to explore and deepen their own religious experiences. I was able to go to St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mississauga, Ontario and speak to the catechists there. Kathleen Ennis, Coordinator of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the Archdiocese of Toronto, shared her personal insights.
Another parish-based ministry I explored is the Dead Theologians Society. For any of you familiar with the popular 1989 movie “Dead Poets Society,” you can see how they got the name – instead of dead poets, let’s talk about dead theologians, a.k.a. the saints of yesterday, so that we can become the saints of tomorrow. Complete with membership that includes hoodies, and an atmosphere that includes a dark room, candles, incense, and Gregorian chant, DTS or the Dead Theologians Society makes the faith exciting for the high school and early college age young people who form their membership. Once a week, these young adults gather together to listen to the lives of the saints, pray the Rosary, pray for the needs of the world, have questions and answers, and have a social. Endorsed by bishops, DTS is in over 50 dioceses in the US and Africa. It has opened its first chapter in Canada – at St. Justin, Martyr Parish in Unionville, Ontario! The DTS team at this parish was so enthusiastic about this ministry that I just had to come and visit!
Finally, Fr. John Corriveau, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of Nelson, British Columbia, appears on the show to share his insights as a Franciscan. Just as St. Francis saw God in the beauty of his creation, he speaks of how God is everywhere reaching out for us.
Catholic Focus: Touched by God
premiers Thursday, February 12th at 7pm and 11pm ET, with an encore presentation Sunday, February 15th, at the same times.