Diocesan Evangelization Initiative: Our Parish's Role & Response

                         

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General GMD Updates for
Holy Mother of Consolation

 
January 17, 2021

UPDATE: Baptism—Words of Wisdom from Our Bishop

As we begin the calendar year with a focus on Baptism—the sacrament that welcomes us into the church and turns us all into “missionary disciples”—we want to share some words of wisdom from our own Bishop Donald Hying, quoted from one of our Go Make Disciples newsletters from the Diocese of Madison. Bishop Hying:

“Do you know the date of your Baptism? It was the greatest day of your life! Baptism is the primary sacrament which leads us into relationship with God through Jesus Christ; we are spiritually born again, as we die to the old, unredeemed self and rise in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Baptism literally changes our identity; we become an adopted son or daughter of the Father.”

 Reflection: Bishop asks a great question. Do you know the date of your baptism? Consider learning it, and making note in your calendar, so that each year you can celebrate your spiritual rebirth.

And a friendly reminder: all of our parish updates for the “Go Make Disciples” evangelization initiative can be found on HMC’s website at: www.holymotherchurch.weconnect.com/GMD4HMC (or follow the link from our opening page, or look under the “News” tab). This is where you will also find the topical Baptism-study newsletter that quotes the bishop, above. Or, if you’d like, simply use this shortcut link to go directly to the newsletter: www.tinyurl.com/GMDbaptism to find/read/download/print it.

     As always, please contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson for any questions or resources concerning the diocesan “Go Make Disciples” evangelization initiative—and what all parishes in the diocese are being asked to do, in preparation. You can contact her at [email protected] or 608-835-5763, ext. 110.

 

January 10, 2021

UPDATE: Baptism—Where it All Begins!

Happy New Year! And welcome to another “Go Make Disciples” (GMD) update! As we continue our in-depth look at evangelization, the start of a new calendar affords us the opportunity to talk about the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation—and what good timing, for this weekend we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, the feast that officially ends the Christmas season for U.S. Catholics. And just as a new year gives us a fresh start, so has our Baptism—later strengthened and sealed I the sacrament of Confirmation.

     This month’s backgrounder document—originally published by the diocese in August 2020, also covered in the Madison Catholic Herald if you receive and read the newspaper—reminds us that Baptism is also where we begin our identity as “missionary disciples.” More on that term, in the year ahead; but needless to say, Baptism bestows upon us both the grace and the call to live in God’s love, and share this good news with all who need to hear it. This month’s formation newsletter, simply called “Baptism and Confirmation” can be found on HMC’s website at: www.holymotherchurch.weconnect.com/GMD4HMC (or simply follow the links from our opening page). But you can also use the shortcut link called www.tinyurl.com/GMDbaptism to find/read/download/print the entire newsletter.

    As ever, please contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson (phone and email info are on the front of this bulletin) if you are unable to get this document online and would like a printed copy to pick up at the parish. Also contact Mary Lynn if you would be interested in joining a small study/discussion group with other parishioners, as we begin to learn and grow through the “Go Make Disciples” process.

 

December 27, 2020 & January 3, 2021

UPDATE: Prayer—Words of Wisdom from Our Bishop

As our Advent and December focus on prayer comes to an end—fortified, we hope, by our Christmastime celebration of the Word made flesh—we close with some words of wisdom from our own Bishop Donald Hying, quoted from one of our Go Make Disciples newsletters from the Diocese of Madison. Bishop Hying:

“Prayer is to our soul what eating is to the body. A life without prayer quickly becomes aimless and lost. Prayer is the compass that keeps us focused on our pilgrimage to the Lord; it elevates the heart, gives peace to the soul and roots us in the eternal, as we make our way through this passing and challenging world.”

 Reflection: All of those things sound wonderful...who doesn’t love to eat, to have peace, and to feel rooted when going through the storm? Ask God to grace you with those gifts during your daily time of prayer. Consider a New Year’s resolution to strengthen your own prayer life—perhaps making a new commitment to daily prayer, or the amount of time you set aside to pray. Or explore a new form of prayer.

And, just a friendly reminder: it’s not too late to catch the “Christmas spirit”! The church’s celebration of our Messiah’s birth stretches onward until January 6. The Feast of the Nativity (December 25) is merely the “first day of Christmas,” which you’ve no doubt heard of from that famous Christmas carol; the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6)—otherwise known as “Twelfth Night,” for which Shakespeare wrote a play—marks the official conclusion. Many cultures don’t celebrate or exchange gifts until this last day, which is fitting because the Three Kings (Los Tres Reyes Magos) brought their own gifts on this day!

     Blessings of the season to you and yours. May the new year bring us an abundance of hope, peace, joy, and love.

     Please contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson for any questions or resources concerning the diocesan “Go Make Disciples” evangelization initiative—and what all parishes in the diocese are being asked to do, in preparation. You can contact her at [email protected] or 608-835-5763, ext. 110

 

December 13 & 20, 2020

UPDATE: 10 Tips on Prayer from St. Teresa of Avila

Note: Our parish’s Well-Read Moms group—open to all women, by the way, not just moms—met this past week to discuss St. Teresa of Avila’s classic work on prayer, The Way of Perfection. Because HMC’s evangelization team is also covering prayer as part of the diocesan Go Make Disciples initiative, we thought it would be helpful to share some advice from St. Teresa on the basics of prayer. What follows is a series of tips reprinted from Owlcation.com, by the contributor Bede.

     What can St. Teresa of Avila teach us about prayer? Well, primarily: St. Pope Paul VI named St. Teresa of Avila the church’s “Doctor of Prayer” in 1970. Clearly she has a lot to teach us! (The following abbreviations are a key to where each of Teresa’s quotes, below, come from: Way = Way of Perfection   Life = The Book of her Life   IC = Interior Castle)

________________

As I’m woefully deficient in the art of prayer, I seek the help of masters such as St. Teresa of Avila. I love La Madre for many reasons. She channels her great wisdom through an array of attractive images and pithy sayings. After reading her, I feel like praying. Secondly, though she is a Doctor of the Church and one of the greatest mystics of all time, her prayer life didn’t fully click until her 40s. This is heartening. It’s never too late to begin. This article considers some of her best suggestions on prayer.

  1. Silence and Solitude Help Prayer

“It is well to seek greater solitude,” she says, “So as to make room for the Lord and allow His Majesty to do His own work in us.” (Way, 31:7) Removing external hindrances is a prerequisite for prayer to succeed. For example, as a college student, I loved to study in a sixth-floor cubicle at the graduate library. With no window, noise, or distractions, I could fully concentrate on my work. As Jesus says, “When you pray, go into your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt. 6:6)

     In other words, it’s not necessary to find a deserted island in order to pray well. A corner of one’s room suffices, provided it’s quiet and conducive to recollection. “However quietly we speak,” St. Teresa explains, “He is so near that He will hear us: we have no need of wings to go in search of Him but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us.” (Way 28:1)

     Why seek silence? Suppose you are in a crowded bus station speaking to a friend on the phone. What do you do instinctively? You will likely seek out a quiet corner to hear your friend and communicate with him. So likewise, if prayer is a two-way street of listening and speaking to God, then silence is the proper atmosphere.

  1. God Dwells Within Us

Once we’ve freed ourselves from external distractions, the next step is to understand that God dwells within us. This theme appears constantly in Teresa’s writings. She understands that God dwells in the center of her soul as a King in his castle; “If I had understood as I do now that in this little palace of my soul dwelt so great a King, I would not have left Him alone so often.” (Way, 28:11) Consequently, she says that those who can remain with God in their souls, “Will journey far in a short time.” (Way 28:5)

     Coupled with faith in God’s presence is the need to trust in His love. This is vitally important, because, as she wisely points out, “Love begets love.” (Life 22:14) Realizing God’s love prompts me to reciprocate. “How clear your declaration, my Lord! How clear it is, the love you bear us!” (Way 27:4) She reiterates this thought in a variety of ways.

  1. Humility Bolsters Prayer

From the perception of God’s presence and love, Teresa recommends humbling oneself. This is not a matter of groveling like a hedgehog but a simple recognition of our littleness. God loves to see us as small children before Him. La Madre observes, “What I have come to understand is that this whole groundwork of prayer is based on humility and that the more a soul lowers itself in prayer the more God raises it up.” (Life 22:11)

  1. Attentiveness Is Vital

As with most spiritual masters, the holy Mother recommends attentiveness; “A prayer in which a person is not aware of whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is asking and of whom, I do not call prayer however much the lips move” (IC 1:1:7).

     Encouragingly, La Madre struggled with a wandering mind. She explains, “This intellect is so wild that it doesn’t seem to be anything else than a frantic madman no one can tie down.” (Life 30:16)

     She found various ways to control her distracted mind, such as reading a spiritual book, cultivating calmness, recalling God’s nearness, gently ignoring distractions, and reciting a vocal prayer slowly, such as the Our Father. The proximate preparation for prayer is likewise crucial. If I’ve been listening to the news for an hour then try to enter prayer, I’ll likely be frustrated. The mind needs quieting first.

  1. Prayer Is Not Thinking Much

Prayer is not an intellectual analysis or philosophical investigation. For Teresa, the whole thing boils down to love. “In order to profit by this path and ascend to the dwelling places we desire, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so do whatever best stirs you to love.” (IC 4:1:7)

     Again, she says, “I'm not asking you now that you think about Him or that you draw out many concepts or make long and subtle reflections with your intellect. I'm not asking you to do anything more than look at Him.” (Way 26:3)

     St. Jean Vianney illustrates this method well from an old farmer he saw praying before the tabernacle. Impressed by the farmer’s absorption, St. Jean asked him one day what he said in prayer. The farmer responded with a twinkle, “He looks at me and I look at Him.” This poor farmer found the essential prayer: no words, just love.

     However, the brain is not useless for prayer – far from it. Our reasoning and imaginative powers can surely serve as a springboard. Nonetheless, this should be a starting point and not the whole of prayer. Two persons in love don’t need reasons to love. They simply love.

  1. Prayer Is a Habit

Whoever mastered a musical instrument without habitual practice? Teresa likewise affirms that prayer succeeds through habit. “One needs no bodily strength for mental prayer,” she says, “but only love and the formation of a habit.” (Life 7:12) Again, “The habit of recollection is not to be gained by force of arms but with calmness.” (IC 2:1:18) The saints became saints because their prayer was habitual.

  1. Asceticism Helps Prayer

“Prayer and self-indulgence don’t go together.” (Way 4:2) The word asceticism comes from the Greek term áskesis, which means training or exercise. The marathon runner understandably lives a disciplined lifestyle to keep fit for the contest.

     The idea of training crosses over easily for the so-called spiritual athlete. Most major religions have some variation on the premise, “Deprive the body, feed the soul.” While many saints took this to extremes, St. Teresa advocates a balanced approach. Her nuns embraced austerity but did not go to extremes. Practices such as fasting help clear the mind, calm the soul, and make spiritual realities come alive. One feels dull and little inclined to prayer with a full belly.

  1. Prayer Means Love

“Prayer is an exercise of love.” (Life 7:12) Love is the activity of the blessed in heaven; they have no need of faith or hope. Yet, how does one exercise love? One method is to write out an acronym of five things for which you are especially grateful. Then spend the rest of the day giving thanks.

  1. Prayer Needs Courage

Many people begin to pray with great hopes but arrive at a wall at some point: “I don’t feel anything – I’m bored as can be.” Prayer can seem tedious because nothing seems to happen. Yet, was our physical growth consciously perceived? As only time reveals development in the natural realm, how much more should we expect slow growth in our spiritual life? Teresa thus advocates courage, “We must have a determined determination to never give up prayer.” (Way 21:2)

     For her, the goal of the way is to reach the fount of Living Water (i.e. union with God). Having tasted of this delightful fountain, she exhorts her nuns to travel resolutely until they reach the goal. “Take my advice,” she says, “and do not stop along the road but, like the strong, fight even to death in the search, for you are not here for any other reason than to fight. You must always proceed with this determination to die rather than fail to reach the end of the journey.” (Way 20:2)

     Why does she advise such resoluteness? She gave up prayer as a young nun because of a sense of unworthiness before God. Realizing her past mistakes, she recommends not losing heart. “How I wish our reason would make us dissatisfied with this habit of always serving God at a snail’s pace! As long as we do that we shall never get to the end of the road.” (IC 3:2:7)

  1. Prayer Builds Friendship

For La Madre, prayer is the means of developing friendship with God. “Mental prayer, in my opinion, is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.” (Life 8:7) Again she says, “Believe me, you should remain with so good a friend as long as you can…Do you think it’s some small matter to have a friend like this at your side?” (Way 26:1) Friendship involves appreciation and frequent communication.

   Whoever lives in the presence of so good a friend and excellent a leader, who went ahead of us to be the first to suffer, can endure all things. The Lord helps us, strengthens us, and never fails; He is a true friend.

 

December 6, 2020

UPDATE: Becoming Holy...Daily Tips for Prayer

One of the resources shared last week was so good, in being hands-on helpful, that HMC’s evangelization team thought it would be worth it to reprint a section in this week’s bulletin. It’s from Evangelical Catholic (a Madison-area ministry, in case you didn’t know), and it’s called “Building a Daily Habit of Prayer,” which can be found online at: www.evangelicalcatholic.org/tips-for-daily-prayer
    Here are the first six tips from Evangelical Catholic, with more to come next week:

1: Schedule Time

  • Spend this time exclusively with God in one uninterrupted period, not while driving or doing other activities. Don’t multitask! Recall how you feel when you’re with a friend or your spouse and in the middle of your conversation he/she brings out his/her smartphone and begins texting, or gets up and starts doing something else.  It’s a good habit to keep God’s presence throughout the day when you’re doing other things, but this time, is focused solely on God.
  • To allow time for conversation and silence with God, avoid devotions during your 15 minutes (such as the rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet). By all means, pray devotions; they are a rich gift of the Church. But let the 1% be a different mode of interaction with God.
  • A scheduled time helps build the habit of prayer. Setting a regular time each day is the surest way to make your 15 minutes of prayer happen.

2: Pray in the Morning, if Possible

  • Praying and listening to God first thing in the morning is best for many people because nothing interferes with your prayer if nothing else is happening.
  • This allows you to quite literally “seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). It also allows you the chance to make up your prayer at some later time in the day if you are interrupted or prevented by an unforeseen circumstance.
  • This is the preferred practice of many saints and Christians throughout history, and Jesus himself often rose before dawn to pray in solitude.
  • “Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear” (Isaiah 50:4)
  • But pray how and when you can. It’s more important to schedule a time each day than to schedule an ideal time you won’t keep. If you cannot do your 1% prayer time in the morning, still start your day with a simple Morning Offering.

5: Don't Let the 'Method' get in the Way

  • The 4 steps of “Lectio Divina” (a way of praying with scripture passages) can help, but don’t let them limit you. Teresa of Avila called prayer “an intimate sharing between friends.” A conversation between friends would be weird if it always followed a routine or formula. Try different ways to talk, listen to, and simply be with God.
  • Explore other prompts or methods for prayer. For example…

   (A) Use the Lord’s Prayer or the order of the Mass as an outline of the various types of prayer and petition

   (B) The first three things we all learn to say as children are great things to say to God: Thank you, I’m Sorry, and Please. It’s as simple as that!

   (C) “ ‘Stop, look, and listen’ is what you do at a railroad crossing. Prayer is like a railroad crossing. God is like a great train crossing the tracks of your life. You want to get run over by this train! So here is how you put yourself on the tracks in front of God.” – Peter Kreeft, in Prayer for Beginners

  • Sometimes words get in the way of deeper communication. Lovers stare into one another’s eyes wordlessly. Parents and children cuddle and say nothing. The only way to hear anyone, including God, is to be silent. Any friendship in which you are never quiet and attentive will eventually dissolve. The Lord says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:11). Begin and end each prayer time with a minute of silence to rest in God’s presence.
  • Keep it real: Be yourself and come to God just as you are.

6: Set Achievable Goals

  • If 15 minutes is too difficult at first, start with a more achievable goal and work up to 1%.
  • If you’re already faithful to 1%, consider working up to 2% or more! Offer the additional time for others or for some special intention.
  • If you miss a day, don’t get discouraged; just get back on track. Try especially hard not to miss two days in a row.

As ever, please contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson for any questions or resources concerning the diocesan “Go Make Disciples” evangelization initiative—and what all parishes in the diocese are being asked to do, in preparation. You can contact her at [email protected] or 608-835-5763, ext. 110

 
November 29, 2020

UPDATE: Becoming Holy...Practical Pointers on Prayer

Last week’s topical newsletter on prayer, published by the Diocese of Madison in October, was a great springboard to this foundational aspect of the interior life. Christians pray! You can’t have a good relationship with God if you don’t talk to—and listen, in return—to the One who reigns in our lives and hearts. As in our human relationships, communication is key.

     This week, the HMC evangelization team would like to share with you a couple of the resources found in that newsletter. Both are great when it comes to the practical aspects of prayer. For, as with our human lives, we will always have better and deeper relationships with our loved ones IF we are intentional about our communication: carving out the time that it takes to foster meaningful connections, giving them our undivided attention, and relying on the communication tools that work best for us to consistently “stay in touch.” (But first a quick reminder: you can read/download/print The Interior Life: Prayer topical newsletter via this shortcut link: www.tinyurl.com/GMDprayer OR you can simply navigate to the parish’s “Go Make Disciples” page by clicking on the links from our website.)

     From that newsletter, here are a couple of resources that HMC’s evangelization team liked best:

  • "Tips for Prayer" by Fr. Mike Schmitz (9-minute YouTube video): www.tinyurl.com/FrMikePrayerTips
    One of his tips is to “commit to a season” to help you improve or change your prayer routine—and this Advent is a perfect time for that!
  • “The 1-Percent Challenge” from Evangelical Catholic: www.evangelicalcatholic.org/onepercent
    The whole idea—that a minimum of 15 minutes a day is what we need (and can practically commit to), in prayer—is a wonderful and helpful insight. It amounts to a mere 1-percent of our day, but can go a long way toward changing our lives and enriching our relationship with God. More practical tools from Evangelical Catholic can be found at: www.evangelicalcatholic.org/tips-for-daily-prayer

As ever, please contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson for any questions or resources concerning the diocesan “Go Make Disciples” evangelization initiative—and what all parishes in the diocese are being asked to do, in preparation. You can contact her at [email protected] or 608-835-5763, ext. 110

 
November 22, 2020

UPDATE: Becoming Holy...By Making Prayer a Priority

Welcome to another “Go Make Disciples” (GMD) update! As some of you may know, the topics that we’ve been sharing here have been appearing in our diocesan newspaper, The Madison Catholic Herald. Since not everyone at our parish is a subscriber, HMC’s evangelization team wanted to be sure to share the same topics; all are helpful backgrounders on the basics of Catholic Christian faith, written and recommended by diocesan staff. And a friendly reminder: all of our parish updates for the “Go Make Disciples” evangelization initiative can be found on HMC’s website at: www.holymotherchurch.weconnect.com/GMD4HMC (or follow the link from our opening page, or look under the “News” tab).

     As the “Go Make Disciples” Vision Statement tells us, evangelization essentially comes down to two basic things: (a) Becoming holy and (b) Telling others about Jesus. These past few weeks we’ve addressed one of the “How To”s of becoming holy—which is honoring the Sabbath, in reserving Sundays as the great and holy rest that God intended. This week—and for all weeks covering the season of Advent, we will, appropriately enough be covering another “How To” of holiness: committing to the practice of prayer.

     This next backgrounder document—originally published by the diocese in October 2020, is called The Interior Life: Prayer. It can be found at the link above, under the “monthly formation topics” button, but can also be found at this shortcut link: www.tinyurl.com/GMDprayer for individual reading and/or downloading.

     As with the topical newsletter on the Sabbath, this backgrounder on prayer takes the form of a newsletter, featuring:

  • a monthly note from Bishop Hying,
  • some reflections on the topic from diocesan catechetical staff
  • a list of handy resources for further study on the topic
  • a meditative piece of art accompanied by a reflection

Because the topic of prayer dovetails so nicely with our upcoming season of Advent, the hope is to share this particular newsletter this weekend—and then to delve into more specific topics on prayer beginning the following weekend, which will be the First Sunday of Advent. Until then, let these words from our own Bishop Hying be the reminder we need on the foundational importance of prayer:

"Prayer is to our soul what eating is to the body. A life without prayer quickly becomes aimless and lost. Prayer is the compass that keeps us focused on our pilgrimage to the Lord; it elevates the heart, gives peace to the soul and roots us in the eternal, as we make our way through this passing and challenging world."

As ever, please contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson (phone and email info are on the front of this bulletin) if you are unable to get this document online and would like a printed copy to pick up at the parish.

 
November 15, 2020

UPDATE: Honor the Sabbath? Why Do We Need Rest?

In this third week of covering the topic of Sunday/Sabbath, we’d like to recommend another very helpful resource: a 1-hour engaging audio recording available, for free, via HMC’s complimentary parish subscription to FORMED (which you can also access, on the go, via the FORMED app on your cell phone, iPad, or other smart device; you need to establish your free account online, first, though). This recording is “Keep Holy the Sabbath,” by Dr. Tim Gray—and it covers some truly fascinating insights on the importance of the “great rest” that’s prescribed by the Judeo-Christian faith.

   If you haven’t already, please visit HMC’s website—bottom of the main starting page—for instructions how to launch your household’s free FORMED subscription. Then search for the topic and author that’s boldfaced above; or, simply type HMC’s shortcut address into your computer browser: https://tinyurl.com/Sabbath-Gray
    Dr. Gray, president of the Augustine Institute and a well-known Scripture scholar, refers to a couple of scholarly works, quoting from them and explaining them in very accessible, down-to-earth language:

  • The 1998 apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II, called Dies Domini (English title, “Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy”)
  • Josef Pieper’s classic philosophical work, Leisure As the Basis of Culture

 Pieper points out that we humans need leisure as a “space” we set aside for humanity, worship, God, and the transcendent. (See HMC’s Go Make Disciples webpage for more info/links to Pieper’s work.) He argues that our overconnectedness to secular culture and to work leads to “disconnectedness”—from both creativity and Creator—and that true leisure is the antidote. John Paul II, among other things, notes that our modern “busyness” deafens and blinds us to beauty—and creates in us a certain “hardness of heart.” Our modern-day, frenetic practice of cramming so much into our weekend is a pale and very poor representation of what Judeo-Christian culture intends by Sabbath rest.
     Fascinating stuff! With fascinating detail and examples, Dr. Gray discusses the profound importance for individuals, and for modern society, of properly observing Sunday as the Lord's Day by exploring God's gift of the Sabbath in the Old Testament. He aims to help us reclaim our Sunday from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.

     Join the conversation with Dr. Gray and your fellow parishioners. As usual, this GMD content can found on HMC’s website, simply by clicking on any of the Go Make Disciples buttons on the main page and also under the “News” tab along the top.

 
November 8, 2020

UPDATE: Honoring the Sabbath, One Sunday at a Time

This week we’d like to highlight a truly wonderful resource that’s referenced in the “Reclaiming Sunday” topical newsletter, one of an ongoing series of Catholic faith topics being prepared for our parishes by the Diocese of Madison. (If you missed last week’s update, this newsletter—explaining why the Sabbath is so important for us Christians to observe—can be found on HMC’s website, simply by clicking on any of the Go Make Disciples buttons on the main page and also under the “News” tab along the top.  You can also use the shortcut link called www.tinyurl.com/GMDsabbath to find/read/download/print the entire newsletter.)

     This resource, mentioned on page 5 of the aforementioned newsletter, is called “52 Sundays: A Guide to Reclaim the Lord’s Day for Faith and Family” and can be found and accessed, free of charge, at: www.52sundays.com

     There are THREE helpful ways you can access free weekly content on 52 Sundays: (1) You can click on the gold box for JUST the upcoming Sunday content. You can (2): Sign up for weekly emails to have each Sunday’s link sent to you. Or (3): You can see/save/print the ENTIRE year’s worth of Sundays by clicking on the PDF link at the bottom of the page. NOTE: If you visit HMC’s website, you can find a link to the entire 230-page document—for the entire 2020 calendar year—on both our main page and under the regular Go Make Disciples update page. ALSO NOTE: You can get this wonderful resource as a printed book, for yourself, by pre-ordering the new edition for the 2021 calendar year (ordering info is on the top of their website page).

     Here’s a sample of what can be found for THIS weekend—for Sunday, November 8—which is representative of every weekend’s content. Every week, at 52 Sundays, you will find: 

  • A brief reflection on this weekend’s gospel reading—this week, the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13)
  • A short biography of a Catholic saint we remember at this time of year, this week featuring St. Margaret of Scotland
  • A few reflection questions (“Take Time to Chat”) on the gospel reading
  • A “Liturgy Link” that explains something from Catholic worship: this week it’s what an ambry is—linking our church’s current use of oils to the gospel reading about the Ten Virgins and their own use of oil
  • A hands-on “Unleashing the Gospel in Your Family” suggestion
  • “Fun Facts!” about our Catholic faith
  • A “Family Fun” suggestion for the week
  • A “Recipe of the Week”—Scottish Shortbread, this week, presumably in honor of St. Margaret!
  • A concluding “Family Prayer”

It cannot be emphasized enough how wonderful, practical—and even fun!—this weekly resource is. Whether you’re the parents of young children, a single person, or a senior citizen, there’s something wonderful on these pages to enrich you and your understanding and practice of the Catholic faith. (And recipes! Did you catch the part about weekly recipes???) In offering such content, 52 Sundays is a valuable way to help you “walk the talk” when it comes to honoring the Sabbath. Helping yourself to these pages—about 3 pages per week—promises to slowly-but-surely transform the way you honor “the Lord’s Day.”

 

November 1, 2020

UPDATE: Becoming Holy...by Reclaiming Sundays

Welcome to another “Go Make Disciples” (GMD) update! And a friendly reminder: all of our parish updates for the “Go Make Disciples” evangelization initiative can be found on HMC’s website at: www.holymotherchurch.weconnect.com/GMD4HMC (or simply follow the links from our opening page).

     As we’ve learned from the diocesan “Go Make Disciples” Vision Statement, evangelization really just boils down to two basic things: (a) Becoming holy and (b) Telling others about Jesus. In our next series of GMD documents, we’ll be sharing some helpful backgrounders about the Catholic faith. Most cover the “becoming holy” requirement mentioned above. All are a form of religious “continuing education” for adults, originally geared to our parish’s Evangelization Team but also helpful for anyone and everyone who would like to grow in holiness.

     Our first backgrounder document—originally published by the diocese in September 2020, also covered in the Madison Catholic Herald if you happen to receive the newspaper—is on the subject of “keeping holy the Sabbath,” which for Catholics is the third of the Ten Commandments. This and all upcoming backgrounder documents take the form of a newsletter, with a monthly note from Bishop Hying, some reflections on each topic from diocesan catechetical staff, and a list of handy resources for further study. The September formation newsletter, simply called “Reclaiming Sunday” can be found at the link shown above (click the above link, then click the yellow rectangular button at the top right, called “GMD Monthly Formation/Study Topics.” But you can also use the shortcut link called www.tinyurl.com/GMDsabbath to find/read/download/print the entire newsletter.

    This particular topical newsletter on “Reclaiming Sunday” was one of the favorite of HMC’s own evangelization team. Why? Because it’s very practical, helping us to remember why taking time off for the Sabbath is so important—and suggesting resources that help us learn what TO DO instead of just what NOT TO DO. Pages 1-4 and 7 of the newsletter will be most helpful for parishioners; also, the “Further Study Recommendations” box on page 5. Pick anything in that resource box to deepen your own understanding of the Sabbath, but we especially recommend anything that can be found via FORMED (parishioners get a free subscription through HMC; contact us if you need to learn how). Also, and in particular, we want to sing the praises of the very first online (free) resource called 52 Sundays: A Guide to Reclaim the Lord’s Day for Faith and Family. Go to HMC’s own GMD page—the link furthest above—to find a handy link to “52 Sundays.” You’ll be glad you did!
    A good quote about the importance of Sabbath and Sundays comes from Bishop Hying in this newsletter:

“A theologian succinctly put it this way: ‘If you want to drain Christianity of its power, drain Sunday of its meaning and practice.’ Conversely, we can say that the more believers understand and live Sunday as Sabbath in its profound meaning, the more Christian we will become.”

    Later on this month we’ll be getting into more specifics from these resources on the Sabbath and reclaiming Sundays. But for now, it’s just helpful to go have a look at the topical newsletter and what it discusses.

    As ever, please contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson (phone and email info are on the front of this bulletin) if you are unable to get this document online and would like a printed copy to pick up at the parish. Also contact Mary Lynn if you would be interested in joining a small study/discussion group with other parishioners, as we begin to learn and grow through the “Go Make Disciples” process.

 
October 18 & 25, 2020

UPDATE: Go Make Disciples...by Practicing What You Preach

As we continue to make our way through the Vision Statement for the diocesan “Go Make Disciples” (GMD) evangelization initiative, we come to a section that is wonderfully practical. As the document states:

“Evangelization consists in proclaiming Jesus Christ risen from the dead ‘by word and the testimonyof life.’ The two keys to evangelization, therefore, are these: to become holy and to talk to people about Jesus. It is a simple formula but not an easy one. For most of us, growth in holiness is a long, slow work-in-progress. And it can often be very difficult to talk to people about Jesus, especially when we are afraid that our words will not be well received by the other.”

    In the sections listed below—especially Section 8—we get some very practical guidance on what it means to grow in holiness. Because, let’s face it: It’s important to “practice what you preach” if you are in a position of encouraging someone to follow Jesus and/or join the Catholic faith. If you are at least able to “walk the talk” of being/becoming holy, then your actions will always speak louder than your words—and most of the heavy lifting of evangelizing will already be done for you. Evangelization, after all, can be as simple as these words from the first letter of St. Peter: "To everyone who asks you, always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

    A reminder that the entire GMD vision statement—called, appropriately enough—“Go Make Disciples: A Common Vision for Evangelization,” can be found at this shortcut link: www.tinyurl.com/GMDvision (Otherwise, simply visit HMC’s website and click on the GMD logo that’s in the middle of the opening page; the same information can also be accessed under the “News” tab along the top.)

    Also a reminder: we are inching into this process, as a parish, to help commemorate our diocesan 75th anniversary next year. The hope and expectation is that all our parishes will use this as a time of renewal—to help us all grow in faith, to help each of us become better witnesses to our Savior and our Church during these complicated times of change and despair, and to give each of us the tools to encourage those who have never really heard the Good News. An added bonus: these same tools, we hope, will better equip us to welcome others back into the Catholic Christian family of faith if they’ve drifted away. HMC’s own page for the “Go Make Disciples” initiative—with each of these bulletin updates—can be found at: www.holymotherchurch.weconnect.com/GMD4HMC (or, simply follow the links from our opening page, as mentioned above).

    And so, finally, here are the practical points that conclude the Go Make Disciples diocesan vision statement:

7. What Is the Goal of Evangelization?
8. How Should We Evangelize?
9. Focus Areas for Parish Evangelization Plans
10. Summary and Recapitulation

Thank you for having a look! Contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson (her phone and email are on the front of this bulletin) if you are unable to get this document online and would like a printed copy to pick up at the parish. Also contact Mary Lynn if you would be interested in joining a small study/discussion group with other parishioners, as we begin to learn and grow through the “Go Make Disciples” process.

 
October 4 & 11, 2020

UPDATE: Evangelization for All

The latest, biggest news on the “Go Make Disciples” evangelization initiative—being launched to help commemorate our diocesan 75th anniversary next year—is that the entire process is being slowed down because of the pandemic. Perfectly understandable, with new dates for the phases available on the Diocese of Madison GMD website at www.madisondiocese.org/gmd    

     IN THIS CURRENT UPDATE, we encourage all HMC parishioners to:

  • Visit HMC’s own web page on the diocesan evangelization initiative, if they haven’t been following our updates in the church bulletin. HMC’s own page for the “Go Make Disciples” initiative can be found at: www.holymotherchurch.weconnect.com/GMD4HMC
  •  Have a look at the GMD vision statement, called, appropriately enough, “Go Make Disciples: A Common Vision for Evangelization.” It can be found at this shortcut link: www.tinyurl.com/GMDvision

     HMC’s evangelization team encourages parishioners to read/review/pray over this vision statement—especially if you are someone who is involved in a specific ministry here at the parish. It’s a document that is full of practical goals and next steps, illustrating that any and all efforts at evangelization begin very small—with each of us—in how we attempt to live our daily lives. In all, the Vision Statement has 10 sections. With each update in the bulletin, we continue to list two or three of them. The next three topics/questions from the diocesan evangelization Vision Statement are:

4. Why Should We Evangelize?
5. Who Should Evangelize?
6. Who Needs to Be Evangelized?

Thank you for having a look! Contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson (her phone and email are on the front of this bulletin) if you are unable to get this document online and would like a printed copy to pick up at the parish. Also contact Mary Lynn if you would be interested in joining a small study/discussion group with other parishioners, as we begin to move through the “Go Make Disciples” process

 

September 20 & 27, 2020

UPDATE: A Common Vision

Welcome to another installment of news and background concerning the “Go Make Disciples” evangelization initiative—being launched by our own Diocese of Madison to help commemorate our diocesan 75th anniversary next year.

    Our last update concerned the special “Pentecost Letter” issued by Bishop Donald Hying to give a pastoral overview of the process. Every parishioner in the diocese is asked to give it a look, at www.tinyurl.com/GMDletter (PLEASE NOTE: You can find that, this, and all subsequent updates on HMC’s parish website, at www.holymotherchurch.weconnect.com/GMD4HMC

    Bishop Hying has asked us ALL to take a renewed look at our baptismal call to evangelize—here at the parish, among our families, in our jobs, out in the world. It’s also what Jesus asked us to do, in the most fundamental sense of our Christian faith.

    If at this point you find yourself saying, “Who me? An evangelist?!?” then have no fear—a three-phase diocesan plan is here! It is carefully planned out and time-released to help us ALL learn more, pray more, and evangelize more. Parish leadership is in the earliest phase of its own formation and training, to help equip the people of our parish with all the tools necessary to bring us all into a deeper relationship with Christ. In this way, we may better turn around and offer this way of life to others, in not only our actions but in our words.

     IN THIS CURRENT UPDATE, we would like to share with all HMC parishioners another important document that’s guiding the “Go Make Disciples” process. It’s the GMD vision statement and is called, appropriately enough, “Go Make Disciples: A Common Vision for Evangelization” and can be found, for your reading and perusal, at this shortcut link: www.tinyurl.com/GMDvision

     We as a pastoral staff and core evangelization core invite HMC parishioners—especially if you are involved in a specific ministry here at the parish—to begin to read/review/pray over this latter document, which is full of practical goals and next steps. In all, the Vision Statement has 10 sections, and with rach update in the bulletin, we hope to list two or three of them. The first three topics/questions from the diocesan evangelization Vision Statement are:

1. What Is the Gospel?
2. What Is Evangelization?
3. What Is the New Evangelization?

Have a look! Perhaps consider reading/discussing/praying it with a friend. Might you be interested in reviewing such topics in a parish group? (Given Covid, it would probably need to be done remotely and/or in a “socially distanced” way, like on Zoom or via a Faceboook group.) If so, contact Mary Lynn Hendrickson (contact info on the front of the bulletin and on our website). Also, contact Mary Lynn if you are unable to get this document online and would like a printed copy to pick up at the parish.

     As mentioned before, you may also want to visit the diocese’s “Go Make Disciples” web page at: www.madisondiocese.org/gmd

 
September 6 & 13, 2020

INTRO: Go Make Disciples, HMC!

If you’re a regular reader of the Catholic Herald, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Madison, you you are likely aware of the new “evangelization initiative” that Bishop Hying has us undertaking.

     Our diocese celebrates its 75th anniversary next year, and as part of that observance, the bishop is asking every parish and every Catholic to reflect—and act—on what it means to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

     After all, Jesus left this earthly life and his earliest followers with these famous last words, at his ascension: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” And we as Catholics hear something similar each and every time we conclude our celebration of the Mass: “Go in peace to love and to serve the Lord.” (The Latin word for Mass, by the way, is “misa”—which means “mission.” We not only come to Mass to fill ourselves with Jesus, but we come to be filled in order to be sent back out into the world— with the mission to proclaim him with our words and deeds.)

     We as Catholics and we as Christians—by virtue of our baptism—are all called to share the Good News. We are all called to be evangelizers. We are all called to be not just “disciples” (students and followers of Jesus) but “missionary disciples” (those who spread the saving love of Jesus to others around us, not just keeping it to ourselves).

     Now…does that mean we are all called to be street corner preachers? Not at all. But what it DOES mean is something that we will be exploring in the days and weeks to come. For starters, though, you may want to visit the diocese’s “Go Make Disciples” web page at: www.madisondiocese.org/gmd

    In particular, the diocese further asks that parishioners take the time to read and reflect on Bishop Hying’s “Pentecost Letter” that’s on that page—which is also found at this shortcut: www.tinyurl.com/GMDletter

     PS: And if you’re not yet a reader of the Catholic Herald but would like to be, be sure to inquire with Lisa Butters in the parish office.