Adult Faith Formation

Lenten Prayer Series Wednesday Nights


This Lent our Adult Faith Enrichment program will focus on prayer and art. We will be using a newly published book  Art and Prayer by Msgr. Timothy Verdon. The book is lavishly illustrated with color photographs of the works of art discussed in the text.  We will order only as many books as we need, so please make a reservation with the Parish Office or obtain your own copy. The requested donation if the parish orders your book is $ 25.

Here is a tentative schedule:


Ash Wednesday

February 18

Chapter 1

Prayer, Life, Art


February 25

Chapter 2

Spaces of Prayer


March 4

Chapter 3

Liturgical Prayer


March 11

Chapter 4

The Prayer of Pleading


March 18

Chapter 5

Lectio Divina


March 25

Chapter 6

Contemplative Prayer


April 1

Chapter 7

In the Hour of Death



Faith Seeking Understanding: Church History

Church HistoryJoin us for the next series of topics in our Faith Seeking Understanding discussions every Wednesday evening at 7 PM in the St. Michael Media Room in Holy Cross School.

In the coming weeks, we will discuss church history using How to Read Church History Volume 1: The Beginnings to the Fifteenth Century by Jean Comby. We should have a limited quantity of the books at the Parish Office by Monday. The requested donation is $ 20. The book is available online at Amazon and from many online sellers of used books. I can't figure out an efficient process to buy bulk quantities of one used title. 

We will be using this title for many weeks with the possible exception during Lent when we might cover a Lenten theme. 

We will supplement the readings with slide illustrations of the some of the works of art and architecture referenced in the text.


2014 Faith Seeking Understanding: Adult Formation Enrichment Series

CaptureFirst Meeting Tonight at 7 PM in school's St. Michael Media Room


Join us for a discussion of  "The Church: Unlocking the Secrets to the Places Catholics Call Home" by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina on Wednesday evenings beginning January 8th. Meetings will take place in the school's St. Michael Media Room at 7 PM.

As our own new church takes shape, we have a unique opportunity to discuss the basic parts of a church building and the sacred objects with which it it furnished. We'll proceed at a lesiurely pace through the book, spending as long as we need on each part, so beyond setting a start date and an assigned reading for the first meeting, we'll set the pace once the group convenes. Fr. Manning will clarify the text with additional photos.

The Parish Office has a limited number of copies for a $ 15 donation. Kindle editions of the book are available at $ 9.99

For the first meeting, please read the beginning chapters up to and including, "Churches and Other Worship Spaces."


Advent Adult Faith Reflections - Faith Seeking Understanding

JesusNazarethJoin us for three Wednesdays in Advent as we read and discuss Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. It would be hard to find a better topic or a better person to guide our prayers during the Season of Advent.

If you would like to purchase a book, we will have them at the Parish Office by this coming Friday, Nov. 22nd. The cost of the book is $15.

 The meetings are in the St. Michael Media Room in Holy Cross School and begin promptly at 7 PM. Join us for one or all of the three evenings.

December 4            Introduction, Chapters 1, 2

December  11         Chapter 3

December 18          Chapter 4


RCIA: Join the Catholic Church

By now, many Catholics are familar with the acronym RCIA, The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Since Vatican II, this program is the primary method by which new members are welcomed into the Catholic Church.

Evangelization for the program is done primarily by already baptized Catholics from among family, friends, co-workers...everyone with whom we come into contact.

We begin each program in the fall, which doesn't give us much time to get the word out before the program is already up and running.

Ask yourself, "Whom should I invite to become a Catholic?" Pray about the question if no one comes go mind immediately...then ask someone.

While we're on the subject, consider inviting a Catholic whom you haven't seen at mass in a while to worship with you. 


Thought Provoking Article by Theologian Stanley Hauerwas - "The End of American Protestantism"

"The End of American Protestantism" by Stanley Hauerwas

This article via Bioedge Newsletter was originally published on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company) by Professor Stanely Hauerwas, now of Duke University.

Entitled "The End of American Protestantism," it decries the dissolution of faith in God, or at least in the American god Protestantism had created from "a synthesis of evangelical Protestantism, republican political ideology and commonsense moral reasoning." Hauerwas' analysis of the peculiar secularism in which we now find ourselves comes from the unravelling of the moral consensus we previously held on the importance of faith in republican democracy and the common sense of the average American. 

Hauerwas begins his article by exempting American Catholicism from his analysis, but I'm not so sure we have escaped the melting pot of America's new god - freedom of choice. Look at the first two paragraphs of his essay and see if they would intrigue you, as they did me, to read the entire piece:

Catholics in America know they do not belong, which is why they are so determined to demonstrate that they are more American than the Americans.

All you need to know to understand America is that the FBI is made up of Catholics and Southerners. This is because Catholics and Southerners have to try to show they are more loyal than most Americans, since Southerners have a history of disloyalty and Americans fear that Catholics may owe their allegiance to some guy in Rome. That is why the FBI is given the task of examining graduates of Harvard and Yale - that is, high-culture Protestants who, of course, no longer believe in God - to see if they are loyal enough to be operatives for the CIA.

The related phenomenon is what I call "the New York Times Catholics." These are Catholics, usually clergy, a New York Times journalist has learned to call after the Pope has issued an encyclical or given a speech that seems offensive to American sensibilities. They call a Catholic, whom they have previously identified as a critic of the church, to have confirmed that whatever the Pope has said, Catholics in America are not required to obey, or even if they are so required, Catholics will not take what the Pope has said seriously. From the perspective of the New York Times, therefore, a good Catholic is one that would be regarded by the Vatican as a bad Catholic.


To emphasize the point even more strongly, it seems that several of the most well published writers critical of the Catholic church and its teachings identify themselves as Catholics. 

In a fascinating analysis of why American divorce and abortion have become widespread, Hauerwas asks if the "person on the street" would agree that someone should be held responsible for something they promised when they didn't know what they were doing. Of course not, would be the likely reply. So how could you possibly make an unconditional promise of marriage, or be held to deliver an unwanted child to put the child up for adoption? The dysfunctional marriage or the unplanned pregnancy are circumstantial evidence that at least two persons didn't know what they were doing. Either the marriage or the child can be dismissed.

Don't look for Catholics to save the day warns Hauerwas, for Catholicism in America has become another variety of Protestant Christianity. The laughable assertion that " I believe in Jesus as Lord, but that's just my personal opinion," is likely to be the sentiment of the average politically correct American Catholic. Similarly, a chorus of Catholic elected officials will carefully explain the dinstinction betweeen their "public" and "private" morality in an effort to reassure the electorate they will ignore Catholic doctrine at the office. Should we call this their belief in the Kennedy-Cuomo Doctrine?

The article is thought provoking commentary on modernity, pluralism and religious freedom. It makes interesting companion reading with Pope Francis' Encyclical "The Light of Faith."

Maybe the proverb many of us learned in our youth (perhaps taught by a nun) "better to light one candle than curse the darkness" needs a modern day Catholic revision - important to curse the darkness but keep lighting candles anyway.

The Light of Faith - "Lumen Fidei"

The Light of Faith

The papal encyclical of Francis with the collaboration of Benedict highlights once again, the difficulties a disciple of Jesus faces in the modern world.

The encyclical, though brief, is not a breezy read. I won't even try to summarize the whole letter, but point out two of the many passages which invited me to pray:

Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light. 

 And, of course, the prayer which closes the encyclical itself:

 Let us turn in prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith. 
Mother, help our faith! 
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call. 
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise. 
Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith. 
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature. 
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One. 
Remind us that those who believe are never alone. 
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!

Bioedge Newsletter

There's a fascinating newsletter on the web which reports the latest happenings in bioethics, medicine and spirituality - Bioedge


Here are just a few issues raised by the most recent newsletter:

  • French president pressing for legalized euthanasia
  • Head transplants on the medical horizon
  • Pope Francis and Stanley Hauerwas
  • Too Expensive to Have a Baby in America?

I always find an intriguing article or two in the newsletter, especially when I am asked to lead discussions on medical ethics around the diocese. It might be fun to have an adult faith discussion group based on the issues discussed in the newsletters.



HHS Mandate

As you know, volunteers from Holy Cross parish have been collecting signatures to express disagreement with the federal government's executive mandate to employers to provide morally objectionable medications and treatment, e.g. contraceptives and abortifacients. 

I don't have the final signature tally, but it was substantial, even for this time of year when parishioners travel. As our volunteers were inviting people to sign the petition and announcing its purpose, one person reported, "Oh, I'm not signing it, I agree with contraception."

That's a misconeption. The issue isn't whether or not one personally agrees with the Church's teaching, or practices it - the petition expresses concern that the government now mandates that companies not excused by the restrictive definition of "religious employer" provide health insurance which pays for contraceptives.  The mandate doesn't simply allow them, it mandates that those who morally object to their use provide them and pay for them.

Whether such an intrusion on religious liberty will be permitted will ultimately be decided when the record breaking number of cases challenging it come before the Supreme Court. It would have been more heartening if the proposal had to be withdrawn because of public outrage. 


Fortnight for Freedom

As a way of participating in the national Fornight For Freedom organized by the United States Bishops, Holy Cross will offer parishioners the opportunity to sign petitions alerting our elected representatives that we object to the HHS contraceptive/abortifacient mandate imposed administratively by Washington. 

After all the weekend masses, we will also pray the novena prayer to protect religious liberty in America 


Holy Oils Distributed by Bishop at Chrism Mass in Trenton

Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, Sacred Chrism
Bishop David O'Connell presided at the Chrism Mass on Monday evening at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Trenton with concelebrating priests, deacons and parish representatives from the entire diocese. The three holy oils were blessed and every parish given an aliquot of each. The inclement weather could not dampen Bishop O'Connell's spirit and sincerity but the cathedral was not filled to capacity as usual.

Diocesan priests renew their promise of priestly committment at the Chrism mass each year.

Holy Cross Parish will officially receive the oils at the beginning of the Triduum, the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Thursday evening.