Faith Seeking Understanding

Faith Seeking Understanding Schedule Fall/Winter 2016

Here are the topics and meeting dates for the Fall/Winter Faith Seeking Understanding Adult Faith sessions:

Composing Sacred Scripture: How the Bible Was Formed Donald Senior, CP; Liturgy Training Publications, 2016

October 5  

Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2 (pp. 1-37)

October 12 

Chapters 3 and 4 (pp. 38-59)

October 19

Chapters 5 and 6 (pp. 60-92)

October 26

Chapters 7, 8 and 9    (pp. 93-125)


Books are available for a donation of $ 10 at the Parish Office or at the sessions once they begin. They are available from Amazon in hard copy or in Kindle, or from Liturgy Training Publications.

Please join us for one or all of the sessions and invite someone to come with you.

All sessions will be in the church hospitality room and begin at 7:00 PM.


Lent - Prepare


I like the former practice of counting down the days before Lent two weeks before Lent starts. Two weeks of violet vestments to get us in the mindset that Lent is coming and we’re not suddenly surprised by the need to find our dried out palms branches for burning and begin the observation of the Holy Season on Ash Wednesday.

Anyhow, surprised or not, snowstorm or not, Lent is coming. This Lent and Holy Week will be a wonderful opportunity to derive benefit from our beautiful church and its liturgical environment. What a spiritually nourishing time we pray this Lent provides.

Our Wednesday night Adult Faith Formation, Faith Seeking Understanding, will be held the Wednesdays of Lent (except NOT on Ash Wednesday evening).

The full schedule will be published next week, but plan on joining us in the St. Joseph Hospitality Room in the lower level of the church for a viewing and discussion of the award winning film, Jerusalem. Some of the staff enjoyed the movie at the IMAX theatre in the Franklin Institute. It is a beautiful and informative look at the importance of the city for three of the world’s major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Wed., February 18th    7:00 PM               Jerusalem   (a 2014 National Geographic IMAX film)

Two printed resources will be available at Church this year: the Magnificat Year of Mercy devotional and the Magnificat Lenten Companion.

Two Sessions Remaining of Adult Faith Formation: Church History

There are two more chapters in How to Read Church History: Volume 1, so two more weeks of "Faith Seeking Understanding" meetings until a summer hiatus. The final two chapters in Volume 1 concern the middle and late Middle Ages and the so-called age of Christendom.

Join us on Wednesday evenings at 7 PM in the school's St. Michael Media Room for an interesting exploration of Church history and some insight on how the Church arrived in the Modern Age.


The Book of Revelation Bible Study - "Faith Seeking Understanding"

OK, are you ready? Let's tackle the Book of Revelation. Often thought of as an extremely difficult and mostly irrelevant book of the bible, a basic understanding of its message and its theology is good for the present age and not too difficult to begin.

The study guide we will use for the sessions will be Coming Soon: Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying Its Lessons Today by Michael Barber, published by Emmaus Road press in 2005. The author uses a more "folksy" tone than some of the other authors we have read, which might help compensate for any difficulties with the Scriptural text itself.

Let's plan to begin on Wednesday, May 11th in the St. Michael's Media Room at 7:30 PM and plan for a session of approx. 4-6 weeks depending on interest and how quickly we cover the material.

Call Eileen to reserve a copy of the book or purchase on Amazon here. If you obtain a copy of the book on your own, call Eileen to let her know you will be attending the sessions.



Tonight Chapter Three of the "The Last Things"

Tonight's chapter in our discussion book deals with a terribly unpopular subject - eternal punishment, aka hell. Join us for a discussion of the Church's teaching on the topic along with a few reflections on the nature of human free will.  7 PM St. Michael's Media Room in the School. Enter through the Main Entrance doors behind St. Anthony.


Faith Seeking Understanding Sessions During Lent


Join with us beginning Ash Wednesday evening and continuing for the first four weeks of Lent in reading and reflection on the Last Things, Final Judgment, Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. What are the Church's actual teachings on these matters and how are these things important in my daily prayer and spiritual journey?

We will use an accessible, recently published book by Fr. Benedict Groeschel to jump start our prayer and discussion - "After This Life: What Catholics Believe About What Happens Next." Call Eileen in the Parish Office to reserve your copy.

See you in Lent!

Aren't Funerals About Eternal Life Anymore?

Funerals  Last year Dr. Thomas Long, Professor of Preaching at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, published an interesting book Accompany Them With Singing - The Christian Funeral. In this modern study of Christian funeral rites, he laments the loss of the other worldly and transcendent at funerals and the all too common emphasis on the earthly life of the deceased instead. 

It's said that baby-boomers are not using traditional funeral rites to bury their parents and even sometimes ignoring their parents' wishes for a church funeral. The convenience and perhaps lesser expense of a service at the funeral home seems to make more sense to many of the survivors, especially since many of them no longer attend church regularly. Besides, since funeral directors will do just about anything you pay them to do, there are not likely to be many restrictions on the family's funeral requests.

The majority of those seeking a Catholic funeral are sincere and devout. Some others, however, stand out. There is the group that seems agnostic about whether heaven exists. The funeral is primarily a celebration of the deceased's earthly accomplishments. Even well meaning families have fallen into the trap; you've seen the Worship Aids - "A Celebration of the Life of ..." You'll hear that the deceased lives on through the descendants s/he left behind and in their memories and the stories they will tell. No one should be sad, because the deceased doesn't want us to be. There is usually no mention of faith, religion, God or the Catholic church in the often obligatory eulogy at these funerals. In fact, the admission that "Joe wasn't a church-goer, but a good person" is a pretty common refrain. Coming together as a group is an opportunity to pay tribute to the deceased, not necessarily to share the Eucharist. Nature scenes and secular poetry are often featured on the memorial cards. The animistic poem "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep" is a favorite. It ends not with death and the promise of resurrection but the odd assertion that "I did not die." Catholic clergy have read this poem and/or allowed it at funerals!  (One of the prayers in the Catholic committal service reminds us that even Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, his friend and asks Jesus to comfort us in our grief.)

Another group is pretty sure heaven exists, and certain that the deceased is already there. They're sometimes engaged in their favorite earthly pastime, often cooking, gardening or golfing, or helping God organize heaven. Sometimes God appears to have called the deceased home to heaven because God needed them. Anyone who ever mentions "purgatory" is under suspicion, but it is especially incorrect to even whisper it at funerals. The longstanding practice of having masses said for the soul's release from purgatory appears to have morphed into an opportunity to have their name published in the bulletin, announced at mass or keep their memory alive on earth.

In many cases, the least churched generation in history is demanding (and sometimes being given) the most control ever of the Church's funeral rites, sometimes by the very generation of church leaders who failed so miserably to catechize them in the 70's and 80's.  Everyone wants a funeral like the Kennedy's or Sonny Bono's or Princess Diana's. That usually means at least several speakers, lots of patriotic and secular music and plenty of flowers. Worship aids, originally designed to help the mourners follow the liturgy, now are packed with photos, and farewells to the deceased. Personalization in each and every detail of the funeral is the order of the day. Sociologists tell us this is a particular characteristic of the boomer generation.

A Catholic funeral properly celebrated and with appropriate family participation is infinitely more consoling than any number of speeches or songs could be. Even those not expecting grace often receive it. A funeral liturgy is a priceless opportunity to evangelize family and their friends and reintroduce them to the dignity and consoling beauty of a Catholic funeral. Nearly everyone listens intently during funeral homilies, especially for the kind of hope the world cannot give. Nearly all priests and ministers would truly miss praying at funerals. It's only when funerals are morphed by over-personalization into something only resembling a Catholic liturgy that they become a strain. The more secular they become, the less hope they can offer. The words of the liturgy are true: Almighty God, all our hope is in you.

Why exactly shouldn't a Catholic funeral mass have "Danny Boy," "When the Saints go Marching In," or a doleful broadway tune for a communion reflection? Good question, especially when we all know that wherever they're used, they're never challenged. What's the difference between a eulogy and Words of Remembrance? Another good question. We'll take up the Catholic Church's liturgical norms for funerals in subsequent posts.

Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI Study Group at Holy Cross

On Wednesday night, May 5th we will begin a study group on the book, Jesus of Nazareth (part 1) by Benedict XVI using an accompanying study guide by Mark Bramley.

Everyone is invited. You may acquire the books on your own, or a pick up copies of both books in the parish office; a $15 donation covers the cost of both books. We'll meet at least until school closes for summer vacation and decide as a group whether to break or continue through the summer months.


Church Fathers with Pope Benedict on Wednesday Night

Pope benedict xvi portrait
Just a reminder that our series of Lenten reflections on the Church Fathers as written by Pope Benedict begins this Wednesday evening at 7:00 PM in the St. Michael's Media Room.

Books and meeting topics can be picked up in the Parish Office 

and will also be available at the first session.

See you for one or all the discussions!

Lenten "Faith Seeking Understanding" Books

1265212876 The two books we are using for reflection and discussion during Lent will be available in the parish office starting tomorrow. We ask a $20 donation to cover the cost of both books.

The first session on Feb. 24 will be more lively and informative if participants have already read the relevant chapters in each book.

Join us for all of some of the Lenten Wednesday sessions and learn about church history, the Fathers of the Church and their impact on what we still believe and pray today.

Faith Seeking Understanding Holy Week

Untitled Saints and Scoundrels of Holy Week in Art:

Wednesday of Holy Week, March 31

St. Michael Media Room at 7 :00 PM



Join us for an evening of reflection on the people we will encounter in Scripture and in the Stations of the Cross during Holy Week as shown in art through the ages. Our time together will be a thoughtful and prayerful introduction to the Sacred Triduum.

Make Plans for Lent

Cathedrals_dwellings_203684 Don't wait for Ash Wednesday (February 17) to plan a spiritual renewal for Lent. Our parish will host many opportunities for prayer and reflection and the Diocese will be announcing others. Watch our bulletin and this blog for specifics.

Of course the primary focus of our prayer should be Sunday worship, and if you are not consistent with faithful attendance at mass, no doubt about it, that should be a priority during Lent.

Wednesdays at Holy Cross offer another rich opportunity for communal worship. Morning mass with chanted morning prayer is followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until noon at which time the Blessed Sacrament is reposed and mass in the Extraordinary form is prayed. After mass, the Blessed Sacrament is again exposed for veneration until Evening Prayer at 5 PM. During Lent, there will be Adult Faith Formation sessions at 7 PM, this year using the Pope's reflections on the Church Fathers as a focal point for discussing theology, prayer and church history.

Remember that our church is open for prayer and visitation 24 hours / 7 days. Stopping for prayer on the way to work or on the way home, even for a few minutes or a quick visit during the day is a simple, but concrete way to enhance our prayerfulness during Lent. So many of us drive by the Church one or more times a day, if a brief stop is not possible, it is surely feasible to pray a short prayer or nod our head in reverence each time we pass the church.