God calls us into being by creating us in his divine image and likeness, and thus we have a spiritual soul that lasts forever because of its two spiritual powers: the intellect and the free will. With our intellect we can know which is good, better and best, and freely choose among those good options; as well as know the difference between natural goods and supernatural goods. How-ever, we can also know that which is bad, evil and wicked and with our free will can choose among those sinful options, which distort the natural good and, if mortal sin occurs, can push out and block the supernatural goods of God’s grace which is needed to follow God’s Ten Commandments.
But praise be Jesus Christ who can strengthen us to choose the good options and reject the sinful options for he comes proclaiming: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
The Gospel is the “good news” that when we follow Jesus Christ through our baptism and the other sacraments we begin to live in the divine community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit by the sanctifying grace Jesus won for us. We do this by the power of the Holy Spirit which we receive through Jesus Christ who lived the Ten Commandments of God perfectly, and who is the divine head of the Catholic Church.
Jesus Christ wants us to live within the community of the Catholic Church which he founded upon Peter, the Rock upon which he built his Church, and the other Apostles.
It is amazing how Christ and his small number of Twelve Apostles and faithful disciples have transformed the world through his Church which keeps strengthen-ing and multiplying, like the cells of a healthy body.
To participate more intentionally in the mission and discipleship of Christ and his Church, Archbishop Hebda has asked all parish members to join a small group which is part of the Parish Evangelization Cells System, especially for the season of Lent, but hopefully beyond that season.
You have the opportunity to join a small group that will follow the flexible model prescribed by the Archdiocese. The small groups have been encouraged to follow the Archdiocese sponsored 7-week session: Lord, Teach Us How to Pray. Prayer is essential for spiritual growth, and so that is why it is an integral part of the small group’s seven dimensions or seven (7) moments.
The small group leader and co-leader will lead the group in the first moment (1) of 15 minutes of song and praise so that the group can focus on God.
The second moment (2) is 15 – 20 minutes of personal sharing in light of these two questions: “What has God done for me this past week?” and “What did I do for God this past week?”
(3) This third moment is 15-20 minutes of teaching by the Pastor or, as in the case of this 7-Week session on prayer, by the Archdiocese sponsored Catechetical Institute teachers.
(4) After the teaching moment there is time to discuss how the teaching impacted one’s heart and mind. Every member of the group is given a chance to share new in-sights, feelings and personal opinions, al-ways allowing the Holy Spirit to inspire and purify the conversation that remains confidential and presumes the good will of others as we journey to a greater clarity of our Catholic faith. Sharing is limited to around 2 minutes per member and the conversation may continue outside the cell, but only privately and with discretion.
The fifth (5) moment is sometimes seen as tedious, but it is time set aside for “Annoucements” by the Pastor or Archbishop, which is no longer than 5 minutes and keeps us connected to the parish and the Archdiocese.
The sixth (6) moment is 10 minutes of intercessory prayer. We are encouraged to pray for family, community and those in the small group called oikos (oy-kose) – with a mind toward evangelization – sharing the good news of Jesus’ saving love and truth by walking respectfully and intentionally with others toward heaven.
The final moment (7) is optional and is about 10 minutes of praying for the needs of the group, especially for healing of a group member when the need arises. The group leader may invite those who are in need of special prayer to make that need known. It is a time of affirmation for those in the Cell who are feeling the stresses and challenges of life. The leader should then close with a short prayer of thanksgiving and group members should be able to return to their life’s path knowing that they are loved and supported, and inspired to return the following week.
I am looking forward to seeing the fruits and gifts that God will give, magnify and employ in our community as we journey together in these small groups supported by the parish, Christ’s ministers, his sacred sacraments, dedicated parish small group leaders and supported by our Archbishop, bishops and the staff of our Archdiocese. Thank God for all of you and thank you for your love for the Lord and his mission of sharing his saving love and truth.
Please prayerfully sign up today for a small group that will begin around the Season of Lent, Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2024, and hopefully will continue be-yond Lent until you are comfortable in leading your own small group with the blessing and support of those serving you in Christ.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe