Spring Enrichment 2014: An Introspection


This is a list of the classes/workshops I took and the one thing I learned that I didn’t already know:


Keynote: Open the Door of Faith (intro with Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of the Albany Diocese, Keynote with Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Bridgeport, CT Diocese)

The themes that rang true for me were: Be open to the voice of G-d and there is no challenge that cannot become an opportunity.

Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel (with Bishop Frank Caggiano)

“Joy is the deep abiding faith and contentment that everything will be alright.”

I realize that I’ve been absorbed in Supernatural themes and fandom, but what he said during this talk was “Family don’t end in blood [boy]” and I promise you, Brooklyn accent or no Brooklyn accent I heard this is Bobby’s voice.

The Judeo-Christian Contribution to the Rise of Science

The one thing that stood out to me isn’t the disagreement between the Church and the Secular or between Creation and Evolution. The conflict that arose wasn’t between science and faith; it was between the different faiths. The Church encouraged science and wanted to learn more. The Big Bang Theory was a phrase used to mock and deride the Belgium priest who was the scientist who came up with it in the first place.

It was also believed that the pursuit of science was a sacred duty – that was how to experience G-d.

Also, a very interesting statement that I would need a little more first-hand research on, but Father Pat stated that there was no gender assigned to Adam until the second person (commonly known as Eve) is created (read the Scriptures)

An Overview of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola and a Contemporary Way to Pray Them

I’ve never been a fan of the idea of meditation and contemplation and this opened me up to trying it in bits and pieces. The journey of Ignatius of Loyola mirrored mine in an emotional way and it really struck me as parallel in ways. I’m interested in exploring the Spiritual Exercises a little more. We were given a shell to symbolize our pilgrimage, and I do often use objects to focus my thoughts and prayers, not necessarily religious objects like crosses and rosaries.

Thomas Merton’s Down to Earth “Christology from Above”

This ended up being more of an introduction to Merton, which was good for me who had never heard of him. He really spoke to my bias that you need to be religious and pious to find the comfort in G-d, and Merton was far from piety, but he still managed to take his hyperawareness and experimentation and find his religious and spiritual center and that leaves hope for the rest of us.

It is also a reminder that most Saints don’t start out that way (see St. Augustine).

Witnessing to Christ in the Digital Age: Strategies for Discipleship and Tactics for Evangelization

A Brand-New Parish for a Brand-Driven World

These two classes really showed me the link between church and secular life. All of the things we are doing with social media secularly can be done for our ministries and our parishes. It is more of a joining, a combining of our religious and secular lives rather than compartmentalizing them into an us vs. them scenario. It is also the reminder that all things can be used for good or ill, and it is up to us to use our skills and the available technology (see Ignatius of Loyola) to promote positivity and who we want to become instead of shunning them as too hard or difficult to learn or deciding that it doesn’t fit into the religious context. It ALL fits. We just have to figure out the best way to use it in what context.

How Catholics Read the Bible, Part 1: The Hebrew Scriptures

How Catholics Read the Bible, Part 2: The Christian Scriptures

How the Bible is set up, the historical context, a reminder that the Bible is written by humans and it is an interpretation and an ever-evolving document. There is also literary form to consider. These are all things that I never considered.

We are also prompted to take the Bible seriously, not literally.

Though He Slay me, I will hope in Him (Job)

My least favorite subject (and one that I didn’t realize was the subject of this workshop): end of life, pastoral care, bereavement. There was a great visual of our understanding of heaven is a hug. If you look at Jesus on the Cross, his arms are stretched out before in really a universal symbol of an embrace. It is an invitation, a welcoming.

This is not something that I considered before, but I can think back on one or two or three particular hugs that not only gave me comfort but took away pain, and the picture of Christ is less than I imagined as well as so much more.

History of Liturgy Part 1 and Part 2

This. My most favorite learning piece of this is how much of the current liturgy, prayer service, Mass has been part of the Mass since around the 3rd century. It’s worked so well for nearly two thousand years and really shows me the true belief and the specialness of Mass for me today.

Walking Through the doors of Faith with Jesus and Frodo: Praying with the Gospels and “The Lord of the Rings”

I am a huge fan of modernity and pop culture being connected to religious life – it isn’t separate but equal – it is two halves of the same coin. Just as pop culture changes, so must religion. I also enjoy seeing the parallels of the Lord of the Rings (and other pop culture works, see Supernatural) with Biblical texts and stories. For me, the movie visuals made more of an impact than the readings (which I’ve never done), but I also think there is a slippery slope not to make more of something that isn’t there and not to put words into the mouths of the artist (in this case, JRR Tolkien).

TED Panel: Open the Door of Faith (three viewpoints: theology, art and architecture and liturgy

I love the melding of different forks in the road into one theme. Of course, doors are one of my staunchest symbols of many things. Leaving one side to the other, finding hidden opportunities, looming large and scary but they don’t have to be, the different materials used in making the doors, the simplicity, the beauty, the attention to detail.

When you don’t know what is behind the door, that first hesitation is a tiny bit apprehensive mixed with excitement and wonder and once the door is opened, the introduction to all of the senses is there on the threshold and you still have the choice to close the door, but nine times out of ten you step through. Even that tenth time that you close the door; often we are drawn back and eventually enter. These are the roads in our lives leading us and greeting us and supporting us by providing nourishment along the way and sometimes offering us other doors with other choices or breaks from the journey, but at the end of the corridor, we still keep going.

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