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September 28, 2006 Edition

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The Spirit will find us:
Even if we miss the boat

sketch of St. Paul University Catholic Center

Living the Scriptures 

with St. Paul University 
Catholic Center 

Anders Hendrickson 

In desert wastes between barren sands and blazing sky, as the Chosen People, sustained only by God's daily ration of manna, stubbornly ignored miracle upon miracle, the man of God, Moses, at last was to receive help: 70 men anointed with God's Spirit, whom the church has ever seen as symbols of the priests who aid the bishop. Among the 70 God called were Eldad and Medad, and they did not come.

We don't know why they missed the ceremony. Perhaps they feared such a heavy responsibility, or perhaps felt unworthy of so great an honor, or perhaps simply stayed home to tend a sick child.

What the Scriptures do tell us is that God's call was not thwarted. When the Spirit came upon the other 68 elders, He also sought out Eldad and Medad at home; their prophesying proved that God had found them.

26th Sunday
in Ordinary Time
(Sunday, Oct. 1, 2006)
Num 11:25-29
Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14
Jas 5:1-6
Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Every Christian has some mission in the church, the New Israel, and for the young the great task is to discover one's primary vocation. Am I to be a layman? A cloistered monk? A priest? A missionary?

I myself spent years attending discernment retreats, praying to know God's will, and growing frustrated at the delay. Sometimes, straining my ears to hear in the silence, I began to wonder whether I had missed the call, whether God had indeed spoken but I simply hadn't heard.

Now the story of Eldad and Medad is no excuse for inactivity. Human messengers summoned them to the tent; God speaks through our family and friends, too. Their calling was confirmed by Moses, just as Mother Church confirms our vocations to marriage, to priesthood, to religious life.

They ought to have gone in obedience to the tent to discover God's call. Likewise the long hours I spent in obedient prayer were my duty and no excess - but could they fail anyway, through some mistake of mine?

No, the Scriptures insist. Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of the Father, of which all human language is but a shadowy reflection: He knows how to communicate. A master orator wields that still, small voice.

Even if you miss the boat, as Eldad and Medad missed their ceremony, God will not be missed. Even if you're in the wrong place when God speaks, He will be heard. So long as you do not intentionally ignore Him, you will hear His call when it comes.

My own time of discernment I spent at monasteries and Jesuit houses, among Oratorians and diocesan clergy, and even two years in graduate seminary, looking hard for the celibate vocation I was expecting.

Although I was looking in these "wrong" places, God's Spirit found me even there; when His time came, I heard clearly enough His call to marriage, and Our Lady provided confirmations of my vocation as unmistakable as Eldad and Medad's prophesying was of theirs.

We may confidently await His call in patient prayer; hearing Moses' prayer, the Lord will indeed put His Spirit upon all of us.

Anders Hendrickson is a Ph.D. student in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and teaches Latin at St. Ambrose Academy. He is a parishioner of Holy Redeemer Parish in Madison and has helped lead the graduate student and young professionals group at St. Paul's. He will marry Marie Patton this November.

St. Paul's Web site is www.stpaulscc.org

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Faith Alive!

Faith Alive! logo

In a Nutshell

  • In the church's vision, the inculturation process is one of "earthing" the Gospel in the cultures of particular peoples throughout the world.

  • Our faith ancestors faithfully inculturated and passed on the Catholic faith that lives in the words, gestures, worship and lives of God's people in each generation.

  • How can the Sunday Mass draw together the distinct cultural groups within a multicultural parish?

    Catholic News Service
    3211 Fourth St NE
    Washington DC 20017
  •  Food for Thought
    Cultures differ from nation to nation. Of course, cultures also differ within individual nations and even local communities.

    To inculturate the Gospel is to discover how it can be rooted in a culture -- to give the Gospel "flesh" in a given culture. How large the challenge of globalization is becomes clear when we consider the very large number of cultural groups today, both globally and locally.

    Bishop Amadee Grab of Chur, Switzerland, said this about inculturation in a 2004 speech: "To speak of the inculturation of the Gospel does not mean abandoning the heart of the Gospel; it is, rather, a sign of the desire to share with our contemporaries what the Gospel can valuably contribute to our culture."

    Pope John Paul II once said that inculturation is "'the incarnation' of the Gospel in the various cultures" ("The Church in Oceania"). This affects how "the Gospel is preached, understood and lived," he said.

    full story

    Celebrating the Eucharist
    in many cultures
    By Jim Schellman

    Catholic News Service

    Not so long ago it was common to hear Roman Catholics speak of the comfort they found in the familiar celebration of the Mass, whether they experienced it in Portland or Paris. The Latin texts and the priest's carefully prescribed movements and gestures created the effect of the predictable, wherever Catholics found themselves.

    Many of my friends now make a similar observation about the Mass, and this despite its being celebrated in a large variety of languages around the globe. Often they are surprised by Mass in another cultural setting and express feelings of being fairly at ease.

    full story 

    The swaddling blanket
    of inculturation
    By Msgr. Raymond East

    Catholic News Service

    I want to tell you two stories which underscore the importance of liturgy relating to one's culture.

    Auxiliary Bishop Jaime Soto of Orange, Calif., recently gave a keynote address at the Western Regional Convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. His topic was "Many Cultures, Many Generations: Rejoicing in the Gifts, Embracing the Challenges."

    full story 

    The power of the familiar
    By Alejandro Aguilera-Titus

    Catholic News Service

    Anybody who has spent time in a foreign land can identify with the delightful experience of hearing someone speaking one's language. The connection with that person is immediate; it touches the very essence of what is familiar to us.

    For people who have been away from home a long time, a conversation with others who speak their language can turn into a profound dialogue. People will seize the opportunity to share the feelings and thoughts trapped in their souls because they have lacked the right words to express them in a language that is not their own.

    full story

    Faith Alive! logo
     Faith in the Marketplace
    This Week's Discussion Point:

    Tell how your parish or diocese recognizes the gifts and talents of its differing cultural and ethnic groups.

      Selected Response From Readers:  
    Copyright © 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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    This week's readings

    Week of October 1 - 7, 2006

    Sunday, October 1, 2006

    Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
    Reading I: Num 11:25-29
    Reading II: Jas 5:1-6
    Gospel: Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

    Monday, October 2, 2006
    Memorial of the Guardian Angels
    Reading I: Jb 1:6-22
    Gospel: Mt 18:1-5, 10

    Tuesday, October 3, 2006
    Reading I: Jb 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
    Gospel: Lk 9:51-56

    Wednesday, October 4, 2006
    Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, religious
    Reading I: Jb 9:1-12, 14-16
    Gospel: Lk 9:57-62

    Thursday, October 5, 2006
    Reading I: Jb 19:21-27
    Gospel: Lk 10:1-12

    Friday, October 6, 2006
    Reading I: Jb 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5
    Gospel: Lk 10:13-16

    Saturday, October 7, 2006
    Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
    Reading I: Jb 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17
    Gospel: Lk 10:17-24

    Pope's Prayer Intentions

    October General Intention

    Mature faith: That all those who are baptized may mature in their faith and manifest it through clear, coherent and courageous choices in life.

    October Mission Intention

    World Mission Day: That the celebration of World Mission Day may everywhere increase the spirit of missionary animation and cooperation.

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    Prayer for St. Raphael Cathedral

    O God,
    Whose word is like fire,
    who spoke to Your servant Moses in the burning bush;
    who led Your people Israel out of bondage
          with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night:
    hear Your people as we call upon You
    in both need and gratitude.

    May the Cathedral fire purify Your Church
    in the Diocese of Madison
    so that our hearts may burn with the knowledge
          that Your Church is built upon the bedrock
    of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

    Through the intercession of Saint Raphael,
          Your messenger of healing,
    in union with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI,
    and with our Bishop, Robert C. Morlino,
    may we find comfort in our affliction
    and the courage to proclaim
          the Good News of Jesus Christ,
    who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
    one God forever and ever.


    For more prayer resources visit the Office of Worship's Web page at www.straphael.org/~office_of_worship/
    (Click on the link on the main page.)

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    Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
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