DYNAMIC CATHOLIC ALIVE!
ARCHBISHOP CARLSON'S PASTORAL LETTER ON SPIRITUAL FORMATION
Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson Archbishop of St. Louis
As Catholic Christians, we continue to face challenges in our commission. But these challenges can present great opportunities — just as they have for disciples before us — when we are solidly formed in our faith. Continued formation fuels vibrancy, and this pastoral letter is a guide for your spiritual growth. Our formation is a critical component of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Through prayer, understanding, generosity and evangelization, we walk with Jesus and invite others on our journey. In exchange, Jesus offers us an opportunity to journey closer to His Father, our Father.
This journey of formation is never-ending, and it begins where we are. A lifetime of learning — true discipleship— will enrich our lives and enable us to enrich others’ lives as well. I invite you to read this pastoral letter and use the reflections in each section to consider where you are in your formation and where you need to go. As your shepherd, I am eager to walk with you on your path to holiness.
Sincerely yours in Christ, Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of
A Special Note from Matthew Kelly author of "The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic."
I’d like to talk with you about Dynamic Catholic, Alive!, a game-changing idea for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. In my book, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, I write: "Imagine if a whole diocese committed to a four-year plan to raise up its people in the four signs." You not only imagined it, you are putting the idea into action. Your diocese is the first in the country to create a plan around The Four Signs, which will serve as a model for other dioceses. What an incredible opportunity!
Dynamic Catholic, Alive! emphasizes each of the Four Signs over the next four years: Prayer in 2015; Study in 2016; Generosity in 2017; and Evangelization in 2018. This will be a wide-ranging Archdiocesan initiative, touching parishes, institutions, and each and every one of you.
As we prepare for the year devoted to prayer, which will begin January 2015, it is important to reflect on the importance of prayer in our spiritual lives. The most dominant quality of Dynamic Catholics is a daily routine of prayer. In the year of prayer, I encourage you to pray more, to go to Mass more, to participate in the sacraments more, and to make significant and lasting spiritual progress.
Your shepherd, Archbishop Carlson, has a vision for Catholic renewal, as he makes clear in his pastoral letter on evangelization: "It is time for a new springtime of holiness and evangelization in the Archdiocese of St. Louis." Dynamic Catholic, Alive! has the potential to position the Archdiocese of St. Louis at the vanguard of Catholic renewal in the United States.
Four-Year Plan for the Archdiocese of St. Louis
2015: Prayer – Are You Spiritually Healthy? Key Concepts: Prayer, Mass, Sacraments, Adoration,
Spiritual Development Objectives: to cultivate personal relationships with Christ; to foster continual conversion; to foster discipleship formation; to teach Catholics how to pray and how to develop prayer routines; to increase the number of individuals attending Mass each Sunday; to increase participation in the Mass; to cultivate a proper understanding of the Mass; to increase the number of individuals going through RCIA; to increase participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; to increase connectedness after celebration of the sacraments; to increase attendance at Eucharistic Adoration
Tools: Archbishop Carlson’s pastoral letter on spiritual formation; schools of prayer; recommended books and catechetical materials; Dynamic Catholic’s Prayer Process and Mass Journals; Oremus and A Biblical Walk Through the Mass from Ascension Press; small faith sharing groups; promotion of Adoration times throughout the Archdiocese
CURE OF ARS OFFERINGS ON PRAYER
- Family Rosary
- Parish Prayer Chain
- Mother of Perpetual Help Devotions
- Daily Rosary
- Day of Recollection
- First Saturday Devotions
- Daily Sacrament of Reconciliation
- Daily Mass
- Lighthouse Catholic Media on prayer
- First Friday Devotions
- Penance Service During Lent/Advent
- Celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday
- Lectio Divina Explained and Encouraged
- Celebration of St. John Vianney
- Parish Retreats
Jesus calls us to continue his mission of evangelization. This four year evangelization plan is a practical resource to assist parishes in fostering this mission. This plan will provide focus and direction so that your parish may build upon present evangelization efforts. As you implement this evangelization plan be assured of the Lord’s blessings upon you and your parish family.”
- Reverend Monsignor Mark S. Rivituso, J.C.L.
RECOMMENDED SPIRITUAL READING
Seven Secrets of Confession by Vinny Flynn (very good explanation of sacrament and approaching sacrament positively entering into the love and mercy of God)
Everything is Grace: The Life and Way of Theresa of Lisieux by Joseph F. Schmidt (very good display of Little Flower's "Little Way" for ordinary people still striving on earth to be saints)
Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn (celebrate Mary the Mother of the Word Incarnate)
Sacred Story by Fr. William M. Watson S.J. (An excellent book on Ignatian Spirituality)
A Lesson from School of Suffering: by Rev. Jim Willig
(A young priest with Cancer tells us how to live; an excellent book for one suffering with cancer or caregiver or suffering from grief from loss)
Prayer Primer: Igniting a Fire Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay (discusses all manner of prayer and overcoming difficulties in prayer; a very practical and easy read to improve our prayer time)
A Biblical Walk through the Mass by Dr. Edward Sri
(The Biblical evidence for each part of the Mass is explained well and the chapters are easy to digest. There's not a lot of philosophy/theology here, just a practical analysis of what happens at each part of the Mass.
Consuming the Word: The New Testament and the Eucharist in the Early Church by Scott Hahn
(This book offers the organic connection between the liturgical life of the Church and Scripture, between the Incarnation in flesh and the Incarnation in words. For several generations there was no book that could be called the “New Testament.” That phrase was used to describe the Mass.)
The Lessons of St. Francis: How to bring Simplicity and Sprituality into your daily life by John Michael Talbot (Well-known Christian musician Talbot founded the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, a Francisiscan lay community. Talbot encourages readers to pare down the overwhelming demands of modern existence and to distinguish between the needs of interior life and the pull of worldly desires.)
The Return of the Prodigal Son By Henri Nouen (a great book about forgiveness and reconciliation; themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable.)
To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed
(In this modern spiritual classic Sheed concern for the Gospels, is to come to know Christ as he actually lived among us, interacted with all the various people he encountered from his infancy to his passion and death--the God-man who was like us in all things except sin.)
Life of Christ by Fulton J. Sheen (Fulton Sheen's book Life of Christ is a literary masterpiece. Life of Christ has been hailed as the most eloquent of Fulton J. Sheen’s many books. The fruit of many years of reflection, prayer, and research, it is a dramatic and moving recounting of the birth, life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ, a passionate portrait of the God-Man, the teacher, the healer, and most of all the Savior.) Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis (suggestion browse in book store to find a translation you are comfortable with. Translation vary and some are easier for some people to read.)
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis DeMontfort (Considered by many to be the greatest single book of Marian spirituality ever written on the spiritual way to Jesus Christ though the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis De Sales (has remained a uniquely accessible and relevant treasure of devotion for nearly four hundred years. The book includes sections about prayer, temptation, and how to maintain devotion to God; but is most distinguished by how to live a holy life in the secular world.)
Mere Christianity by CS Lewis (This classic provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith, where did we come from, why are we here, where are we going…)
Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer ("The Cost of Discipleship" focuses on the most treasured part of Christ's teaching, the Sermon on the Mount; Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, was an exemplar of sacrificial faith: opposed the Nazis from the first and was eventually imprisoned in Buchenwald and hung by the Gestapo in 1945.)
The Confessions of St. Augustine Edited by Fr. David Meconi SJ (many translations but I suggest this one, Fr. Meconi writes a great intro and does a great job of editing, he is visiting priest that use to say Mass here.)
Journal of a Soul Pope John XXIII by Pope John XXIII Autobiography
Witness to Hope by George Wiegel (the most complete biography of our newest Saint Pope John Paul II
A Life with Karol: My forty year Friendship with the man who became Pope by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz
(this book about Pope John Paul II is written by his secretary of over 40 years and offers many intimate insights and details)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta by Leo Maasburg (even if you have already read a lot of books about Mother Teresa don't miss this one. Fr. Maasburg was Mother Teresa's friend, confessor, spiritual advisor, and translator for many years. He brings a unique perspective and in the book shares fifty stories that have never been published before.)
Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese by John Beevers (what can I say, one of our greatest saints and doctor of the Church in her own words)
Francis: The Journey and the Dream by Murray Bodo OFM (excerpt from author: 'To Francis everything in him and around him was a gift from his Father in Heaven… Nothing was evil, for everything came from God, and evil came only from a heart that chose not to love.. Franciscan Spirituality)
The Cure D'ars: St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney by F. Trochue
The definitive life of Saint John Vianney based on the official "Process of Beatification and Canonization."