Making Disciples Today: Blog

The Making Disciples Today Blog has reflections to help you grow in your journey of missionary discipleship, reviews on recommended Catholic evangelization resources, and practical insight on how to evangelize in your daily life. 

Green is the color of most of our Church year.  Green vestments on the priest and deacon, green banners hanging behind the altar, green plants adorning the sanctuary.  After the glitz and glamor of the Christmas and Easter seasons, this season in our Church year can seem, well, ordinary.

Ordinary Time

The period in our Church year that follows the Christmas season, and then again follows the Easter season, has an unfortunate name—Ordinary Time.  The name comes from the fact that while we are outside of special seasons, the Church simply counts the time as it passes (3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, etc).  It's counted time using the ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd...) which is how it got it's name.  Of course, being that it's also outside of the special seasons, it often feels mundane, routine, ordinary as well. 

lit cal

Rev. Larry Rice, CSP explains Ordinary Time this way...

Fr. Dan Beeman, a priest and pastor from Norfolk, VA took to Twitter recently to share about how to navigate conversations about faith and spirituality at your Thanksgiving gatherings.

Sometimes we feel like our family and friends can get "sick" of hearing us talk about our faith.  Even the most open-minded, prayerful, and loving comments we make and stories we share can be perceived as judgement and lecture.  Just mentioning the slightest thing about spirituality and faith seems to cause certain family members to shut down or roll their eyes.  We, in turn, find ourselves getting defensive and avoiding the topic completely - often feeling like we can't be authentic and true to ourselves.  It's a vicious cycle of judgement, defensiveness, and silence that leads to cultural maxims like:  "We just don't talk about religion here."  

Fr. Beeman's suggestions are great if you don't have anyone actively hostile or defensive (on either side of the faith discussion) sitting at your Thanksgiving table.  But what can you do if you feel like anything you say related to faith and spirituality is outright ignored, causes anger, inflates tension beyond bearable levels, or is openly mocked?

Fr Dan Beeman thanksgiving tweet

Have you heard of the Jesus Juke?

The Jesus Juke is a great way to tell a friend, "I wish you possessed the uber holiness I do and were instead talking about sweet baby Jesus in this conversation." It's like a tiny little "shame grenade," you throw it into an otherwise harmless conversation and then watch it splatter everyone in guilt and condemnation. (From Stuff Christians Like)

It seems like Christmas (and maybe Easter) brings out the worst of the Jesus Jukes. Combine it with intentionally controversial or inflammatory blog post headlines and memes, and it can suck the Christmas joy right out of jolly ol' Saint Nick himself.

 

Jesus Juke
Jesus Juke:  St. Nick just made that sad trumpet sound: "whaaaa, waaaa."

An overly produced Jesus Juke is still a Jesus Juke. 

 

 Don't get me wrong, I love to be challenged to think a little differently. And I need to be reminded of the sacredness of this season when I am bombarded with advertisements that breed anxiety and foster materialism.

However, I don't love to be told that the way I celebrate the season is wrong.  I don't love the implication that some traditions are holier and more Catholic (yours) than others (mine).

Being challenged to think and re-grounded in faith leaves me open to becoming a better person.  Being Jesus Juked over family traditions leaves me closed and defensive.

Jesus Jukes can be dropped like a bomb on my Facebook status or in an email and I can walk away.  Loving reminders and gentle promptings take the time and effort of a genuine relationship. 

Insults and controversial headlines attract attention and are often amusing.  Genuine awareness of the holiness of the season inspires humility and a willingness to admit where I've missed the boat.

Let Peace Begin With Me

I'll be the first to admit that I've made this mistake.

Creating and sustaining "shallow entry points" is essential in the process of parish renewal.  Shallow entry points are places where those who may be disconnected from Christ and His Church can be introduced to the Christian community and the love of God in non-threatening and warmly welcoming ways.  Being intentional about creating these shallow entry points requires a more individualized approach to pastoral care and, therefore, is more time consuming to both create and sustain.

In this episode of the Transforming Parishes, Transforming Lives podcast, we focus on these shallow entry points - specifically talking about the most common objection to this approach: "I just don't have time to do all that."