From an article in The Michigan Catholic, “Former atheist details how accepting the Holy Spirit changed his world… Ten years ago, if someone were to tell Eric Backman he would be standing before hundreds of people in a Catholic parish, proclaiming his personal conversion to Christ, he would have called you crazy.”  To read the rest of the article, click on the link below.

http://www.themichigancatholic.org/2018/06/finding-peace-how-a-faithful-encounter-led-to-inner-conversion/

To view a video of Eric’s testimony scroll down to Week #11.

This Sums it Up

The Holy Spirit is THE principle agent for unleashing the Gospel.  The Holy Spirit is God’s love poured into our hearts.  The Holy Spirit is the “new wine” of divine life. It is the Holy Spirit who fills Christ’s disciples, then and now, with a compelling zeal to go forth and announce the good news of salvation.  Prayer is the way we access the unlimited divine power of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate.  So we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary who, just like at the first Pentecost, leads us in prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Mary inspires us with the sure confidence that the Lord hears our prayer and will not fail to answer.  Mary received Christ through her “yes” to the Holy Spirit.  Mary was the first person to share the good news of Christ, carrying Him in her womb to her cousin Elizabeth.  Since that time, Mary has continued to help and guide the Church’s mission through her powerful intercession.

Let us call upon the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of Mary, that the Lord may bring about an unprecedented harvest in the Archdiocese of Detroit!

Week #12

“Encounter / Grow / Witness” is the threefold process for evangelization that is the framework within which we unleash the Gospel. Every person in the Archdiocese is called to encounter Jesus anew, to grow daily as his disciple, and to give witness to the power of his mercy. An encounter with Jesus is a moment in our lives that changes how we live. There is no going back. There is no “half way”. Jesus calls us to follow Him and to surrender our whole lives to Him.  In following Jesus, we grow as His disciple. We become more like Jesus…treat others as He did…pray as He prayed…forgive as He forgave…and love as He loved. Transformed by Jesus, we give witness to the world of Christ’s transforming power, love and mercy. Instead of seeing our purpose as “being good and getting into heaven”, we extend the kingdom of God on earth by making the world a place where Christ is known and loved. As we meet Jesus, follow Jesus, and share Jesus, we strive to bring as many people as possible with us to the glory of eternal life. Next week we call upon the Advocate!

Week #11

Josephine Pompeo’s testimony from the parish mission Your Life in the Holy Spirit.

Attraction

Effective witness to Jesus has these attractive qualities: joy, hospitality, and generous service to the poor and marginalized.  Unless we show others the joy of having found the “pearl of great price,” we will not attract others to listen to the good news.  Christian joy is not founded on our changing circumstances, but on the unchanging presence of the risen Lord among us.  Even in times of great pain, suffering, and sorrow, we can experience the joy of the Gospel, for Christ is truly risen!  With this joy we then look for the “lost sheep,” the “unchurched,” those who are searching for meaning in their lives, and those who are poor or marginalized.  Our parish must therefore be a place of welcome to all who walk through the door.  It is natural to think of the parish as a place for those who “belong:” may we begin to see it also as a place for those who do not yet belong, but are taking their first steps on the journey toward God. Next week?  “Encounter, Grow, Witness.”

Week #10

The family is a “domestic church.”

What does this mean? The family is the primary social unit in which the life of Christ is experienced. Just as the Church has its daily liturgy, family life is a daily “liturgy” of acts of love, sacrifice, forgiveness and prayer. Families today face unprecedented challenges. This is why at St. Paul on the Lake our first priority is to help families live as domestic churches. Parents need to have a living relationship with Jesus and to learn the faith themselves in order to hand it on effectively to their children. In teaching the ways of the faith, parents are the “first face of God” for their children. The first priority of family life must be the Sunday liturgy and daily prayer. Christian families make every decision according to the mind of Christ, exercise radical generosity, and follow Christ’s example of sacrificial love. The witness of a joyful family life rooted in the Gospel can be a true spiritual oasis for people in this troubled world. Next week…Attraction.

Week #9

No Bystanders!

Christ calls EVERY person in the Archdiocese of Detroit to unleash the Gospel.  The New Evangelization is not just for priests, deacons, and religious.  Every lay person is both called and empowered to bring Christ into the secular world.  Jesus seeks the transformation of every aspect of our culture: families, education, government, business, media, entertainment, sports, science, and the arts.  How is this possible?  By each of us asking ourselves “How is the Lord calling me to bring the Gospel into all areas of my life?”  The Gospel is most effectively shared in person-to-person encounters.  The New Evangelization cannot be accomplished inside church doors.  We must go out, meet our brothers and sisters wherever they are on the journey, walk with them, and share with them the power of Christ’s love, mercy, and healing.  “Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ” (Pope Francis). Next week is about the family as “domestic church”.

Week #8

Unleashing the Gospel at St. Paul Catholic School

Equipping for Evangelizing.

For Christ’s disciples in the Church of Detroit to be able to answer his call to evangelize, we need to have the proper formation. For this purpose, every parish should become a “School of Evangelization”, where each disciple…each Church member…is equipped for his or her mission. To become an effective evangelizer, one must first BE evangelized, since we cannot give away what we do not have. So we can ask ourselves, “Do I have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Do I pray daily? Do I read Scripture? Am I learning more about my faith?” At St. Paul on the Lake, we are dedicated to helping you grow in your faith every day, so as to overcome the tendency to think, “once converted, always converted.” At St. Paul, we want to help you see how God’s grace is at work in your daily lives, to experience the power of personal testimony, and to help you grow in virtue. Next week? No Bystanders!

Week #7

Meeting Jesus Christ in the Church

The Church is the context given by God in which we encounter Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit brings about life-changing encounters with Jesus in many ways, but particularly in fellowship with one another, in Sacred Scripture, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and most especially in the Holy Eucharist. We learn to give and receive God’s love in and through our relationships with one another. Since all Scripture speaks of Christ, immersing ourselves in God’s word is a way to deepen our encounter and grow in relationship with Jesus. Because God’s mercies never end, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an open doorway for a return to God’s grace, especially for those who have fallen away from their faith and the Church. Finally, all evangelization leads to the Holy Eucharist, since the Eucharist is the fullness of communion with Jesus and his whole Church. The goal for every Mass is that each one of us might become a “living tabernacle”, sent out to make Christ present to all we meet. Next week is about “Equipping for Evangelizing”.

Week #6

The New Evangelization is not a membership drive… it is a love affair!

All are invited to encounter Jesus and let their hearts be captured by Him. Meeting Jesus is like meeting the person you’re going to marry – you can’t imagine going through life without Him. There are many ways to encounter Jesus, but the key message of the Gospel, the kerygma, remains the same: “Jesus Christ loves you; He gave His life to save you; and now He is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen, and free you”.

Jesus loves you…saves you…today! The response this gift calls for from every person is to repent of our sins, and to believe in Jesus and be baptized, so that we can be filled with his Holy Spirit.  Next week we will see how the Holy Spirit leads us to live a new life in his family, the Church.

Week #5

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8).  Why? Because the Holy Spirit is power! In baptism the Holy Spirit reveals our identities as beloved sons and daughters of the King.  The very same Spirit that transformed the first apostles can transform us.  The book of Acts tells the story of the early Church being transformed at Pentecost and being filled with boldness and joy.  Acts ends in chapter 28 with Paul under arrest in Rome.  Luke ends the book of Acts without finishing the story, because the story of the Church’s mission continues in every age.  We are living the 29th chapter of Acts!  So let us receive the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let us repent and believe in the Gospel.  Let us accept the free gift of salvation that God gives in His Son!  What is the “kerygma”, do you know?  Well you better… so tune in for Teaching #5.

Week #4

Jesus’ final command before He ascends to heaven is to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). This is the very reason that the Church exists – so that everyone might come to know and to love the person of Jesus Christ. This is why evangelization is so important. Evangelization is, very simply, proclaiming the good news of Jesus to those around us. All are called, both clergy and the laity, to be missionaries as we spread the good news of Jesus in what we say and what we do. Recently, the western world has witnessed a great loss of faith and an abandonment of Christian foundations. This is no less true in southeastern Michigan. In order to unleash the Gospel, Archbishop Vigneron calls for a renewal of heart and mind that embraces the following dispositions: docility to the Holy Spirit, apostolic boldness, a spirit of innovation, a spirit of cooperation, confidence in God, and an attitude of gratitude. Stay tuned for the next installment, “The New Pentecost”.

Week #3

Archbishop Vigneron defines the foundational conviction of “Unleash the Gospel”:  that the Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit is “resolved to obey the Holy Spirit and be made by him a band of joyful missionary disciples”. We prayed for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Detroit. We are convinced that the Holy Spirit spoke in Synod 16, the archdiocesan-wide gathering of clergy, religious, and lay people in November of 2016. God is calling us to change our “culture”. Following the lead of Pope Francis, we see ourselves as missionaries – called to go out and share Christ with joy. And we pray that families see themselves as “Domestic Churches”. What does this look like? We all work together for the spiritual and social transformation of our neighborhoods, schools, and places of work. In the next installment, look for the “Catechetical Exposition”, a summary on the missionary nature of the Church, and a reading of the signs of the times in southeast Michigan.

Archbishop Vigneron defines the foundational conviction of “Unleash the Gospel”:  that the Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit is “resolved to obey the Holy Spirit and be made by Him a band of joyful missionary disciples”. We prayed for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Detroit. We are convinced that the Holy Spirit spoke in Synod 16, the archdiocesan-wide gathering of clergy, religious, and lay people in November of 2016. God is calling us to change our “culture”. And following the call of Pope Francis, we see ourselves as missionaries. We pray that families see themselves as “Domestic Churches”. What does this look like? We all work together for the spiritual and social transformation of our neighborhoods, schools, and places of work. In the next installment, look for the “Catechetical Exposition”, a summary on the missionary nature of the Church, and a reading of the signs of the times in southeast Michigan.

Week #1

Next week at Mass we will begin a series of short teachings regarding the Archbishop’s pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel.  This pastoral letter is to serve as the charter for implementing the fruit of Synod 16, and is the work of the whole Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit empowered by the Spirit of the risen Lord. It is to serve as a type of a “road map” for discipleship for years to come.  As you listen to the upcoming teachings at Mass, we invite you to pray about how the Holy Spirit is asking you to respond.