Sunday, December 30, 2012

Feast of the Holy Family

Way back in college, I had taken a Sociology of the Family class.  One of the basic tenets we learned was that cultures throughout the world perceive the family as the fundamental unit of support, and the instrument by which morals, mores, and traditions were passed on.  The family provided stability, and the procreation of children.  Now this is across cultural and economic lines.  This use of the family was in the most advanced western cultures, and in tribal cultures as well.

When John Paul issued his Familiaries Consortio, there were detractors who countered that John Paul was speaking about a family which had no bearing in reality.  What John Paul proposed was that the family was a sacred communion which included a father and mother, and their children.  John Paul detailed the importance of many of the same virtues which St. Paul speaks about in family life, that of patience, understanding, love, kindness, and gentleness.  John Paul encouraged the notion that the family was the domestic Church, with the father as the 'shepherd' of the family unit

What John Paul II proposed was not that much different than the research of many sociologists, over the course of a dozen years or so. The Gospel stories are replete with stories of crisis and chaos within families.  Today's Gospel of Jesus lost in the temple is no exception.  The Church is not naive in believing that all families exist as these loving and joyful entities.  But doing the work of faith, that is nurturing relationships, reconciliation, seeking healing where appropriate, and a family prayer life, lend to the holy life of a family. 

In our post-modern society we do not always recognize the value of a family in our lives.  If it does not lend to immediate gratification, or if it involves too much effort, our society wants no part of it.  As a faith concept, the family encourages a strong self-possession, worth, and values of the human person.  It continues the faith as the parents are the first teachers of the faith.  Further, the procreation of children is good for the communion of the family, and for the larger community as well.

But of course the family has to recognize, and imitate,  the sacramental nature of this union.  The family unit must somehow reveal Christ Jesus, and model the Paschal Mystery.

Mary and Joseph are astonished when they find  Jesus with the elders.  Prayerfully our astonishment can be complete in the holiness of the human family. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

St. Thomas Becket

Saint Thomas in the latter 12th century, was a civil and canon lawyer, serving King Henry II as both the chancellor, and later the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Thomas and Henry were in conflict over the rights and obligations of the Church, and the King's authority over Church matters.  For a while Thomas was exiled to France.  Shortly after his return to England, he was murdered in the sanctuary of Canterbury by loyalists to the King.

Within this past year we have been speaking quite a bit about religious liberty and freedom.  Now some will assume that this has to do with the abortion issue and nothing more.  The ramifications of recent Federal actions are much broader than this.  It assumes authority over the faith and moral life of the Church.  More so, it asks the faithful to be in conflict with their faith stance.  This is indeed a dangerous and slippery slope.

Our Constitution, and natural law, prohibits the government from creating a state religion.  Further, it guarantees the free exercise of one's religion.  Some may misunderstand this part of the Constitution as to mean we cannot have prayer in schools or put up crosses on public property.  The interference that is alluded to is that persons cannot be required to follow legislation which contradicts their fundamental moral stance.  This has been an ongoing problem for centuries, across the globe.

For catholics this scenario means that we need to have a firm and multifaceted understanding of what we believe and why.  I have often said that it is amusing at Baptism, when I ask the couple 'what they ask of God's Church,' and they respond that they merely want their baby blessed.  While catholics do not have to have the background of Augustine or Rahner, they should know that we teach and preach about the dignity of life, the preferential option for the poor, an understanding of the sacraments and the sacred scriptures.

The folks that we have heard about over these last few weeks have contemplated and reflected upon the wonders of God's mystery.  They participate in the 'Christmas Story' because they have an understanding of God and God-ness in the world today.  Failure to do this relegates to doing some ritual actions because they feel good.

Our faith is about a relationship with God and others.  Our faith and faithfulness calls us to respond to God's love through conversion and discipleship.  Hopefully we can stand with the Marys, Josephs, and Thomas Beckets of the world, and give our unconditional yes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

John - Apostle and Evangelist

We are told that John was the favorite of the the apostles, for the Lord.  John, Peter, and James make up this small group which the Lord takes with him in various situations of healing, expelling demons, the Transfiguration, and at the garden of Gethsemane.  There is an intimacy and closeness that John has with Jesus.  Artists will portray John as quite young, so perhaps it is this child-like status that John has which endears him to the Lord.

At the Cross John keeps vigil with Mary, and the other women, as Jesus slowly dies.  And it is John, who with Peter, explore the tomb on the first Easter Day.  So John does not only have this close experience  of the ministry of Jesus, as powerful as that is, but this very deep and personal experience of the Paschal Mystery as well.  So when John proclaims and preachings, he is doing so from a well formed foundation which is firmly rooted in the divine mandate to preach to all peoples.

Perhaps we do not make as much about Baptism and Confirmation as we should that is the place where we begin to hear the voice of Christ Jesus, and follow in the ways of Jesus.  As the Baptist reminded us prior to the feast of the Incarnation, our journey of faith should be one of conversion and discipleship.  More so, as John's ministry reminds us, being brought into a relationship with Jesus Christ obligates us to tell others about what we have heard and seen.

On Christmas Eve day, I answered one of the myriads of phone calls we receive at the rectory, for the times of the Mass.  One gentleman seemed intrigued by the prospect of a 4:00 Mass, but asked whether it was going to be one of those "Long drawn out masses," since his family had places to go and things to do.  I did not say so, but perhaps it would be better not to go to Mass with that understanding and level of belief.

Several of the documents of Vatican II reflect on having a full and active participation in life of the Church.  Sometimes I think we want Church 'done to us' rather than going out and doing Church.  Or even we want to re-work the Mass so that it is 'special' for us, rather than coming to the understaning of what we are doing is about salvation, and our participation in the community. 

This feast of St. John the Apostle asks us to lok at our own intimacy with Jesus Christ.  Do we allow Jesus to form and re-form our being, or is he simply like a facebook friend.  As I was looking at some parish catechesis for the Year of Faith this year, I considered how exciting it would be if everyone took some time to examine their baptismal role in the Church, and in the world.  It would be kinda cool if after we did a renewal of Baptismal Promises, folks left Church remembering something more than Father sprinkled water on us.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

God so loved the world

May this be a holy and most blessed Christmas for everyone, and truly a year of faith for the world.

Today we celebrate Emmanuel, a name which means, 'God is with us.'  The scriptures are replete with men and women who are disturbed by this Good News.  Herod who first hears about the child born in Bethlehem, and Pilate, who is intrigued by Jesus, but not enough to seek the truth.  But throughout the centuries this child born in our midst has inspired countless men and women to faith.  Some have 'St' before their names, others would not allow Sin and Evil to dissuade them from doing what is right or good.

Even the 'Advent people' like Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Joseph, had their lives changed forever as they said 'Yes' to God.  When we place ourselves in God's hands we simply walk by faith that God is with us.  Such an action, a belief if you will, is more like an ongoing profession of faith.  Our faithfulness is not so much about who we are, but about the greatness of God the Father.  God's great desire is to bring salvation and peace to the whole world.

Especially in Matthew's Gospel the God whose birth we celebrate is named Emmanuel, God is with us. In the midst of darkness, and the yuck and gunk which seems so prevalent  in our world today, God continues to be born into our time and place.  The entire point of the Incarnation is that God continues to be faithful from the beginning of time. This great mystery which we celebrate asks us to respond to such great love by faith-filled lives.

God so loves the world that he jumps into human history, in human flesh.  By becoming more like us God invites us to become like him in holiness.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Come Lord Jesus

Mary and Elizabeth are both visited by the mystery of God, and through their 'Yes' to God the Father, directly participate in the saving plan of God.  Mary goes to Elizabeth's house to offer support; but they also theologize their experience.  Elizabeth, overwhelmed by these events, asks "How does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  Mary's response is to offer praise and worship to God the Father for everything that God continues to do in the world.  Together they reflect upon these events.

Years ago our Diocese had a catholic study program called, Renew.  Many people were afraid to participate, but the ones who did found it uncomfortable at first to take leadership roles.  The common protest was that they were not theologians.  But we were not looking for the likes of Augustine or Rahner, rather men and women who would discuss their 'God experiences.'

Maybe because we have seen Mary and Elizabeth depicted in art countless times, we continue to look at the persons from sacred scripture as innately holy, with all knowledge and wisdom.  No these were very human folks, close to God to be sure, who were afraid, confused, and even anxious.  But the one thing that they did have, and that was faith, and a life of faithfulness.  We are told that Mary reflects upon all of these things in her heart.  The 'Yes' given by Mary and Elizabeth comes out of their knowledge and love of God the Father, in addition to their trust in God's unending kindness.

In both the Canticles of Mary and Zechariah, we see a litany of the works of God.  In the past God has done awesome things, so in all probability God will continue to do good things for his people.  Because of their understanding of God's ongoing faithfulness, and the covenant that God has bestowed upon us, Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Joseph, and countless others through the centuries, have said 'Yes' to God, and taken on a life of faithful discipleship.

The Second Vatican Council implored all faithful people to reflect on God's presence in our lives.  Mary and Elizabeth begin one of the first faith sharing groups!  In faith we gather together to contemplate God's action in our lives, to offer support and comfort, and to reflect more carefully on God's plan of salvation.  We might also be able to see and recognize that nothing is impossible for God.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Culture of Death - Promise of Light

Back in 1993, after the World Youth Day, in Denver, Co, John Paul II denounced what he recognized as a 'culture of death,' primarily in the western world.  Abortion, euthanasia, violence, and the deterioration of the family, desecrated the dignity and integrity of humanity.  The shooting in Newtown, CT last week emphasized how far we have gone in violent reactions, and the inability to protect innocent life, as well as quell violence.

There were some statistics some years ago that reported a child will have witnessed a large amount of violent acts against others be the time he or she was 18 years old.  I had read in a very conservative magazine some years ago, that a noticeable trend in T.V. sitcoms, was to portray the parents as inept, and ineffectual, and the kids having a grasp on the real needs, concerns - and solutions - to the problems that were presented.  And what is the number of homicides in Chicago so far this week?  So while many were quite upset with John Paul II description of our culture as a culture of death, the proof is in the commonality of violence and disrespect for human life.

To be sure there is a necessity of evangelization and the development of a moral foundation.  The answer is not as simple as bringing prayer into the public forum.  In our post modern culture we have all but abandoned the notion of a natural law.  The very early Greeks, and even in primitive cultures, certain action, behaviours, and activity, was deemed as inappropriate, and namely wrong.  A natural law challenges us to look at the integrity and value of the human person.

In this season of Advent and Christmas, we celebrate the promise of God through the mystery of the Incarnation.  God blesses once again all of creation as he enters our lives in a moment of time.  This entire action is part of the greater plan of salvation.  The words of the Prophets are most important during this time as they invite humanity to disconnect with Sin and Evil, and begin habits which are good and life-giving.  The fulfillment of our life is found in discovering and following the 'Good News.'

A culture of life respects human life from conception until natural death, despises violence and oppression, and seeks respect and dignity for all people.  Certainly it is naive to believe that there are easy answers for the violence and hate we see around us.  But this celebration of peace and good will is both a comfort and a challenge to us, to transform our ways and live with the Word of God.  "A people who has walked in darkness has seen a great light."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Be it Done According to your Will

In the Documents, Stewardship: A Disciples Response, and Called and Gifted, the U.S. Catholic Bishops challenged the laity, and all men and women of faith, to be responsible for the faith that they would profess.  Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, only slightly understand the responsibility in which they are undertaking as they say "Yes" to God the Father.  This is not merely a matter of being surrogate parents to this very special child, but their own lives would be changed and transformed forever because of their faith-filled response. 

I am reminded way too often that men and women do not fully understand the task in which they are understanding when they say "yes" to baptizing their children or bringing them forward for confirmation. In some ways we are beset by a "playschool" mentality of faith and religion.  We endeavor to receive the sacraments, and we pray the prescribed prayers, yet we do not engage in a process of conversion and discipleship.  We might think that our belief in God will be enough to carry us through the pains, sorrows, and most importantly the challenges of our adult faith life.  We proclaim our belief in the middle of a time of rainbows and kittens, yet when some challenge or problem comes about, we question God, our faith, and the Church. 

The aforementioned documents want us to live faithfully, responding to the needs of faith and fellowship.  We have to respond to the need to catechize and evangelize, to offer compassion, reconciliation, and peace to one another.  Our "Yes" to the gospel means that we stand for truth and seek justice along the pathway of life.  But again, such a commitment is about our whole persona, and comes with a sacrifice. 

Mary's who is the model of the perfect disciple invites us to recognize God wherever we are.  As we see our children, the poor, an the anawim, we call to mind that God cares for us and loves us very deeply.  God is the God of the covenant and of the promise of the future.

Today as we begin to look at the candidate for the God things which God has given, we pause to consider God's gifts, and how we might share these with the community.  Mary proclaims Good News to the poor.  With such mercy and faith we can place before the faith community all that we have seen and heard.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A light in the midst of darkness

Whenever I read the prophets from this time of year, I am acutely aware that these holy men are writing to a people coming back from exile.  One of my first thoughts is that the people in the pew cannot comprehend 'exile.'  But considering the school shooting on Friday, we do hurt together these last few days.  We feel empty and pained as we grieve with the families hundreds of miles away.  The horror of the death of twenty some children hurts to the core of our being.

The example of John the Baptist, who preaches about light in the midst of darkness, is most appropriate for this weekend.  People who are searching for meaning, purpose, and conversion, ask John, "What should we do?"  John's answers are very common sense; but we do not always align ourselves with sensibility.  We are to treat each other with respect, reverence the dignity of each other, do not be greedy, and seek that which is true and right.

The role of the prophet is to point out the Sin and sinfulness of a people.  The prophets call evil by its true name, and do not try to sugar-coat the life within he covenant.  The prophets will tell us that we are responsible for our faith and for each other.  We stand up against evil, and seek healing and reconciliation for the broken and lost.  Prophets are not always well loved, but are a valuable part of our culture and Church.

Sadly we begin to think that violence is inevitable and a normal part of the human condition.  So we become numb to the hurt and pain  that we observe on a daily basis.  But what if we began looking for ways to reconcile, pointing out those who are in need of healing or comfort, looking after the lonely and anxious, and offering a blessing rather than a curse.  Think about the vile and vicious political ads this past elect season.  The politicians owe each of us a quarter and need to say three good things about their opponents. 

But somewhere we need to, like John the Baptist, own that role of 'prophet' in our own time and in our own place.  In the midst of the darkness that is around us, we proclaim holiness and peace in our words and deeds.  Just as John points to the Saviour of the world, we have to recognize the human dignity that is ours as children of the light.  Today we call people to joy because we are not afraid of the darkness. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mary, Our Lady of Guadelupe

The story associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe is familiar for most catholics, especially over the last 20 years.  Juan Diego, like so many of the Advent people we have heard, and will hear about, becomes an instrument in this mysterious event.  Mary's message here reminds us that we have a God who wants to join with us humans.  God sees and knows our goodness, despite we are often greedy, lost, and hurtful.  In our fragile nature God finds a home and a prophet in the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary is a real person, a model of faith, who had made the choice to join herself to God and to become part of God's plan of salvation.  She praises God who lifts up the lowly and fills the hungry with good things.  While many might be halted by fear and doubt, Mary responds positively to the initiative of God in our lives.
Mary's message at this feast is to believe and trust in God.  Even when we are broken and it seems that we are overwhelmed by exterior forces, God's saving actions continue to grace us and lift us up.  In spite of our faults and divisions God shows us a vision of who we really are and what we might become.  Mary, in her motherly love, draws us close to God and recalls for us the covenant made with us from the beginning of time.
When John Paul visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, back in December of 1999, he cajoled men and women to awaken their consciences as a people of God and to respond to the worlds problems as children of the light.  For John Paul there continues in our time an urgency to respond in faith to the needs and concerns in our midst.  Torture, oppression, violence, and abuse have become so common as to almost not be noticed anymore.
Our prayer today is that inspired by Our Lady of Guadalupe, all areas of life, whether it be social, professional, or cultural, might be informed by the immense love which God has for us.  In a very particular way we are to see the needs and concerns of the poor and the anawim.  To Mary of Guadalupe we pray to one who belongs all love, honor, glory and endless praise.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Prepare the Way of the Lord

John the Baptist is a tenacious and fiery man.  From the Gospel we recognize that he is not afraid to challenge the powers that be, so as to proclaim the message of the Gospel.  The Word of God is acting through him.  John helps us understand that the faith we profess is not an invitation to be 'nice' to each other, but a challenge of Metanoia.  That is, turning around; conversion of our whole selves.  Not only is his lifestyle radical, but his message is as well. 

There is a story that I am using for my homily this morning, and it occurs at a Benedictine monastery.  The story goes that the community commissioned a statue of St. John the Baptist for the monastic church.  When it arrived, several of the monks were concerned that the figure looked gaunt, and very stern.  The story continues that the Abbot challenged that the figure was disturbing because it recalled for the monks how they had moved away from their ideals and commitments.  And the real live John the Baptist does exactly that; calling us back to our initial 'Yes' that we uttered (or was uttered for us) at Baptism and Confirmation.

While Advent is not a penitential time as is Lent, it is a period for us to examine our connection to the mysteries that we celebrate.   At the very first parish I was assigned to, we had a large storage area in the basement of the church.  In the liturgy area the shelving was organized according to seasons.  I had always found that amusing in that seasons of our liturgical celebration could be reduced to a series of boxes against a wall.  I am afraid though we do the same with our spiritual lives.  We do "Advent" things but do not really mean it.

When I was in high school work I remember how difficult it was to preach at the parish I helped out at.  Truly I could speak about the teens, and the difficulties therein, but I didn't know about the lives of the people who were in he pews. The Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution of the Church in the Modern world, challenged the Church to be in communion with the world it served.  For Church to call for conversion and discipleship, it also had to go through conversion and discipleship.  The call to change our lives is the beginning of changing the world around us.

Today is about Metanoia and transformation.  We are called and chosen to be sure, but need to reflect that by becoming one with the mystery which we celebrate.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Immaculate Conception

The image of Mary from Luke's Gospel is quite different than the Immaculate Mary we see in classical art.  The Mary of the Gospel is troubled by the Angel's greeting, and wants to clarify what exactly is going on.  Yet her faith is strong and she offers an affirmative response giving her whole self over to God.

An image that we take away from this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is that Mary ponders the Word of God.  Later in Luke's Gospel Mary praises God for the wonderful acts of healing and forgiveness that are so very much like God.  It is God who lifts up the lowly and feeds the hungry with good things.  Now Mary becomes part of the story of salvation.

Sometimes we can make Jesus a fast food item, catching him when we get a chance, or are really in a jam.  And yet this is what the prophets preached about so often.  A people who would settle for simple fixes or easy solutions, rather than transforming ones life and maintaining with God over the long journey.  Mary has been prepared from her birth to be the Theotokos, or God carrier.  Yet the question is still asked of her as to whether or not she would take on this special role.

Even in our holy lives we are asked again and again to make a commitment to God with our whole persona.  It is a life-time of taking responsibility for the faith which we profess.  With Mary as our model we need to develop the habit of pondering the workings of God, and God's plan of salvation.  While we might not be called to participate in the sacred mysteries we celebrate to the extent in which Mary is, we are none the less called to nurture and nourish our faith so as to build up the Kingdom.

Mary rejoices in the possibilities of God within her.  In our Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist, we are asked to make a living profession of faith on a daily basis.  This is so that the good things begun in us may be brought to completion.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On our way to Christmas

I wonder if the prophets ever stated, or even wrote, "If I told you once, I told you a thousand times, Repent."  But it had taken the prophets many times, as well as the holy men and women of ancient times to get people to turn their lives around.  And when they did, it seemed to only last for a short duration.  Of course sometimes true transformation occurs after life hits people across the face.  I have known parents, young people, and parents of young people, to approach me many years later, apologizing that they had not listened to words of advice and early warnings.

At this time of year we talk a lot about peace and good will.  People seem to think about children more so during this time of year.  But the challenge is to develop a lifestyle which respects the dignity of all people throughout the year, especially children and the child-like.  Justice cannot simply be about Christmas but has to prevail in the midst of all men and women through the year.  Our preparation should be as to how we might be a people of God.

Every year we hear the same stories and listen o the same prayers; yet are not ready for that great moment of metanoia.  To be sure I get sort of sappy about some of the stories I read and hear.  I remember being so impressed with my freshman high school English teacher, who was really studying to be a midwife.  I was greatly moved by a priest who lived in the southwest side of Rockford, ministering to the prostitutes and other assembly of persons in the downtown area.  These and so many others lived the gospel.

Being prophetic maybe means to keep saying the same thing over and over again - but maybe that is not a bad thing.  Christmas is a day of joy, but a challenge to risk everything so as to find the reality of the Incarnation.  Christ becoming flesh certainly blesses our humanity, and asks what we are doing to prepare for Him.

In a way we are always celebrating this season of peace and good will.  We should always be seeking to offer one another tidings of gladness.  The manger is in all of our homes and can never be put away.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stand straight and raise your hands

The passage from Luke's Gospel today would make a wonderful end of the world disaster movie.  Yet the premise is not made for Hollywood but for our edification.  Like the disciples we can become so enamored with the here and now that we forget about the Kingdom of God.  The prospects of the coming of the Kingdom do not have to be frightful.  But as bot Luke and Paul state today we ought to be vigilant. 

To be sure patient waiting is not sitting on our hands, or looking off into the distance, but participating n the work of the Kingdom.  The Gospels again and again contain stories of the necessity of of being found busy when the master of the household returns.  We are stewards of all we have received and are responsible for our faith.

Way back in the 80s the U.S. Bishops composed a document as a response to the Apostolate of the Laity.  The Bishops entitled the text, Called and Gifted.   Using the same starting point as Lumen Gencium, the Bishops reiterated that the 'call to holiness' included the laity as well within the Church.  Not only is the life of the catholic based on certain moral precepts, but catholics are to participate in works of charity, compassion, justice and peace.  Catholics do no stand along side of the world but are actively involved so as to be a stumbling block to the culture in which we live.

Just as the U.S. Bishops called peoples to community, ministry, study, and service, St. Paul states today that we need to be acutely aware of the Sin and Evil that pervades our culture, and stand up against it's vulgarity.  I recall a young freshman student who inquired why the Church couldn't believe like everyone else.  Well the answer is because we are the Church, and we belong to something much greater than we see around us.

We cannot allow fear from dissuading us from pronouncing our faith.  We have to be holy as our Father in heaven is holy.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Talk About Faith

A book that is on my reading list is written by a young man, James Haws, entitled, From Willow to Sacred Heart.  As a young man James Haws left Catholicism and began attending the Willow Creek Christian Church, near Arlington Heights, Illinois.  Now many have heard of this place.  Willow Creek is one of several Mega-churches that has a spectacular Sunday worship, and large offerings of educational and support services for its members.  Just the mention of Willow Creek tended to send shivers down the spines of many a catholic pastor.
Anyhow Haws tells about his experience in this book of moving away from the Catholic Church, and back again.  This is not an uncommon experience of many of the catholics who leave the Church.  As they move out of young adulthood, begin to raise a family, or begin to become established in life, many will return to the Church.  In his text Haws observes some similarities in ritual and the importance of tradition.  There are 'rules' that the members follow, as there are expectations of those who are members of the Church.
Some of the overlapping themes are that of community, preaching the Gospel, and pastoral care.  What Haws seemed to discover is the importance that is put on others bringing Jesus to you.  There is no such thing as a spiritual lone ranger in the Catholic Church, or at Willow Creek.
This year at Kairos I was able to really watch the young people much closer than usual.  What astounds and attracts our young people to this experience is that it might be the first time that they have experienced faith, ministry, and real life conversion stories.  What is more is that the conversion has occurred in the midst of their peers.  Other young people are telling them that they had been confused, anxious, hurt, and even making bad decisions; and by faith in Jesus Christ they found fulfillment in their lives.
As catholic we do not do that enough.  We might be quick to complain about the music, a building project, the way the pastor parts his hair, but do not witness to the power of grace or blessings in our life.  This would seem unreal since our Church was founded on the proclamation of the apostles.
Willow Creek should not scare us.  But when we look at the upper shelf faith experiences, such as CHRP or Kairos, we should ask whether we ask how well we proclaim and bear witness to our faith.  More so, it is our responsibility in faith to take responsibility for what we have received and what we profess.  When we show Christ to others as part of our daily routine, less and less of the faithful will be inclined to look at other places to worship.