“Discovering Christ” — Session 5

March 21, 2012

Yesterday evening (March 20th) was the fifth of the sessions sponsored by our Community during which we’re previewing ChristLife’s “Discovering Christ” program.

After some prayer and praise, the group viewed the seventh video presentation entitled “The Holy Spirit and You,” by Father Erik Arnold. After the video, the group discussed the presentation. 

Some of the impressive qualities of the program which were highlighted by those in attendance:

  1. Many commented on the easy, positive flow of the presentation. 
  2. There is a definite “gentleness” in the approach of this program. It is not a hard sell, but still gets to the heart.
  3. The reference to Church Tradition in the “laying on of hands” was very effective. 
  4. Fr Arnold made reference to the “Act of Faith” involved when the participant comes forward and makes the “Prayer for Renewal.”  Some in the group saw that same “Act of Faith” in the prayer teams when they depend more on the providence of God, than on the depth and duration of their own prayers. 
  5. Many noted the inclusion of the 2008 Pentecost quote by Pope Benedict XVI.
  6. One person was very touched by Fr Arnold’s story of his crisis of faith.  It was an emotional connection to his own experience.

Some of the challenges that were surfaced:

  1. While there was general agreement on the approach not to get into too much depth regarding the spiritual gifts at this point, several still felt a little more preparation was necessary before the prayers for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. 
  2. There was some thought expressed that talks six and seven could be combined, with a live witness.  This would allow for an eight week program.
  3. Since the ChristLife materials actually state that 25 to 40% of participants do not attend the special Holy Spirit Retreat day, there was general consensus that this may not be the better context in which to offer the prayers for the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  The personal experience of just about everyone in the group was that the attrition rate was usually less than 10% when done in the routine weekly schedule instead of a separate retreat. 

The Prayer for renewal in the Holy Spirit:

There was overwhelming support for the format for the Prayer for Renewal.  The group thought it was very “participant centered.”  Items especially noted were:

  1. Clear instructions for prayer teams and participants
  2. Being sensitive to participant approval for laying on of hands
  3. Specific direction for prayer teams to be supportive, loving and confident in their prayers, keeping it simple and direct. One commented “God is bigger than our attempts at perfection.” 
  4. Keeping the TOTAL time frame under five minutes (including explanation/instructions to participant)
  5. There was a suggestion to lengthen the Prayer for Renewal, making some connection to participant’s Baptism and Confirmation.
  6. There was a sense that the prayer teams really needed to be prepared in advance for this activity.  They need to be familiar with the instructions and the “Act of Faith” concept for both participant and prayer team members.  Jim reminded everyone that there is supposed to be a “Leaders Day Retreat” in preparation for the sessions.  Discussion of how to lead small groups and the Renewal Prayer were part of this day.  Several believed this has been an OVERLOOKED AREA in recent Life in the Spirit Seminars.  We need to get back to that preparation.

In preparation for next week:

  • Participants should be ready review talk #8 “New Life in the Spirit: Being a Catholic Disciple,” and talk #9 “Believing & Belonging: Why We Need the Church,”  after watching those videos.
  • Next week will be the last session of this evaluation of the ChristLife Seminar Series entitled “Discovering Christ.”    All comments will be referred to the Diocesan CCR Service Team’s “Life in the Spirit Seminar Committee.”
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“Discovering Christ” — Session 4

March 15, 2012

Tuesday evening was the fourth of the sessions sponsored by our Community during which we’re previewing ChristLife’s “Discovering Christ” program

After some prayer, the group viewed the fifth talk in the series entitled “Why is the Resurrection Important for Us” by David Nodar, and the sixth talk entitled “Who is the Holy Spirit?” also by Dave Nodar.

Some of the impressive qualities of the program which were highlighted by those in attendance:

  1. Some commented that they really never put all this evidence together in the way David Nodar did.
  2. These presentations really meet the younger, logical mind of today.  It helps them “prove the thesis” for the evidence that supports the resurrection.
  3. The information and connections build throughout the presentations.
  4. Some expressed these two talks were done with more passion than others.
  5. The content of these talks was different in contrast to the “New Life” and “Preparing for the Gifts” talks of the more traditional Life in the Spirit Seminar.  There was general agreement that the “Discovering Christ” talks were more in-depth and provocative.  There is good movement toward the actual baptism in the Holy Spirit to come.
  6. The technology of viewing the scripture passages helps in emphasis and attention.
  7. Pointing out the difference between infant and adult baptism helps in the understanding of why there is a disconnect today with our faith/commitment and God’s grace when it comes to receiving the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  8. Great tie in with Old Testament signs of a new outpouring of the Spirit.  The explanation of what happened at Pentecost is better seen as part of the long, unfolding plan of God as foretold by prophets of old.

Some of the challenges that were surfaced:

  1. Comments still came forward expressing the advantage of “live” presentations over using the DVD’s.   This is not a concern that is going away.  Some expressed the connection felt when the presentation is by someone they know or who they have actually met through the seminar.  The relationship connection helps in appreciating struggles and successes as expressed by actual live speakers.
  2. Some of the reviewers did not think the joke at the start of talk six was appropriate.  Not only that, it did not seem to connect to the talk.  They suggested fast-forwarding that part to the start of the teaching.
  3. There was some disagreement on the issue of emphasizing the impact of sin more.  The comment was made that a more pronounced emphasis on sin and eternal death by Father Arnold in an earlier talk would have made talks 5 and 6 even more powerful.  There was a response that to do this may give the wrong message.  It may tend to over emphasize the fear of Hell as opposed to the love and mercy of God.

In preparation for next week:

  • Participants should be ready to move into actual “small groups” as we review the baptism in the Holy Spirit dynamics of the program.
  • Jim Gialanella, Bob Valiante and Kathy Bagley recounted some of what they remembered from the February ChristLife Conference in Maryland.  There does seem to be a caution against over-extending the prayer time and including elements of distraction from the participant’s genuine time of surrender and petition. 
  • Jim explained he would have better instructions for everyone after reviewing the ChristLife materials prior to next week.  He suggested we may not get beyond talk #7 “The Holy Spirit and You.”

Hopefully next week’s session will be just as rewarding.  Invite someone!


“Discovering Christ” — Session 3

March 7, 2012

Yesterday evening was the third of the sessions sponsored by our Community during which we’re previewing ChristLife’s “Discovering Christ” program.  Again, about 35  joy-filled Catholics involved in various apostolates (CCR, parishes, youth ministry, men’s movement, etc) responded to our invitation.

Walt Babetski lead the discussion after a time of quasi-Liturgy-of-the-Hours Evening Prayer.  The group viewed the third DVD entitled “What Does Jesus Want Us to Know,” by David Nodar, and the fourth DVD entitled “Why Do I Need a Savior” by Father Erik Arnold.  There was also a very brief 10-minute DVD called “Lump” that was part of the third talk.  It was viewed immediately at the end of talk three.  Following the DVD presentations, the group discussed the videos.

Some of the impressive qualities of the program which were highlighted by those in attendance:

  1. Now, after four DVD’s, it has become very evident that the speakers do an excellent job each time in recapping the previous talk and immediately connecting it to the new presentation.
  2. The talks are very clear and the information is presented in a well organized, understandable way.
  3. Some of the vernacular used in talk three especially connects well with young people.
  4. The LUMP DVD was, by far, the most impacting.  It was likened to a “modern day parable” in how it was presented.  It was a very EMOTIONAL presentation.  Many believed this could easily be a key transition point for participants and that the share group leaders need to be keenly aware of the deepening level of discussion that may take place in the groups that night.   Many of the program previewers present spoke of the impact the LUMP DVD was having on them.  It brought home the clear message that many who think they may be “seasoned” in their faith still have much to learn and experience about God’s love for them.
  5. Questions for share groups were reviewed and appeared well connected and provocative for discussion.
  6. Father Arnold brings home clearly the point that “Knowing” is not enough.  We need to “ACT” on what we hear.    We need to DECIDE!  He also noted the important concept that it is an ONGOING PROCESS.  The “Prayer of Commitment” was an excellent tool to bring participants closer to the surrender soon to come on the evening of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. 
  7. The camera shots of participants helped develop a sense of importance, attentiveness.
  8. While some concern still surfaced using DVD’s instead of live talks, others expressed the positive in the DVD’s, such as the consistent high level of information, clarity, and positive use of technology.

Some of the challenges that were surfaced:

  1. Comments still came forward expressing the advantage of “live” presentations over using the DVD’s.   It again came up to include more live witnesses if using the DVD’s.
  2. There was a comment to have more on SIN in Father Arnold’s talk, since so many Catholics feel that they commit personal sins very rarely. 
  3. There was a comment that the talks need to be more dynamic.

The Team then agreed:

  • To continue to try and review two DVD’s next week.  Doing discussion after each DVD, not waiting to see both first.
  • To be ready to move into actual “small groups” as we review the Baptism in the Holy Spirit dynamics of the program. 

Hopefully next week’s session will be just as rewarding.  Invite someone!