As those of us on the East Coast cleaned up after Hurricane Sandy, another big event was coming to an end in Rome. The Synod on the New Evangelization, having wrapped up three weeks of intense conversation among the world’s Catholic bishops, ended its deliberations on October 26, 2012. In about one year, Pope Benedict XVI will summarize the finding of the meetings in an “Apostolic Exhortation”, which, though not holding the theological weight of an Papal Encyclical, is intending to direct the attitude and pastoral practices of the universal Catholic Church
According to Father Frank DeSiano, C.S.P, President of Paulist Evangelization Ministries (www.pemdc.org), some important themes emerged from the Synod:
· The centrality of any evangelization efforts must be our own personal encounter with Jesus Christ. As we intensify this relationship, it leads to purification and deeper conversion. We must encourage others to experience this relationship as we seek to reintroduce the faith.
· The agent of evangelization is the Holy Spirit. Many describe the Holy Spirit as the love between the Father and the Son poured out into the world. We, as a Church, need to surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit to renew and transform.
· Small group communities and the family (the domestic Church), where we experience Christ in our intimate relationship with others, are necessary to teach faith and charity.
· The laity and the lay apostolates are central to our new evangelization efforts.
So, how does the Landings ministry fit into this mission of the Church, to re-present the Gospel of Christ to those Catholics who have been away from the Catholic community?
Our Landings reflection topics start with “Who is God” and “Why Follow Jesus?” where our groups talk about our relationship with Jesus Christ, before we talk about the Church and the sacraments. We emphasize that our spiritual journey involves a deepening awareness of Christ’s presence in our everyday encounters.
In Landings, we create a small group community which involves dialogue and conversation, both essential elements in fostering conversion.
Most Importantly, Landings is a lay run ministry devoted to training active Catholics how to evangelize, through sharing their own story and speaking of their own authentic experiences in the Church. Landings team members see that their own personal witness to Christ’s love and friendship is key to the returning Catholic feeling attracted back to the parish community.
As you Landings leaders know, the Holy Spirit is the main actor in our ministry. She draws the returnees and guides their Landings journey. Our job is simply to get out of the way, be a listener and a friend, and let the Holy Spirit lead the returning Catholic to a deeper conversion.
LANDINGS UPDATE: You need to check out all the new Landings materials now available from Paulist Press (www.paulistpress.com). I really encourage you to order a Landings Packet, which contains one of each of the new products. Even if you have been doing Landings for years, the new 81 page Participant Journal is a vast improvement over the old guides. The reflections for the Catholic themes are short but thought provoking. Also, you will want to check out the Training DVD, as it might be time to refresh your welcome team with new members and the DVD provides an easy way to re-train your team for this Year of Faith. Call me at the NEW LANDINGS MINISTRY SUPPORT HOTLINE: (202) 903-8673 if you have any questions.
Landings is entering a new era just as the Church is focused on reaching out to those Inactive Catholics who are missing from our table every week. It is an exciting time for us to be part of this wonderful ministry. Your amazing Landings stories encourages all of us, so send them to us and we will share them with the Landings community.
Posted by Anna LaNave (firstname.lastname@example.org) or (202) 903-8673.
For over a decade, Anna LaNave has coordinated Landings at St. Charles Borromeo in Arlington, Virginia. Since 2009, she has served as the Ministry Coordinator for Landings International in Washington, DC.