Celebrating the Conclusion of Christmas with Celine

Lest we degenerate into paganism, we should remember that it’s still the Christmas season!

To aide in celebrating the conclusion of this marvelous time, I invite all of us to do something our generation rarely does. The soundtrack of our times, for good or bad, would definitely not be hymns, chants, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, George Gershwin, Louis Armstrong, Elvis, The Beatles or U2. Instead, it would be mindless, throbbing background music. Have we ever just sat on a chair, a couch, or a bed and just listened to music without doing anything else? Maybe we would hear something more than just sound and reverberation.

You want to try that, you say?! Splendid! Here is an opportunity to witness “angels ascending and descending”.

Sit down and listen (and if possible, for the love of God and the gift of music He has given us – not on dinny laptop speakers) to Celine Dion sing “O Holy Night” live. Whenever I pay attention to the words she is singing and behold this daughter of God pouring out her voice and soul to her Father in praise and glory, the dome of the everyday work-world existence is pierced and I glimpse a breath of what beholds us at the end. May it be the same for you.

Merry Christmas. May the Spirit of the Child Jesus fill you in the next 5 minutes and 19 seconds and always.

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Developing a Heart for God’s People

Over the past few weeks, Joey McCoy and Pete Burak had the opportunity to participate on the EWTN television show, Crossing the Goal.  The normal hosts temporarily stepped aside to let four members of FOCUS and the i.d.916 guys run the show.  The links to the first two shows are below:

Why the New Evangelization?

 Win – Developing a Heart for God

The video below is the third episode on Developing a Heart for God’s People.  Visit http://www.crossingthegoal.com or http://www.ewtn.com to learn more about the show and the schedule for future episodes.

Disciples in the Marketplace

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This past Saturday, i.d.916, together with the Ann Arbor chapter of Legatus, held our first annual conference, Disciples in the Marketplace, at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, MI. It was a rousing success. We praise the Lord for his guidance and His Spirit that gave such tremendous life to the event.  The event was attended by approximately 90 young adults from Iowa, Canada and all over Southeastern Michigan–ranging from lawyers, medical professionals, IT specialists, teachers, and those in career transitions. In large part, the success of the event was due to the professionals who came to mentor the young adults. We were blessed to have around 20 successful, seasoned professionals from a wide array of fields impart to us their wisdom about how to be faithful followers of Jesus in whatever marketplace we find ourselves.

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We heard talks and presentations from Bishop Michael Byrnes from the Archdiocese of Detroit, Deacon Larry Oney from New Orleans and a variety of others. In addition, we also had fourteen discussion groups in which we explored the realities of living as a disciple. We closed the day with a casual hour of mingling, networking and face-to-face time. Though the day was jam-packed, it was a very productive, fruitful and encouraging time to band together as Catholics, meet new people and discuss a very important aspect of our lives.

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As the day concluded, we had the attendees fill out evaluations.  Here is what few of them had to say:

“My experience at this event will dramatically change my work life and my discipleship.”

“Inspiring and challenging – like God is asking more of me.”

“Left wanting more of this!”

“Well worth a beautiful Saturday.”

Thank you to all who helped make this event possible.  May the Lord continue to guide and bless us all as we walk in His Spirit.

We have seen the Lord

Mexico Mission Team

Normally the title of this post would be Mission Report: Mexico. However, it seemed fitting that the theme for the week act as the title. On the Tuesday after Easter, Jim ‘Butch’ Murphy and I took a group of 14 high school students from Father Gabriel Richard High School to Mexico City. The mission team was rounded out by 5 additional parents and teachers. The overall purpose of the trip involved serving the poor people living in the garbage dumps outside the city, ministering to a parish outside the city, visiting an orphanage, and providing a first time mission experience for the students. Additionally, the action of spending their spring break on mission allowed God to work in their lives without the distractions of our normal daily lives. Even while writing this I recognize that it will fall woefully short of communicating the amazing good work the Lord accomplished through the team and our friends in Mexico. Additionally, this post inadequately describes the intense sense of God’s presence and the dramatic revelation of Jesus in all that we did. With that in mind, I would like to share two short stories that encapsulate my experience of the serving Christ in Mexico.

1) We Have Seen the Lord!

At the beginning of the week, in our first morning prayer, I challenged the students to eagerly look for Jesus and be open to the different ways that He would reveal Himself to us. We discussed that we could see Jesus in the faces of the people, in the smiles of the children, or the eyes of the sick. We left the prayer time with a challenge to anticipate an encounter with Christ and a genuine desire to see Jesus. After spending the day with the people of the Neza garbage dump, distributing food, providing medical care, and playing with the kids, we returned to the hotel and spent some time debriefing about the day. As I listened to the students excitedly report on their real and unique experiences with Jesus, I was reminded of the Apostles when they encountered the risen Christ. The Apostles were surprised, confused, excited, and overwhelmed when Jesus revealed Himself and these very same emotions were verbalized by the students. They couldn’t believe how profoundly real the face of Christ appeared behind the dirty faces of the children. They couldn’t fully understand their deep love for these people whom they had just met and by our worldly standards offered nothing of value to us. Overall, each student confidently proclaimed that Jesus was with them and He had shown Himself to them throughout the day. There was no doubt that we had seen the Lord!

2) The Multiplication of Vitamins!

After a few days of operating the medical clinic, it became clear to our medical team that we were running out of some of our essential medicines. After a thorough inventory, we realized we were out of adult vitamins and almost out of children’s vitamins. Vitamins are severely lacking in many of the people’s diet and both our nurse Kimm Sarosi, and Dr. Kirsten Kreiger were upset that our supply was depleted. The next day we traveled to a parish 3 hours outside the city to spend the day with the people there. When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised to the see the number of people who had come both to participate in a parish-wide retreat day and to receive the food, medicine, and clothing that we had brought. The medical clinic opened and Kimm began distributing the medicine and the remainder of the vitamins. Very quickly, she determined that the vitamins were gone but she decided to reach into one more drawer to check. As she felt inside the drawer she encountered a plastic bag with more vitamins! However, this bag quickly disappeared and she repeated her faithful search in the drawer. Once again, to her utter surprise, another bag of vitamins materialized. This process repeated itself for the rest of the day until the medical clinic was closed. Everyone who needed vitamins received them! In the Gospels, Jesus multiplied bread and fish and now we believe that He has multiplied vitamins!

Overall, the week was grace-filled, crazy, fun, stressful, peaceful, tiring, enlivening, and really awesome. It’s a trip we will take again and if it’s something you would like to participate in, please contact us at intentionaldisciples916@gmail.com. Let’s continue to pray for our families in Mexico. I look forward to the day when I can see them again.

¡Dios te bendiga!