E-Flame Newsletter May 2018
Ignite Your Faith Prayer
All powerful and ever-living God, we praise you, our light and salvation. 
Help us to see your work in us. Guide us to listen and follow your will.
Ignite the flame of your Spirit within us, 
So our light will shine brightly as a beacon of your love and grace. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Changing The World
The Fourth Sign Chapter Review
Teresa Litfin-Wertz

On April 23, interested parishioners gathered to discuss and review the final chapter in Matthew Kelly's book, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. As with our previous chapter discussions, parishioner Dr. Tod Worner generously gave his time to prepare and facilitate the event.
Dr. Worner reminded us that Evangelization is by far the most challenging of the four signs. The word evangelization conjures up images of a person standing on a street corner with a megaphone preaching repentance and salvation...that is not what we are called to do as believers of Jesus Christ.
What we are called to do is evangelize those who we encounter in our daily lives. When we took a moment to think about who evangelized us, we realized it was people who loved and knew us well. For many of us a parent, a teacher, or a significant other helped us learn about Jesus and our faith. We are called to do the same. Although there is no secret sauce or five-point sales pitch that will guarantee our success with loved ones and friends, there are some foundational principles that will help.

As Matthew Kelly states many times in his speaking and writing, our goal is 'to become the best version of yourself'. And we do this by living a virtuous life. Matthew states to be an effective evangelizer you need to do two things:

- Love God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul and
- Love your neighbor as yourself

Evangelization is Christ-centered. Before we evangelize, Jesus needs to be at the center of our lives. This doesn't mean we have to know everything and be flawless−that is impossible. It does mean we are consistently working on:

knowing Christ's story (reading)
- experiencing his presence (practice)
- believing his promise (faith)
Some simple ways we can practice evangelizing:

Be a good friend. A good friend listens, is honest, is generous with his/her time and helps find answers to faith questions. Listen and show interest in someone else. What is their story, how can I help?

- Be grace to others, be open to how the Holy Spirit may be calling you to help.

Pray for the people you are trying to evangelize. Shoot prayers at people you see each day. Simple one-line prayers to those you see.

Work on your Evangelization Elevator Speech; if someone asks you why you follow Jesus Christ or about your faith, we better have a captivating answer to share.
We change our world with every thought and action. Let's bring Jesus Christ to our hurting world and the Holy Spirit will do the rest.
The End
*This will be the last E-Flame Newsletter to be sent to your inbox. Please be sure to check out the parish bulletin, the parish website, and Reflections newsletter for all the latest news, events, and resources to help support you in your faith journey. God Bless*

*This coming weekend (May 19/20), we will be celebrating the Ignite Your Faith final weekend at all masses. Be sure to attend, celebrate, and reflect on all the ways God has moved in your life these past two years* 
Let The People 
Share The Good News, 
Let The People Say, AMEN!

After almost two years of being inspired and motivated to become dynamic Catholics, our parish has now reached the last phase of the Ignite Your Faith program. When asked if parishioners had any words of wisdom or thoughts on why they share the faith with others, it was pretty clear that these people have one thing in common... love for Jesus.

"My understanding of faith is that it is trust in God and all God's promises. It is based upon God's love for me and all creation, ultimately expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It fills me with hope that no matter the circumstances of this life, God longs for me to experience eternal joy. This faith that fills me with hope and informs my thoughts, words, and actions in response to God's love is a gift that I could have never brought upon myself. It is through the Holy Spirit working through others that I have received my faith. And just as I have received this gift, I believe the Holy Spirit desires to work through me to offer the gift of faith to others. This is why I share my faith."

"Knowing God has a plan for me and knowing His strength will help me face any challenges the day may bring, it takes so much worry and stress from my life, that I want others to rely on Him as well, so that they too will have peace in their lives. I am compelled to share the power of prayer with others so that they see that they themselves have the power to help others with their prayer." 
Evangelization Challenge 
Beautiful Ways To Share 
Jesus With Others 

The four week Evangelization Challenge is now complete, but wait, the work has actually just begun. Below are a handful of the many responses that were given during the four week challenge. Take time to read them and prayerfully consider how you can share the faith with others.
Remember, it's as simple as choosing a person (friend, classmate, family member, co-worker, stranger) and choosing a way you will share your faith (Catholic book, social media, prayer, mass, gratitude, telling your story).

Example: "Sent a copy of the hymn from church to my daughters as a reminder of Sunday church."
Result: "Don't know, but at least it was a reminder that it was Sunday and I was at church."

Example: "Talked in a social setting about going to mass and praying for others. Signed up someone to go to 'Devoted Life' event for women.
Result: "Thanked me for the prayers for a sick individual." 

Example:  "Mailed 'A Shepherd Looks at 23rd Psalm' to a good friend who lost her husband."
Result:  "Tears and thankfulness." 

Example: "A fallen-away Catholic asked me about the rosary. I explained it to her and gave her a rosary and booklet on how to say it."
Result: She was very, very, happy to receive it. Hopefully she will return to the church."

Example:  "Said rosaries every day for stranger who may be in need of God's help. Also prayed for friend who is dying. Invited a friend to join us for the anointing mass."
Result:  "Peace knowing God will help the stranger, friend happy to attend the mass, friend who is dying accepting the knowledge he is dying and tells us he is ready when the Lord calls him home. He is an inspiration to all of us who know and pray for him."  

"Evangelization is to the Church what breathing is to a person. If we stop doing it for long enough, we will die. The Church has been on life support in this area for decades now. We exist to evangelize. How do we start? We do so in the same way we are called to start with each of the four signs: with the smallest nonthreatening step. Incremental improvements can be applied to each of the four signs for incredible results." Matthew Kelly
IYF Final Reflection

It's An Honor To Be Catholic
By Victoria Siedlecki 

"It is impossible to share the goodness and beauty of Christ and his Church with others if you don't feel good about being Catholic. So we'd better start spending some time thinking about this question: What will it take to get ordinary Catholics to feel good about being Catholic again?" -Matthew Kelly

During the past two years I've been wading in the waters of "Dynamic Catholic boot camp"--keeping an engaging prayer life, analyzing the Catholic faith, applying a Martha and Mary lifestyle to how I serve others, and attempting to glow with the rays of Light enough so people ask 'why is she so joyful and how can I live like that?'. I'll be honest though, it's been challenging. Being Catholic is not for the faint of heart. A life-long faith pilgrimage is not linear; one is not following a rule book or a map with clear directions and obvious points of interest. One is following a will, the will of one's best friend. Being a Catholic adult while following Jesus with child-like faith takes a lot of FAITH. 

Through all the joy, blessings, five steps back, two steps forward, and painful spiritual growth, here is what I've realized. It is an honor to be Catholic. I'll say it again... It is an honor to be Catholic. Not something that we hear in today's culture, our Catholic faith is very much alive in the hearts of believers, whether we know it or not. 

My favorite event from Ignite Your Faith happened during the study phase. The moment Nic Davidson started his presentation of Why Be Catholic, I was convinced that the Holy Spirit was standing in front of me! The three reasons he chose to convert to the Catholic faith were Authority, Theology of the Body, and the True Presence of the Eucharist. The question that was posed in the title of the event is one that I've had to answer myself.

During my conversion 11 year ago, I took that question very seriously, and while I didn't have a list of three very thought out answers as Nic did,  I did have all I needed as I reflected on my own story and what I felt God was saying to me. The fact that I have searched this world trying to find happiness, grasping at the answer for a question that I will never find here on earth, and trying to negotiate paying rent for my soul's eternity in the quick sand of false prophets, I am humble enough to admit that the answer is found in the beauty and glorious glow of joy and peace in my soul that only can be found in Jesus. For me, Jesus was always, is now,  and forever will be the answer to any question. 

To have the honor to live as a friend of Jesus, to know Him, to love Him, to do His will is where I've found my true joy. To have the honor to have been given the gift of writing, I am truly blessed to have been given this responsibly to bring you a educational, motivational, and inspirational resource to support you on your faith journey. I pray that you have found what you needed in these newsletters to step out in faith to pray, study, live generously, and to share your faith. Lastly, I pray that as Ignite Your Faith comes to a close, the whispers of Jesus gently invite you to pause, reflect, and refocus your eyes on Him, the only answer to every question one might have. Amen.

"To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement." -Augustine of Hippo-  
Catholic Apologetics
Knowing and Defending the Faith
By Victoria Siedlecki

Are you unsure about a topic of faith or having a challenging time explaining it to someone else? Even though the Church has had the same stance on topics like the Catholic social teachings, the real presence in the Eucharist, or what we believe about Mary and the saints since the beginning of the church, and most of us have at least a basic idea of explanation for these topics, to be able to explain to a non-Christian or a fallen away Catholic can be tricky. This is where the idea of Catholic apologetics comes in, to  support our efforts to first evangelize ourselves so that in turn we can  evangelize others.

Apologetics: Theological science which has for its purpose the explanation and defense of the Christian religion. (Catholic Answers)

Two more common questions and answers

Question: Why confess my sins to a priest? 
Why Confess My Sins To A Priest?
Why Confess My Sins To A Priest?

Question: Do Catholics Worship Saints?
Do Catholics Worship Saints?
         Do Catholics Worship Saints?
Catholic Apologetics Part 2
Are you ready to learn more about your faith in preparation for sharing your faith? Then Catholic apologetics is a good place to start. Here are a few resources to get you started.   

1.) Why We're Catholic by Trent Horn
2.) Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine by Archbishop Michael Sheehan

1.) Catholic Answers
2.) Dr. Scott Hahn
3.) St. Paul Center

1.) Bishop Robert Barron 
2.) Father Mike Schmitz

Motivation To Share The Faith 
The Art of Faith Conversations
(With Special Guest,  The  Son of God)
By. Victoria Siedlecki

Jesus gave us the "great commission" (Matthew 28:16-20), which adds to our purpose of being Christians. In order for us to "make disciples of all nations", it would be nice to have an example of what this might look like. 

Everyone learns differently and having an example to follow might help us to see that sharing our faith isn't that scary at all. However, we are all sinners and it makes me question who would be the right person with all the "right moves" that will help me in any situation. Then, I remember that I know the answer. Jesus. When in doubt, the answer is always Jesus. He was and is  the best teacher to learn from. If you want to learn from Him too, it's pretty easy. The bible, specifically the Gospels are filled with story after story of the countless conversations everyday people had with Jesus. 

To get you started, CLICK HERE for a evangelization article that provides you with 6 ways that Jesus shared the Gospel with others.  
Archdiocese Resource
Two years ago when I ventured on the IYF journey with all of you, I felt I needed to increase my knowledge of Catholic community events and resources in hopes that I could grow in my own faith and then share wisdom with others. I was blessed to find, sign up for, and utilize the Archdiocese Office of Evangelization emails. 

The email newsletter provided two types of information to help support my faith journey. 

1.)A simple listing of upcoming events with general information, dates, and times.

This helped to make me aware of the many different offerings that my husband and/or I could attend that would be geared towards growing in our faith.

2.)A periodic email called "20/20 Vision" that gave video information and testimonies from leaders in the local church that were aimed at providing a personal invitation to attend a upcoming event. 

This gave me a extra push to attend events that I was unsure about or had no idea about the topic of the event. A "personal invitation" is what I needed and seems that most of us need as well. 

Our Archdiocese is very active in providing us Catholics with opportunities for prayer, study, reaching out to others, and sharing our faith. If you would like to keep up-to-date on our local church and how it can support you in being a Dynamic Catholic, CLICK HERE.