Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
March 21, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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March 21, 1998

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March 21, 1998 Page 5 An educational section of ARKANSAS. CATHOLIC By l~eslie O'Malley LITTLE ROCK CORRESPONDENT Anne Thomisee, director of religious education at Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock, is extated by the recent interest in adult religious educa- ti0n, However, she believes the common perception of it is too narrow. . many people are locked into the idea of adult e.tlUtation as information," Thomisee said. '.They,, don't alvrays know how to apply it to their daily lives. d or this reason Thomisee started a new course called - -ptural Formation, presented as a class for anyone Q efowsking a deeper encounter with God." As far as she , it's the first time the parish has offered this type program. Likea typical Scripture study class, this program uses. the Bible as its main text. However, the way in which .'r#l .arU'cipants use the Scriptures is different. , "We are usiniz Scripture in a miritual way, rather than ' v x x Q'lC SUI " " " " ' ' , .flY ely, she stud. A study reqmres more at home wurlL .... "-u" We .re hoping to keep (this class) informal, easy- i f while encouraging more 'prayerfulness."' ,or example, participants may read about the Israel- I ...... time in the desert and then discuss how they expe- !.[[ ,,ea . ,, . . , deserts in their own lives, she said. '9 i. ornisee explained that participants focus on the of Scripture and how they are able to encounter 1[ Without the hello Catholics have now, such as the and le materials . vo .. .ence in his life," she said. "How do we need to iify our lives to encounter God?" _ , "aoraisee said this Woe of experience requires a lot ! itI .u cussion. ometime'" s people are afraid to explore uJetr faith. They're hesitant to allow themselves to ques, don," she said. 'This type of class allows people to help one another. We can take our own experiences in life and understand people in Scripture better." The class began meeting in January, but Thomisee wants to avoid a structure of beginning and end because she wants to keep this program informal. "It will go on as long as people are coming," she said. "People should feel free to come in at any time." Usually the group meets weekly on Sundays follow- ing the 9:30 Mass and before the noon Mass, when most of the educational programs are scheduled, in- cluding the children's. "Hopefully, wCre drawing on some of their parents," she said. The class has started small with about five or six regular participants, who are in their mid-20s to middie.aged. She also has male and female participants, including couples who attend together, and participants at different levels of spiritu- ality. Connie Jones, a participant who is in her 50s, has enjoyed the intergenerational interaction in the class. '%Vhat the younger participants saw in Scriptures reminded me of what I thought then," Jones said. "It's different from what I think now." In addition, she appreciates the relaxed approach. "This is a totally different kind of Bible study. You read Scripture and discuss it on the spot," she said. "It's what I like about it." "If more people realized how easy it is to participate when you're already here and dressed, more would," she said. Cheri Martinka, 31, has also enjoyed the varied group and the informal structure. "It's a very relaxed format that allows for a lot of growth and personal reflection," she said. "I love the personal sharing -- learning from their insight and experience." Thomisee got the idea from a course she taught for people entering lay min- istry in the Diocese of Corpus Christi. In addition to using that course and the liturgical year to plan this class, she is open to using video that would help participants focus on the idea of spirituality. She has used clips from movies for years because she said it provokes interest. She would like the course to continue growing and possibly to have more than one group and other lead- ers, She believes this format could offer many Catholics the spiritual "education" they desire. "Here in Arkansas, I think a good number of Catho- lics are well educated in the Church," she said. 'q'hey're very interested in Scripture -- maybe they didn't get as much in school. But a program that offers information, they're past that." "People are hungry for God. Some are looking for an encounter with God. That's more or less where I'm coming from. People being called for a deeper rela- tionship," she said. rstanding Our Church Sacrifice and prayer: How to get in a 'fight relationship' with God A Word on Scripture and Tradition Judy Hoelzman ancient times, Christians have been called to prayer, fasting and almsgiving luring Lent. The Vatican Council identified the focus of Lent period of closer attention to the word of God more ardent prayer" (Constitution on the Sacred #109.) these practices are encouraged especially dur- to help us prepare for the Easter celebra- ,, they are really year-round callings, meant to keep or move us toward right relationship with God :With one another. What sense would it make to right relationship only six weeks of the year? do we know if we're in right relationship, or we get there? Maybe the first and most impor- we could do is to become aware or to re- OUrselves again, that God first loves us from the of his mind and heart. A concrete way to do i day by calling to mind (or saying aloud) of these Scripture passages: Wou are precious in my eyes and glorious, and I love you," (Is 43:4); "Fear ring and accepting loss of a sharp memory and other not, for I am with you," (Is 43:5); "Before I formed you abilities. I see older friends deeply hurt by their adult in the womb, I knew you," (Jer 1:5); or upon the children's foibles, mired in the pain of not being able palms of my hands I have written your name" (Is 49:6). to make things right. I see retired friends in panic Repeat the passage several times and let it sink in that over how they will afford the expensive medicines they GOd is in you, hour by hour, throughout the day, loving need. And a cousin giving up every Sunday of her life you deeply, to her aging parents in another city. Next, try to look at your life --- at the choices and Surely the sacrifice the Church calls us to is exem- sacrifices you are already making. Love and self-giving pliiied in lives like these. Think of yourselves, of normally express themselves in small, delicate ways. The people you know, who suffer setbacks, defeats, frus- simplest acts of compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, tradons of life and still go on and persevere in loving understanding, loving affection -- these can make all relationships with God and others. They aren't look- the difference in life. Unfortunately, they aren't always ing for special status or privilege, but they deserve recognized. Look for these virtues in your own life and recognition because they (and you) are living the in the world around you. gospel and conversion every day. This is real interior When I look, I see nieces and nephews with small goodness. incomes starting new families. They are sacrificing easier, Celebrate what you see. Then, just as you began it, more carefree lives, leisure time, further study, expen- end your day going to God in prayer. It doesn't have sire clothes, vacations. They give up time with friends to be formal. Prayer isn't for professionals. Just take a and solitude. Theygive up aU kinds of glamorous things little time to recount the ways that God's deep love that today's society dangles before them. Mostly, they (which you brought to mind in the morning) was sacrifice themselves to be constantly present to their lived out through you during the day. Recall how the growing children. They do this without much show, actions and decisions you made were based on God's spontaneously, out of deep love, without counting the values. Give yourself credit for that and say simply, cost, just like my own parents did. It has to be so hard. "Here's what I'm doing in my life, Lord, because you I look at them and see them doing their best, some- love me and I want to respond to that love." times exhausting themselves in the process, and I think These year-round habits will surely put us in closer to myself, "Now that's sacrifice." touch with the depths of ourselves --- where God lives Or I see friends facing losses and profound disap- and loves us -- and bring about that "right relation- pointments, their own high hopes and dreams faded a ship," the most urgent calling of our baptism and little -- or a lot. I see their deep pain and confusion Christianity. when nothing seems to make sense anymore. I see my Judy Hoelzeman is the promotion coordinator for Little elderly mother graciously and with good humor admit- Rock Scripture Study. .................................. i ........................ !