The Servant Leader

April 30, 2012

Weekly Winner

Saint Mary's Press winner for the week of April 30, 2012

Congratulations to Tim Hemm

Tim will receive a copy of The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Second Edition, a $19.95 value.

The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Second Edition is an understandable and down-to-earth guide to all things Catholic. This book is an eye-opener and a page-turner, whether you are brushing up on specific Catholic terms and concepts or learning them for the first time.

The Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has found this catechetical text, copyright 2008, to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Now Available! Online correlation to the U.S. Bishops' High School curriculum framework Click here!

The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Second Edition
ISBN: 978-0-88489-987-7, paper, 480 pages

Focus on Faith

"National Teacher Day"

When I was growing up, both of my parents were educators in the public school system. I cannot tell you the number of times I was out with one of my parents and we would bump into one of their former students or coworkers or a parent of one of their students. Often these encounters would include the person turning to me and saying, “Your dad made a huge difference in my life” or “Your mom really helped my child.” When I was young, I didn’t think much about these exchanges. In reflecting on this as an adult, these exchanges were moments of grace that affirmed the blessing my parents are to me and to the youth they served. It also solidified for me the important role educators play in our communities and in the lives of young people, and it has contributed in some way to the careers I have chosen.

Tuesday, May 8, is National Teacher Day. This is a day to affirm and thank educators for the important contributions they make in the lives of young people, in our families, and in the larger community. The National Education Association has developed resources support of National Teacher Day.

We at Saint Mary’s Press are proud to be in partnership with the wonderful women and men who minister tirelessly as educators. It is not always easy to see, but the contribution teachers are making in the lives of young people is priceless. On Tuesday, May 8, I encourage you to take a moment to thank your children’s teachers or to contact one of your former teachers to express your gratitude. And thank you to all of the teachers reading this; you truly are appreciated and a blessing to the youth you educate! I pray that you continue to have a blessed Easter season, and as always, I pray that God will continue to bless you and your ministry.

Steven McGlaun

Make It Happen

“Living Up to the Call of Ministry"
From Letting Go of the Chaos: Ideas for Addressing Ministry-Related Stress

Our Story
What God gives sometimes seems so great... and we feel so poor! He offers us what we can scarcely imagine: Christ and the Holy Spirit come to dwell within our hearts irresistibly.(Brother Roger of Taizé)

Sometimes it seems like the more we meditate and pray, the more unworthy we feel. Reading and reflecting on the life of Christ, studying the lives of the saints, and listening to modern-day prophets can be quite humbling. During the times when we find ourselves saying, "Maybe I don't know enough, or am not good enough to serve," we must remember that God needs men and women like you and me to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the young. Although we might respond to times of unworthiness by saying, "I am just a woman (or man), not a saint or even a very holy person," we must always recognize that Christ dwells within our hearts and that we are called to let others see and experience Christ through us. Because Jesus is no longer physically here on earth, we proclaim him through our words and actions.

Just remember that as long as your ministry to the young honors God, God will be pleased with your effort.

Questions to Ponder
• How do I respond to others when they express thanks for the ministry I offer?
• How do I show others that our baptismal call makes each of us worthy (and responsible) for the work of the Church?
• What kind of self-talk can I initiate when I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or unworthy of my ministry? Whom can I seek out to help me find some clarity and direction?

For Consideration
• Allow yourself to be thanked and given credit for what you do.
• If there is an area in your ministry where you do indeed feel inadequate, gain understanding or get training in that area.
• Make a list of the things you do well. Keep that list and refer to it when you are feeling unworthy.

Thank you, Lord, for making me worthy of the call to serve you and others. By your very presence, I am empowered to be in ministry. I know it is up to me to gain experience and knowledge, and I ask for your guidance and support when I feel unworthy of this call. Amen.

Break Open the Word

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 6, 2012

John 15:1-8

Opening Prayer
We gather today in your name, Jesus. You are the eternal source of life, the true vine from which we gain strength to live our faith. May our sharing of your Word bring us to a deeper understanding of our connectedness with you. We pray in your name. Amen.

Context Connection
Jesus as the vine and his followers as the branches is a powerful metaphor. It speaks of the life-giving connectedness between Jesus and his followers. Jesus as the vine is a unique source of life and fruitfulness. As long as his followers maintain their connectedness, they will bear much fruit. The good fruit they bear is the proof of their connectedness, of their discipleship.

There can be a danger that we might take this life-giving bond with Jesus for granted. As followers of Jesus, we must be attentive to our personal relationship with him. We must strive to keep it from withering. When our relationship with Jesus is strong, a mutuality is generated between Jesus and us, his disciples. That is, as we reach out to Jesus, Jesus reaches out to us. And we cannot bear fruit alone but only in relationship with Jesus.

The other interesting image in this passage is that of God the Father as the vine grower or the vinedresser. The task of a vinedresser is to care for the well-being of a vine or vineyard. Vinedressing is a process of pruning, of cutting back, the unnecessary overgrowth to help the branch be more fruitful. The wisdom of the experienced vinedresser guides how and which branch to prune in a way that will result in maximum fruitfulness of the whole plant. Looking at this process and listening to the metaphor of God the Father as vinedresser helps us see and understand God the Father's tender and caring hands that continuously shape who we are throughout our life.

Tradition Connection
"We are members of [Christ's] Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is [Jesus]"1 (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1988). This image of the Church as the Body of Christ from the Catechism speaks to the same kind of connectedness between Jesus and his followers as John presents in his passage about the vine. The Body of Christ was an image used often in the documents of the Second Vatican Council to describe the Church and the initial relationship between Jesus and his followers and the relationship of Jesus's followers to one another.

In 15:4-5, John describes a similar intimate communion between Jesus and his followers as abiding in Jesus and as Jesus abiding in them. In 6:56, John helps us to better understand that this connectedness with Jesus happens through the reception of Holy Communion. In that passage John depicts Jesus saying that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood and that those who do so will abide in Jesus and that Jesus will abide in them. For us as Catholic Christians, this participation in the Eucharist and the reception of Holy Communion is what sustains our fellowship with Christ in a significant way. Saint Augustine said that we become what we eat; therefore, as we receive the Body of Christ, we become the Body of Christ (Catechism, paragraph 2837).

As the Body of Christ in the world today, we become Christ's presence through the things we say and do. Saint Teresa of Ávila is said to have written that Christ has no hands but your hands, no feet but your feet, no mouth but your mouth to do Jesus's work in the world today (for further study of Saint Teresa of Ávila's writings, consult The Collected Works of Saint Teresa of Ávila). As the Body of Christ, the followers of Jesus who are connected to Jesus, the source of eternal life through the Eucharist, we are asked to bear good fruit through the examples of our daily lives.

Wisdom Connection
John's images of Jesus and of God the Father are profound. Jesus, as the vine, is the source of life; we recognize our connectedness with this source of life by the good fruits we bear. With Christ as our source of life, there is nothing we cannot do; without Christ as our source of life, there is nothing we can do. And because of our connectedness with Christ as the vine and source of life, John tells us, Christ abides in us and we in him.

The image of God the Father as the vinedresser is one of a God who is engaged in the day-to-day processes of our lives. This vinedresser, grounded in wisdom and experience, gently and caringly tends to the pruning of the branches with the desired outcome of our wholeness, of our ability to bear life-giving fruit. We are fed by Jesus and nurtured by God the Father, and in turn, with Christ abiding in us, we feed and nurture one another.

See also the reflection "Make Your Home with Jesus," near John 15 in The Catholic Youth Bible®.

The scriptural quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition. Copyright © 1993 and 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.

The quotations labeled Catechism are from the English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for use in the United States of America, second edition. Copyright © 1994 by the United States Catholic Conference, Inc.--Libreria Editrice Vaticana. English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Modifications from the Editio Typica copyright © 1997 by the United States Catholic Conference, Inc.--Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission.

The Lord's Prayer is taken from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers. Copyright © 1988 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Endnotes Cited in Quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
1. Cf. 1 Corinthians 12; John 15:1-4.

Copyright © 2009 by Saint Mary's Press, 702 Terrace Heights, Winona, MN 55987-1318, All rights reserved. No part of this newsletter may be reproduced by any means without the written permission of the publisher. Thank you.


Saint Spotlight

Blessed Caterina Cittadini

May 5 is the memorial for Blessed Caterina Cittadini.

Born in 1801 in Bergamo, Italy, Caterina’s mother died when she was seven, and her father abandoned her and her younger sister, Giuditta. The sisters grew up in an orphanage where they were instilled with a strong faith and devotion to the Blessed Mother. After leaving the orphanage, the sisters went to live with their two cousins who were both parish priests. Caterina became a teacher, but both sisters felt a strong calling to religious life. In 1826 they opened a boarding school for girls. They then opened additional schools in 1832 and 1836. After the death of her sister, Giuditta, one of her cousins, and her spiritual director, Caterina became gravely ill and was cured through the intercession of Saint Jerome Emilani. In 1845 Caterina quit her teaching position and devoted all of her time to running the schools, caring for orphans, and guiding her companions who assisted in her ministry. Caterina sought to have the women with which she worked recognized as a religious order, the Ursuline Sisters of Somasca. Six months after her death, the bishop of Bergamo gave his approval for the new order, and the order achieved papal recognition in 1927.

For more information on Blessed Caterina Cittadini, go to