“Sitting At The Feet Of Socrates”

by Deacon Stephen Bowling

At this time of the year when going back to school is on the mind of so many, I can’t help but wonder how many folks see learning as something that belongs only in the classroom.

One of my fondest memories as a child was of listening to an adult whom I loved – my father, mother, grandparents or whomever – tell me things about the world and life in general.

I learned how to plow a field from my grandfather, how to weed a garden from my mother (although I absolutely hated the task) and a great deal about the history of Western Civilization from my dad.

Through these and many other experiences, I came to learn that one of the very best ways to really learn something was to simply spend some significant time with a wise person, kind of like how Plato described learning from his mentor Socrates . . . he would just literally sit at his feet and listen.

Is this not one of the most beautiful treasures associated with the idea of family? Is not the family the very place where the passing along of wisdom from one generation to another is made a reality?

Just as faith is first taught in the home and through the family, cannot the same be said with regard to all forms of virtue and wisdom?

The family is the best of teachers, as it says in the blessing at the end of the Church’s Rite of Baptism, and as such it must always be a place where learning is a key component in its everyday life. While school may come into and out of session with the seasons, the family’s duty to “impart wisdom” is a responsibility which must always be kept both alive and active at all times and in all weathers.

As children grow, parents often look backwards and see how far and how fast they have come. Should not this all-too-common moment of reflection perhaps serve as a powerful motivator for each of us . . . encouraging us to “be present” for our children all that much more while they are still young and at home with us?

Conversation is the art of being uniquely human . . . it is the place where we learn to both listen and contribute to the betterment of both the world in general and, in particular, our places within it.

Perhaps our task this fall, as learning once again comes back into term, might be for us to spend some new time conversing with the young people whom we love and value. I suspect that this true gift from our hearts and minds would be one which would always be treasured . . . by both them and us.

What the Convocation of Catholic Leaders Was All About . . .

by Ed Harpring

A team from the Archdiocese of Louisville had the rare privilege of attending the Convocation of Catholic Leaders – “The Joy of the Gospel In America” – for four days in Orlando over this most recent Fourth of July weekend. I am delighted to have been a part of our local team attending this ground-breaking gathering along with over 3,000 attendees from dioceses, apostolates and Catholic organizations from all over the country.

I have attended many conferences in the past, but this one definitely did NOT follow the typical conference format of listening to speakers, taking notes and then sharing what you have learned when you return. This convocation was totally different.

According to one of the key organizers, Jonathan Reyes, Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, the convocation “aims to create a national conversation that will energize Catholic leaders to help the local Church go forth boldly and respond confidently to the concerns, challenges and opportunities of modernity with the perennial joy of the Gospel.

We have just been stunned by the number of apostolates, missions, ministries and services there are in this country that are all over the place — at the diocesan level, at the parish level, at the national level — and they are all doing good things. They are all asking the right questions in their own different way, but they’ve never been together in the same room. And we thought the bishops can call them all together for a moment of national unity — we need unity in a deep way, in both the Church and the wider culture — for a moment of confidence in the Gospel, to set out in the deep, and to just be called to be missionary disciples.

The Convocation will respond to four key questions:

  • What is the nature of this current historical moment in the Church and in our nation?
  • How do we respond to this moment as missionary disciples?
  • Where are we called to go and to whom are we being sent?
  • How will we engage this mission?

These are challenging questions, no doubt, but the Church is facing a more and more secular culture evidenced by the following alarming trends:

  • The total number of Catholics in the United States dropped by 3 million since 2007.
  • More than a third of all millennials – those born between 1981 and 1996 – claim no affiliation, and just 16 percent identify as Catholic.
  • For every one Catholic convert, more than six Catholics leave the church.
  • The number of unaffiliated, or the so-called “nones,” is shooting up to about 23 percent of the total population from just 16 percent seven years ago.

The bishops have identified two essential outcomes of the Convocation

  • The participants, with new insights, will be better prepared and energized to share the Gospel as missionary disciples.
  • They will equipped with new communications strategies and models of evangelization to meet the challenges of an ever increasing secular culture.

By all measures, the Convocation was an outstanding success, with many conversations still continuing via the many catholic news channels and social media sites.

Use the hashtag #CatholicConvo to join in the discussion and check out the Convocation’s webpage on the USCCB’s website at http://bit.ly/2tzXcjx with videos from the event as well as many other documents and bits of information.



Family Adventures!

by Deacon Stephen Bowling

Okay, I must confess my age . . . I am a child of the late Sixties/ early Seventies, born in 1965 and a TV addict pretty much from the very beginning. (I can remember watching on our old black and white TV some of Star Trek’s Third Season when it first aired in 1969; I was just shy of age four.)

One of those formative, “masterpiece” shows for me (as I think it was for so many around my age thanks to the miracle of syndication) was “Lost In Space”; that gem of a goofy, fun, family-friendly show about a cool family exploring Outer Space together, created by the late Irwin Allen.

Yes, I wanted to be like Will Robinson and have a cool Robot as a best friend, but that’s a story for another day . . .

I recently acquired the Complete Series on Blu-Ray and am actually surprised at how well the show has aged. Recognizing the thrill of nostalgia it holds for me and how that might taint my viewpoint, I nevertheless find that the writing was actually fairly excellent, the concept, while goofy sometimes, was almost always simply FUN . . . and more importantly the family structure on which the show firmly sat was always presented as front and center in every episode.

Talk about a family friendly show! A family which actually enjoyed being together, who would always keep each other first in their hearts and in their actions, and who could explore the wonders of creation together was the very central premise of the show every week! How cool was that?

I find that family adventure time together is something we often tend to think of at this time of the year, as vacations are scheduled and road-trips become our well-deserved “break” from everyday life. But one of the things that the “Space Family Robinson” reminded me of when I was watching some of the episodes recently is that “Family Adventure” is not something just for special events or for when the schedule permits . . . it’s for always.

The Robinson Family lived their adventures together constantly . . . for them, everything was an adventure! Now I know that’s how the show was intended to be structured of course, but is there not a lesson there for all of us?

Should our families not have a constant diet of “adventure” rather than just as an occasional treat?

It’s worth some scrutiny as to how we live our lives and of the activities we frequently partake in to see, just how how much family “adventure” we have. With the “summer frame of mind” which we are all now enjoying, perhaps we might consider some dose of regular family adventure making a frequent appearance on our calendar. Something as simple as going to a new restaurant together or finding a new walking location . . . as long as whatever it is can be taken together as a family, that all-important “togetherness” experience is something pretty much guaranteed to always rejuvenate the spirit.

And I’m sure that even a marathon of “Lost In Space” episodes watched together would count.

“Building Your Financial Foundation Workshop For Newly Married Couples” – October 7th and 28th, 2017

The Family Ministries Office is proud to announce the first of its many upcoming programs designed to assist and accompany couples in the critical first few years of marriage!

Did you know that many of the critical issues facing newly married couples today have their roots in financial areas? 

Come and join other couples in their first 5 years of marriage as we spend two intensive and personalized days with certified financial planner Jerry Zimmerer from D. Scott Neal, Inc. as we dive deeply into proven financial practices and planning and explore how such critical tools and techniques can support, enrich and strengthen Catholic marriages!

Jerry has been a presenter with our Foundation For Marriage program for several years, giving a broad overview of financial management to engaged couples, and as such is proud to offer this new intensive program where couples use their own personal data, desires and situations to come up with plans specifically designed to help them grow and succeed financially as they begin their married lives together.

The program runs over two different Saturdays. The first session – where concepts are introduced and initial planning is made – will be held on October 7, 2017. The second session – where the couples come back with their personal plans for coaching and personalized advice – will be held on October 28, 2017.  (Attendance at BOTH sessions is necessary.)

Both sessions will be held at St Gabriel Parish, 5505 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY, 40291 in Loft 1 from 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM each day.

Pre-registration is required and the cost for attending is at the SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY PRICE  of $110 per couple which includes all materials and personalized content as well as lunch on both days.

Registration is strictly limited to the first 20 couples to assure the proper individualized attention and can be done online HERE.

For further details, or if you have any questions, please contact Deacon Stephen Bowling at the Family Ministries Office at sbowling@archlou.org.

Please don’t miss out on this special opportunity to get personal financial advice from a certified financial planner at a fraction of the normal cost with special attention to the unique gifts and treasures we find in married life!

“Our Lady Of Fatima”

by Ed Harpring

The month of May draws our attention to Mother’s Day. This year we have the added focus on Mother Mary’s role as our heavenly mother with the ongoing Centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima celebration taking place around the world (including the Archdiocese of Louisville) and Feast Day on May 13th.

The apparitions of Fatima to many of us have a mysterious and prophetic aura about them with the “miracle of the sun” spinning and dancing in the sky to more than 50,000 onlookers, the three secrets revealed to three young Portuguese children, Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, starting on May 13, 1917, and the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady appeared six times between May and October 1917 to the three children.

Despite the intrigue and mystery of Fatima, the overall message is straightforward and aligns with the “Good News” of the Gospel. Mary implores us to turn away from sin, open ourselves entirely to her Son – Jesus through prayer, reparation, repentance, and sacrifice. And yet she provides her tender motherly solace through her Immaculate Heart. “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

And today, we know that Mother Mary’s descriptions of evil in the world are all too real. The battle between good and evil is raging -100 years. Sister Lucia related before her death in 2005 that the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Family and marriage is under attack like never before, and we know that in our county alone, nearly 60,000,000 unborn lives have been lost to abortion. Similarly St. John Paul II in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, said “we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life.” We find ourselves not only “faced with” but necessarily “in the midst of” this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.” Saint Mother Teresa echoed this when she proclaimed that the “The Greatest Destroyer of Love and Peace is Abortion.”

But like the good mother that she is, Our Lady gave us the antidote to the evil in our world – the rosary.

She stressed the importance of praying the Rosary in each of Her apparitions, asking the children to pray the Rosary every day for peace. Our Lady of Fatima promised that “in the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

The Archdiocese of Louisville will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima Anniversary on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima: Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 11am at the Cathedral of the Assumption. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will be the celebrant and concelebrated by Fr. Matthew Hardesty, Director of the Archdiocesan Marian Committee and Pastor of Holy Trinity, Fredericktown and Holy Rosary, Manton.



“Motherhood Is . . .”

by Deacon Stephen Bowling

In the liner notes of his 1975 album “Windsong”, the late John Denver wrote about how he had tried to record the sound of the wind in order to incorporate it into the album which carried its name, but for some reason, he “could never capture the sound on tape so as to do it any justice.”

This is the same kind of problem one has when trying to adequately describe all that goes into the concept of motherhood . . . our language is simply not big enough to do justice to the power and beauty that the word encompasses. The word defies being forced into any description we might wish to place upon it . . . nevertheless during the month of May every year we all make our attempts at doing so.

Perhaps it is this deficiency which drew me to the above quote on motherhood by Gilda Radner. I think it more than any other begins to capture the true essence of motherhood without in any way diminishing the grandeur and holiness it carries with it. In many ways the quote actually seems to enhance the term – something I thought impossible before finding it.

“Infinite Optimism” may be a phrase which begins to tell the story properly.

Motherhood always seems to me to be at its heart an act of positivity . . . something, as John Denver himself said on that very same album, which “works in the service of life and the living . . . part of the movement, part of the growing, part of beginning to understand.” Mothers always look for the best in us; they support us when we are in need, they protect us when we are afraid, and perhaps most important of all, they love us for just who we are, just as we are.

“Infinite optimism” is perhaps one of the most succinct descriptions for Holy Mother Church as well. Even though there are many who might not be able to live up to this ideal expression of motherhood, the Church herself absolutely must do so . . . to assist those in need and to model for us all exactly how “mothering” was intended by God to be done from the very beginning.

The Church indeed works in “service of life and the living” as it seeks to accompany us along our journey through this life. Our benefit is always in her heart, our welfare is her intent and our success and salvation are ever her wishes for us.

The Church is our spiritual mother and the infinite optimism she pours forth upon us in the sacraments is intended to become a living part of us, just as the Gospel itself is as well.

On this upcoming Mother’s Day . . . a day when we seek to remember our own mothers’ “infinite optimism” (or at least their best attempts towards it) we also should take a moment and remember Mother Church and her best attempts at achieving this sacred goal too. Just as with most mothers, the attempts and the successes are far more numerous than we might always remember . . . and the victories that she has achieved for us are very much worth celebrating anew once more.

“No Easter Without Lent”

by Ed Harpring

This year, with our unusually warm weather, we have been prematurely catapulted forward into spring. As much as I am enjoying the early warm weather, I almost feel like I am getting my dessert before dinner. In other words, I feel a little guilty, that I haven’t properly journeyed through the cold winter’s days to earn the joy of springtime. A famous quote that leads us to the same place is “Remember, there is no Resurrection without the Crucifixion; No Easter Sunday without Good Friday; No empty tomb without the Cross.”

40-days-for-lifeSo, as much as my weak human constitution would like to, we can’t just skip over Lent and fast forward ourselves to Easter Sunday. In general terms, most of us think of Lent as the preparation for Easter, the highest Feast Days in our Catholic faith, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Continue reading ““No Easter Without Lent””