The Characteristics of Effective Evangelization
If, then, our encounter with Christ is the premise of evangelization, what are some of the other characteristics of evangelization that will render it effective in our time? Let me suggest the 4 Cs of effective evangelization – namely that it needs to be CLEAR, CHALLENGING, COMPASSIONATE, and CONVINCING.
First, our presentation of the Gospel and the faith of the Church needs to be clear and accurate. I wonder how many people have left the Catholic Church, or never considered joining the Church, because they received incorrect information or were laboring under a misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine or discipline. More than once I’ve heard someone say, “I left the Catholic Church because I was divorced and could no longer receive Holy Communion.” Or, “I left the Church because Catholics don’t believe in the Bible.” Both statements are completely inaccurate, of course, but there are many others like it.
We have to admit, that in too many settings during the past 50 years, the teaching of the Church hasn’t always been presented in a clear and consistent manner; and in other times individuals have simply misunderstood the tenets of the Church. In any case, a serious approach to the believing community needs to be based on teaching that is accurate and authentic.
Next, evangelization in the world today needs to be challenging.
Many critics have suggested that the Catholic Church would attract more adherents if, for example, we changed our teaching about difficult topics such as abortion, contraception, homosexuality, divorce and re-marriage, the ordination of women and clerical celibacy. But, we need to ask in response: Is an easy Church, devoid of any moral imperatives or challenge, being faithful to its mission? Is it contributing anything of value to the moral well-being of the world?
I recall that a journalist asked Pope Benedict what we could do to make the Church more “attractive” to the modern world. The Holy Father responded: “I would say that a Church that seeks to be particularly attractive is already on the wrong path. Because the Church does not work for her own ends, she does not work to increase numbers and thus power.”
In other words, the task of the Church is to proclaim the truth – whether easy or hard, popular or unpopular, “convenient or inconvenient” as St. Paul charged. (II Tim 4:2)
The fact is, we do no one a favor if we water-down or minimize the hard teachings of Christ and his Church in a vain attempt to make them more palatable to modern taste.
The Third “C” of evangelization, for those returning to the Church or those who have never been part of our community, is that it needs to be compassionate.
Here I mean that our presence in the world and our outreach has to be attuned to the real life experiences of those we meet; we need to be sensitive to their needs and concerns. Good teachers and preachers, in the Church as elsewhere, have to be careful listeners and astute observers as well as articulate speakers.
Some folks who have departed the Church have done so not for doctrinal reasons but because of more personal experiences. Perhaps they had an argument with another member of the Church – clergy, religious or lay. Maybe they approached the Church with a pressing, personal need or problem and were turned away.
It’s instructive to recall the many personal encounters Jesus had – with the poor, the outcast, the sick, and the sinner. Jesus was always alert to and responsive to their situation. He was a listener, a counselor, a companion. And while he clearly challenged individuals to repent of their sin and to live a moral and upright life, his starting point was the human condition. In short, he was compassionate. And so must our evangelization be.
Finally, it seems to me that our evangelization in the world today has to be convincing, and by that I mean that we can effectively evangelize by our deeds as well as our words, by our actions as well as our axioms.
Pope Francis has certainly given us an example to consider.
The early days of his pontificate were marked by symbolic gestures that spoke of his desire for simplicity and humility in the Church – for example, the preferred simplicity of his attire, personal and liturgical; the personal phone calls he made; the fact that on the day after his election he stopped and paid his hotel bill; his decision to not reside in the Apostolic Palace but rather in the Domus Santa Martha.
I have to confess, when the media turned somersaults because the Pope paid his own hotel bill, I said to myself – and I think to a few others – “Big deal; I pay my own hotel bill all the time, and nobody cares.”
But it seems clear that while this simple approach is truly the Pope’s style, with or without the presence of cameras, he is also sending a message to the rest of the Church, especially its leaders.
But even beyond these simple symbols, we evangelize most effectively by our works of charity. In the works of education and health care, in the ministry of our homeless shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens, we serve Catholics and non-Catholics alike. We serve without asking for baptism certificates or parish registrations. We serve in the name of Christ and with the knowledge that in those we serve we encounter the real presence of Christ.
Effective evangelization is a combination of words and deeds. It is in our works of charity that our words are fulfilled, that we convince people of the authenticity of our message.
-+Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, Diocese of Providence,
This post is for all those who struggle with their relationship with their fathers. Sometimes, when Father’s Day comes around, we are reminded more acutely that the pain of these relationships or non-relationships plays like uncomfortable background noise in our lives.
I’m no expert in the field of human relationships, but I do know this: As Christians we get to tap into a power that it bigger than ourselves. It’s called grace. And the graces we receive in and through the sacraments, beginning with our Baptism, allow God’s life and love to be activated in us. As Christians we also experience on-going conversion… which is another way of saying, we learn to cooperate with God and God’s graces more and more as we continually grow closer to Him.
So what does all of this have to do with our fathers? With grace and time, we can learn, to forgive our fathers (or our mothers, or anyone significant to us) thanks to the incredible love of God that unfolds in our lives through on-going conversion.
Frank Weathers, at his blog Why I Am a Catholic, whose parents were divorced when he was young, explains that forgiveness of his father flowed in the days that followed his conversion to Catholicism…
One of my first memorable acts upon becoming a Catholic was to forgive my father for leaving his wife and family behind. It took me a few months to get around to it, though.
Prior to my becoming Catholic, I had boasted that I would never forgive him. And not just to myself, but to others, publicly, and loudly.
Break your promise and leave your family? I just couldn’t see how someone could do such a thing. And Pharisee that I was, planting the flag of prideful honor on the hill of righteous indignation came pretty easy to me.
But this all changed back in the Summer of 2008.
My wife and children were in California on vacation (two weeks ahead of me) visiting her family…
I invited my dad to spend the weekend with me during this time…
You see, I needed to tell him that I was a Catholic now, and I figured getting together with him was a good way to broach the subject.
Certainly he knew that I had married a Catholic. He’d witnessed the event of our Nuptial Mass nineteen years earlier. But I had never converted to the faith either. Just like I had loudly and publicly said I’d never forgive my father for leaving us (not when he was around to hear it, you understand), I had loudly said to him on more than one occasion that I’d never become a Catholic either.
Oh, he probably already knew, as my sister had attended the Easter Vigil and either her, or my brother, might have told him during a phone call. But I wanted to tell him, and tell him in person.
I thought it would really be a big deal, but it wasn’t. During a lunch break while we were working, we were talking about being Christians, as he himself had undergone a reconversion of his own. I was reading Pope Benedict’s book Jesus of Nazareth at the time, and I shared a few things I’d learned there.
Then I just up and told him that I was now a Catholic…
The mountain I thought I would climb to make this revelation turned out to be a mole hill. Or perhaps with faith the size of a mustard seed, the mountain was just leveled for me. Either way, it was a relief.
My dad went to his car and brought me a few things he wanted me to have. One of these items was an envelope full of photographs that he wanted to give me. They were duplicates of photos of me from various time periods, including when I was a wee tot and we were still together as a family.
As I was leafing through them, my heart burned within me, and I just felt compelled to tell him the simple words that mean so much, but which are rarely said. Earlier that year, he had had a mild heart attack, and there being no time like the present, before I could stop myself I said,
“Dad, I just want you to know that I forgive you for leaving us.”
Of course, by the time I got those last three words out, my voice had broken and the tears were flowing, and we embraced each other much as I figure it was like when the prodigal son was embraced by his dad. The roles seemed reversed to me, but the effect was the same.
Read his entire post.
This is a fact: the deeper you come to know Jesus, the more that relationship will invite you to forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiving them doesn’t change the facts of what happened between you, or make the gravity of their mistakes or offenses — or ours — any less. For example, it doesn’t take a felony against love and reduce it to a misdemeanor. But it changes us. Grace allows us to choose to leave the judgment of the offenses, or the pain, in the hands of God, and allows us to cling instead to the mercy of God. Mercy and grace restores some measure of what we’ve lost by helping us let go and move on. Mercy combined with forgiveness helps us transcend hurts.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, in her column in The Pilot, reflects on this.
There comes a point in our lives when we can no longer hold our parents responsible for what we’ve become or haven’t. Even the very worst of situations is within the reach of transforming mercy. While forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation in every case, it can mean peace.
When I left home for college, I packed a lot more than I thought I had. I took the hurt and rejection of fatherlessness with me. It didn’t take long to notice the elephant in my dorm room. By Thanksgiving, I had found my dad’s Florida address and phone number. I knew I had to forgive him.
That phone call was at once one of the most difficult and liberating things I have ever done. Talking with him after 10 years of absence didn’t make the hurt disappear, and didn’t end up giving me the father I had needed. What it did do was enable me to let go of unmet needs, broken promises, and reasonable expectations.
Perhaps you or someone you know needs to forgive, or ask forgiveness from a father. Maybe there are fathers, too, who need to be forgiven. Whatever regrets or hurts, whatever disagreements or disputes, whatever obstacles there are between children and their fathers, it is not impossible to set them aside. You don’t even have to trust your dad to do it. You can trust your heavenly father, and have faith in Him, instead.
Read it all.
Wolfe’s final point is significant… “we have to trust our heavenly father and have faith in Him, instead.”
How do we do that?
What if I can’t trust my Heavenly Father because I’ve had a damaged or broken relationship with an earthly father?
I talk about the “how” in Chapter Three of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: and while that is a book largely written for women, one theme in this particular chapter for everyone: JESUS IS THE WAY TO THE FATHER.
Here’s one suggestion for “how” we can start to trust our Heavenly Father: thanks to our baptism, we can make the powerful prayers of Jesus our own.
Jesus entered into the world that we might enter into relationship with God the Father. We all need to know who our Father is. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
Maybe you’ve heard that before. Sometimes when we hear something over and over again, we take it for granted. Notice the language of fatherhood, love, and life: “For God so loved . . . that he gave his only Son. . . . Everyone who believes in him should . . . have eternal life.”
Jesus reveals the personal and unique love God has for us and his universal plan of love for the salvation of the world. Jesus taught us about God in the ways we really need to experience him most—as a father.
Jesus knows some of us harbor reticence when it comes to fatherhood. Still Jesus teaches the necessity of our knowing the Father: “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30). He reveals the Father by what he did and said. He never stops using examples in parables about fathers or praying to the Father himself.
The gospels record Jesus saying the word father over 130 times. Coming to know the Father in heaven is not optional for a Christian. Jesus repairs the rift opened in the days of Adam and Eve when the first human relationships with the Father were fractured. Most important, Jesus instructed us to call God “Our Father” in The Lord’s Prayer, which is one of the most basic prayers in Christianity: “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Mt 6:9; emphasis added).
Jesus taught us how to enter into his prayer, using his words, when he taught us to pray to our Father. Jesus shares the love of his Father so that we, too, might enter into conversations and prayers—a loving relationship—with the Father like he did. Ultimately, “the Lord’s Prayer reveals us to ourselves at the same time that it reveals the Father to us” (CCC, 2783).
The gospels are filled with Jesus’s prayers to the Father, a Father that yearns to love us, not disappoint or hurt us, a loving Father who understands the baggage we may be carrying. Let’s make Jesus’s words our own. Learning the words of the Son’s heart can help heal our daughter-hearts.
The image of the Good Shepherd soothes my daughter-heart. Jesus describes the tender, committed care that he offers his sheep, a care in union with his Father:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (Jn 10:27–30)
No one is father as God is Father. If someone has treated you badly, such that you cannot understand the gift of the Father’s love, remember that “no one is able to snatch . . . [you] out of the Father’s hand.” His love for you has never wavered, even if you have been unable to know it, see it, or understand it. Jesus’s word guarantees it.
We can make this our prayer, too: no one can snatch me out of the Father’s hand.
To trust Jesus is to trust the Father.
When we address God as our Father, as Jesus has taught, we are moved toward trusting the Father. When we refer to God as “our Father,” we do two important things. First, we declare him as the origin of everything in our lives. Second, we trust the goodness and loving care that a father bestows. (See CCC, 239.)
When Jesus was finished with his work on earth, he charged his followers to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (See Mt 28:18–20.)
In the graces of Baptism, God became a father to me…
The graces of Baptism empower me to make Jesus’s words my own…
In Baptism we meet the fatherhood of God, blessed and dignified as beloved daughters. Unfortunately, it is a gift we can fail to recognize or take for granted. Imagine owning a costly heirloom worth millions, but having no idea of its value because it is locked away in a chest and forgotten. For many of us, that treasure is our Baptism, specifically the knowledge that we are God’s beloved daughters. That knowledge is the key that unlocks many graces.
If we ponder that, relying on the graces we’ve already received in Baptism, we will begin to reclaim the girl who may be carrying around a lot of angst and rejection where fatherhood is concerned.
Baptized Christians utter the word Father six times in the Nicene Creed. There’s a reason. We are blessed daughters standing before a magnificent, loving, all-knowing Father…
Here the fatherhood of God heals our hurts. Lest we think this is some kind of romanticized vision of love, think again. It is rugged and strongly tempered in power, yet gentle and approachable enough to trust. The Father’s love is sturdy enough to enable us not only to thrive despite our hurts, but also to transcend them.
How can we transcend hurts? You already know—by deeply entering into the prayers of Jesus and making them your own. Jesus and our Baptism give us direct access to our heavenly Father. You’ve seen it with the Our Father; now take it a step deeper. Jesus prayed at his crucifixion amidst complete suffering. He forgave his persecutors, his detractors, enemies, friends who betrayed or left him, and those who forcibly put him to death. And he forgave us even before we came to be: “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them’” (Lk 23:34).
With grace, we can forgive in the name of Jesus, with Jesus, who is one with the Father. I can forgive each person who has hurt me, even the worst offenders. I can even forgive myself. “Father, forgive them.” Father, forgive me.
The name of the Father is the name Jesus used when his deepest wounds were open and bleeding. It’s the name we can call on to heal us of wounds we can see and the ones we keep hidden. It’s the name that brings our ongoing conversion.
[More details about my book here.]
This Sunday at Mass, on Father’s Day, when I stand to pray the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, I will be remembering my own healing and growth in these areas, and pray that we can all enter into those prayers more deeply that they may bear good fruit in our lives.
Let us pray for one another. And pray for all the fathers out there too.
Today I’m over at Catholic Mom, with another installment in what I loosely call, “Tales from the Empty Nest” … a little ruminating about my passing on furniture to my daughter who is getting married very soon.
I’m busy repainting two pieces of furniture that have already served three generations of my family — a 3-drawer bureau and a tall dresser. Over thirty years ago I was getting married and in need of more storage space for my new home. My husband and I became the happy recipients of the bureau from my parents’ home, and the dresser, once part of a pair from my grandmother’s home. So there’s a little bit of history stored between those dove-tailed wooden drawers. And here I am looking at their empty gapes spread out around the room on a drop cloth. This is the third time in twenty-five years that the chore of repainting these two old companions has fallen to me.
So I stand in old painting jeans, hair tied back, brush working in one hand, readying these drawer sets for a new purpose. I hum a little bit to the country music playing on the radio nearby, as memories float into view unbidden as I tackle the repetitive task. Back and forth, back and forth, dip, wipe, back and forth.
It’s a good way to do some thinking, and remembering.
The first time I painted these two relics was in preparation for the birth of my oldest child. Oh, the heavenly anticipation of getting a room ready for a newborn! I recall the joy as I painted — repurposing a piece of furniture and making it “new” for a baby — the start of a new kind of family life in a modest two-bedroom home.
My heart was set on the primary colors of childhood, and I made the three drawers of the bureau red, yellow, and blue, on a white chest. I added a changing table cushion on top and in the years that followed I changed the diapers and clothes of my small children on that bureau, and countless visiting babies. Not to mention seeing the drawer contents change over the years, from 0-3 month-sized onesies, to toddler overalls, to soccer jerseys. Meantime, the old tall dresser was still giving good service to my equally tall husband as a place to keep his socks and lanky jeans.
Three children later, we outgrew the little two-bedroom place, and despite the luxury of relocating to a 4-bedroom house, we were still a little strapped for cash for new furniture. So, out came the brush and paint cans again, and a re-shuffling of furniture against the needs of a growing, busy family.
This time, both the bureau and dresser were given to my only daughter for her new bedroom. Her own young fashion sense had outgrown the bureau’s primary colors and the ancient dark-stained dresser from generations of yore. I promised new coats of paint on both to match her new white headboard for her bed. I also remember going to the hardware aisle at the Home Depot to pick out shiny new ceramic knobs for updating this furniture, befitting a girl’s room. And that’s the way it stayed, even through her college years.
Now, it’s my daughter’s turn to marry and the soon-to-be newlyweds have just bought a small apartment-sized two-bedroom condo. It will have a few new things, and a few old things that they will bring from their single lives. My daughter gets to keep the bureau and dresser. And here I am painting again.
Read the rest over at CatholicMom.com.
A great bit courtesy of the Jay Leno Show and some hidden cameras at a gas station…
Not only did I smile at this, but I’m reminded to have a song in my heart EVERY day!
H/T The French Revolution blog
Get Ready Boston: The Catholic New Media Conference Returns to the Pastoral Center in Braintree: October 19!
For a limited time, now thru June 16th, registration is open for local participants from the greater Boston area, ahead of the general registration open to the general public. Get your ticket for the Catholic New Media Conference now!
The conference will take place at the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center. For a list of speakers, local lodging, and ticket information, go to the CNMC website. And share this information with your friends!
While I will not be attendance for this year’s event due to a retreat day I’m giving in New Hampshire, I hope to be down in Boston on Saturday night or Sunday. I’ve seen the program and I know it’s going to be a great event!
In this week’s episode of Among Women, I caught up longtime Among Women listener, Uju Ekeocha. She describes how she was blessed by the ministry of Among Women and how it deepened her faith and helped her strengthened her call to become a saint and be a force for good in the world. Over time she discovered the broad and varied world of Catholic media.
In this extended Among Women podcast, Uju Ekeocha describes her own growth in responding to what God is calling her, and us, to do to build a culture of life. A Catholic woman born and raised and educated in Nigeria, Africa, today Uju is a specialist biomedical scientist in Canterbury, England, UK. Last year, her life began to change when her open letter of protest to Melinda Gates against proposed distribution of contraception to Africans in her country went viral and caught the attention of pro-life people around the world, the bishops conference in Nigeria, and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity. Not bad for a ministry that is less than a year old!
Here’s that letter that went viral and caught the attention of Catholics in the media and around the world via social media…reprinted with permission.
An open letter to Melinda Gates
by Uju Ekeocha
Growing up in a remote town in Africa, I have always known that a new life is welcomed with much mirth and joy. In fact we have a special “clarion” call (or song) in our village reserved for births and another special one for marriages.
The first day of every baby’s life is celebrated by the entire village with dancing (real dancing!) and clapping and singing - a sort of “Gloria in excelsis Deo.”
All I can say with certainty is that we, as a society, LOVE and welcome babies.
With all the challenges and difficulties of Africa, people complain and lament their problems openly. I have grown up in this environment and I have heard women (just as much as men) complain about all sorts of things. But I have NEVER heard a woman complain about her baby (born or unborn).
Even with substandard medical care in most places, women are valiant in pregnancy. And once the baby arrives, they gracefully and heroically rise into the maternal mode.
I trained and worked for almost five years in a medical setting in Africa, yet I never heard of the clinical term “postpartum depression” until I came to live in Europe. I never heard it because I never experienced or witnessed it, even with the relatively high birth rate around me. (I would estimate that I had at least one family member or close friend give birth every single month. So I saw at least 12 babies born in my life every year.)
Amidst all our African afflictions and difficulties, amidst all the socioeconomic and political instabilities, our babies are always a firm symbol of hope, a promise of life, a reason to strive for the legacy of a bright future.
So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon the plan and promise of Melinda Gates to implant the seeds of her “legacy” in 69 of the poorest countries in the world (most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa).
Her pledge is to collect pledges for almost $5 billion in order to ensure that the African woman is less fertile, less encumbered and, yes, she says, more “liberated.” With her incredible wealth she wants to replace the legacy of an African woman (which is her child with the legacy of “child-free sex.”
Many of the 69 targeted countries are Catholic countries with millions of Catholic women of child-bearing age. These Catholic women have been rightly taught by the Church that the contraceptive drug and device is inherently divisive.
Unlike what we see in the developed Western world, there is actually very high compliance with Pope Paul VI’s “Humanae vitae.” For these African women, in all humility, have heard, understood and accepted the precious words of the prophetic pope. Funny how people with a much lower literacy level could clearly understand that which the average Vogue- and Cosmo-reading-high-class woman has refused to understand. I guess humility makes all the difference.
With most African women faithfully practicing and adhering to a faith (mainly Christian or in some cases Muslim), there is a high regard for sex in society, especially among the women. Sex is sacred and private.
The moment these huge amounts of contraceptive drugs and devices are injected into the roots of our society, they will undoubtedly start to erode and poison the moral sexual ethics that have been woven into our societal DNA by our faith, not unlike the erosion that befell the Western world after the 1930 Lambeth conference! In one fell swoop and one “clean” slice, the faithful could be severed from their professed faith.
Both the frontline healthcare worker dispensing Melinda’s legacy gift and the women fettered and shackled by this gift, would be separated from their religious beliefs. They would be put in a precarious position to defy their faith – all for “safe sex.”
Even at a glance, anyone could see that the unlimited and easy availability of contraceptives in Africa would surely increase infidelity and sexual promiscuity as sex is presented by this multi-billion dollar project as a casual pleasure sport that can indeed come with no strings – or babies – attached. Think of the exponential spread of HIV and other STDs as men and women with abundant access to contraceptives take up multiple, concurrent sex partners.
And of course there are bound to be inconsistencies and failures in the use of these drugs and devices, so health complications could result; one of which is unintended abortion. Add also other health risks such as cancer, blood clots, etc. Where Europe and America have their well-oiled health care system, a woman in Africa with a contraception-induced blood clot does not have access to 911 or an ambulance or a paramedic. No, she dies.
And what about disposal of the medical waste? Despite advanced sewage disposal in the First-world countries, we hear that aquatic life there is still adversely affected by drugs in the system. In Africa, be rest assured that both in the biggest cities and smaller rural villages, sewage constitutes a real problem. So as $4.6 billion worth of drugs, IUDs and condoms get used, they will need safe disposal. Can someone please show us how and where will that be? On our farm lands where we get all our food? In our streams and rivers from whence comes our drinking water?
I see this $4.6 billion buying us misery. I see it buying us unfaithful husbands. I see it buying us streets devoid of the innocent chatter of children. I see it buying us disease and untimely death. I see it buying us a retirement without the tender loving care of our children.
Please Melinda, listen to the heart-felt cry of an African woman and mercifully channel your funds to pay for what we REALLY need.
• Good healthcare systems (especially prenatal, neonatal and pediatric care).
Needless to say that postpartum and neonatal deaths are alarmingly high in many Sub-Saharan African countries. This is due to the paucity of specialized medical personnel, equipment and systems. Women are not dying because they are having “too many” babies but because they are not getting even the most basic postpartum care. A childbirth or labor complication can very easily be fatal, for both mother and baby. To alleviate this problem new, well-equipped and well-staffed birthing centers with neonatal units need to be built in easily accessible parts of the poorest communities. And if Melinda Gates really insists on reducing population, she can have highly trained Natural Family Planning (NFP) instructors strategically placed in these women’s healthcare facilities. At least then there would be a natural and wholistic approach.
• Food programs for young children.
This would serve a two-fold purpose if it is incorporated into free or highly subsidized nursery school programs. It would nourish and strengthen the growth of these children, who are so, so vulnerable to malnutrition, and it would also serve to encourage parents to bring their youngsters, ages 3 or 4, to nursery school. In so many parts of Africa, children miss out on nursery school education because it is expensive and considered a luxury reserved for the rich and middle class. As a result, the children miss the first few crucial years when basic math and reading are easily learned. By the time they are considered “ready” for school, at age 7 or 8, they struggle academically. Many of them never quite catch up and so drop out after six or seven years. This is when a lot of young girls are married off as mid- to late-teenage wives who unfortunately would become the perfect recipient of the Melinda Gates comprehensive contraceptive care!
• Good higher education opportunities
Not just new school buildings or books, but carefully laid out educational programs that work – scholarships, internships at higher levels, etc. – are needed. Despite the problems and obstacles to primary and secondary education, a significant number of young girls make it into universities, polytechnics or colleges. The problem however is that, most of the schools and resources are substandard and outdated. As such, the quality of higher education is low and cannot compare to that of more privileged countries. Even though the teachers put in their very best and the students work hard, the system is inadequate and will always produce disadvantaged graduates who are not confident enough to stand with their counterparts who have studied in other parts of the world.
• Chastity programs
Such programs in secondary schools, universities and churches would create a solid support system to form, inform and reassure our young girls and women that real love is that which is healthy and holy. Many African girls are no longer sure about moral sexual ethics thanks to the widespread influence of Western media, movies and magazines. More support should be given to programs that encourage abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage. This approach would go a long way to combating the spread of HIV and other STDs through the continent. And it would certainly lead to happier marriages!
• Support for micro-business opportunities for women
The average African women is incredibly happy, hard-working and resilient. Any support both economic and through training would most probably be used well and wisely.
• Fortify already established NGOs that are aimed at protecting women from sex-trafficking, prostitution, forced marriage, child labor, domestic violence, sex crimes, etc.
Many of these NGOs do not have much success because they are not well-funded. Though most of them have good intentions, they lack professional input from those such as psychologists, logisticians or medical personnel needed to tackle various problems.
$4.6 billion dollars can indeed be your legacy to Africa and other poor parts of the world. But let it be a legacy that leads life, love and laughter into the world in need.
The letter’s momentum led Uju to form Culture of Life Africa, an initiative that has just held its first pro-life conference in Nigeria, and is endorsed now by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity, and the bishops conference in Nigeria.
Find more pictures and links on Culture of Life Africa on Facebook.
All because one woman, motivated by her faith in God and love of life, spoke up against the encroaching culture of death.
Teresa Tomeo has also supported Culture of Life Africa both on the radio, and in print.
Also on today’s episode of Among Women we look at some of the writings of St Margaret Mary about the Sacred Heart of Jesus during this month that celebrates that devotion.
Finally, if you’ve read my book, consider sharing your thoughts about the book for an upcoming special edition of Among Women on the subject. More details here.
(photos courtesy of Culture of Life Africa on Facebook and used with permission.)
I’ve long admired the work of Fr. Bob Reed, and enjoyed working with him and his team at Catholic TV a few years ago when I coordinated the first CNMC to come to Boston in 2010. Since then, I’ve watched the amazing growth of the Catholic TV network under Fr Reed’s leadership.
With the release of Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious, I had the privilege of coming back to this Boston-based national network to be a guest on their live morning show, “This is the Day”, yesterday.
The archived video is here.
Watch the show. My slot begins at 10:15 on the video.
Thanks to Bonnie Rodgers for coordinating the invitation and to Shannon Muldoon who welcomed me and got me to the set in good order. The studio team at C-TV were pros and I had a great visit to Watertown, MA. Find C-TV on Facebook.
In the beginning it felt kind of awkward to sign a book for someone, but then I remembered how really nice it is to meet an Among Women podcast listener in person, or someone who has read a column or two, and I was over the newbie author jitters. It’s really a honor to meet someone who is interested in this message for women.
So how about a little chat about “BBB” right here?
Soon, I’ll be gathering a few folks together to do an Among Women podcast about the book, and I’d love to add your quotes to the podcast too! You write ‘em hear, and I’ll read ‘em aloud, or you can record your own thoughts on my voicemail at 206-376-0428.
If you’ve read the book, please leave me a comment below, or, if you are too shy for a comment, write to me at AmongWomenPodcast@me.com.
Pick one or more of these questions, and let me know what you are thinking…
1. What resonated with you?
2. What did you learn? (We covered a lot of ground on womanhood, faith, relationships, vocation, dignity, gifts, mission, the Church — tell me what was “new” for you?)
3. What was your favorite quote and why?
4. If you were going to add a chapter to this book, what would it be about?
5. What book or resource from the back of the book are you most interested in reading?
If you are interested in having me visit your church or community or book club, I’d love to hear from you. Just use the contact form below. Or, check out where I’ll be giving Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious talks and retreats this fall and next spring.
Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts. They see them independently of various ideological or political systems. They see others in their greatness and limitations; they try to go out to them and help them. In this way the basic plan of the Creator takes flesh in the history of humanity and there is constantly revealed, in the variety of vocations, that beauty-not merely physical, but above all spiritual-which God bestowed from the very beginning on all, and in a particular way on women.
-Blessed John Paul II, Letter to Women, par. 12.-
For more on this subject, read Ch 6 of my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.