Freshly Brewed, Episode 32: Spontaneous Combustion

As the anniversary of the canonization of Saint John Paul II approaches, the Freshly Brewed hosts got together to talk about one of the Saint’s biggest messages to the youth, “Be not afraid”! Along with reminiscing about Chris’ experience being at the actual canonization in Italy, Chris, Lindsay, and Sara talk about some of their fears and how they find freedom in surrendering these fears to the Lord! Listen here for some laughs and inspiration!

Be-Not-Afraid_WP-1080x675 (1)


Saint John Paul II’s homily for the inauguration of his pontificate

Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves – Jason Evert

Episode 32.1 Episode 32.2

Via NBC News:
Via NBC News:

Mentors for the New Evangelization (Discussion 1)

Sr. Johanna - Smaller

After a great convocation with Sr. M. Johanna, FSGM, we (Michelle and Lindsay) came into contact with many folks who were really excited to get started on her book Mentors for the New Evangelization. A handful of them were able to join us last Monday for our inaugural book club to chat about it. Our plan is going to be to share the thoughts and highlights with y’all, and then ask you to respond in the comments section! We look forward to interacting with in this digital media.

Let’s start with the Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. We’d suggest that you first read this section of the book and then engage with this discussion.

Right from the start, the introduction offered some great insights on some desires common to all men and women, created in the image and likeness of God. Regarding the reflection, beginning on page xv, how can we use the topic of happiness to inspire both students in our classrooms and their parents?
This question sparked some really great conversation during our book club, thanks to John W. (one of our seminarians) bringing this section to light. We were all reminded of occasions when we had real, authentic conversations with folks about this fundamental desire for happiness and where happiness originates from. We know that happiness is most often a result of the pursuit of virtue and genuine relationships, which makes the jump to where our ultimate happiness is going to come from pretty simple. When we abandon ourselves and live in relationship with Jesus Christ our lives will find be filled with the most meaning and true joy. When it comes to presenting this concept to our youth and their parents, we recognized that throughout our life our capacity for happiness grows, so we should work within the parameters of where our people are at, knowing we can increase and deepen our capacity for true happiness found in Jesus Christ throughout our lives.

A reoccurring theme found in these chapters was that of inculturation, as the GDC describes (and Sr. Johanna quotes) this process is not simply “an external adaptation designed to make the Christian message more attractive or superficially decorative. On the contrary, it means the penetration of the deepest strata of persons and peoples by the Gospel which touches them deeply, ‘going to the very center and roots’ of their cultures” (Mentors, 22) . Of all of the examples of inculturation in these two chapters, which impacted you most?
While we certainly discussed how Our Lady’s appearance at Tepeyac Hill was one great lesson for us in inculturation, we spent even more time discussing the authentic ways in which the North American Martyrs helped the Gospel penetrate into the native cultures they came into contact with. In so many of the stories (especially those of St. Jean de Brebeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant), we read of men who went to great strides to learn the language of the native people, relate to the things they loved, and identify with what was true, good and beautiful in their culture. This inspired an interesting conversation about what we should capitalize on, in order to work on the process of inculturation when it comes to working with today’s teens. A few (beautiful and good) aspects of teen culture that we recognized that we can work with are their desires for authentic, lasting relationships and their desire to give oneself away in service to causes larger than themselves.

What struck you about the evangelization of Mexico, stemming from Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparition?
Without a doubt, what struck us most powerfully was the shear number of conversions that took place in the years following the apparition. We desire (in a big way) to have Our Lady’s intercession on our (new) evangelization efforts today. This conversation was coupled with appreciating Sister’s reflections on the importance of each individual soul growing closer to or farther away from the Church. There is a lot of work to do!

Regarding the witness of the North American Martyrs, how did their courage, bravery and hope in their eternal end inspire you?
As we talked about the stories of these martyrs, we were definitely impacted by their confidence in their relationship with the Lord and the hope of the world to come. In particular, this quote from St. Noel Chabanel stuck out to us and inspired us in big ways: “What difference does it make if I die or not. This life does not count for much. The Iroquois cannot snatch the happiness of heaven from me” (Mentors, 29).

Like we said earlier, we’d love to have you join us in this conversation. Of course, if you were struck by other things in these chapters, we’d love to hear them. We’ll be moderating the comments and chatting with you on this post all week!

Our next book club will be taking place on Monday, October 13th from 1:30 – 3:00pm at the Bishop O’Connor Center. You are more than welcome to join us in person for the discussion! No RSVP is necessary.

From the Mission Field: JPII Inspiration

JPII Calcutta

When one saint preaches the homily at another to-be saint’s beatification, you know it’s good. That was the case when (to be) Saint Pope John Paul the Great preached at Bl. Mother Teresa’s beatification. This homily is worth the read and perfectly timed for any Love Begins Here missionaries who want to celebrate the legacy of JPII this weekend.

Also, if you’re curious where the words above came from, check out this short quote from Jason Evert’s book Saint John Paul the Great:

When visiting the poorest of the poor at Mother Teresa’s home for the destitute and dying in Calcutta, he reminded them, “You are not God’s abandoned children. Quite the opposite. God will find joy in your faith and courage.” … He felt so at home with the poor that when visiting Mother Teresa in Calcutta, someone nearby heard him whisper to her, “If I could, I would make this my headquarters as Pope.”

Happy Canonization weekend! (In case you’re looking to throw a canonization party, check out this Pinterest board.) Saint John Paul the Great, pray for Love Begins Here, our missionaries, our Core Team and all Madison Catholic Youth!

John Paul II, we love you.

There are a few things we want to share with you on this spring day!

First up, in case you haven’t seen it, the Love Begins Here promo video launched yesterday. One of the coolest facebook posts we saw in conjunction with a share of it, was the following, by Dan, a former missionary who is in his first year of college.

Words cannot describe the joy and good fruits that so beautifully radiate from Love Begins Here and these people, so I am just going to leave this video here with a piece of advice: do it. You will never regret making that decision to take part in one of the most life changing things I have ever experienced.



Second, we would like for you to save the date of October 19th. At 1:00pm in the afternoon, Chris Stefanick (international Catholic speaker and the brains behind Chosen) will be making a stop in the Diocese of Madison. (St. John the Baptist in Waunakee will host us!) He will speak with teens and parents for a couple hours that afternoon as a part of the Revolution of Love Series that will be coming back for the 2014 – 2015 school year. We will have more information to share later this spring!

Third, congrats to Topher (from Camp Gray!) and Anna (2014 LBH Core Team member) on winning the JP2 Book giveaways last week! They will be in the mail on Friday.

JPII Demanding Love

On the topic of this great to-be saint, we thought that over the next few weeks we could share with you some inspiration and insights from the book. Today’s summary is of chapter 7, on his love for young people. (In case you are curious, chapters 1 – 6 are a biography.)

Blessed John Paul II’s great love for the youth and commitment to them can teach us many things. The following are four lessons we, especially those who work with teens, can learn from him.

1. Be present.
John Paul immersed himself in his interactions with the youth, from his young years as a priest unto his aging years as our Holy Father. An University instructor who spent time with him and the youth on wilderness trips recalled, “He lived and breathed these problems [on their hearts]. And because young people live and breathe love, he lived and breathed these young people’s love.” Not only did he enter into their deepest questions and struggles, he literally made himself available, regularly announcing to the youth where he was staying so they could visit him on his travels. We all have many things fighting for our attention. The fact of the matter is that we must put them down and order our days (and lives) to be available and present to the hearts of our teens.

2. Do not compromise on the truth.
John Paul did not believe in shying away from teaching and preaching the truth. He recognized that the world already sold the youth short, and he did not want to join them in doing so. As Jason writes, “if he had lowered the standard, he’d have missed the chance to invite people to live lives of heroic virtue.” Our young people want the truth and want to be challenged. Be a beacon of light and truth for them, in the midst of this often dark world.

3. Whatever you do, remain authentic.
What John Paul believed and what he said were one in the same. He took his call to witness to his Catholic faith very seriously. He made it known that encountering Christ changes ones life. We are called to that same witness, preaching that we have a “real capacity to become the image of his Son”, rather than believing we are “the sum of our weaknesses and failures.”

4. Make your who life about love.
Here Jason tells a story of the young people on John Paul’s first visit to the USA chanting “John Paul II, we love you!” The Holy Father, so delighted by their excitement and genuine love, responded, “Perhaps, I love you more.” He knew that by loving the young people, he could introduce them to the love that will solve all their problems and answer all of their questions. He called them to live in that love, in true freedom, regardless of how demanding of a task it might seem to be. Taking his witness to heart, we need to be devoted to loving the folks the Lord puts in our lives, so that along they way we can offer them His love.

Canonization Preparation, Bishop Morlino and a Sweet Giveaway!

Today on the blog, we are doing a little round up of some sweet things that have surfaced in the past week!


First up, Tiffany Topel (the super sweet and talented youth minister in Jefferson) was featured on the Lifeteen blog this week! Go read it! Not only does it feature the story of Bishop Morlino’s visit with her Middle School Youth, but she also shares two important things she learned from the visit. Huge thanks to Tiffany for not only her passionate work but sharing her wisdom with folks in the Madison Diocese and far beyond.

Second, Noah is coming out this weekend, and we have collected a number of things to read, if you are thinking about seeing it. The first recommendation would be to read the actual account of Noah and the ark in scripture; start in Genesis 6 and continue through Genesis 9. (A quick, or thorough, reading will tell you that there must be some additions or cinematic choices made to make the story into a feature length film.) There is a thoughtful review on the National Catholic Register that provides some context for the movie and thoughts on the production and retelling of the story. Catholic Online movie reviewer Scot Landry makes a case for 8 Reasons Why Catholics Should See Noah. And, Catholic Vote has a blog post on 100 proudly Catholic films, whether or not you feel like Noah is going to bring you to the theater.


Third, while we’re still in the midst of Lent, let’s not forget to prepare for the great feast of Divine Mercy that is coming our way one month from today! Along with the great feat in the midst of the Easter season, on April 27th of this year, two canonizations will take place, of Blessed Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II. Now is the perfect time to learn about these great saints-to-be. Here are a few suggestions:
– Journal of a Soul: The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII 
– Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert (Learn about this incredible brand new book here! From there you can download a chapter of it, place a bulk order for them in paperback, pick one up in hardcover, and get the links to buy them on your iPad, Kindle or Nook!)
Pope John XXIII Vatican Webpage
Pope John XXIII Beatification Homily
Pope John Paul II Vatican Webpage
Pope John Paul II Beatification Homily

Fourth, thanks to the great support for the Camp Gray fundraiser at Orange Leaf (the Old Sauk, Middleton location) last night. See the recap from the event on their Twitter account.

Fifth, go Badgers!

Sixth, if you want to win a copy of Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, you have a chance to do so today! Just leave a comment with your name and Parish. We’ll draw two winners at 10:00am on Monday, March 30th!