Curtis Mitch describes studying Sacred Scripture as a journey to discover God’s will in your life.
This was the starting point for the latest Diocese of Venice Office of Evangelization Scripture Series which was held Feb. 21 at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota. Mitch co-authored the Ignatian Study Bible and is from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville. He also spoke later that same day at a gathering of Theology on Tap in Sarasota.
By gaining greater understanding for Sacred Scriptures, we begin to have a greater appreciation for the gift of Salvation, Mitch explained. He compared the Old Testament with the New Testament as a bad news, good news story. The Old Testament begins with the failure and disobedience of Adam and in the New Testament the obedience and success of Jesus.
Mitch explained that his goal for the day was for everyone to walk away with a means to personally bridge the language of Scripture with the language of the Church.
Participants in the talk expressed their appreciation for the continued opportunity to learn from world-renowned speakers. “I think I know the Bible fairly well, but get so much out of these talks, that I can’t wait for the next one,” said one woman from St. Patrick Parish.
The next Scripture Conference will feature Scott Hahn on May 18, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at Bishop Verot Catholic High School, 5598 Sunrise Drive, Fort Myers. This conference will feature several talks on aspects of the Scriptures and includes lunch. Bring your Bible. Tickets are $20 in advance and $30 at the door. Students receive a discount. Please register at www/dioceseofvenice.org/calendar.
As the Liturgical Calendar and all of creation turn its eyes toward the Passion of Jesus Christ this Lent and the following Resurrection, how ought we to give the proper response to the love of God? The common practices of Lent include prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
These practices begin with a day of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, March 6, abstaining from meat each Friday, and another day of fasting and abstinence on April 19, which is Good Friday.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, Eve sees a threefold description of the fruit, “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise” (Gen 3:6). St. John explains this threefold distinction in his first epistle, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).
Basically, what this means is that we primarily struggle in three ways: 1) the lust of the flesh is when we give into bodily temptations which may be gluttony, sloth, or lust for example, 2) the lust of the eyes pertains to wanting possessions or money, and 3) the pride of life is pride and vanity, wanting our own importance and glory rather than God’s.
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are set up directly to combat those dispositions in our lives. Prayer gives us humility rather than pride, relying on God rather than ourselves. Fasting is denying the body and the lusts of the flesh in order to grow in discipline and gain mastery over the body. Almsgiving brings about detachment to material goods so that we might rule them rather than us being ruled by the cares of the world, it also helps us to become generous people!
Lent is a season to focus on these in light of Jesus’ ministry, self-denial, and Passion that we might grow in conformity to Christ and His divine life. It is a season to truly grow in charity, which covers a multitude of sin and is the true measure of holiness. Growth in holiness is truly the perfection of charity (the perfection of ourselves in love of God and neighbor). As we progress along this path of sanctity, our lives become more perfectly united to that of Christ’s on the Cross, so that in dying with Him in death, we might rise with Him in life, including the growth and possible perfection of virtue and great union with God even on earth!
This Lenten Season, be encouraged to do more than you have ever done because you are given a unique opportunity to receive grace from God that you will never have the opportunity to receive again. Expect to receive abundant blessings this Lenten season! Remember the scandal of the Cross and the foolishness of God’s love for us, He desires to pour more and more grace into your heart and to love you in exactly the way you need. He offers healing, love, and mercy if only you would provide the open door of your heart and cooperate with His grace.
The Office of Evangelization is also offering many opportunities to encounter the love of God in your daily lives this Lent. There are daily reflections and prayerful resources on the Diocesan website under the new section “Liturgical Calendar” with a dedicated webpage to Lent. There will also be Diocesan “Mercy Nights” throughout the Diocese at different Parishes you can find on the website. These nights will include Eucharistic Adoration, praise & worship, a short reflection, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)—where we all might draw from the spring of eternal life and be transformed by the scandalous love of God.
LENTEN REGULATIONS ON FASTING AND ABSTINENCE
Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019, and Good Friday, April 19, 2019, are days of fast and abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence from meat.
Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics between the ages of 18 years and 59 years (inclusive). On a fast day one full meal is allowed. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “Paschal Fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily His Resurrection.
Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age and older. Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent (and Good Friday) are days of abstinence.
Note: If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, they are urged to practice other forms of self-denial that are suitable to their condition.
Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent. The faithful and catechumens should undertake these practices seriously in a spirit of penance and of preparation for baptism or of renewal of baptism at Easter.
Lent 2019 – Mercy Nights
The Office of Evangelization is hosting several “Mercy Nights” throughout the Diocese during Lent. Mercy Nights are designed to give the faithful the opportunity to encounter God particularly through His unfathomable mercy. Each night will have Eucharistic Adoration, lively praise and worship music, a short reflection, and the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Make your Lent a time to truly encounter what the Lord has in store for you in prayer, come to Mercy Night! For more information, contact email@example.com (see a list below for the dates, locations and musicians).
All are welcome to the Mercy Nights, which begin at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted. There is no cost to attend.
March 13, St. Peter the Apostle Parish, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road, Naples, music by Jon Niven;
March 20, Incarnation Parish, 2901 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, music by Out of Darkness;
March 27, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 SW 20th, Cape Coral, music by Jon Niven;
April 5, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th N., Naples, (starts at 6:30 p.m.) music by Jennine Fuentes “Encounter on the Mountain;”
April 9, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice, music by Nathan Boock;
April 17, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, music by Jon Nevin.
Throughout Scriptures we are reminded to care for widows and widowers who are protected by God. For this reason, the Bishop Frank J. Dewane is celebrating a Mass for all widows and widowers at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 20 at Epiphany Cathedral, 310 Sarasota Street, Venice. A dinner will follow in the Parish Hall.
Bishop Dewane said this Mass is an important opportunity to recognize those who have suffered the loss of a spouse but remain strong in their faith.
The concept for the Mass grew out of the annual Mass honoring couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries. Those Masses, which will be, March 2 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and March 16 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs, are extraordinarily popular, however each year there are empty spaces in the pews when a spouse passes away.
“Widows and widowers are not forgotten but are in fact recognized and in particular revered by the Church,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Book of Revelation says the Lamb will shepherd and lead those who grieve to the springs of life-giving water and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. This reminds us that we can persevere…”
The celebration will include a display of photos available for viewing and be part of the Mass for widows and widowers. Should an attendee wish to share a photo for the display, they can either bring the image to the event, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail it to Diocese of Venice, Attn: Family Life Office, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, Florida 34285.
Theology on Tap offers an innovative solution to one of today’s most pressing pastoral concerns: how to reach out to young Catholic adults.
With successful ongoing efforts in Naples, Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres, Joshua Mazrin, Diocese Director of Evangelization, decided to try to reintroduce the Theology on Tap concept in the Northern Deanery.
The first gathering was Dec. 6 at the Mandeville Beer Garden in downtown Sarasota, just a few blocks from St. Martha Parish. The bar includes an outdoor deck which offered the ideal location for fellowship and a discussion about the Faith in a comfortable and relaxed setting.
Several years ago, Theology on Tap rotated between Parishes in the Northern Deanery, but interest waned when there was a large gap one summer.
Mazrin said this first reintroduction, which had little promotion, drew about 20 people, and served to gauge interest in the concept as well as to help build momentum for having future monthly gatherings with different topics and speakers.
“It can often be difficult for young adults to stay connected to the Faith,” Mazrin added. “As a young Catholic, it can be easy to feel left out of the Parish because few activities even hold their interest. Sadly, young adults can sometimes be overlooked to the extent that even their absence goes unnoticed.”
Two priests were present for the Sarasota gathering. Father Eric Scanlan, Administrator of Incarnation Parish in Bradenton and Diocese Vocations Director, as well as Father Shawn Roser, a Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton who was ordained in July, joined in the fellowship.
Father Roser also offered the opening prayer, which included a blessing for success of the event, the growth in faith for all and for the beverages being consumed.
The idea of Theology on Tap is to bring together young adults where they feel most comfortable while inviting them to discover how Faith can give sense to their everyday lives. The evenings are about coming together to socialize, collaborate, pray, and grow in their spiritual understanding all while building a strong core community.
“This has real potential,” Mazrin said. “We just need to spread the word.”
Based on the response of those who attended in Sarasota Theology on Tap, the word will spread.
One young lady had several people in mind whom she plans to invite to future Theology on Tap gatherings. “This was really nice,” she said. “Meeting Catholics my age is always hard. Plus, it is a struggle to live my Faith because I just don’t have a real connection to my Parish.”
Mazrin noted that the next gathering will be Jan. 24 and more details to announced through the Diocese Young Adults Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DOVYoungAdults.
While the Sarasota area Theology on Tap is just returning, the Naples area gatherings are going strong. The site of the gatherings rotates each Tuesday throughout the month at different parishes and are held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays: First Tuesday at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Avenue North; Second Tuesday at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road; Third Tuesday at St. Peter the Apostle Parish, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road; Fourth Tuesday at St. William Parish, 601 Seagate Drive. Call the individual parishes for further details as some gatherings are held off-site.
In Lehigh Acres, the LOFT young adult group meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at St. Raphael Parish, 2514 Lee Blvd. Call 239-369-1831 for further information.
In Fort Myers, ROOTED meets first Thursday of the month, St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Call 941-561-3022 ext. 107.
For more information about Theology on Tap, or if you have ideas about how to reach out to young adults Catholics, please contact Joshua Mazrin at email@example.com.
The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as Celebrant will air for a full hour on Christmas Day. For viewers in the northern portions of the Diocese (DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties), the Mass airs at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass airs at 8:00 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). Please check your cable provider for channel listings. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information, contact Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018 Christmas Appeal
Catholic Charities launches the annual Christmas Appeal during December 2018 and January 2019. The goal is to raise $565,000 and your gifts are much appreciated! The Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is the agency’s largest fundraiser and critical to operating the social service organization. Your donation will benefit Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida that assist individuals, families, and seniors all year long. Thank you for your giving spirit! To donate please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a donation to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB #409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065. For more information, please call 941-488-5581.
Bishop Blesses Christmas Tree
During the first week of Advent, Bishop Frank J. Dewane blessed the Catholic Center Christmas Tree Dec. 6 during a prayer service with the employees of the Catholic Center in Venice. The tree was then decorated and various holiday treats were offered.
Mass at Dawn continues through Dec. 23
Following the Filipino tradition, several parishes have hosted all or part of the so-called Mass at Dawn (Simbang Gabi). This novena of Masses in celebrated preparation for Christmas. In the Diocese, the full novena was available at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte and began Dec. 15. Three Diocesan Filipino priests celebrated the opening Mass. Additional one-day Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo opportunities took place Dec. 16 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, as well as Dec. 21 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs. Although this tradition is not exclusive to Filipinos, its observance is very much highlighted and distinctive of the Philippine Catholic culture.
Mass Celebrating Haitian Independence Jan. 1
Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites everyone to participate in the Annual Mass celebrating Haitian Independence at 2 p.m., New Year’s Day, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The Mass, which is on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, brings together the various Haitian communities within the Diocese of Venice for one celebration. Most Rev. Désinord Jean, Diocese of Hinche, Haiti, will be the Principal Celebrant and Homilist. There is a reception after the Mass in the Parish Hall.
“Lord Teach Me To Pray” Series begins Jan. 8
Are you longing for a deeper relationship with Jesus? If so, the “Lord Teach Me To Pray” prayer series rooted in Ignatian spirituality is for you. The first part of the three-part series, “Praying Christian Virtues,” is being offered for women for 12 weeks beginning Tuesday, January 8, at St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota. For more details, please email Veronica at email@example.com.
Fashion Show Jan. 12
All are invited to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center at 1 p.m. Jan 12, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice, for an afternoon of fashion, food and fun. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. with an opportunity to bid on auction items. Lunch will be a Caesar Salad with your choice of salmon of chicken. Great Christmas gift! For more information or to buy tickets please visit www.olph-retreat.org or call 941-486-0233 ext. 3002.
Couples Date Night Jan. 15 and 17
The Office of Family Life is hosting two Parenting workshops. Catholic Parenting is challenging! Learn specific tips and tricks that helped hundreds of families thrive! Jim and Maureen Otremba have been presenting for over 20 years and have given presentations to Parishes and Diocese around the country. The workshops are 6 p.m., Jan. 15 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers, and from 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 E. State Road 70, Lakewood Ranch. The cost is $25 for materials. Registration is needed. Pizza dinner and drinks will be provided. Our Lady of the Angels will have babysitting available. For more information and registration go to www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar.
Spirituality of Retirement workshop Jan. 16
The Office of Family Life is hosting a workshop at 1 p.m., Jan. 16, at St. William Parish Ministry Hall, 750 Seagate Drive, Naples. The Universal Call to Holiness invites us to “the fullness of the Christian life and the perfection of charity” (Lumen Gentium). For Catholics in their retirement years, this invitation takes on new joys and challenges as their wisdom increases and defining life characteristics such as career, mobility, and relationships undergo transition. This workshop provides strategies for retired Catholics to enrich their identity as cherished members of the Body of Christ. Rooted in our baptismal call to holiness and drawing on the riches of the Eucharist, the presentation incorporates current research on brain biology, generativity, and wellness. Participants will gain an enhanced knowledge of the gift they are to the Body of Christ along with ways to share their gifts with their faith community. Suggested donation at the door. Please register by Jan. 14 either online at www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar or call St. William at 239-261-4883.
Faith and Ale Lee County Jan. 17
Faith and Ale is an outreach for men to learn more about their faith and grow closer to Our Lord. The next gathering is 6:00 p.m. Thursday, January 17, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The speaker is David Casper, a retired Hall of Fame American football player. Locations will vary throughout the 2018-19 season. To register, or for more information, please visit www.faithandale.com.
Blue Mass in Naples Jan. 26
St. Agnes Catholic Church, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples will celebrate a Blue Mass in honor of Law Enforcement and First Responders, Active and Retired on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. This year’s guest homilist will be Deacon Bob Montelongo of the Chicago Police Department. Please join us as we honor their sacrifice and service to our community. A luncheon will immediately follow in the Parish Hall. Please RSVP at 239-592-1949 for the reception.
Mooney Lady Cougar Weightlifting team debuts
The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougar Weightlifting Team made its debut in November. This new Sarasota team consists of 15 inaugural participants and will be competing against teams at competitions throughout the region.
Making gingerbread houses
The Bishop Verot Catholic High School National Honor Society welcomed second and third graders to the Fort Myers campus Dec. 6 from St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers. It was a fun day of creating beautiful Gingerbread Houses and Christmas Cookies, and a little snacking too.
Bringing music for weary travelers
String musicians from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice entertained weary travelers at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Dec. 4 with a holiday concert. Musicians from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota also had their own holiday concert a few days later. Great job everyone.
Wrap-up of news from Across the Diocese in November
Wauchula Children’s Festival a big success
More than 200 children participated in a Children’s Festival at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. Geared toward children aged 3 to 10, there were a number of fun activities and games as well as Mass and prayers.
Successful Vocations Awareness Weekend
The Diocese Vocations Office brought a group of young men to participate in the Nov. 9-11 Vocations Awareness Weekend at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Led by Vocations Director Father Eric Scanlan, several attended this engaging and prayerful discernment event.
Retreat inspires catechists
A Diocesan Catechist Retreat themed: “Root of God’s Healing” took place Nov. 17 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. About 100 catechists participated in the retreat which focused on reenergizing them as they approach the Advent and Christmas seasons. They were reminded that Jesus serves to free and restore them as they work to be the light and witness of the Lord for others.
VDCCW Latina Convocation held
The first ever Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Latina Convocation took place Nov. 17 at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton. About 50 women took part in the gathering which served to educate about the role of the CCW and to inspire them to become more involved in their faith. Iris Gomez, VDCCW Past-President, organized the gathering and Father Juan Carlos Sack, Administrator at Sacred Heart Parish, provide inspirational talks.
Cities for Life gathering held
Praying for the end to the death penalty, a Cities for Life gathering was held Nov. 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte. Cities for Life is a worldwide annual event that was begun in 2002 by the community of Saint’ Egidio in Rome where the Coliseum was lit up during the night. November 30th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the first civil state in the world to do away with the death penalty in Tuscany, Italy in 1786- 229 years ago. About 2,000 cities and 80 countries will call for the end of the use of the death penalty by lighting civic or religious buildings around the world, along with prayer services and educational programs. This was the fourth time the Dioceses of Florida participated in the prayer vigil. Participants in the Port Charlotte gathering saw a video presentation of a talk on the death penalty from the September 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference in Punta Gorda.
Sarasota Charity Ball Jan. 26 at The Westin
The Catholic Charities Ball will be held on Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. at The Westin in Sarasota. All proceeds will benefit the programs and services of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Sarasota and Manatee counties which include Our Mother’s House, St. Martha’s Early Learning Center, Bethesda House, Catholic Charities Family Haven, housing counseling and foreclosure prevention, financial assistance, senior services, professional counseling, refugee services, and immigration services. The evening will include a cocktail hour, auctions, dinner, and dancing. Tickets are $300 a person. For information and tickets visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or call 941-355-4680, ext. 301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For six consecutive Tuesdays the faithful are gathering for a spiritual evening of prayer, fellowship and inspiration.
The “Grillin’ with Grace!” series is an pilot outreach of the Office of Evangelization seeking to engage the faithful on relevant issues in a casual setting. Having commenced on July 3 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, the series continues at 6 p.m. each Tuesday evening in July at the same location, as new speakers and topics are discussed. The culminating event in the series will be Tuesday, Aug. 7 and will take place at the Siesta Key Beach Pavilion in Sarasota when the guest speaker will be Bishop Frank J. Dewane.
The first gathering in the series on July 3 began at 6 p.m. with a Holy Hour that included Eucharistic Adoration and the praying of the rosary. A fresh-cooked barbeque dinner followed. When everyone had a chance to eat a hearty meal, the evening transitioned into a talk from guest speaker Father Casey Jones, who is Chaplain at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and Campus Minster at Florida Gulf Coast University.
During his talk, Father Jones explored the question as to why Catholics don’t go to Mass. When queried, those gathered were quick to note that the Mass can be repetitive and not inspirational. Others noted that some parishes are not welcoming meaning they become isolated in their Faith.
Father Jones said this sad reality is a failing on the part of many, from the priests on down to those in the pews who arrive late and leave early. “It almost as if they are there to receive a cookie and that’s it. The Mass is so much more”
The Mass is a presentation of the Gospel, Father Jones explained, the reality of the events of salvation made present. The Gospel is defined as the Good News of Salvation.
“Most Catholics don’t seem to realize that,” Father Jones said. “The Mass can never be boring. We are there to participate in the inner life of Christ and to be sent out to proclaim the Gospel – the Good News of Salvation.”
Father was concerned that people feel alone at the Mass, since the Mass, whether with one person, a hundred or thousands, is really a celebration with the entire Church in heaven and earth, is present as one.
A young man, who said he drifted away from the faith for several years before returning, suggested that priests take just a minute or so out of each homily to speak of the Good News of Salvation as a gentle reminder for all, but specifically for those who may have never learned or may have forgotten what the Mass is all about. “I don’t remember learning any of this growing up Catholic,” he said. “I learned it when I returned and explored my faith more deeply.”
Others mentioned that the catechesis they received as children is long forgotten. One young lady mentioned that she benefitted from two different week-long summer religious retreats. These retreats opened her eyes to the Faith in ways she had not experienced earlier in life. “We talked about the Faith at home, but it wasn’t until later that I realized the beauty and joy that the Mass has to offer.”
For more information about “Grillin’ with Grace!” please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/calendar/.