Many people were very excited to hear that the printed version of the Diocesan magazine, Catholic Outlook, was making a comeback. The first edition, in December 2019, shared great articles about what was happening in our Diocese. It looked great and was positively received by parishes.
When I read the Catholic Outlook magazine, I was struck by the fact that it was such a great resource for our faith communities, pastoral councils, classrooms, finance committees, families – really for any small group coming together for faith formation and to talk about life and faith.
For example, the address by Cardinal John Dew of New Zealand explored the leadership of Pope Francis. Bishop Vincent’s address at the Diocesan Forum invited us to “Go Out into the Deep!” Other articles focusing on different areas of our faith and church offered many opportunities to think deeper.
How can we take advantage of this resource? A great starting point are the questions that have been offered at our Plenary Council Listening and Discernment sessions.
“How is God speaking to you in what you have read?”
“What words or phrases are you being drawn to and why?”
“How are you feeling?”
In small groups, the reflection process employed for the Plenary sessions can offer the opportunity for a rich conversation. An abridged version could look like this:
- One person reads the article aloud.
- It is then read a second time aloud or on one’s own.
- Allow a good amount of time for quiet prayer and reflection on the questions above. In the silence we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us and through us.
- When that time of quiet has finished, the group moves into a time of sharing and listening. One person at a time shares their responses to the questions above, without interruption, for 2-3 minutes. This allows everyone in turn to share the wisdom of their reflection – inspired by the Holy Spirit.
- Once everyone has shared, there is the opportunity to continue a beautiful and rich conversation based upon what everyone has already shared. And with any great conversation, who knows where that could lead?
This model is based on the Ignatian practice of Spiritual Conversations and has proven a rich and respectful process for listening and sharing.
Sharing in a group does not have to follow a pattern such as the above. Another starting point might be to ask the questions, “What am I hearing? What am I feeling? What difference does it make?” Simple questions that can invite much discussion.
As a pastoral council, you might look for an article pertinent to your agenda and use the above questions to stimulate discussion.
As a family, look for a topic of interest, and schedule a chat over a meal with a special dessert afterwards. There are so many ways to engage with the articles!
In a classroom, a few questions prompting students to break open an article can invite them to think deeper about the issues they might be discussing at recess and lunch or even in their religious education classes.
So, if ever you hear anybody say, “What am I going to do with this Outlook magazine?”, invite people to take the magazine and focus on the different articles. Maybe offer a group yourself. There is great material for deep reflection and formation for small groups and families. Let’s employ the gift of this magazine as an opportunity to continue to share the mission we are called to live in our church and in our world.
You can find the e-magazine at https://catholicoutlook.org/e-edition/ or printed copies, including the March 2020, are available from your local Church.
Lisa Bright is the Project Officer for the Pastoral Planning Office for the Diocese of Parramatta.