Following the 2014 Archdiocesan Synod, two points of focus emerged for discipleship in southeastern Wisconsin. They were evangelization and the Sunday Mass — distinct but interwoven concepts that form the bedrock of the life of a Christian.
“People wanted a better understanding of the Mass, and we realized we also needed to do a better job as Catholics of inviting people to the Mass and to the faith — of reaching out,” said Randy Nohl, director of synod implementation for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Following the synod, the archdiocese devoted a year to the emphasis of evangelization and the Sunday Mass, producing literature and other programming to aid parishes and individuals.
Last year, as the Archdiocesan Synod Implementation Commission reviewed their progress since the synod, the importance of those two priorities kept cropping up.
“We said we need to get back to that,” said Nohl. “As one of our Pallium speakers said a few years ago, if we don’t get Sunday right, we’re not going to get Monday right. We’re nurtured on Sunday, but that gives us what we need for the rest of the week.”
Plans for the initiative to emphasize the importance of evangelization and the Sunday Mass were in place even before COVID-19 struck in the spring. After the pandemic emerged, it became even more important — but it goes deeper than simply trying to boost Mass attendance. It’s about a comprehensive, intrinsic and lasting appreciation for the spiritual sustenance given from the altar.
This Christmas, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is producing a “Welcome Home Prayer Card” for parishes to distribute to all attendees of Christmas Mass. Available in both English and Spanish, the card features a beautiful image of the manger on the front, with a message of welcome and a prayer of supplication on the back.
The Welcome Home Prayer Card will also include information on a New Year’s One Percent Prayer challenge, being launched in January by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
The challenge calls for devoting 1 percent (15 minutes) of the day to personal prayer with scripture and living out that prayer by doing concrete actions to grow in love for God and neighbor. Participants can sign up to receive a daily email linking to a new One Percent Prayer Audio Guide for each of January’s 31 days.
These daily One Percent Prayer audio guides “help people learn to talk to the Lord in their own words and hear Him speak,” said Margaret Rhody, associate director of the Office of Evangelization. “Because he’s speaking all the time but we are seldom still enough to hear him.”
Listening for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in sacred scripture is a prospect many Catholics find intimidating — even the most devout ones.
“When I was in college and I was first told I should spend 15 minutes a day praying with scripture, I was like, ‘Great! I have no idea how to do that. Where do I start?’” said Rhody. “When I was first starting out, I would spend that whole 15 minutes reading Scripture, which is good — but it’s not the same as listening and learning to recognize the ways God speaks to us through Scripture.”
The One Percent Prayer audio guides, featuring Office of Evangelization staff members, make getting started simple. “It leads our conversation with God,” said Rhody. “It will hold your hand and walk you through how to talk with God and practice listening for him responding to you in Scripture and silence. The audio guides make this very approachable and doable.”
Each guide prompts listeners to tell God what’s on their mind and heart, pause to listen for God’s response, listen to a daily scripture reading, reflect on what it means for their life, ask God questions and listen for answers. It concludes by helping the listeners discern one concrete action they can do today to live out their prayer.
Copies of the Welcome Home Prayer Card are available for parishes to distribute at their Christmas Masses while supplies last, and can be ordered at https://www.archmil.org/welcome-home.
To sign up for the One Percent Prayer program and receive the daily audio guides in your email inbox, visit https://www.archmil.org/one-percent-prayer.