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Every weekday, at the conclusion of Daily Mass in the Pastoral Center’s Bethany Chapel, we pray in Eucharistic Adoration. Over the past few months, we have begun Adoration by saying the “ARISE: Together in Christ” prayer, the opening words of which are:
Gracious God and Father,
we enter into your presence
realizing you know us better than we know ourselves.
You know the cares and sufferings
we carry in our hearts.
You call us to holiness
and we trust you to lead us together
on our journey to be a renewed Church,
for with you all things are possible.
Throughout the Archdiocese, I am seeing signs of that renewal wherever I go. From laity and clergy alike, I am hearing more and more about a new spirit; a sense that, following some difficult years, we are making progress on the road to recovery. I believe participation in the ARISE program, the first phase of which has just finished, has contributed greatly to this new spirit. ARISE, which brings together small faith-sharing groups, has been even more successful than we had hoped. More than half of our parishes are “ARISE parishes.” Three thousand people volunteered to be trained as small-group leaders. Each of the small, faith-sharing groups consists of 10 to 12 people. That means that approximately 30,000 people are participating.
Even if this story were merely about numbers, ARISE would be a success. However, there is much more, an answer to the ARISE prayer, which goes on to say:
Create us anew in Jesus Christ your Son.
Liberate us from all that keeps us from you.
Heal us from every form of sin and violence.
Transform us to live your Word more profoundly.
Awaken us to the sacred; rebuild trust among us.
Enliven our parishes; reunite our families.
We are seeing a renewal within families. Pastors receive emails about how parishioners are bringing elderly relatives or non-Catholic spouses to the gatherings. We are hearing stories about young adults and their parents talking to each other about ARISE, an experience they now have in common. Persons with disabilities are serving as Arise leaders. We started hearing about groups being formed in assisted-living facilities. Seventy men at Norfolk Prison are participating in ARISE.
We had planned to have the program offered in English, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Spanish. However, by popular demand, the program has been translated into Vietnamese and Lithuanian and is also being offered in American Sign Language. As word about ARISE spreads, we are receiving requests from non-registered parishes who want to offer the program during Lent. (Additional training sessions will be held on December 6 to accommodate. For more information contact Mary Ann McLaughlin or Ann Cussen, 617-779-3640, firstname.lastname@example.org.) Parishes are welcome to join ARISE at any time. It is never too late to ARISE!
A new evangelization is at work. Perhaps one of the greatest outcomes of ARISE is that people are discovering evangelizing can be as simple and profound as saying, “Would you like to come with me to my ARISE group?”
ARISE was introduced to our Archdiocese as part of our yearlong Bicentennial celebration and reflection. Our celebration of God’s grace over the past two centuries will culminate in a Mass at The Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday, November 23, at 2:00 p.m. History is a wonderful teacher. It shows us where we have been, guiding us toward where we are going. When we look back at what the Church in Boston faced 200 years ago and at how we overcame past hardships, we gain hope that we will meet today’s challenges. I hope you will join us for Mass and the reception that will follow in the Cathedral High School gymnasium.
Our past is more than an historical legacy; it is a reminder that the Lord renews us in every age. In Isaiah 43:19 the prophet quotes the Lord as saying, “See, I am doing something new!” The ARISE prayer ends with our acknowledgement of that truth:
May your Holy Spirit empower us
to live as a community of love,
freed to share in your work
of recreating our world and restoring justice.
We believe you are doing something new,
calling us to arise together in Christ
to celebrate the fullness of life.
Father Erikson is Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Boston.