September 18, 2012 // Uncategorized

Women’s roles in family and Church highlighted at conference

SOUTH BEND — This year’s Arise Conference emphasized the theme of women being “Chosen” by God to support the family, the community and the Christian faith. The conference was held Sept. 15 with approximately 660 women in attendance at South Bend’s Century Center.

The Blessed Virgin Mary was the focus of the morning of the conference. The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows was celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at Mass. The bishop reminded those in attendance that Mary stood by her Son at the foot of the cross.

“Every fiber of her being was shaken by the experience of seeing the suffering of Jesus. We can hardly imagine the depth of her sorrow. Perhaps only those women who have experienced the death of a little child can fully grasp the depth of Mary’s sorrow,” said Bishop Rhoades, recalling his own sorrow at the death of both of his parents. At his mother’s death he remembered her last moments.

“My mother suffered from cancer and it was the hardest thing I ever experienced in my life. As she was dying my family gathered around and prayed the rosary,” Bishop Rhoades recalled.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades speaks at a Mass for participants of the ARISE women’s conference held in South Bend last weekend.

He added, “At the end of the rosary, after we all told her we loved her, I gave her a blessing and then she died. I’ll never forget that. The Blessed Mother’s love and compassion, so evident at the foot of the cross, extends to us.”

Following Mass, Dr. Scott Hahn, an international speaker and bestselling author on the subject of Scripture and the Catholic faith, spoke on the Blessed Virgin Mary in his talk “Hail Holy Queen.”

As a former Presbyterian minister, Dr. Hahn had difficulty with the doctrine and devotions concerning the Blessed Virgin. During his journey to the Catholic faith, he encountered four building blocks that helped him understand Mary’s importance in the Church and then shared that with his non-Catholic friends.

The four areas include the Blessed Virgin as a role model, the Mother of Our Lord, that she is the masterpiece of Christ, and that the faithful imitate Christ when they honor her.

Hahn noted that a professor explained to him that Mary was more than the mother of Jesus. The professor explained, “that women don’t bear natures, they bear persons. And since the Person that she bore is a Divine Person, she can be rightly defined as the Mother of God. Elizabeth declares this when she says, ‘Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?’ Mary did not say to Elizabeth, ‘I am the mother of His human nature,’” Hahn emphasized.

Kimberly Hahn, married to Dr. Hahn since 1979, and who followed her husband into the Church in 1990, received a warm welcome as she took the podium to speak after the lunch break. With the Year of Faith to commence Oct. 11, Hahn talked about the opportunity as Catholics to experience a conversion, by turning back to Jesus and entering into a deeper relationship with Him.

Quoting St. Paul, she illustrated how all are called to “live for the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:11) In order to do that, she continued, the faithful are also called to share the faith and overcome the obstacles. Hahn said sometimes there may be regret that things are not as they used to be, but the faithful must be part of the ongoing process of evangelization.

“The Church of our youth is being built right now, and you and I are living stones in that structure. How do we help build the Church?” challenged Hahn. “We need to share our Lord. We need to share our faith. We need share about Mary. We need to find our tongue and speak the truth to a world that is dying because it hungers for that truth.”

Hahn said five things that stop the faithful from sharing the faith are lack of love, fear, excuses, sin and suffering. A wordless witness is not enough, she said. Nor does anyone need to be a theological pit bull. Instead, she said, a balance must be found to share the truth in love.

Hahn encouraged the crowd, saying they must find their voice and “be available, like Mary was available,” noting no one need be perfect to share the faith.

“Share what you know,” she said, “and if you don’t know, go back and learn.”

Remaining close to the sacraments and open in prayer help the faithful to receive God’s graces, added Hahn. She encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion and Confession.

Marilyn Bartkowiak, a member of St. Jude Parish in South Bend, smiled broadly even as she clutched her walker. She described the conference as “very spiritual,” and said both Hahns inspired her to live her faith more deeply.

“I try to start my day with a Morning Offering, but sometimes I don’t,” she said. “Sometimes I forget to thank God in the middle of the day or I don’t take my sufferings to Him and ask Him to help carry them, or use the sufferings for His glory and honor.”

“I’m thankful I was here to listen to that,” added Janet Monroe, also from St. Jude, “to grow from they had to say, and make me realize how special it really is to be a Catholic.”

Redeemer Radio — Catholic Radio 1450 AM — co-sponsored the conference. Community Relations Director Patty Becker also served as the emcee.

“It was a little bit of heaven to have both Scott Hahn and Kimberly Hahn here,” said Becker as the conference wrapped up. “They have a beautiful marriage, a large family and they are great witnesses. As they both said in their speeches, the best way to evangelize is to be what God wants us to be.”

Ten things Kimberly Hahn shared as a way to pray “for holy boldness” to get through the day.

•  Make an Act of Consecration. This encompasses everything!

•  Use the phrase, “Jesus, I trust in You!”

•  “I am weak, but You are strong.” Admit it!

•  “You, Lord, are in control.”

•  “Your grace is enough for what I need today.” (Phil. 4:19)

•  “Come, Holy Spirit!” Ask for wisdom, understanding and counsel.

•  “Help me be more aware of my sinfulness.”

•  “I am Your beloved daughter and I want to please You. Show me the way.” Look for little things!

•  “Thank you, God, for the grace to live this day for the Praise of Your Glory!”

•  Harness Heaven! Call upon your guardian angel, the saints and the Blessed Mother.


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