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Gathering Up the Fragments: Pastoral Ministry in a Postmodern World

In the latest installment in the Lay Ecclesial Minister Speaker Series, Dr. Donald Wallenfang discussed how Church ministry can often leave lay ministers fragmented and exhausted, and how they can overcome these challenges.

by Editorial Team

Show Notes

(4:49) Introduction and opening prayer

(12:21) Dr. Gerlach introduces Dr. Wallenfang, and Dr. Wallenfang introduces all the textures and pieces of our lives that make up our human souls, and what happens when the pieces become scattered. He overviews the three segments of the presentation: diagnosing the current culture, the role of Carmelite contemplative prayer in evangelization, and examination of the Augustinian Confessions.

(18:00) Dr. Wallenfang examines the relationship and progression between pre-modernism, modernity, and postmodernism. He addresses the current skepticism of human reason; the pluralism, relativism, and secularism present in today’s society; and how and why we become fragmented. Citing Pope Francis, Dr. Wallenfang addresses how the fragments can be gathered, and that the union between the divine and human natures in the Eucharist is what teaches us to gather these fragments together. 

(27:51) Dr. Wallenfang introduces the Carmelite practice of contemplative prayer, and its direct relationship with evangelization. He relates contemplative prayer with the entrance into the Eucharist and its effectiveness in “gathering up the heart” and awakening our faith. He shares that ministers must have the grace of seeing beauty where others cannot and potential where no one else does, and how this grace comes from contemplation. He mentions the pathway to contemplative prayer that’s given to us by St. Teresa of Avila. 

(39:17) With another quote from Pope Francis, Dr. Wallenfang begins to discuss how we can go out into the world and begin being ambassadors of reconciliation, drawing souls closer to Christ. He encourages us to begin with how we look at others, especially those who are different from us. Dr. Wallenfang introduces St. Augustine’s Confessions and expounds on the divine love and divine gift that God has given us. He expresses that even if all one does in ministry is give that “look of love” that people so crave, that will be a huge success. He calls, as well, on Unleash the Gospel and Archbishop Vigneron’s notion that a personal encounter, which is so integral to evangelization, is a mutual contemplation.

(53:50) In closing, Dr. Wallenfang refers to this compilation of all the above fragments as “montage ministry”. Dr. Gerlach offers a brief reflection on the personal connection of contemplation, and then facilitates a question and answer from webinar participants. The two address the key takeaways of contemplative relationships and our dual-fragmentation, acknowledging what the Lord can do in and through us, as well as in the world around us.

(1:17:30) Closing and prayer

Editorial Team

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.