Faith Formation


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This sequence introduces you to God's attributes. When we describe the attributes of someone, we can say that someone is strong, or very intelligent. But what are God's attributes? 

“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life.” (CCC 234)

This sequence explores what it means to be human.

This sequence covers a basic introduction to the relationship between science and religion. It explores the Big Bang Theory, Evolution and the Flat Earth Theory.

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Sunday, April 30 2017

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    This is the fulfilment of the MAYO spiritual formation program. It is hoped that retreatants would have already developed a personal prayer time as well as a structured time such as evening prayer. It would also be hoped that they would have some experience of spiritual direction. If these have not happened, someone can still begin the retreat if they wish to.

    The Ignatian retreat is normally carried out during 30 days of silent prayer with daily spiritual direction. It is made up of 4 “˜weeks’, but each week is not 7 days, but rather a set of meditations that aim for a particular grace to be achieved. Once that grace has been achieved, the retreatant can move on to the next “˜week’ of the retreat. The number of meditations also do not match 7 per week with the most being in the second “˜week’. There is a basic flow through the retreat. The first week seeks to achieve a deep sorrow for past sins in the light of God’s love to seek to do His will above all things. The second week seeks to journey with Jesus through his life to discover what God’s call is for the retreatant. This call, might just be a clarity about what the next step in life should be. Once this direction has been discerned it is solidified through meditation on Christ’s passion (third week) and resurrection (fourth week). This might lead to an adjustment of the retreatant’s decided direction.

    There is much to be gained from an Ignatian retreat and even if it is completed haphazardly. There are two key aspects to the retreat, one is greater depth in prayer and personal relationship with Jesus and the other is discernment. No personal movements of the spirit should be taken for granted, but all examined and dissected according to the rules for discernment, the examen of conscience and the guidance of spiritual direction. The aim of the retreat is to have built a personal relationship with Christ and to be able to discern the movements of the spirit which will guide the retreatant to continue to grow in holiness and service to others


     Seminar: Ideally there would be an evening introductory seminar that would explain the retreat and help consolidate the primary prayer method used, journaling, the examen and spiritual direction. Otherwise this guide is sufficient and any questions should be discussed with the spiritual director.

    Book: The primary source for the retreat is Timothy Gallagher's books.

    Commitment: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights: carry out the daily examen and read the meditation for the next day. 10-15 minutes

    · Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 20 minutes meditation including a 5 minute reflection time.

    · Particular days and times can be shifted to other days and times, whatever works for the retreatant. If one is missed no problem, just leave it out. It is important to continue on through the retreat and keep...

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    In the spirit of St. Eugene, under the patronage of Mary Immaculate, I consecrate myself to the Holy Trinity to come closer to God my creator, savior and friend, to whose service I dedicate myself with all my heart. With God's help I wish to follow the teaching of the Catholic Church, to live in purity, and to leave nothing undared in service with the poor to build the kingdom of God. Together with other MAYO members I seek to build up the blessings of the group through friendship and unity making these blessings available to all. All you Oblate martyrs, pray for me.

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    The Omega stage is both a right of passage and a spiritual stage. Those who have covered the requirements of the becoming an Omega member of MAYO are invited to become Omega members and be inducted. Induction is really a spiritual step and not really a commitment to MAYO itself. All the parts of the induction process itself is to Christ through Mary and the Church with the aim of doing God's will. The Omega member is then invited to take on an Ignatian retreat to discern what God is calling them to. In other words what should you be doing rather than MAYO. MAYO's job is done when the person is able to truly know God's will for their life and do it. Of course you don't need to be inducted at all. You can just keep growing in Christ and take on the Ignatian retreat without it. Induction is really a way to ask God and Mary for their help and to say, I really do want to live my life for you. 

    The Omega stage is the third stage of MAYO spirituality: to do whatever God calls you to. In other words to discern God's call upon your life. To presume that you will know what God's exact will is by doing a particular retreat or prayer, is presumption. But you can develop the skills to apply to your life that will definitely lead you in the right direction. The best formation for this is an Ignatian retreat which is normally completed in silence for a month at a retreat centre with a spiritual director. For us, we suggest you complete it over 32 weeks (one week covers one day) in your current situation. It is presumed that you are sufficiently formed to begin an Ignatian retreat which includes:

    1) Regular prayer times that includes at least three weekly prayer times of a half hour of meditation or contemplation.

    2) Daily examen

    3) Monthly spiritual direction

    4) Monthly reconciliation

    5) Having read the Timothy Gallagher books on Exam, Discernment, Consolation and Discerning God's will.

    Undertaking an Ignatian retreat is an adventure. You don't know what God is going to do in you through the retreat. It is far more than just getting a particular answer to prayer but a deeper inner transformation that leads you to abide in Christ so you bear much fruit (Jn 15). Having completed the retreat you will be able to move forward in your Christian walk.

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    O Jesus,
    through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
    I offer You my prayers, works,
    joys and sufferings
    of this day for all the intentions
    of Your Sacred Heart,
    in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
    throughout the world,
    in reparation for my sins,
    for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
    and in particular
    for the intentions of the Holy Father.


    For more information on this prayer see

    The history of this prayer

    An explanation

    Alternative versions

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    Spiritual direction is an opportunity to share, deepen and clarify one`s spiritual life. It is primarily focused on the question, What is God doing in my life? But also deals with the questions of:

    What is God's call upon my life

    Am I praying well?

    What area of my life should I be working on at the moment?

    How can I grow spiritually at this time?

    These are global questions, but normally it is in the daily struggles and questions that the guidance of spiritual direction can have the greatest impact. It is an opportunity for honesty and openness, of really facing issues. It can be just a matter of sharing about it without any guidance, that that is all that is needed to help someone progress. Some issues are hard to express, there may be times of silence as the person needs time to just find words to express what is happening. That can be blessing enough. Here are some questions that can be helpful

    Who do I most struggle with to love?

    Who do I need to forgive the most and why?

    What area of sin am I weakest in? How am I dealing with that issue?

    Am I growing in my relationship with God?

    Am I growing in my relationship with my parents?

    Am I growing in my relationship with my siblings?

    For the last three questions: why/why not? What should I do about it?

    Am I completing all my responsibilities?

    Spiritual direction is non-judgmental but only seeks to support and encourage. The sacrament of reconciliation is available during spiritual direction. No question or issue is too small or big for spiritual direction.

    These questions do not need to be dealt with in the first session, but can provide a starting point for sharing. Usually there is a time for the director to get to know the person so as to better help him or her, and as time goes on to start to deal with any of these questions or areas.

    It is good to start with a prayer asking for God`s blessing and guidance, and to finish with a prayer for the Lord`s will to be done. All advice is to be taken with a grain of salt and it is up to the person to decide what to do and how to respond. It is a mutual journey.

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    rjzaar created χ2 Examen


    Here are the original steps of the daily examen from Ignatius`s spiritual exercises of 1584


    It contains in it five Points.

    First Point. The first Point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits received.

    Second Point. The second, to ask grace to know our sins and cast them out.

    Third Point. The third, to ask account of our soul from the hour that we rose up to the present Examen, hour by hour, or period by period: and first as to thoughts, and then as to words, and then as to acts, in the same order as was mentioned in the Particular Examen.

    Fourth Point. The fourth, to ask pardon of God our Lord for the faults.

    Fifth Point. The fifth, to purpose amendment with His grace.

    The examen is a daily intensive exercise of discernment in one`s life. (Fr. Achenbrenner) It is at the heart of the spiritual exercises and ample time should be given to reflection. A personal time just to think things over is a good start, but this can be helped by journaling or talking with a spiritual director or trusted other to help work things out. The examen is meant to be a personal exercise shared with God. It should become an attitude of heart. Already we would have made use of each of the steps of the examen on their own, but the examen is a complete package. It is important when starting to give sufficient time to enter into each step and make each step one`s own. Each step can take time to really understand and participate in. For some it takes years. There are obviously various levels of experience.

    To begin with take time with each step. It is not a matter of breadth, but depth. It is not a matter of finishing all the steps. It is important to really enter each step and with limited time, just do what you can. The examen is a work of grace, and it can take time for it to be transformed from our work to become a work of God in us. Where is God active in my life? Where is he leading?


    This step can lead to great joy. It is the step of realization that all is gift from God, and through giving thanks to God for the many gifts we receive and have, our hearts can be freed. Think of the specific gifts over the last day. Think about how God has blessed you. Allow yourself to thank God for things you don`t normally thank him for. It is worth persevering until a deep thankfulness is gained for what has happened. Even thank God for the bad things, for God can even bring good out of them.

    God is gift itself and he never tires of giving us gifts. He wants to give us gifts more than we want them.



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    Deep prayer is not just about learning about God or talking to God. It is about encountering God, deep in your soul. This is the real aim of prayer. It is the difference if giving yourself, rather than just giving things. It is about receiving God, not just things from God. The following is a guide to deep prayer. By the way, another name for deep prayer is contemplation.

    Stage 1. Actively seeking God (meditation). You have to work to encounter God. There are many different ways to actively seek God. One is by reading a daily passage from Mark’s gospel, over and over again, slowly thoughtfully. As you meditate upon it and think about it, you start to think about God. As you think about God, you may start to appreciate His goodness, love, kindness, etc. This may lead to the next stage. 

    Memorisation as a Method
    Often we are distracted during prayer. One way to keep our focus is to memorise the passage we are using for prayer. This means that gradually we are focusing our mental capacities upon the passage and actively thinking about what the passage is really saying to us. We start to discover a depth to our reflection; far deeper than just reading the passage once. As we enter into this depth by memorizing the passage, we become aware of how we are thinking about the passage. Here is a possible mental path we can take during our reflection 
    We are trying to memorize, but are distracted. So we keep trying to think and memorize the words. 
    Gradually we learn a sentence or two. As we go over these sentences, we start to pick up the rhythm of the passage and reflect in a deeper way upon the passage. 
    Particular words stand out and we start to think about them. This is what should be happening. We should stop memorizing and allow ourselves to think about the words and their meaning. For example, When I call, answer me, O God of justice; From anguish you released me, have mercy and hear me!. I may start to think of the words, ˜answer me’. 
    I start to personalize the words. The words become my own. I am asking God to, ˜answer me’. I start to pray from the heart and really want God to answer me, now. I become aware of my desire for God and start to desire Him more. 
    As this desire deepens, I may become aware of God Himself, being present. This is the next stage of prayer: an awareness of his presence. 
    If I become distracted, I need to start again by memorizing the passage and allow myself to go deeper into the passage.

    Using a Gospel passage
    Imagine the place where the meditation is set. First recall what took place in the passage using your memory then as you think about it reflect on various aspects of the passage, why did things happen as they did, then connect your emotions with what Jesus was feeling, and allow yourself to respond emotionally to the passage, to feel...

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    This prayer guide is aimed at those who have already started praying and praying most days. It aims to introduce you into the deeper prayer traditions of the Church and help you establish them in your life. 


    Read through the deeper prayer section. This will help you become aware of what the Holy Spirit can do in prayer. It is applicable for all prayer methods. You can then apply this to your current prayer method.


    If you don't have a daily examen as part of your prayer routine, then it is now time to start. If you are already praying evening prayer than start it with an examen. Otherwise choose an appropriate part of your day and begin to pray the examen. It should be from 5 to 15 minutes. St. Ignatius suggested everyone should pray an examen for 15 minutes each day. For his Jesuits he expected them to do this twice a day.


    The basic MAYO daily prayer is evening prayer with an examen at the start and a hymn to Our Lady at the end (preferrably the Salve Regina). 


    We suggest monthly reconciliation. Usually the local parish will have reconciliation after Saturday morning Mass. Whatever time or day it is go on the first occurance of it each month, eg first Saturday of the month. 


    You should start spiritual direction once a month. Have a read of the spiritual direction guide for more information about it.


    The Ignatian retreat is really for Omega members but we need to learn and start to practice the skills for the Ignatian retreat. The aim of MAYO is for you to encounter Christ, be well formed in Christ and then do whatever Christ calls you to. That means discerning your true vocation. The ultimate retreat for vocational discernment is an Ignatian retreat which is normally done in 30 days of silence living at a retreat center, following the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius and talking with a spiritual director daily. We suggest this happen over 30 weeks with a weekly spiritual director time. The lessons learnt can be applied to our daily life to discern the movements and will of God in all we do. The best current books that explain the various aspects of the Spiritual Exercises are by Fr...

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    Mass is the ultimate prayer. There is no prayer that comes even close to praying the Mass. It is the "source and summit of the Christian life." (LG 11) If you are not going to Sunday Mass, then this is an essential step in growing closer to God. It is one of the precepts of the Church (the official suggested minimum requirements for being Catholic). This should be one of the first prayer choices you make.

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    Here is our recommended first prayer method:

    1. Start with the sign of the cross

    2. Preparatory prayer: “Dear Lord, please give me the gift of prayer and perseverance. Open my mind and heart to receive your love and truth.”

    3. Read a passage of the Bible. Start with Mark's gospel. Focus on one passage for each prayer time. Gradually make your way through Mark's gospel.

    5. Talk with Christ about the passage  as one friend speaks to another, eg  ask for some grace, ask what the passage means, talk about what is happening in your life or asking for God’s guidance in your life.

    6. Pray an Our Father. 

    7. Finish with the sign of the cross.

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    This prayer guide is for beginners. We will explain some important points about learning to pray and suggest some basic methods for you to choose from. We will also suggest when you are ready for deeper prayer. Each of the suggestions are straight forward prayers that a beginner can take on. The idea is to pray daily. 


    The most important thing to do when starting is to pray daily. Therefore choose an amount of prayer that you will be able to do daily. The first suggestion is to start with 5 minutes of prayer based on Mark's gospel using the basic method. You should not start with more than 15 minutes of prayer a day. All the suggested basic methods of prayer range from 5 minutes to 15 minutes of prayer.


    The normal place to start to pray is in your bedroom. You should be alert when you pray, so some time in the evening is good. Pray when you will not be interrupted and at a regular time. Ideally it should be part of your daily routine, eg when you get home from school or after you have had a snack. Many find it a good time to pray just before you go to bed, but this might not be when you are most alert. Of course a church is always good.


    The secret to spiritual growth is to take regular small steps, not impossible big steps. Our suggestion is to review your spiritual life four times a year, that is, once a term. It takes about 6 weeks to establish a new habit. Four times a year is about 12 weeks. A good amount of time to establish and consolidate a new prayer habit. So make a choice of a prayer method for the next term.


    Feel free to choose any of the suggested methods or if you know of an alternative give that a try. If you want to make a change during the term, go for it, as long as it is an equivalent amount of time or more. Everyone should be able to set aside at least 15 minutes of time without disruption their current routines.

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    Behind every virtue is a vice. Likewise, behind every vice is a virtue that, when developed and strengthened, can overcome the vice, writes Fr. Ortega, an authority in moral behavior. In Vices and Virtues, he reveals how to leverage faults and weaknesses to forge virtues. In this three-part how-to guide, readers will get to know themselves with honesty, learn to accept themselves and their faults in humility, and begin to improve their lives by cultivating virtues. It might seem like an impossible task, but you'll have help and motivation from the highest source. Developing virtue can help you achieve balance in your life and holiness.