January 24, 2019
BY JOHN BARKER, OFM
PHOTO FROM CATHOLIC THEOLOGICAL UNIONAt CTU, John Barker helps students understand “The God of the Old Testament”.
First, I love my students, who are going to school because they want to serve the Church – an often thankless and ill-paying goal – or because they just want to learn more about their faith and grow closer to God. Second, I love the Bible and the God I meet in the Bible, and I like to invite my students to discover this God, too.
I particularly enjoy teaching the Old Testament because many of my students come to their graduate studies mystified by it, indifferent to it, or dubious of its presentation of God. I am no longer surprised that so many of my students have imbibed the idea that “the God of the Old Testament” is fundamentally different from the God we see in Jesus Christ – and not in a good way.
Since I know that this is not true, I enjoy helping my students learn for themselves that the God to whom the Old Testament witnesses is the same God we encounter in Jesus. Probably nothing is more satisfying to me as a teacher than to hear my students tell me that they never knew how wonderful and rich the Old Testament was, and that learning about it has opened up for them whole new vistas of prayer and faith.
I guess all of this is a long way of saying that I love teaching because when I teach, both I and my students come to love the word of God, and God, more. What’s not to love about that?
(John Barker is an Assistant Professor of Old Testament Studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.)
BY TONI CASHNELLI
PHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLIDavid Ehrnschwender at St. Anthony Center“This is not training,” says David Ehrnschwender, addressing colleagues from St. Anthony Center and staff from St. Francis Seraph Friary. “It’s a conversation” – about conversation.
In David’s work – he is Medical Recovery Case Manager for the Center for Respite Care – good communication is crucial. Each day he meets clients who are sick, sad, poor, confused and hurting. Vulnerability can lead to misunderstandings and confrontation.
When tempers flare, David takes a deep breath. And he listens. A skill that too few implement, it’s the key to keeping things cool when tempers flare and tensions escalate.
He calls it “active listening”. And he’s here to share that technique with more than 20 people who sometimes feel awkward when speaking to a homeless person on the job or on the street. It starts with respect and recognition, two things everyone needs and we all deserve – whatever our circumstances. “The biggest part of talking with people is listening to people, and we need to listen with our eyes, ears and our mind.”
Respite Care CEO Laurel Nelson with David at his presentation
In the next hour, he outlines a strategy to keep conversation on an even keel and derail anger. A handout he provides explains how and why the brain responds to certain verbal and physical cues from others. The bottom line is, we speak with more than words. According to experts, our tone of voice and body language matter more than what we say.
Using examples from his own work, David describes “Whole Body Listening”, giving a person your undivided attention. That means not only hearing their words but watching their expression and demeanor and taking in their tone of voice. The question, “How’s your day going?” delivered in a calm, safe voice, may stop anger in its tracks.
Listening intently: Province CFO David O’Brien, Sarah Center Director Lois Shegog and SJB Vicar Bill Farris.
When clients exhibit an attitude – righteousness born of hard times or harsh treatment – there is another way, according to Laurel Nelson, CEO of the Center for Respite Care. If someone challenges you with, “I was in prison,” try a response such as: “’I’m sure that was tough for you.” As Laurel has learned, “It will catch them off guard. You’re seeking to understand. They may not have a good reason why they’re upset, but it’s important to them.”
David reiterates the goal, paraphrasing the prayer attributed to St. Francis: “Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand.” And that starts with listening, he says. “Never be afraid to be quiet.”
PHOTO BY PIXABAYAs the New Year begins, we think about how we can improve our health.
New evidence suggests that standing and moving — as opposed to sitting — may be key to keeping yourself young and healthy.
The supporting data comes from a study testing the effects of increased activity on the health of about 100 volunteers. Increased physical activity did, in fact, lead to weight loss, slimmer waists and lower cholesterol. But contrary to expectations, the researchers found that it made no difference in another key variable linked to health and aging — telomere length.
Telomeres are the protective end caps on every chromosome. Longer telomeres are associated with a healthy diet, exercise and stress management. Thus, it surprised researchers that the increase in physical activity did not result in longer telomeres in the experimental group.
Curious to find out why, they analyzed data from a smaller subgroup. They found that those who spent less time sitting had the longest telomeres, regardless of how much time they spent exercising. Telomere research is in its early phases, but it’s intriguing to think that something as simple as moving around for a few minutes throughout the day could improve health. Walking just five minutes of every hour may be of significant benefit. So, let’s get walking!
Here are eight additional ways to stay healthy:
A Happy New Year to everyone!
–Michelle Viacava, R.N.
PHOTO BY MARK SOEHNER, OFMBryant Hausfeld at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Bent, N.M.
Most recently, I visited our brothers in Houston, Texas, Alamogordo, N.M., and St. Aloysius in Detroit. In Houston, Robert Seay and Juniper Crouch are involved in a number of multicultural situations. Both the parishes where Robert ministers and the Secular Franciscan communities that Juniper visits have a variety of people coming from many cultures. Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese cultures are represented in the neighborhood in which they are currently living. But their visitations and missions take them to many more places. They are both preparing, however, to move to New Orleans with its own set of cultures.
Mark, Robert Seay and Juniper Crouch in HoustonBruce and Bryant Hausfeld are back in Alamogordo, living in a friary that is rent-free, but with the normal utility bills. This friary is not far from their former church of Immaculate Conception. Bruce is not as able to preside at public Masses these days, but Bryant has managed to become the regular priest for the parishes in Bent and Mescalero. The Province of St. Barbara formerly was pastoring the Apache community at Mescalero. Now Bryant has those Masses most weekends. They, too, are learning from another Native community.
Ed GuraMichael RadomskiLoren ConnellPHOTOS BY MARK SOEHNER, OFMA hillside hermitage in Mescalero
These trips left me amazed at the goodness of the friars and our efforts to spread the Good News among very different cultures and peoples. I hope to conform my own life to the invitations that such newness demands.
— Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM
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PHOTO FROM CATHOLIC THEOLOGICAL UNIONAt CTU, John Barker helps students understand “The God of the Old Testament”.I have been teaching Old Testament at Catholic Theological Union since 2012. I love it for a couple of reasons.
Respite Care CEO Laurel Nelson with David at his presentationWhatever the message, “Your delivery, the way you present the message will demonstrate your credibility, or lack of credibility, with the listener,” according to David. Depending on your delivery, people will either listen, “or they will shut you out, perhaps argue, or walk away.”
Listening intently: Province CFO David O’Brien, Sarah Center Director Lois Shegog and SJB Vicar Bill Farris. “Listen for the thing not said,” David says. “Never hesitate to hesitate. Ask a question and pause. They want to fill in that pause. A lot of times they know the answers. We just have to help them understand it.” In some cases, if things escalate, “You have to say, ‘That’s inappropriate. I’m not gonna respond to that” and recognize your own “need to settle down.”
PHOTO BY MARK SOEHNER, OFMBryant Hausfeld at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Bent, N.M.These past few weeks of the New Year have had me on the road quite a bit to do visitations. There are certain things that a person cannot learn except by actually visiting the friars in their particular situations. I can begin to see the people with whom they work, how the physical friary impacts their fraternal life, how prayer is interwoven in the work day.