Reading Guides

Discussion Questions: Sacred Fire by Ronald Rolheiser

Download the discussion questions for individual reflection or group use for Sacred Fire by clicking here.

Ronald Rolheiser’s contemporary classic book The Holy Longing turns 15 years old in 2014. Used for years to challenge the depths of our soul, this book has shaped and influenced the lives of countless people seeking to better understand their faith.  Now, Father Rolheiser continues his search for an accessible and penetrating Christian spirituality in the highly anticipated follow-up to The Holy Longing in his brand new book Sacred Fire.

He asks and answers the question: “How do I live beyond my own heartaches, headaches, and obsessions so as to help make other peoples’ lives more meaningful?” and re-frames discipleship within a contemporary context and language that is practical for Christians in today’s world. Ultimately, he demonstrates how identifying and embracing three specific stages of the spiritual life will lead to new heights of spiritual awareness.

Read the first chapter of Sacred Fire by clicking here.

Download the discussion questions for individual reflection or group use by clicking here.


READING GUIDE: Camerado, I Give You My Hand

In Camerado, I Give You My Hand, author Maura Zagrans tells the inspiring story of how a widower became a Catholic priest and is now changing the lives of men in the dangerous prisons in the heartland of America. Father David Link, Dean Emeritus of Notre Dame Law School, spent over four decades working in jurisprudence and now, in his new role as pastor, sees our criminal justice system as a lost, prodigal son in serious need of guidance and direction. This is a profound, moving story of healing and redemption, one that reminds us about the value of human life, the power of forgiveness and the everyday need for compassion and friendship. Go even deeper with these discussion questions for the book. Use them for individual reflection or for a group study!

 

Who is a Camerado?

How do you understand the expression, “love is a verb; everything else is chatter”? What does it mean to you?

Of the brothers Father Dave serves, what did you learn from their stories?

Who are Father Dave’s heroes?

What steps are needed to resuscitate hope for the homeless and those in prison? What steps can you take to help?

Father Dave sees the potential for the justice system to incorporate itself as a vital part of the healing professions. What role can lawyers play in healing social conflict?

Consider the contrast between Father Dave’s early years and the childhoods of the prisoners. What importance can a strong father figure have in a man’s life? How can we cultivate positive male role models and strengthen bonds in families and communities?

Many of the prisoners we meet in Camerado attribute their profound changes to the experience of having just one person believe in them. For these men, having a positive mentor affected their minds, hearts, and behaviors for the better. Have you had a mentor or role-model help you through a tough time? Have you had the opportunity to be a mentor for others in need? What did you learn from those experiences, and how can you share them with others in need?

In his Crime Peace Plan, Father Dave writes, “Every law-abiding citizen should demand drastic changes in the criminal justice system, changes that will interrupt the crime cycle.” How has your perspective on the crime cycle been affected by Camerado? What changes to the criminal justice system would help your community?

Which prisoners’ stories in Camerado evoked your desire to see prison reform begin to take place?

Who are the camerados in your life? What qualities do they share with Father Dave? What qualities do they share with the prisoners we meet in Camerado?

We culturally dehumanize those who have made mistakes. Father Dave shows that the men profiled here are humanized by their mistakes and are given the opportunity for redemption. What human qualities do you have in common with the men you meet in Camerado? How can you help those who have made mistakes in your community?

Having read Camerado, if you were pen pals with a prisoner, what are some of the things you would say?

Camerado explores several areas of Father Dave’s life: At Notre Dame, as a prison Chaplin, and as a loving husband and father? What Notre Dame story affected you the most? Which story from the prision made the deepest impression on you? What aspect of Dave and Barbara’s story moves you?

 


READING GUIDE: Walking with Mary by Edward Sri

In Walking with Mary, Edward Sri looks at the crucial passages in the Bible concerning Mary and offers insight about the Blessed Mother’s faith and devotion that we can apply in our daily lives. We follow her step-by-step through the New Testament account of her life, reflecting on what the Scriptures tell us about how she responded to the dramatic events unfolding around her. Go even deeper with these discussion questions for the book. Use them for individual reflection or for a group study!
Step 1 – Open Heart

At every Mass, Catholics hear the greeting “The Lord be with you”—an echo of the words Gabriel spoke to Mary. How were those words used in the Old Testament Scriptures? What did the greeting indicate for Mary?  And what might those words mean for us today when we hear them in the Mass?

Mary “considered in her mind” the angel’s greeting. We observe that this expression describes how Mary remained in dialogue with God’s word, open to whatever God might be calling her to do.  How do you typically respond when you sense God might be asking you to do something difficult, make a change or give up something you like? How does Mary model for us the proper disposition we should always have before God?

We have learned how Mary found favor with God, which means that God viewed her as someone to whom he could entrust a lot.  Consider a responsibility or person God has entrusted to your care.  Do you think God looks on you with favor in what he has entrusted to you? Why or why not?

 

Step 2 – Servant of the Lord

Mary described herself as a “servant of the Lord.”  Does this idea of being God’s servant—being totally at the disposal of God’s plans for you—seem exciting or frightening to you?  Why?

What is one area in your life where you can give up your own interests, desires and pursuits more in order to be free to serve God and others more?

Mary didn’t just do God’s will. She did it joyfully, like a lover wanting to fulfill the desires of her beloved.  Describe something in your life now that you wish you could do more joyfully, like Mary.

 

Step 3 – A Soul that Magnifies the Lord

When you feel busy and have a lot to do, how attentive are you to others’ needs? How might Mary’s example in the Visitation scene inspire you to consider others more when you feel overwhelmed in life?

Mary, in her prayer known as the Magnificat, models true humility.  We learn how she comes to understand what Jesus would later teach: “Without me you can do nothing.”   If someone observed your life from the outside, would they conclude that you were someone who lived as if they were completely dependent on God? Or would they see someone who trusted more in their own planning, talent and effort?

 

Step 4 –Keep and Ponder

How do you respond when you feel you are not treated well or things don’t go your way?

We have considered how Mary responds to the difficult, humble circumstances surrounding her son’s birth by keeping all these things and pondering them in her heart.  What does this expression—to keep and ponder in one’s heart—mean?

What practically can you do to be more like Mary the next time you face difficulty, humiliation or suffering?

 

Step 5 – Sharing in the Sword

Forty days after Jesus was born, Mary heard this ominous prophecy about her son’s future rejection and death.  What do you think it would be like for Mary to carry the burden of such a prophecy from the time of Jesus’ infancy and childhood through his adulthood and public ministry?

In this chapter, we saw how Mother Teresa encouraged her sisters not to run away from suffering, describing it as an opportunity to draw nearer to Jesus in his suffering. How do you feel about this call to share in Christ’s suffering?

 

Step 6 –  Walking in Darkness

In times when you feel Jesus is lost to you, how might Mary’s experience of losing her Son in Jerusalem be comforting for you?

And when we experience darkness, how might Jesus’ words to Mary—“Did you not know I must be about my Father’s house?”—shed light on what Jesus may be doing?

 

Step 7 – Mary’s Choice at Cana

Mary at Cana is a loving intercessor, looking upon the needs of the wedding couple with compassion and bringing the problem to her Son. How comfortable are you turning to Mary as an intercessor for you?

 

Step 8 – At the Cross of Jesus

In this chapter, we considered how Jesus gives his mother to us as our spiritual mother.  Imagine Jesus on Calvary looking you in the eyes and saying what he told the beloved disciple: “Behold your mother.”  Are you willing to accept Jesus’ gift to us of his own mother?

What do you think it means to welcome Mary and have a relationship with her as your spiritual mother?

 

Step 9 – Crowned with Glory

Mary is rewarded for her continuous faithfulness all throughout her life. She is crowned with twelve stars on her head (Rev. 12:1).  How might Mary’s crowning in heaven encourage you to persevere in your own walk with the Lord?

 


READING GUIDE: My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell

Questions for Individual or Group Reflection for

My Sisters the Saints

 

Chapter 1: Party Girl

In this chapter, Colleen discusses her feelings of emptiness and taking her first steps to “open the door to God.” What was your first step? What could your next step be toward God?

In the anecdote featuring her boyfriend, Colleen realizes that their relationship is actually a “placeholder” for something more satisfying. Have you ever had a placeholder in your life where God should have been? Do you have one now that needs to be surrendered to Him?

Both Saint Teresa of Ávila and Colleen speak of leading a double life. Neither was living in a conspicuously sinful way, yet they each confessed to the torturous feeling of “living in two worlds.” Do you ever feel as though you’re living in two worlds, caught between cultural norms and your faith?

(more…)


READING GUIDE: The Pope Who Quit by Jon Sweeney

At the close of the tumultuous Middle Ages, there lived a man who seemed destined from birth to save the world. His name was Peter Morrone, a hermit, a founder of a religious order, and, depending on whom you talk to, a reformer, an instigator, a prophet, a coward, a saint, and possibly the victim of murder. A stroke of fate would, practically overnight, transform this humble servant of God into the most powerful man in the Catholic Church. Half a year later, he would be the only pope in history to abdicate the chair of St. Peter, an act that nearly brought the papacy to its knees. What led him to make that decision and what happened afterward would be shrouded in mystery for centuries. The Pope Who Quit pulls back the veil of secrecy on this dramatic time in history and showcases a story that involves deadly dealings, apocalyptic maneuverings, and papal intrigue. (more…)



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