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Featured Article: A New Year. A Renewed Resolution to Follow Christ. - The beginning of a new year is an opportunity to examine what we hope to achieve in our lives and how much progress we have made toward its fulfillment. What we aspire to do is a reflection about who we understand ourselves to be. In mid-January, the Christmas season ends with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Christmas season focused on the unique identity of Jesus and what He intends to do. Read Full Story

NBCC STRUCTURE
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 A New Year. A Renewed Resolution to Follow Christ.
 Answering the Call: Recognizing God’s call to religious life Part 2 in a series of NBCC interviews with Sr. Callista Robinson and Sr. Gayle Lwanga Crumbley
 Letter to the NBCC Editor
 Do Your Homework for This New Year’s Resolution: Going Back to School
 Know Your Drug Costs Before You Leave the Doctor’s Office
 “Be Not Afraid … the truth will set you free” - A Youth Vocations Pilgrimage
 Time Management Tips for the High School Kids
Publications
 Recommended Reading:
Living Mission Interculturally: Faith, Culture, and the Renewal of Praxis
 Author Spotlight:
Anthony Gittins, CSSp
NBCC Spotlight
 St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, DC: These Seminarians have a lot going on!
 Phyllis Johnson Receives Award
Upcoming Events
 Miracle Healing Service in Bel Air
January 8, 2016
 Earned Sick Leave Rally with Sen. Catherine Pugh and Del. Luke Clippinger
January 11, 2016
 Film Showing of “Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change”
January 15, 2016
 Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity - A documentary and Racial Justice Dialogue Event
January 16, 2016
 31st Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast
January 18, 2016
 National Prayer Vigil for Life
January 21- 22, 2016
 Salt & Light Ecumenical Prayer Service
January 22, 2016
 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering
January 23-26, 2016
 Parish Social Ministry Regional Training Houston, TX
January 29-30, 2016
 Mid-Atlantic Congress For Pastoral Leaders
February 4-6, 2016
 National Day of Prayer for the African American and African Family 2016
February 7, 2016
 Leadership Conference
February 18-21, 2016
 Presence Unltd. Meditation Retreat
February 27, 2016
 WWW: Well Women Witness! By ORACLE Religious Assn., Sr./Dr. Oralisa Martin, Founder.
February 27, 2016
 Marriage On A Lampstand
March 4-5, 2016
 Young Adult Retreat
March 4-6, 2016
 The Oblate Sisters of Providence’s Womens’ Retreat
April 9, 2016
 The Joy of the Gospel in America: A National Convocation of Catholic Leaders
July 1-4, 2017
 Congress XII
July 6-9, 2017
 ALL UPCOMING EVENTS
In The News
 NBCC Survey: The Results Are In
 Employment Opportunity: Black Catholic Ministry Coordinator
 Pope Francis, in Kenya, emphasizes missionary discipleship, ecological concern
 Ugandan martyrs are true heroes, Pope says during visit to nation
 Love your enemies, Pope preaches in strife-torn Central African Republic
 2015 Centennial Celebration Comes to a Close at St. Joseph Catholic Church in “Old Town” Alexandria
 St. Joseph Centennial Time Capsule Presentation and Blessing
 NBCC at the National Catholic Youth Conference 2015
 Lord, Make Us Channels of Your Peace
 Black and Catholic In The U.S.
 Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Dec. 8, 2015 - Nov. 20, 2016
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NBCC Featured Article

The Experience of God's Presence

Article Index

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Become a Friend of the National Black Catholic Congress

Pastoral Letter: "What We Have Seen and Heard" Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Fundraising as Ministry: Vision, Invitation and Conversion

The Experience of God's Presence

The Basics of Being Married in the Catholic Church

Building a Bridge over Troubled Waters

Reading as a Subversive Act: Libraries as the Guide to Liberation

Son, They Have No Wine! Reflections on the Importance of Devotion to Mary

Tenth National Black Catholic Congress

Appreciative Inquiry: Become a Positive Force for Change

Catholic Campus Ministry

Fundamentals of Appreciative Inquiry (Part I)

Fundamentals of Appreciative Inquiry (Part II)

His Greatest Gift

Joannes Paulus II, Magnus

Lent to Easter: Preparation for Celebration

Mary - Mother, Woman, Disciple

Research That Matters

Silent No More: A Major Crisis in the African-American Community

The Best Kept Secret

The Food Crisis in Niger

The Passion of Mel Gibson's "Passion"

To Marry or Not To Marry - That is the question!

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Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the 21st century, we humans get lost in the clamor and noise of Madison Avenue and mass media over the din of how do I pay the mortgage or rent, keep food on the table, and pay the medical bills that we can hear little else. So we need some time to settle down (or center ourselves) on the essence of being human. What does it mean to be created in the image and likeness of the Creator God who is true being (the great I AM?) To assist in this "getting back to the basics" effort, it is good to re-visit what the great teachers and masters of the past have to say about our primary calling or vocation as human beings.

I have been reading the book "Everything Belongs," (Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM) each year during Lent for some time. This year another book was added, "The Woman at the Well," (Fr. Adrian Van Kaam, CSSp.) The authors of each of these books have obviously basked in the loving caress of God's presence (in my opinion.)

The experience of God's presence and recognizing that presence is at the root of our Spirituality. All the Spiritual masters understood this and their experiences have been documented from the unknown writer of "The Cloud of Unknowing, to the more contemporary Howard Thurman, Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO, Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, Fr. Henri J. M. Nouwen, and Fr. William A. Barry, SJ., just to name a few.

The experience of God's presence had a significant impact on St. Thomas Aquinas. In the mid-thirteenth century, he began what has been considered by many the most comprehensive writing on the explanation of God (called the Summa Theologica.)

He worked on it for 10 years then stopped because he had communed with God; and, God revealed to him a small portion God's unconditional indescribable love. When someone asked him why, he responded, "What has been revealed to me has convinced me that all that I have written is worth just so much straw. It has little value."

HE HAD AN EXPERIENCE OF GOD!

What others considered the most important work on the study of God was considered by its author as "so much straw" (or of little value) in comparison to the incomprehensible joy and ecstasy of God's love for us.

Does John 3:16 ring a bell? Yes, our Creator God came into our midst and lived among us as the "Word made flesh," who experienced everything we have gone through and more!

Julian of Norwich said: "Jesus reminds us that his crucifixion is the worst thing that happened in human history and God made the best of it to take away all of our excuses."

Yet, that is how God proves God's love for us.

The late Adrian van Kaam, CSSp, renowned spiritual writer and one of the world's leading psychologists wrote his book "The Woman at the Well" in 1976. The entire book is dedicated to a Spiritual exegesis of this story. It is, also is a truly moving spiritual journey through the story dialogue.

Following is a quote on one of the passages: "The Lord speaks his 'If you only knew' not only to the woman at the well but to each of us. He speaks me:

'…If you only knew that I am the incarnation of the Infinite Love you have been longing for deep in your heart.
'If you only knew that my longing for you surpasses infinitely your longing for me. 'To really reach you, I need your asking."

The woman at the well did not come easily to believe in Jesus. However, she did undergo a transformation and became not only a believer, but an ambassador spreading the Good News to the entire community. Recall - she left her water jar (her "stuff" "worth so much straw") and went into the town and told the people about Jesus. That water jar that had imprisoned her to her sinfulness (by having to go to the well at that time of the day) was no longer important - She had the ultimate epiphany experience. Many of the people of that town became believers in Jesus because of her testimony.

In our own human weakness and sinfulness, we waste countless hours trying to overcome issues that are insignificant (worth so much straw, or of little value.)

We spend hours brooding over little hurts, old wounds, that we diligently grasp in a death grip vice that continues to imprison our spiritual and sometimes even our physical well being. Petty jealousies, greed, and desire for vengeance paralyze our willingness to forgive and to love.

We often want something someone else has, just because they have it and we don't. Their home; Their car; Their grades in school; Their job; or even Their clothes. We become so obsessed with the "stuff" that we have little time or space for God, until we feel that God has indeed abandoned us, leaving a huge void in our lives. It takes enormous courage and faith to let go of the "stuff" - break the chains of jealousy, greed, and vengeance that imprison us in sinfulness.

Yet when we do have the courage to love, and forgive, and unload that "stuff"; that enormous void becomes filled with the overwhelming, incomprehensible love of God who is all forgiving, all loving.

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