If you were raised Catholic, the month of May probably evokes vivid memories of May crownings, Marian processions, and other seasonal devotions. I’m a little jealous, but not too much.
The Mays of my childhood come back to me as memories of daydreaming. It’s almost summer, and there I am, wondering what I’ll do with my vacation: the months of warm-weather mornings stretching ahead till the next school year.
Nowadays my Mays are Marian, like yours, but they still have a touch of wistfulness to them. Summer brings a change in routine. After all these years, I’m somewhat grown up, but still in the classroom. In summer, that changes, and I’m lecturing to new faces, friends like you, who come to town for conferences and events sponsored by the St. Paul Center and Franciscan University.
This summer our annual Applied Biblical Studies Conference promises to be our finest ever. Our theme for the Year of Faith is “Faith Works: The Book of James.” This epistle has been controversial since the Reformation, when Martin Luther sought to expunge it from the New Testament. It’s much misunderstood, misconstrued, and ignored. Yet it’s often a catalyst for conversion of non-Catholics who seek a deeper encounter with God’s Word. James’s summons is plain-spoken, compelling — and deeply Catholic, calling all believers to lives of charity, and to repentance sealed with sacramental confession.
If you’re dreaming about how to spend your summer vacation, this conference has the dream team of speakers on Sacred Scripture. Take a look: Cardinal Thomas Collins, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Jeff Cavins, Dr. Brant Pitre, Dr. Michael Barber, Dr. John Bergsma, Dr. Steven Smith, Rob Corzine, Matthew Leonard, Curtis Mitch, David Currie, Dr. Mary Healy, and my wife Kimberly.
In addition to our discussion of James, we’ll also lead Bible-study training in several of the St. Paul Center’s most popular series: “Genesis to Jesus,” “The Bible and the Church Fathers,” and “The Bible and the Sacraments.”
What I like about this kind of summer vacation is that it’s restful — it recharges the batteries — but it’s not just vegging out. It’s learning. It’s growing. It’s getting ready for a lifetime of evangelization. (Get more details, or register online, at FranciscanConferences.com.)
We can all use the extra preparation, because the Church is calling us to great things. I ask your prayers as I begin a year’s sabbatical from teaching. I’ll be spending the next academic year away from the classroom, leaning more into evangelistic efforts on the road and in the media. It promises to be a different sort of year for me, but very full, very active, doing work that I love to do — the work the popes have been calling us to do — the work of the New Evangelization.
It’s seems almost wrong to call it work. It almost seems like, well, summer.
I hope to see you in my travels. I thank you in advance for your prayers and for all you do to support our work at the St. Paul Center.