St. Matthew Lenten Resource Page

Visit the St. Matthew Lenten Resource webpage where you will find many Lenten resources right at your finger tips. You will find Mass times, Confession times, Stations of the Cross for adults, teens and families, Lenten Recipes, Spiritual reading resources, and more for your Lenten journey.

Find this page: stmatthewcatholic.org/LENT or click HERE

Advent in a Small Group

Advent is coming!

Advent is a great time to re-invigorate your small group!

Any time of preparation, be that a Liturgical season, like Advent or Lent, or a season of life like the weeks leading up to a new school year or a wedding day, is a great time to examine what is most important in life.

Advent and Lent help me narrow my focus by looking at the top priority in my spiritual life. How can I more fully achieve that relationship with Christ, that love of neighbor, that heart of a servant, or whatever goal that stands out as the next step of my spiritual journey? How can I find the goal, if the future of my spiritual life seems blank or dry? How can I remember the goal and keep my focus in those times of intense joy or activity?

Times of preparation bring these and many other questions into sharp relief and give us a sense of purpose and guidance. Sometimes these questions give us fresh energy, and other times they might unleash a mild panic. Either way, it is helpful to have a small group to share your life with.

Let your small group help you uncover the goodness that God has in store for you. They can help you pace yourself for the long race so that your enthusiasm holds out. They can help you sort out the panic and replace it with peace. Your small group can help you bring all of your preparation before the throne of God and, placing it there before Him, allow for it to be opened up, guided, and shaped into the life that He has, is and will be making available to you.
If your group is wanting to prepare for Christmas together throughout Advent, consider some of the following resources.

The following books, as well as many others, are available in the St. Matthew library or on amazon.com:

The Advent of Christ, by Edward Sri

Advent and Christmas with G.K. Chesterton

Advent and Christmas with the Saints

Advent and Christmas with Fulton Sheen

Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting, by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C

The following online resources can be found through Formed:

Walk through the weekly Mass readings here: Opening the Word

Hear Fulton Sheen speak about Christmas here: The True Meaning of Christmas

Hear Dr. Edward Sri, Bob Rice, Brigid DeMoor, and Dr. Tim Gray speak about the meaning of Advent here: Advent

There are many other great advent resources available to you through Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire, Dynamic Catholic and Ascension Press, among others. If you have questions or need help sorting through material, reach out to us through smallgroups@stmatthewcatholic.org!

Sometimes it is hard to decide how much to read in between meetings. If your group struggles with that and is reading Into His Likeness, here’s a “pacing guide” to help get you started! Of course this isn’t a rule – your group might want to move faster or slower than this. But sometimes it’s nice to have something to start with.

If your group meets WEEKLY:

Week 1 Introduction and Follow Me (p.1-12)
Week 2 Total Commitment (p.13-22)
Week 3 In the Dust of the Rabbi (p.23-32)
Week 4 The Struggle (p.33-40)
Week 5 Not Perfect, but Close (p.41-55)
Week 6 Meeting God in the Valley (p.61-70)
Week 7 Drunk with Love (p.71-80)
Week 8 Forgiven; Real Healing, Real Change (p.81-93)
Week 9 Introduction to Part 3 and The Battle for Your Mind (p.97-113)
Week 10 Christian Friendship (p.115-122)
Week 11 Amazing Signs, Amazing Grace (p.123-132)
Week 12 The Primacy of the Interior Life and Conclusion (p.133-146)

If your group meets every other week

Meeting 1 Introduction; Follow Me; Total Commitment (p.1-22)
Meeting 2 In the Dust of the Rabbi; The Struggle (p. 23-40)
Meeting 3 Not Perfect, but Close; (p.41-55)
Meeting 4 Meeting God in the Valley; Drunk with Love (p.61-80)
Meeting 5 Forgiven; Real Healing, Real Change (p.81-93)

If your group meets monthly:

Meeting 1 Introduction; Follow Me; Total Commitment; In the Dust of the Rabbi; The Struggle; Not Perfect, but Close; (p.1-55)
Meeting 2 Meeting God in the Valley; Drunk with Love; Forgiven; Real Healing, Real Change (p.61-93)
Meeting 3 Introduction to Part 3; The Battle for Your Mind; Christian Friendship; Amazing Signs, Amazing Grace; The Primacy of the Interior Life; Conclusion (p.97-146)

Where do I start?

Option 1: Connect with a group on the small groups website.

Steps to picking a small group:

  1. Pray for a bit of inspiration and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
  2. Go to the small groups website, stmatthewcatholic.com/joinasmallgroup.
  3. Pick a group to join, based on whatever quality you find to be most critical, location, meeting night, kind of group, etc.
  4. Join your small group on their first meeting night after you join.
    The first group you meet might be your ideal group, it might not be. It’s okay to go to a meeting or two and test the waters. That being said, I’d suggest sticking it out for a season and see if the group grows on you.

Of course not every combination is going to be readily available, and in that case you might want to take advantage of option 2.

Option 2: Start your own small group.

Steps to starting your own small group:

  1. Invite 3 or 4 people you know, maybe friends, maybe just acquaintances to join you in establishing a small group.
  2. Pick a meeting night and a frequency (every week, every other week, once a month) that will potentially work for everyone.
  3. Pick a meeting place, could be someone’s home, a coffee shop, a library, etc.
  4. Let Rachel know (rachelw@stmatthewcatholic.org). Tell her about your group and get signed up so she can forward any new resources or information to you and your group.
  5. Invite others to join until you have a group that fits well in your meeting space. You can do this by reaching out individually to people, person to person. You can also do this by opening up your group on the website. (Rachel can help you with this too!)
  6. Once you have your group mostly gathered, pick a resource. You can use the suggested resource, pick a resource from our library, or you can go rogue and pick something we’ve never heard of. (If you find something good, please share it with us! We love hearing about new things!) Our suggested resources will change seasonally, and can be found at stmatthewcatholic.org/smallgroupresources.

Starting your own group can seem a little bit more challenging, but it really is not as hard as it seems. If you would like to start a group but it still feels too daunting, email Rachel and she will be thrilled to help you get started down the path to success!

What are these Small Groups?

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many…
(1st Corinthians 12:14)

St. Matthew has an impressive tradition of Small Groups. I’m new here, but I can tell you that from day one I have heard about the amazing things that Small Groups have read, studied, and prayed. I’ve heard about the incredible communities formed. I’ve heard about the amazing content that the Small Groups Team created for four successive years, writing books and creating videos, distributing them to various communities around Charlotte and drawing the whole city into the excitement. I am blown away by the joy and enthusiasm for community that is evident here at St. Matthew.

This fall there is a new launch of small groups. What does it entail? Is it really anything different?
Because of the long history of small groups and the wide variety of spiritualties and walks of life that all participate in these groups, the Small Groups Team is trying to devise a program that will be flexible and accessible, something unifying and yet addressing the diversity of groups already active among parishioners.

Unifying factors

We are picking some suggested resources. These will be resources you can choose to use with your group to plug into the group life. These will be updated seasonally, about four times a year, and will reflect the liturgical seasons – so for Advent we will have something that prepares us for Christmas, for Lent something that prepares us for Easter, etc.

This very blog will be updated with resources and pacing guides to help you if you would like to tap into an outside resource.

There will periodically be suggestions for how to make your small group life easier, better, more efficient, more fun, etc.

Diversity and Flexibility

The resources we are providing are simply suggestions. We have a resource library on the website that has a variety of different books and video series, many of which can be found in the St. Matthew library, that would be good to do with a group. It is not an exhaustive collection. (If you have something great that you’d like to share, please pass it along! We would love to know about it!)

Some groups will focus primarily on prayer, coming together for a weekly rosary. Some groups will be book studies or video series based, focusing on an outside resource and learning together chapter by chapter, episode by episode. Others might choose to follow the weekly Sunday readings and dive deeper into their meaning and application.

Groups at St. Matthew vary widely by kind, size, meeting frequency, focus and a number of other factors. Find a group, or start a group, that has a sustainable structure. Allow yourself to be drawn deeper into the faith by people who will get to know you and hold you accountable, sustain you in times of sorrow and share your joy.

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many… If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1st Corinthians 12:14, 26)

Things You Can’t Do Alone

See God’s Image in Another

“Then the Lord God said, it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

We often hear that man is made in the image and likeness of God. It comes up so often, that we can sometimes lose the importance of the statement. This statement leads us down two paths: the path of understanding human nature and the path of growing in our knowledge and love of who God is. The grand majority of the time, “the image and likeness of God” is taken to tell us something about who man is – who am I in my nature, in my relationship to God, in my relationship to my neighbor and to all of creation? But there is an even bigger gift than self-knowledge embedded in our creation in God’s image and likeness. We are invited to see God, both through our own humanity and through the humanity of our neighbor. In understanding how we relate to the world, to our neighbor and within ourselves we are given the gift of entering ever so slightly into an understanding of who God is.

Being in a smaller, more concentrated group of people allows us to practice this action of seeing God in the other, learning about God from the other and through the other. Not only do we get practice seeking God in human relationships, but we get practice revealing God through our intentional interactions with our group members. Adam and Eve give us the first example of this elevated vision. Looking at Eve, Adam sees in triplicate: he sees Eve as Eve, he sees Eve as a reflection of himself, and he sees Eve as a reflection of God. This is the service that we provide to each other when we come together. You show people the unique goodness that God has built into who you are. You reflect back to others the beauty God has given them. You simultaneously see and reveal the face of God as He has placed it in your nature from the first moment of your existence.

 

(Image taken from http://www.orthodoxgifts.com/creation-of-eve-icon/)