Archive for Christ Our Life Conference

What Does Prayer Mean to You?

Posted in Catholic, Catholic Conferences, Religion, Religious Conferences with tags , on September 6, 2012 by christourlifeiowa

By: Kevin Teale

What are the odds, as we look ahead to the Christ Our Life conference in a few weeks, that one of the most common themes we’ll hear at our gathering is prayer?

When to pray? How to pray? Even, what is prayer? So what does prayer mean to you as a Catholic?

Do you find yourself in daily prayer…or only when you want or need something? How many of us will admit to promising God and the Church the first $1 million of some lottery jackpot if only He’d let you win. I thought so.

My thoughts on prayer are derived from short scenes in two sports-themed movies.

In “Rudy,” our hero is down to his last Hail Mary. If he doesn’t get accepted into Notre Dame this semester, he’ll lose his chance to ever play for the Irish because he’ll have too many college credits to transfer in and play football. As he kneels and prays, a priest who’s befriended him comes over to talk. When Rudy questions whether he has prayed enough, the priest answers…”Praying is something we do in our time, the answers come in God’s time. “

There is the crux of the problem for us. How do we know  when it is God’s time, and whether the answer we didn’t get is because God isn’t listening, we didn’t pray long and hard enough, or couldn’t see the answer? That’s where faith comes in.

My second thought on prayer comes from farmer Ray Kinsella after he builds his “Field of Dreams” near Dyersville. Frustrated as he’s about to lose his farm and the playing field to the bank, he yells at Shoeless Joe about how he has plowed under his corn, built the field and drove all over the country and “not once did I ask what’s in it for me.” After Joe asks Ray what he wants, the weary farmer replies “What’s in it for me?”

Is that how you pray? Do you pray only when you need something? Do you want your answer to come on your terms or time or according to God’s plan?

A compelling video of the horrific Joplin tornado last year showed a dozen or so crammed into a convenience store cooler as the storm tore apart the building. Amid the roar, you clearly hear one woman constantly calling out to Christ. She and everyone else in the cooler survived. Did God hear and answer their prayer on his time or their time? Does that mean God didn’t answer the prayers of the 100+ people who did not survive?

I heard a good message from Father a few Sundays ago as he talked about prayer. He said too many of us probably follow the Ray Kinsella line of thinking….I pray to God because I want something whether health, a job, safe passage, etc.

Father suggested that prayer shouldn’t be about needs and desires. He said prayer should be us opening up to God and asking God what we can do for Him.

Let’s take this approach with the Christ Our Life conference. Please attend. Please pray while there. And, instead of asking God for answers on our time, why don’t we ask him how we can use our time to serve Him?


Christ Our Life: Distinctly Catholic through Sacramental Grace

Posted in Catholic, Catholic Conferences, Religion, Religious Conferences, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 6, 2012 by christourlifeiowa

By: Kevin Teale

It really isn’t hard to find a large religious revival to build up your faith. You can certainly attend one of the mega-churches’ events that draw crowds rivaling college football sized-gatherings at Carver-Hawkeye or Hilton on a weekend night.

While our gathering will be large, the Christ Our Life Conference in Des Moines this September is different. Yes, all our speakers are Catholic themselves. But, Christ Our Life is also a sacramental conference. It’s a joining together of Catholics from the Midwest to listen and learn, but also to be blessed by the sacraments.

As in the 2010 conference, this year’s event will feature opportunities for both Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. While you can partake in those sacraments weekly at your local parish, having these offered at our meeting is what separates us from other religious conferences. They unite us as Catholics.

The sacraments are a direct sign given to us by Christ to give grace. The authority to forgive sins was given directly to the Apostles, and now to our priests, by Jesus himself. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

Many Catholics avoid confession due to discomfort. But clearly, contrition and conversion are essential ingredients that lead to reconciliation. They are not isolated acts but part of an ongoing call for us to grow in our faith journey, individually and as a community.

Attendees also can receive the Holy Eucharist during the two Masses at the conference.  This sacrament distinguishes Catholics from all other Christian faiths.  It is our reminder that Christ, indeed, died for our sins. Father says it every Mass…”Do This in Remembrance of Me.”

In his blog earlier this year, one speaker, Cardinal Wuerl wrote of children receiving their First Communion in his diocese: “Rich in symbolism and richer in reality, the Eucharist bears within itself the whole reality of Christ and mediates his saving work to us. In short, when the Church gathers in worship of God and offers the Eucharistic sacrifice, not only is Christ truly present under the species of bread and wine, but Christ also continues his saving work of our salvation.”

Having the opportunity to receive sanctifying grace with thousands of other Catholics at the same time is our chance in Des Moines to experience “his saving work of our salvation.”

I’m excited to hear Cardinal Wuerl. A Cardinal is different.  There aren’t that many and any of them are a couple of pieces of a paper ballot and a puff of white smoke away from being Pope, the spiritual leader of our church on Earth.

Cardinal Wuerl writes about the “New Evangelism” to bring the Church alive to those who lack a foundation or have drifted from their faith. I’m eager to hear how to strengthen our faith and grow our church in these days of social media, spin and 10-second sound bites.

Commit to attending Christ Our Life Regional Conference in September. Already, outreach coordinators are making pulpit talks and selling advance tickets in Iowa parishes. They’re glad to steer you toward volunteer opportunities, ranging from providing directions inside the arena to singing in the choir the weekend of September 22 and 23.

The sacraments and sharing with thousands of other Catholics are certain to uplift you and bring you many graces.

For Our Searching Souls…Finding and Fortifying Our Faith

Posted in Catholic, Catholic Conferences, Religion, Religious Conferences with tags , , , on May 17, 2012 by christourlifeiowa

By: Kevin Teale

It was one of those nuggets that stuck with me after a homily a few weeks ago. I can’t recall specifically the sermon’s theme or the scripture. What stayed was this, “A good Catholic is always challenging his or her faith.”

It did for me what a good sermon or speech should. It got me thinking. Not in the sense of saying afterwards “Thanks Father, for a heck of a sermon today!” But more like hours or days later, having it swirl in your mind, as a source of reflection.

Why should we challenge our faith? Wouldn’t it be better for the Church if we all sat back and simply believed, rather than challenge ourselves?  Sure. But that would probably lead to a stale church without much growth, excitement or empathy.

I believe the 2012 Christ Our Life Regional Catholic Conference gives us a chance to not only challenge our faith but to fortify it.

Look at the Christ Our Life artwork at the top of this page. It powerfully visualizes what our modern-day gathering is all about…”For Our Searching Souls.” Even the first apostles, the ones who physically touched, heard and spoke with Jesus, sometimes struggled with belief.

Even the particular version of this famous scene carries special meaning. The original painting above by Caravaggio in 1602 is on display at the Sanssouci in Potsdam, Germany. There are other paintings depicting this same moment, including a Rembrandt. But this is the only one that actually shows Jesus guiding Saint Thomas’ hand into the wound. So says the Gospel of John 20: 39  …”Blessed are those who have not seen and believed.”

That is faith. Our conference includes several speakers who’ve been through terrible times in their lives and how they turned to faith to survive.

Look around you. How many do you see suffering due to the economy? How many, me included, have had to change careers to support their families? Look at those facing health challenges. Remember Iowa media stories this past spring of Fr. Edward Hemann and his acceptance of God’s plan when diagnosed with terminal cancer? Many of us learned how someone can face death with such peace.

An atheist can look at Catholics and wonder how we believe in something we can’t see or touch. The answer is in the beautiful music of Marty Haugan (Breaking Bread, Song 448) in which he shares the words of 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith and not by sight.”

This fall, you have a perfect opportunity to hear stories of people who will shore up your faith by sharing how they relied on the gift of faith despite their circumstances.

Come to the conference. Find and fill deeper your faith. We may not see and hear Jesus directly, but we can certainly walk with him spiritually. Give yourself this time of fellowship to strengthen and sustain your journey for the months and years ahead.

There is another opportunity to follow a blog before we get together in September. Cardinal Donald Wuerl blogs through his website: To see other speaker previews and their videos, visit

Christ Our Life Answers the “Why” in Our Hearts

Posted in Catholic, Catholic Conferences, Religion, Religious Conferences with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2012 by christourlifeiowa

By: Kevin Teale

“WHY”? Out of the big five interrogatories of: who, what, where, when and of course, why, this seems to be the big one, for so many.

Why was this past winter so warm and why has spring come so early?  Why can’t we find peace in the Middle East? And the ultimate why as pondered by Bill Cosby “Why is there air?” I can’t answer those questions, but Cos’ told us air exists so there would be something to inflate volleyballs.

So let me ask another “Why” question……Why should I mark my calendar for the Christ Our Life Iowa Regional Conference, Saturday and Sunday, September 22 and 23 in Des Moines? While the easy answer would be one I’ve recited to my children repeatedly ”Because I told you so,”  or because “it’s good for you,” those are insufficient calls to action for adults…and it never really seemed to work on the kids, anyway.

Mark your fall schedule for Christ Our Life because I truly believe with the outstanding line-up of speakers and musicians, you’ll come away from the event feeling a boost to your faith greater than even one of those convenience store energy shots or the air that inflates that volleyball.

My original thought of attending the 2010 conference was more of a chore than a desire to deepen my faith. First off, I was “volun-told” by a good friend at church to help vendors set up booths. Then, my wife, who often is more passionate about her faith than me, asked me to go for at least the Sunday Mass, if not for a few of the speakers.

I truly expected a day filled with fire-and-brimstone speeches about how we all face eternal damnation if we don’t repent.

What I got was a refreshing day listening to people who’ve faced tough situations in their lives, and found that faith in Jesus Christ allows them to rise each day with peace and happiness. People like Renee Bondi, an author and singer who literally fell out of bed and became paralyzed, but through work and God’s will, has created a ministry of hope. Or Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow and his “Mary’s Meals” program to feed the hungry and who became one of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes in 2010.

There were other speakers with a strong message of faith. I left Wells Fargo Arena after two days feeling stronger about my faith. Not in a “I want to shout from the rooftops” sort of way, but more of a strong conviction that I’ve made the right choice to continue as a practicing Catholic, long after my parents stopped checking to see if I went to Mass last Sunday.

The conference this year has me excited for many of the same reasons. One speaker, Immaculée Ilibagiza, hid for weeks in a tiny bathroom with several other women to escape Rwandan genocide. She’ll tell us how her faith not only helped her survive, but helped her deal with why God would allow such evil in the world.

I’m now serving on the conference marketing committee. So, allow me to encourage you to set aside time for the conference in September. Mark it on your calendar. Follow our announcements. Check out our website . “Like” us on Facebook. Watch your church bulletin. See friends and co-workers you may not have even known are Catholic who might help you on your faith journey, while you help them with theirs.

Make a personal commitment to come for at least one speaker or for Mass…just as I did in 2010.

I’ll see you there!