26 Discussion Topics for Parish Life

›› A Note to Parish Mystics
›› Suggested Uses For Parish Life

"Every form of catechesis would do well to attend to the 'way of beauty'. Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties. Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus." -Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 167

Life After Sunday is a New Evangelization tool for parish life, a series of 8-page issues focused on the deepest desires of the human heart. With themes like Freedom, Security, Risk and Passion, each single issue of Life After Sunday shows how life with Christ in the Church leads the human person to the fulfillment of his or her destiny. Issues feature discussion questions and a short reflection by the late Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete.

How do you pay?

All Life After Sunday materials can be downloaded for your review. If you decide to use them in your parish, a suggested donation of $1 per issue is most welcome!


The assent of the Blessed Mother was the "yes" of a woman in love. So often our assent to a life with Christ in the Church is portrayed as sacrificial duty. The Blessed Mother shows that the life we are called to is a "love affair" with this One who is constantly revealing the depth of the Mystery in our own time, in our own circumstances. As the first disciple of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother was the first true steward.

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We often pay the most attention to the people or things we think can bring us the most fulfillment. It is no different in a relationship with Christ. If we have become more open, we will start paying more attention to his life. We will show more interest in prayer, the sacraments and the life of the Church. At the same time, we also will begin to recognize places in our hearts and lives where the Lord's love is missing due to our own lack of attention.

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The Church sees the Lord's beauty in every aspect of human life. The culture increasingly focuses on the grotesque, hopeless and chaotic, in an effort to discover the "real world." True lovers of Jesus Christ do not shirk from the world as they find it. Instead, they steward the beauty of the Lord's living Presence, bringing his redemptive life and love into their homes, parishes and neighborhoods.

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In the culture, the body is often shown as disconnected from the soul, a "power tool" to get what you want. The Church sees the beauty, glory and dignity of the human body and therefore, can never stop insisting that the body be loved and treasured from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death. As "enfleshed souls," our bodies bring our earthly life to its fulfillment.

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Some people allow life's troubles and worries to dampen and even wipe out all of their joy. Those who passionately love Jesus Christ see his Presence in the people, events and circumstances around them. They see their whole lives as an amazing dance with this One they love. Therefore, they can enter the fullness of life with enthusiasm and great joy.

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The destiny of each human person is a life of eternal love and happiness in communion with the Holy Trinity. This Triune "communion of persons" makes God's inner life known to us through the divine Presence of Jesus Christ, living in our finite world. Once we have recognized the glorious destiny planned for each one of us, every event and circumstance of our lives takes on its fullest, deepest meaning. Because we know our destiny, we can live in peace.

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The people and events that attract us are those that are most closely linked to the core of our being. Someone appears or an event takes place that makes us feel like we are fully alive, restored to value, recognized and loved for our truest selves. This is what it means to follow Jesus Christ. We follow him…because we desire to know more, to experience more, to be more. This following is neither enslavement nor sacrificial duty. Rather, it takes place in perfect freedom because it is a following of the infinite human desire for fulfillment and love.

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The culture proposes a freedom from the "restraint" of others in order to pursue a fully, human life. The Church proposes freedom "for others" by first linking ourselves to a divine Presence outside of this finite world. Only then can we be fully free from fear, loneliness, insecurity and want.

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The culture offers "things" to fill our empty hearts. But somehow we always seem to need more. Ultimately, our hearts' greatest desires cannot be fulfilled by some thing, but only by Someone. Jesus Christ fills our emptiness with the fullness of divine life and love found in his Body, the Church.

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At the start of the new millennium, people are fixated on what the future holds for human persons. How will we steward our gifts? The culture tells us that anything is possible, that we are masters of the universe. Yet, any proposal that does not take the fullness of human union in Jesus Christ into consideration can never make us feel hopeful and secure about what lies ahead.

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Every aspect of our lives is gift. Every person we come into contact with is gift. Yet, the culture often portrays gifts as burdens or impositions that threaten our freedom or way of life. Perhaps it is something that is someone else's "taste" but not for us. The Lord's gifts (people, children, resources, talents, circumstances and events) are all given with love-with our personal best interests at heart. Our life with Christ in his Church calls us to steward the entire gift of our lives by offering ourselves completely to others through him.

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Every human person longs to be deeply loved and unconditionally accepted for life by another. In fact, the longing for this kind of intimate companionship is such a deep desire of the human heart that its fulfillment profoundly affects the way we live as men and women. The Lord who created us knows we cannot flourish without being kissed with this kind of intimacy-no matter what our vocation in life. Through his living Presence in the Church, Christ offers himself as the path to divine intimacy.

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Each disciple has been assigned a mission. Yet, many Catholics disconnect this "mission" from their daily lives, seeing it merely as acts of religiosity. The Lord asks us to bring his Presence to the people he has put in our path. In this way, he introduces himself through the very concrete events, conversations and witness of our lives. The life of a steward is the life of mission.

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Through the triumph of intelligence and science, the culture gives the impression that there are no mysteries - at least none that won't eventually be explained or figured out. The Church stands in awe before the ultimate Mystery, a God who became flesh and continues to be present in every time and place. The laws of human nature are intrinsically caught up in the divine mysterious life of the Holy Trinity. This Mystery is always exciting and new. It's boundlessness keeps us intrigued and in awe. As the Lord begins to reveal his life and love to us personally, we realize there is always more. We become "stewards of this Mystery" when we point the way of this boundless life and love to others.

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The culture tells us that there is "nothing new under the sun." The Church offers the newness of Jesus Christ, truly present among us. United with his divine Presence, we can bring a "newness" into the world through the work of the Holy Spirit. This "new" life can transform even the hardest hearts, allowing us to begin our eternal life here and now.

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It is difficult to experience the Lord's Presence in our lives unless we live with a wide, open posture. Even Catholics can become closed up in an ideology that cuts off any access to divine life. The life of a Christian is a life that is open to the other in love.

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The culture offers a passionate life that goes beyond all boundaries-and then cannot propose a way to get there. The Church offers the Way. Only in Christ can we understand the fullness of human passion for the other. Through his sacrifice at Calvary experienced at Mass each Sunday, Christ shows how a passion for the Father's will is the only passion that will fulfill all of our heart's desires.

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In the culture, those who have the most "power" are those who can use their influence, money, intelligence, etc., to create their own domain. Instead, the Church offers a complete humility-and from that stance flows a power linked to the One who has created everything. This power is boundless, and always based on the Father's will to transform our lives. By linking ourselves to this One, we tap into the power of the cosmos!

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Although the culture often acknowledges the idea of God, many people miss recognizing his real, living Presence in their everyday lives. In the heart of the Church dwells a Presence who can be known, a Presence who is passionately in love with each one of us.

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The Father took a tremendous risk when he made a world that was "not God" out of sheer love for his Son. After the Fall, he risked everything by sending Jesus Christ to redeem human life. The Lord understands the fullness of our risk to give everything we are and have back to him-because he took this risk first.

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The culture offers money, insurance and other material "safeguards" to help us live with a sense of security. But, the ultimate insecurity-death and extinction-still strikes fear in every human heart. The Church offers the eternal security of the One who has conquered death, Jesus Christ, in the loving embrace of his Body, the Church.

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The Lord's surrender on the Cross to the will of the Father is the path that each of us must take to an extraordinary, fully human life. The culture cautions us against surrendering in love to another person. The Church proposes a surrender to love that is complete, in a union that knows no bounds.

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While the culture often expresses the longing for fully human touch, touching is usually presented merely as a surface function of the body. With little consideration for the rest of the human person, the world's solution is either hands off (to the point of dismissal) or hands all over! Every human person has a deep interior longing to touch and be touched. When we allow Christ to live in us, we can touch the people we encounter in the way he wants us to touch them-with a profound truth, a tender compassion and a perfect, unchanging love. This is the most satisfying touch of human life.

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Who do you trust? The culture or the Church? Many Catholics go to Mass on Sunday and then follow the "Catechism of the Washington Post" during the rest of the week. The Church invites us to entrust ourselves to the One who created us for a life of eternal love with him.

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Unlike bodily human union where the two eventually separate again, the Lord does not separate from us. He is eternally present, interiorly with us at every moment. No sorrow, no tragedy or death will be encountered without him. The fruits of this union are inner peace, security, freedom and fulfillment. Everything in our lives is new. In union with the Father and Son through the work of the Spirit, we begin our eternal life of love here and now.

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The very first human response to the appearance of the divine is wonder and awe. Yet the rampant cynicism and despair of the culture can cause us to delete this wonder the moment it is experienced. The Church helps us recognize the full wonder and awe of the Presence of her Lord in the people, events and circumstances of our lives.

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How are Life After Sunday Issues Organized?

Each 8-page issue of Life After Sunday explores a theme that speaks to the heart, no matter what a person’s situation or circumstances. With themes like Freedom, Security, Beauty and Power (to name a few), each single issue of Life After Sunday shows how a life with Jesus Christ in the Church leads the human person to the fulfillment of his or her destiny.

  • Life with Jesus - This two-page opening article is a personal living witness of life with Christ in the Church, showing how the theme is presented in the culture, but can only find its fulfillment in Him.
  • Life on Sunday - The second article makes the link between the theme and the liturgies of the Word and Eucharist on Sunday.
  • Life in the Home - These two articles in the centerfold of each issue show how life with Christ is lived practically in the places where we live, through the people He has placed in our lives.
  • Life in the Parish - This article shows how we steward our life with Christ in the community of the local Church where He is present.
  • Life in the World - The final article is a reflection on how we are called to bring our life with Christ into our neighborhoods, communities and workplaces.
  • Additional Features - Each issue also features Discussion Questions and often, a Reflection by
    Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, theological advisor to Life After Sunday and co-founder of Lumen Catechetical Consultants, Inc.