Monday, August 9, 2010
There has been a new proposal floated out of the Vatican, specifically the Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship, regarding the age of receiving First Holy Communion. Actually it is not necessarily new, but it has resurfaced as a new idea. It has been proposed that perhaps lowering the age of reception would be of benefit to the salvation of the little ones. This is true as to benefit but the question arises with regard to the age of reason. Is a child younger than the age of seven truly aware of what it is they are receiving and the concept of transubstantiation, what is truly and really received in the Sacrament?
I have been an advocate for the lowering of the age of Confirmation for the exact reasons cited above. If the Sacrament confers the gifts and graces we profess it to confer, then these children, in this day and age, would truly benefit from Confirmation at a younger age than sixteen or seventeen. They need these gifts to strengthen them against the evils of the secular world. But as a teacher of the faith for the past ten years, I wonder if it might not be more beneficial for a child to understand the reasoning and significance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to receiving Holy Communion and to emphasize that what they are receiving is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. What is being proposed would be a return to the practice of conferring the sacraments simultaneously with the Sacrament of Baptism. This would place the reception of Communion and Confirmation with Baptism, Reconciliation would come along at a later date as needed.
Apart from the fact that the job of the catechist with regard to sacramental preparation is concerned would be easier, the teaching and catechizing would fall to the parents. The Holy Father has emphasized that the family should be the primary catechists to their children and I wholeheartedly agree. This is accomplished by word and action, done by parents who live the faith according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, parents who Know what the Catholic Church teaches. Ahhh, and there it is, the fly in the ointment. And this is my concern. My fear is that the receiving of the Precious Body and Blood will become taken for granted and will just be another practice one goes through while at a Sunday service, much like watching people recite the Our Father, no longer meaningful, just going through the motions. We must never lose sight of the fact that the receiving of this Sacrament is not a right, it is a gift given by God. We, as Catholics, adopted children of God have done nothing to merit this gift. Having the privilege of preparing second graders for the receiving of their First Holy Communion, I have witnessed the wonder and awe that they have experienced as they become aware of what it is they are receiving from God.
As parents, we must emphasize and reiterate the reverence due our Precious Lord. If the age for receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion is lowered and becomes a reality, we must remember our responsibility and example to never take the reception of Holy Communion lightly. Actually our children should witness our reverence for the Sacrifice of the Mass at all times, but if the formal preparation falls to parents then it would be a good idea for all parents to brush up on their catechism and be more aware of their example at Mass. You know, as parents we shouldn't wait, we should be mindful of our behavior in front of our children no matter the age, because we are the primary catechist. Get out your Catechism of the Catholic Church, register for a class given by your local Office of Religious Education, read the rubrics of the Liturgical Mass, brush up and be informed, remind yourself what it means to be a Roman Catholic and how we can arm our children, and ourselves, against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Today is the feast of St. Martha. I've always liked Martha, she was a take charge kind of gal. I always think of Martha when I hear those women who wail and moan about the treatment of women in the Bible and how they were depicted. She spoke her mind and was not afraid to confront the Lord Himself when Jesus was delayed in coming to see her brother Lazarus before he died. ..."if you had been here." Very accusatory of her, don't you think? I can relate, I react like that when I feel helpless and don't know what to do. You know the feeling, someone needs to share the blame or someone surely can make this better. Human beings do not like feeling helpless, it is a loss of control thing that gets us freaked out.
We also remember Martha was the one who wanted Jesus to fuss at Mary for not helping her in the kitchen while she was trying to serve Him, the honored guest in the house. Oh, how I can relate to that, I am ashamed to say. Call it a gift, or maybe a curse, but I can assess a situation and see what needs to be done and then I do it. Then I get all bent out of shape when no one helps me. This usually involves the kitchen dishes or the laundry. Like Martha, I get resentful and then I pout about it. I do eventually come to my senses and realize this is my problem and I need to deal with it.
I tried to read that book, you know the one about having a Mary spirit in a Martha world. It was right on target and gave some valuable information, but reading and agreeing then putting into practice are two different things. Easier said than done. I do find that prayer helps, and offering the tasks up truly helps, but when the family is sitting and eating and messing and mom is cleaning and picking up and washing and straightening, well, you get the point. I have come to realize that Jesus' message to Martha was a humbling one. I should choose the better part as well. It is my choice and I suppose my pride that makes me want the house to be neat. Of course I have to listen to it when the clothes are not clean or something is amiss, but that is a mom thing I suppose.
I think what Jesus wants from me is to pray about everything I do and then do it for the love of my family and for the love of Him. It was a message that He wanted Martha to take to heart and one for me as well. I hope that as I think of Martha today I will be mindful of the task I do around the house and to adopt that Mary attitude, to keep my eyes focused on the Lord.
Monday, June 7, 2010
I recently realized something about myself I am not particularly proud of...I am a liturgical bigot. I attended Mass in the Ordinary Form at a small town Catholic Church in my new home town. Like so many Ordinary form celebrations it was highly infiltrated by the protestant influence of the post Vatican era. The music was atrocious, the priest used the term "friend" so often I thought we were having a casual conversation around a round table, and the "icing on the cake" was the invitation to offer your own special intentions at the prayers of the faithful.
Yes, I have become a liturgical bigot. Yesterday was the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi, The Body and Blood of Christ. I have come to believe that most dioceses have some sort of procession, or they should, to mark the witness of this "source and summit of our faith". The only mention of this at our Mass was the priest's regret the day was no longer celebrated on the Thursday as a holy day of obligation. I wondered at the green altar cloths but figured it was some sort of oversight on the part of the altar staff, the priest travels between two parishes, but no, it was no oversight. Green was the color of the day, go figure.
I fear for our Catholicity. I found out after Mass, there is no CCD program because the priest believes the parents are the teachers of the faith to their children and there is no need for any formal education. I looked around at the parents represented and wondered at their knowledge with regard to the doctrine and dogma of our Catholic faith. Yes, I have become a liturgical bigot. I happen to believe that the way we worship God and give glory to Christ in the celebration of the sacraments makes a difference in the way we conduct ourselves as Catholics. I believe that we must lead the charge against the loss of the dignity of the human person, that we must fight to regain the right of all life from conception to natural death and it all begins with the celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
Yesterday was the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. It all began with a procession to Orvieto by a priest who doubted the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. While he was consecrating a host it bled down his hand and arm and onto the altar. He took it to the Papal dignitaries in Orvieto, in procession, and it is still visible to this day behind the altar in the Duomo. We should continue to process, we should continue to reverently show our Lord and Savior to all the world, to be proud of our Catholicity, the differences most noted in the Mass and the liturgy. It makes a difference. Yes, I am a liturgical bigot.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Today I was talking with my 2nd graders about missionaries and the idea of mission work. I could tell that some of them did not believe that there are people in this world today who do not know God or have never heard of Jesus. I tried to show them some pictures of some far off places where missionaries work but alas, a sign of the times would not let me google because of a block on the computer. I realize that for some of them the world consists of their own making, what they know and what they have been exposed to.
Indeed some of the children have been exposed to alot in their young short lives and then others have no idea for they have been so protected. I so wish we could all stay so protected, to feel the unconditional love of our parents always. This is the love that Christ has for us, that comforting love that lets us know we are safe and will not be harmed. Children need this love, it is this that gives them confidence to grow and to try new waters yet still feel safe. Have you ever noticed a child looking at you and they seem worried,... until you smile at them. When you smile at a child they will grace you with a smile that is genuine and you get the feeling you just made someone's day special.
This must be the way for a missionary. To be able to make someone's day by just being there, ministering to a need that would not have been met if not for the grace and the sacrifice of the missionary. In many ways my family and I are being called to a new life. I think of it as being sent. We are not going to a third world country or even very far away, but it will be different and not overly Catholic. We will be missionaries to those around us who are not Catholic and I hope to make someone's day everyday, as I hope I have done here. It will be new and exciting full of new hopes and promises for the future.
I hope to continue this blog as I know the questions about our faith and the Catholic religion are never ending. I also hope to be able to clear up some misconceptions about our faith and to give some clear insight into a faith that has sustained over 2000 years of persecution yet is made ever stronger because of it. We can all mission to others. It is a callling we receive every Sunday at the end of Mass...go out to love and serve Christ and one another.