Sunday, July 26, 2009

What makes us catholic with a capital "C"?

I recently received an email from one of my professors encouraging us to not miss the opportunity to learn more about the priesthood in this the designated "Year for Priests" by attending the upcoming Word of God Conference. As I read his post two things made an impression on me; (1) the designated year for priests has not been embraced with the fervor shown the designated Year of St. Paul. He was correct in his post that this year is more about learning about the ministerial priesthood than it is about praying for vocations, which should be done as well. Secondly as Catholics we don't always embrace the opportunities given to us to learn about the Sacred Traditions of our faith.

I am impressed, I must admit when someone shares with me they read their bible regularly at home, usually at night prior to bedtime. I have to say, my parents were avid readers but they did not read the bible and we were protestants. But if I were to ask that same person if they read something out of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or if they knew the Church's teaching on immigration, let's say, they might stumble for the correct words or give me the more popular secular view on immigration. Never more as this come to my attention than recently with the discussion on abortion. Remember as Catholics we are not "sola scriptura" but we have a teaching authority, the Magisterium, and much of this teaching is based on Sacred Tradition handed down in a deposit of faith that has been kept for over 2000 years.

Catholics identify themselves as Catholic because they were baptised Catholic, attend a Catholic Church and receive Holy Communion, although it's debatable as to whether they believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. For many, this is as far as their identity with the Catholic faith goes. We are losing our identity as Catholics because too many don't understand what the Church teaches and then when told or instructed don't accept the teaching because it doesn't go along with the main stream secular way of life they are living. Yes we all have a hard time swallowing the truth from time to time because our pride gets in the way, it's not what we want to hear. Yet if we claim to be one body in Christ, one Church, then that truth pertains to us as Catholic Christians.

My new go-to-book is the Compendium of the Catholic Church's Social Doctrine. In this day and age of politics, economics, health care and immigration it is our responsibility as Church to know what the Church teaches and the basis for that teaching. Also timely is Pope Benedict XVI's new encyclical "Caritas in Veritate". We are Catholics because we believe in the teaching of Christ and because He gave that teaching authority to the Apostles to continue His misssion. We are the Body of Christ, we must live as the Body of Christ, doing His work and continuing the Mission.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do Catholics have a "prayer line" or a "prayer chain"?

This question was posed to me the other day, a parishioner had come in to the office and wanted to know if we could advertise a "prayer line" or "prayer chain", she wasn't sure of the proper term. I thought about how I was going to phrase this and be tactful so I said, "well as Catholics we pray for one another in a communion of Saints, as Church, the term "prayer chain" is more a protestant thought". We began to discuss how we pray for one another and our prayers are joined with all the saints for the good of all the members of the Church. We have the ultimate prayer line.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it succinctly, "the communion of saints is the Church", (CCC 946). All the baptised members of the Church form the faithful body of the church with Christ as the head. We pray for one another always as Church because of that reason, we are one body. I remember when I was in R.C.I.A. and our catechist told us that in the prayers of the faithful when we pray for the Church we are all included at that moment in the prayers because that included all of us, as members of the one true body of Christ. I'll never forget how comforting that was to know. In every Mass said when the Church is prayed for I was being included. Pretty awesome!
The Catechism also reminds us that in intercession, that asking on behalf of another, is characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy. It is an expression of the communion of saints, we pray not only for our own interests but also for the interests of others, even those who mean us harm. This intercession is in full participation with the intercession of Christ. (CCC 2635).
As Church it is important to remember just that, we are Church. We look out for one another and we pray for one another. We pray to Mary, Our Mother and to the saints for intercession. These are our prayer lines, let's use them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What will the impact of Caritas in Veritate have on us and our culture?

I have noticed two significant and quite polarizing news situations that have emerged before us as a society. First and foremost has been the much anticipated release of Pope Benedict's newest encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which I hope to read shortly. Second has been the buzz and fallout with the interview of Justice Ginsberg regarding the initial reason Roe v. Wade was allowed, to more or less suppress a certain aspect or culture of society, to put it as delicately as I can. Two views could not be more polarized.

Having not read the encyclical as of yet, I hesitate to comment. Having studied Catholic Social Teaching and having read the Pope's previous encyclicals, Deus Caritas Est and Spe Salvi, I feel it is safe to say he toes along the same line, the dignity and respect of the human being as made in the image and likeness of God are the foundation of what builds a society and what will continue to hold this nation together. Our economy will only stabalize once we all realize we are here for one another and not for profit. We must as a society look out for mankind. This encompasses fetuses at birth until natural death of the infirmed and elderly no longer considered productive in society. Who can determine that? Only God. It is a judgment call to say someone is productive or not, and we are not here to make judgments.

Last night at dinner, my mom and a friend of mine agreed they did not want to be burdens on their families when they got old and couldn't do for themselves any more. They both said they would "pull the plug" so to speak. So my mom says, "Debbie you have my permission to pull the plug, alright?" I looked at her and said it was not my plug to pull, only God could pull that plug when He was good and ready. Well that shut her up and she didn't say too much after that. Now my friend continued to say she would have this discussion with God when the time came, she would say, "God I know you don't believe in this but this is what I want." Now this cracked me up, we have so little regard for the omniscence of God.

The Pope is also calling on us as a society to give a helping hand to those countries that are considered not worthy because of their wealth or status as a powerful nation. That concept must begin at home, in our own neighborhoods, in our cities, our own states. I read a beautiful article today by Monsignor Guissani and he stated the same concepts that John Paul II focused on in so many of his writings. We only find completeness of self when doing for others. He says that when we witness another struggle it is natural for us, as human beings, to want to help them "with something of ours." He goes on to say that this is a need of ours that has to be met. If this need is not met we are incomplete beings. How many times has John Paul II stressed this "communio personarum", in that we are only complete human beings when freely giving the gift of self.

On the other hand Justice Ginsberg is saying, with no qualms by the way, Roe v. Wade was meant to keep a certain population from growing too large. And this is different from what Hitler did how? Now knowing that mentality it bogles the mind..... I can't even finish the thought. If we don't begin to see the worth of the tiniest human being or the oldest and sickest among us we will not begin to see the worth in others around us. They can lay their gifts at our feet and we will not recognize the blessing before us. What will become of us as a society, a nation if we continue with this disregard?

I encourage all Catholics, and non-Catholics as well, to please read the new encyclical. Think about what the Pope is asking of us as a society. And then I encourage you to read the Gospels again to see how this relates to the teaching of Christ and how we as Christians must bring this to fruition. You know it is up to us.