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.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Have you ever wondered about the true significance of this story? We seem focused on the mundane, for instance the first comment I hear from women are "well, where was the man? It takes two to tango... blah, blah, blah" or the younger set always wants to know "what did Jesus write in the sand?"
The true lesson wasn't about the role the man played in the act of committing adultery or why we need to know what Jesus wrote and if it was significant. The lesson is about judgment. Remember, Jesus tells the woman, "Nor do I condemn you, go and sin no more." He was acknowledging her sinfulness but not condemning her. Our true judgment will come for us when we go before God at our own final judgment. The Pharisees were trying to test Jesus on the Law of Moses and the Israelites, yet Jesus turns the tables on them. He reminds us we will be measured as to how we measure. For some it will be a harsh call. For the woman's accusers it was a humbling and pointed statement with regard to their own sinfulness. What is also interesting to note is that the accusers walked off before they heard Jesus' words of admonition. They were only baiting him, they could have cared less if the woman was stoned to death for her sin or not. For them the "fun " was over, Jesus was not going to play the game.
From the guilty to the innocent. The next day's reading brings us to Susannah, innocent yet accused of adultery and brought to judgment before the King. Susannah was spared because of her faith in the One, True God. It is our faith that leads us to righteousness. By our faith is reflected that which we do and the way we live our lives. Susannah had true faith and it was reflected in her prayers and in the confidence she had that God would spare her. We don't know for sure what happened with the woman caught in adultery but we are led to believe she went away with a new found faith in the One, True Christ. The woman was probably moved more spiritually because of the compassion of Christ and knew her sinfulness than if she had been stoned for the crime she had committed against the Law of Moses and died with no remorse only resentment in her heart for what she might have seen as an injustice.
If we pay close attention, woman will play a major role in the coming readings of the Gospel. It will be the women who watch and wait for Jesus during his Passion as well as on Resurrection Morning in the garden. It will be the women who get the "news" first, it will be the women who will keep the faith. Watch and wait for it...
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The Prodigal Son is about so much more than returning to God and seeking forgiveness. God gave us an incredible gift in our intelligence. He trusts us to use our intellect for the good of all mankind. We are given this higher intelligence to make choices that are in alignment with what God wants for us. Ironic that when we speak of beings with higher intelligence we usually refer to aliens from outer space...just sayin'.
It's comforting to know that if we mess up because we have chosen that which goes against the will of God we can come back and seek forgiveness. We know God will forgive and with His grace grow in wisdom and knowledge. God wants us to choose for the good, He wants our choice to be a loving choice. We are all prodigal sons and daughters. As we learn from our sinfulness, hopefully we see the wisdom of God and we come to know what is the good, our good as well as the good for others.
As the father in the parable allowed the son to make his choice, God allows us to make our choices. It is up to us to think about what the consequences of those choices will be. Too often we don't see beyond the immediate gratification of our wants, we don't look at the big picture of who the choice affects. We are too influenced by "if it feels good, do it" mentality. Sometimes there will be difficult choices that bring pain. The father most probably felt pain knowing it wasn't going to end pretty for the son, but he let him go anyway. God experienced much pain giving up His only Son for the sinfulness of others, yet He did it out of love for us, His children of Creation. This could be the perfect example of "divine tough love". No parent wants to see their child hurting or in pain, yet there will be times a parent has to let the child learn by experiencing the pain. It's how we grow, it's called life.
We as parents can then be there to welcome those children home, to love them, comfort them and feel for them. What a gift we will give them, to help them build character and to watch them as they move along the journey God has called them to.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
In a few short hours another Mardi Gras will come to a close. This season has been a celebration for the record books. For us here in New Orleans this Mardi Gras had more meaning and feeling than those past. But Who Dat or not, the Lenten season is upon us and time for us as Catholics to remember what Jesus sacrificed for our salvation.
Before we left school for our Mardi Gras break, I reminded the students we would be entering our spiritual desert. I could tell by the look on their faces that they thought this was going to be an interesting way to look at the Lenten season. After all Lent reminds us of the forty days and nights Jesus spent in the desert. It was during this time He fasted and prayed, but He also fought the temptations of the Devil. In the next several weeks I will be writing and contemplating on the different aspects of Lent that have significant meaning to us as Catholics. I hope to explore the concept of true fasting and abstinence, the importance of prayer in our lives, and why real sacrifice brings us closer to our goal of being 'Easter people'.
I asked the children to think about their sacrifices, to put it in the context of doing it out of love, but not as a hardship. The idea is to come out of the desert a changed person. A true metanoia, a person better for the love of Christ. Someone said that if our sacrifice is for us, we are sure to fail. But if our sacrifice is for the love of God, then it means so much more for us because we seek the good that God created for us.
We begin our lenten journey by receiving ashes on our forehead marked in the shape of a cross. The ashes remind us that we are human and will one day die and return to the dust from which we came, as Adam was formed in the image of God from the dust of creation. We are marked much like the mark we receive at Baptism, marked as belonging to God with the oil of Chrism. This mark should remind us we are God's and knowing this arms us for our journey into the lenten desert to fight all the temptations we will be faced with. The visible sign of the ashes points to the invisible reality of what our baptism signifies. We die to self and live in the new life of Christ. What we need to ask ourselves is what is it about us that needs to die, what is it about ourselves that needs to change so we can become what it is God created us to be. For some this is very hard to acknowledge, so in our Lenten journey can we be open to the plan God has in store for us, no matter how much pain there might be in that acknowledgment.
As you embark on your own journey, I will pray for one and all and ask you to pray for me as well. I also encourage you to embrace the darkness of the Lenten season because the Light of Christ is so much brighter and beautiful on Easter morning, but keep in mind the words of Christ to His disciples...Do not be afraid for I am with you always.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
The decorations are all put away, the tree is bare and laying at the side of the road, the magic seems to have disappeared. Yet the mystery still remains and that is the magic of this incredible season. God becoming man for us is truly a mystery, one we can barely comprehend, but He did it for love of us.
Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Another mystery that God brings to us to show us how He truly loves us and how easy it is for us to return that love back to him. When talking to the kids about Jesus' baptism, they are quick to tell me that Jesus got baptized, not because He needed it, but to show us we needed it. It is the one thing we need to do to wash away Original Sin. They are so correct, but then what? After the stain of Original Sin is cleansed from us in Baptism, then what? What is our responsibility to God after that?
We learn from the Gospel that when Jesus was found preaching in the Temple at the tender age of 12, He returned with his parents back to Nazareth and grew in wisdom and grace. Imagine the Son of Man needing to grow in wisdom and grace! After his Baptism, Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray then returned to begin His public ministry of healing and teaching. I believe it was the combination of being filled with the Holy Spirit at His baptism and His discernment in the desert that Jesus realized in full what He was being called to do and His divine purpose as a human being, his fulfilling the promises made by God all those years ago to the Israelite people. Now for us we come to know this realization at our Confirmation.
When a child is baptized, he becomes as close to Christ as he will ever be. Think about this for a minute. It is not what you see, it is what you don't see that is significant. It is the invisible reality behind the visible sign that matters most to us as Christians and our salvation. The water we see washes away the stain of Original Sin that marks all of mankind handed down from our first parents fall from grace. We are marked with the Chrism oil as a sign we are now marked as belonging to God. We are His adopted children. The baptismal gown that is placed around us is white to signify we are pure, we have put on Christ. Our parents are given a lighted candle to show we are the light of the world, like Christ we are to be a light for others in our life. After all this we are now so much like Christ, God's own Son, we are truly children of God. How awesome is that? The significance of our baptism is almost too much for me to put into words. God did this for us, for our salvation. It is then at our Confirmation that we can reaffirm that act of faith and say yes to God, we understand what he has given us and we want a part of it.
It was very significant for Jesus to get baptized. He came to show us how to return the Father's love, but it is still left to us to freely give that love back to him. Once we realize we are more like Christ than we could possibly imagine, how could we ever turn our backs on God? It becomes easier to choose the path we want to take, easier to give thanks and easier to show love and forgiveness. But like Christ, we are marked as God's, we belong to God. We must be willing to live our lives for Him and there will be times it won't be so easy. Like Jesus there will be sacrifices and hardship and sometimes persecution for the sake of righteousness. Remember we are not of this world, we are meant for a heavenly purpose and it will be those trials that test us as willing to live as God's children. It is for this we pray. We pray for strength and guidance to live as Christ taught us and showed us. He came to redeem mankind for the purpose we were created. He came to lift us out of a quagmire that we can not climb out of alone. Man fell so far that man could not possibly be the redemption, it took God to send His Son to return us to our rightful place. What a gift He gave to us. Let us be thankful and celebrate Jesus' baptism with a commitment to live the call we received by our own baptism. We can continue this journey and we don't have to do it alone. God Bless and may we continue to love and serve the Lord and one another.