This has been rattling around in my head since the middle of last week. A new mother was a bit frazzled because she was planning a baptism for her daughter. In the course of the planning, she tried to solidify paperwork for the baby's godparents. The godfather wasn't Catholic, but the godmother was. She just couldn't get a letter from her pastor because she no longer practiced.
Now before any of you start rolling your eyes and stamping your feet with irritation, take a deep breath and let it go. She's a good mom and wonderful person, but like many Catholics anymore, regular practice isn't "normal."
We can't punish the child by refusing baptism because the adults in her life are negligent in their Catholic responsibilities. Baptism is still an avenue of grace for her, so every effort should be made to ensure she is able to obtain a proper Sacrament.
So again - no coming down on this woman. It's not her fault our current pool of potential godparents is miserable.
Anyway, as I was talking to the new mother about this, she and I agreed that it was darn near impossible anymore to find practicing Catholics our age to trust as godparents. She said something, however, that made me kind of stop. She said, "Who goes to Mass anymore? I know I don't. Do you? It's just so old-fashioned."
I responded, "Yes, actually, I do go to Mass every Sunday. All those days of obligation, too." I then added with a laugh, "I guess that sorta makes me old-fashioned, huh?"
Now mind you, there was no animosity at all during this conversation. She made a valid point that I hadn't given much thought to before. It really is considered "old fashioned" to be a practicing ANYTHING anymore (when it comes to religion, anyway). Religion has become antiquated in the minds of youth... a relic of a past era where science had not yet 'made sense of the world.'
I dunno. When you see novenas, pilgrimages and even your own weekly Mass being attended by mostly elderly parishioners, it's hard not to think you're the odd man out. However, things like World Youth Day and the upswing in Pro-Life activism from people my own age are remarkable. They're strong signs that the youth of Catholicism aren't to be discounted just yet. I also have to admit that through blogging, I've come to meet other like-minded Catholics (my age, even!) which has done wonders for my own feelings of loneliness regarding the practice of my faith. Though we aren't members of the same parish, we're members of the same Church. We may be young, we may even be "old-fashioned," but last time I checked, Truth and Morality never go out of style. Loving and praising the Father who created me can never really be considered outdated.
So this question came up both in my CCD class and in an open forum for adults last week.
I wasn't surprised to see it in my CCD class. They're sixth grades. However, I was surprised that it cropped up in the forum from a well-versed Catholic adult!
So I figured I'd share my answer here since it's a more prevalent question than I'd realized.
We technically have the Romans to thank for the title of "Good Friday."
See, back when the St. Paul started preaching the "good news" of Jesus Christ, there was another word you might be familiar with in constant use... "gospel."
Before us Christians usurped it as our own, the word "gospel" had a very specific connotation. Since Rome enjoyed conquering every community known to man, they were frequently in far-off places fighting a variety of different people. As a result, they needed fast couriers to let the various generals (and Caesar) know if they were winning or needed backup.
When these couriers skitted back to the capital with news of a victory, they called it the "euangelion" (which is actually the Greek word for evangelization or "bringing good news"). The good news was victory for the people. Oddly enough, it also referenced the official laws and privileges that these new Roman citizens could be assured of if they played nice and followed Roman authority. That, in turn, was the actual "gospel."
So apply this knowledge to what our Christian gospel actually is. St. Paul describes it best as the death and resurrection of Jesus. From the Throne of the Cross, Christ defeated the enemy and assured salvation for those who would accept His Authority. It makes perfect sense, then, why we would consider that first Good Friday to be "Good." It was the true trumpet of humanity's "gospel." That act secured for us victory in addition to the privileges that come with being a child of God.
As the years went on, this word was picked up and converted into "Godspel." It was a Germanic combination of "God / good" and "story / message." That's why most of us today understand the word to mean "Good News." Originally, however, it meant an entire group of people were welcomed into the fold with privileges and rewards so long as they agreed to abide by the authority of the one who conquered their territory.
In other words, Jesus came to earth, conquered it through His Passion, Death and Resurrection, and gained for us the inheritance of eternal life so long as we submit to His Will (which is nothing more than loving one another as He, Himself, has loved).
Special thanks to my buddy Frank for cluing me into this gem today.
Father James Martin has apparently been the victim of an entertaining (and absurd) trend that, at some point in time, we've all been both victim and perpetrator of. Interestingly, this is a post specifically geared towards Catholics attacking other Catholics, because this really is a struggle many of us are familiar with (yet seldom do we talk about it).
Father Martin paints a picture of how foolish and nit-picky we can get regarding what is, in essence, nothing.
Read all about it here! Bust out the popcorn for this one... it really is entertaining.
Over at Why I am Catholic, someone asked how to deal with the confusion regarding Christ's "less than 3 days" resurrection. Basically folks who bring this up make the argument that the Resurrection of Christ is contrary to the Bible in that Jesus died on Good Friday and rose on Sunday morning - not 3 days like "He was supposed to."People tend to forget that Christ's actual Passion began on Holy Thursday. At the moment of Consecration, Jesus gave His consent to the Father regarding the sacrificial role He was about to embark upon. That moment is the spark that began His Passion.
His Agony in the Garden followed in which He prayed for the full repentance of ALL sinners, most especially Judas, I bet.
From there He felt the betrayal of Judas and the violence of the guards who shackled Him and bullied Him along the path towards Caiaphas. He was spat upon, kicked, beaten and humiliated every step of the way. Each blow that fell upon Him, each indignity, He offered up in atonement for our sins. The trials (both the midnight one and the ones before Pilate / Herod) were also full of beatings, spittal, indignations and brutality.
People always forget that Holy Thursday was very much a part of Christ's Passion, not just the horror of Good Friday. Christ suffered so much more than we can ever fully realize, and lopping off Holy Thursday tends to make that even easier for us.
And if anyone tries to argue against that, just remind them that Christ gave us the Mass that night through the Institution of both the Eucharist and the Priesthood. We can't have the Eucharist without the death / resurrection of Christ (which is what the Eucharist celebrates). Since Christ is God - timeless and unconstrained by that 4th dimensional reality - His Sacrifice was already fully present through His consent to God the Father.
Just as the Mass today brings us front and center to the true foot of the Cross, that first Mass then also brought the Apostles to the Cross before they even understood they'd be fleeing from it in fear.
Busted Halo did a wonderful video that's been going viral along the Christian blogosphere. I found it through Michelle at Liturgical Time
. You, too, can see it if you follow her link.Anyway, for as much as I enjoyed the video (and I did - especially the music!), I was bummed they left out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I mean, I understand they're not considered "as important" as the other days of Holy Week, but they're still part of Holy Week and deserve at least an honorable mention, right?Trying to view Holy Week as only Palm Sunday and the Triduum is like viewing a puzzle with several missing pieces. Sure, you can probably make out what the picture's supposed to be, but you miss details and information that make the image clearer and more beautiful.Monday was the cleansing of the Temple - it's what put the Sanhedrin on high alert since the Romans (now present in higher numbers in the city to keep the peace during Passover) saw Christ not only messing with the Jewish folks, but all the Gentiles who gathered in the court of the Temple to exchange goods / services. Tuesday was full of parables and prophecy. Tuesday was, in my opinion, the day that the Pharisees finally decided that Jesus MUST be dealt with before the week's end (due to the Render Unto Caesar response). This was when they finally realized they'd never get the best of Him, and had to find a way to kill Him.Wednesday was the day we remember Judas' actual betrayal. It's also when Christ's death / burial was predicted through the actions of the woman with the perfume. Each day does, after all, bring us one step closer to the Foot of the Cross. Monday reminds us that we must focus on spirituality and a proper last minute cleansing of our own temples (bodies) so we are ready to accept the Sacrifice of Christ. Tuesday, cautions us to always be ready for the return of Jesus lest we be caught unprepared. Wednesday... it's like our last moment during Lent to anoint Jesus with our humble offerings - the charitable acts, fasting, and mortifications completed throughout Lent.Those three days are of such importance. I wish Broken Halo had mentioned something about them. But ah well... there's only so much you can do in 2 minutes, and they certainly picked the highlights!
Do you struggle with diocese envy? Do you wish your diocese (or Archdiocese!) would step up and do something as brazen as purchase prime-time airspace to get this message of healing to the faithful? To those fallen away? To those looking for a way back in?
I do - but no worries... Confession isn't just for Floridian Catholics! :) We've got ourselves regular Confessions up in Jersey, too. Actually, we've got confessions anywhere there is a priest! So take advantage, folks! Jesus is waiting to embrace that soul of yours with His Divinity!
Again... I love me some Confession!
I got a lovely little booklet in the mail today from the Franciscan Missions. It's titled "Little Francis' Love Notes." It must be the most adorable little booklet I've ever seen!
It's filled with cartoon images of Franciscans (like the plush version pictured) and sweet little sayings that help you open your eyes to a whole new way of seeing the world.
One, in particular, caught my attention.
"It's best to try to look at others from the inside out. God makes everyone's heart the same color."
Mmmmmmm - I adore that. Even those I don't necessarily agree with or even like too much - we're all children of the same loving God. All of us have been given a sacred dignity and a share in the gifts of our Father.
In other words, it's best to don a pair of those "Resurrection Glasses" and see folks for who they really are, not just who they seem to be.
Just give the video a few minutes to pick up. Excuse the shoddy acting - the point is worth it. <3
I received a wonderful CD from Lighthouse Media this week. It's a talk given about the Humanity / Divinity of Jesus, and I apologize for not remembering the title or speaker at present. The disk is in my car, and it's simply too cold for me to run out in my jammies to get it. :)
Anyway, the priest asked a question of the audience: Why was John the Baptist running around the wilderness, anyway? Why wasn't he at home or preaching in the middle of Jerusalem. His father, Zachariah, was a priest of the Temple, so it would've made sense for little John to have followed suit and made himself at home preaching to Jews in Jerusalem.
The priest answered that John was preaching in the wilderness due to the corruption of the Temple.
That is probably true, but it glosses over a HUGE reason of how little John found himself in the wilderness in the first place...
Everyone seems to forget that John the Baptist was only a few months older than his cousin, Jesus. The Blessed Mother visted Elizabeth, John's mother, when she, herself, was pregnant with Christ. That puts John about 4-6 months ahead of Jesus.
Anyway, if the Holy Family had to high-tail it away from Herod due to his desire to kill all young boys from birth to age 2, little John would've been a prime target, especially since he resided so close to Jerusalem (what with Daddy being a priest and all). As a result, little John was taken by his mother, St. Elizabeth, to the wilderness where she stayed with him until it was safe to return home.
However, the fact that little John escaped from the slaughter made many people very suspicious. Folks were angry and jealous that Zachariah had somehow managed to keep his son alive while theirs were cruelly murdered. They constantly would've been asking him "Where is little John? Where is that son of yours, Zachariah?" Off little John would've been sent to the caves once more to hide away until the anger passed.
John the Baptist was made quite at home in the wilderness in his early years. As Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich wrote of him, nature was his school house. The birds, flowers, elements and grasses were God's own alphabet, and little John was a quick study. He was well acquainted with his guardian angel who was sure to teach him the finer points of what would soon become his Advent message.
So yes... while there was plenty of corruption within the Temple at the time of John's preaching, that was not "why he was in the wilderness." He was in the wilderness because from a very, VERY early age, he was forced to find refuge in the wild - away from hateful eyes, vice-filled souls, and yes, the corrupt teachings of the Temple.
***Read 3rd paragraph before clicking link!***A friend of mine posted this link to my wall this morning coupled with this question:
Do Catholics still/did they ever believe that sex is only for pro-creation?Now before you go clicking that link, I'd like to warn some of my more sensitive readers that you will be taken to a site that prides itself on being hip, irreverent and sexually charged. Of course, it's titled Jezebel. So be warned that the article, though it deals with a valid question many people, like my above friend, ask, it handles religion is an extremely arrogant, ignorant manner which even I (someone not easily offended) offense to. If you'd rather not click the link, keep reading for a basic summary.The article she pointed me towards dealt with a growing trend in the adult entertainment business. Adult toy makers are apparently attempting to draw in the more religious crowd with shops titled "Covenant Spice," "Kosher Sex Toys," and "El Asira." These are not your typical "Adam and Eve" vendors. They are all G-rated in content (no vixens in sexually suggestive poses, item names are scrubbed of sexually charged words, etc), each site de-sexualizes reviews (and packaging!), and most rely on religious commentary to set potential customers at ease.I assume this led my friend to ask about that nagging stereotype she'd heard so many times about Catholics believing sex is only for creating children, not for creating pleasure. As always, I thanked her for being one of the few to actually seek out clarification on this point, as it's something many Catholics are typically confused about. Since sex is such a taboo subject, stereotypes abound because no one wants to open their mouths to clarify on account of the subject matter.Anyway, my answer was this:Sex is NOT only for procreation, though that is one of the main aspects of it. Sex, to Catholics, is a constant renewal of wedding vows (our wedding vows being to give ourselves to one another freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully). Sex is the summation of those vows and a constant reminder that we sacrifice ourselves for one another, and if we sacrifice willingly for the happiness and pleasure of the other, good things happen to both of us - and to subsequent children. Obviously this is as base an answer as possible, but hopefully it gets my point across. As for vibrators, etc, typically the Church frowns upon those things as they can lead to masturbation (which harms healthy sexual functioning within a marriage) or a clouded view of sexual relations within a marriage itself. HOWEVER, upon researching this particular question due to another friend of mine (like yourself) who posted something similar about a year ago, I learned that the Church does make allowances for things like this when used in a healthy way. This link is one that I had come across in my research that I felt answered the question perfectly for me. So I leave it for all of you as well, since this truly is something that has befuddled many Christians. Sex really is OK to talk about in a mature and loving way. :)
Congratulations. It appears that you are reading this. That can only mean one thing... the world did not come to a fiery end in a blaze of God's anger on account of this new translation being an affront of all things holy and good.
With all the back and forth regarding these new translations, you'd think they sky was falling and God was preparing to smite any of us who thought this was a good idea.
A friend of mine, seeing all the "hullabaloo" on Facebook and whatever RSS feeds she's attached to, asked what it was all about. She hasn't confirmed this yet, but I am fairly confident she picked up the confusion through a mutual friend of ours. He's of the mindset that these translations are horrible, the Church is horrible for attempting to institute them, and anyone who accepts them as valid simply doesn't understand how the Church works.
Anything that's aimed at refocusing, preserving and highlighting the sacred mysteries of our Mass is A-OK in my book. So far, that's my understanding and experience with these translations.
Take, for instance, "And with your spirit." Some folks are so irritated by that, and I still don't grasp why. I remember when we were first introduced to these changes, the gentleman explaining them was bombarded with questions like "How is that a response?" "Whose spirit?" "Isn't that the same as saying 'And also with you'?"
Unable to ferry the questions to their proper destination (not due to his own intelligence, mind you. The room had gotten a bit rowdy over these four words and side-chatter was implosive), he tabled the discussion until after we got through the Gloria. Poor guy never had a chance to cycle back...
Anyway, I wanted to prepare my CCD kids for the upcoming changes, and since this'd be the first line they'd encounter, I went with it.
"And with your spirit" is the response all other non-English speaking countries have been using... we're only now catching up. The spirit we refer to is the priest's spirit... but more concretely, the part of the priest's soul that Christ, Himself, dwells within upon marking that priest through Ordination. Christ is the spirit that animates the priest's soul and thus makes consecration possible.
(Some of you may remember my "Do Animals Have Souls?" entry... that deals very much with the above idea, so it might help to gloss that over for the biblical explanations of soul / spirit and how they are, in fact, separate from one another.)
That being explained, someone asked "Well, why would we wish peace to Jesus, then? Isn't He already Peace?"
Aside from being ridiculously proud that this young man understood that Jesus is the Fountain of all Peace, I explained it this way...
A mother is waiting up for her son until midnight. He's usually home by now, but she knows he stays out studying late sometimes. He called and said, "Hey Mom, I'm coming home in a few minutes, I promise." She's a little less worried, but still wants to be sure to see him walk through the door before resting. As soon as he comes into the house, she kisses him and, relieved, heads to bed.
The mother in the story understood that her son expected to reach home shortly and would likely make it home unhurt. However, the mother also understood that there are dangers in the world that sometimes cannot be accounted for... so until she saw him safe and home with her own eyes, she would not be able to rest properly.
This is true of Jesus, too. He knows that we all have our good intentions... that we all want to reach Heaven. We've all sent up our prayers which act as short phone calls to our Lord letting Him know we're thinking of Him and attempting to do right by Him. However, until we walk through those Church doors into His Home, He worries for us. He understands the evil and temptations of the world and He longs to have us near Him. Thus, upon responding in this fashion, we do bring Jesus peace. We bring Him the peace of knowing that our souls are yearning for Him... that our souls are trying to get back to Him as best we know how.
Another hand shot up. "Yeah, but if Jesus knows everything, wouldn't He already know that we wanna get to Heaven?"
I smiled. That whole "God knows everything, so what's the point?" sentiment is a very typical one... even among sixth graders.
So again, I explained it with a story.
Two girls grew up next door to one another. They were best of friends from kindergarten straight through until 8th grade. In 8th grade, however, one girl moved away and attended a different high school. Sure, they wrote to each other now and again, and they'd call each other once in a while, but pretty soon, one girl stopped calling or writing. The other friend was really sad, but she knew her friend still cared about her. She knew they would eventually have time to talk and hang out like they used to when summer rolled around. Even though she knew that, it still hurt her feelings not hearing from her best friend. It still made her feel kinda rotten when she'd be missing her old friend and her old friend was doing other things.
So I asked the class, "What, then, should the friend who moved away do?"
All of them agreed that she should try to see her best friend more often. I questioned, "Why? They'll be able to hang out over the summer, right? Why is it important to see each other a few times during the school year?"
I could see some lightbulbs going off. They were understanding.
"Because it'd make the other girl happy to see her best friend. She wouldn't miss her as much and she'd still feel like she was loved."
For the holdouts, I explained:
We are like that best friend who moved away. We left Heaven to come to Earth for a while. Jesus misses us terribly, though, and wants to see us. Coming to Mass is our way of showing Him we care. Coming to Mass is our way to see Him! We're all friends of Jesus, right? So imagine how happy He must be when we come into His House to visit Him! Imagine how much peace and joy fills His Heart!
I really hope they took something from that and kept their ears perked up for it. I know by the 3rd recitation of this particular response, folks were grinning as they let the words become familiar to their lips. I hope my children did more than grin. I hope they truly wished Jesus peace as they felt happiness at sharing their souls with their Best Friend. :)