Originally posted 4/2/2012, but since it's been a top search on my page the last couple weeks, I thought I'd make it easier for folks to find. Enjoy!
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!
Recently came across this again as well. Originally posted 9/15/2011. I don't believe he and I ever spoke again. Maybe one day. :)
I had a wonderful conversation with a discerning person today. He had a lot of great questions about not only Catholicism, but theology in general. Steeped in psychology and sociology, theology was something that he didn't quite "get."
More specifically, he didn't get why someone would freely follow something like the Golden Rule.
Out of nowhere, I asked him "If you had a cookie, and your best friend really, really wanted some, you'd share it, right?"
He affirmed and so I said, "Why? Because it makes you happy to provide for your friend which in turn makes your friend happy, doesn't it?"
Now, when I say this cookie analogy came out of nowhere, it seriously came out of nowhere. I don't typically liken things to cookies, but for some reason, the Golden Rule kept summarizing into this tasty treat. So, not sure where it would lead, I left it up to God and said, "Alright, you wanna talk cookies today? Make it happen." Of course, He did. :)
My newly found friend attempted to pick apart my analogy morsel by morsel. "Why not just give my buddy the entire cookie?" "What if I have two cookies?" "Why aren't there infinite cookies to go around?"
This all led back to Divine Providence. In explaining this whole cookie business to him, I learned something myself. This is why I love apologetics. Once you immerse yourself in understanding the faith better so you're able to explain it better to others, you inevitably uncover truths that've been staring you in the face, ever-so-politely, for the last 20 some odd years of your life.
Anyway, back to Divine Providence.
I explained that the Golden Rule was truly the sum of all Catholic ideology. Lots of people have heard the addage "Love thy neighbor as thyself" but honestly, we are called to better than that. We, as Christians, are called to love one another as Christ, Himself, loved. Instead, the world is full of selfish people who care only about themselves, or worse, the power they struggle to obtain or keep hold of. Every single issue the world suffers from is rooted in this warped "love."
So he pressed me with more questions, and I doled out more chocolate chip goodness.
He stated, "Why can't I just get another cookie to give to him?"
I explained that God doesn't give endless cookies like this purposefully. It is yet another blessing of God. We GAIN something through the experience of sharing. It is a fluid act of love. Sharing the cookie makes BOTH parties feel happiness, and more importantly, validation. That happiness and validation is love. Yet it is a fluid love... an actionable love that springs into being through a simple act of sharing. Emotions come to life through that cookie, which was given by God specifically for that purpose. If God had given both him and his friend cookies, he'd've never had the chance to experience the joy of sharing, and he and his friend, though satiated with their own cookies, wouldn't have gotten the added bonus of happiness and validation through that interpersonal exchange of love.
This is how God chooses to bless the world through Divine Providence. When my new friend lamented that there weren't "enough cookies to go around" I corrected him. In fact, that are MORE than enough cookies in the world, but because of selfishness, greed, and a lack of loving each other as Christ loves, folks miss the opportunity to take part in this fluid love that God offers to us.
So he asked, then, why he had to sacrifice half his cookie for his friend if it was, in fact, a blessing.
So I posed this question: "If I were to give you $100 on the fly, you'd be pretty happy, right? Let's say you give $50 to your buddy, because he really needs to buy some groceries for his family. You give him $50, which leaves you with $50. Would you still say that you lost in that situation?"
Of course, he replied, "Well no, because I'd still have $50."
And I said, "Exactly... we aren't given the $100 or the plate of 10 cookies for ourselves. We are given certain things specifically so we can take part in God's love through sharing with our neighbors."
I think a lightbulb went off for him at this moment, so he derails for a bit and asks, "Well, what about those who don't have material goods?"
And I smiled. I explained that material goods aren't the only things we've been blessed with to share. Time, talent, prayers, and even emotional support are all gifts we can give to one another.
At this point in the conversation, I had to take my leave, but I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with him. I left him my contact info and I hope we cross paths again. I certainly learned a thing or two from our conversation, and I truly pray he did as well.
As for us, may we all accept our cookies graciously, and in turn graciously share them with all our neighbors as a proper Thank You to the One who Baked them. :)
You guys have seen all the videos, articles and memes regarding the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge at this point. For those of you that haven't (I can't imagine there being many of you), there is a viral challenge sweeping the internet. It goes like this:
Maggie gets nominated by Joe to dump a bucket of ice-water over her head. Should Maggie accept the challenge, she donates $10 to ALS research, videotapes herself getting soaked, and nominates 3 new people to the challenge. Should Maggie NOT accept, she donates $100 to ALS research.
Either way, money is donated to ALS research. With those accepting the challenge, however, the added benefit is raising awareness.
Now I've seen a lot of folks complaining about the challenge taking up space on their news feed. I find that to be an incredibly arrogant complaint, especially when the "hide" feature is so easily accessible. Why complain about other people posting a 30 second video that you don't have to watch? It just seems incredibly arrogant.
Then I saw folks complaining about donations to the ALSA. The ALSA funds embryonic stem cell research, so I was mostly on-board with folks complaining about donations made to the ALSA. Most people are completely unaware of the embryonic stem cell issue. That being said, there are several organizations one can donate to that meet the requirements of the ALS Research donation. I, for example, offered the Kimberly Kim Foundation as well as the John Paul II Medical Research Institute as viable, moral alternatives. So again, why complain about something with such an easy solution?
Finally, I saw the most ridiculous of all arguments, and it shamefully came from a Catholic whom I follow via Facebook: Frank Weathers of Why I Am Catholic. Normally I can get behind stuff Mr. Weathers writes, but his brief, snarky message against the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge made me cringe.
He quotes Matthew 6:2-4 and uses that as his "#1 Reason" for being against the challenge:
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites
do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen,
I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your
almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who
sees in secret will repay you.
I think Mr. Weathers is stretching things a bit. He'd've gotten more support if he stuck with the anti-embryonic stem cell research. Pulling the Bible into things as if he actually thinks Jesus wouldn't be cool with His children banding together in such a way to help one another... that's mind-blowing to me.
People aren't dumping water on themselves to say "Look at me and how charitable I am!"
In all honesty, I think the majority of folks are doing it so they can feel a sense of belonging. They see this challenge as being a real solution to a real problem, and it's a solution that is fun, easy and entertaining. And they're right! This sense of belonging has become a real movement which has already raised over $70 million dollars. $70 MILLION DOLLARS!!!
And that's only from the ALSA. That doesn't count the Kimberly Kim Foundation or the JPII Medical Research Institute.
That is nothing to turn your nose up at. More than raising money, this viral campaign has raised awareness of ALS which has raised compassion and understanding. It has caused folks to reach out to one another in new and unexpected ways. It has given hope to those struggling with ALS, and in some ways empowered them to realize they COULD do something about their seemingly hopeless situation.
Again, it has bonded people into a sense of belonging to a real solution. That is incredible!
And yes, while it'd be nice for folks to support, en masse, Christians is the Middle East, you cannot condemn participants of the ALS Challenge because, frankly, you have no clue if that person already IS. Supporting one does not preclude you from supporting the other.
So I'm in favor of the challenge, and I think anyone who would attempt to shame me or call my Catholicism isn't question would do well to remove the hull of the Titanic from their eye first . I accepted the challenge from a friend, explained my donation to the Kimberly Kim Foundation (as opposed to the ALSA), and then requested (in my commentary) for my three nominees to do the same. So not only am I spreading awareness for ALS and donating to the solution, I'm also making folks aware of the embryonic stem cell issue that, again, most folks are simply unaware of (and not seeking to intentionally be malicious about).
Finally, from a marketing standpoint (given my background in Communications), I LOVE the simplicity with which this challenge went viral. Brilliant marketing ploy. Kudos all around.
Ooo, and obviously, keep folks suffering with ALS in your prayers, and if you haven't already, make yourself aware of the signs and symptoms so you can better serve those whose lives are affected by it!
This, my friends, is how Catholics combat evil. We draw together as one Body and proclaim the Divinity of the One Who Loves Us. We adore our God within the humble Eucharist and refrain our thunderous "AMEN!" as the demons tremble in their hellish shackles.
THIS is the Church Militant as She armors Herself in the Blood of the Lamb.
Special thanks to Justin Bell (@ajustbell) for giving me permission to use the above photo for tonight's entry. He was present for the Procession and took some really incredible photos. Looking through them, my eyes truly began to well up with gratitude for the outpouring of love for Christ within the Eucharist.
Lord, You are loved. Forgive us for neglecting to show our love like this more often.
By now, you've all heard of the repugnant event that was to be hosted on the Harvard campus. I, like many of my Catholics, joined my brothers and sisters in Boston in a national show of solidarity through prayer, fasting and sacrifice.
There is nothing more I can possibly say on this matter that hasn't already been outline hundreds of times by others who have written about this. I will say, however, that I was incredibly hurt by such an event being promoted. Physically, painfully hurt.
So from 7pm until 8pm, I locked myself away and offered the hour in union with the entire Church. I offered it in reparation for the mockery of Christ, I offered it for the conversion and repentance of those responsible, and I offered it for the strength and clarity of those with the power to stop it.
There were no adoration hours available to me locally, so I chose to unite myself by reading about the Eucharist in a little booklet I picked up about a year ago. It's been sitting in my drawer waiting for this day. I pulled it out and spent the hour in prayerful reflection of the lessons contained within.
The booklet is titled The Most Blessed Sacrament and is written by Fr. Stephano Manelli, OFM. I thought it fitting. Fr. Manelli creates a quilt of reflections patched together by various saints who were entirely devoted to our Divine God hidden in the Eucharist.
Folks just don't understand how Catholics can adore what - to them - amounts to be a cracker. God would never, in their minds, appear as something so insignificant. God is majestic - divine! He would not stoop so low as to appear as bread and wine.
And yet this is exactly who we know God to be. This is precisely why we praise Him, honor Him and love Him. The Divine and Unencompassable God consents to become the most base staple of nourishment so that He can mercifully feed us in an intimate and personal way. That is how loving our God is. He is not this mythical creature who is too self-important to care for His children. Instead, He bends over backwards to be near to us. He cares not for golden ciboriums or tabernacles encrusted with jewels; He years to take refuge within the depths of our soul. He wishes to enjoin Himself to our deepest, truest essence so that He can fashion us to Him and make us more like Himself - divine.
This is why Satan hates the Eucharist. He can't stand that the Divine God humbles Himself so basely for the likes of humanity. It is why he seeks to mock and sully the truest, most blessed gift ever given to humanity.
St. Augustine once exclaimed of the Eucharist, "Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give."
Why is this? Because in the Eucharist, we are given God's Incarnate Son. Jesus comes to us fully (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) to feed us and nourish our souls with effusions of Divine Grace. God cannot give more than the gift of Himself in this humble form. This blessed gift is the summation of His promise to be with us always.
Methinks I'll be doing a lot more meditating on the Eucharistic Lord in the coming months. The media still isn't entirely sure if the mockery took place or not. Some reports are saying it happened in a Chinese restaurant across from campus, others are reporting that it has been pushed off indefinitely. Either way, evil is beginning to get increasingly brazen, and a more constant meditation and show of Christian love is necessary to combat this treachery.
Did any of you participate in the 7-8pm vigil?
Does anyone else feel a bit like characters in a Chicken Little book? Instead of the sky falling, I am constantly hearing "The Church is falling! The Church is falling!" from a swelling underbelly of paranoid Catholics and a growing army of gleeful anarchists.
If you take a look at the media, you'd think the Church was at death's door!
Relax, folks. I assure you, the Church isn't going anywhere. Remember that whole business with Peter getting renamed in front of the giant cave that devoured infants?
Let me refresh your memory, then. Since all four of the Gospels were pretty clear about this, it's obviously important enough for folks to understand.
Once upon a time, Simon (meaning "reed") was following a cool guy named Jesus. Simon wasn't super smart, he certainly wasn't very rich, and he didn't hold major sway in the community. That was okay. He wasn't interested in being the smartest guy in the room. Money didn't hold any power over him, and he didn't aim to have folks do his bidding. He was just a guy who loved Jesus and was willing to follow Him wherever He went - up to and including the Gates of Hell.
That's right, folks! Simon followed Jesus to the Gates of Hell! Believe it or not, this place actually existed in his time. It was located in Caesarea Philippi, and today, it looks like this:
What you're looking at is a giant cave that was carved into a massive chunk of stone. In fact, this giant stone mass housed several caves which, at the time of Jesus, would have been temples dedicated to various deities.
This particular one, however, was dedicated to Pan, god of desolate places (being a lonely little farmer / herder dude isn't the best diety-gig to have). Because his temple had a bit of water running through it, folks would come and sacrifice their infants over the cliff to him where they would either drown or die of blunt force trauma. Thus, because of the grisly sacrificing of such innocence, it was likened to the gates of Hades (even by the Romans).
So Simon followed Jesus all the way to Caesarea Philippi to stand before this giant stone structure that signified death and complete desolation. It was here that Jesus asked a series of silly questions. I'll let the Bible talk from here:
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Good old Simon. His birth name meant reed, something easily bent or even broken by the passing breeze.
Now, however, Jesus blessed him with the name that translates to "large rock." Jesus didn't change Simon's name because He was impressed with Simon's knowledge of Scripture. He didn't change his name because He liked how sinless Simon was. He didn't even change his name because of how faithfully Simon followed Jesus all around the known world.
Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter because name changes signify divine inspiration - a deep, spiritual change that dictates a person's destiny. It's part of the reason we are given new names at Confirmation, too!
Jesus specifically changed Simon's name to Peter because He asked a question with an answer that only could've been arrived at through divine inspiration. Simon was open to the movement of the Spirit, and this is why he was chosen as the cornerstone of the Church.
On Peter's shoulders the Church would be built. When Jesus goes on and explains that He will give him (after the Ascension) the "keys to the kingdom," He was referencing Isaiah 22:22-23.
I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder;
For those unfamiliar, the "key" wasn't just a symbol of power the king bestowed onto his most trusted servant. The key was an actual key that could open or lock all the doors in the kingdom (grain storehouses, vaults for gold, even the very temple doors). Whoever wielded the key was given the king's authority (with his approval, of course) while the king is absent. The servant then went about doing the king's bidding by opening grain storehouses for the hungry, the vaults to pay for kingdom necessities, making pronouncements, etc.
Jesus was telling Peter that his openness to divine inspiration announced him as this highly trusted servant. And thus, on Peter's shoulders, the glory of his ancestors (the Jews) and his descendants / offspring (the Catholic Church / various sects of Christianity) will hang on his leadership. PETER is the cornerstone on which Christ's Church is built.
If you continue reading Isaiah (and I love this), the original servant spoken of is named Eliakim. Verses 24-25 speak of Eliakim's eventual downfall and the institution of another servant. This servant is Peter, and when the Lord speaks, it is Jesus who does the speaking. How awesome is that?
Anywho, Peter is set as the everlasting servant. The gates of the hell (Death) shall not prevail against the Church set forth under his guidance. Jesus entrusts this destiny to Peter because he has proven his openness to divine inspiration. Peter proves himself as the faithful, humble servant who does not put his own "wisdom" above that of God the Father.
THAT is the sign of a great servant.
So why do I bring this up at all?
Because for all the bellyaching folks are making about Pope Francis, they need to keep in mind that he is a servant. He is a servant hand-selected by divine inspiration to "keep the keys" until Christ comes back for the 2nd Coming.
You trust Jesus, right? You trust that what he said 2 millenia ago still rings true today, yes? Then quit your bellyaching and trust that when He said He wouldn't let His Church crumble, He's not gonna let His Church crumble.
The Church is His eternal bride. He's not going to forsake us. We'll be persecuted and crucified, this is true. We must, after all, follow faithfully in His Footsteps. But we must remember that with a death fashioned after Christ's comes a resurrection as well.
We have been told that the time is coming for this great persecution and crucifixion, but we're not there yet. Even if we were, your job isn't to head for the hills or apostatize. Your job is to keep your oil lamps filled and burning brightly. Your job is to be a beacon of Christ to others. Your job is to continue praying for and supporting the Church.
I am deeply saddened for and shamed by those Catholics who are renouncing the faith simply because this pope doesn't do things the way they expect. Our faith goes beyond a man in a white cassock. Our faith is the Resurrected God-Man who consents to give Himself to us as food in the Eucharist... as mercy in the Confessional... as divine royalty in Heaven.
I'm also saddened for and shamed by those who are gleefully dancing over the tears of those Catholics who mourn the loss of faith in their communities and families. Things may look bleak from where you're standing. You might delight in the passing of laws that deride the Church and force Her members to face fierce punishment and humiliation, but we know better.
We've witnessed Our Lord upon the Cross. We've seen His Divine Face, even as blood and spittle made Him almost unrecognizable. We've recognized that through this torturous sacrifice, evil was conquered and hope for our eternal inheritance was restored. Laugh now, but we are no strangers to persecution.
Know this. We are the Church that Christ founded. We are His Body, we are His Bride. He will not allow us to be destroyed.
So to you Catholic Chicken Littles running around freaking out about the state of the Church, relax. Do your part by praying, sacrificing and being the person God meant for you to be. Do not worry about the pope shirking his mantum or the local priest singing One Bread, One Body. Unless you witness an actual sacrilege or liturgical abuse happening, try not to freak out and just turn to Christ in prayer. Don't spread paranoia and upset by lamenting the terrible state the Church is in because Father So-and-So allows women to distribute Communion.
You folks know I hate that. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. But ya know what? I don't deny myself participation in the one, true and Catholic liturgy because of bone-headed mistakes. Also, even if the priest in question did it PURPOSEFULLY KNOWING he was in the wrong, I'm not going to let his sin cut off my avenue to Christ, because even if he was stained with a thousand mortal sins, Father Pro-Women Eucharistic Ministers is still Christ's representative on Earth and is able to consecrate whereas I am not.
To you Christian Chicken Littles hoping beyond hope that the evil Catholic Church is finally crumbling, sorry. You guys are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We still pray for you at every.single.Mass. You are our offspring. Do not neglect your Mother.
To those of you who are foaming at the mouth waiting to ravage the remnants of a Church on fire, don't hold your breath. Seriously.
On Tuesday night, I explained the roots of St. Valentine's Day to my class. I told them about Father Valentine and the love for (and dedication to!) God that he was ultimately put to death for. I explained how from his jail cell, awaiting death, this holy and courageous priest would write letters to his parishioners telling them to hold fast to their love of Christ through their love of one another.
Many of them were surprised to know the national day for flowers and candy actually springs out of the martyrdom of a holy and courageous priest. When I pointed out the liturgical color for a martyr's feast is red, it took them all a quick moment to connect why everything associated with Valentine's Day follows suit. Tradition is a terribly hard thing to bury indefinitely. *Grin*
Anyway, at the end of class, I read an excerpt from The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For those of you unaware, this incredibly beautiful prayer book was dictated to Luisa Piccarreta by Our Lord, Himself. Together, the two of them journeyed back to His Passion and experienced it for the purpose of sharing the depth of His love story to us.
I could speak of this prayer book forever, but I chose a small snippet for my class expressly for St. Valentine's Day. It is taken from the 10am-11am hour of His Passion, just as He takes up His Cross. It reads:
I [Luisa] see that your enemies shove You down the steps, while the mob awaits You with fury and eagerness. They have You find the Cross already prepared, which You seek with great longing. You look at it with Love; and You go straight towards it to embrace it. First, You kiss it; and, as a shiver of joy surges through your most Holy Humanity, You look at it with utmost satisfaction and measure its length and width. You now establish the portion in it for all creatures. You endow them with sufficient cross in order to bind them to the Divinity with a nuptial bond and render them heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I reflected thusly to my children:
Jesus did not run from His Cross. He did not turn away from the torturous and humiliating death He was about to endure. Instead, He JOYFULLY accepted His Cross. He kissed the very instrument of His death because He understood how necessary it was for the salvation of His beloved family. WE are His family. He kissed that Cross for Love of us. He shouldered that Cross for US, and He left to us the inheritance found within its splinters so that one day we might be reunited with God in Heaven.
This is our constant Valentine. Each and every time we see it, we must stop to reflect upon the Divine Love that was infused within its very existence.
"Behold, I make all things new."
Oh Lord, behold, indeed! You took the world's symbol of humiliation, agony and defeat only to turn it into the triumphant throne of mercy, salvation and victory. This is, indeed, our truest love letter from You, signed in Your Most Precious Blood and delivered with Your final, loving sigh.
This is my reflection for Saint Valentine's Day.
May the Lord bless each and every one of you with peace, love and mercy.
We flew down to Florida on Thanksgiving Day. It was Vincent's first ride on a plane, and I have to admit - he was incredible. Considering Mommy's first plane ride was woefully embarrassing, I was proud that Vince handled the entire adventure like a champ.
As we entered the plane, I made a little cross on the entrance hatch with my thumb and asked God to protect the staff and passengers aboard (did the same thing coming back!). I held his hand on the ascent (so did Daddy) and fed him fruit snacks to keep his ears popping in between Hail Marys. He played on the iPad most of the flight, then snuggled into my lap for his nippy-nap.
My father-in-law was there to pick us up from the airport. John, Vince and I traveled down with John's two sisters, our one brother-in-law, and our niece. As he drove us back to the house, I texted my mom to let her know we'd touched down safely. It was then that I noticed the notification that I'd received an e-mail from a friend.
I'm going to post the e-mail here with all identifying information removed. I could've died.
Seriously... I could've died reading that. I got teary-eyed myself (and I told her so!). But wow. I told her how happy I was that she'd discerned the calling of God and reaffirmed that He was chasing her down because He loved her so much. It was a nice reminder of how wonderful our Father is... how much He loves us... how hard He tries to win us all back to Himself. He lines things up in such a way that we can't help but acknowledge His Hand in everything. And what a splendid picture He painted for her! How blessed am I to have been a part of it!
I told her that her message topped my list of Things to be Thankful For. Such beautiful reminders of how much God loves us and how far He's willing to go to remind us of that love... it's just incredible.
And to use such an innocuous conversation as a small signal that He's thinking about her. Take every opportunity, folks. Everyone opportunity that presents itself is your chance to help Divine Providence along. Just open the door to communication and God will take care of the rest. Just... incredible. What an amazing Thanksgiving surprise. :)
I've had a large crowd of folks come through this particular entry this month. If you'd be so kind, please let me know where the traffic is being directed from - I'd greatly appreciate it!
On the heels of my last post comes this one on genuflection.
Since we were asked to ensure our children understood both the Sign of the Cross and how to properly genuflect, I’m once more utilizing you wonderful readers as my guinea pigs. Many thanks.
Last year, one of my students had slipped a “Why do people stoop when they come into church” question into the Question Box. This had tied in pretty well to a lesson on the Real Presence of Christ within the Blessed Sacrament which we had covered about two weeks prior. So to answer his question, I simply pointed out that the “stooping” motion was really a person touching his or her right knee to the ground in a show of reverence to God who is truly, fully present in the tabernacle.
I then had them practice genuflection as I noticed so many people (adults, too!) who did “stoop” which is probably what solicited the confused question from my student.
Anyway, why do we genuflect?
Most people understand that we’re reverencing God, but why is the act of genuflection an act of reverence to begin with?
Well, let’s take a look at this history of genuflection, shall we?
Even in the animal world, lowering your gaze signifies humility in the presence of someone superior. To conform your entire body to reflect the downward cast of your eyes highlights the significance of your humility that much more. Thus, high-ranking leaders like kings, emperors and dignitaries required (by custom and law) that their subjects genuflect or kneel in their presence.
This reverence translated well into Christianity which was already rich in the tradition of showing humility courtesy of its Jewish roots.
It was (and still is in some customs) Jewish tradition to kneel before the Word of God to kiss the scrolls in order to show reverence to the Divine. The Levites were also known to “fall on their faces” before God in the Holy of Holies in order to show humility and reverence while asking God for His mercy and blessings. To this day there are some Orthodox Jews who hold fast to the practice of full prostration in prayer to order their bodies after their hearts so that they can reflect the utmost humility before the Throne of God.
Thus, this practice translated into the first Christians kneeling to kiss the epistles of the apostles before they were read… to kissing relics… to kissing the rings of the bishops and popes in authority. We Catholics do not simply stoop. We are ordering our bodies after the humility in our hearts so that we can properly pay homage to the God of the Universe.
At least that’s what we should be doing, anyway.
Also, this sign of humility is a sign of subjugation.
For example, way back when, high ranking officials in armies were given foot soldiers who served as human stools (for lack of a better term). They would genuflect before their leader’s horse to allow themselves to be used as a stepping stool so their commanding officer could easily take to the saddle and lead a charge.
When we genuflect before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, we not only order our bodies after what’s in our hearts… we’re also offering ourselves to Him for whatever services He may ask of us.
So that, my friends, is why we genuflect upon entrance into a church. That is why we kneel before the Blessed Sacrament during Adoration. That is why the priest and ministers genuflect (or deeply bow) when crossing the front of the tabernacle.
And that’s why you should, too! Please don’t half it. It confuses others (especially children) who see it as stooping. If you’re going to order your bodies after the faith that’s in your heart, make sure your body reflects the true and deep humility that our faith encourages (if you’re able). If a genuflection is simply impossible due to age, illness, etc, refrain from stooping and simply give a deep bow. Even a head nod is better than a lackluster stoop.
The point is to pay reverence and humility to the God of Creation.
I recently came across a fascinating group of fired-up Catholics who are dedicated to educating others about the truth of Catholic doctrine.
And when I say "fired-up" I truly mean fired-up. In reading their messages and watching their videos, you can't help but acknowledge that these blessed folks are on fire with the love of Christ.
Intrigued, I reached out the this group in the hopes to learn more about them. They were kind enough to allow me an interview. I'm sharing it for your benefit. Get to know this intrepid group! They aim to set fire to the hearts of all they meet!
What is the Archangelati?
The Archangelati is an online coalition of faithful Catholics seeking to educate and clarify the true doctrine and beliefs of our beautiful Catholic and Apostolic Church. Often, this is achieved by our works involving the refutation of age-old heresies and attempts to convert the hearts of all people through New Evangelical and Apologetic means.
This means that we work to not only convert non-Catholics but also to strengthen the faith and devotions of our fellow Catholic brethren.
Why the name "Archangelati" and not something like "Angels of Evangelization?"
The personal devotions of the co-founders to the seven Archangels (particularly St. Michael) was highly influential upon our decision. We wanted to counter the anti-Catholic sentiments that many faithful Catholics are aware of. We chose to parody the famous anti-Catholic conspiracy group called the Illuminati.
Like the Archangels, we seek to bring the True Faith and all its messages to the common people, as well as promote respect and a true understanding of Catholicism. It seemed natural to combine our sentiments int a single, new word with ancient roots - much like our group, we are "new" but our message of Faith is not.
Did you begin as a loose collective of YouTube friends or blogging partners? How did the idea of an Archangelati spring forth?
Many of us were responding to the call of Christ (as well as Pope Benedict XVI) to evangelize and spread Christ's love, patience and understanding where the Holy Spirit directs us. In these increasingly secular times, there is a deep need for a return to tradition, a return to the Church, and a return to God.
There were many individuals seeking to fill this need independently. After exchanging tips and working alongside these faithful Catholics, we began to develop a bond and decided to create a supportive community for online Catholics.
What was your vision for the Archangelati when you first began? Has it changed since membership began growing?
We are always changing and growing in order to meet the needs of God's children. For some of us, that means keeping open dialogues with obstinate Protestants, for others that means attempting to bring back lukewarm and "former" Catholics, and for some it may simply mean supporting and praying for our other members.
Can you explain something of the formation process?
We allow each member to respond to God's call and enter provided that they are actually Roman Catholic and in full communion with the Holy Mother Church. After a few slightly comical misunderstandings, a few heretical infiltrations, and much deliberations between the co-founders, we decided that it was necessary that each new member fully understand and openly profess a true Apostolic and Catholic faith.
Something I found absolutely fascinating about your intro video is your decisive call to action. You specifically challenge Roman Catholics to "Reclaim Catholicism." Can you expound on this?
The media has demeaned and demonized Catholicism - everything from accusation of being a cult and having "sexy nuns" to the possibility of "Pro-choice Catholics" and unbalanced reports regarding the priest scandals. There are so many misunderstandings about what Catholicism truly is. We want all Catholics to live faithfully in perfect union with Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church. We want all Catholics to be unafraid to openly label themselves as Catholics. We want the next generation of Catholics to inherit an environment of tolerance and to be proud of our True Church and all its teachings.
In your Wiki description, you cite your adherence to a more "traditional" approach to Catholicism, rejecting more "progressive" interpretations. Can you tell me more about your ideas on traditional vs. progressive Catholicism?
Since our One True Church is based on Holy Scriptures, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium, it is only in the preservation of these teachings that we can truly find communion with the Godhead. As a group, we tend to hold that progressive Catholicism tends to take away the importance of the sacraments and the spirituality that derives from it. In the attempt to "modernize" the faith, some have fallen into the trap of "Protestantizing" their understanding of Catholicism. This is not true Catholicism. You cannot be pro-choice and Catholic. You cannot reject the Immaculate Conception or Papal Infallibility and still be Catholic. Tradition is at the heart and core of Catholicism as even the Bible instructs us to "hold fast to Tradition." (2Thess 2:15)
Being that you're a traditional group of younger Catholics, do you feel a calling to engage youthful Catholics through media that are more in-tune with their experiences and comfort levels?
Like the Catholic Church, our members are extremely varied and diverse. We are nuns, we are priests, we are newly-weds, we are middle-aged and grandparents, we are high-school kids and college students. We come from all backgrounds of life, from many different countries, but we are all united by our love of God and His One True Church. Through the blessings of new technology, we are able to communicate with many more people throughout the world. We try to use this to our advantage.
What has thus far been your most successful medium? Do you ever physically meet together, or do you rely solely on cyberspace to hold information sessions with the members of your Archangelatum?
Overall, YouTube remains our most successful medium. However, many of our members have chosen to enhance their friendships with each other through other forms such as blogs, e-mail and Facebook. There are several members that are siblings with one another (such as two of the co-founders). This enables even easier lines of communication to remain open. There have been a few instances of several members meeting together and there have been proposals for larger meetings; however, the large distances between each member complicates any gathering of significant size.
For more information (or if you're itching to join!) you can learn more by following this link to their blog. Or, you can check out their website here! Keep them in your prayers, folks!
Brace yourselves for one of the nerdiest "fan-girl" type entries ever.
And yes, it's about a homily.
I'm not even sure where to begin as I'm so giddy over the brilliance and no-nonsense approach this retired priest (who is filling in for Fr. Atlas while he's away). It was his mission to defend the Eucharist and educate parishioners on the importance we should place on the Real Presence of Christ - what a gem! If I didn't have Vince on my lap, I would've taken a pen and paper out for notes!
To begin, this weekend's readings were very much Eucharistic in nature. The first reading dealt with the manna from Heaven that nourished the Israelites as they wandered through the desert. The psalm was a reflection of this reading and also foreshadowed the joyful thanksgiving we ought to sing in praise of His gracious institution of the Holy Eucharist.
The second reading reminds us that the bread that nourishes us it not only physical but spiritual. Christ, the Word, is our sustenance. His teachings and example are the gateway to Heaven.
Finally, in the gospel, we hear Jesus, Himself, affirm that He is the Bread of Life. This is not some spiritual manner of speaking. He is affirming His Presence in the Holy Eucharist - the greatest of all Sacraments. He is preparing His followers to understand and accept this unfathomable mercy.
Upon walking out amongst the congregation, Fr. Eucharist (as I'll call him henceforth) spoke of several mystics who lived solely on the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.
He didn't specify a particular mystic, but considering the scientific evidence he spoke of regarding the validity of these miraculous signs, my mind jumped to Blessed Alexandrina who subsisted on nothing but the Holy Eucharist for 13 years (to the astonishment of the many doctors and scientists who examined her).
Fr. Eucharist wanted to highlight that the Blessed Sacrament is not just symbol of Christ. This Sacrament of Love is the fullness of Christ's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. When we say "Amen" in response to the priest's offering, we are saying "Yes, I believe!" that the consecrated Host we receive is, in fact, God. He has chosen to use some of His saints to hit home this point through allowing them the grace of existing solely on His Body. As He said, "My Flesh is true food, and My Blood is true drink." Amen, indeed.
As such, the Eucharist is to be the most important thing in our lives. It is the banquet that supercedes all other banquets.
Upon this reflection, Father Eucharist then went on to describe some key elements that build up our Mass towards this miraculous banquet.
The procession and readings - our Liturgy of the Word - is like a cocktail hour. I loved that comparison! At a wedding cocktail, for example, we gather together with joy to catch up with family and friends we haven't seen in a while. We see how the kids are doing, we find out what so-and-so's been up to, and we bask in the filial love present amongst us all.
During the cocktail hour, we also get tiny samples of the greater meal awaiting us at the main banquet. For us, those morsels are the various readings and responses. As Catholics, we believe that Christ is the Word, so we are blessed to receive Him with our ears before we partake of the "main course" of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
And oh... the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Pardon me as I 'squee' ridiculously for a few moments. He really took off running as he reflected on the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Once again he discussed the spiritual reality of our physical presence at Mass.
As St. John Chrysostom once said, "When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim
immolated on the altar."
Amen, St. John!
Fr. Eucharist reminded of this in such a reverent, direct way that I could have stood up to applaud him. He said, "Yes! There is truth beyond what we can see with our physical eyes. At the words of consecration, Jesus is standing behind the priest! God the Father and Holy Spirit are with Him. Mary, His mother, is there with St. Joseph. And filling the sanctuary are the angels and saints who, together with us, adore and praise Him."
How I managed to stay in my seat and not jump up to hug him is truly beyond me. I felt as if my heart had doubled in size just so it could sprout arms and embrace him.
Yes, Fr. Eucharist, yes! TELL US! TEACH US! REMIND US THAT THE EUCHARIST IS GOD TRULY PRESENT! Shine as an example to all other priests that THIS is the type of truth so desperately needed in the world today. THIS is what Catholics must be reminded of so that we can properly appreciate the gift that is the Eucharist.
Did he stop there? No no, folks. My giddiness erupted as he went on.
Catholics, when they present themselves for the Eucharist, must make a throne with their hands with which to accept the Body of Christ. Not with one hand. Not with two haphazardly placed together. Reverently accept Him as the King He is!
*He then proceeded to show us what that would look like.*
And, bless him, he also gave a nod to acceptance on the tongue (which is how I receive anyway).
And to boot, he called out folks who leave after receiving the Eucharist. He said, "And to those of you who leave after Communion, you're missing a lot of stuff! From Consecration until the Recessional, the Blood of Christ covers the congregation, filling us with untold graces!"
He again didn't mention a specific mystic, but I'm about 99.9% sure he was referring to the revelations made by the Blessed Mother to Catalina Revas of Bolivia. I'd only recently learned of her (I would guess in the last 8 months or so), but the insights and revelations made to her by Christ and Our Lady have forever changed my participation in the Mass. I would encourage all of you to read more about her! But again, use the typical caution regarding private revelations. Though not forbidden / approved by the Church, it us up to the individual to request guidance and discernment from the Holy Spirit.
Back to the wonderful priest, however, he closed his homily with a reminder that after reception of the Eucharist, we would do well to remember that God, Himself, dwells within us. So as we walk back to our seats, it's not the time for saying "Hi" to friends, nor is it the time to get one's self ready to leave. The time after Communion is meant for prayful reflection... a true and intimate conversation between us and God.
And don't you know after Communion, he graciously allowed us time to sit in silent contempation.
Hmmmm... I've got a big old stupid smile on my face, and it's all because of this wonderful representative of Christ. My prayers are with him and with all priests. May they all have such ardent love for Him, and may they all seek to spread that love and understanding to others. Bless him, and bless them!
Why do you know so much about the Jews? Did you convert from Judaism?
The answer to this is simple - yet extremely important.
I did not convert from Judaism. Rather, I was blessed to be born into the faith that FULFILLS Judaism.
You see, Judaism and Catholicism are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one side without the other.
In the Old Testament, God unfolds His plans for humanity. We were created by Him to be part of His family. Much like parents long for children to love and be loved by, God desired a family to love and be loved by. Humanity was the crowning answer to His Love.
The Old Testament gives us our history - our FAMILY history. We come to understand God as Father through its books. Once we understand God as Father, we cannot help but understand the whole of humanity as our brothers and sisters.
Most people view the God of the Old Testament as an angry Zeus-like figure (hurling fireballs at cities or smiting folks for laughs). However, when you really sit down and read through the pages of the OT, you come to learn that far from being an irate and venomous bully, God is a loving, patient Father who repeatedly sets his wayward children back on the path towards their inheritance with Him in Heaven.
Israel, being His "firstborn" (in that the Jews are who He revealed Himself as Father to before any other nation), tended to get the brunt of the "tough love" in an effort to prepare them to act as "big brother" to the other nations who would come to know the Father through them.
However, no one was going to learn about God the Father if the Israelites weren't acting in accordance with God's Will. This is why God punished the Israelites each time they broke their end of the Covenant. God was trying to uphold them as the model of what humanity was supposed to be, but they kept rejecting His Way in lieu of the debauchery that served as the way for their brother nations.
Thus the need for God to constantly step in to remind them, "Hey, Israel... you're supposed to be My Firstborn - My High Priest. You're supposed to be leading people to me through your holy example, not hopping aboard the Sin-Train with them on the way to perdition!"
And if you note His method of punishment, each completely fits the crime. Nothing more, nothing less. Divine Justice is merciful like that. :)
So fast-forward through the centuries. God is always making promises to Israel, reminding them that they've been called to be the gate of graces for the whole of humanity. Through their nation, salvation would be granted to the world in the form of the Messiah. One day, a Christ would come who would fulfill ALL the promises God made to His people in the Old Testament.
The New Testament tells the story of the promised Messiah - a Man called Jesus.
The New Testament is not the foundation for Catholicism... it is the FLOWERING of Judasim (which, in fact, is the foundation of Catholicism).
Look upon the whole of our theology as a tree. The seed was planted by God, Himself, through His covenant with Adam. He nurtured this tree, allowing the roots to take shape through Abraham. The trunk of Israel grew strong, eventually supporting the flowering branches of Christianity. Catholicism, however, is the FRUIT of the tree.
We have been blessed to understand that Christ fulfilled the promises made in the Old Testament. We have been blessed to see that Christ has offered salvation through the new and everlasting Church He set upon the rock of St. Peter. And yes, this salvation (as promised) came through Israel. Jesus was a Jew, and the first Christians were Jews. The evangelists were Jewish. The crux of our heritage was found in Jerusalem (where Christ preached and eventually offered Himself as Sacrifice, obtaining our salvation).
So while I'm not exactly Jewish, I am a sister to the Jews. If not for their millenia of working the theological fields, if not for their many centuries of trying to follow the Will of God, I would not have my Catholicism. I am indebted to the firstborn of God!
Thus, upon my "coming back" to the faith, I made a real attempt to delve into Judaic theology. Only in understanding the Jewish religion can I ever hope to understand my own.
So I hope that answers the question. And as a personal note (because I know you're not Catholic, but some version of Protestant - my apologies for forgetting which), this is true of your faith as well. Christianity stems from Judaism. It's why all Christians keep the Old Testament as well as the New. So understanding Judaism would be beneficial to you just as much (if not more so!).
I attended St. William's in NE Philadelphia yesterday. They have a unique 8pm evening mass on Sunday which is thoroughly helpful when someone like me has a wedding the night before and can't drag herself out of bed in time for her usual 10am service.
Anyway, I attend St. William's once every other month or so. I'm regular enough that folks sorta-kinda recognize me (especially as I'm the only veiled one present), but irregular enough to where no one really knows my name.
Color me ridiculously surprised, then, when I bumped into several people that I knew from Incarnation (my old home parish) last night.
One scooched in next to me during the Penitential Rite. Neither of us were aware of who the other was until the 1st Reading. She nudged me and said, "Gina?" I turned, surprised to see my old friend. It was a pleasant surprise. She made a motion with her hand regarding my veil. It was a question... a confused, "What's with the veil?" I just smiled and returned my attention back to the Mass.
I could feel her eying me curiously for the rest of Mass. At the end of Mass, after moving to the narthex, I opened the door for the questions I knew she had.
Inevitably, the first one was, "So, what's with the veil?"
I explained, briefly, that I'd had a rekindling of faith and spent over a year returning to my Catholic roots. One of the things I discovered on my journey back to Christ was the custom of veiling. I explained that since the Blessed Mother is my example for all things Catholic, far be it from me to place myself above her example when in the Presence of Christ. If she wears a veil when with her Beloved Son, I feel I, too, should present myself in a similar fashion when accepting Him in the Eucharist.
Then she said, "I saw you cross yourself and mumble something during the Gospel. What was that all about?"
I couldn't figure out what she was talking about at first. It took several moments of her miming an interpretation of what I looked like at the beginning of the Gospel for me to understand what she was referring to.
When the priest said, "A reading from the Gospel of Mark" I made a tiny cross with my thumb over my forehead, my lips and my heart. The mumbling she heard was a prayer I learned in 5th grade to go along with the motion I learned that same day:
"Lord, be ever on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart."
During the Gospel, we are hearing the Word of God. We, as Catholics, should strive always to keep His Word in mind so that we may act charitably towards one another. We also wish to bear forth the Word of Christ to others, either through praise and thanksgiving, or through evangelization. Finally, above all, we wish to love Him with our whole heart by keeping His Word enclosed within.
Thus, the small crosses signifying His Gospel upon mind, lips and heart.
I've done it since learning it in 5th grade, and I've always assumed it's part of the proper movements of Mass. Kind of like "sit, stand, kneel, 'Amen,'" I thought this particular motion and prayer were part of the expected and "everybody knows you're supposed to do that" knowledge that goes along with being Catholic.
However, if you did not know this before, you do now! :)
The Name of Christ is mighty
Apparently the Name of Christ is more dangerous to the public than concealed weapons (which are perfectly legal) in N. Carolina.
I found a seed on Father Z's blog this morning detailing a new policy enacted in N. Carolina regarding police chaplains' ability to use Christ's name while praying at public events.
One chaplain's response was like an arrow to my heart... a beautiful, wonderful arrow of integrity and wisdom.
Pastor Terry Sartain, upon learning of this change, withdrew from the event because, "Jesus is the only thing I have to bless people with."
This man understands what so many others do not. The Name of Christ is one of our greatest blessings. It's why we always ask for everything "in Jesus' Name." Christ left us even the grace of His own Name to help shield us from harm.
Other religions treat the names of their gods / prophets as unspeakable or curse-inducing utterances. Not Christianity. We were blessed to understand that our God is a loving God who WANTS a personal relationship with us. He WANTS us to know Him intimately. Thus, He blesses us with the comfort of His Holy Name.
To remove our ability to call out His blessing through using His Name, this policy effectively steals from us our ability to properly pray. It also forces us to deny the God who gave His Life for our salvation.
And I can't help but know with certainly that the developers of this policy fully understood that. I believe Satan and his demons coated this with the sugar of tolerance and unity, but in reality, this is just one more step towards a global "religion" that is no religion at all.
It is a dismantling of Christianity in lieu of agnosticism. It is a stifling of our faith... another gentle inoculation to prevent the spread of Christ's Name to new generations of souls. This has nothing to do with tolerance. It is INTOLERANCE that has paved the way for this desecration of religious liberties.
But few will see it this way because so many are grateful for the chance to cast aside the trappings of religion. Their own opinions on religion cloud their ability to see beyond the "Don't use Jesus' Name" and realize that it is a tiny cog in a bigger machine that is shooting down a person's individual right to practice their religion as he or she sees fit.
Chaplains are VOLUNTEERS. They are volunteering their time to give comfort to the men and women who serve. At a prayer service (if one is requested by the police force), folks EXPECT to hear names like Jesus, God, Buddha or Mohammad. These words do not point a finger at atheists, Jews or Spaghetti Monster believers in an attempt to say "You're going to a naughty place for not believing!" If you invite a volunteer chaplain to one of these prayer services, you're inviting their brand of religion. If you don't want to be stifled by Christianity, find a volunteer who will speak what you're looking for. But do NOT, NOT, NOT attempt to tell someone how they can and cannot pray (publicly or otherwise!).
These chaplains (whatever their religion may be) are looking to offer comfort in the form of a universal blessing. Christ does not just bless Christians. He blesses all, regardless of their belief in Him.
If someone were to say to me, "May the Spaghetti Monster's blessing be upon you always" I'd say, "Right on, good sir. Thanks for having my back with the warm fuzzies."
I would not respond, "Dude, I believe in JESUS, okay? Stop insulting me with your well-wishes!"
And yet that's exactly what is being done by this policy. It is ludicrous and is once again an attempt by policy makers to stifle the religious freedoms of folks... folks who are VOLUNTEERING THEIR TIME for goodness sake!
It reminds me of this yearly mess... Will this sort of foolishness have no end?
This is a perfect time for the Golden Arrow Prayer. It was given to St. Gertrude the Great by Christ, Himself, who said, "It will wound My Heart delightfully and heal the wounds inflicted by blasphemy."
As I said on Fr. Z's wall, I hope in this case it will heal the wounds inflicted by arrogance, silence and betrayal.
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth by all the creatures of God and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
Judge a tree by it's fruits, man!
I got an e-mail last night from a friend of mine. We had been discussing the current LCWR review. He was under the impression (as so many are) that the Vatican was trying to stamp out the personal freedoms of poor, innocent nuns just trying to live our their vocation serving their communities.
I admit I got rather heated at the thought of these women being pitied as a result of the media's false stories of heroism in the face of the big, bad Vatican. These women should never - EVER - be held up as the gold standard for Catholicism. The women in question shouldn't even be held up as a bad example of Catholicism. Many have given up being Catholic long, long ago and just haven't 'fessed up to it yet. Thus, use them as a bad example of Protestantism. Please leave the word "Catholic" out of their mess.
Anyway, this friend chided me for my harsh words. He quoted the oft repeated (and incredibly misunderstood) line from Matthew 7: "Judge not lest you be judged."
I've already sent this friend an e-mail detailing my feelings on the matter (candidly as I'm apt to do). However, I felt this a topic very necessary to broach with the general population as this quote is so often used by people in an attempt to bow out to political correctness.
In my opinion, it's nothing more than an excuse to hide one's insecurities behind a veil of false nicety.
Let's say my mother is driving a car. We're about to take a curve too harshly. Considering there's a canyon to the left of us, if she continues speeding, we're likely to tumble into the abyss.
Do I refrain from telling her to slow down because I'm afraid I might hurt her feelings for criticizing her driving?
No. I like my life.
Instead, I'd say, "Hey Mom, you need to apply the brakes because if you don't, we're likely to take a tumble neither one of us will enjoy."
Would I be judging my mother to be a bad driver? No.
Would I be judging her behavior to be bad? Yes.
Might she feel as though I'd judged her to be a bad driver? Yes, it's a possibility.
If she feels as though I've passed a negative judgement on her, does that mean I have? No.
Even knowing that she might have her feelings hurt as a result of my criticism, should I refrain from suggesting she slow down? NO.
As I've said in previous entries, I simply do not have the personality to sit on the sidelines while someone is acting in a way that is either harmful to self or others. I can't. I automatically put a familiar face on these folks and my decision is made - political correctness be damned.
That is exactly what we are asked to do as Catholics. The quote "Judge not, lest ye be judged" is often given as a means to stifle this responsibility. However, if we read juuust a little bit further, we'll come to understand that this misrepresented quote (found on everything from billboards to memes to T-shirts) means something much different than the sound byte it's utilized as.
Here is the quote in its entirety (from the New American Bible, so the wording is slightly changed):
Jesus said to His disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:1-5
In other words, use your God-given intellect to discern judgement. It isn't necessarily meaning we should condemn, but it's certainly charging us with the responsibility of properly judging all things with equality.
In fact, there are quotes all over the Bible specifically commanding this of us.
In the gospels, Luke echoes Matthew in Chapter 6 with "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven... For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."
John (7:24) relays Jesus saying "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteously."
In Proverbs (3:21), "Preserve sound judgement and discernment."
In the Letter of St. Paul to the Phillipians (1:9-11), "And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God."
And my favorite (also from Luke 6) stating, "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."
"See the good that we do and give glory to God."
That being said, we have a Christian responsibility to judge that which is presented to us in this world... ESPECIALLY when that which is presented wreaks of evil. We must not allow such evil to continue spreading as a cancer. The Body of Christ - OUR spiritual body - must be protected. If we remain silent as these "religious" continue to misinform, polarize and confuse the general population, we commit a sin of commission. We allow a greater evil to exist both within our ranks, and within ourselves through our silence.
This is exactly how the atrocities of WWII were accomplished. Sure there were plenty of folks who disagreed with the Nazi ideals. However, too many were silent for too long.
First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
I, for one, cannot endure such silence. I cannot wither away behind a false veil of "live and let live" when that includes allowing misinformation to fester and spread to my friends, family and children. No. It is my duty as a Christian to call evil out where it is and shed the light of truth upon the dishonesty and willful desecration of the Faith.
And those Christians among you who read this (be you Catholic or otherwise), this is your duty as well. We must work together to bring the light of Truth to others. We must not allow the lies, the half-truths, the confusion to tear souls away from Christ.
Laws no longer protect but intimidate.
Thanks to Catholic Vote for seeding. This article details the plight of a young photographer who refused her services to a lesbian couple looking to have photos taken of their commitment ceremony (since homosexual unions aren't recognized or legal in New Mexico).
Instead of simply finding another photographer, these miscreants took Elaine (the photographer) to court. Apparently their poor little feelings were hurt because Elaine didn't want to take pictures of their ring-exchange. So what's any rational couple to do?
Silly me, if faced with such a decision, I'd simply type "photographer" into Google.
Apparently it's way more entertaining to sue the person. With this being the great country of America, it's incredibly easy to do considering we don't understand our own Constitution!
*Grumble grumble grumble*
As I said, the homosexual lobby is attempting to manipulate laws into forcing folks to accept their lifestyle choices. Instead of simply finding another photographer to take photos of their "special day," they wanted to drag this woman through the mud to make an example of her in order to put pressure on others who would deny services to protect their consciences.
Since when did people become so entitled to having the world conform to their opinions? Are they so really so insecure and desperate for acceptance that they're willing to stoop THIS LOW in order to intimidate folks into a false posturing of agreement?
For shame. For absolute shame.
My friend, Christina, said something to me that has been bouncing around in my head for the last few days:
There's something about a fire that doesn't seem to burn you. [This] issue had fire written all over it and you just jumped on in like it was a bubble bath.
Ah... the story of my life.
Last week, when I wrote that "Alone" entry, I got several follow-up messages from the person the entry was originally about. He gave me permission to post his story here, because I honestly think it's something that folks should be aware of, especially those of us who are active on Christian blogs / forums.
While I was chatting with some folks on a Christian forum, a young man timidly asked for advice with an issue he'd been struggling with. We happily agreed to hear him out. He identifies himself as homosexual, he's 19, and he still lives home with his "strict Christian parents." He loves his parents dearly, but he hasn't "come out" to them, yet. He was looking for advice on how to best do it without having them disown him.
Within minutes the thread was lighting up with comments like:
"It's a phase." "Keep that to yourself until you get it fixed."
"You'll go to hell!" "You SHOULD be disowned."
"Homosexuality is a disease." ETC...
Seriously. I was absolutely FLOORED. I immediately jumped in to dispel the notion that his sexuality was a one-way ticket to hell that needed to be exchanged through a one-night stand with a woman (suggested by a particularly vulgar member who, until that point, had been the most proper one of the bunch!). I then pointed out that the various responses were less than Christian in content.
You'd think I stumbled upon a hellmouth or something. Not only was I trying to defend this person against attacks, I was on the receiving end, myself, with no hope of respite. To say anything contrary to "Gays are evil, hell-bound freaks of nature" was tantamount to painting yourself with a bulls-eye and handing out arrows during open season. I felt HORRIBLE because all that viciousness simply caused this young man to pull away, completely embarrassed, ashamed and hurt by the torrent of verbal abuse. Worse, he assumed that response was a unanimously Christian one because no one took a stand against it!!! Heaven forbid!
For the record:
Condemning a person is NOT CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
Suggesting that they commit a mortal sin in order to "reverse" another perceived mortal sin is NOT CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
Responding to a plea for help with vitriol and wishes for the emotional distress of family abandonment is NOT CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
This gentle young man and I have been blessed to have several discussions on this now. He now understands that regardless of his sexuality, he is a body and soul created and loved by God. He understands Catholic teaching on homosexuality, and though he doesn't agree with it, at least he doesn't believe Catholicism teaches he's got a sure-ticket to hell just for being attracted to other men. He also feels better about talking to his parents about this. After all, a parent's duty is to love above all else. Heck, our job as humans is to love above all else. Loving doesn't mean accepting the sins of another, but it DOES mean accepting the person for who they're made as and helping them carry the crosses uniquely granted by God to help them on their path towards Heaven.
Keep folks like this in your prayers. It takes a lot of courage to be upfront about your deepest struggles, especially when you've got the whole world ready to rip into you.
And this is why I tend to step into the fire with seemingly little regard for the flames. On the other end of the verbal assault, someone is feeling the effects. On the other side of the computer screen, someone is being made to feel subhuman. When these hot-button conversations ignite, there is someone, somewhere being given a very incorrect view of Christianity through the poor examples of those who laud themselves as being the epitome of Christian practice. I can't help but feel my own heart break for them.
So yes. I frequently involve myself in these types of conversations and threads because if I don't, who will? Be the change you wish to see, right? If I had kept my mouth shut and just allowed them to steamroll this person, what type of image would he have of Christianity? Would there be no nugget of hope regarding coming out to his parents?
And what of the people who could easily have offered their own "Likes" or commentary to mine? Instead of private messaging, they could have helped this young man feel something of the love of God. Instead, he was left with a very bitter taste in his mouth, spoon-fed by supposedly loving Christians.
Our duty is not to stand by and allow such ill-feelings to spread. Our duty as Christians is to love God by loving one another - not silently... not ashamedly... not timidly. We are called to live our love out loud.
If that means dancing in the fire, bring on the flames.
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.
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. :)
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