Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Girls: To Server or Not To Serve...

In a recent blog, I saw one of the original quotes from the Vatican when the permission for girls to be servers came out. The word "obligation" was used in reference to boys being the preferred altar servers, but girls being allowed according to the bishop's decision. The Vatican clearly sees a connection between being an altar server and recognizing a call to the priesthood. It is clear that a 'behind the scenes' look at the Mass, as witnessed by altar servers, would lead to boys considering the vocation. Therefore, when girls enter the ranks of servers, there may be a similar effect on them - a desire to 'have the power' to consecrate bread and wine into Jesus's Body and Blood. Really, it is only natural. 

However, correct and thorough teaching of the True Faith can overcome this problem. It can also overcome the issues mentioned above such as finding Mass 'boring' if not serving, not knowing Liturgical terms, not understanding what happens during Mass, etc. All it takes is for parents to take their responsibility and obligation to heart and to REALLY teach their children the Faith. Whether your children attend Catholic schools or go to CCD, they still need to be immersed in the Faith at home. Too often parents let teachers (whether at school or CCD) and the single weekly Mass be the only exposition their children have to their Faith. There is no way over 2000 years of Catholicism can be learned in that little bit of exposure - even if all the teachers and priests were top-notch apologists (which sadly they aren't... Please pray for priests and religion teachers!). Even if they were top-notch apologists, 'book-learning' is not even 1/2 of the battle. You must LIVE your Faith in order to succeed in it. In order to live it, you must know it. To know it you must learn about it at a steady rate.  

*Study the Catechism with your children. 
*Go through the Liturgical items after Mass with them. 
*Invite Father over after Mass or on a weeknight to discuss Mass and what happens during Mass. 
*Discuss Liturgical seasons and how they differ from the secular seasons we see. 
*Read Scripture together to learn where all our wonderful Traditions began. 
*Learn about various saints and their lives to see which fits each member of your family best. 
*Identify areas of your lives that could be improved by studying the cardinal virtues and vices. 

Really LIVE the Faith. Through this more than any amount of altar serving will make our children devout and life-long Catholics - even if they turn away for a while. Once they know the why and how, they will return, even if it takes them the rest of their lives. All things are possible with God.

My daughter is 5 and wants to be an altar server. However, she will be guided into a different area of serving our parish. Her brother is almost 7 and will be an altar server. They both already know the entire Consecration just from attending Sunday Masses with one daily Mass every week or so. They're young, but already know many of the items used during the Liturgy, the Liturgical seasons, many saints, the basics of the Catechism, many Bible stories, countless hymns, sung Mass parts (Gloria, Holy, etc) and songs for Mass. We have been our parish's 'choir' since they were infants in the womb. That is one of our 'services' to the parish. 

Not everyone needs to serve in the same way - not everyone has to 'serve' in a public or physical way at all. Participation in Mass is not about physically 'doing' something at Mass. Participating in the Mass is simply being there at witnessing The unbloody Sacrifice of Jesus on the altar. That is what Mass is about. Mass is NOT about how we feel about it or what we do. It is about Christ's Sacrifice for us. Too often we get caught up in trying to 'do' something instead of worshiping God in the Mass. We go to Mass for God, not for ourselves. If all we can think of during Mass is ourselves and whether we're doing enough, or entertained enough, or 'participating' enough, then we're not really participating at all. We should go to Mass to be in awe of our Almighty God who created us, forgives our sins, died for us, and nourishes us with His very Own Body and Blood. We should go to Mass knowing that the angels do not even get to be this intimate with God - we consume Him! That is what Mass is about. The Mass is the most perfect prayer we have and just being in the church while Mass is being said - even if you can't understand a word of it - with a reverent and prayerful heart is the best prayer we can offer God. 

So, don't get caught up in trying to find a 'service' to perform at Mass - your service may simply be to pray the Mass. Outside of Mass just raise your children with knowledge of the Faith - don't expect others or their 'service' do it for you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

40 Things I've Learned from My Parents' 40 Years of Marriage

November 29, 1974 was a very special day. My parents were joined in Holy Matrimony that day. In a world where relationships lasting 40 days seem rare (at least if you're talking about celebrities), 40 years of marriage is a big deal! Blessedly, I've spent all of my 33 years living with (or near) my parents. Even now, I live "next-door" to them, so that my children and I can visit without ever setting foot on a real road, 1/4 of a mile away. So even my children are benefiting from the witness my parents share just by living out their vocation faithfully. Here are some things I've learned.

1.  Pray together.
2.  Do little things for one another.
3.  Show affection for one another.
4.  Don't be afraid to fight.
5.  Be willing to forgive.
6.  Give each other space.
7.  Support each other in parenting.
8.  Pray for each other.
9.  Talk to each other not at each other.
10. Know your priorities: 1-God, 2-spouse, 3-children, 4-etc.
11. Respect each other's boundaries.
12. Apologize even if you don't think you were the only one in the wrong.
13. Attend public functions together.
14. Spoil one another occasionally.
15. Go to Mass and Reconcilliation often together and individually.
16. Be risqué occasionally.
17. Share inside jokes.
18. Have your own interests.
19. Give your relationship 100%.
20. Respect each other's bodies and feelings-Theology of the Body is great.
21. Work together on projects.
22. Challenge each other-spiritually and physically.
23. Share an interest, hobby, or leisure activity.
24. Listen to music together (dance sometimes).
25. Remember what attracted you to each other.
26. Lend an ear or shoulder to each other for tough times.
27. Know that your marriage is more than a piece of paper-God is with you.
28. Have a "date-night" even if it's at home.
29. Show an interest in each other's passions.
30. Know you don't have to agree all the time, just agree to disagree.
31. Go to a neutral party if you're having relationship trouble-priests are great.
32. Know and avoid each other's hot-buttons.
33. Support each other's work.
34. Admit your weaknesses to each other.
35. Rely on each other for strength during hard times.
36. Say and do silly things.
37. Let other people see your love.
38. Constantly re-evaluate your goals and dreams.
39. Let go and let God-money, status, things, health, etc are nothing without Him.
40. Love each other.

I don't have much financially right now, but I have a constantly growing appreciation for my parents and their marriage. This is their Ruby Anniversary-40th-and I wish there was more I could do for them. However, I know my love, prayers, and thoughts will suffice. I love you two! Thank you for being a great example!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A 'New' Kind of Cafeteria Catholic?

I read this article on Patheos about the 'new' kind of cafeteria Catholics: conservatives. In it, Father indicates that conservatives are picking and choosing the points of Pope Francis's words/actions they like and denigrating him on points they disagree. The former cafeteria Catholics, he says, were liberals who disliked Pope Benedict and love Pope Francis. The switch is one he claims is ironic.

I disagree that conservative Catholics are now guilty of being cafeteria Catholics. I would most likely be considered a Conservative Catholic with leanings towards the Traditional (I veil, but don't attend TLM). I think Pope Francis is a good pope, but I think he has a tendency to speak off the cuff without putting a lot of thought behind how his words will be interpreted. In this age of sound bites, some of those attributed (yes, I know some are wrongly attributed or poorly translated, but not all) to Pope Francis are damaging to how the world, and Catholics even, view our Faith. In context and properly translated his words are not as damaging, but many will never take the time to investigate the truth behind the sound bite. 

Additionally, many people wrongly compare and contrast Popes JP II, Benedict, and Francis. In order to build up Pope Francis they denigrate Benedict. The truth of the matter is that these three holy men were, gasp, all Popes of the Catholic Church. The doctrines, dogmas, and Faith Deposit of the Church have remained the same. One telling meme says something to the effect of JP II told us what we believe, Benedict told us why we believe, and Francis is telling us how to put our beliefs in practice. I was in Denver for JP II and shouted "JP II we love you" with fervor. I have a scholarly mind, so Benedict appealed to me with his explanations (plus I'm German and love my Papa). I was glued to the tv when Pope Francis was elected and enjoy his down-to-earth practice of what he preaches. I think his recent photo in a cafeteria with others working (in the Vatican?) is really the 'new' kind of cafeteria Catholic - those who volunteer in the cafeterias and those who evangelize in the cafeteria. That's one kind of cafeteria Catholic I won't disagree with!

I think the problem lies not in 'conservatives' disliking or disparaging Pope Francis, but in liberals and conservatives alike putting Popes JP II, Benedict, and Francis against one another. None of these popes sought competition with one another. They should not be in competition with one another. It should never be an either-or between popes. It should just be the Catholic Church and Her Bishop of Rome. 

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Smiling already at 2 weeks
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And two shall become one...

And two shall become one...
In 2006, Andrew & I became one before God and family! Shortly thereafter we became 3 with the birth of Simon in 2008... Then 4 with the addition of Rachel in 2009!

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