Sunday, July 5, 2015
Right now there is so much fear, anger, confusion, and disharmony in the US and world. It is difficult to turn on the TV, scroll through Facebook, or read blogs without bumping into a negative piece of information. To serious Catholics and other Christians, it seems like the world is happily riding to Hell in a hand basket of their very own making and dragging us with them.
As a penance a month or so ago, my confessor asked me to read Michael Gaitley's book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus. However, he told me I was to read only one page or section at a time and really reflect on the spiritual message. I am also writing a reading diary of sorts of the key points in a journal my mother-in-law got me with Biblical quotes and other inspiration quotes on each page facing a ruled page.
Often, I don't pay attention to the quotations, but my reading in the Gaitley book and the Bible quotations mirrored one another perfectly the other night. The section in the Gaitley book instructed the reader about how to trust Jesus not to overburden us with suffering. It also pointed out that, out of all the sins in the world, rejection and mistrust by those closest to Jesus wound His heart the most. Then the journal's biblical quotations from Hosea 14:8, Luke 12:29-32, Phillipians 4:5-6, 2 Corinthians 9:8 all spoke of The Lord giving us what we need and for us to not be anxious.
In this time of confusion, people need to know that even though everything seems topsy-turvy and opposite of God's will, He will not leave us orphaned. God loves His own and will be with us to the end of time if we just let Him. When things get too difficult, often we shut God out (sometimes by blaming Him) and try to do things 'ourselves'. It is those times that Jesus bleeds and hurts the worst because we don't trust Him enough to seek His strength. The world isn't about us living for ourselves, it is about us learning to live for God. The first thing we need to do is accept what we have, both the good and bad, as gifts from God that He will help us with if we let Him.
I'm trying to let Him work in my life. Won't you?
Saturday, February 28, 2015
I just had an "Aha!" moment reading something about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The book I'm reading (The Greatest Prayer by John Dominic Crossan) is discussing this miracle in detail going over how Jesus ensures the disciples' role in the miracle. Through this miracle, Jesus is basically guiding the disciples in their duties as priests down the road. Jesus is constantly asking the disciples to go to the people and ask them questions or for things. Jesus Himself never just knows as we know He could. Nor does Jesus just go straight to the source and ask Himself.
The authors of the Gospels also repeatedly use the same formula each of the 6 times this miracle is mentioned to describe the multiplication of the food. In all cases, Jesus 'takes' the food, 'blesses' it, 'breaks' it, and 'gives' it. Sound familiar? Yeah, me too! Powerful witness to the Biblical nature of the Consecration of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass isn't it? Even later at the Last Supper (again, the Consecration of the Eucharist) and after the Resurrection, this same formula of 'take', 'bless', 'break', and 'give' is used.
In several cases, after the Resurrection, the disciples don't recognize Jesus in speaking with him (road to Emmaus, anyone?), but only in the breaking of the bread. In other words, it's not enough to just hear about Jesus through reading the Bible or listening to preaching, you must experience Jesus through the Breaking of the Bread - the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Jesus told us He was the Bread of Life. Jesus told us His Flesh was real food and His Blood was real drink - you don't get much more real that bread and wine. Paul exhorts us not to receive the Bread of Life, Jesus, unworthily. The Eucharist is TRULY Jesus present for you and me. Some of the disciples turned away from Jesus when He said this - they understood that He was being literal. The disciples that became priests understood and accepted Jesus at His word and passed their belief down to us.
At that point, I'd say the disciples were probably deacons well on their way to becoming priests once the Holy Spirit descends upon them at Pentecost. They don't really know it yet, but they're in one heck of a Seminary!
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
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.
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