Last week , during our religious education classes the first grade classes came to the church for what we call a “church search.” Parents were also invited to join in as we took a behind the scene tour of our church and told the children interesting and unique information. We went into the sacristy and showed the vestments and explained the liturgical colors used during each season. Our baptismal font was also explained along with the Paschal Candle. We actually have three stones from the Jordan River buried in our font. Then we went into the sanctuary to learn about the sacred vessel used at Mass, and to reverence the relic of Padre Pio in our altar. Many of the children wanted to know what bone of his it was and why it was black. A slight cause for concern was the response to the question, “what day did Jesus die on?”; Christmas was frequently mentioned. Our catechists work so hard, but if parents do not support our efforts with Sunday Mass, prayers at home, and teaching about God it is difficult to explain it to children in the little time we have in class. Overall, though, it was a very positive experience for all, including the parents who participated. I suppose it will become an annual event.
The Gospel today was the Transfiguration. What struck me the most is that when Jesus is praying He is changed, transformed, and we too are called to be transformed when we pray. As C.S. Lewis said, ( I am paraphrasing): prayer doesn’t change God, prayer changes me. If our encounters with the Holy Trinity do not transform us, what are we doing? Each time we pray, receive the Eucharist, go to confession, or any other time we receive grace we are called to change. We need to become more like the One who calls us to Him and less like Peter. Peter’s response is so human, he wants to stay on the mountain top and have the peace that it offers, but Jesus is determined to go to Jerusalem. If we stay on the mountain top we cannot bring Jesus to others. The mountain offers security and comfort, while leaving it brings struggles and pain. Those struggles and pain then, lead us back up the mountain as we are filled with God’s grace and are transformed.
During this Lenten season, let us welcome the struggles so they may make us ready to receive the message of the resurrection.
Tonight I began my last course in our Christian Formation program, it is Pastoral Ministry. We discussed how Jesus always served and that is also our call. We are all called to be like Jesus to others, as prophet, priest, and king.
Earlier today I was leading our Great Adventure bible study group and we were discussing the Gospel of Luke. One of the ladies said that in reading Luke she was struck by how “Jesus was a Man on a mission.” I liked that comment. She went to say how single-minded He was, always focused on doing God’s will. Serving those around Him was part of His nature. Of course, our challenge is to do the same and it isn’t always easy.
It was interesting how both discussions today focused on service. In my role at church, I am always asked to serve. The challenge is to do it with a heart like Jesus.
So, here is my question, how far away does someone have to be from Church teachings and/or doctrine, that they cease to be Catholic, even if they call themselves Catholic?
I am not talking about politicians who are pro-abortion and continue to go to Mass and receive communion. I am talking about dissent so strong it stops looking Catholic at all. For example, women who have been ordained by a bishop in the “Old Catholic Church,” sisters who think that homosexual relationships should be blessed by the Church, and that it would be better if males and females were androgynous. How can these people call themselves Catholic? All of these examples come from a book I just read called, “Good Catholic Girls” by Angela Bonavoglia. I read the book to learn what “liberal” women are interested in changing about our Church. Angela is a Catholic journalist and interviewed various women on the forefront of trying to change our Church. Much, if not all, was a sad commentary on how misguided people can become when they rely on their own wisdom and power. The only chapter worth thinking about is the one on the sexual abuse problems in the Church.
Each of the women still call themselves Catholic, though I am hard pressed to see why. The only belief none of them disputed, was the Real Presence. All the other teachings and doctrines were in some way corrupted to fit their own version of Catholicism.
So, because they beleve they are Catholic, are they?
Tomorrow begins the season of Lent. To me, Lent is a time of emptying myself so I can be filled with God’s grace. The question I am currently wrestling with is, “What is grace?” That’s because I am currently taking a course in Grace and Christology. So, is grace given to us because we deserve it, need it, merit it, want it, or do we get grace because of the infinite love of the Father? I believe, along with Karl Rahner (as I have just read), that grace is truly a gift from God simply because He loves us. That is a huge over-simplification of what Rahner says. My point, though, is that grace is a gift that God wants to shower us with so that we can have a greater share in His love and of course, His mercy. Some people do not see grace in their lives. I see it everywhere as long as I stop and look. It is in the stopping and looking that I realize God is present and offering me grace. His grace is what helps me be the person I am called to be, it gives strength and courage to my mind and spirit to continue on, always. But I must accept it from Him.
May God give us the grace to enter into this Lenten season so we can empty ourselves and then filled with holy longing for the Resurrection of His Son.
I have been looking at and reading blogs for about six months now and they fascinate me. It is a place to put your point of view, maybe some interesting information, and strike up conversations with virtual strangers. I thought, since I often have a soapbox to climb up onto, why not join the world of bloggers and add my voice to cyberspace. It does seem an odd thing to do, with all the other things on my plate, but I sense it can be cathartic. So, here I go. Wish me luck, say a prayer, cheer me on and pretend not to notice if I fall.
This Wednesday begins the season of Lent and contrary to some people’s thoughts, it is not a holy day of obligation. I just had to let you know that right away. I have begun my Lenten season a few days early, taking off from work this week and beginning to prepare for what is always a hectic time, since I work in a church. I have caught up on my schoolwork and have spent time reading and praying. I am going to give up watching TV this year as well as some fasting, but I won’t tell when as that misses the point. I will also make a better effort of attending the Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings, eventhough it feels like an extension of my work day, the children really do get to me, watching them walk and pray the Stations.