Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Script NOT to Follow

My friend commented that many fundamentalists try to begin discussing the Catholic religion using a "script" of sorts.  If any of you read this and work to convert Catholics, try to avoid using the following script, it just doesn't work unless you are talking to someone who doesn't know anything or really practice their faith:

"Oh but I'm different, I'm actually respectful so you can't refuse to discuss with me! [Insert Jack Chick related jab here], oh haha, that's not an insult that's just a joke to lighten things up, so you can't be mad at me. If you are mad then YOU are being unfair/you're afraid of the truth/you can't defend your beliefs/[insert bogus claim here]."

I'm happy that I have found so many wonderful non-Catholics through this blog to dialogue with and respect.  Thanks guys and I hope to hear more of you.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today, is Divine Mercy Sunday. In celebration of this, our co-parish had Saint Faustina's cousin, Sr. Paulette Honeygosky. It was a very wonderful getting to hear her speak not only in regards to her cousin, but about the importance of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as well.

As a side note, it was a pleasant surprise that we started with Eucharist Adoration, and then Sr. Paulette spoke. My husband and I discussed that this is probably due to the fact that Fr. Kawecki likes things being done with a liturgical basis - something we are both very grateful for.

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the love and mercy of Christ as well. The following verses are all from the morning prayer in the Magnificat (a shorter form of the Liturgy of the Hours in a sense) from last Thursday.

"Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!" - Mark 6:50
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been similarly tested in every way, yet without sin." - Hebrews 4:15
"I will never take back my love; my truth will never fail." - Psalms 89:34

Having done the Novena of Divine Mercy has greatly increased my awareness of Christ's mercy. Due to numerous factors (including the time I spent in an ultra-conservative Protestant denomination) I feel that I had become so fearful of God that I could not experience the type of intimacy with Him that is really necessary for full faith. However, via the novena I believe I have become much closer to understanding the Divine Mercy (and Love) of Christ. I think the three verses I quoted above help to encompass what I had been missing in my shortsightedness.

The verse from Mark reminds me that I do not need to be afraid of the constant presence of God, but rather to hold him in a worshiping fashion, not out of fear, but out of love.

The verse from Hebrews makes me recall that when I sin that God understands the types of temptation that await us. Thus, he has a comprehension of how weak the body can be and why we would do anything against His Will.

Psalms tells me that the Love of God is something I can never lose - no matter how bad things can get.

This may seem very elementary (and I think I would agree that it is) but it has been a great hurdle for me over the past year - much more so than the more common stumbling block of understanding why there is suffering in the world. I am very grateful for my continuing spiritual growth, and hope to continue down this path.

Jesus, I trust in you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Surprise

My wife got me a beautiful leather bound Ignatius Revised Standard Version Bible for Easter that I wanted to share with everyone and thank her so much for.  It's a beautiful edition of a great translation!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Arrest of Christ

I noticed something very interesting during the Good Friday liturgy about the arrest of Christ in the Gospel of St. John.  Did you ever notice that when they come to arrest him according to John, they ask if he is Jesus and he replies "I AM" (the title of God in the Old Testament).  Immediately when he does this those coming to arrest him fall away from him on their knees.  This is something I've never seen portrayed in movies (as far as I remember) and never really noticed before.  I can think of two reasons this might have happened:

1)  John is making the point solidly here that Christ is only being arrested because he allows himself to be - as God he can stop them at any time, but submits to the will of the Father and shows his love to all of us by doing it anyway. 

2)  They fell away because they were shocked at his claim to be God - one they would think was blasphemous.

I believe the first one makes more sense, but I havn't found any really good, solid commentary on the issue.  Anyone else ever notice this?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Divine Mercy Novena

Please check out the Divine Mercy Novena on EWTN's website and pray it with us until Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter).

Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday. He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said:

"These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy."

In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:

"On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls."

The different souls prayed for on each day of the novena are:

DAY 1 (Good Friday) - All mankind, especially sinners

DAY 2 (Holy Saturday) - The souls of priests and religious

DAY 3 (Easter Sunday) - All devout and faithful souls

DAY 4 (Easter Monday) - Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him

DAY 5 (Easter Tuesday) - The souls of separated brethren

DAY 6 (Easter Wednesday) - The meek and humble souls and the souls of children

DAY 7 (Easter Thursday) - The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy

DAY 8 (Easter Friday) - The souls who are detained in purgatory;

DAY 9 (Easter Saturday) - The souls who have become lukewarm.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.

Holy Thursday Bus Trip

After the Mass of the Lord's Supper, we remove the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle and put it in a different place in the Church, leaving the tabernacle doors open after a procession. This helps us remember that Christ has been arrested and is about to be crucified. As part of this symbolism, our parish left after mass and went from parish to parish in our area to do adoration and "look for Christ" in the blessed sacrament. I thought this was very moving, because we were doing what many of the disciples were doing on the night Christ was arrested. I can imagine Peter and Mark and John, and his Holy Mother looking for him all throughout the night, and just getting fleeting glimpses of him from time to time. Likewise, we could only spend 5-10 minutes in each parish, then had to move on, saying the rosary and praying for each other and our own intentions. Very moving thing!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter Triduum

Today is the last day of Lent, and tomorrow starts the Easter Triduum (a very short liturgical season indeed!).

Joseph and I have taken off the rest of the week in order to participate fully in the events being sponsored by our Parish. If possible, I would suggest you try to attend as many of your Parish's events as possible.

I think sometimes due to commercialism of Christmas we forget how crucial this season is for us as Catholics. Truly, Easter is the highest holiday of the Catholic Church, and we should spend as much time in prayer and reflection as possible.

On a side note, Joseph and I were discussing last Sunday's Mass - Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is my favorite mass of the entire liturgical season, because of the reading of the Passion. I feel the congregations involvement with the reading help to solidify (at least in my mind) how Christ died for our sins and how we as sinners are entirely responsible for his death on the cross.

Additionally to this, I think it is easy for us to be astonished about how quickly public opinion turned on Christ - from his riding in to cries from the people hailing him as the Son of David, to only a few days later to them crying for his crucifixion. The involvement of the congregation in the reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday helps me come to terms with how quickly we are to be swayed by others in worldly desires and motives.

Let us take the next few days to reflect on our lives and to pray to Christ in thanksgiving for the forgiveness of our sins.

(P.S. This post describes what Joseph and I will be doing the next few days.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Generations of Faith

Our new parish is so awesome.  I just can't get over how great some of the things we do are.  Last Sunday we had our monthly "Generations of Faith" meeting.  Here, we have joint meetings of everyone in RCIA, Children's Religious Education, and all the adult laity who want to further learn about the Church and her teachings.  Then, we can divide up into our prospective groups and learn.  I was impressed that over 100 adult laypersons (in a small parish) showed up to learn from Father about the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Christ last Sunday.  I was also impressed that he taught us in great detail about Church teaching on the Eucharist and the rubrics of the mass including common liturgical mistakes and abuses that take place in Catholic Churches.    I have to say that the amount of interest and dedication of the laypersons and our priest were astounding and very uplifting to us.  The inter-generational approach to teaching about the Church is also a good approach, and trying to do this in more parishes might help the Catholic Church overcome its problem of poorly catechizing adults that has become frequent over the last couple decades.  We heard that our Bishop is about to write  aletter recommending that all parishes start inter-generational catechetical classes like ours.  

Preparing for Holy Week, my wife and I have been trying to say a lot more prayers.  Father also called for a night of preparation tonight to refresh all laity who are going to be altar serving, lectoring, or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion during Holy Week.  After all, we must make sure this Holy Week is as correct as we possibly can.  

Later this week on Good Friday we will start praying the Novena to Divine Mercy as a parish.  I will be posting the daily prayers of that Novena on here as time permits....maybe I will just do the whole thing on Thursday with some notes about St. Faustina and her wonderful writings.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chapel of Perpetual Adoration

Here are some photos of the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration my husband blogged about earlier.

It has been a wonderful blessing to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament on a regular basis like this (even though this is only our 2nd week).

Very similar to my previous post about the Holy Rosary it's a blessing to have time carved from your day to devote to the LORD. It is interesting to me how having a set schedule to do this type of spiritual activity helps your daily life.

Perhaps too often we think that spending time with the LORD will hinder our busy schedule, or become a hassle even. I think that in practicality, it is quite the opposite. My day is usually more productive, I am in a better mood overall, and it's a very "centering" sort of add to your day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools Day

Use today to pray for all the fools in the world.

Lord, bring all fools into the light of your presence.  Guard us from evildoers througout the world, and help fools to understand the distinction between evil and good.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.