Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ Category

Commission

Posted: February 25, 2011 in Catholic, Christian Life

By definition a commission is an act of giving charge or an authoritative order or direction. (Thank you dictionary.com)

This definition would also explain why  my Freshman Confirmation students looked at me funny when I told them that “Confirmation was not a graduation from the Church, but a commission to go out and learn more.” What concerned me more was that their sponsors looked at me just as strangely.

Class then opened up for students to try and stump the Youth Minister. I will say that this is one of my favorite times of the class. Then came the usual questions of why women can’t be priests, why aren’t priests married and the like. One student did get fairly creative and asked are we “half – Jewish?” After this class was over and I just presented myself to be open to chat with the students. They came over and started talking about their sports, activities and what would be a pretty color to wear for the Confirmation mass.

I then spotted one young man still thinking about the topics we had discussed. He looked aptly confused so I went over to have a quick chat. I asked him what was on his mind and if there was something that I needed to clear up from my answers. The young man smiled happily and replied that no, there was nothing that I needed to clear up, but how did I know so much about the Catholic faith? I sat down with him absolutely over joyed with this question, he was curious about a commission. We spoke for a while and we got to what I had said about Confirmation being a commission to learn more about your faith. He looked at me sadly and commented that he didn’t know if he could.

My husband who was standing nearby and waiting for me, had been listening to our conversation. He leaned in and quoted Star Wars “You have learned much young padawan, but you still have much to learn.” All of a sudden it came to him, although he had learned enough to be out in the world alone, he still had to go out and learn more. He then turned to me and eagerly asked, “Then how do I learn?” I gave him a list of a few websites and books that he could start with, then I reminded him, “always ask questions.” His face lit up like a kid that has conceived the perfect scheme, “I vow that someday I will ask you a question you cannot answer” and he happily departed with his mom.

Every time I see him  I ask, “Do you have another question yet?” He smiles and reassures me that he’s thinking. I smile back with the knowledge that he is living up to his commission.

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Pass it On

Posted: February 17, 2011 in Christian Life

I get into work today and realize two very important things, I have long over neglected my blog and I have emails to read. So I’m skimming over the emails that I received from my overly punctual dismissal from work to when I arrive and then take a moment to scan my personal email account. There are the usual bill pay reminders, meeting memos and percentages off crafting supplies; then I find them, forwards.

Email has taken the link of a chain letter and turned it global in the matter of seconds. Not only is this slightly aggravating, this is where I also remember I have been neglecting my poor blog for too long.

I got a couple of Minnesota jokes from my family that put a smile on my face reminding me of memories of my childhood home. Then I got one, and you all know which ones I’m talking about, the ones that jar you saying, “If you love Jesus send this on to 520 people.” If this is true I am going to hell. You know, that special kind of hell reserved for those that talk in the theater.

So I can either be resolved that I am going to said special hell or do some thinking. Heaven shouldn’t be reserved to those that were blessed to be alive prior to the internet. God loved me before I was born, and I didn’t have internet in the womb. Jesus did come to seek and save the lost, and the internet is a pretty crazy place. Finally, never once has anything good, bad, or the other happen because I have failed to do anything for a chain letter. Then why does my love of Christ hinge on a digital letter.

Truth is it doesn’t. There is a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi which says, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” The Gospel itself is the love of Christ proclaimed to the world. How then can we love Christ more than to proclaim His love to others. We show this love most through how we live and encounter others and when our lives are genuine.

So when we send out these “churchy” emails do we do so because it has a good message or because we fear we will offend Jesus by not doing so. Instead I just find the perfect place for them, the delete box.

Righteous Anger

Posted: January 26, 2011 in Bible, Catholic, Christian Life, Jesus, Opinion

There has been quite the buzz lately about the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” ad contest. One entry that has been widely boycotted by Catholic groups nation wide depicts Doritos and Pepsi Max as suitable substitutes for bread and wine for communion. *Please note the usage of the little “c” on communion.”

Since the ad has already been pulled by Youtube and other sources, you can watch it here Doritos Ad

The primary question about this ad shouldn’t be “Should it make me mad?” but “Why does it make me mad?”

Anger and wrath are powerful emotions; in fact so powerful that they can be considered one of the seven deadly sins. Anger itself is a desire for revenge, CCC 2302 has this to say.

“[…] ‘To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,’ but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution ‘to correct vices and maintain justice.'”

So how can something be both vengeful and good? Let’s take a look at an instance.

And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet,  from Nazareth in Galilee.” Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And he said to them, “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of thieves.”
Matthew 21: 10-13

I think it’s safe to say Jesus got upset. Jesus being upset over this wasn’t just a meek little ‘Excuse me, could you stop selling that?” It was a bold, out going, massive upheaval that kicked all the money changers and those looking to make a profit on worship out of the temple. Many of these people who Jesus just laid a can of whoop on, just saw him ride triumphantly into Jerusalem for the Passover.

Let’s take a look at this in another light. Were the services that these people were providing necessary? Yes. Because it was the Passover, devout Jews from across the world were coming to Jerusalem in order to make sacrifices. They often would not travel with their lambs and doves because they wouldn’t survive the journey.  Of course though, because they would be traveling they would need to exchange currency. Sooooo… having all these amenities near the Temple just kinda made sense. But why in the Temple?

The merchants could have easily set up shop outside of the Temple gates. Instead to maximize their exposure they were right inside and set up on sacred ground. That’s why Jesus was upset.

So why be mad at the Doritos ad? I admit there are parts of it that liken it more to a Protestant service over a Catholic Mass, ie: shots of Pepsi Max, and self receiving from the plate.

The reason I was hurt is that it could be seen that any part of our faith is disposable and can make a profit. Secondly if this was to be likened to Catholic Communion, there is no way in hell that a Catholic Church would use anything but unleavened bread, wine and water.

Jesus gave us a feast not snack food. In defense of our faith do we get righteously angry and defend our faith in truth and compassion or do we try to slam our faith into the faces of those that question us?

O Antiphons

Posted: December 17, 2010 in Bible, Catholic, Christian Life, Jesus

Blessed Advent all. This is an exciting time of the Advent season. Today we start to see the glimmers of light promised to each of us in the coming of the Christ Child. Isaiah spoke very prophetically about the coming Messiah and signs that we are to look for. During each of these times we are have a chance to look back at these signs as we look forward to the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior.

Beginning today, December 17 and going all the way through the 23 the Church has given up some spectacular prayers. These are commonly known as the O Antiphons. Each Antiphon begins with a title for Jesus and refers back to one of the prophecies of Isaiah. Also if you are familiar with the hymn, “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” each of the O Antiphons are paraphrased through the whole song. *Hint Hint* That’s also why it has seven verses!

December 17 O Sapientia, O Wisdom

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Prophecies Fulfilled: Isaiah 11: 2 – 3 and Isaiah 28 : 29

December 18, O Adonai, Adonai meaning Lord or Ruler

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

Prophecies Fulfilled: Isaiah 11 : 4-5 and Isaiah 33 : 22

December 19, O Radix Jesse, O Root of Jesse

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

Prophecies Fulfilled: Isaiah 11:1 and Isaiah 11:10

December 20, O Clavis David, O Key of David

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison-house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Prophecies Fulfilled: Isaiah 22:22, Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 42:7

December 21, O Oriens, O Rising Sun or O Morning Star

O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Prophecies Fulfilled: Isaiah 9:2

December 22, O Rex Gentium

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

Prophecies Fulfilled: Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 2:4

December 23, O Emmanuel, God is with us

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Prophecies Fulfilled: Isaiah 7:14

Then Christmas Eve and the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Which we celebrate for 12 days. Who said Catholics can’t party? There ain’t no party like a Catholic Party because a Catholic Party don’t stop!

We are now in the final stages of the joyful anticipation we have been preparing for over the past 4 weeks. May we continue to be ever vigilant and continue to prepare a place for the Christ Child in our hearts and homes.

Blessed Advent all!

*Goes off humming O Come, O Come Emmanuel*

🙂

 

 

Lord Have Mercy

Posted: December 14, 2010 in Catholic, Christian Life, Prayer

I was watching one of my latest guilty pleasures on Hulu tonight, The Sing Off. I was out with some good friends and I knew I needed to catch up before I am able to watch the new episode tomorrow night. It’s a little ironic that I start off the post tonight talking about my “guilty pleasures” since that was one of the song topics for tonight. One of my least favorite groups actually did pretty well tonight with a very unlikely song, Mister Mister’s “Kyrie.” This is their preformance

When I was a kid I used to love this song only because it had the words Kyrie Eleison in it. I was learning the Latin Mass Parts and thought it was the coolest thing in the world. This was especially true because I was also taught the translation, “Lord have Mercy.” Over the years as I became an over exuberant “Catholic Traditionalist,”   I started thinking “How dare they use something so sacred in such a song?” Well needless to say I’ve taken another turn in growing and in my opinion.

Kyrie Eleison is used in every mass that is ever said in the Penitential Rite of mass. We publicly acknowledge all of our sins and our failures in front of everyone. Then we ask for forgiveness; “Lord have Mercy. Christ have Mercy. Lord have Mercy.” Then the priest prays over all of us and our venial sins are forgiven, but that doesn’t mean we get a “Get out of the Confessional free” card. The stain of sin is still there, that’s why we still need to go to Confession. Plus, it doesn’t get rid of those pesky Mortal sins. You know those ones that completely separate you from God and can send you to Hell? Yeah those, they can only be removed in Confession, but that’s another topic.

Through God’s infinite mercy, which in mass we just have asked for, our sins are forgiven. The way we look down on the person digging through the trash for pop cans, when we don’t pick up a crying child’s toy flung out of a shopping cart when mom or dad doesn’t see it, when we don’t do the little acts of charity we find every day, in that moment are forgiven. Sure, we still need to go to Confession, these are examples of the sins we don’t realize we are doing and rarely if ever think about confessing, but they are gone.

So tonight I had a change of heart, I actually decided to look up these lyrics that I really didn’t care about. This is a cheesy 80’s song that people listen too when they are reminiscing about  the good ol’ days, but this is what I found.

Kyrie Eleison
Down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Eleison
Through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Eleison
Where I’m going will you follow
Kyrie Eleison
On a highway in the light

Mister Mister “Kyrie”

This is probably no different than the version you hear repeatedly sung in various karaoke bars or played on 80’s radio, but look a little deeper. Look at how things change when it’s all in English:

Lord have Mercy
Down the road that I must travel
Lord have Mercy
Through the darkness of the night
Lord have Mercy
Where I’m going will you follow
Lord have Mercy
On a highway in the light

How powerful do our prayers become when they are said in the name of the Lord? The easiest way to get someone’s attention is to call them by their name. That translation can easily be said by any of us. Lord have Mercy on me where I am right now. Lord have Mercy when I have no where else to turn. Lord have Mercy when I’ve turned my back on you. Lord have Mercy when I’ve turned back to you.

Lord have Mercy.

Kyrie Eleison.

There is a meditation within the Catholic Church that particularly delves into Christ’s Divine Mercy. It is called the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Using a regular Rosary it’s pretty simple, and it only takes about 10 minutes to recite. One of the promises given to those that say this Chaplet is that upon their death, if any person says this prayer even once, God will look at them with more mercy because they have asked for God’s mercy. I think it’s pretty cool. Take a peak. Divine Mercy Chaplet

Prayer

Posted: August 20, 2010 in Christian Life, Prayer

Many people view prayer as a way to get something for very little effort. But prayer is just so much more than that. Since I’ve moved to Iowa, I’ve left my comfort of being able Monstrance blessed by Pope John Paul IIto go to Eucharistic Adoration on a whim. For those that are not familiar with the practice of Eucharistic Adoration, simply, it is the practice of placing a consecrated Eucharistic Host on display so that it may be venerated since it is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Just as Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist during mass, this is another host that has been consecrated during mass for the purpose of Adoration.

In Northern Minnesota I was able to frequent Adoration whenever I wanted to be in the presence of Christ. Once I moved here, the parish I attend is quite small and it wouldn’t be viable to have Adoration all through the night, but we do have it for an hour a week. The turnout isn’t the greatest but there are many people who come just to have a small bit of time before Jesus in the still of their hearts.

I admit, there are times I do not want to be at church after I’ve worked a long day in the office, on a Friday, but there are many times I don’t want to be there that I need to be there. This brings me back to what I said at the beginning of my post, many people see prayer as a way to get something with very little effort. My response to that is, get over it, God is not a vending machine.

Mathew 7: 7 – 11 says this,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”

This quote is often misquoted frequently as a way to say prayer is a hoax. The attitude I hear most often is that, “If I ask God for something, I should get it.” While it is true that the “wicked” (also read as sinners) know how to give good gifts to their children, why wouldn’t God give us something bigger and better?

We live in a world of instant gratification. When I want something I get it now. Here’s the thing a lot of us forget, we are sinners, we don’t always know what’s best for us. So in our prayer lives when we ask for something that is harmful to ourselves, do you think God is just going to hand it over to us? I think not.

Prayer in essence is the uniting of our Free Will to that of God. Sounds easy? In my experience it’s actually quite hard. There are four categories that all prayer can be placed into. ACTS is an easy way to remember it.

A – Adoration – These are prayers that directly worship God.

C – Contrition – These prayers are those that show sorrow and repentance for sins.

T – Thanksgiving – This one is pretty self explanatory, these prayers thank God.

S – Supplication – These are prayers that ask for the needs of others and ourselves.

Whether our prayers are spontaneous or formal, they fall in one of these four categories.

Personally when I remember the four different forms of prayer, I try to ask myself, have I adored God today? Have I realized when I have sinned and repented of them? Have I thanked God? What can I bring forward to God for my family, friends and then finally for myself. I find it’s a dose of much needed humility. Think about it, pray about it, and stop looking to God as a genie or vending machine.

Time

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Christian Life, Iowa

My name is Amanda, and eight months ago, my life changed. I’m not saying that something horribly drastic happened, like cancer or loosing my best friend, but something changed.

As of January 1, 2010, I was working as a low rung manager at a large retail chain, in large city in Northern Minnesota.

Three weeks later, I lost my job.

Two days later, my boyfriend proposed.

One month later, I found a job posting. In two weeks I had applied. One weeks later I had a phone interview. Three weeks, I was being flown for a personal interview and returned home in 36 hours. The next morning, I was being offered a position. I had a choice to make and I accepted the position. One month later, I moved to rural Southern Iowa.

That was three months ago.

I am living in a small town in Southern Iowa that is also the county seat. I work with three other people on a regular basis, and for the most part I’m in charge. I work as the Director of Religious Education and Youth Minister for a small Catholic Parish.

Now let’s clear up a few small details. I am a young woman, getting married, working for the Catholic Church. I do not find it to be hierarchical or patriarchal. I have no hidden agenda to promote women being ordained or homosexual marriage, I want to teach and live out an authentic Catholic life. I also have no desire to “change” a 2,000 year old institution beyond what my pastor and bishop direct me to do so.

In three months of work I have had to learn quite a bit about my surroundings, the people I serve, and the programs I am running. Me in charge, it is a very new position for me to be in. I have also had the chance to learn more about my faith and fall in love more deeply with it.

It’s a new sensation to not have to have everyone of my actions checked before I complete them. My employers and I have gotten the chance to learn and grow with each other. The greatest compliment that I have received is that in three months I have challenged everyone in the office to grow and enhance their faith. Coming from Minnesota to Iowa has been an eye opening experience. The folks down here can be quite stubborn, but they have acknowledged me with open arms. I’ve been changing systems and leading people by my own example and something bigger than me is brewing.

Iowa has been a change. I’ve gone from untamed northern wilderness to tamed rolling cornfields. Oak trees gnarled with ivy and storms like nothing I’ve ever seen. This is life for me now. I am still engaged and set to be married in January. I’m preparing a place for my future husband and I to live together. I’m constantly educating myself and debating getting my Masters in Catholic Theology or Divinity Studies. I have learned more about myself in these past three months and I refuse to stop growing.

Let’s see where these next three months will take me.

Pax ^_^