Dating in the 21st Century
Contrary to every movie and television show we see; the dating process should not be:
- If you had sex, you win. Move on to another conquest. Don’t get tied down! OR
- After we’ve had sex enough, let’s move in; then we MIGHT get married.
Sorry! The Church teaches us the contrary. Love, Marriage, Baby Carriage!
The Church’s stance is solid and will not adapt to the whims of the world. So, the Church says:
- Date, date, date, and decide what you want in a spouse! Decide if you really like this person all the time remembering love (brotherly or romantic) is “willing the good of the other for their sake”.
- Then, run as fast as you can to Jesus and if THEY can keep up, you have a keeper.
- Virginity is not something to give away as soon as you can to wear as a “badge of honor”. Virginity is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a gift to be given to someone special, THE someone special that has run the race well with you towards Jesus.
Living together has gone from the less than palatable “shaking up” to “co-habitation”. Whatever you want to call it, it is a serious, mortal sin; an affront to the commandment of God. Many flippantly live together, seeing nothing wrong and still receive communion. Remember a mortal sin keeps you from communion until you rectify the sin with the Sacrament of Confession.
Do you want to be different? Do you want to be special? Guys/ladies; buy them flowers not alcohol, take them to church, not to bed, respect the other person. Are you willing the good for the other for THEIR sake?
The Apostle’s Creed
One might think that the Apostle’s Creed is named that because the Apostle’s wrote the prayer. Wrong. Thee Apostle’s Creed is named so because it contains the 12 Articles of the Catholic Church.
Article 1: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth (There is one God Who created everything out of nothing.)
Article 2: And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. (Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity as the only begotten Son of God; the Word made flesh.)
Article 3: Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. (The Son of God, Jesus was brought into being by the Holy Spirit through the Virgin Mary)
Article 4: He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. (His mission was to pay for the penalty due to sin and thus justify us all and give us the ability to enter into Heaven which was locked by Original sin. He really and truly died in His humanity.)
Article 5: He descended into hell. The third day he arose again from the dead. (Those who died before the gates of Heaven were unlocked rested in a place called sheol; a type of hell but not the Hell of damnation. When Jesus had opened the gates, He gathered all the good souls in waiting.)
Article 6: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. (Jesus rose from the dead and dwelled on earth in His humanity for 40 days [the number of days for purification} and then ascended to sit at the right hand of God to wait for the judgement of all people.)
Article 7: He will come again to judge the living and the dead.( Jesus will judge the dead as they appear before Him in a particular judgement but will return to earth for the Last Judgement to bring the universal back to its state of original grace.)
Article 8: I believe in the Holy Spirit, (this is the confirmation of the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
Article 9: the holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, (The Church is not just some institution and not some necessary evil to correct people, but rather a dimension of spiritual life. All are members of the Body of Christ with Christ as the Head; This is the Church. The Church was established by Christ Himself).
Article 10: the forgiveness of sin. (Jesus, through His death and resurrection offers us forgiveness of our sins, if we repent. Therefore, sin is not a closure of the hope for the future, but a momentary separation from the Body of the Church because of the ability to have our sins forgiven.)
Article 11: the resurrection of the body. (Our bodies will fade to dust but our souls are immortal. The soul rises to Heaven at the moment of death for a particular judgement, but on the very last day, our physical bodies will be united with our souls in Heaven. Our bodies will be glorified; we do not know what we will be like, but we will be like God.)
Article 12: And in life everlasting. (The promise of life eternal is our reward for obedience to the will of God.)
What do I do When a Purchase Source I Utilize Supports Abortion?
Many stores are openly (and some clandestinely) supporting abortion. It may not be known to you but name brand and “Big Box” stores support such notions as providing financial support to travel to a location where abortions are allowed. Some of these stores may surprise you.
Krogers is such a store, however, Krogers also owns, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Foods Co. Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Gebes Jay C Food Store, King Soopers, Mariano’s Metro Market, Pay-Less Super Markets, Pick’n Save, QFC, Ralphs, Ruler, Smith’s Food and Drug. There is no way of knowing who actually is providing abortion support due to ownership status.
The giant supplier, Amazon offers travel reimbursement for abortions.
CVS and WALGREENS sell the “morning after pill” (which may or may not bring about an abortion).
You will have to make a personal decision whether to shop at some stores that disagree with Church teaching because the list is just too consuming for most individuals to know. The best we can do is to be vigilant and try to support companies that support Church Teaching.
St. Michael’s Academy
The newest information on St. Michael’s Academy is that the building will be released from the contractor to the diocese on Nov. 1. That means the building will be ready for occupancy. Originally, the school was going to take a limited number of children (Pre-k – Second Grade). However, due to interest, it appears the school may open its classes to Pre-K through 5th Grade when it opens.
The committees are meeting now to discern the exact cost of tuition, hiring process, registration of students and other details. Registration should, begin in Sept. The process is being finalized now. The feeder churches for the school include Nativity, St. Philip, St. Luke and Holy Family, however, they will accept all students until they are at their limit. Tuition is specified at this point between $8500.00 to $9500.00 per year. This is MUCH less than Father Ryan which is a 5 figure amount.
The Principal of the school, Ms. Shanna Druffner. Ms. Druffner is a musician, who regularly teaches violin classes, a lawyer and a successful school administrator. She and her family have purchased a house in the Nativity community and will be a parishioner of our community.
The school is 21 minutes from the garage of the rectory until there is a fishing line in the stocked pond in front of the school. Depending on the amount of students, is may be possible to purchase a bus to transport students to and from the school.
St. Michael’s Academy is located off 840 going East and exiting at highway 41 going North. The first community is Triune, TN and the campus is approximately 3 miles past the town on the left.
The facility is not yet open for visitation due to construction limitations, but the area will be open for visitations soon.
The opening date will either be Jan. of 2024 for some, but most probably Fall of 2024.
Some believe that the cost of the school is being paid by all Catholics within the diocese. This is not true. Some monies have come from the diocese, some monies have come from the feeder schools, but MOST of the finances have, and are being gathered from private and corporate contributions.
As of now, the High School section is not being constructed but will begin after the elementary school is finished to offer a complete Catholic education from Pre-K through High School.
We have an upcoming board meeting on Aug. 24th and I hope to have some more information
The Death Penalty
CCC #2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and the duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value or expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible. It must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.
CCC#2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way to effectively defend human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm-without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself, - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”
The Administration of the Church.
Most people see the administrative layout the Church as a triangle; all the laity at the bottom, then we step up in importance to Deacon, Priest, Bishop, Cardinal and finally, Pope. But this is in error. Turn the triangle upside down. The Pope is at the bottom. His accountability is for every soul on earth. He is the CEO, if you will, but his spiritual place is his responsibility for all the souls of God. He is to be as Jesus Who “came to serve, not to be served”.
The next step up is the Deacon. He is responsible to the church he is assigned to. He reports to the pastor of the community he serves. There are certain things he can do, but things he can’t do. He is to serve one particular church family.
Now, the priest is responsible for every soul within the boundaries of a particular parish. A parish is a geographical map of land within which, those who live there, the priest is responsible for. The priest is not just responsible of the Catholics in that parish, but every soul. Every week you may notice that our family offers a Mass for the intentions of the parishioners. The priest must pray for and support every soul in the parish.
The Bishop is responsible for every soul within the boundaries of a particular diocese. Bishop Spalding is responsible to pray for, stand up for and support every soul, not just Catholic, but every soul living within that diocese. The Nashville Diocese goes from the KY border to AL and East from Cookeville to Wayne Co. in the West.
An Arch-Bishop merely connects several dioceses together for an administrative function.
The Pope is also a Bishop. However, he is the Bishop of Rome. He functions as a Bishop, not from the Vatican, but from his Cathedral (St. John Lateran) where he acts out the functions of every Bishop.
St. Peter’s, in the Vatican, as big as it is, is not a cathedral, but really a chapel. From this location the Church is centrally administered.
(Every Bishop has a cathedral. This comes from the Roman architecture of a basilica within which there was a chair from which the local government would rule. The Latin word for chair is “cathedra” from which we get the word cathedral. The Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville holds the Bishop’s administrative chair.)
What about Cardinals? Cardinal is not a religious title. Where we would say Dc. Tim, Fr. Jerry, Bishop Spalding, a Cardinal is addressed as John CARDINAL Cushing. Cardinal is a delegation of a job title. Within the Vatican are many offices which reach out to the global Church. A Cardinal heads each office; a Cardinal “curates” or cares for that office. The Cardinals together are referred to as the Curia. They are centrally located in Rome and do help with administration of the global Church, but their main responsibility, besides running the global offices is simply to elect the next Pope.)
Why do we Need a Church?
Why do we need a configuration of structure to be a part of the Kingdom of God? The Church offers us several things.
- We have people who come to Nativity in dire need. They have run through the social safety nets or are not eligible. Their reaction is to blindly go to churches to ask for help. That church, for most is the Catholic Church due to the fact that (at least in non-urban areas) we leave our churches open. If they would connect with a church (any church) they would have a family that knows they need help. Nativity is committed to helping members of our family because we know the story; we know the people.
- Right Worship. Jesus calls us into community to offer right worship to God. We are social beings and in gathering we commit to pray with and for our family members. In multiplying our praise, we offer God a more rightful worship. One person saying they love you is great; hundreds of people telling you they love you is wonderful.
- We Complete our Obligation to the Third Commandment. “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.” For Catholics, this means to assist at Mass. And now, that assistance should be offered in person (if your health allows) rather than watching Mass on TV. God can be found everywhere, but at the Mass we receive the “gas” we need to be Christ for the world for the upcoming week. The word Mass comes from the Latin Missa. Missa means mission. We gas up to carry out our mission for being Christ for others. At the Mass we thank God for His love for us. We don’t see Mass as so much as “getting something” but rather, “giving something” to God Who holds us in existence 24/7. However, when we assist at Mass, and give thanks to God, we DO receive the gifts of filling our souls with the Gospel, the Words of God and filling our beings with the Bread of Angels; the Eucharist. These items are the fuel we need to go out to the world for the mission of being Christ in the world. When you miss Mass, you miss the fuel needed.
The Church and the LGBTQ Community
There is a misconception by many as to how we treat members of the LGBTQ community. These individuals are all struggling with difficult issues. A label does not make someone a sinner.
Nature or nurture, someone with same-sex attraction is not choosing that for themselves. The emotions they face, usually beginning in teens, can be confusing, embarrassing and scary. Where do they fit in? Why am I not like most everyone else? Why is this happening to me?
These individuals don’t need to be feared, hated or abused. Their lives are difficult enough. The big conception by many (certainly not everyone) but many, is that being gay in itself is a sin. Pope Francis’ statement that being gay is not a crime has confused many. They call it a “slippery slope” to acceptance. When in reality, he is speaking out against countries who kill same-sex attracted people (Iran, some Middle East countries, some African countries and others).
This is the way they are made. And I reiterate that every human is made in the image and likeness of God. God loves everyone.
The need is to communicate and walk with members of the LGBTQ community; to walk with them, talk with them and accept them as brothers and sisters. One cannot help how they are made and above all they need to see the love of God in their lives; the love we should share with every human.
However, every human is born with free will. Your actions are your decision of how you live out your life. Our lives are a gift from God; what we do with them is our gift to God. All desires cannot be acted out. Just because I desire something doesn’t make it right to have it.
Our society sees sex absent the teachings of Jesus; sex is a gift between married couples which contain the goods of the relationship: permanence and open to life. Heterosexuals are required to hold to the same standard of abstinence as those with same-sex attraction. But do we? 99% of the couples who come for pre-marriage counseling are co-habiting in a sexual relationship already. They are unashamed and take it for granted that this is an accepted practice. There are many single individuals who live in abstinence whether heterosexual or gay.
We should love every human being, but the actions each one of us do are our decision to follow the teachings of Jesus or not.
We are told in scripture that homosexuals do not go to Heaven. The Church’s teaching is that God loves every person, it is not because of how we are made but rather sin that removes us from God. It is not how you are made, but what you do that can be in error.
If we want someone to come to Jesus; the Church, how do we do that by not inviting them in?
The Church and Artificial Birth Control
Before the introduction of the birth control pill, every Christian denomination was against artificial birth control based upon the dignity of sex and the good of marriage to be open to life. However, one by one, public pressure changed the rules. The Catholic Church never changed its teaching and was ridiculed for its decision to maintain its stance.
The Catholic answer to spacing births is Natural Family Planning (NFP). One problem was that it wasn’t simple; difficult to keep up with. Some argued that NFP it is still birth control, but it is God’s birth control based on the natural rhythms of human cycles.
In some cases, human cycles are irregular and unpredictable. Couples had to maintain meticulous charts to affirm ovulation cycles. It just wasn’t easy!
Over time, medical improvements have clarified the method of NFP to a more effective method, but still, some human cycles are unpredictable and it is a bother to keep up with the method.
NFP does one thing that all artificial birth control methods fail at desperately; the couple have to communicate! They have to share, talk, participate with each other. And sometimes setting aside sex as a sacrifice for the good of the other.
There are problems with artificial birth control also. The pill causes many women to be physically affected in their emotions. Artificial means introduce chemicals to the body. Artificial means can cause strokes, cancer and other issues. The IUD is a foreign object in a woman’s body which actually causes an abortion. Spermicides can be detrimental also.
What if NFP were easier and communication between husband and spouse could improve? What if NFP could provide a clearer certainty of conception while still not frustrating the openness to life?
Do you wear a “Fit Bit”? Now there are watches that a woman can wear that maps their personal cycles, not a general cycle, but the watch attunes itself to each woman’s cycle. The watch can tell you when to and when not to have relations if you want to refrain from conception or if you are struggling to conceive.
Where do you find these devices? Try Amazon.com.! Some are more expensive than others. But in a sense of logic, always utilize the information of a trusted physician.
Roe V Wade Repealed
Some young people were heard complaining that it has been a year since Roe V. Wade had been repealed. Here is what they had to say:
These are dark times. Can you believe it’s been a year since Roe V. Wade was overturned?
This is so inconvenient.
This puts a real damper on my social life. Do you realize how many first dates I’ve been on and didn’t have sex!
Now I have to listen to stupid questions from my date like:
Do you have a job?
What’s your name?
Where do you live?
Do you go to church?
Do you have an education?
What does your family do?
It is so uncomfortable!
What if there is a pregnancy?
If this keeps up, we will have to develop some type of agreement where I take care of you; you take care of me, and if we have any children, we stay together to care for the children.
That’s like getting MARRIED!
What are the precepts of the Church? They are not commandments of God, but sometimes called the commandments of the Church. They are a list of the minimum one must do to be a Catholic.
- Attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation (Vigil Masses count) and to rest from servile work on those days. Now, this doesn’t mean we cannot work on these days, it means, rather to rest from work that would impede us from fulfilling our obligations to sanctify these days.
- Confess your sins at least once a year. (although, some say, confession is only needed for mortal sins)
- Receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
- Observe the days of fasting and abstinence which prepare us for the liturgical feasts. We only have 2 days of fast: Good Friday and Ash Wednesday and we only have to abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent. This includes the one hour fast before receiving communion. Every Catholic is required to do some penance on every Friday of the year, but the penance you do is up to your own personal choice outside Lent.
- Provide for the needs of the Church. There are several ways to do this. By using your time given to the Church or members of the Church, talent; meaning to use your talents for the good of the Church and treasure based on your personal abilities.
How long does it take to be a permanent deacon?
Every priest was a deacon at one time. They are ordained a deacon before they are ordained a priest. However, it is only for a year. They are referred to a “transitional deacons”. For a permanent deacon it does take a while.
First of all, if a permanent deacon is married BEFORE they are ordained a permanent deacon, they can remain married. They can NOT get married after they are ordained. If a permanent deacon’s wife should die, they can NOT remarry.
The course work has varied in the past. At this point, in the Diocese of Nashville, it will take 5 years of meeting once a month. There is a lot of reading and writing. They will also have to complete a Master’s degree in Theology. (Therefore, they should have a Bachelor’s Degree in some discipline before applying). This prerequisite can be removed in some cases but not usually.
The course work is difficult and demanding. Also, now a deacon is expected to offer much more time to the Church than in the past. This often limits men with small children since family life is so demanding.
A deacon’s work is restricted to certain activities within the Church and is under the tutelage of a pastor. Some deacons with specific skills are hired full time. The Chancellor of the Diocese of Nashville is a permeant deacon.
Remember these items for the reception of Jesus at communion:
- Fast from all food and drink, except water one hour before you receive Jesus; not before Mass, but before communion. (If you are on a schedule to take medicine during that time, that’s just fine.
- Don’t chew gum!
- You can receive Jesus standing, kneeling, on the tongue or in the hand. When you receive in the hand, make a throne with your hands and take one hand to consume the host. I hate dropping Jesus!
- Don’t run out of church with communion. This is the greatest gift we have ever been given! Take some time and say thank you!
- Unless you can’t avoid it, do NOT go to the bathroom during the Eucharistic prayer. That’s when the miracle happens!
I’ve been told that all sins are the same; a sin is a sin. Every sin carries the same weight.
This is the view of some outside the Catholic Church, but we define our sins between venial and mortal. Why? The Holy Scriptures tell us:
1 John 5:16, 17 “If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.
The Catholic Church has always promoted a division of sin between deadly sins (Mortal sins) and small sins (Venial Sins).
Venial Sins are forgiven easily. At the beginning of every Mass, we call to mind our sins and the priest offers the prayer of absolution of sin. Receiving the Eucharist drives out small sins.
But for Mortal sins we should not receive the Body and Blood of Christ without first receiving forgiveness through the sacrament of Confession.
There are some who wrongly believe that saying an Act of Contrition before receiving communion will alleviate the Mortal sin. Wrong! This would be for those who find themselves in a situation of having to receive the Eucharist without the benefit of confession. The only practical situation would be such as in a priest who cannot get to another priest before he must celebrate Mass. Even then, there must be a FIRM commitment to go to confession as soon as possible. Confession IS available.
What is the difference between Mortal and Venial sins? Basically, a Mortal sin breaks one of the 10 commandments. (the most overlooked commandment being the third; keep the Lord’s day holy or, go to Mass! Yes, God is everywhere, but only in the Mass do we receive the Eucharist that feeds us and nourishes us to be more like Christ. So, Mass is exactly that important.
Are all infractions of civil law equal? For murder, the penalty is much more strenuous than running a red light. Yet, both are infringements on the law.
How Can I Believe That the Eucharist is Really Jesus?
No one can make themselves believe something spiritual without tangible evidence and the Eucharist is not a scientifically proven entity. Faith is a gift from God and we can only ask for that faith or pray for an increase of faith. In other words, those who believe in the True Presence, do not need empirical evidence, and for those who do not, no explanation can be given since faith is a gift from God.
However, if we can come to the understanding that the Bible is true and Jesus is not a liar, we can apply reason, if not faith to the True Presence.
So where is the True Presence in the Bible?
John 6:22-35; (from the ‘Bread of Life Discourse.’) “So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”34 So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Lk. 22:19 “Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you…”
Mk. 14: 22 “While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.”
Mt. 26: 26 “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Notice, Jesus does not say, “this is something ‘like’ My body, but rather this IS My body.
Sometimes, our faith wavers and we cannot grasp the reality of the “True Presence”. This may be because of a lack of faith on our part or the fact that the Eucharist has become so “common place” for us that we forget or lose faith. At these times, we need to pray for an increase of faith that Christ will strengthen our belief.
What is a Cardinal?
The priesthood is in three stages: deacon, priest, bishop. There are two kinds of deacons: permanent and transitional. Every priest is an ordained deacon before they are ordained as a priest. This is a transitional deacon. Permanent deacons remain in that position. Deacons can assist greatly. They are usually assigned to one parish and can celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism and Marriage. They can conduct funerals without a Mass and teach. They also assist at Mass to help the celebrant and servers to coordinate, distribute communion, etc…. A deacon is supervised by the pastor of his parish.
A priest is assigned as a pastor or a parochial vicar (parish assistant). The parochial vicar is supervised by the pastor. The pastor is supervised by the bishop of the diocese. Pastors are responsible for all the people that reside in his parish, Catholic, Protestant, believers and non-believers. They must celebrate a Mass every weekend for the people of the parish.
A bishop is supervised by an arch bishop (who oversees several dioceses) and ultimately by the Pope. A bishop oversees all people dwelling in his diocese. Bishop Spalding oversees the Diocese of Nashville (from the KY border to Alabama/from Waynesboro to Cookeville).
A cardinal is not a level of the priesthood. Cardinal is not a title, but rather a job description. Whereas we would say: Deacon Tim, Father Jerry, Bishop Spalding, we address a Cardinal as John CARDINAL Cushing, not Cardinal Cushing. Cardinals dress in red and are responsible for offices of the Church. In the Vatican there are many offices (Office for Divine Worship, Office for the Propagation of the Faith, etc…) These cardinals head up these offices; they curate the office. As curators there are collectively called the Curia. These offices can vary from very simple offices to patriarchal offices; some small/some larger.
As such they form the governing body of the Church. However, their main job responsibility is to select a new pope when the Holy See is vacant.
Do I have to go to Mass When I’m on Vacation?
The short answer is yes. The 3rd commandment does not distinguish between any Sundays as a lesser or greater emphasis on “keeping the Lord’s Day”. For Catholics, that means to participate in Mass. Therefore, every Sunday, wherever you are, requires the fulfillment of that commandment.
“Well, we couldn’t find a church.” Everyone has access to a phone, just type in Catholic Church near you and follow the GPS.
However, there are occasions where Mass can be excused on Sunday.
- If you are sick (too sick to do anything else that day), don’t bring the sickness to church. Try to provide a substitute for Mass. (T.V. Mass, Bible reading, and/or prayer to take up that time to be spent with God.)
- If someone you care for is sick and you are the only care giver, you must stay and care for that person if they need the help.
- You find yourself on a plane and you can’t possibly hit a Mass, same as being sick. (Video Mass, Bible reading and/or prayers to substitute.)
- You find yourself in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, camping/hiking, and you just can’t get to a church, again; prayers and quiet time for God.
In our part of the world it is extremely rare to not find a Catholic Church nearby.
What is the Magisterium of the Catholic Church?
The magisterium is the teaching body of the Church. It consists of all the bishops gathered as one group in union with the Pope (himself a bishop; the Bishop of Rome).
When needed, all bishops are gathered together to discuss a particular item. This gathering has become less needed as the dogmatic principles of the Church have been defined.
At the Second Vatican Council, the magisterium was gathered to discuss the changes introduced by Pope John XXIII. Their input guides the Pope in making decisions. The Pope has the last say since, guided by the Holy Spirit, and through the promises of Christ at the establishment of the Church, the Holy Father has the authority to conclude decisions. However, the Pope always gathers information to make decisions.
The Pope’s decisions are final; infallible. However, the infallible question is often misunderstood. The Pope is ONLY infallible on matters of faith and morals. The doctrine of infallibility did not suddenly appear. Rather, it is founded on Christ’s promise to the apostles that he would send the Holy Spirit, who “will guide you to all truth” (Jn. 16:13). This provides the secure sense of protection from error on fundamental teachings.
Don’t Hide Your Light Under Bushel Basket.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
These words of Jesus are the command given not just to His Apostles, but to everyone that follows the teachings of our Savior.
In the world today, there are many voices seemingly “yelling” their agendas at us and it can often even become combative; physical in nature.
It can be quite understandable to step back and hide; to protect our children from the world and remove them and ourselves from the “public square”. But this is not the commandment of Jesus. “Go out to all the world and proclaim the good news!”
Many of us want to avoid confrontation, but without confronting the anti-Christian messages in our world, and not saying anything, we are letting the enemy win. When our children repeatedly see and hear that people are being hurt if we don’t let them have their way, which is contrary to Christ’s teachings, they can be easily swayed that perhaps the other side is right. After all, our children have a propensity to not want people hurt.
So who’s right? Hopefully, not just the loudest voice in the room, but the correct voice in the room.
We celebrate Mary as the exemplar of our faith daily, but in a special way, we honor her during the Month of May. Our Faith Formation classes will have a traditional "Mary Crowning" of Mary and we pay particular attention to her life.
The most common misunderstanding among our non-Catholic brothers and sisters is that we worship Mary. This is completely false. We pray to her to pray for us in Heaven.
It is quite true that several times in the New Testament we hear that we have one mediator between God and man; that being Christ. Mary does not serve this purpose, but she intercedes for us to her Son, Jesus. We ask Mary to pray for us just as we would ask anyone on earth to pray for us. After all, Heaven is eternal life, not eternal death so we believe those in Heaven can pray for us.
There are four Marian Dogmas that we, as Catholics believe:
- Immaculate Conception - Marywas conceived in the womb of St. Ann without sin
- Motherhood of God (Theotokos) (Gr) "God bearer"; - Mary is the Mother of God
- Perpetual Virginity - Mary was a virgin before and after the birth of Christ.
- Assumption - Mary was assumed into Heaven; body and soul
How long does it take to be a priest?
Criteria for becoming a priest is pretty standard, but there are a few variations depending on the diocese or religious order you choose. Most religious orders require a year of preparation; a year of discernment before entering studies. The Nashville diocese requires this particular year.
After High School, a priest candidate will need to procure an undergraduate degree in Philosophy. This will take four years. Then, there is a four-year program of work which includes obtaining a Master’s Degree in Theology. However, the scholastic work for this upper degree is only two years. Interspersed with the educational element is the formation of other areas expanding the upper level education to four years.
There are four pillars of priestly formation: Human Formation, Intellectual Formation, Spiritual Formation and Pastoral Formation.
Human Formation is the development of the ability to know yourself and to be able to deal with personal issues. A priest can “burn out” quickly and needs to know when and how to take care of themselves, but the knowledge of ourselves is also to help others.
Intellectual Formation is, of course the classroom work for the theological degree.
Spiritual Formation is developing a discipline of prayer and communion with God
Pastoral Formation is the ability to deal with the many issues faced by a priest with the people he serves.
If a man enters the priesthood training after already receiving an undergraduate degree in another discipline than philosophy, the candidate will be placed into a two year pre-theology program through which they will receive, basically, a minor in philosophy, then the four years of theology.
There are no stupid priests. Look at all of the work to be done to get to ordination. However, each priest has their own strengths and weaknesses to which the laity must exercise patience. Every priest is human containing human flaws.
Some priests (and laity) express an intention that only boys should serve at the altar. Their argument is that it attracts young men to the priesthood. Do girls have a calling for a vocation? Aren’t we supposed to inspire our young girls to consider a consecrated life as a religious sister?
Yes! At Nativity, we are blessed with many fine boys who do a spectacular job of following directions and serving at Mass with respect and reverence. We also have several young girls who do exactly the same thing.
Yes, we need priests but we also need to build up the ranks of our religious sisters. All of us are called to a life of holiness! We pray for an increase not just to the priesthood but to the vocation of a religious life; priests, brothers and sisters.
The respect shown to the Mass and the intention of our servers to carry out their roles well at the Mass is inspiring, not only to me, but to the laity who see the Mass celebrated well.
We should encourage all of our youth to be involved in the church community. Notice we have younger lectors and extraordinary Eucharistic ministers. Our youth are in the choir, (what a beautiful addition to the Mass is our Children’s Choir). Our youth serve as Mass ambassadors and ushers.
Since all of us are called to a life of holiness, let us always encourage our young people to participate in the Mass to the fullest!
Is it a sin to miss Mass on Sundays?
Well, yes it is. God gave us the Ten Commandments, and that’s just what they are;
commandments! The third commandment is to keep holy the Lord’s Day. As
Catholics, we keep that day holy by attending Mass.
Some tell me they can find God fishing, golfing or mountain climbing. And that’s
very true! However, you cannot receive the Eucharist; the Body and Blood of Jesus
outside of Mass attendance. This is how we keep the Lord’s Day holy. We are to
assist at Mass (attend and participate). At Mass, we are fed with the Word of God
and the Body and Blood of Christ; we “fill up our tanks” to have the grace to be
Christ in the world for the next week.
If we don’t fill up our tanks, we grow weak and unable to stay off temptation and
sin. Nor do we have the grace to be Christ in the world.
On vacation, traveling, visiting family, etc…, we are called to keep the Lord’s
Day; to go to Mass. The most powerful example we can send to the world of our
Christian faith is simply to go to Mass.
It brings to mind to others our devotion to God and our desire for Christ.
The “3” Churches of Catholicism.
In the Catholic Church, we have a list of 3 Churches: the Church Triumphant, the
Church Militant and the Church Suffering.
The Church Militant is us. We are on earth “fighting” our way to get to Heaven.
We fight to resist temptation and the earthly pleasures to receive the gift of
complete happiness in Heaven with God for all eternity.
The Church Triumphant are those who have made it to Heaven. We believe that
those in Heaven enjoy eternal life, not eternal death. And so, since they are alive,
we believe they can assist us with their prayers.
The Church Suffering are those in Purgatory. These are the souls, who have been
forgiven of sins, but have not yet paid off the penalty due those sins. Jesus tells us
to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Purgatory is the opportunity to
purify ourselves to be perfect so that we can step into the boundaries of Heaven
and join the Church Triumphant.
All 3 Churches work together in what we call the Communion of Saints. This is a
circular aspect of prayer; we pray to the saints in Heaven, the saints pray for us.
We pray for the souls in Purgatory and they pray for us.
How do Become Loved and Liked by Everyone?
You too can become well-loved and accepted by every person in the world if you agree to whatever they do in acceptance and not offer the Gospel of Christ to them. Remember, Jesus said that the world hated Him and we will also be hated because we are not of the world. We are meant to be in Heaven with God to gain happiness forever.
The world is directed by Satan. The world allures us to things of the world rather than the things of Heaven. We must remove ourselves from the lies of the world which tell us to do whatever makes us feel good.
Our three weapons are fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Fasting makes us mindful to limit pleasure. Prayer reminds us to acclimate ourselves to the will of God. Almsgiving reminds us to limit our need for wealth. Any of these three “earthly” promises can lead us away from the eternal happiness designed for us in Heaven: pleasure, pride, greed.
Accepting the world’s lies and accepting everything people do without standing up for the truth will bring us the love of the world and the love of everyone we meet. However, standing up for the truth will bring us back to the words of Jesus; the world hates you because you are not of this world but meant for something more.
The Gospel message collides with the world’s message. Truth hurts!
Holy Week is coming up. Part of the week is called the Triduum? What is the
Triduum means “3 days”. Palm Sunday begins Holy Week with His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On Holy Thursday we begin the Triduum. Thursday, Friday and Saturday comprise the Triduum. They are celebrated as one long liturgy which begins on Thursday and ends at the end of Sat.
On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper and the Priesthood. The first part of every Mass is called the Liturgy (work of the people) of the Word. The Church took this from the Jewish worship service. The Jewish worship service opens with a hymn, greeting, reading of the scriptures, and commentary on the readings, etc…. Very much like the first part of the Mass. The second part of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is a re- presentation of the Last Supper of Jesus with His Apostles in the Upper Room before He was crucified. At that supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist: “this is My Body; this is My Blood”. Then he calls his Apostles to be the first priests of the new Church. The Mass, however is not closed as we do on Sundays, there is no dismissal.
On Good Friday, we do not celebrate the Mass. We have an order of servicea to recall the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. Again, there is no dismissal. On Holy Saturday, we recall Jesus’ death in the tomb. There is no Mass and no sacraments may be celebrated except the Sacrament of Confession, Anointing of the Sick (for serious illness) and Viaticum (receiving the Eucharist for the dying).
These three days we refer to as the Triduum.
Questions from the First Grade
I recently visited the First Grade in Faith Formation. See if you know the answers to the questions they came up with!
If Jesus never died for our sins, what would happen?
When Adam and Eve sinned, they were removed from the Garden and the gates of Eden were shut tight and locked. No one could get back to the Garden (Heaven). There is always a penalty for sin and for the Original sin, there was a huge penalty. The wages of sin are death. To undo the sin, a human had to pay the price. Jesus, true man/true God took the penalty upon Himself for all of us. Since a man sinned, a man must pay the price. When Jesus died on the cross, the penalty was paid and the gates of the Garden were opened. If He had never died (paid the price) the gates would still be locked!
Where did people go before the gates of Heaven were unlocked?
Since no one could get into Heaven, they went to a place called Sheol (shadow lands) In the Apostle’s Creed, we say that Jesus died and descended into Hell. Not the Hell of damnation, but the shadow land of Sheol. He gathers all the good people who were waiting and took them to Heaven after He died on the cross.
What did God do before He made the world?
Where does an eight-hundred-pound gorilla sleep? Anywhere he wants to. What did God do before the earth? Anything He wanted to do!
Why did God create us if He knew we were going to sin?
Everyone is going to mess up because we are human: everyone. But our parents love us when we mess up. They correct us and always love us. God loves us no matter what we do; He will always love us. He made us to love us. Since God is love and love, by definition reaches out, God created us to receive His love; to share His love.
Why do People say the Rosary Differently?
Originally, the Rosary was a loop of 150 beads. The number of beads equals the number or psalms in the Bible. In communities where the psalms were read, for those who were illiterate, a Hail Mary Prayer was recited for each psalm.
150 prayers are a lot for the working person, so the Rosary was divided into 3 groups of 50 beads and to focus on prayer, each 50 beads were devoted to a mystery of Christ’s life: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious. (St. John Paul II added the Luminous mysteries during his pontificate.)
As time went on, extra prayers were added. The Our Father and the Glory Be helped to keep the prayer on track by dividing the 50 beads into 5 sets of 10 (decade). The Apostle’s Creed was added to begin the Rosary, then the three Hail Mary Beads to focus on the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Love (Charity). For some, the Hail Holy Queen was added along with “O God, Whose only begotten Son….” for the ending.
Additional prayers are added by individuals for devotion. Most notable addition is
the Fatima prayer. But the specific Rosary began as 150 beads to match the
What is the Breviary?
The Church requires its priests, sisters, monks, etc… to participate in a cycle of prayer. The cycle repeats every day in a collection of seven prayers. The collection of the prayers for the entire liturgical year is called the Breviary. The cycle of daily prayer is to be said at certain times throughout the day.
The daily cycle consists of 7 prayers: Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Mid-Morning Prayer, Mid-Day Prayer, Mid-Afternoon Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer.
Why seven? We take the tradition from the Jews who prayed seven times a day, with the number seven being the number of “completion”.
The number of prayers to be said are divided among levels of religious states of life. For those in community: monastics and cloistered communities, all seven prayers are said.
For diocesan priests, only five prayers are required due to their workload in theworld. They pray the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, then they choose ONEof the “day time” prayers: Mid-Morning, Mid-Day, or Mid-Afternoon dependingon their prayer opportunities during the day. Additionally, they are required to sayEvening Prayer and Night Prayer.
Deacons are required to say only Morning and Evening Prayer.
The prayers consist of a rotation through the psalms, scripture readings, writings of Church Fathers and saints, and specific prayers. The prayers can be sung or recited.
Is Divorce a sin? A Myth Destroyed!
I have encountered people who tell me they have not gone to communion because they are divorced. One man even told me that he had not been to communion in 20 years! Because he was divorced.
Divorce is not a sin! Divorce is not a sin! It is a separation of married people, period! Often, the divorce is to protect one from abuse; physical, emotional, physiological or other types. Often it is to protect the children from a negative atmosphere that will harm them emotionally.
Whatever the reason, divorce is not a sin and does NOT KEEP YOU FROM RECEIVING THE SACRAMENTS! The issue is when one remarries without the benefit of an annulment from the Church. There are many possibilities to get things worked out to remarry; some are VERY easy. Please contact a priest to check this out. However; If you are divorced and not remarried, GO TO COMMUNION!
What is the Difference Between a Diocesan Priest and a Religious Order Priest?
A Diocesan Priest works for the bishop of a particular diocese. The chances that they would be sent outside the diocesan area to work are extremely rare (some may be placed on loan to teach at seminaries). A Religious Order Priest is a member of a group of priests (Franciscans, Carthusians, Salesians, Jesuits, etc…) who reside in community and are connected to other priests by way of their order.
There are three Evangelical Counsels: chastity, obedience and poverty. Religious orders take all three counsels. In regards to poverty, none of the Religious Order priests can own property and all monies they earn are sent to the director of the specific order. The priests who take the evangelical order of poverty, truly own nothing. If they have a car, it belongs to the community. They will receive a stipend from the community for clothing, food, etc… Even their personal items are really owned by the community. These priest also take the Evangelical Counsels of obedience to the head of their community and practice chastity. They may be sent out into the world to any place the community needs them to serve. In terms of obedience, they also are required to adhere to the instructions of the Bishop who is placed over the specific region they serve. In retirement, the community takes care of the member until death.
As to Diocesan priests, they only take the Evangelical Councils of obedience and chastity. They can own property and accumulate wealth from the salary they are paid. However, they are urged to hold to the conduct of a simplicity of life. This means, to live meagerly as a representative of Christ in their work. Diocesan Priests must provide for their own retirement through savings and investments.
Why is the Catholic Bible different from the Protestant Bible?
The Catholic Church gathered together the books of the Bible. The Church “made” the Bible. It took, as the Old Testament the scriptures of the Jews for the Old Testament and added the New Testament writings.
This collection of books (Bible means “library) was the ONLY Bible until the Reformation 1500 years later. Martin Luther utilized a more recent collection of scriptures from the Jews, but also removed some books from the Old Testament that did not stand up to HIS ideas of the faith.
All Protestant communities took on this “reformed” Bible with less books than the original Catholic Bible held in the Old Testament.
Over time, a misunderstanding has occurred to the point where Protestants ask us Catholics, “why did you add books to the Bible”? The reality is, “why did the Protestants take books out of the Bible”
For both Catholics and Protestants, the New Testament is the same.
What does Confirmation give us?
When we are Baptized as infants, someone answers for us. We receive many items from Baptism, namely our salvation. We also receive the implantation of the Holy Spirit.
As we grow and are educated, we develop a relationship with Jesus and are able to articulate our faith on our own. Confirmation is the acknowledgement of our personal belief, not by another person, but on our own.
At Confirmation, the candidate receives the fullness of the Holy Spirit, that is all of the gifts: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, courage, piety and fear of the Lord.
Now, as many Confirmations as I have celebrated or witnessed, no one glows or floats. It is not an earth shattering moment (although it can be). But the reality is that you receive every gift. You will have the gift surface when and if you ever need it.
Lent comes from a word meaning lengthening (the days are gaining more sunlight each day heading towards the Spring). This is a time to take stock of where we are spiritually and where we want to be spiritually. The length of Lent reflects the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert preparing for His death on the cross.
For the Jews, numbers are very symbolic. The ancient 4 elements of the world (earth, wind, fire and water) are overcome by the 10 Divine commandments of God. Rather, earth is overwhelmed or purified by the Divine. 4X10 =40. So, for the Jews, 40 is the number of purification.
It rained for 40 days and nights when God cleansed the world and only Noah and his family, faithful to God, survived. Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai preparing to receive the 10 commandments. Jesus spends 40 days preparing for His ultimate sacrifice. Jesus remained on earth for 40 days from His resurrection to His ascension to purify the beginning Church.
Lent is a few weeks away. Prepare to have a good Lent. Usually, we give up something. Make sure that something is reflective of a true sacrifice. OR, do more for God for 40 days; celebrate more Masses during the week, pray more, works of mercy. But make sure they reflect the importance