Love God, Love Others, Make Disciples

Faith Answers with Fr. Jerry

February 25

Why did Catholics Abstain from Meat on Fridays? 

Every Friday, all Catholics are asked to do some type of penance. This requirement is to unite yourself with the sufferings of Christ on the Cross, Who died on a Friday. It used to be that every Friday was a day without meat, Why?  Jesus gave His flesh for the life of the world so Catholics would not eat flesh on Fridays. Flesh is described by science as pork, pigs, really any mammals. Fish and amphibians are not listed as flesh.

It was thus for a long time, but after the Second Vatican council, the Church released us from not eating meat on Fridays. Many thought this released everyone from any type of penance on Friday. This is a mistake. Catholics are STILL required to do some type of penance on every Friday of the year.

But it doesn’t have to be that hard!  Step back your coffee drinking or sodas that day. Say an extra rosary, go to Mass, spend some quiet time with Jesus, visit a sick person, pray for the sick, pray for peace. Write a letter or call someone who has moved out of your daily life that could use a call.

Remind yourself, by works of penance of the sufferings of Jesus on the cross. 

February 18

What we do During the Week Comes to Mass; What we do at Mass Goes with us Into the Week.

All of us are called to conform ourselves to the cross; this is how we work out our personal salvation.  Each vocation has a particular way of carrying out the work done to conform ourselves. A parent, who has a million things to do, sacrifices time to sit with their toddler for 30 minutes to build a tower of blocks to see them fall over is working out their salvation. Your job, done to the best of your ability is an offering to God. Dealing with a sick parent, giving up something so that your spouse or friend can have their way, etc… All these things we do during the week, we bring to Mass.

At the Mass, Jesus sacrifices Himself for our sins. The Mass is celebrated every day in many places. When we come to Mass, we bring our sacrifices to offer to Jesus. What we do during the week comes with us to Mass. We unite our sacrifices to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.

At the Mass, we receive. We are fed with the Word and the Eucharist to empower ourselves to be Christ in the world for the coming week. We take with us the work of the Mass into the week.

What we do during the week, we bring to Mass. What we do at Mass is brought into the week ahead.

From the Mass: “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice AND YOURS may be acceptable to God the Father, Almighty.”

 

February 11

This Lent, Does God Want More from You, or More for You?

Many of us go through Lent without a clear idea of how we are going to spend this time given to us to prepare for Easter. We seem to always see Lent as a time of “giving up something”.  Look at it another way: God doesn’t want more from you; He wants more FOR you.

The days of Lent are an opportunity to focus on the spiritual life. The common things to give up: chocolate, alcohol, etc… are fine, but perhaps if we do more instead of giving something up, we can empower ourselves and help others in the process.

How about visiting a nursing home once a week, or one extra Mass during the week offered up for someone who needs support or help?

It is always true that whenever we feel alone, separated, or useless, getting up and helping another person helps us to feel better about ourselves. Giving to others always helps us in return.

Look around and see who needs you more in their life, or someone who could benefit from you being in their lives.

It is true that we should develop our interior self for God, but we are community. Focusing inward is just fine, but focusing outward; towards others is imperative.

Go out to all the world and spread the good news. Wherever you find yourself, there is always a way to preach the Gospel; if not by words, by example.

February 4

Start Thinking Now About Lent.

Every year, Ash Wednesday hits us all before we really think about what we are going to do. Give up chocolate? Candy? Social Media?  I have my ashes, NOW what will I do. 

Jesus spent this time in the desert preparing to give His life for all of us; praying, fasting, being alone.

While most of us can’t be alone, we can pray and fast. Of course there are now only two days of required fasting for Catholics: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (If you can, we are asked to continue the Good Friday Fast until Easter.)

But it always seems like we tend to “give up” something. Perhaps we could look at a chance to “give MORE.” Not just money, but more time in prayer. Maybe time visiting the nursing homes or writing letters to the elder members of our families. Even a chance to break the ice between one’s self and an estranged family member or friend.

We could all take the initiative to get to know the person setting next to us at Mass. Or perhaps time well spent in getting to know the One we come to Mass to say thank you for our lives.

Jesus actually did both: He gave all He had and gave up everything His human nature desired.

Our cars run better when we change the oil and have them regularly serviced. Lent is an opportunity to service our direction of life, our soul, our faith.

But you have over a week to decide on what will benefit your faith. Don’t wait until Ash Wednesday to decide what you are going to do.

January 28

“BELONG, BELIEVE, BEHAVE”. 

The definition of a community to become the fullness of a life-giving parish which is prepared to turn out; to focus outwards is to belong, believe and behave. We all belong. Nativity is a family and we all belong. However, all families have issues. Remember like is not love. We don’t have to like everyone but we do have to love/respect everyone. The answer is simply the “Golden Rule”; treat other people as you would like to be treated. Face to face is always better than behind the back.

There are a lot of things we Catholics believe but Jesus has so eloquently reduced them to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Belong and believe meld into one. To behave in a family means sharing. Everyone doesn’t always get their way. Even though one may feel their way the best, compromise allows others to participate and belong.

So, in reality, belonging, believing and behaving within a family all blend together. No family is perfect. Our exemplar is the Holy Family but in our human natures, we miss the mark. Patience, acceptance of everyone, sharing, caring and love bring us together even in the midst of disagreement.

The result of buying into all this is a community that stops looking at its faults and moves outward to fulfill the “Great Commission”; go OUT to all the nations and proclaim the good news!

Evangelization is not just the job of those in the clerical state of vocations. All of us are priests, prophets and kings by the nature of our Baptism! Even the smallest can be a part of the whole and a great force in our community, country and world!

January 21

Keep your children off of social media. It hurts with unrealistic images of what our youth should look like, tells them they are not good enough and leads them down roads we do not want them to travel.  If you are not going to remove them from social media, here are some helps to limit their participation.

 
  1. Establish Tech-Free Zones and Times: Encourage quality family time by designating certain areas or times as tech-free zones. For example, consider having no phones at the dinner table or designating specific rooms as device-free to foster more face-to-face communication.
  2. Dial-it Back: Maybe your child already has a tech device and you’re not comfortable with how much time they are spending on the device, or maybe you wish you’d waited a little longer before giving them that phone or tablet computer. That doesn’t mean that it’s too late to establish some rules around usage, like no phones in the bedroom, no social media, or phones have to be turned-in to mom or dad at a specific time every day.
  3. Practice Digital Wellness: Promote healthy tech habits by setting limits on screen time for both parents and children. Use tools and apps that allow you to monitor and manage screen time, ensuring that everyone in the family has a healthy balance between online and offline activities.
  4. Cybersecurity Awareness: Educate your family about online safety and cybersecurity. Make sure everyone understands the importance of strong, unique passwords, the dangers of sharing personal information online, how to identify and avoid phishing scams, and not to talk to anyone online that they don’t know in the real world.
  5. Whenever Possible, Make Screen Time a Family Activity: One reason why technology can lead to mental health challenges is because it tends to isolate the user. We’re not saying to avoid technology altogether, but we do need to be intentional about its use. Whenever possible, look for ways to share these tools and technologies together as a family. Watch streamed programs together in a central part of the house. If your child received a video game console for Christmas, look for games that the family can play together. This not only makes screen time more productive but also turns it into a shared, positive experience.

 

January 7

Get More out of Church

As a child, I played basketball. However, not very long. I didn’t get to play often and I wasn’t very good. As a result, I quit. Soon, I jumped into organized baseball. I got to play most of the time because I hit the ball and caught the ball. I was successful and had fun. I excelled and kept playing.A lot of us come to Mass on Sunday. That’s great! But are you really getting as much out of church as you can?
Sitting on the sidelines isn’t fun in any activity. The most important activity; Mass (which should be the reason to miss everything else) is only a small part of the week. It is important, but are you involved?
When you get involved in your community, in your “family”, you gain so much more. You are an active part and not just sitting on the sidelines.
Whenever someone comes to me and says they are depressed or lonely, my suggestion is to get involved. The sure fire wary of getting yourself out of the doldrums and have more fun is to be a bigger, and more active part of the family. Doing something for someone else takes you out of yourself and brings you happiness! It’s true! Giving is better than getting.
Men’s Club, Women’s Club, Knights, Fraternus, Fidelis, Book Clubs, Knitting Group, Altar service, Home Communion…. We have around 50 ministries that help you help others and thus help yourself.
The Church needs all of us and all of us need the Church.

December 31

Am I Helping or Hindering my Parish?

Am I helping or hindering my parish? Well, are you?  There are several things that can separate or unite us.

  1. Am I complaining about things in the church community like Faith Formation, other groups, music, lecturing, altar serving but don’t step up to help? Think about it.
  2. Do I get aggravated by things in the church so I pull away and don’t participate in any way that includes myself or my family? Think about it.
  3. Am I complaining about the community, schools, social groups but don’t do anything to help while pulling away and not being involved to help; to shine the light of Christ in those places? Think about it.
  4. Do I blame others for doing something wrong, but do not step in to patiently correct or do I just talk behind backs? Think about it.
  5. Is my work or activity more important than other’s? Think about it.
  6. Do you use the church but do not contribute? Think about it.
  7. Do I exclude myself from church activities because others are somehow less than? Think about it.
  8. Is my way better than others? Think about it.

Every family has issues; so does our community. If we are not all pulling in the same direction, we become a hindrance. As the saying goes, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Each and every person has the dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God; worthy of respect.

Every family argues and has impatient moments. But conversation and rolling up our sleeves to help out or participate helps; it doesn’t hinder.

The Kingdom of God is among us; among us all.

December 24

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

This is the Diocesan Curriculum for every 5th grade student in a Catholic School or Faith Formation:

 

Grade 5 Celebrating Jesus’ Presence

  • A Sacrament is: An outward sign of Christ working on the inside; instituted by Christ and given to the Church for dispensation of the salvation of souls. Every sacrament is scripturally based.
  • Sacraments: Sacraments of Initiation; Baptism (its signs and effects), Reconciliation (its signs and effects/ mortal and venial sins) Eucharist (its signs and effects; transubstantiation) and Confirmation (its signs and effects). Review Sacraments of Healing: (Reconciliation from earlier classes) and Sacrament of the Sick.
  • Catholicism (meaning and living as a Catholic in the world) What does the word Catholic mean?

Scripture:  Baptism of Jesus, Jesus confers the Sacrament of Confession on the Apostles, Letter of James (anointing of the sick along with confession of sins) Old Testament: Isaiah, Prophet

INTERGRATION; Prayer, personal and communal, Methods of prayer, Lectio Divina, spontaneous prayer, Service, Retreats, Rosary, Martyrs,

Saints:  St. Jude, St. Rita of Cascia, St. John Bosco, Immaculate Conception (Mary)

The family is the Domestic Church. In this relationship we should find the PRIMARY teaching of the faith with church classes as assistants. Discussion with your children will help them be able to retain and to PASS ON the faith.

Do you know your faith? 

Resources:  Adult classes at Nativity, www.catholic.com, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (can be found on line), ask your priest.

“Preach the Gospel constantly; open your mouth when necessary.”  But when you have to open your mouth, know what to say or AT LEAST where to find the answer.

December 17

Communion Fast, Fasting and Friday Penance

The Fast to receive communion is one hour before COMMUNION; not before Mass. I have been asked by a couple of people if they have broken their fast by lozenges to stop a cough. NO.  Even if the only thing you have to stop your cough is a piece of hard candy or a LifeSaver, you do not break the fast because you are not using the item as food, but as medicine.

There are two days (only) that the Church requires us to fast for the entire day: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The requirements are 2 small meals and 1 meal that adds up to the amount of the other smaller meals and no food between meals. Normal drinks can be consumed (coffee, etc…during the day) but not chocolate malt or milkshake.

Those who have reached the age of 60 are not required to fast, but for most of us older folks, it really isn’t a question of suffering.  If you are recovering from an illness, your doctor may prescribe small amounts of soup or food throughout the day. This doesn’t break the fast either. However, there is NO age limit on abstinence from meat for any age on the Fridays of Lent.

In the Old Testament tradition, Fasting was used more frequently than today. And, before Vatican Council II, there were more days and requirements for fasting.

Fasting is a good way to offer sacrifice to God for the remission of your sins, for the souls in Purgatory and to remind ourselves of those who go without proper food and nourishment. In many cases, families may skip a meal and offer the cost of that meal to a service agency.

Every Catholic is required to do some type of penance on Fridays to unite themselves to the sufferings of Jesus, Who died on the cross on a Friday. However, fish on Fridays is only required during Lent. Any type of penance can be offered on the other Fridays.

Why fish? Jesus gave His flesh for our redemption. Science indicates fleshy food as pork, beef, chicken and mammals.  Fish are not considered flesh nor are reptiles (turtle soup), and amphibians (frog legs).

 

December 10

HOPEFULLY, Good News for Private Education 

On Tuesday, November 28, Governor Bill Lee announced his proposal of the “Tennessee Education Freedom Scholarship Act of 2024. This would provide every citizen in the state of Tennessee to be able to take their education money with them to the school of their choice.

At present, Hamilton, Shelby and Davidson are the only counties participating in the program. In the 24-25 school year, it is proposed to add another 10,000 vouchers for those students at or below 300% of federal poverty level, possess a disability, or already eligible for the ESA pilot program and 10,000 scholarships for a universal pool attending private schools on a first come/first served basis.

In the 25/26 school year, all TN students eligible to attend public K-12 public schools, including homeschoolers enrolled in an umbrella or church-related school for eligibility. However, if demand extends past available funding, low income students and returning scholarship students will have priority.

The argument against this action is that it will destroy the public education system when in reality, competition for students will force every educational outlet to step up its game to attract and retain students.

This would be a great advantage for Catholic schools for parents seeking a faith-based education for their children. At present, the fund for each student is $7075.00.

December 3

Reasons People Leave the Church (In Three Parts)

Part 3: Theological Objections:

  1. “There is simply no evidence for God.” Response: There is plenty of evidence for God. Including, strongest of all, the universe itself.
  2. Faith and science are at odds, and I choose science.” Response: Faith and science are mutually supportive and do not conflict. Some of the most famous scientific pioneers were Catholic.
  3. “I never found a personal relationship with Jesus in the Catholic Church.” Response: The Church exists to help people encounter Jesus Christ.
  4. “I just wasn’t being fed in my parish. I’ve found another church that is more vibrant and fulfilling. “Response: Nothing can replace the Eucharist, which offers a direct encounter with God that no song, sermon, or experience can match.
  5. “How could God possibly have let that evil thing happen to me?” Response: Although pain and suffering are often difficult to understand, God doesn’t abandon us; he suffers with us. He may not move the “mountain”, but will help us over and around the obstacle. Most pain in the world is caused by human sin.

November 26

Reasons People Leave the Church in (In Three Parts)

Part 2: Moral Objections:

  1. The Church is so judgmental. Didn’t Pope Francis say, ‘Who am I to judge?’” Response: We should never judge persons, but it’s okay and sometimes necessary to judge actions. A reminder: forming an opinion of someone is beyond your control. The human mind immediately forms an opinion on its own. Judging is in your control.
  2. The Church hates LGBTQ persons. Response The Church welcomes everyone and demands that Catholics treat all people with respect, compassion and sensitivity.
  3. I’m gay. How could I ever be Catholic? Response: Same-sex attraction is not incompatible with Catholicism, but those who struggle with it need love, support, and guidance.
  4. Why is the Church against me living with my boyfriend/girlfriend? We love each other so what’s the problem? Response: True love leads to a lifelong commitment in marriage, not a temporary partnership through sex/cohabitation. Cohabitation before marriage has a 90% divorce rate. However, being married in the Church, attending Mass, utilizing NFP, and praying for and with each other drops to rate as low as 7%.
  5. “I’ll come back to church, when they stop oppressing women.” Response: Even though women can’t be priests, they overwhelmingly lead the work of the Church. The Church praises women’s “feminine genius”.
  6. The Church is behind the times on contraception and abortion.” Response: Contraception and abortion are harmful to women and children. Thankfully, the Church offers better alternatives. NFP offers an holistic approach to spacing births. NFP is no longer a hard thing “to keep up with”. Now, a watch can be worn that tracks the periods of an individual woman spacing births with scientific accuracy.
  7. “I’m divorced. The Church doesn’t want me.” Response: Divorced people are most certainly welcome in the Church. Divorce does not keep you from the sacraments. Everyone is a vital parts of the Body of Christ.

November 19

Reasons People Leave the Church (in three parts)

PART 1: Personal Objections:

  1. I don’t have time; I’m too busy. Response: Mass becomes the highest priority only when you realize it offers a direct encounter with God.
  2. Mass is boring. Response: Mass is exhilarating once you learn to see what’s really going on. Go to youtube.com and type in “what really happens at Mass”.
  3. The Church is too focused on rules and making people feel guilty. Response: The Church doesn’t add guilt; it takes away guilt. Its mission involves forgiveness and healing. Everything we humans do involves rules in order for the activity to flow and develop. Reduce all the rules to Love God and Love Your Neighbor. There are some other rules, but there are a lot less than you think.
  4. How could anyone remain Catholic after the sexual abuse crisis? Response: The Church has always been full of sinners, but faith is grounded in Christ, not the actions of wayward people. Sexual abuse is found in many aspects of humanity, not just the Church. The number of abusers in context to the number of religious is minimal when set side by side. Abuse is never right but most religious do not abuse.
  5. I’m married to a non-Catholic. Returning to the Church would upset my spouse. Response: Your marriage is important. You should still move forward into the Church, but gradually rather than suddenly. You have the right to live your faith as does your spouse. Even though “the two become one”, you don’t have to always do the same things. Love will allow the other to find their spiritual place in the world.

F .I had a bad experience with the Church; I’m not going back. Response: The Church I bigger than one mean priest, one ugly receptionist, one unfortunate event. Don’t focus on the priest, the person or the event. We go to Mass not for those things but for Jesus.

  1. God can never forgive me for what I’ve done. Response: God’s mercy is unconstrained. There is nothing that He will not forgive. Even the so called “unforgivable sin’ of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit is when you make yourself a god and don’t need God’s forgiveness. So, the only sin that will not be forgiven is the sin that forgiven is not asked for.

November 12

Are You Part of the Church, or Part of the Family?

Every baptized Catholic is a member of the Catholic Church (that’s Church with a capital “C.

But are you part of a church; a church family?  Nativity is a member of the universal Church but we are our own particular community; family. Every family has is foibles and issues, but they can also be a strong force for formation, support and growth.

It is true that you “get out what you put in”.  If you’re here every Sunday, that’s great! But if you dig in and become a part of the family you receive more! Nativity is a family and we want you to be an integral part of that family.

When you sit on the bench and never get in the game, you really don’t have a good time. However, getting in the game, learning the other players and working for a common goal builds up your faith and helps others build up their faith!

In today’s world, our young families are so busy; kids involved in so many activities, parents being pulled from one obligation to another. I get it. Do what you can and provide for yourselves and your children. But are you overlooking the opportunities to be involved and build up the Church, this family and your families at the same time?

We have so many activities for our children and adults. Little flowers, Blue Knights, Fidelis, Fraternus, Teen Group, altar servers, etc… For our adults?  Knights of Columbus, Men’s Club, Women’s Group of Nativity, Bible studies, lectors, extraordinary ministers of communion (in church and for shut-ins and facilities, choir (there are 6 of them, including our children’s group). 

We offer Advent and Lent retreats, work with the Well, Pregnancy Center, book clubs, knitter’s group, wedding coordinators, Hearts and Hands, meal delivers and other programs throughout the year. Faith Formation for our young? Teaching the faith to others helps you to learn even more about your faith.

Being involved helps you establish relationships while building up our family, your family and the Kingdom of God.

You get more when you step in and give.  “Givers” always get back more than they give!

November 5

Be a Gloria 

[Our parish recently] lost a lovely lady, Gloria Witte.  This little spritely lady captured the hearts of or our parish, simply be, being as her name reflects, a Glory to God.

Gloria and her husband of 70 years, Earl, were hard to miss. The significant difference in their height alone drew your eye immediately. She is as petite as he is very tall. You rarely saw one without the other. If you did, usually someone was sick.

The week following her death our Moms’ group met at church, and we began sharing stories about Gloria and her husband, Earl. ……I felt compelled to carry on her legacy in words by sharing some of the ways she loved us and how you might be able to do the same in your own faith community.

Know Their Names—Gloria first started saying hello to me and my toddler son at daily Mass. While we weren’t often engaged in conversation, she wanted to know our names and would continue to reconfirm our names each time she saw us until she was certain she had them committed to memory.

A courteous hello is much different than a hello with your name attached.  When someone really desires to call you by name, they want to know you.  I always noticed how Gloria seemed to do this with everyone; she knew their names.  By knowing their name, she was subtly communicating; you are important in this parish and to me.

Make the Children Feel Loved and Included-- Gloria was known for telling children how much they were loved by Jesus and how happy Jesus was to have them at church. If she spotted children at a parish Rosary, she would walk over to them and assure them that Mary and Jesus were so delighted to have little children offering their prayers.

Gloria kept $2 bills on hand to give as a special surprise for children, a unique gift that came with a wow factor, making a child feel extra special. When she passed away, Earl made sure every child at our church preschool received one from the stash she still had left. One last little love of Gloria being showered down on the children of the parish.

Look out for the Moms in Your Community—Gloria was always on the lookout for moms who might need an extra set of hands or a little encouraging word. She was known to spot a little girl who had tucked her dress into her tights and get her dress rearranged before she walked into Mass. She was also known for checking in on those of us looking a little weary. She would ask us if anything was going on or if we shared something, she would offer encouraging words, assuring us that mothering can be challenging but that we would survive. She would often promise her prayers for whatever was weighing heavily on our minds. She always related that we were not alone, and her encouragement assured us we were not.

Make Connections—Because everyone was used to Gloria being a constant presence at the church, she was commonly approached with questions about the church. While she didn’t always know the answer, she usually knew the person who did or someone who could point you in the right direction.  When people have a familiar face who they can go to with questions, it makes them feel informed. When you don’t have that, people can often end up feeling lost and become disconnected.

Care for the Sanctuary and the Church Facilities—Part of the reason Gloria and Earl were so well known is they took great care of the narthex, kitchen and church sanctuary. Every day before and after Mass this handsome elderly couple were always hard at work, wiping down windows and handles, arranging the books in the pews, picking up left behind toys and papers. The church kitchen had little notes from Gloria providing directions on keeping the kitchen in working order. She and Earl [were compensated but it was mostly] simply to keep the Lord’s house looing its best!

Earl still attends daily Mass. He sits on the same side of the church but not in exactly the spot he sat with her. He still straightens the sanctuary, greets me by name and checks on how the kids are. He reminds me that even though Gloria is gone, she taught us a lot about how to live and about how doing simple things can give great glory to God. While she is dearly missed, her legacy is ever present and so today, I am asking you to “Be a Gloria” in your own faith community by putting these littles lessons into practice in her memory.

Written by and used with the permission of Ms. Nicole Berlucchi

 

October 22

Sacrament of the Sick. 

Before Vatican II, this sacrament was known as Extreme Unction; extreme meaning last measure and unction meaning anointing.  At that time, being sick and seeing a priest come into your room could be a scary situation.  Thus the renaming to the Sacrament of the Sick. 

All 7 sacraments are scripturally based. Jesus healed the sick, oil was used as a curative agent and the sacrament is expressly mentioned in James, chapter 5: 14-15 where we read,” Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.”

Since the forgiveness of sin is expressly mentioned, only a priest or bishop can celebrate this sacrament, not a deacon.

The sacrament itself is not to be trivialized. It is not for a cold or a scratch but rather for serious situations or chronic illnesses. Every time anesthesia is used is a good time for anointing. Diabetes, mental disorders, cancer, and any type of surgery. The sacrament may be repeated only if the condition worsens.

Many may think the sacrament brings health but the major reason for anointing is to strengthen our faith. When you are sick, you do not feel like praying and the Enemy is at work. An individual can give up hope, be despondent, or feel far away from the love of God.

If the patient should need to recover health to have more time to correct error and prepare for the Kingdom to come, (“"When it is expedient for the soul's salvation.”: Council of Trent:”) health can be restored. But mainly, the anointing is to strengthen one’s faith.

In a situation where someone is actively dying, special prayers are added to the sacrament called the Apostolic Pardon which removes all sins and the temporal punishment due to those sins.

October 15

Do I need to Follow What the Pope Says?

Pope Francis is loved my many with his openness.  However, for some, he is creating confusion. 

First of all, Pope Francis, although the Head of the Church, is also a human. He has opinions on many things. His opinions are just that; opinions. In Pope Francis’ defense, he is not “press savvy”.  Many, many things he says are misconstrued by the press and by some Catholics who listened to social media; social media that, in itself has opinions. We only have to follow statements of any Pope which are made in his capacity “ex cathedra”.  That means, with the agreement of the magisterium (teaching authority of the church) and “from the “Chair of St. Peter”. This would be an infallible statement then only if the faithful ascend to the teaching (Sensus Fidelium).

Infallibility is only on matters of morals and faith. There has not been an infallible statement since 1950 when Pope Pius XII wrote Munificentissimus Deus (Assumption of Mary). In this statement, Pope Pius XII was merely stating what the faithful had believed for centuries. His statement was a confirmation of the sensus fidelium already within the Church. There have been no infallible statements since.

Many times, the press takes out of context what Pope Francis says beginning with the statement “who am I to judge” at the beginning of his pontificate. He was asked if a priest could be a homosexual. (In reality, homosexual or heterosexual is not considered in the priesthood since the priest takes a vow of celibacy.) The sexuality of the priest is not in question. Therefore, Pope Francis was not condoning homosexuality.

Again, people wondered why Pope Francis didn’t question President Biden on his abortion stance.  Did he? Didn’t he? We only have the news outlets to tell us.

Pope Francis can be confusing to many, but in reality, he has not changed one teaching of the Church. He has not made any infallible statements, but, as a human he has opinions just as you and I do.

I’ve heard people say he will allow gay marriage, he is pro-trans, etc… His stance confirms that we are called to love every human since we are all made in the image and likeness of God. He has not condoned any behavior that the Church has already stated in the catechism which retains the official stance on all topics applying to the Faith.

Fr, Frank Pavone, (Priests for Life) was pulled from ministry. Many condemned the Pope’s actions on this matter. Priests for Life was not even accepted by the diocese Fr. Pavone worked in. The Church does not air any laundry that is dirty. Only those involved in this case know the issues behind the headlines. As priests in our own diocese have stepped out of ministry, no word is ever given that will lead to judgement on a specific priest.

In the last statement from the Pope on the Latin Mass, I was told how wrong the Pope was. When I asked if that particular individual had read the decree, I was told no. But they had heard from a “reputable” site that knew.  The Pope was actually making sure that the Latin Mass was falling under the authority of a local bishop (as all liturgical elements should), making sure the proper books were being utilized and that those who celebrated the Latin Mass had a proper education in its celebration. He also stated that the Novus Order should utilize the proper sources and be cleaned up also. The Pope is also concerned about division within the ranks of Catholics.

We recently received a call from a newcomer to our area asking if Nativity celebrated the “real Mass”.  For this person, the novus ordo was less than and those who did not celebrate in Latin were wrong.

We only have to follow an infallible statement made correctly (ex cathedra +sensus fidelium). Misunderstandings have created division in the Church. It is alright to disagree with the Pope, but denigration in public shows disunity in the Church. We do not need to fight among ourselves. News outlets, and opinionated podcasts can be very dangerous. Check your facts before denigrating the Pope or the Church

October 8

Communion and Extraordinary Ministers

A couple of times I have been told or heard that “we only receive the Eucharist from consecrated hands.” One statement even went on to say, “that means we should just receive from the priest or deacon.”

This is in error.

Jesus gave the Church the authority to bind and unbind. The use of extraordinary ministers was instituted by the Church. So this statement is dismissive of the authority Jesus has given to the Church.

Secondly, the hands of deacons are NOT consecrated. That cannot celebrate the Mass. Only a priest’s hands are consecrated and thus a bishop also, since he doesn’t lose his priesthood by elevation to episcopal authority.

A few weeks ago, we had a population of 2200 individuals at Mass. How long would this take? And, although time should really not be considered, I still refer to the commission of Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers by the Church.

Can the priests visit all the home-bound every week to distribute the Eucharist and still manage a parish? Does the Eucharist delivered by an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister have Jesus negate Himself from the host?

Lastly, this diminishes or even ignores the reality of Christ in the Eucharist. If Christ is truly in the Eucharist, does He remove Himself from the Eucharist that an Extraordinary Minister gives? If Jesus leaves the host, then why keep the remainder of a Mass locked up in a tabernacle for protection from sacrilege or vandals? If you receive from the consecrated hands of a priest, does Jesus leave when He touches YOUR unconsecrated hands or tongue?

There is enough division in the Church. Be sure you know what you are speaking of before you correct others.

 

October 1

St. Michael Academy News

Registration is now open for Pre-K through 5th grade at St. Michael Academy. Catholic tuition for K-5 is $10,800 (with a $1650 subsidy from parish) Subsidy from Nativity requires signing of the Mass attendance book located at the welcome desk. We do not consider financial giving to Nativity; only Mass attendance.

I have read several misunderstandings about St. Michael’s and the tuition. Here is some information to help dispel or explain some of the questions.

  1. “They built the school where the wealthiest people live”. Actually, they built the school on land willed to the diocese and the cost was much, much less than any other available land.
  2. “They are more expensive than other Catholic schools”. At other elementary schools, you will pay a lower tuition. However, you will also pay a fee for books, activities, lab, etc.  The tuition of St. Michael includes all fees and books. THE TUITION INCLUDES LUNCH FOR EVERY SCHOOL DAY.
  3. Compared to other private institutions, St. Michael’s is very competitive. (Compare the price of other private non-Catholic schools.)
  4. The reality of a Catholic school today requires a living wage for teachers and administrators, insurance, 401-k, etc. Competitive salaries will attract the better teachers. This is not like it was when religious sisters taught. They received no salary (or very little). In fact, we are utilizing Dominican sisters who still require a competitive salary and benefits for their community. To keep costs down, St. Michael Academy will only have a principal and administrative assistant for administration without the assistance of a vice-principal, attendance officer, etc…
  5. Every Catholic child that wants to attend will be able to attend. It has been stated that the Church would embarrass people by seeing their finances. Simultaneously, everyone will gladly produce their finance statements to receive funding to go to college. If you want to send your children to this school, yes, a sacrifice may be made, but no one will know who is receiving assistant and who isn’t unless parents tell.
  6. The method of who will determine funding has even arisen. It will be a committee to decide what a family can afford and the school will help with what they can’t afford. (Believe it or not, people do lie about their income; even in Catholic education.) “…be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” (Mt. 10:16)
  7. “Nativity is suffering financially because of the school building.” We, as a feeder church have made a one-time pledge of $300,000.00 to be paid over 6 years. The small part of the remainder of the $60 million dollars came from diocesan funds, but mostly from corporate and private donations.
  8. As a feeder church, Nativity students will be assured of a seat over other students. There are five feeder churches: Nativity, Holy Family, St. Luke, Mother Teresa, and St. Philip.
  9. Non-Catholic students will not have the same financial arrangement. The price for a non-Catholic student is $17,000.00.
  • In addition to classroom education, there will be provided sports, music and the arts. (a TV studio, ceramic studio, dance studio, band, and chorus.)
  • “It is too far.” From the garage of the Nativity Rectory to a fishing line in the on-site lake is 21 minutes. We have students from Nativity who sacrifice the travel to Fr. Ryan (tuition is much higher) and St. Matthews.

September 24

There is one Catholic Church but different “rites” of Celebration. Why?

The Church is Catholic (Gr. catholicos = universal). Although we celebrate the same Mass universally, different countries may add different features to accommodate their cultures.

After Jesus’ ascent into Heaven, His apostles took to heart His command to “go out to all the world and spread the good news.”  St. James went to Spain. St. Thomas went to India. Different presentations of the faith in different cultures.

Therefore, we have the Coptic Catholics, members of the universal Church who celebrate with Egyptian motifs. The “St. Thomas Catholics” in India (Syro-Malabar Catholics) have cultural reflections in their Mass.

African Catholic churches may have a Black Jesus on the crucifix. Koreans have an oriental Jesus on the crucifix.

Since America was originally settled by a European society, it should be no surprise that we see a European ideal of Christ on the crucifix.

The Faith is so strong that it can adapt to different cultures and still maintain its basic structure of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

There is nothing wrong with the different rites which are accepted by Rome as the center of administration for the Church.

Just in the city of Nashville, you can see the Congolese, Myanmar (Burmese), Syro-Malabar, Korean, Portuguese (sometimes), Vietnamese and other celebrations. All reflections of the one true Church with cultural flavorings.

September 17

Dating in the 21st Century

Contrary to every movie and television show we see; the dating process should not be:

  1. Hello
  2. Dinner
  3. Sex
  4. If you had sex, you win. Move on to another conquest. Don’t get tied down! OR
  5. 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:

  1. Hello
  2. 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”.
  3. Then, run as fast as you can to Jesus and if THEY can keep up, you have a keeper.
  4. 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?

September 10

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.)

 

September 3

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. 

August 27

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