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Showing posts from September, 2007

Living the Liturgical Calendar

The best way to work family catechesis into family life is to learn to live the rhythm of the liturgical calendar. Keep an eye on the feasts days and use this tool to teach your children about the saints and celebrated Church doctrine. Tomorrow, September 29th, is the Feast of the Archangels and Tuesday, October 2nd is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. These are great opportunity to talk to your children about angels. Recite the St. Michael prayer or the Guardian Angel prayer together as a family.

In addition to marking the feast with catechetics and prayers, use the liturgical calendar to plan your menus. I just received my copy of Grace before Meals by Fr. Leo Patalinghug. This book takes the liturgical calendar and weaves a series of reflections, Scripture, and recipes for these special days. Each chapter begins with a short lesson. Then there is a Let’s Talk heading with a choice of questions to stimulate family conversation. The Let’s Listen heading offers Scripture readings to …

Learning from a negative example

This past week, the Episcopal Church bishops have been meeting in New Orleans. The Episcopal Church has been undergoing great trials over the last few years. The leadership of the Episcopal Church has headed in a direction that many dissidents in the Catholic Church would like to take our Church. Just read one of arch-dissident Joan Chittister’s latest columns.


So the question the Anglican communion is facing for us all right now is a clear one: What happens to a group, to a church, that stands poised to choose either confusion or tyranny, either anarchy or authoritarianism, either unity or uniformity? Are there really only two choices possible at such a moment? Is there nowhere in-between?

The struggle going on inside the Anglican Communion about the episcopal ordination of homosexual priests and the recognition of the homosexual lifestyle as a natural state is not peculiar to Anglicanism. The issue is in the air we breathe. The Anglicans simply got there earlier than most. And so the…

We are called to serve Christ

With all the furor over Kathy Saile’s appointment abating somewhat, I want to carefully address a topic that was raised in the midst of the debate. Over and over, people commented “Oh, she is just one of those peace and justice types”. Now I know in my gut exactly what they mean, but I have a very hard time articulating it. There is nothing wrong with being an activist for social justice. I keep a list of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy taped to the inside of one of my kitchen cupboards to remind me several times a day how I am supposed to serve others. Then why do so many “peace and justice” ministries set my teeth on edge?

I think my discomfort begins when “peace and justice” ministries become focused on serving man and forget about serving God. They stand with their accusing fingers pointed at government agencies and shout, “You need to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless!” They sneer at those who spend time before the Blessed Sacrament or pray a Rosa…

A Patron for Family Catechesis

St. John Chrysostom just may be the patron of family catechesis. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of St. John in yesterday’s General Audience.

Chrysostom constantly strove to connect Christian doctrine to daily living, emphasizing life-long human development in a person’s physical, intellectual and religious dimensions. Fundamental to this is the first phase when parents must firmly impress God’s law upon their children’s souls. Young people will thus be strengthened to confront the “storms” of adolescence when they must learn to temper concupiscence and eventually to assume the duties of marriage. Indeed, Saint John taught that the family is a “little Church” within the wider ecclesial community. Consequently, each of us has a responsibility for the salvation of those around us. Through the intercession of this saintly Bishop, may we generously embrace this and all our responsibilities in the Church and in society.

Please note the emphasis on “life-long development in a person’s physical, intel…

The Response

In response to my query about the pro-life credentials of Kathy Saile, the new Director of Domestic Policy for the USCCB, Kimberly Baker of the USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat referred me to this news story.


Saile, 42, said her work in Washington has brought her into contact with an "interesting, diverse coalition" whose members did not always agree on every issue. One of those contacts was Women's Information Network, or WIN, a group that promotes the involvement in politics of Democratic women who believe a woman has a right to choose abortion.

"It's not always easy being a pro-life woman in D.C.," she said. "But one of the things I challenged them on was the Democrats' litmus test on abortion. ... I think the Democrats are hurting themselves by having this litmus test for candidates."

One Catholic media outlet reported after Saile's appointment was announced that she "was a 2006 dinner-party speaker" for WIN, "a group dedicated t…

A Match Made in Heaven?

I haven’t joined this forum yet, but the idea is intriguing.

Mom as matchmaker? It sounds archaic to modern ears, but the method is tried and true. In fact, in this age of divorce, the concept of moms (or dads) playing matchmaker for their children is making a comeback. After all, who knows a child better?

If your child is a practicing Catholic, faithful to the Magisterium (no Cafeteria Catholics, please!), and if he or she feels called to the vocation of marriage, come on in and chat with other like-minded parents. Geography should not be a barrier to building strong Catholic families.

Let's get to know each other, let's help our children find true and lasting joy through holy marriage, and let's help build up God's Kingdom!

I know that when my college sons visit my mother and attend Mass with her, other grandmothers often drop hints about their Catholic granddaughters who are available. And if I am truly honest, I admit I have my eye on some of the young ladies and …

Invite Them and They Will Come

I probably won’t report on every week of seventh-grade CCD, but I think last night’s class was significant. I invited the parents to stay for class with their students. I sent home a written invitation last week. I called the parents during the week to get their email addresses and remind them of the joint session. I followed this up with an email. Of my seventeen students, thirteen had a parent come to class. That level of participation on a Monday night when the Redskins are playing Philadelphia on television is remarkable.

We used this class time to talk about the family as the “Domestic Church”. I used Cardinal Arinze’s presentation on the Five Pillars of a Catholic Family as the cornerstone of our discussion. I encouraged parents and students to think about and write down how their family was doing in each of the five “pillars”:

1. Keeping the family oriented towards Heaven
2. Family prayer
3. Making the Eucharist the center of the family spiritual life
4. Using the famil…

Outsourcing Religious Education

I wrote the following essay for the web site CatholicDaily.org. Unfortunately, this is no longer an active site so I am posting the essay here to keep it accessible.

Our culture has grown more and more accustomed to outsourcing household tasks that were once typically done by family members. We now hire others to do the cooking, house cleaning, laundry, yard work, and routine auto maintenance. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. Consider it the perks of prosperity. However, this outsourcing mentality has extended into parenting. In addition, to basic childcare, parents are paying others to teach their children everything from math to manners.

Once upon a time, children learned to say “Please” and “Thank You” and to keep their elbows off the table at the family dinner table. Now this education is expected to take place in the pre-school, elementary school, or the local cotillion class. Parents send Junior off to Miss Emily’s School of Etiquette and consider their obligation …

Champions of Faith

I’ve written about teaching seventh grade religious education this year. My own son is in eighth grade and will be confirmed in November. The parish eighth grade religious education class has been pretty unfocused in recent years. The bulk of confirmation preparation is done in seventh grade. Soon into the eighth grade year the students are confirmed. A large number of them drop out of the religious education program and the classes seem to flounder. A group of us who have been doing faith formation as part of our family lives for years and years wanted more for our sons. We decided to form a home school group for our boys. We want to focus the boys on where they take their faith and where their faith takes them after confirmation. With confirmation they complete their initiation into the Church. What do they do next?

To help answer this we are working on enrichment activities that point to how we take our faith into the world. Last night we gathered at my house and watched the movie

Was There No One Else?

I have never met Kathy Saile. Actually, I never heard her name until it was announced yesterday that she is the new Director of Domestic Policy for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Msgr. David Malloy, USCCB General Secretary, announced her appointment with these words:

“Kathy Saile brings to this important position strong commitment to the Catholic Church and its social teaching, impressive knowledge of key domestic issues and extensive policy and advocacy experience. Her service in diocesan social ministry and here in the nation’s capital will be great assets in helping the bishops articulate and advance the Church’s principles and policies seeking economic and social justice in our nation.”

These seem like perfect qualifications for someone to help the Bishops formulate their positions on domestic policy issues. In fact, I would like to substitute the word "unequivocal" for "strong" in the description of the director’s commitment to the Catholic C…

Pope Benedict XVI on St. Gregory of Nyssa

I am a week late reading this, but as always, I am just blown away by Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching. He has been dedicating his Wednesday audiences to the study of key figures in the early Church. On September 5, he concluded his discussion of St. Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth-century bishop and scholar..

First of all, Gregory of Nyssa had a very lofty concept of human dignity. Man's goal, the holy Bishop said, is to liken himself to God, and he reaches this goal first of all through the love, knowledge and practice of the virtues, "bright beams that shine from the divine nature" (De Beatitudinibus 6: PG 44, 1272c), in a perpetual movement of adherence to the good like a corridor outstretched before oneself. In this regard, Gregory uses an effective image already present in Paul's Letter to the Philippians: épekteinómenos (3: 13), that is, "I press on" towards what is greater, towards truth and love. This vivid expression portrays a profound reality: the perfect…

The Angelus

One of the things I love about the Catholic Church is its bountiful repository of prayers and devotions. Of course, I can pray in my own words and often do so. But there is also something very profound about uttering words that have been prayed for hundreds of years. I feel much more connected to the saints in Heaven knowing my prayers echo the ones they said when they walked the earth.

Recently, I have come to appreciate the Angelus. I can’t say that I am faithful in reciting it in the traditional thrice-daily fashion. My day is not so structured that I can reliably recite it at 6am, noon and 6pm. But I keep an Angelus holy card out to remind me to say it when I can.

The Angelus offers the opportunity to meditate on two important tenets of our faith: The Incarnation and Mary’s Fiat. God loves us so much that he was willing to take on our human nature in order to redeem us from our sins. He dwelt among us.

Mary fully cooperated with God in His plan for salvation. She unconditionally re…

More Proof that Legality Does Not Guarantee Morality

I realize this is a French company, but can such an innovation in the United States be far behind?

Looking to get away for a weekend fling without getting caught? A new French company provides would-be adulterers with custom-made excuses that help take the danger of discovery out of cheating.

Founded six months ago by former private eye Regine Mourizard, Web-based Ibila can cook up invites to phony weekend seminars, fake emergency phone calls from work, invitations to nonexistent weddings — anything to justify cheating spouses' absence.

Mourizard said her service is aimed at protecting couples and families by allowing adulterers to live their flings undetected.

"If the alibi is well done and the spouse doesn't suspect anything, this can sometimes save marriages," Mourizard told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

School Supplies

Required supplies for the current college student include more than I thought. Textbooks, computers, and steady supply of coffee seem pretty reasonable to me. But birth control pills?!!!

The price of prescription contraception, including pills, patches, and other devices, sold by schools has jumped, with a package of birth control pills going from about $7 to between $30 and $50, according to local college health officials. The increase was the result of a change in the 2005 Medicaid rebate law that eliminated the large discounts drug companies had offered to college health clinics.

Although the law has been in place since January, students are feeling the effects now because schools' stockpiles of the discounted prescriptions are running out.

The price increase has left Massachusetts college campuses scrambling to accommodate students' needs.

Needs? Am I reading that correctly? Cheap prescription contraception is a student need? Sexual activity outside of marriage has physical,…

A "Heretic" and Other Challenges of Religious Education

The first night of seventh grade religious education went pretty well, considering I am facing a room full of kids who are trying their best to prove they have graduated from elementary school enthusiasm to teenage sullenness. I definitely need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to get through these classes. I thought I would share a couple of things that seemed to work last night.

One of the concepts introduced last night is the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church. I explained Christ gave this authority to the Church so His teachings would be protected from generation to generation. To illustrate this, we played the “telephone game”. I gave one student the phrase, “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal”. She whispered it into the ear of a classmate. This classmate whispered it to the next student. This continued until the message had been given to each student. About half way through it was clear there was a problem and by the time the last few people received the…

The Story

This past week we had our orientation meeting for catechists. I have to admit I sometimes cringe at having to attend these meetings. I had more than my share of bureaucracy during my working days, so I approach anything that hints of an administrative meeting with a bit of trepidation. I was pleasantly surprised. Only a small portion of our meeting dealt with administrative details. Our new catechetical leadership wants to feed our souls so that we are ready to feed the souls of the students in our classes. The highlight was the presentation of The Story by our new assistant Director of Religious Education. In a matter of fifteen minutes or so, he took us from the mystery of the Trinitarian God, through creation of the angels, the rebellion of Satan, the creation of Man, the Fall, the promise of Redemption, the revelation through the Old Testament Prophets, the “fiat” of Mary, the Incarnation, the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, the founding of the Church and the continuin…

Religious Education Year begins on Monday

Religious education classes start this coming Monday evening and I am once again teaching seventh grade. My real passion is teaching the parents but the religious education program is geared for teaching the kids. So, that is what I am doing. Last year I hoped for an indirect trickle up effect. I tried to motivate the children to share their lessons with their parents. This year I am going for a more direct approach. I am going to have three or four class sessions where the parents are invited to join in and learn alongside their children.

The first of these will be during our second class session. At that time I want to introduce the concept of the domestic church. Each of us as individuals has a role to play in Salvation History. However, each of our families also has a distinct calling to evangelize as a family unit. I am going to play the Cardinal Arinze webcast, Five Pillars on Which a Family Stands, and then allow parents and children to discuss how they can strengthen these pill…

Casual to the Point of Disrespect

One of my favorite bloggers is Christopher Johnson at the Midwest Conservative Journal. Christopher is a conservative Episcopalian who is trying to keep a sense of humor and keep his faith as the Episcopal Church takes one step after another towards a meltdown. His writing is a steady reminder why we need to keep ourselves anchored to the Truth and the Magisterium and not allow ourselves to be led astray by the “Spirit of Vatican II” folks. Interestingly, a sizeable number of liberal Episcopalians are former Catholics, including their current presiding bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori.

Today Christopher writes about dignity and respect. He wonders when it became the fashion to address bishops by their first names.

I guess this idea began around the last time the Episcopal Church, with its "who the hell says 'vouchsafe' anymore" attitude toward liturgical reform, revised the prayer book. Ain't no miserable offenders around here, the changes said. Ain't nobod…

Mulieris Dignitatem

August 15, 2008, is the twentieth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity of Women). Anyone who has ever claimed the Church does not hold women in high regard has never read this letter. Here is the opening paragraph:

THE DIGNITY AND THE VOCATION OF WOMEN - a subject of constant human and Christian reflection - have gained exceptional prominence in recent years. This can be seen, for example, in the statements of the Church's Magisterium present in various documents of the Second Vatican Council, which declares in its Closing Message: "The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at his moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling".

Pope John Pau…

Still So Much To Learn!!!

I saw this post at Postscripts from the Catholic Spitfire Grill and just have to share it with you.

Frankly Catholics need Sunday School more than Protestants. We have 2,000 years of incredible scholarship to learn about not to mention that book "we" put together and agreed on in 397 at the Council of Carthage. As Catholics we have the fullness of the Christian faith....that means we have MORE to know. It's time we started acting like it.

Then of course I see Rich Leonardi is picking up the adult faith formation ball and running with it.

Rich Leonardi is interested in forming a group to study the recently-released United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. This catechism is “written specifically for the ongoing catechetical formation of adults, to help Catholic adults in America continue to grow in faith in the person of Jesus Christ -- as God’s revealing love for the world -- and to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Teacher of us all.”

Rich also offers this challe…