Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Ordination of Women

One of the questions my wife asked me when the discussion of me becoming a deacon came about was if a deacon could preside and funerals, witness marriages and baptize why couldn't nuns. I admit--I kind of blew her off because I didn't want to start a debate. So yesterday, she posed this question on her Facebook wall, "Why is it that an institution that sets itself out as the guardian of social justice not allow women to serve in all capacities?" Her questions basically boil down to why doesn't the catholic church ordain women?

I'm afraid my words aren't going to do me justice here but it basically comes down to the fact of the matter that priests are more than just ministers. The priest sits in persona Christi-or in the person of Christ. That is why the priest is able to transform the bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. This is why the priest is able to hear our confession and to absolve us of our sins. He signifies Christ present in front of us so it is only fitting, since Jesus was a man, that man be the symbol of the Bridegroom and a woman is not.

You have to remember that Jesus, himself, picked twelve men to be his apostles. Our bishops today can trace their lineage back to the twelve apostles. For whatever reason, Jesus chose twelve men and the Catholic Church has chosen to follow Christ's example. Some might say that Jesus was only following the social norms of the time. If you think about it though--that argument does not hold water. Jesus did anything but follow social norms. He ate with the tax collector, sat with the Samartian woman, allowed his apostles to do work on the Sabbath and forgave the woman for committing adultery. He had women as his followers--women who stuck with him through it all. He did not pick any women to be his apostles though.

While it is a difficult teaching, you have to remember that the the church does allow women to be in other types of ministerial roles. In fact, the same roles that many protestant churches allows women to minister in the Catholic Church does too. But those protestant churches also don't have anyone perform the rolls that priests perform such as the consecration or absolution. The Catholic Church does not demean woman at all. She has many many female saints. Many of the doctor's of the church are female. The Catholic Church, in fact, places Mary, a female, in very high regard. Catholics are even accused of worshipping Mary (which of course we don't.)

It is also very possible for the Church to practice social justice and still not allow women to be priests. You see, as Michael Tortalani explains in his article titled, "Why No Woman's Ordination" in This Rock magazine, "Justice and equality are not identical. Justice is "giving a person his due" and can be taken either negatively (punishment) or positively (reward). While all persons must be treated "justly," they need not be treated "equally"-if for no other reason than because each has different potential and capabilities. " Mr. Tortalani explains that a student will get a grade that he deserves (justice) but not the same grade as a classmate (equality) Men and women are different and the sacraments aren't a right--they are a gift. Sometimes we have to accept the role that God gives us and not demand it from him.

Finally, one of the easiest ways that I began to understand why women cannot be ordained is this. The sacraments require certain things to make them valid. Baptism requires water and the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." If you don't use water or those words then the baptism is not valid. The Eucharist requires unleavened bread and grape wine. If you use Cheese-it's and Welch's then it's not valid. Marriage requires a man and a woman otherwise it's not a valid marriage. Likewise, one of the requirements for Holy Orders is a male.

Male ordination is a hard teaching to understand. The Catholic Church has many difficult teachings but at some point you need to pray for understanding.

A Step Towards the Diaconate

My wife, Abby, and I attended an information/orientation meeting last night on the diaconate. I had already made the decision but this was the first step in making an application to the diaconate. I'm sure you are asking "what in the heck is the diaconate" and "why do you want to be a deacon?"
To put it simply, a deacon is a man who is called to a ministry of service. He serves the community in which he lives in some ministry or another. He may serve the poor or the elderly. A deacon may work in a prison ministering to those who are incarcerated or he may help migrant workers. He has some liturgical roles the primary being proclaiming the gospel at mass. He may give homilies and can witness marriages, officiate at funerals or baptize. But a deacon's primary focus is service. Deacons, who are ordained, can be married (obviously) and normally have regular jobs. There obviously is more to it than that but that is the diaconate in a nutshell.
Why do I be a deacon? I don't know. To be honest, I don't know that I do. Sometimes I have no doubt and other times the idea scares the poop out of me! But the application process in the first of many. The whole process, which takes 4 1/2 years, is a discernment process. One thing that is very reassuring is that the family is involved the whole way. As it was described, you are a man who has two vocations--the married life and the ordained life--but the married life is still your primary vocation. The person who has the ultimate say who is ordained isn't the bishop but it is the spouse.
So, I'm beginning the application process. If I'm accepted, I begin an aspirancy stage which lasts a year. Then there is a 3 1/2 year candidacy stage where the candidates meet once a month at Conception Abby taking college level classes to learn more about their faith.
That's it in a nutshell. I ask all of you for your prayers and that if this is God's will that I follow it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

St. Michael, the Archangel

I don't have any tattoos. I don't have any desire to get a tattoo. But if I were to get one, I would have to get two. On my left upper arm, I would get a tattoo of a guardian angel. On my right upper arm, I would get a tattoo of St. Michael. St. Michael is the archangel, whose feast day we celebrate today along with the other archangels--Gabriel and Raphael. St. Michael, who is the patrol saint of all police officers, is my patron saint.

Why is St. Michael the patron saint of police officers? Simply put-because he fought Satan, who was first among all of God's creation before turning against God, and kicked him out of Heaven. In the Book of Revelation it says, "And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven." That is essence is what we, as police officers do every day. We go out and fight sin. Think about it. All crime is some form of sin--murder, rape, robbery, assaults, larcenies---they are all forms of sin. Narcotics or drinking may not be a direct sin but believe me--they lead to sin. Every day when police officers put on their badge and gun belt they are warriors in the battle against the Devil. We may not be the best warriors because we are sinners too but that is the Satan fights against us. Sometimes we fall. Nearly every day a police officer is killed in the line of duty. All too often, (although not as often as the news would have you believe) an officer falls to temptation and is found being the criminal. And sadly, sometimes everything that an officer goes through is seemingly too much for him and he takes his own life.
Today is a day to remember St. Michael and to ask him to defend us in battle against Satan. The common prayer to St. Micheal that used to be said after mass (and still can-all you have to do is stay over) is as follows:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him,
we humbly pray:and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Margaret with this prayer to St. Michael for police officers. Thank you, Margaret.

St. Michael, Heaven's glorious Commissioner of Police, who once so neatly and successfully cleared God's premises of all its undesirables, look kindly and professional eyes on your earthly force. Give us cool heads, stout hearts, hard punches, an uncanny flair for investigation and wise judgment Make us the terror of burglars, the friend of children and law-abiding citizens, kind to strangers, polite to bores, strict with law-breakers and impervious to temptations. You know, St. Michael, from your own experiences with the devil that the policeman's lot on earth is not always a happy one, but your sense of duty that so pleased the Lord, your hard knocks that so surprised the devil, and your angelic self-control gives us inspiration. And when we lay down our night sticks, enrol us in your Heavenly Force, where we will be proud to guard the throne of God as we have been to guard the city of men. Amen

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunny Days are Here Again

I am the leader of my son's Cub Scout Pack. Cub Scouts is a group for boys in first through fifth grades where they basically learn to be young men. They learn all type of things from citizenship to physical agility and from conservation to woodworking. Our "pack" has about 40 boys in it.

Last April we went on a family camp out. Looking at the forecast we were either going to have bad thunderstorms or the thunderstorms would totally miss us. Instead of canceling, we went out and just kept an eye on the weather. The forecase scared a lot of families away though and we didn't get much of a turnout. I think we started out with seven boys showing up. We got some rain for about an hour and the boys started dropping like flies. To make matter's worse, because of the rain we couldn't do any of our activities. I think by the next morning, there were two boys left--mine and one other.

I was really frustrated. The camp out was a total bust. Poor attendance and bad weather along with little sleep made for a really grumpy Cubmaster. The one silver lining was that Max said he had a good time.
This weekend we had our fall family camp out. Things were starting to look bad. The pack camping coordinator quit his position just weeks before the camp out and I was having difficulty finding someone to take his spot. We didn't even have reservations at the camp site!
But the weekend finally came and we had gorgeous weather. I found someone to help me move equipment to the camp site and to cook. We got things set up and people started showing up right on time. Several hours later and we were still had families showing up. We had supper followed by a nature hike with a campfire filled with songs and skits to complete the night. It got a little cool but the nice weather stayed and I slept wonderfully nestled up in my sleeping bag.

Sunday morning I was in a great mood! We had a great turnout. Beautiful weather and most importantly--all the boys had fun.

In comparing the two camp outs, I'm reminded that just as nature needs rain and inclimate weather we can grow from rainy days too. Some days God gives us rainy days. it might be a light shower or it might be a horrible thunderstorm but never anything worse than what we can handle. But he will always give us sunny days too---days when everything is wonderful and nothing in the world can take you down.
I'm sure that some may think I have lost it. I realize that there are people out there who can't seem to catch a break and are always down on their luck. Well, if you can excuse the horrible pun--the trick is that when the skies are dark and forbidding to look for the Son. The Son will always be there ready to lead us away from the thunder and lightning of everyday life. As long as you have faith and follow God's will things will be okay.

Don't get depressed. Don't have doubt. It's what Satan wants you to do. Keep your eyes towards the Heavens. Keep looking for the Son. He is there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Living for the Here-And-Now: A Reflection on the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Living for the moment without a care in the world or a worry about what will come. That seems to be the basis for many of my problems at work. The district I work has in it the Westport Entertainment district. In four square blocks there are ten bars (that I can think of) and Lord knows how many bars there are in my sector outside of that four square blocks. To say that I see people living for the moment is an understatement. I see people who are drunk. I see people who are high. I see women dressed in ways that leave NOTHING to the imagination. Every single night, officer's are sent to check on the need for an ambulance where somebody has passed out drunk. Do you know what the test to determine if they need to go to the hospital? If they don't know what year it is. "Excuse me, sir--do you know what year it is?" "errrr---November?" (A secret admission---a person with my sense of humor tends to have fun mocking these people. How I haven't gotten in trouble yet I don't know. Should I take that to the confessional?)

Now, there is obviously nothing wrong with going out and having a good time. Heck, I'm Irish and it's said that an Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto a single blade of grass and not fall off the face of the Earth! But the fact of the matter is, living as if there is no tomorrow can sometimes ensure that there isn't--if you are lucky. I've worked my fair share of fatality accidents where the driver was drunk. I've worked rapes and robberies where the people (victims and suspects) were merely living for the moment. Sadly, I even worked a homicide where the suspects tried robbing a girl for gas money. She tried to drive off and they took a pot-shot at her. So many families were ruined that night because these guys were living for the moment.

We aren't just guilty of living for the moment when we spend a night out at Westport though. We are guilty of it when we spend all of our time working to save for that boat, or nice clothes. We do it when we speak ill of other people in order to make us feel better about ourselves. We do it when we decide to sleep in or go to a football game instead of mass.
It is necessary for us to stop and realize that our actions in this world can have an impact on our souls and on our destiny in the next. St. James points out in our second reading this weekend that "Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded,and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire." What a point that is. All of our worldly treasures will rot away and be gone when we day. The old saying is "You can't take it with you." So what have you done today to ensure your eternal reward?

Jesus takes it a step further in our gospel reading from the ninth chapter of Mark when He says, "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'" Jesus is warning us. Don't screw up!! Don't do something that will mean eternity in Hell. That girl may be hot and you might have a good time with her but it's better to miss out on that night of debauchery and spend eternity in God's glory.

Isn't it ironic that preaching about fire and brimstone is frowned on today? Isn't it ironic that some say there there is no Hell? Jesus is preaching fire and brimstone and preaching about Hell right here. We don't want to hear that though. We would rather live in the here and now.

The fortunate thing is--even if we HAVE lived in the here-and-now before and not planned for the future--it is never too late. Heck--even if you HAVE planned for your eternal future and then had a night where you lived a night or two in the here-and-now (you know who you are!)--it okay. God forgives you. God loves you so much that he wants you to spend eternity with him--it is what you were made for. Another bit of good news--he doesn't really expect you to cut off your hand. Although your wife may cut off something else off if she finds out so you better stop and get your butt to church!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Mocking of Vatican II

I have been known to be sarcastic before. I know that may be difficult to believe. Sometimes I even let some of my sarcasm out in my blogs. Again, I know that may be difficult to believe. Sometimes, I make sarcastic comments about Vatican II. So this is going to be my disclaimer blog about Vatican II. Anytime I make a comment about Vatican II, I am going to link back to this page.

Vatican II opened in 1962 under the leadership of Pope John XXIII and closed in 1965 under the leadership of Pope Paul VI. Some people think that Vatican II brought great changes to the church. They thought it would bring about women's ordination, a stronger laity, birth control and a new enlightenment along with mass said in the common vernacular (the common language of the region). Some people think that Vatican II brought about horrible changes to the church and basically destroyed it. They think it brought in communion in the hand as opposed to the tongue, got rid of alter rails, brought in girl alter servers and the laity being used as Eucharistic Ministers in the ordinary from (like that little tongue in cheek comments ;-) ) as well as got rid of the mass in Latin.

What Vatican II really seems to have brought about is crappy church architecture complete with really crappy catholic art and nuns who have gotten rid of their habits and the cloister in exchange for polyester clothes and living in the world.

Many many changes WERE brought about after Vatican II. Many many of those changes weren't because of what was said at Vatican II but from what people thought were said or some just took it as an opportunity to make the changes that they wanted.
The truth though really seems to be, as always, someplace in the middle. I always try to remember two things when it comes to Vatican II. The first was a quote from an instructor at the Bishop Helsming Institute, Jeremy Sienkiewicz, who in a class on Vatican II always repeated, "Read the stinking documents!" There were some great documents that came out of Vatican II. Documents that are great resources to go to. None of them called for the great changes that were made or that people wanted to be made.

The second is a quote from an unknown source. It's said that the catholic church thinks in terms of not months, not years, not even decades but in centuries. The Catholic Church is 2000 years old and a good sign that she wasn't calling for all of the radical changes that came about after Vatican II is that they did happen so very quickly. It can be painfully slow especially in today's world but we are starting to see things swing back the other way. There are more Latin masses available. Adoration is making a resurgence. People are pushing confession again. The religious orders that threw away the habits are floundering while vocations in diocese that preach good solid catholic doctrine are flourishing. Great changes in doctrine never came about (truth IS truth) such as allowing birth control or women ordination.

The fact of the matter are great changes occurred in the church after Vatican II. Not all of them bad and not all of them were in fact encouraged by Vatican II. The proverbial boat will right itself. So when I mock Vatican II, I am mocking what came about after Vatican II and not what actually was taught from Vatican II.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From the

I don't know who it is. It may be my grandma. I have a suspicion that it's my grandpa. But I have a saint in heaven praying for me. Not just for me but for my mom and sister. Nothing else really explains the graces we have received in the last decade. We were all raised catholic but we developed a pattern. We would go to mass for a few weeks and then stop for a few months. The cycle continued over the years. Heck, I didn't receive first communion until I was in 8th grade and wasn't confirmed until I was nearly 30.
Things have definitely changed over the last ten years. None of us are daily communicants or anything like that but my sister, Maggie, graduated from Benedictine College last May with a degree in Theology and a minor in Youth Ministry (anyone in the Kansas City need a great youth minister). My mom is now on the Alter Society and Parish Council. If Fr. Reginald leaves town he asks her to look after the rectory while he's gone. Definitely not what ANYONE would have pictured twenty years ago.
Maggie has taken a lead and started her own blog at I encourage you all to take a look, give her encouragement and of course, pray for us---we need more than one saint's prayers!

Excuse Me, Brother--Have You Been Saved?

My wife had a friend of hers start a thread on his Facebook page. Evidently, someone had approached him on YouTube and asked him if he knew where he was going to spend eternity . . . heaven or hell. It sounded like there was an exchange between these two people but I do not know what it exactly was. Judging by her friend’s original statement he was a little miffed that someone was trying to “save” him. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was because of this guy’s delivery. The responses to his original post were for the most part atheistic or at the very least agnostic.

The thing that I found interesting was the expressions of disgust or even almost anger in some of the replies that someone would have the audacity to try to “save” this person. Now, I’m coming from a Catholic perspective. Catholics, for the most part, aren’t the type to wear their faith on their shirt sleeve. We certainly aren’t really the type to go out and start a conversation about religion and to try to convert someone, especially after Vatican II. By golly, that just wouldn’t be ecumenical!! Many Catholics, if asked, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior” would probably give you a quizzical look andanswer you with a “yeeeeaahhhhhh---sure??”
Here is the thing though—these people who are trying to evangelize do not have anything to gain by whether or not someone converts to Christianity or not. They don’t get first-class accommodations in Heaven if they win 25 converts or more. They don’t get a room with a view if they convert a big name celebrity. They are doing it because they are showing concern for you. They believe that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ (which IS true) and that if you reject Jesus you are going to Hell. (The topic about those who have never heard of Jesus, or Jews or whatever is a total other topic) Bottom line is that these evangelists are trying to introduce you to Jesus because they want to help ensure you going to Heaven.

Think of it this way. Pretend I am a stock broker or someone else who knew lots about money. Now, I see you putting your money into some junk stock that is going to ruin you forever. It will put you in such financial ruin that you will never be able to get out of it. I would be a horrible person if I did not steer you into the right direction wouldn’t I? Don’t I have some sort of responsibility to direct you to the stocks that will lead to your life-long wealth? Would you be angry at me if I tried to help you live your life in financial security? They when would you be angry at someone who is trying to ensure that you have eternal riches?

Here is a little secret for all you who budding evangelists, though. Stop sounding like a used car salesman! You really have to reach people where they are and sometimes people are turned off automatically by the same old lines. Sometimes the best way to evangilzie is to let people see Jesus in you. I know for a fact that if I asked someone at work if they have found Jesus they would reply with "No, I didn't even realize he was missing!" I know that would be MY response. Take a lesson from St. Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary—use words.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Father-Son Weekend

Saturday afternoon, I had a great day with my nine year old son, Max. We went to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum followed by the Liberty Memorial/World War I Museum. I know that that may not sound exciting for your regular nine-year old boy but Max actually wanted to go. We had gone to the art museum the week before and he wanted to return and he really wanted to go to the top of the Liberty Memorial. The WWI Museum was for me. It was truly a great father-son day.

Sunday morning, we woke up and went to mass for Scout Sunday. Our Cub Scout Pack and corresponding Boy Scout Troop attend the early mass together one Sunday every month. Afterwords we were going to go to the local cafe for breakfast. I wanted to stop at home and change (I didn't feel like going to the diner in my Cub Scout uniform) and pick up my wife before we went. My six year old daughter also wanted to go and there was just no way that I could make her stay at home (my 14 year old daughter was home too) Max got upset and went inside. I found him inside his bedroom crying--upset because he didn't want Molly to come along. I asked him to come but gave him the option of staying at home and he chose to stay at home.

While we were eating, my oldest daughter, Emma called and said that Max had been throwing a total temper tantrum because we had left him at home. I felt bad but at the same time I was upset. He had made his choice and besides--didn't he remember everything that we did just the day before?? Just him and I?? What a short memory he has.

Then it clicked---don't we do that with God? Don't we forget all of the blessings and gifts that he has given us the moment that we don't get what we want? Don't we get angry at God the moment things go bad and wail, "why me??" We pull the mask over our face and forget that everything we do have is a gift from him. Every heartbeat--every breath is a gift from him and yet we have the nerve to be upset at Him when things don't go our way?? Do we seriously get upset at God when we only got 38 presents while our neighbor received 39? Are we showing maturity by throwing temper tantrums.

I learned something else that morning. If I could backtrack--that morning when I woke Max up it was early. Mass started at 730 and we had to be there by 7:10. So to get Max up and going I had promised him that we would go to breakfast--just the two of us. Of course, two hours later I had a change of heart when I realized that I had not been spending time with Molly and invited her. Max was angry because he didn't want Molly to come (they have a sibling rivalry) but he was more upset because I had broken my promise to him. God doesn't break his promises. He has never promised us a rose garden but he has promised us that if we believe and follow Jesus we will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

I would like to point out that God is omnipresent and doesn't have to cause conflict by having a brother and sister together at breakfast. Lucky dog!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Confession Poll Results

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog asking people when the last time they went to confession along with a poll. Something amazing happened--my survey was picked up on a website called New Advent. I was blessed and got something like 900 hits that first day and hundreds for the following few days. It was exactly what any blogger craves---people looking at his blog.
Unfortunately, it also skewed my results. The people who would go to New Advent are more than likely to be your hard core catholics. New Advent is sort of like The Drudge Report for catholic blogs and news sites. They have a constant listing of intriguing catholic sites updated several times a day. If you want to know what's going on in the catholic world or to read some great catholic sites--this is the place!! So the results weren't exactly what I pictured. The results are good for confession but probably not the most accurate.
So without further ado---here is the result of the quiz:
Out of 351 votes cast
  1. Less than two weeks: 125 or 35%
  2. 2 weeks to a month: 93 or 26%
  3. 1 to 3 months: 56 or 15%
  4. 3 to 6 months: 33 or 9%
  5. 6 months to 1 year: 14 or 3%
  6. More than 1 year: 28 or 7%
  7. Not since my first reconciliation: 3 or 0%
  8. Not Catholic: 5 or 1%

In a week or so, I may repost the survey to see what types of results I get so stay tuned!

Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice: A Guide for Spirtual Survival--A Book Review

Have you ever sat down with a book on spirituality or religion and thought, "Boy, I'd like to enhance my faith. I should read this and hopefully I can learn something and grow closer to God." So you find a book that sounds interesting and about a chapter in you wonder, "What in the HECK are they talking about?" I just read a book that has the opposite effect. After each chapter you will sit there and think, "CRAP! I just learned something and I didn't even realize it!"

Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice: A Guide for Spiritual Survival by Fr. Joseph Classen is a very basic book covering virtues and vices. Fr. Classen describes the book as covering three concepts, "'tracking God,' the 'seven deadly sins' and their remedy virtues, and finally, 'spiritual survival.'"

The author is an avid hunter and his book looks at the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, jealousy, anger, gluttony, lust and sloth through the eyes of an outdoorsman. It is definitely a man's book. Each chapter starts off with a story of Fr. Claussen someplace in God's creation telling a story of fishing or hunting. The stories range from fishing in Alaska, to elk hunting in Idaho to deer hunting back home in Missouri. Like an expert fisherman, Fr. Classen lures you and hooks you in and twists the story into a discussion of vice and the opposing virtue and before you realize it you think, "CRAP! He did it again---I learned something!"

If you are looking for some deep theological discussion with quotes from the church fathers then this book probably isn't for you. But, if you ARE looking to enhance your faith and growing closer to God but you are afraid of getting bogged down then this book is for you.

This review was written as part of the Catholic Book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ima Let You Finish But: A Reflection on the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Would someone get a note to my wife and tell her to keep a careful eye on me this week-end at mass. I'm afraid that during Fr. Matthew's homily, I may pull a Kanye West and rush up front, take the microphone from him, tell him, "Ima let you finish but . . ." and then go into a schpeel not about how great Beyonce is but about a line from this week-end's gospel reading.
Jesus tells his disciples "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me." (Mark 9:37) This line speaks to me because of personal experience. This week-end is my parish's first confirmation class of the year. I've taught confirmation and been in high school youth ministry for about nine years now and I have to tell you something--our children do not know their faith. I think we have failed our children. We haven't received them in Jesus' name and passed our faith onto them.

I'll take it a step further. I'll say there are at least two generations of catholics who are ignorant about their faith if not more. I don't mean they aren't able to hold theological discussions with someone or that they can't sling bible verses around. I mean they don't know basic foundational items. They don't know basic bible stories. They don't know about the sacraments.

While I am by no means an expert, I have an amateur's theory and would like to hear your ideas. Take this with a grain of salt cause I'm going to throw out some generalizations and stereotypes. Prior to Vatican II, which occurred in the 1960's, a lot of catholics learned by rote memorization and a mentality of going through the motions because things like going to mass or confession were obligations. After Vatican II, things went completely they other way and a mentality of "Buddy Jesus" came into play. The mentality of "rules are too strict" or "the church is too legalistic" seemed to rule the day. Instead of kids learning facts from the Baltimore Catechism they did arts and crafts. Instead of praying the rosary they painted it.

Now, I don't believe that mere rote memorization is the way to go either. I think it neglects the spiritual side. Knowledge without a relationship is just as bad as a relationship without knowledge. There are so many wonderful spiritual saints that we can learn from such as St John of the Cross or St. Theresa of Avila. We must strive for both--a basic knowledge of God as well as a relationship with him.

What do I think needs to be done? Honestly--I don't know how to do it but we have probably about a 40 year span of people that need to be educated. First, the adults need to be a good solid education of catholic doctrine (not Nancy Pelosi Catholicism) because they are the ones who are supposed to be the primary educators of their children. We have to someone ensure that our young adults--those 25-45 are knowledgeable about their faith so that they can educate our youth.

From there, we have to make sure each group from there down is also well grounded in catholic doctrine. Those young adults 18-25 need to be educated. Our high schooler's need to be educated. Our middle school kids and our elementary kids need to know their faith.

Let's take care of our kids. Let's make sure we lead them to Jesus. We can't leave that responsibility to the PSR teachers (Parish School of Religion) or to our catechists. It is our responsibility as parents to educate our children. I'm going to sit back down now.
What are your thoughts? Opinions?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Love is All You Need

Okay, I'm sure I'm not the first person who has brought up The Beatles song, "All You Need is Love" while talking about the third theological virtue. But while preparing to write this that song just replaying itself in my head and really struck a cord. I've tried to embed the video but I'm having diffulty so you can just go here if you want to see it.

Charity, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is "the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God." (1822 CCC) Loving God above all others and loving our neighbors as ourselves. What an amazing world this world would be if we did let love rule the world. I know it's very idealistic but it really is what we are called to do.

The catechism just drips with scripture in the section talking about charity. I surely can't say anything that the catechism doesn't and I surely can't say anything more eloquent that what scripture says so let me just pull some of the quotes from scripture.

"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love . . . This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15: 9, 12) CRAP!!! We are supposed to love one another and Jesus loves us?!? If Jesus is God and God IS love how in the heck are we supposed to love like that? Heck, often times I can barely LIKE. By ABIDING in his love we are able to love. "Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: 'Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.'" (1824 CCC)

Charity is what being a Christian is all about. We don't need government intervention--we need love. We need to take care of each other and not have Big Brother meddling in. Again, I realize that may seem idealistic but that's what we are supposed to do--to love. "So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity." Let's love each other and take care of each other.

There is so much hatred and anger in the world. I see it every day in people killing and beating each other. But it's not just on the streets. It's not just in the hood. It's everywhere. There is anger in our churches, in our schools, in our places of work. It permeates the television and radio. We need to treat each other with love. It doesn't mean we have to agree with each other. We can debate and still love. Heck. We don't even have to like someone--there are plenty of jerks out there-myself included. I'm sure there are times Jesus looks and me and says, "Dude, you're being a jerk." But he still loves me and we are still supposed to love those who act like jerks to us.

St. Augustine said, "Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall fine rest." It's a simple equation really. If what Pope Benedict says is correct in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est and God is Love and All We Need is Love then all we need is God. Sing with me . . . All we need is God! (All together now!) All we need is God (EVERYBODY!) All we need is God, God, God. God is all we need. God is all we need . . .

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hope is More Than A Campaign Slogan

Last fall, President Obama campaigned on the promises of "Hope" and "Change." Some people despairingly call President Obama, "The Messiah" in order to mock those who would seem to place the president on such a high pedestal. The irony is that the president invites this mocking when he champions himself as the cause for hope. We should not place our hope in any mortal man. Our hope needs to lay in Jesus.
Yeah, I know. That's always easy to say. Jesus is the answer. The thing is, "hope" is the second of the three theological virtues. The first being "faith" which I spoke about yesterday and the final being "love." The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines hope as "the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as your happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit." (1817 CCC)

Hope responds to our desire for happiness. Hope "keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude." (1818 CCC) In combination with the virtue of charity, it keeps us from being selfishness and leads us to happiness. It is through hope that we desire the success of our fellow man and take care of each other.

We have to be careful to place our hope in Jesus and not in man because it is "through the merits of Jesus Christ and his Passion that God keeps us in the 'hope that does not disappoint.'" The catechism continues and says that hope is the "weapon that protects us int he struggle of salvation . . . It affords us joy even under trail. . . and is expressed and nourished in prayer." (1820 CCC) None of these things can be given to us by any earthy king, president, or ruler.

Finally, the catechism says that "we can therefor hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will." (CCC 1921) There are many things we may desire on Earth but none of them equal what is waiting for us if we follow God's command and do his will.Don't place your hope in a man. I honestly am fearful when I see people idolizing President Obama. I'm not saying the people who mocking call him "Messiah" are correct. We are to trust and pray for our leaders. But the images I see of Obama everywhere praising him as the champion of hope frighten me. As for me, I will put my hope and faith in someone who is both human and divine. . . Jesus Christ, the Lord.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Faith--Take Two!

I wrote about last weekends readings on Friday and spoke about how James says that faith and works go together and that got me to thinking about faith. What is it? Why do people lose it? Obviously, I can't bring any insight into what faith is that the church fathers, the saints and great theologians haven't already written. Heck-if you want some good in site on faith just look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you look in the index there are ninety four sub-headings under "faith." It speaks of everything from "central mysteries of faith" to "effects of faith" to perseverance in faith." Heck, it even talks about "Muslims and faith in on God." There is so much talk about faith that it could leave your head spinning.
I do think the catechism breaks it down very nicely in paragraphs 1814-1816 though. It defines faith as "the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. (1814 CCC) Very simply--we believe in God and everything that he has taught us because he IS truth. I've actually meditated on this sentence asking for God to help me to believe in him and what he has taught.
The CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) goes on and explains more how faith is more than just a belief--it is a lifestyle. Paragraph 1814 finishes by saying "By faith 'main commits his entire self to God.' For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. 'The righteous shall live by faith. Living faith 'work[s] through charity.'" So if we have faith we are going to completely give everything to God. It's more than a singular moment in time. Having faith is more than a second in time accepting God as your personal Lord and Savior."

Next, the CCC goes on to talk about how we can lose our faith. "The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it. But 'faith apart from works is dead': when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body." (1815 CCC) So if we do not cooperate with faith and not allow it to work through us we can lose it. I don't think this is the only way people lose their faith. I think sometimes God tests our faith in order to strengthen it. Some amazing saints had doubts about their own faith--Bl Mother Theresa for example had doubts. St. Faustina had spells where she felt that she was cut off from God. But they continued their prayer and worked through it.

Finally, the CCC says, "The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: 'All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks." Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: 'So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.'" (1816 CCC) So as believers, part of having faith is professing our faith and bearing witness to it and spreading it.

The question I pose to you is if you claim to have faith are you allowing it to die by not letting it cooperate with hope and love and are you bearing witness to your faith?


I have a blog written today on Faith--one of the three theological virtues. I had it written on another program and was going to post it this morning when I home.

Alas, the file is not there. So I have faith that it must have not been as good as I hoped and God wants me to start again. Right now it is bed time (I've been up all night fighting crime and/or evil) Please check back later today for a much better blog than I had intended. :-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Road of Life

My spiritual director, Fr. Mike gave me this poem and I though I would share:

At first, I saw God as my observer,
my judge,
keeping track of the things I did wrong,
so as to know whether I merited heaven
or hell when I die.
He was out there sort of like a president.
I recognized his picture when I saw it,
but I really didn't know Him.

But later on
when I met Chris,
it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride,
but it was a tandem bike,
and I noticed that Christ
was in the back helping me pedal.
I don't know just when it was
that He suggested we change places,
but life has not been the same since.
When I had control
I knew the way.
It was rather boring
but predictable. . .
It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead,
He knew delightful long cuts,
up mountains,
and through rocky places
at breakneck speeds,
it was all I could do to hang on!
Even though it looked like madness,
He said, "Pedal!"
I worried and was anxious
and asked,
"Where are you taking me?"
He laughed and didn't answer,
and I started to learn to trust.
I forgot my boring life
and entered into the adventure.
And when I'd say, "I'm scared,"
He'd lean back and touch my hand.
He took me to people with gifts that I needed,
gifts of healing,
and joy.
They gave me gifts to take on my journey,
my Lord's and mine.

And we were off again.
He said, "Give the gifts away;
they're extra baggage, to much weight."
So I did,
to the people we met,
and I found that in giving I received,
and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him,
at first,
in control of my life.
I thought He'd wreck it;
but He knows bike secrets,
knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners,
knows how to jump to clear high rocks,
knows hot to fly to shorten scary passages.
And I am learning to shut up
and pedal
in the strangest places,
and I'm beginning to enjoy the view
and the cool breeze on my face
with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.
And when I'm sure I just can't do anymore,
He just smiles and says . . . "Pedal."
------Author unknown
I don't recall the particular discussion that Fr. Mike and I were having that enticed him to give me this poem but sometimes it's easier to make a point with poetry than by talking. We must learn to trust God. Stop constantly trying to steer. So switch places with Jesus and let Him steer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Christianity is Not Easy: A Reflection on the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The gospels--the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John--are sometimes called the "Good News." Sometimes you have to wonder what is so good about it. There is nothing in those books that promises an easy life ahead of you if you follow Jesus. In fact, the opposite is promised.

In this weekend's gospel reading from Mark 8: 27-35, Jesus actually tells us, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
That does not sound like an easy road to take. We must give up our lives. We must take up our cross. Being a follower of Jesus is much, much more than just saying, "Jesus, I take you as my personal Lord and Savior."
Yet there are some protestant denominations that teach sola fide--salvation by faith alone. At it's root, sola fide teaches that all we have to do is have faith in Jesus and we are saved. They do have it right that there is nothing we can do to secure our salvation for ourselves. We are not saved by our works. They seem to be confused and think that Catholics teach we are saved by our works alone when nothing is further from the truth. We teach that we are saved through our our faith AND works.

We MUST cooperate with God's grace and have an interior change. We we do that we will do the works that we are designed to do. I'm sure I'm going to butcher my theology but faith and works work together. In James we are told, "What good is it, my brothers and sisters,if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" What good is it if we say "Yes Jesus!" but we don't help our brother? Do we truly have that conversion of heart? The passage continues, "So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

Some protestant reformers did not like the book of James. Some even called for it's removal from the Bible calling it the "epistle of straw." Who wouldn't rather have salvation by faith alone? Isn't it easier to say, "Lord, Lord" than to have that daily conversion--that daily battle?

We as Catholics must beware not to confuse "works" with thing that we are called to do such as attend Sunday mass or go to confession at least once a year. Doing those things gives us grace we need to carry out the works we are really called to. We cannot just be Christian while in church. We are called to carry the gospel out into the world. We are called to live it. We are called to "demonstrate [our] faith to you from [our] works."

The good news comes in when we cooperate with God's grace and demonstrate faith and works together. That is when we will truly see Christ in each of us. It is through faith and works that we are saved.

Personally, I think the whole sola fide debate is silly. So much of it seems to come from different definitions for the same words. What do you think? Am I wrong to think that through God's grace we are transformed and by cooperating with His grace we are going to do those works??

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Fullness of the Faith

A couple years ago I saw the below video titled "Why I'm Catholic" on YouTube. It's a video that was made for a confirmation class and lists six reasons for being Catholic. Among them are 1) the Eucharist 2)the Church 3)Sacraments 4) Mary 5) Marriage (spiritual and actual) 6) the Communion of Saints. The section for comments is now disabled but when I originally saw it one of the comments said something to the effect that the reason that person isn't catholic is because Jesus is not a part of it. My first reaction was "what a stupid comment--Jesus is the head of the church--he is the focal point." But then I realized that He isn't mentioned in the video and I pondered that. I thought the video was spot on--those are all reasons why I too am Catholic but why isn't Jesus specifically mentioned?

After some deep thought, I realized that the video was speaking about what we call the "fullness of the faith." The Catholic Church is appreciative of the gifts that Jesus has given us. He IS the Eucharist. He gave us the Church. It is HIS bride. He instituted all of the sacraments and they are ways that we receive His grace. Mary is his mother. She is the mother of God and she points us to him. Through the communion of saints we are able to appreciate and model ourselves after those who are already in Heaven.
The idea of the fullness of the faith really struck me later when I was listening to a speaker. Please forgive me because I cannot remember who the speaker was so if someone does please let me know so that I can give him credit. Remember, if I can't recall who the speaker was I surely can't remember his exact words so I'm paraphrasing here. He said protestant churches are like going into a throne room and seeing the King sitting on a throne. You go in and you bow down and worship. The catholic church is like going into the throne room and seeing the King but he is surrounded by all these beautiful tapestries and paintings. The floors are made of gold and the walls are build of precious stems. You realize that everything there is made by the king. You are not losing focus on the King by appreciating his works. In fact, they help you appreciate and love him more.
The one problem I have with that comparison is that obviously if any of us were in the presence of God we would be down on our faces in front of him---probably in pain from His glory and not looking at anything on any walls. But I think it is a good comparison for what the catholic church is in relationship to God. Everything she gives us is from God and there to help us get closer to God.
The fullness of the faith--the sacraments, the magisterium, Mary, the saints--are all reasons why I'm Catholic because they are gifts from God that help us focus on Him.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Offering Our Labor to God: A Labor Day Reflection.

On Monday we celebrated Labor Day, where we honor all those who work by giving them the day off!!! St. Josemaria, the founder of Opus Dei, spoke a lot about work and how we can us work to sanctify ourselves by offering our work to God. In fact, according to the Opus Dei website, the mission of Opus Dei is to "to help people turn their work and daily activities into occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society." One of the ways is by taking peoples every day tasks and jobs and offering them to God.

Work is important. Obviously, without work we would go hungry, would not be able to have a place to stay or put clothes on our back. But more importantly, as St. Josemaria Escriva says, "Work is man's original vocation. It is a blessing from God, and those who consider it a punishment are sadly mistaken. The Lord, who is the best of fathers, placed the first man in Paradise ut operaretur, so that he could work." It is also important that we take time to rest. God rested on the seventh day and ordered us to rest on the Sabbath.

It wasn't just so that we could go to church and worship him. God isn't that self centered that he would want us to rest just so we can pay attention to him (although that is a good thing to do.) God is the loving father who is looking out for us and knows that we need time to rest and regroup.

Another reason, God does not need us to necessarily pause to worship him is because we can worship him everyday with our labor. The key is to offer our work and our labors as a sacrifice to God. St. Josemaria also said, "I have seen many people live heroic lives for God without leaving their own place of work, and I have come to this conclusion: for a Catholic work is not just a matter of just filling a duty--it is to love, to excel oneself gladly in duty and in sacrifice."

This may be a forign idea but it goes along the lines of everything we have down to every heartbeat and every breath we take is given to us by God and in return we should offer everything we have back to God. Offering our work and our labors is one way of doing this. I have to warn you--by offering our work to God it is going to make us work harder. We cannot offer junk to God so we are going to have to ensure we are doing our jobs correctly and not be lazy. "You cannot sactify work which humanly speaking is slapday, for we must not offer God badly done jobs" is another quote from St. Josemaria.

However much we want to complain about the lackadasical work or others. No matter how much we get upset because others are getting away without doing their work we need to continue doing our jobs and doing it well. Don't get me wrong--I can fall into that lazy category just as much as the next guy. I often have to remind myself not to cut corners or to do the right thing because I am offering it to God.

We should thank God for being capable to work and for having the opportunity to work. Like I mention earlier though, God is the loving Father and knows we need rest so we need to make sure we don't overwork ourself. We still need to pause and spend time with our family (that is our vocation afterall.) We still need to take that Sunday rest and just because we are offering our work to God we are not excused from going to mass on Sunday. Even more than rest we need the Eucharist.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Obamacare and The Bishops: A Reflection of the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

I have been opinionated in the current health care debate that is raging across America this past summer as demonstrated by a post I wrote on August 10th. Personally, I do not trust the federal government to take care of me and my family. My battle cry has been when the feds can provide adequate health care at Veteran's Administration Hospitals or to those with Medicaid or Medicare then I will think about letting them have access to my health care.

I have been conflicted by people posting as their status on Facebook the past 24 hours, "No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day." That's a loaded statement because obviously everyone would agree with that statement but it doesn't mean that I support the current health care proposals.

I'm further conflicted when I read this weekend's readings. Our second reading come from the books of James and says:
My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our
glorious Lord Jesus Christ.For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes
into your assembly,and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in,and you pay
attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please, ”while
you say to the poor one, “Stand there, ” or “Sit at my feet, ”have you not made
distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?
Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who
love him?"
Then in the gospel reading which is from Mark 7: 31-37 when Jesus heals a man who is deaf and has a speech impediment. A reading about caring for the poor and then another about healing the ill. Well, I do not think it is a shocker to anyone that catholic social teaching is take care of the poor and help to heal the heal. How can I help correlate Catholic teaching with my anxiety and dislike of Obamacare?

And then my very own Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph issued a joint statement with Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas on heath care reform. This statement, which can be found on The Catholic Key blog, just put all of my qualms and concerns.

The statement speaks of all of the problems we have with the health care system in America and then goes into all of the strengths. The statement then goes into what is needed in health care reform to include
  1. The Principle of Subsidiarity--respecting the freedom and dignity of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves thereby letting the individual have the most say in what happens in their lives.

  2. Principle in the Life and Dignity of the Human Person--federal tax money should not go to pay for abortions, the rights of health care providers should be protection by a conscience clause, no mandatory end of life counseling.

  3. The Principle of Solidarity--we must take care of those who need protecting. We must take care of those weaker and less fortunate than ourselves.

The statement concluded by saying that "a hasty or unprincipled change could cause us, in fact, to lose some of the significant benefits that Americans now enjoy, while creating a future tax burden which is both unjust and unsustainable." It also said that change” for change’s sake; change which expands the reach of government beyond its competence would do more harm than good." In essence, the statement is saying that improvements are needed but that the proposals are off the mark and could be dangerous.

It was very lifting to see my spiritual concerns addressed by my bishop. Yes, we must take care of the poor and ill but we cannot rush into a plan that raises more issues that it answers or that. No, no one should die because cannot afford health insurance and no one should die because they are sick. The dignity of human kind must be protected and we can't afford to pass a plan that does not address these issues. I'm relieve to see that there are a number of bishops that have these same concerns as The American Papist site shows there are currently 30 US bishops who are against it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Confession Poll

Yesterday I gave Ten Reasons for Going to Confession. Coincidentally, later that afternoon, I was listening to a recording of Monday's The Catholic Guy Show with Lino Rulli which is on from 3-6 Central time on Sirius 159/XM 117. In the show, Lino brought up the question what percentage of Catholics go to confession regularly. He started out thinking 5% and then after receiving several phone calls decided that it was probably less than that. One caller called in and presented the idea that among PRACTICING Catholics it's probably closer to 20%. I'm curious. I really do not have any idea what it might be. I would say it is too low.

So I decided to conduct my own poll. It's unscientific of course but here are the options:
  1. less than two weeks
  2. 2+ weeks to 1 month
  3. 1+ month to 3 months
  4. 3+ months to 6 months
  5. 6+ months to 1 year
  6. More than a year
  7. Since your first reconciliation
  8. Not Catholic

The polls is anonymous and is posted on the side bar so it will stay visible. It's going to be up until September 17th at midnight Central time.

The Church encourages us to go to confession at least once a year but more importantly, if we are in a state of mortal sin we MUST go confession immediately!!! Dying in a state of moral sin will suck! Mark my words! If it's been over a year definitely go but even if it's only been a couple of months I would encourage you. If it's been awhile and you are nervous or not sure of what to say or do then review my post 7 Simple Step for Confession.

As for my answer to the poll: it's been 1-3 months since my last confession. So to set a good example, I am going to go this Friday at Our Lady of Good Counsel at 40th and Washington. Monsignor Blacet is an amazing confessor. You are all invited to join me and then for mass afterwords. Confession starts at 11:30 and mass at noon but I recommend getting there at least by 11:20 if not sooner because there is always a line!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ten Reasons for Going to Confession

Last month I gave 7 Simple Steps for Confession and in that post I listed three reasons for going to confession. It bothers me, quite frankly that I only listed three reasons. The sacrament of reconciliation is such a wonderful gift that has been given to us and I want to encourage every one to go. People have all sorts of reasons for not going to confession. They are nervous, scared or worried about what the priest may thing or that he may tell others. The biggest reason I hears is, "I take my sins directly to God!" Those fears and claims can easily be dispelled and I decided to list ten top reasons for going to confession:
  1. We are confessing in a way that Jesus wants us to confess. In the Gospel of John, the first thing he did when he met his disciples after his resurrection was say, "Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, so I send you." He then breathed on the disciples filling them with the Holy Spirit. He then told them, "whose sin's you forgive are forgiven them. And whose sins you retain are retained." Jesus gave his disciples the ability to forgive or not forgive people for their sins. In order to decide whether to forgive or not to forgive, the disciples had to have to listen to them or have the person confess their sins to them. This ability to forgive sins has been passed down to the priests of today through the laying on of hands in ordained priests through Holy Orders.

  2. We are getting guilt and worries lifted off our shoulders. When we go to confession, we are actually able to say our sins out loud. There is something releasing about speaking something out loud. We do this when we are frustrated about something don't we? Don't we find someone to vent to? It's the same way with our sins. By saying them out loud and bringing them to light we are freed of them.

  3. It is a ministry that Jesus has given our priests and a gift for us. In the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians, Paul says that old things have passed away and new things have come. He continues and says that this is all from God who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ and "given us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:18) The priests are able to heal us from our sins which will kill us just as a sword will--if not more.

  4. Our sins are cast away as a rock to the bottom of the ocean. We are forgiven from God and do not have to worry about those sins any more. It's not as if the priest can tell anyone. He is bound by the seal of the confessional and cannot tell a soul or else he will suffer the pains of excommunication. You can confess murder, stealing, adultery and he cannot tell anyone.

  5. Spiritual Guidance. The priest is able to talk to you about your sins or about your spiritual life. He is able to offer guidance or advice on how to avoid sin or the near occasion of sin in the future.

  6. We are confessing in a way that Jesus wants us to confess! In James, we are asked if any among us is ill. If there are, the leaders of the church should be called and the ill will be prayed over and anointed with oil. Any sins they have will be forgiven. He then says that we are to confess our sins so that we might be healed. (Jas 5:14-16)

  7. An examination of conscience. Any person, or even any organization, that wants to get better needs to look at himself honestly. They need to figure out what they are doing right but more importantly they need to figure out what they are doing wrong. Prior to going to confession, we are to do an examination of conscience to discover or recall our sins. Otherwise, we may go through life and not realize our fault and therefore not correct them. Through an examination of conscience, we may realize we have a problem with pride for example and do what we need to correct it.

  8. It's humbling. Nothing helps us out more in our spiritual life than a little humble pie. St Josemaria says in The Way "Humility is another good way to arrive at interior peace. He has said so: ‘Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart: and you will find rest for your souls.'" (607) Through humility we recall that we are nothing if it were not for God and the gifts that He has given us.

  9. Hearing those words of forgiveness. One of the most powerful phrases uttered by man, "God the Father of mercies has reconciled the world to Himself through the death and resurrection of His Son, and has poured forth the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. May He grant you pardon and peace through the ministry of the Church. And I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Hearing those words will knock you on your butt. They'll bring a grown man to tears. There is no doubt left in your mind that you are forgiven.

  10. You ARE confessing directly to God--in the way that Jesus wants you to. In the scripture verses provided (Especially John 20) we have shown that Jesus have given his priests the facilities to forgive us for our sins. When we confess to a priest, we ARE confession to God. The priest is in persona Christi or in the person of Christ. Through the priest, we are able to confess directly to God and hear directly from God that we are absolved for our sins.
So what are you waiting on? Get your butt to confession? Don't know when it is?? Go to or call your local priest and make an appointment!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our Relationship with God

Every July, my wife Abby, and my kids and I got to Truman Lake to a town called Tightwad. There is a little resort there and we meet up with over 100 other family members from around the country for our annual family reunion. We have been doing this for the last ten years. Normally, I don't see any of these family members all year round unless, sadly we meet for funerals. I have a great family and I imagine that if I were in a pickle any one of them would step up and help me out. They all claim to love me (although they may not always like me.) But the fact of the matter is I don't think I could get the courage to ask any of these family members for help because we do not have that type of relationship.

God desires to have a relationship with us. That is the whole reason we were created was to enter into relationship with Him. My relatives are happy with our relationship--they only have to deal with me once a year. Not God though. He wants to have a most intimate relationship with us.

How often do we reject God though? Yet we expect Him to give everything for us and are upset when he does not provide as if He were a wishing well. It is good that people feel that they can always go to God not matter what their relationship is. If fact, I believe God works in ways we may not understand and that He can bring good out of bad. Maybe a tough situation is what a person needs in order to get right with God. It is certainly not for me to say how God is using certain people or where He is in their lives. That type of attitude is what causes me to become judgemental.

I'll be honest that I really did not get serious with my faith until nine years ago. In fact for probably ten years I was a CEO Christian. That's not Chief Executive Officers. It's CChristmas, Easter, and Other occasion Christian. These are the Christians who obviously, only go to church on those occasions. I really did not start going back to church until after my kids were born. Then, because I wanted my kids to be raised Catholic and not *gasp* protestant (ewwwww :-)) I started going back to mass.

I'm sorry for those ten years I missed. I wonder how much closer to God would I be today if I did not constantly reject Him then. It really breaks my heart to see those who do reject God every Sunday. It hurts me to see people treat religion as a social event and only step foot in church when it's time to get married, when it's time to get their kids baptised, when it's time for their kid's first communion, or when it's time for their kids confirmation and then start the cycle again when it's time for their kids to get married.

For those of us who do go to mass weekly, life is only made more difficult. You see, God doesn't want just our Sundays. He wants everyday. What have we done to strengthen our relationship with God today? Have we gone to daily mass? When was the last time we went to confession? How is that prayer life?

Jesus said that the most important commandment is to love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul. If you are a CEO or if you are a daily communicant (someone who goes to mass daily) we should do whatever we need to do to became even closer to God. We are all called to be saints. We are all called to push ourselves and through God's grace become closer to God. The more comfortable we are talking with God and the closer our relationship is the more comfortable we will be to go to Him for help and the more comfortable we will be accepting His will.