Our community decided in 2008 that the mission of our parish was life-long learning. Everything we do centers around teaching the depth and richness of the Roman Catholic Faith. Our weekly 3-Minute Catechesis is read from the Ambo prior to Mass beginning. A written copy is made available in our weekly bulletin along with additional information for those who want to learn more. Visit us online at www.risensaviorcc.org for more information.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Holy Orders and the Priesthood

Christian ministry means walking in the footsteps of Jesus, imitating Him in His service to others, and continuing the work He began in His lifetime. Every Catholic is called and graced for Christian ministry, but there is a special call to ministry that only a few receive. It is the call to ordained ministry, to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. The expression “Holy Orders” comes from the Letter to the Hebrews, where we read, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:6)

As the early Church grew in numbers, the bishop could no longer serve all the people entrusted to his care. So he ordained assistants to help him. Called presbyters, or priests, they were put in charge of smaller areas, or parishes, of the bishop’s assigned territory. The parish priest has since become the ordained minister with whom we are most familiar.

When many of us were children, it was clear who was a priest and who was not. Priests were the ones who did all the important things: they said Mass, heard confessions, and administered the sacraments. They knew all the answers, and they could talk out loud in Church!

Things are different now. Today, no one would consider the Mass to be the private affair of the priest. We understand that no one, aside from God, knows all the answers. And everyone talks in Church: we all pray the Mass and respond to the prayers.

Priests, however, have a special ministry. Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest receives a special share in Christ’s own priestly ministry. “Since every priest in his own way assumes the person of Christ, he is endowed with a special grace,” and, therefore, is empowered to act in Christ’s name in a special way. (Ministry & Life of Priests, 12)

While the priest is the one who can consecrate the Eucharist and hear confessions, his number one task is “to preach the gospel.” (CCC #1564) To do this effectively, he is expected to understand the joys and sorrows of his parishioners: the difficulties in raising a family and facing serious illness, along with the happiness that comes from family additions and celebrating milestones. Our priests have a challenging task in being both “set apart” and “in the midst.”

Like the bishop, whose coworker he is, the priest shepherds the flock entrusted to his care, leads it in worship, and instructs it in the way of salvation. The sacrament of Holy Orders gives him the grace to do this well.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Celebrating Sacraments During Sunday Mass

It’s Saturday or Sunday – time for Mass. When you walk into the sanctuary, you observe that the pew where you normally sit has a “Reserved” sign on it: it’s saved for a family with a child making 1st Communion…or being baptized…or maybe even Confirmation. Maybe there are several “Reserved” pews. Why are children and sometimes adults receiving sacraments during Mass? Don’t the pastor and the staff understand that these disruptions add literally minutes to the sacrifice of the Mass?

Can’t sacraments like Baptisms, First Communions, and Confirmations be celebrated in ways that don’t disturb Sunday Mass for the rest of us? The short answer is yes – Baptisms can be celebrated outside of Mass completely, and those making First Communion and Confirmation could, and sometimes do, have their own special Mass.
But should these sacraments be celebrated outside of Sunday Mass?

Let’s pause for a moment and ask how Jesus would respond. In the Gospels, Jesus says to the Apostles, “Let the children come to Me, do not hinder them … for to such belongs the kingdom of God" (Mk. 10:14) and "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 18:3).

Pope John Paul II reflects, “How important children are in the eyes of Jesus...a child represents the joy not only of its parents but also the joy of the Church and the whole of society.”

The Rite of Baptism for Children strongly recommends that Baptisms take place on Sunday and include the active participation of the assembly along with all the elements of a genuine celebration. The obvious way to meet these recommendations is to incorporate the sacrament of Baptism into the parish Sunday Mass, a practice that is encouraged because it enables the entire community to be present.

Nothing touches, or teaches, an assembly more than the sight of a vulnerable baby dripping with the waters of baptism. Sharing Eucharist together after such an experience takes on a dimension which makes the inconvenience seem trivial. Watching a little girl or boy reverently receiving Holy Communion for the first time takes us back to a remembrance of our own First Communion, such a special time. Seeing the bishop anoint the forehead of a young man or woman confirming their Faith and devotion to this Church stirs the hope in our hearts.

We are the Body of Christ, and, to feed our own souls with joy and hope, we need to participate in the celebration of the sacraments with joyful hearts.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What is Canon Law?

Coming across references to canon law is no longer uncommon for Catholic lay people, perhaps because of the rise in annulments or maybe due to the shortage of priests. Whatever the reason, most of us have heard of canon law. But what is it? Where did it come from?

Every organization, whether secular or religious, requires its own laws and customs in order to maintain order. Within the Catholic Church, the internal legal system that governs its day-to-day workings is known as canon law. The word canon comes from the old Greek word kanon with a “k”, which means “reed.” In the ancient world, a reed symbolized the authority to rule; so the word canon means “to rule” or “the rule of law.”

Canon law is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation.

In response to the request of the bishops at the First Vatican Council, work began on the Code of Canon Law, which was completed in 1917 and came into force on May 19, 1918. Revisions which began after the Second Vatican Council became the 1983 Code of Canon Law to distinguish it from the 1917 Code. Like the preceding edition, it applies to Roman Catholics of the Latin Rite.

There are 1,752 canons dealing with everything from the celebration of sacraments to what’s necessary for annulling a marriage; from who can bless a church to what feast days must be observed.

Some of the canons require long explanations, while others are not as complicated. Canon 104 says that “Spouses are to have a common domicile … by reason of legitimate separation or some other just cause, both can have their own domicile ...” Basically, married people should share a house, but for certain reasons may live apart.

Canon 110 says that “Children who have been adopted according to the norm of civil law are considered the children of the person or persons who have adopted them.” That canon doesn’t require much explanation!

The very last canon, Canon 1572, reminds us that canon law has a noble purpose: “… (T)he salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.”

And while parochial vicars may be moved frequently, Canon 522 says that, ideally, the pastor of a parish should “possess stability and therefore is to be appointed for an indefinite period of time.” In other words, we are stuck with Monsignor Olona! Isn’t it good to know that canon law can work in our favor!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Catholic Response to Hunger

One of the surest ways to test the quality of our walk with God is to examine the way we respond to the needs of others. In June, the community of Risen Savior is responding to our brothers and sisters who are hungry.

Hunger is the most extreme form of poverty. Most contemporary American church-goers are “wealthy” in comparison to much of the world’s population and most – thanks be to God – never experience hunger.

The United States Conference of Bishops issued a pastoral reflection in 2002 titled “A Place at the Table.” This document says that “A table is where people come together for food. For many, there is not enough food, and, in some cases, no table at all…In our world and nation, many of our sisters and brothers live in poverty.

The causes are complex, but the results are clear. They cannot find decent work, feed their families, educate their children, secure health care, or find adequate housing … Millions of families cannot live in dignity because they lack the conditions worthy of human life.”

Catholic Social Teaching recognizes that all people, by benefit of their status as children of God, are entitled to an equitable share of the benefits of society. The two areas of Catholic Social Teaching are charity and justice. Charity is a call to share what God has entrusted to us. Justice involves efforts to bring about systemic change. Addressing hunger from a faith perspective is not an “either-or” proposition when it comes to justice and charity: it is “both-and”.

Locally, one out of six New Mexicans are at risk of going hungry everyday, and so our “Love Your Neighbor” initiative for June is collecting non-perishable food items for Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico. Roadrunner Food Bank collects and transports over 22 million pounds of food yearly. Food comes from a variety of sources including national and local manufacturers, supermarkets, and food drives. Since its inception thirty years ago, Roadrunner has distributed more than 200 million pounds of food statewide. Donation barrels will be all around the church for the entire month of June.

The bishops remind us that “As Catholics, we must come together with a common conviction that we can no longer tolerate the moral scandal of poverty in our land and so much hunger and deprivation in our world…Our faith teaches us that poor people are not issues or problems but sisters and brothers in God’s one human family.”