Sunday, June 30, 2013
Have you been away from the church since you made your First Holy Communion and have now returned, but want to know more about the Faith?
Did you miss the Sacrament of Confirmation along the way?
Have you been worshiping with us, but never officially took the step to become Catholic?
Have you been a Catholic all your life, but never celebrated all of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist)?
Have you joined us from a different faith background and would now like to find out more about the Catholic Church?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, or, perhaps you have a friend or family member who you know would answer YES to some of the above questions, RCIA will help you find the answers you are looking for.
What is the RCIA? It stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and is a formation process for those who either aren’t Catholic or those Catholics who haven’t been practicing their faith.
Through the study of Sacred Scripture, the ancient Creeds, the teachings of the Church, and the real life experiences of practicing Catholics, we journey with those who want to know more about the Catholic faith.
The goal of not only the RCIA team, but also the whole Church, is to help others nurture and develop their faith; to promote and celebrate that faith through prayer and the sacraments; and to help each other live the gospel message of Jesus.
Think right now of someone who has asked you about Catholicism. Be flattered that they asked you. They did so because the way you live your life made them want to have Christ in their life, too. Please don’t just tell them to call the Church or to read a book. Instead, grab them by the hand and bring them to Mass, talk to them so they know what’s going on so they’re comfortable, then take them to dinner afterwards, and answer questions they might have. Then, direct them to talk to one of the Priests or Deacon Mark about the RCIA; you’ll be changing their lives!
Beginning on Thursday evenings in July we will be sitting down with those who want to know more about the Catholic faith. The first few weeks will be an opportunity to ask questions in an informal environment, learn a little about the faith, and get introduced to those who will help them follow the path that God has laid out for them.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Do you know why Christmas is on December 25th? Yes, you read correctly, that did say “Christmas” here at the end of June. We do not know Jesus’ birthdate. As close as we can come is the biblical passage in Luke: “while the shepherds kept watch.” This would only have happened during the lambing season in early Spring because the ewes could need help with the birthing; so, what is with December?
The dates of winter and summer solstice are important in the liturgical calendar of worship. In the Northern Hemisphere the winter solstice on December 21st is when light is at a minimum. The sun is farthest away from planet earth. The Roman empire of the First Century was filled with festivals commemorating the Winter Solstice. These festivals were centered on worship to the sun and to the emperor. Remember, the emperor was seen as a godly figure.
Christians—who were an underground and secretive community—participated in all the celebrations the government demanded. They would have entered fully into the solstice festivities, but their worship would have been to the Son of God and not the sun. This is like going to the dentist, pretending it is your best friend’s birthday and having a really good time. These early Christians were clever. The Winter Solstice celebrations for Christians became the celebration of Jesus’ birth: Christmas.
Having said all this about the winter solstice, let’s talk about the Summer Solstice which falls each year on June 21st. Already, the sunlight is decreasing and the days are becoming shorter. This Monday is the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Are you connecting the contrast of the two solstices?
Look at the Gospel of John. It is John the Evangelist writing about John the Baptist. In the Gospel of John, chapter three, verse thirty, after explaining that he is not the Messiah – that he was sent before Him, John the Baptist says, “He must increase; but I must decrease.”
The births of Jesus and John were six months apart. The solstices are six months apart. Just as the sun is decreasing in light now, after the Summer Solstice, and just as the sun increases in light after the Winter Solstice, we can see how the worship calendar and the solar calendar are compatible in the cycles of prayer.
John the Baptist was the last of the prophets and the first of the saints. He connects the Old and the New Testament. John is no small character in the scriptures: He is a headliner. His followers numbered not in the hundreds but in the thousands. When he spoke of decreasing himself and Jesus increasing, the new covenant was born.
Even the secular calendar can call us to holiness if we know our trivia. Decreasing ourselves so that Jesus can increase in our lives is our daily and constant calling. Even in the sun we get the message of the divine.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the Chairman of The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, issued the following letter in response to the immigration debate currently taking place in the halls of Congress. Archbishop Sheehan has asked us to share it with you today.
“This week the U.S. Senate begins a historic debate on immigration reform legislation. It is an important time for our country. The outcome of this debate – and of the one to follow in the House of Representatives – will impact the future of our nation in the twenty-first century and beyond.
The Catholic Church in America has an important stake in the outcome of this debate because we are an immigrant church, and have grown with the country for over two hundred years. Each day in our parishes, social service programs, hospitals, and schools we witness the human consequences of a broken immigration system. Families are separated, migrant workers are exploited, and our fellow human beings die in the desert. Without positive change to our immigration laws, we cannot help our brothers and sisters. Simply put, the status quo is morally unacceptable. This suffering must end.
Our nation has a stark choice. We can continue on our current path, which employs an immigration system that does not serve the rule of law or the cause of human rights, or we can create a system which honors both principles. We can maintain a system that forces illegal behavior and undermines the law, or fashion one that provides incentives for legal behavior and is based upon fairness and opportunity.
Our nation must answer several questions.
Do we want a country with a permanent underclass, without the same rights as the majority?
Do we want to continue to separate children from parents, creating a generation of young U.S. citizens who are suspicious and fearful of their government?
Do we want a nation that accepts the toil and taxes of undocumented workers without offering them the protection of the law?
The answer to these questions, of course, is a resounding no.
I encourage our elected officials to move forward and debate immigration reform in a civil and respectful way. The U.S. Catholic bishops are committed to working with them to enact humane immigration reform legislation as soon as possible. In the end, the outcome of this debate will not only affect our nation’s future – it will impact our soul.”
Sunday, June 9, 2013
The education of children in the Catholic faith is of crucial importance. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children in the Catholic faith: not schools or parishes, but parents. It is they who must first take the initiative to begin forming their children in the moral and doctrinal teachings of the Church so that their children may grow to become virtuous and holy men and women.
Although parents are the primary educators of their children, they are not left without help. It is the role of the parish to aid and support families in the task of educating their children. We have classes, events, and programs for all ages. For example, during the 9:30 and 11:00 o’clock Masses our children ages 6 through 12 are invited to go hear and discuss the Sacred Scriptures at their level.
In June we have our Summer Faith Formation sessions with children attending either in the mornings or the evenings these first three weeks of the month. The program is repeated in the Fall on Wednesday evenings for those who cannot make the Summer sessions. We have great classes for our children who are preparing for their First Reconciliation and their First Holy Communion. There is also the opportunity to teach your children at home with the F.I.R.E. program or through home-study
Our teens are involved in programs to equip them to become Disciples of Christ and seek their Confirmation. Whole families are taking part in our Intergenerational programs and children look forward to our annual Camp JB Vacation Bible School.
The church is here to help parents help their children to grow and mature in wisdom and stature before God and men.
Parents, encourage and support your children to know their faith and love it. Jesus Christ isn't an abstract idea. He is truly risen from the dead and is with us here and now. Show your children through word and personal example that Jesus Christ is truly the Lord and Savior of your lives, giving him a place over everything else.But faith formation isn’t just for children; it is for all of us, no matter our age. The CCD or religious education classes we took as children taught us at a child’s level of understanding. As adults we’re called to continue to be formed in our Catholic faith and the parish offers us many programs in which we may participate. We just have to take advantage of the offerings.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
The Church sees the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of our existence. As we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ this weekend it’s a good opportunity for us to remind ourselves how to receive Holy Communion.
Before talking about how to receive Holy Communion properly, let's talk about being properly disposed first. If we are not properly prepared, then we shouldn't receive Communion. This means being free from mortal sin and having fasted for at least one hour before coming to Communion, unless there’s a medical reason for not doing so.
When we approach Holy Communion respond “Amen” and make a reverential bow of the head when the Minister says, “The Body of Christ” which means we believe it to be true. We then receive the Body of Christ. Catholics in the United States and many parts of the world are permitted to receive Holy Communion in the hand. This is based on the writings of St Cyril of Jerusalem who wrote:
"When you approach, take care not to do so with your hand stretched out and your fingers open or apart, but rather place your left hand as a throne beneath your right, as befits one who is about to receive the King."
We then take the Host from our left hand with our right and place it on our tongue. We do not take the Host and make the Sign of the Cross over ourselves before consuming it, nor do we receive Communion while kneeling. While these may seem pious, individual acts of piety have no place in our communal worship, and are expressly forbidden in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
Because we don’t take Communion, but rather receive it, we refrain from grabbing the Host from the Minister’s fingers.
One may choose to receive Communion on the tongue. When you do so slightly tilt your head back, open your mouth and extend your tongue. Allow the Minister to place the Host on your tongue and withdraw their fingers before closing your mouth.
It is your choice to receive the Precious Blood. When we approach the chalice we again make a reverential bow of the head and say “Amen” in response to the Minister’s statement, “The Blood of Christ.” We receive the chalice and take a sip of the Precious Blood before returning it to the Minister. Make certain the minister has it firmly in their hand before letting go.
Some desire to take the Host they have received and dip it into the chalice containing the Precious Blood. This is not permissible in the Roman Catholic Church. Only a Priest may “intinct,” and even then only under rare circumstances.
When receiving Holy Communion, we are called to do so reverently. It is not just bread and wine, but the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Savior Jesus Christ.