A Holy Father Teaches His Children

The video below is a beautiful depiction of Pope Benedict answering the question of a seven year old child. The child ponders how Jesus can really be present in Holy Communion when we cannot see him.

This is a perfect question for all of us to ponder as we are reading the great treatise on Holy Communion from John 6 these past Sundays at Mass.

The Pope’s answer is both charming and understandable even for a child. It is also a profound reminder that knowing is more than seeing. We know and experience many things that we cannot see.

This brief video presents much for us to ponder and is so simple a child can understand it. Enjoy the Holy Father, as a father, teaching his children.

Marriage Survey Finds Significant Generational Differences – But Wait There’s Hope!

I was alerted to the following CNS Article on a recent CARA survey of Catholic Attitudes on Marriage. I post excerpts of it here below with some comments in red by yours truly.

Catholic attitudes about marriage differ by generation, says survey

By Maria Wiering, Catholic News Service

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Catholic attitudes on marriage in the church are different among generational groups, according to results of a 2007 survey of U.S. Catholics by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington.

Social scientist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead talked about the survey results in a keynote address June 25 in St. Paul at the annual conference of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers.

The survey showed that older Catholics — those who were adults before the Second Vatican Council — are more likely to look to the Church as the source for meaning and expectations for marriage than are baby boomers or members of Generation X or the millennial generation. Older Catholics also are more likely to be familiar with the Church’s teaching on marriage, to believe in marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and woman, and to think of marriage as a sacrament that extends beyond the wedding day, it said. Whitehead attributed this attitude to being raised in a time of a distinct Catholic identity that included an emphasis on the church’s teachings on sex, procreation and marriage. (I have commented before on this blog that, beginning in the 1960s many began to reinterpret the basic meaning of marriage. No longer were children and raising a family the central focus. The focus came to center on the happiness of the spouses. Hence easier divorce came to be seen as “essential” since without it happiness might be hindered. Prior to that time, when children were the essential focus, divorce was seen as highly problematic since it so negatively impacted children. Likewise in the 1960s sex became no longer associated with the procreation of children but, again, only associated with the happiness of the spouses. If children were a part of that happiness fine, if not, fine too. With children out  of the picture as the central purpose of marriage many distortions follow such as easy divorce and now even “gay” marriage. If marriage is just about the happiness of the couple and children are merely a possible “accessory”, not an essential component, then who is to say two gay people can’t be happy together – or so the argument goes)

Generation Xers — ages 25 to 35 — … are confused about marriage, and their attitudes are closer to those of the general population, Whitehead said. “[Generation  Xer] Catholics want to marry a soul mate, and they’re much less likely to see marriage in these broader, institutional [family] terms,” she said. Sixty-nine percent of Catholics [from this generation] believe that marriage is whatever two people want it to be, and the sacramental understanding does not figure as prominently into their understanding, she said. (So there it is. Depart from the Biblical and Church teaching on marriage and we are left with a designer marriage. Such widely variable definitions of marriage cannot be the basis for a strong or united civilization, country or Church. The privatization of marriage and the anything goes notion are not a stable basis on which to build. Hence we are left with the modern experience of a balkanized (divided) vision for marriage, family, basic values and moral teaching. Unity decays and the basis for country Church and even civilzation is lost).

….However…the youngest generation — the millennial generation (ages 18 to 24)  — is showing a swing toward traditional ideas.  “The youngest Catholics … look a lot more like the pre-Vatican II, Vatican II or post-Vatican II cohorts,” she said. “Huge majorities — 80 percent or more — of these youngest Catholics believe that marriage is a lifelong commitment and that people don’t take marriage seriously enough when divorce is readily available.” Many children of this generation have experienced divorce in their own families, and they are determined not to divorce themselves, Whitehead said. “This is a hopeful change,” she said. (Indeed it is a hopeful change! I too have encountered children  and young adults in their 20s who are saddened, even disgusted with the broken down situation they have had to endure from their parents and grandparents. They know first hand the bankrupcy of the “designer marriage” easy divorce and confused atmosphere of the current climate. There is a knod of backlash setting in wherein the youngest couples I prepare for marriage are eager to be taught the Scriptural and Church teaching on Marriage. Thus THERE IS HOPE!)

Whitehead urged family ministers to share the social science evidence to dispel misconceptions, she said….”In these times when we have a culture that is so really difficult for people to remain faithful in their marriages, there must be a polar recognition of the circumstances of life and the need of support to help people live out the teachings of their faith,” she said.

A Portrait of Catholic Schools

Catholic Schools today are very special places where the faith is handed on and children are summoned to discover their talents and gifts. There is a kind of rhythm of life that marks the Catholic School year, centered around the Liturgical year and also the many routines that are essential to school days. It’s not just the books and learning, it’s the visit of the priests, it’s trips. It is the tag days (uniform free), it’s recess, it’s going to mass, stations of the cross and the rosary. It’s school plays and dressing up as saints. Ultimately it’s about the formation of the young person in the ways of faith, parish and family.

Pray for Catholic schools, they are special places that are threatened today by market forces of rising costs and declining affordability. If you’re an alumnus support your Catholic School Alma Mater, if you’re a parishioner pray and work for you local Catholic School. They are worth supporting and preserving and our help is needed as never before.

This video is entitled “Mr R’s Class” and depicts Catholic School life well.

Maybe It’s God!

All of us face many trials and difficulties in this world that serve to remind us that we are really in a foreign land, far from home. The world can bewilder us, and beguile us, disappoint us and demand of us. But what if our dissatisfaction with this world was not merely a selfishness, or a lack of gratitude for what we have? What if this dissatisfaction is supposed to be there? If your desire is infinite and insatiable, unlimited and unremitting, maybe its about God. Why should this world satisfy you? It is puny and passing compared to your heart’s truest longing. Maybe it’s God you are really longing for!

This video is entitled “Come to Jesus.” It was  produced for young people but if you still have any of that “young at heart” in you you’ll enjoy this beautiful invitation.

Knowing Christ

A new song by Justin Stroh for the Extreme Faith Camp this Summer.

Theme: The heart of Mary was made perfect by God and preserved perfectly by God. Her virtue is the seed bed for a full life in the Holy Spirit! Let’s entrust our lives to her motherly care. Why? Because this is what Jesus did – we simply follow Him! She then forms us in her school of prayer. Come Holy Spirit!

This video shows a simple kind of joy at being Catholic and Knowing Christ:

40 Reasons for Coming Home – Reason # 20 – The Final Wish of a Dying Friend

Reason # 20 – The Final Wish of a Dying Friend – Consider the following scenario. You are crossing the street with a friend and suddenly as if out of nowhere a large truck is bearing down on you both. Your friend sees it coming and pushes you out of the way but takes the full force of the hit himself. Coming to your senses you run to your friend who lies dying in the road. In grief you lament his imminent death and thank him for saving your life. You say, “What can I ever do to thank you for what you have done?!”  And he says, with his dying breath, “Please go to Church and remember me at the altar every Sunday.”  ….Would you do it? …..Of course you would! This is the final wish of a dying friend who saved your life. 

Well, isn’t this what Jesus did? Just before he died for us he left us a last request: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Do what? you might say. Here is Jesus request in context:  The setting is the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples on the last evening before he died. As he sat at table with them he said,  “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover  with you before I suffer…” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.  So here is what we are to do in memory of Him: celebrate the Holy Mass, receive Holy Communion! It seems so little and yet so many have drifted away from this last request. It must have been important to Jesus since it was his final request.

So here is a powerful reason to come home, to fulfill the final wish of a dying friend, a dying Savior and Lord who saved your life, who died in your place: “Do this in memory of me.”  The Book of Psalms also says it so well: “What return (what thanks) can I ever give the Lord for all the good he has done for me?! The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call on the name of the Lord.” (Ps 116:13) What a beautiful line to remember as you see the priest lift up the Chalice at every mass and remember the final wish of a dying friend.

A Day in the Life– Reaching Out to Young Adults

As the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Washington, I wanted to respond to this comment we received from a 30-something: “I must admit I have some concern that the Church is missing the mark in reaching out to people my age and younger.”

 

Your concern is very valid. Some dioceses don’t have a young adult minister, and the majority have a minister serving Youth and Young Adults. Can you image trying to focus on a ministry that includes 10-year-olds and 33-year-olds? I can’t! Sadly, in dioceses like that, the young adults are usually the ones who get the short end of the stick. However, the Archdiocese of Washington is very fortunate to have someone on staff dedicated to full-time ministry to young adults, yours truly.

 

What do I do all day? Well let me give you a snap shot of one 48 hour period last week to show how the Archdiocese is reaching out to young adults!

 

On Wednesday morning I had a meeting with the Coordinators of Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Arlington and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. We discussed our successes, our struggles, and future collaboration on a regional young adult conference. It was a little work, a little fun, and a wonderful time for fellowship with my colleagues!

 

On Wednesday afternoon, I prepared the young adult announcements for publishing in the weekly Office of Young Adult Ministry E-newsletter. (To subscribe, email [email protected]) This email lists all the archdiocesan and parish young adult events including spiritual, social, service, and educational opportunities. It’s easy to browse and pretty comprehensive. Great for young adults who are new to the area or are looking for a parish to join.

 

On Thursday morning, I prepared the song sheet for Christ in the City which took place on Thursday evening. Christ in the City is an opportunity to establish a relationship with Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist. The service includes recitation of the Rosary, Adoration of the Eucharist, Praise and Worship, Confession, and a scriptural reflection by a priest. The song sheet includes all the prayers traditionally sung during Adoration as well as some popular praise and worship songs. This allows people to participate and follow along especially if it is their first time to Christ in the City. There are usually anywhere from 75 to 150 young adults at this prayer service.

 

I also worked on the Annual Seven Church Walk which is coming up on March 28th. (Check the main page for a blog devoted to this event.) During this day-long event we visit and pray at seven churches in downtown Washington, DC. It’s my job to choose the churches, contact the pastors at those churches, create a schedule for the day, and coordinate a team of volunteers to help during the event. Everything is coming together nicely!

 

On Thursday at noon, I attended the Mass at Central Pastoral Administration (a fancy name for our offices). Why is this important? Because I want to let you know that we are all praying for you! We have Mass every day in our building, and we can also stop in the chapel any time during the day to talk to, listen to, or vent to God. He’s always there in the tabernacle!  

 

That afternoon, I did some serious spring cleaning…that’s biblical right? Leviticus? 🙂

 

I also worked with a young adult on establishing a Young Adult Ministry Softball Team this spring! We’re looking at the DC CityBall League with games on Sundays at West Potomac Park. Check the e-newsletter for details!

 

Thursday evening, as I mentioned, I prayed and worshipped and adored at Christ in the City!

 

Friday morning, I had a planning meeting for our Ad Gentes – Young Adult Mission Trip to Squaw Lake, Minnesota this June. We placed a deposit on the condominiums we’ll be renting there, and our next step is to work with a travel agent to block our plane tickets for the group. We’ll be offer Vacation Bible School to the children of the Boys and Girls Club of Squaw Lake. Along with our missionary activities, we’ll be enjoying the outdoors in Chippewa National Forest and Leech Lake and coming together in community for Mass and Liturgy of the Hours.   

 

So that’s how I’ve been reaching out to young adults. More importantly, that’s how I’ve been creating opportunities for young adults to reach out to Christ! If you have suggestions for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected] God bless!

 

40 Reasons to Come Home – Reason # 19 – Pilgrimages – Annual Seven Church Walk for Young Adults

Like many world religions, Catholicism maintains the practice of making pilgrimages to sacred sites or shrines. In his time, Saint Philip Neri (1515-1595), Patron of Rome, would lead excursions to the four Major and three Minor basilicas of Rome. The day included music, catechetical instruction, and a picnic along the way.

 

The Pilgrimage to the Seven Churches of Rome included:

San Pietro in Vaticano

San Paolo fuori le Mura

San Giovanni in Laterano

Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

San Lorenzo fuori le Mura

San Sebastiano fuori le Mura

 

Here in the Archdiocese of Washington we have our own Seven Church Walk! The Seven Church Walk serves as a spiritual preparation for Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday and is a unique way to see our historic city and its architectural diversity.

 

This year, the pilgrimage will be held on Saturday March 28 from 9:30am – 4:00pm. The day will begin with 9:30am Mass at St. Patrick’s Church (619 Tenth Street NW) and will include the Litany to St. Joseph, Stations of the Cross, Rosary, a meditation, prayers for Pope and Bishops, Divine Mercy, and Eucharistic Adoration.

 

The sites for the Seven Church Walk include:

St. Patrick

Immaculate Conception

St. Aloysius

St. Joseph

St. Peter

Holy Rosary

Mary Mother of God

 

Join more than a hundred young adults from across the Archdiocese as we visit and pray at these seven churches in downtown Washington, DC. Please bring water, a bag lunch (or money for lunch), a rosary, and a contemplative spirit. You must wear good walking shoes because we will be walking about 6.5 miles!

 

RSVP to [email protected]