Category Archives: Catholicism

Redemption Through Reflection (Review: “Remembering God’s Mercy”)

We all have memories of things we’d rather forget. Some things are embarrassing. Some are painful. Some are traumatic. Dawn Eden is no stranger to the latter, as she revealed in her previous books about chaste love (The Thrill of the Chaste and its recent Catholic edition) and about healing sexual wounds with the help of the saints. Many times, we are tempted to avoid even thinking about terrible things we have experienced. For those who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), just not thinking about it is not an option. Rather than try to avoid these memories, Eden encourages readers to redeem their pain. The One who redeemed our fallen human race can take our painful memories and turn them into opportunities for purification. With some help from St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis, and a few other heavenly witnesses, Eden offers Remembering God’s Mercy, a rich guide to healing memories and opening ourselves up to the grace of God.

flower-letters-memories

Public domain image from Pixabay.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

How Bad Catechesis Happened and How to Fix It (Review of Msgr. Charles Pope)

You can take the teacher of out of the classroom, but you can’t take the teacher out of the heart. It has been many years since I taught full-time. I still have the heart of a teacher. My work with RCIA while I was in campus ministry was one of the best ways I’ve discovered to combine my background in education, my love for Jesus Christ, and my call to serve the Church and the world. Classroom teaching and campus ministry aren’t things I’m interested in doing full-time right now. Someday, though, God willing, I hope to get married and raise up some little souls of my own. I might not be the one who teaches my children how to write a five-paragraph essay (although I absolutely still could), but I hope to be one of the ones who teaches them about Jesus.

child-reading-bible

CC0 from Unsplash.

When I was in grad school, it was impressed upon us that parents are the primary educators of their children. As Catholic school teachers, we were outsourced labor. Valuable, enthusiastic, subject-matter expert labor, but outsourced nonetheless. Ideally, parents would educate their own children in all things, and especially in the things of the Lord. It is this point that Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington stresses in his recent essays about the four big mistakes we’ve made with catechesis and how to fix them. Although, there is no cure-all solution to generations of catechetical weakness, his idea is a step in the right direction.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

We Are All Teachers of Virtue (A Response to Archbishop Cordileone’s “Knowledge, Virtue, and Holiness”)

You may remember the news headlines about Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. They focused on the bristling of some archdiocesan school teachers at the prospect of having to sign a statement affirming their support of the Catholic faith. As a former Catholic high school teacher myself, I thought it was much ado about nothing. I signed a similar statement when I was teaching. It was made clear to all us faculty that, as part of the mission of our Catholic school, we were expected not to do anything to publicly contradict Church teaching. Furthermore, the Catholics among us were expected to be examples of adult faith, and all of us were there to educate the whole person.

That was true when I was a teacher by profession, and it remains true now that I am only a teacher at heart.

books on stairs

The bottom line is that Catholic education ought to be about more than just testing, numbers, and classrooms. As I learned in ed school, we teach students subjects, so we teach students first. Do you realize that, as an adult (or even a member of your parish’s youth group mentoring younger kids), you are a teacher, too?

I recently read the full text of an address that Archbishop Cordileone gave at a convocation of Catholic high school teachers, titled “Knowledge, Virtue, and Holiness”, just over a year ago. I found it inspiring. It spoke to my heart as a lifelong educator and as a Christian. I hope to share some of the archbishop’s inspiration with you.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Holy Saturday: The Day of Redemption

I don’t have many traditions. I have habits and routines for almost everything, but my life tends to change so much from year to year that I don’t always do the same thing each time special days come around. One tradition I’ve managed to maintain is mine for Holy Saturday. I can’t (or don’t) always keep things quiet around the house, and I still have to do laundry or house cleaning and grocery shopping, but I always make time for a particular period of prayer.

I’ve been praying the Liturgy of the Hours in some fashion for years and years. Every Holy Saturday, I find some time before the Easter Vigil to pray the Office of Readings. It’s handy because you can pray that “hour” any time during the day you want to (or even the evening before—on any day, not just Saturday evening before Sunday), and it’s special because there is a particular reading for this day that doesn’t appear any other day. The original preacher’s name has been lost to history, so it’s titled “An ancient homily on Holy Saturday.”

It moved me in a very different way this year than it has any other year. This year, I was struck not only by the overwhelming character of hope it brings to what is otherwise a blank day in the season, but also by the detail of Christ’s work of redemption. It might not be a busy day for the Church’s liturgies, but it was a very busy day for Jesus.

Even if you read this after the Easter Vigil or after you have celebrated the Resurrection, I hope that you will use it for meditation on the specific depths to which Christ went to save you and to save us all.

a stone angel with a garland of flowers in front of a cross

Something strange is happening. There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in Hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I in you; together we form one person and cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise. Let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

May God bless you.

Your Battle Plan Against Porn (Review: “Cleansed”)

I hate pornography, so I am a fan of resources for people who also hate pornography but have a better sense of how to fight the good fight than I do. I’m not foolish enough to think that the problem of porn addiction is going to quietly disappear from our society, so I keep my eyes peeled for good weapons to wield. I was, therefore, very excited to hear about Marcel LeJeune’s new book, Cleansed: A Catholic Guide to Freedom from Porn. I happen to be acquainted with the author through my work in campus ministry. For that reason, I’m just going to call him Marcel. “LeJeune” just seems too stuffy. This is not a book for stuffy people, and I hope this does not turn out to be a stuffy review. It’s a book packed with stuff, but it’s good stuff.

"Porn kills love. But it can't kill hope." —Marcel LeJeune, "Cleansed" at ATXCatholic.com.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Not Alone Series: Parish and Community Involvement

notaloneseries

As a single lady, how do you find your niche in your parish, church, and community? How do you hope to expand your community this year? What are some suggestions for those of us looking for a way to find a community? Lent might just be the perfect time to try something new—what do you recommend?

I wrote about this in essay format in “I Am Single and Catholic, and I Matter”. When I wrote that, I was particularly frustrated with the complaints I hear about single people in the Church:

  1. “The Church needs to do more for single people.”
  2. “There’s nothing to do at church if you don’t have a spouse or kids.”
  3. “Don’t worry about the single people. We’ll get them when they’re ready to get married, or at least to have their babies baptized.”

In general, I don’t like complaining. I try not to. (Sometimes I fail.) It’s one thing to identify a problem when you don’t have a solution. It’s another thing to suggest an answer that gets ignored or never comes to fruition. It’s still another thing to point out problems for their own sake. That last one is the one I dislike the most.

Number 1 is the worst. When single people say “do more, Church,” what exactly are they looking for? Although I was involved in Catholic online dating for a while, I would steer clear of any kind of parish-affiliated singles group. I love young adult groups (which tend to be comprised of mostly single people), but to declare that a group is for singles is like stamping everyone who goes with a scarlet “S” and encouraging people to pair off fast and disappear once they’re coupled up. I already feel abandoned sometimes by my friends who have gotten married and left our young adult groups (even before they had kids). I don’t need to feel like I’m failing at being in a singles group because I’m not married and gone yet.

On the contrary, I keep myself busy defying Number 2. At my parish, I’m a lector, and I’ve joined adult Bible study on and off. We do topical studies for eight to twelve weeks at a time, which I like. By “adult,” we just mean that it’s not going to be geared toward children, teens, young adults, parents, couples, or retirees. Similar to my other activities, adult Bible study tends not to draw married adults who have young children at home, but they would be completely welcome. We do have some empty-nest couples, and our leader has one child at home and I think two in college, yet I feel welcome and appreciated as a single person.

One of the other Bible study members told me the last time we met that she particularly appreciates my presence. The same study is offered on Thursday mid-mornings (I go Wednesday nights), but that is all older people. No one else is free in that time slot! This lady said she’s been to that one before, but since all the people are so similar, the “discussions” turn into choruses of agreement. In our study, I don’t have much to offer concerning the way God loves us unconditionally like parents love their children, but I know plenty about drawing wayward souls back. Sometimes that soul is mine.

Number 3 is unfortunately not true. Maybe it was in the past, but it’s not today. I knew that even before I saw the stats in Forming Intentional Disciples. It’s more likely today that children who are raised Catholic (not that I’ve ever found a good definition of “raised Catholic”) will stop going to Mass by their mid-twenties and never return. It’s not even a 50/50 chance—more like 85/15. We’re hemorrhaging baptized Catholics. This is the one zone where I would say we need a revolution to get young adults back or make them want to stay. Youth ministry is fine because kids will go when their parents make them go. High school ministry has vastly improved. Campus ministry is doing okay, although not great. Young adult and marriage ministries are struggling. I say that as a young adult who is involved in ministry. The few baptized babies that make it through adolescence without leaving church (or who come back, like I did) face some hard work building the next generation.

The best advice I can offer is not to let your youth or singleness be held against you (1 Timothy 4:12). As Shauna Niequist is fond of saying, “You are significant with or without a significant other.” I definitely wish I were married by now, but since I’m not, I’ve struck out on my own. You can do the same. If you need a buddy, I might not be able to hold your hand in person, but you can always ask for my prayers.


Next week’s topic: Reading List Recommendations

We all enjoy new reading material, and this year a reading goal just may be on your list of goals. What book genre(s) do you like the most? Do you borrow books from your local library, purchase them for current and future reading, or do you read e-books? What are some books that you loved reading and that you would recommend?

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Rachel at Keeping It Real.

Opening My Mind to Cardinal Avery Dulles’s “Catholicism and Capital Punishment”

I like to read, and I don’t like the death penalty. Thus, I like to read things that are about abolishing the death penalty. (I’m so unpredictable.) As I mentioned in my review of the remarkable book Change of Heart, by Jeanne Bishop, I acknowledge that Catholics are allowed to support capital punishment without considering themselves in opposition to the Church. I just don’t think they should.

Catholicism and Capital Punishment at ATXCatholic.com

I will admit, though, that I didn’t have a whole lot of reasons to back up my preference. There’s the famous paragraph 2267 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, of course:

Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent” (St. John Paul II, Evangelium vitae).

But that’s not enough. And as much as I enjoyed Change of Heart, it’s not written by a Catholic. I thought things might be a little more complex than I’d considered. I was therefore delighted to read the essay adaptation of an address by Cardinal Avery Dulles, simply titled “Catholicism and Capital Punishment.” It was just the foundation I was looking for.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

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