Where are you going? A legend has Peter walking along a road outside of Rome, fleeing arrest and certain death, when he comes to a crossroads: where the Appian Way meets the Via Ardeatina. There he meets our risen Lord. “Quo vadis?” Peter asks, to which Jesus replies: “Romam vado iterum crucifigi.” I am going to Rome to be crucified again. The end of the story, of course, is the end of Peter. He turns around and heads back towards Vatican Hill. This is the last time he would need to be redirected by Jesus. The Church that began in Jerusalem became Roman, principally because Peter and Paul took the Gospel into what was then the heart of darkness, and because they both died there. Quo vadis? When disciples of Jesus found His teaching too burdensome and headed for the hills, the Lord turned to His apostles and asked if they would also leave. John reports: “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.’”This is the premise of this page: to follow Our Lord and rediscover the mission. The idea of this page came about as a suggested training for catholic youth that was unfortunately not utilized in my local parish. So rather than trash the work I had done in designing the weekly instructions in the faith I have decided to proceed with the training electronically for those who wish to discover the Catholic faith or rediscover it if you are “Catholic without a clue.” I will be using as a source for this instruction two books (listed below: should you wish to acquire them) as a resource and my own book, “Be Not Afraid-Winter Addition to start.· Rediscover Catholicism, Matthew Kelly, 2002.· Catechism of the Catholic Church.I will prepare a weekly training plan for my audience to discover the mission. It will have readings, videos, ideas for discussions with friends or for contemplation and discussion with the Holy Spirit along with other suggestions. This in effect will be my ethereal classroom and you can always send me your thoughts and questions via the blog. The instructions will start on the first Sunday in January 2017 and continue every week thereafter however you can adapt as you see fit. The instructions with cover faithful calendar for that week.
Monday-Sunday, January 23-29, 2017 Catholic Schools Week/John Boscoa. Meet our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and be still and know he is God.b. Discuss (with friends) Thomas Aquinas thoughts on Fear
Article 1. Whether God can be feared? I answer that, Just as hope has two objects, one of which is the future good itself, that one expects to obtain, while the other is someone's help, through whom one expects to obtain what one hopes for, so, too, fear may have two objects, one of which is the very evil which a man shrinks from, while the other is that from which the evil may come. Accordingly, in the first way God, Who is goodness itself, cannot be an object of fear; but He can be an object of fear in the second way, in so far as there may come to us some evil either from Him or in relation to Him. From Him there comes the evil of punishment, but this is evil not absolutely but relatively, and, absolutely speaking, is a good. Because, since a thing is said to be good through being ordered to an end, while evil implies lack of this order, that which excludes the order to the last end is altogether evil, and such is the evil of fault. On the other hand the evil of punishment is indeed an evil, in so far as it is the privation of some particular good, yet absolutely speaking, it is a good, in so far as it is ordained to the last end. In relation to God the evil of fault can come to us, if we be separated from Him: and in this way God can and ought to be feared.Article 2. Whether fear is fittingly divided into filial, initial, servile and worldly fear? I answer that, We are speaking of fear now, in so far as it makes us turn, so to speak, to God or away from Him. For, since the object of fear is an evil, sometimes, on account of the evils he fears, man withdraws from God, and this is called human fear; while sometimes, on account of the evils he fears, he turns to God and adheres to Him. This latter evil is twofold, viz. evil of punishment, and evil of fault. Accordingly if a man turn to God and adhere to Him, through fear of punishment, it will be servile fear; but if it be on account of fear of committing a fault, it will be filial fear, for it becomes a child to fear offending its father. If, however, it be on account of both, it will be initial fear, which is between both these fears.
Article 3. Whether worldly fear is always evil? I answer that, moral acts and habits take their name and species from their objects. Now the proper object of the appetite's movement is the final good: so that, in consequence, every appetitive movement is both specified and named from its proper end. For if anyone were to describe covetousness as love of work because men work on account of covetousness, this description would be incorrect, since the covetous man seeks work not as end but as a means: the end that he seeks is wealth, wherefore covetousness is rightly described as the desire or the love of wealth, and this is evil. Accordingly worldly love is, properly speaking; the love whereby a man trusts in the world as his end, so that worldly love is always evil. Now fear is born of love, since man fears the loss of what he loves, as Augustine states. Now worldly fear is that which arises from worldly love as from an evil root, for which reason worldly fear is always evil.
c. Searching for identity: the mission; the adventure of salvation; Catholic’s today; Catholicism is a lifestyle; identity crisis (Chap. 4 Rediscover Catholicism)
Make cookies honoring an individual apostles or all at one time.d. Food: Apostle cookies
DIRECTIONSAny good gingerbread cookie dough will do, and any good gingerbread-boy cookie cutter will make a gingerbread Apostle (or you may cut them freehand with a knife). The twist is in the decoration. We decorated each one with his own symbols, tied a ribbon through a hole pierced (before baking) in the top of each cookie, served them on a tray, covered, with only the ribbons showing; you got your dessert by choosing a ribbon, finding the cookie, and identifying it. This is an excellent way to learn all the Apostles.
The frosting is a confectioner's sugar recipe tinted with vegetable colors. The symbols may be made with stiff frosting squirted through a squeegee, if you have one, or may be cut from foil, paper, or made of any materials that suggest themselves. Here are suggestions for cookie decorating.
St. Peter (June 29). Red frosting because he was a martyr. Symbols: two keys, a cock crowing, an upside-down cross, a fish, a sword. The keys remind us that Jesus gave him the Keys of the Kingdom; the cock recalls his denial of Our Lord; the cross tells that he is supposed to have been martyred head down; the fish — he was a fisher of men; the sword tells of his temper on the night he cut off Malchus' ear. Our Peter cut a silver-foil fish for this cookie and stuck it in the frosting. You could do the keys and sword of foil also, with the cross of melted chocolate. The cock can be drawn or cut from a picture, cut out and stuck on. St. Peter is the patron of locksmiths and cobblers.
St. Andrew (November 30). He is next because he is Peter's brother. Red frosting for martyrdom. Symbols: a fish hook, fisherman's net, two fishes, a cross saltire (X) because he is supposed to have died on such a cross, preaching joyously till death came. This shows the inspired origin of X marks the spot. When we put X's on exam papers, licenses, ballots, we might remember St. Andrew and ask him to help us choose well. The fishing symbols recall that he was, like his brother, a fisher of men as well as of fishes. He is said to have evangelized Scotland, and so is a patron of the Scots, as well as of fishermen and fish dealers; he is invoked by woman who wish to become mothers.
St. James the Great (July 25). He is called great because he was the tall James. He was the son of Zebedee and the brother of St. John the Evangelist. Our Lord called these two the Sons of Thunder: partly, we are told, for their vehement defense of Christ and His teaching, and partly because they wanted Him to burn up the Samaritans inside their houses with fire from Heaven, like the three little pigs, because they wouldn't welcome them into their village. Our Lord rebuked them for it. He said that He came to give life, not destroy it — which teaches a good lesson in resisting the temptation to "get even." This was certainly the opposite of the meekness He said would "inherit the earth." This James was the first Apostle to die for Christ, beheaded in Jerusalem by Herod Agrippa. His symbols — the pilgrim's cloak, staff, hat, purse, and scallop shell (always the symbol of pilgrims) — signify that he went on long missionary journeys. A tiny shell stuck to the frosting on this cookie was the clue we used.
St. John the Evangelist (December 27). He is the brother to the tall James, and is best known as the "disciple Jesus loved." It was Salome, the mother of these two, who asked Our Lord for the best seats in Heaven for them. He was the only Apostle who lived to a very old age and died a natural death; so the frosting on his cookie is white. His symbols are awfully complicated for cookies: a cauldron with an eagle rising (escape from boiling oil); a chalice with serpent emerging (escape from poisoned wine); an eagle, symbol of the fearless evangelist. We made up one, to tell how he loved Our Lord: a heart.
St. Philip (formerly May 11, now May 3). He was one of the first to follow Our Lord and was present at the miracle of the loaves and fishes. At the Last Supper he asked Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father." And Jesus' answer is one we should remember when people question the Divinity of Christ: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). His symbols are a basket and loaves; a cross, a spear, stones to describe his martyrdom. We put a snip of bread on his cookie.
St. Bartholomew (August 24). The mystery man. His name, Bar-Tolmai indicates that he is the son of Tolmai. He is an old friend of St. Philip and is often mentioned with him. It is supposed that he is the Nathaniel to whom Philip made his announcement under the fig tree. Nathaniel was skeptical that this Man was really the Messias, and Our Lord commended his skepticism because Israel was often thick with self-appointed messiases. "Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile," said Our Lord, as Nathaniel came toward Him down the road. Then to Nathaniel: "Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee!" Then didn't Nathaniel believe! He lost his heart that moment. "Rabbi thou art the Son of God! Thou art King of Israel!" St. Bartholomew's symbols are about as grisly as you'll find: flaying knives, a cross, an axe, and such, because his was a wild and bloody death; and then there is our pet symbol for him — a branch of the fig tree. Make this with melted chocolate and green candy leaves from the cake-decorating department in the dime store.
St. Thomas (formerly December 21, now July 3). The twin, best remembered because he doubted Our Lord's resurrection. When Our Lord finally came and showed Thomas, He made reference to us: "Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed." St. Thomas was allegedly a missionary to India, where he preached and built a church with his own hands; hence he is one of the patrons of builders and has carpenter's tools among his symbols. He was stoned but did not quite die; so he was shot down with arrows next (according to tradition); then, still alive, he was run through with a spear by a pagan priest. None of these symbols suited us; so we made up another: five red cinnamon candies to remind us of the Blessed Wounds he was told to inspect. Remember to make the intention to gain the indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory when you say his prayer at the Elevation of the Mass: "My Lord and my God!" He is also the patron of masons.
St. Matthew (September 21). He was the publican, the tax collector, and since so few of these were honest, they were despised by all (there is nothing new under the sun). Our Lord was going along His way after curing a paralytic when He saw Matthew sitting in the countinghouse at his table. "Follow Me," was all He said, and up jumped Matthew without even saying good-bye or giving two weeks' notice. That is how we are supposed to obey Him — right away. He is supposed to have been martyred in Ethiopia on a T-shaped cross (called a Tau cross), with his head chopped off with a battle-axe. There's a better symbol than that to help children learn about him: a bright new penny. Whoever draws this cookie gets to keep the penny.
St. James the Less (formerly May 11, now May 3). This is the short James, sometimes called St. James the Small. It is said he spent so much time on his knees that the skin became as tough as a camel's. His mother was a close relative to Our Lady, which would probably make Our Lady Aunt Mary to this James (only, since they were Jewish, she would be Aunt Miriam). He said in his Epistle that though our tongues are small, they are mighty, and capable of great evil. "How small the flame, yet how mighty the forest fire it kindles." He was about ninety-five when they threw him off the temple parapet, probably A.D. 62, in Jerusalem where he was Bishop. But he was a tough old saint and didn't die then; so they stoned him, then finished him off with a blow from a weaver's bat. One of his symbols is a windmill, but we could never decide why. Perhaps because they pushed him off into mid-air; or could it have something to do with what he said about tongues and talking? An easier symbol is three stones which we could find in the driveway or fish bowl or Mother's bowl of narcissus. Wash them well and stick to red frosting, and warn all present that they must be removed before biting. No broken front teeth at this feast, if you please.
St. Jude (October 28). Called Thaddeus, the "saint of the impossible." He was brother to James the Less; so he is also a cousin to Jesus. He asked Our Lord at the Last Supper to tell them why He revealed Himself to only these few and not the whole world. Jesus seemed not to hear, but said: "If a man has love for Me, he will be true to My word, and then he will win My Father's love and We will both come to him, and make our continual abode with him." It hardly seems an answer at first glance. He speaks of the indwelling of Himself and His Father in our souls. But if you read it again: "If a man has love for Me. . . ." Only a few — compared to the many who had seen Him day after day — loved Him. He said at other times that men have eyes to see, and do not see. It really was an answer. St. Jude is almost always in the company of St. Simon, and together with him is said to have been sent to preach Christ in Persia, where they both were martyred. The nicest of his symbols is a boat with a crossed mast. We cut a tiny boat of colored paper and stuck it on his cookie.
St. Simon (October 28). He is called the Zealot for his great zeal and, some say, because he may have been a member of a sect called the Zealots. This is debated He is supposed to have been martyred by idolatrous priests who either crucified him or sawed him in two, like Isaias. Among his symbols we find a ship with a fish; so we put the same kind of little boat on his cookie as we put on St. Jude's, and added a silver-foil fish because he was a fisher of men. He is the patron of curriers and pit sawyers (men who saw wood over a pit — one standing above wood, one below).
St. Matthias (formerly February 24 now May 14). His symbols refer to his martyrdom: a number of dreadful things like a sword, a scimitar, stones, a spear. Best of all, we thought, was to choose a broomstraw for him. After all, he had been chosen by lot. We washed one well and stuck it to him so that we'd never forget how they voted him in. He is the patron of carpenters, tailors, and repentant drunkards and is invoked against smallpox.
Activity Source: Year and Our Children, The by Mary Reed Newland, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, New York, 1956
Monday-Sunday, January 16-22, 2017 Week of prayer for Christian Unitya. Meet our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and be still and know he is God.b. Discuss (with friends) sins of the tongue.Today might be a good day to make a silent retreat. Shut off the TV, radio and try to obtain silence. In the modern world it is indeed difficult to find silence and when we do we fidget because our mind is so addicted to constant stimulation it drives us crazy and we fidget. Never fear you will not burst.Silence: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46: 10)Here is an excerpt from Ask a Carmelite Sister…
Sins and Faults of the Tongue: To Speak or not to Speak – That is the QuestionDear Sister,There is a lot of noise around me – constantly. So much chatter. It seems to me that conversations in general are getting more superficial. I’m reminded of the title of one Shakespeare’s plays. It seems to fit what I am trying to say – Much Ado about Nothing. What are your thoughts?Dear Friend,Ah! Much Ado About Nothing. Well said!I hear a longing in your question – a longing for something deeper, restorative and spiritual. To fulfill this longing, we must all try, even though it is not so easy in today’s culture, to re-discover the healing power of silence. As Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time to be silent, and a time to speak.”Each one of my Carmelite Sisters, including myself, is required to make an eight-day silent retreat yearly. When we first entered Carmel, silence was difficult for us. It was new. Many of us spend our first eight-day retreat simply meditating with growing astonishment that anyone could even keep quiet for eight full days, and how were we ever going to get through it? Of course, throughout the years, we have all come to love it.There are two kinds of silence – exterior and interior silence. Each complements the other. Each makes the other possible. Both bring you closer to God. We learn to keep still and quiet so that we may pray. It doesn’t take long to realize that the external silence, once achieved, reveals all those interior noises that converge within our minds. The Carmelite way is a way of profound prayer and we all find out soon enough that our interior thoughts can be very noisy. I’ve heard from people who had tried the hermit way of life, and left it because the silence uncovered so much of their interior noise. As they put it, it uncovered too much.During one eight-day silent retreat, the retreat master, who happened to be Father Thomas Dubay, SM, spoke about the opposite of silence. He concentrated on speech, on WHAT we CHOOSE to say and WHEN we choose to say it.I still have my notes from that memorable eight-day retreat. Each point was an eye-opener for me. You may find this helpful in your quest. So, here are my notes from conferences given by Father Dubay, who divided the topic into two sections:1. Obvious Sins of the Tongue2. Unrealized Faults of SpeechObvious Sins of the Tongue – “In a multitude of words, sin is not lacking” (Proverbs 10:19).· Detraction – speaking about another persons’ faults (faults that are true) without a good reason (Sirach 21).· Calumny – which is speaking about a persons’ faults (faults that are not true).· Bickering – speaking nasty or biting remarks· Nagging – the constant complaining, scolding or urging about a fault even if it is true; to find fault constantly (Proverbs 21:9).· Ego-centrism – constantly referring to what I did, what I said, etc. Constantly talking about ME· Breaking confidences – for there are natural secrets that should not be spread; people have a right to their reputation (Proverbs 11:13)· Dominating a conversation to prove a point – and most of the time we are unaware we are doing this.· Salacious talks/jokes – which has to do with speaking impurely (Ephesians 5:3-4).Unrealized Faults of Speech1. Talking can be a big waste of time – when the talking is empty and gossipy (Matt. 12:36)2. Neglecting the spiritual in our speaking with others – which is the main business of our lives (Ps. 25:15; Eph. 1: Col. 3:12; Eph. 5:18-20)3. Dissipation and draining of our psychic energies – leaving us fatigued, distracted, and unable to do our tasks at hand4. Bad example – to our family, friends, co-workers, but especially to our children5. Excessive comfort-seeking through words – which includes talking over and over again about one’s hurts6. Excusing ourselves – when we should not7. Vain discussions – when our time could be better spent (2 Tim. 2:16-17)8. Meddling in others’ affairs (2 Thess. 3:11-12)How to Overcome Sins of the Tongue1. Daily prayer.2. Frequent Confession and Holy Communion.3. Pray for the grace to recognize all of the sins of the tongue — some are obvious, some are subtle.4. Pray for the grace to keep silent during discussion of a bad situation.5. Pray for the grace to keep silent during discussion of another person.6. Just keep silent.RULE: NEVER pass on derogatory or uncomplimentary information about anyone, unless the Word of God has given you the specific authority and responsibility to do so, and the person you are informing likewise has responsibility in the situation and a need to know the information.Of course, the reason we have times of silence is so that we may turn our conversation toward God. The silence we are speaking of is a prayerful, expectant waiting silence. Our world has too much noise in it today, and if we are really honest, each one of us could probably say that our hearts do also. When we do speak, let us be more attentive to what we say, why we are saying it, and how it affects others.Thank you for your question and until next time,Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.In silence today listen to the Lord:May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call. (Eph. 1:18-19)May the Spirit of the LORD, rush upon you as it did David the King. (1Sm. 16:13)c. Is Jesus still relevant?
d. Food: Italian Wedding Cookies.
e. Take away: Seven precepts of the church handout/prayer for the unborn.f.The Seven Precepts of the ChurchThe Catechism of the Catholic Church lists 5 precepts. The last two are included elsewhere in the catechism but are not listed as precepts. And they are equally important. The original seven are listed here for historic educational value.
I. To attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and resting from servile works.
II. To observe the days of abstinence and fasting.
III. To confess our sins to a priest, at least once a year.
IV. To receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist at least once a year during Easter Season.
V. To contribute to the support of the Church.
VI. To obey the laws of the Church concerning Matrimony.
VII. To participate in the Church's mission of Evangelization of Souls. (Missionary Spirit of the Church)However, the novena also highlights many other facets of respecting each other's God-given dignity, especially by respecting human life at every stage and in every circumstance.9 Days for Life is an opportunity to: http://www.ecatholic2000.com/essentials/precepts.shtml
Sunday January 9-15, 2017 Baptism of Christ
For those who may not have group to share with yet still would like to walk with our Lord perhaps you could do part a. on one day of the week then do part b. one another and so on.
a. Meet our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and be still and know he is God.b. Discuss (with friends) four steps to healing and forgiving.Your freedom is a gift from God but with it comes human responsibility. God, who sees everything, is neither the cause nor the occasion of sin. We have the power to choose our behavior and we are responsible for both the good and the evil we do.Deceivers are those who hold the Lord responsible for their sins.We can choose to harm or we can choose to heal.As the former Archbishop of Cape Town, Tutu became a leading human rights advocate who has championed causes such as poverty, racism, homophobia, sexism, HIV/AIDS and war. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. In his newest work, The Book of Forgiving (co-authored with his daughter, Mpho Tutu), he offers four steps to forgiving and healing:
1. Telling the Story2. Naming the Hurt3. Granting Forgiveness4.
Renewing or Releasing the Relationship Here, we discuss this process, how his experiences with apartheid relate to it, and how he answers those who’ve criticized it.Your first step to forgiveness and healing is to “admit the wrong and acknowledge the harm.” Doesn’t that just dredge up old pain? For both the offender and the victim, the pain is there, often unacknowledged and that is when it can cause harm through festering. When I ignore a physical wound, it does not go away. No, it festers and goes bad. It may be initially painful to open up a wound, but then it can be cleaned out and cauterized. And you can pour a healing balm.Another step you list is “asking for…and granting forgiveness.” How do you forgive someone who doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong? That is a very important issue. If forgiving depended on the culprit owning up, then the victim would always be at the mercy of the perpetrator. The victim would be bound in the shackles of victimhood. That is why forgiving is a gift to the forgiver as well as to the perpetrator. As the victim, you offer the gift of your forgiving to the perpetrator who may or may not appropriate the gift but it has been offered and thereby it liberates the victim. Jesus prayed that His Father should forgive the men who were nailing Him to the cross even as they were doing so; He even found an excuse for them and so really offered His forgiveness thereby. He did not wait until they asked for His forgiveness. Of course, it would have been far better if they had been penitent and asked for His forgiveness. It was a gift He was giving to Himself as well, which released Him from being filled with self pity, an unhealthy psychological state. It would be grossly unfair to the victim to be dependent on the whim of the perpetrator. It would make him or her a victim twice over. The gift has been given. It is up to the intended recipient to appropriate it. The outside air is fresh and invigorating and it is always there. If you are in a dank and stuffy room you can enjoy that fresh air if you open the windows. It is up to you.RNS: In a post entitled, “Why Desmond Tutu is Wrong,” Lesley Leyland Fields suggests that your notion that we forgive “for ourselves” is “killing biblical forgiveness.” She says, “Biblical forgiveness is a gift first to the offender and to Christ.” How do you respond? I have already pointed how it is important, very important to give oneself that gift, of letting go of resentment and anger which diminish oneself. The self is quite important in who we are. Jesus quoting the Torah answers the question, “Which is the greatest law?” by saying, “The first is Thou shalt love The Lord thy God with all….” And then He adds, “The second is, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. That is the highest approbation one can hope for about a proper self-love. We know the havoc that has been caused by those with a feeble self image, weak self esteem. They will usually throw their weight around trying to fill the hollow inside them. Offering forgiveness prevents us from being destroyed by a corrosive resentment. It helps us grow in being magnanimous.RNS: Fields also says that Biblical forgiveness is “not about letting go of the past, but about redeeming the past. If “redeeming the past” means “not allowing the past to haunt you, to have a stranglehold on you” then I’m happy to let her use her phrase.RNS: You mention that sometimes the final step is “releasing” rather than “renewing” the relationship. How do you know which is the right path? There are the fairly obvious ones: an abusive relationship should be easy to identify though often one of the most difficult to end; or one where you are likely to be misled into risky behavior–like excessive drinking, experimenting with dangerous substances, etcetera. But there are other more subtle ones such as friendships that can lead to infidelity and other things.. In the end, we know the relationships we should end.c. Do something fun this week. Suggestion: This month’s full moon is called the full wolf moon. Relay to someone the story of the two wolves.
A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other. One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear. The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, the one you feed
This week find healthful ways to relax to feed the good wolf.
1. Drink some green tea
2. Take a nap
3. Go outside
4. Get fresh air
5. Get sunlight
6. Meditate on the breath
7. Breathe deeply
8. Watch some TV
9. Listen to classical music
10. Go to the gym
d. World philosophy-Individualism; hedonism; minimalism.
When I read this book on my own, something which immediately caught my attention was near the beginning where the author speaks about the various attitudes and philosophies which shape and define the particular mindset of the modern secular world. In particular, he identifies three key things: individualism, hedonism and minimalism.
Let’s run through all three of these things. First, what’s individualism? Individualism is an attitude whereby I come to see myself as the center of the universe. The individualist will typically go through the course of his or her day asking himself or herself one question: “What’s in it for me?”
Secondly, what’s hedonism? Essentially, it is an attitude whereby I come to see the pursuit of my own personal pleasure as my primary concern in life.(4) The hedonist will typically ask himself or herself this question: “How can I maximize the amount of pleasure in my life while minimizing the amount of pain and inconvenience which I must endure?”
Thirdly, what is minimalism? This is a particular attitude whereby I look to put in the minimum amount of effort that I possibly can into life, while reaping the maximum amount of reward. The minimalist will typically ask himself or herself questions such as these: “What’s the least amount I can possibly do at the workplace and still keep my job?” Or perhaps: “What’s the least amount I can possibly do at school and still get a good grade?”
There are many people in the world today who might “self-identify” as being “Christian”, if not “Catholic”, who are still, in reality, giving their hearts very much to the so-called “spirit of the world”; whether we’re talking about the spirit of individualism, hedonism or minimalism.
For instance, we can say that there are many Catholics in the world who go to Mass, say their prayers, and perhaps even occasionally eat fish on Fridays – who still govern the vast majority of their conduct by asking themselves this one simple question: “What’s in it for me?”
Many of these people might still be very “kind” and “generous” to certain persons that they happen to know. Who isn’t from time to time? But perhaps, this sense of “kindness” and “generosity” is still governed by a pervasive sense of selfishness and self-interest. In other words: “I’ll be kind to you, but only insofar as you’re being kind back onto me!” or “I’ll be nice to you only insofar as you’re being nice back onto me!” And what is that but the spirit of individualism.
Let’s take a different example. Again, we can say that there are many Catholics in the world today who go to Mass, say their prayers, and perhaps belong to certain religious clubs or organizations who still govern the bulk of their conduct by asking: “How can I get through the course of my day while incurring the least amount of pain or inconvenience to myself?”
Many of these people might still be saying their prayers, perhaps even every day, but what’s often the real substance behind these prayers? “O Lord, give me the things that I want, the things that I desire, the things that I believe to be essential to my own sense of happiness and well-being. But Lord, whatever You do: do not make me suffer, do not give me inconvenience, and do not give me pain! In other words, do not give me the Cross!” And that is the spirit of hedonism: the relentless and almost single-minded pursuit of one’s own personal pleasure as one’s ultimate concern.
This takes us to our third example. Again, there are many Catholics in the world who go to church, go to confession, and even follow the Commandments who still perhaps ask themselves this question over and over again: “How can I get myself into the kingdom of heaven, while putting the least amount of effort into my relationship with God?”
These people might try their very best to avoid all sorts of serious sin. But, as we know from personal experience, there is a huge difference in reality between simply trying to avoid “serious sin”, and actually trying our very best to please the Lord in all things, especially in those little details which perhaps no one else would ever notice, except Christ Himself! But that’s really the difference between being a “lukewarm Catholic” (or a “minimalist”) and being a true disciple of the Lord.
Perhaps one of the best ways for us to pull this together is to reflect on the story in the Gospel of the rich young man (Mt 10:17-31; Mk 19:16-30; Lk 18:18-30). You’ll recall how the story actually begins: the rich young man goes up to Jesus and he says to Him: “[Good] Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life” (Mt 19:16)? If we look at the very wording of the rich young man’s question, we find the spirit of individualism. Because he’s basically saying: “[Good] Teacher, what good deed must I do on my own to ‘buy’ my way into the kingdom of heaven, without any kind of real regard for my relationship with You or my relationship with other people?” This is the spirit of individualism.
But that’s just the first thing. The second is this: we can also perceive in the wording of the rich young man’s question a strong sense of minimalism. He’s also saying: “What’s the least amount I can possibly do in the context of the spiritual life, whether we’re talking about saying a certain number of prayers or doing a certain number of good works, to ‘guarantee’ my spot in the kingdom of heaven, such that I can just ‘do those things’ and then get on with the rest of my life?”
You’ll recall what Jesus says to him in response. The Gospel says that Jesus looks at him with love (cf. Mk 10:17). But then, Jesus says to him: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me” (Mt 19:21) [emphasis added]. Because the rich young man is not just an individualist and a minimalist, but he’s also a hedonist, he is “shocked” (Mk 10:22) by our Lord’s response. And so, the Gospel says (very famously) that he “[goes] away grieving, [because] he had many possessions” (Mk 10:22) [emphasis added]. Whenever we hear this story, we too are often inclined to come away “grieving, [because we too] have many possessions”. But we have to think about what Jesus is really saying. In a certain sense, what He’s actually saying to us is this: being a Christian is not about doing “randomly good stuff,” and it’s not about trying to simply “buy our way into heaven.” No, being a Christian is ultimately about following the person of Christ: it’s about being His disciple. In particular, it’s about making that very explicit choice throughout the course of our day, in all those really tiny, discreet little decisions that make up the very fabric of our day, to orientate the entirety of our lives to the person of Christ: everything that we are, everything that we do, and everything that we have. That is what it ultimately means to be a true disciple of the Lord.
That is why it doesn’t make sense for us to “claim” to be a Christian, to “claim” to be a Catholic, where we seem to be doing all the right things from a purely external point of view, whether we’re talking about going to Mass, saying our prayers, going to confession, or even belonging to certain religious clubs or organizations. But at the same time, what we are actually doing is giving our hearts very much to the so-called “spirit of the world,” whether we’re talking about the spirit of individualism, hedonism or minimalism.
If we’re only being nice to other people because they’re being nice back onto us; or if we’re only saying our prayers or doing good works because we believe that these things will help us to “buy” our way into heaven; or if we’re only interested in doing what is right when it doesn’t cost us very much, or when it seems to be convenient for us to do, then, what we are actually doing is living not for the person of Christ, but rather, we are still living simply for ourselves.
The point is that when we try to live the Catholic faith in this very narrow, compromised, and ultimately selfish way, is it really any wonder that we’re left feeling empty and sad? Not because the Catholic faith “doesn’t work,” but rather, because we have not yet learned, or more accurately, we have not yet acquired the courage to actually live the Catholic faith in the way that we should. Perhaps not even for a single day!
I think the Lord is inviting each one of us to really take a chance here; to really have courage; to really try and live the Catholic faith in the way that we should: not as a “moral code” or as merely “philosophy” but rather, as a life of true discipleship vis-à-vis the person of Christ.(8) And then, to see if the peace of Christ, which is beyond all understanding (cf. Phil 4:7) does not then and only then become ours for the taking.
e. Food: Christ’s diapers
f. Take away: MLK HolidayWe celebrate the legacy of a man who died and lived to create a culture of justice that ensures the dignity of all men, women and children in America. Our church also recognizes the need for dignity not only for mankind but also in marriage and it is only when we recognize the grandeur of His works that we begin to realize that every man, woman and child is a wonder wroth by His hands. The reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) championed a movement that was based on love and his ideal was to obtain justice by nonviolent means as expressed in this speech. Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. (Mt. 26:52)
Sunday January 1-8, 2017 Epiphany and the Holy Name of Jesus.a. Meet our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and be still and know he is God.
b. Discuss (with friends) Google the 11 faithful apostles.
c. Do something fun this week. Suggestion: Twelfth Night Party (Jan 6)
d. Universal Hunger 
· MATTHEW KELLY
The Church (like so many other things in life) is not so much something we inherit from generations past or take over from our predecessors as it is something on loan to us from future generations. Throughout human history, there has never been a shortage of men and women willing to point humanity along the right path. Nor have the needs of the human family ever been a secret: food, shelter, meaningful work, companionship, freedom, forgiveness, acceptance, and love. In every age, there is an abundance of people who try to speak to these very real human needs and announce the social implications particular to that time. These people stand at the crossroads and point humanity down a path they have never traveled themselves. In our own age, there is certainly no shortage of books, CDs, DVDs, podcasts, Web sites, radio shows, seminars, and television programs attempting to speak to our very real human needs in ways that are relevant and engaging. But amid this apparent abundance there is a great poverty. I am not speaking of a material poverty. Rather, it seems in every place and in every time the shortage is always of men and women willing to lead humanity along the right path with the example of their own lives. In each moment of history authentic lives are ever so rare.
Appearance vs. the Authentic
Our own age seems to be governed by illusion and deception. We have built a whole culture based on appearance. Everything looks good, but scratch just below the surface, and you will discover little substance. Appearance has become a standard. We have grown so numb to the realities of good and evil that lying and cheating have become almost universally accepted as necessary evils. So we tolerate them, as long as they are performed in the dim light of respectability. Occasionally, in the midst of this cultural darkness, the great light of the human spirit shines forth with honesty and integrity. At those times we seem surprised, even taken off guard. Honesty, loyalty, and integrity seem almost out of place in the modern schema. But beneath the surface, under the guise of appearances, this age, like any other, is made up of people like you and me. And if you listen carefully, if you look closely, you will discover that people are hungry. We were created to love and be loved, and there is a restlessness, a longing for more, a profound discontent with our lives and with our culture. We sense that something is missing, and deep within we know that nothing we can buy and no worldly pleasure will satisfy our restlessness. This yearning preoccupies the human heart, and it is neither random nor accidental; everyone has it and we have it for a reason. The Holy Spirit (the "soul of our soul," as Pope Benedict XVI calls him) is at the source of these longings. It is the presence of God in the most interior part of ourselves that calls us to move beyond the surface concerns of our lives, to explore and experience something deeper.Our hunger is not for appearances, nor is it for the fleeting and superficial; it is for something of substance. We are hungry for truth. The people of today are starving for the authentic, thirsting for the tiniest droplet of sincerity, aching to experience the genuine.
Why Has Christianity Been Rejected?
The hunger for truth and goodness is enormous, and yet at the same time Christianity (and particularly Catholicism) has been largely rejected. There are, of course, many people who faithfully attend church each Sunday, but increasing numbers are choosing not to come to church. This is particularly true among younger generations. Most of us know good, intelligent people, contributing members of our communities, who won't have anything to do with Christianity. Many of whom were raised as Christians in one form or another. Sooner or later, we must begin to explore this ever-increasing phenomenon and ask some probing and uncomfortable questions: Is it possible that we failed to engage them? Did the hypocrisy of individual church members or leaders obscure their experience of God? Did we fail to feed them? Did we ever really welcome them? Those of us who call ourselves Christian do so because we believe that the life and teachings of Jesus Christ are the personification of truth, sincerity, and authenticity, and, in a practical sense, simply the best way to live. If we are correct in this belief, and if the people of the twenty-first century really are hungering for authenticity and the best way to live, then as Christians we must ask ourselves questions such as: Why are more people not enthusiastically embracing Christianity? Why, in fact, are so many people so hostile toward Christ and his Church? I sense it is because the people of today believe that Christians, Christianity, and perhaps Catholics in particular are as much a part of this culture of appearance and deception as anyone else. This is a harsh truth that needs to be faced. People's desire for truth has not diminished, but they have become wary, doubtful, skeptical, and, sadly, even cynical in their search for truth. And to be honest, I cannot blame them for their attitude. I do not agree with their position, but I understand it. And perhaps more important, I can see how they arrived at that place of philosophical confusion and theological desolation. The cause of much of this confusion is the unprecedented proliferation of words, symbols, images, and every manner of communication in the latter part of the twentieth century. People are tired; they are worn out, overloaded with information, and overwhelmed with the social, political, and economic climate. They are not striving to thrive; they are merely trying to survive. This is a tired culture.
The Cry for Help
This cultural fatigue is creating a hopelessness in the lives of more and more people every day, and from the midst of that fatigue and hopelessness they are crying out for help. More than ever, our non-Christian and non-practicing brothers and sisters are sending you, me, and all of Christianity a message. Though they are probably not aware of it, they are indirectly giving witness to the Gospel. For within the message the people of our times are sending us, there is a profound challenge for you and me to embrace a life rooted more fully in the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. Their message is clear, unmistakable, and disarmingly simple. Our siblings, parents, and children are sending us this message, as are our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. They are saying, whispering, crying out, "Don't tell me — show me!" Their plea comes from a longing deep within them and represents their great hunger. They don't want to see another television evangelist, they don't want to read another book or hear another CD about Christianity, and they don't want to hear your amazing story of conversion. They want the real thing. They want to witness someone, anyone — just one will do — living an authentic life, someone whose words are supported by the authority of his or her actions. Someone striving humbly but heroically to live by what is good, true, and noble in the midst of — and in spite of — the modern climate. At every moment, the entire modern world kneels before us, begging, pleading, beckoning for some brave man or woman to come forward and lead them with the example of an authentic life. They are not sending us this message merely to sound the childish cry of "Hypocrite!" Rather, theirs is a natural cry, a cry for help. They are saying to us, "Don't tell me — show me!" because they are so hungry for a courageous example of the authentic life, a life lived to the fullest, in this day and age. Seeing the conflicts and contradictions of your life and mine, they often cry "Hypocrite!" out of their hurt and anger. They are angry because the disappointment of discovering that we are not living the life we espouse robs them of their own hope to live an authentic life. They are disillusioned and searching, but they never cease calling out to us like sheep without a shepherd, wanting to be fed, wanting to be led to the pastures of kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, acceptance, freedom, and love. I have heard this cry a thousand times, but the words of one man echo in my mind like a bad dream that keeps returning to haunt a terrified child. They are the words of Mahatma Gandhi, a man for whom I have great admiration, who I believe strove with all his might to live an authentic life. I have studied his life and writings, but one passage stands out. It speaks to me with a clarity that pierces my heart. In reference to the well-known fact that Gandhi read from the New Testament every day and often quoted the Christian Scriptures, a reporter once asked him why he had never become a Christian. He answered, "If I had ever met one, I would have become one." In his own way, Gandhi was saying, "Don't tell me — show me!" revealing his yearning for an example of an authentic life. All this being said, I also believe there is a desire within each of us to live an authentic life. We desire not only to witness authentic lives but also to live an authentic life ourselves. We genuinely want to be true to ourselves. At times, we have perhaps resolved to live such a life with all the fervor we could muster. But distracted by the sweet seduction of pleasure and possessions, we have wandered from the narrow path. We know the truth, but we lack the discipline and strength of character to align the actions of our lives with that truth (cf. Matthew 26:41). We have given ourselves over to a thousand different whims, cravings, and fantasies. Our lives have become merely a distortion of the truth we know and profess. We know the human family's need for kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, acceptance, freedom, and love, but we have divided our hearts with a thousand contradictions and compromises. At every moment, the entire modern world kneels before us, begging, pleading, beckoning for some brave man or woman to come forward and lead them with the example of an authentic life.In many respects our age is one of abundance, but amid this abundance (which at times may seem all prevailing) there remains a great hunger in the people of today. We have a universal hunger for the authentic, a longing to be and become and experience all we are capable of and created for. Everything good in the future (for ourselves, our marriages, our families, our communities, our Church, our nation, and humanity) depends on whether or not we will follow this longing.
e. Food: Twelfth Night Cake.
f. Take away: Home Blessing