Born again Christians revile the idea that our salvation can be earned—Jesus himself gained salvation for us on the cross once and for all. You cannot do anything to “get” salvation. Guess what? We believe that, too! You can’t earn salvation. Ever. Under any circumstances. Jesus won it, invites us to share in it, and all we have to do to have it is say “yes.”
Category archive: Catholic365
The Princess Bride was on TV the other night. No matter what else is happening in my life, if I’m flipping channels and I come across The Princess Bride, that’s as far as I’m going. I have the movie on DVD—I could watch it any time I want—without commercials. But, if I see it on TV, I’m watching it. It was playing in the background while I was working, and while I wasn’t paying 100% attention to it, it didn’t stop me from saying the lines along with the movie. When the wedding scene came on, however, I began to pay attention. It’s hilarious.
Everybody knows; and I’m sure Prince Humperdink would have remembered if he wasn’t so rushed, that his marriage to Buttercup was not valid. But, poor Buttercup was so distraught that she lost sight of this fact. Thankfully, Buttercup has Westley to put it in perspective.
Over the years, one of the phrases regarding Mary that stood out for me was, “She treasured these things in her heart.” It comes up a couple of times in Luke’s Gospel (different translations have slightly different wording—the NAB now has “kept”) as events unfold in Jesus’ life. This phrase became more meaningful to me when I had children of my own, and began to treasure various moments of their unfolding lives in my heart. It made me reflect on Mary’s motherhood; that phrase coming back to me each time I made a mental note to file this new event away in my memory.
Advent is a great season. We all observe it, but much of the time, we overlook the meaning behind all those wonderful family traditions that we celebrate throughout the four weeks. Here are a few ways (in no particular order) to incorporate some theological discussion into what your family will be doing anyway because, let’s face it, there’s nothing kids love more than a good theological discussion. Maybe not, but they do love knowing the “why” behind our actions.
I’m not going to pretend that taking children to Mass is not filled with peril and adventure…and terror and mortification…and nightmares and sometimes nosebleeds…It’s all of that and much, much more. I’m the lucky mother to two wonderful teenaged sons who listen, sing and participate at Mass—currently without any coercion. But, getting there wasn’t always easy. Some of the most frustrating and embarrassing moments of my parenting career thus far have been Mass-related. My kids have screamed, cried, yelled out loud that the priest was “doing it wrong”, made loud comments about people sitting near us, thrown up the whole length of the center aisle—pretty much any embarrassing thing a kid can do. Not being able to really attend to Mass myself because of the parenting that needed doing was like being in a dessert without water. I believe that many Catholic parents can relate.
If there’s one thing that my Catholic Elementary School education taught me, it was to look outside myself in all situations, but particularly when there’s suffering involved. Having gone to a small school, teachers sometimes got recycled into different grades, causing me to have one teacher both in 5th and 7th grade. This teacher had a very specific way of incorporating prayer into our class time. After recess, we would pray a decade of the Rosary and do some intercessory prayer. And every day, there were stock things that we’d pray for and then we could add our own. My teacher had us pray for our “family, friends, people in Purgatory and Ethiopia” every day.
Recently, an Evangelical minister promised a money back guarantee to his congregation: that if they did not receive blessings in their lives, they could have their tithe back. This sparked a fury of commentaries from Christians everywhere—sarcastic and funny responses about the fact that everything is a blessing and that this guy was totally missing the point. While I’m not sure any other pastor has previously offered such a guarantee, this concept is unfortunately not new. We are bombarded with a “prosperity gospel” in the evangelical world and its popularity is evident.
For obvious reasons, Good Friday has a different feel than any other day of the year. No other day has the same gravity. No other day has the same draw. We stop what we’re doing in the middle of the day to acknowledge the beginning of the most significant event in human history—the Paschal Mystery. We participate in the story of Jesus’ Passion, we pray for the whole world because that’s who Jesus died for and we pay homage to the cross—the object that the Romans used to bring shame, terror and despair, but that God transformed into a sign of God’s power, compassion and love.
Having to read the “Crowd” parts during The Passion on Good Friday, is always an uncomfortable fifteen minutes for me. “Crucify him!” sticks in my throat and “I do not know him” is unpleasant. But, for me, no phrase cuts to the heart like “We have no king, but Caesar!” (Jn 19: 15)
If you come from a large family, or have untrustworthy friends when it comes to the security of your food, you may at some point, have licked your food before walking away from it—you know, to make sure that no one would take it. If you haven’t done that, you’ve probably at least once in your life, used a sharpie to mark your plastic cup at a party, or written your initials into an article of clothing in case it gets separated from you. We mark stuff to make sure that people will know it’s ours, and not try to take it—it’s human nature. Well, it’s not just our nature; it’s God’s nature, too.