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.”
Tag archive: Catholic365
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.
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.
I’ve always loved that quote by Shakespeare (inspired by Socrates), “To thine own self be true.” It, unfortunately, offers that same pitfall as the free will argument. Being true to ourselves should bring us more in line with our true nature—to be more like God in whose image and likeness we are created. But for many, being true to your self gets mixed up with being true to your selfishness.
When we talk about Christmas, or sing about it in carols, we always use peaceful and charming words—idyllic, really—to tell the story about how Jesus came into the world. It’s nice how our memory heals the reality of a situation… For us, looking back at that moment we see a peaceful, happy and really joyful scene. And it is—but maybe not so much for Mary and Joseph when they were going through it. Instead of being what we would consider an ideal setting for the birth of any one of our own children, it was God bringing good to a very wrong situation.
We’ve heard it all before about what a risk Mary took with her “yes,” we hear in the Gospel about how Joseph wasn’t sure what to do with the info he’d been given about the condition his brand new bride was in, we know there was no room at the inn, and how the holy couple had to make a crazy long journey at the very end of Mary’s pregnancy. I’ve been pregnant, and I can’t think of anything that would make me take a long ride on a donkey right before giving birth. When you put all of that together, and add in the turmoil of the time, it’s a terrible story—except that it’s how God chose to enter into the terrible circumstances of the human condition. Then, it’s a really cool story…
Have you seen the Snickers commercials where an overly hungry person is acting like a tyrannical maniac? My favorite is the one when a bunch of guys are playing football and one gets hungry and isn’t himself—he’s Betty White. He has a Snickers and is restored to himself. There are several variations on a meme going around the Facebookasphere that says “Sorry for what I said when I was hungry.” I can say for myself that, when I’m fasting or didn’t remember to eat, I can be a bear! We really can get out of sorts when we haven’t had the nourishment that we need.
We celebrate the gift of Eucharist every time we have Mass, but we need to periodically to bring attention to what we might allow to become commonplace or mundane (as the Church does on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ). Because we are so blessed with access to the Eucharist pretty much whenever we want it, we have the potential to forget what it is that we are receiving.