Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"To whom shall we go?"

“Night Owl”: “My godmother decided to change religions from Catholic to Southern Baptist about a year ago (my godfather passed away years ago). How do I help her back to the Catholic faith or should I even try? I think it’s a bit ironic that I need to help my "godmother" who promised to help raise me Catholic.

It is ironic, Anon, and, of course, sad about your godmother. Absolutely, you should try to help her back to the Church. You might want to start by asking her why she has left, and be prepared for just about anything. She has probably fallen in with people who look very unfavorably on the Catholic Church and its teachings. After listening to her, I would direct the conversation toward the Eucharist. Specifically, I would ask her about John 6 where Christ says to Peter, after the large crowd of people left Christ after the teaching on the Eucharist, “Do you also want to leave?” Peter responds with, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life?”

The Southern Baptist church does not have the Eucharist; the Eucharist is only found in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. So, I would ask her as gently as possible, ‘how can you leave the Eucharist?’ Hopefully, she will realize in time what Peter realized immediately: to walk away from the Eucharist is to walk away from Christ who is eternal life.
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“Anon”: “I have a family member who is Jewish. When one of my children asked why she doesn't have a crucifix in her home, she told her that she is offended by the symbol of the cross. I know that b/c she is the sole Jew in our large Catholic family, she has a tendency to be a bit defensive about her faith, and I didn't feel comfortable asking her why she felt that way. I can understand that this is not her faith, but why is the cross offensive? I do not find the Star of David "offensive". She and my cousin just had a baby boy, and I'm guessing my cousin can kiss passing his Gonzaga legacy on goodbye!”

The Cross can be offensive to Jewish people if they think that we hold them solely responsible for the death of Christ. They might think that we are saying, ‘look what you did to our Savior’. Remember the uproar about the movie, “Passion of the Christ”, and how it was seen by many as anti-semitic? The movie was just telling the story of what happened: yes, the Jewish leaders and peoples were in the midst of it all, and yelling, ‘crucify him…crucify him’. But, so was Pilate and the Roman soldiers; and, so were all of us.

You might want to talk to your cousin’s wife and remind her that we all take part in the Passion narrative every Palm Sunday and Good Friday. We participate in it because we all had a hand in the death of Christ. It is our sin that has wounded him. No one group of people takes more blame than the other; the sins of all of humanity were present on Good Friday.

Also, you might try to find common ground with her. You don’t find the Star of David offensive because it is part of the foundation of your faith. The Jewish faith is the foundation of our Catholic Christian faith. We are all Jewish Christians. We don’t abandon the Old Law or the Old Testament because it is our heritage. It speaks to us of our ancestors in faith. You and she were family members, then, long before she married your cousin.

I would recommend learning more about the Old Testament so that you can discuss it with her. All of the Old Testament leads to Christ and the New Testament. The Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament (e.g. the Passover feast is fulfilled in the Eucharist). Judaism itself finds its fulfillment in Christianity. As St Paul realized, being a faithful Jew means being a faithful follower of Christ.
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“Anon”: “A protestant person told me that they read in the paper that St. Mary's College was taking down crosses to make the non-Christian students more comfortable is this true?”

If you are referring to St. Mary’s College in Maryland, it is a public college, so there wouldn’t be crosses up in the first place.

11 Comments:

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FG gaves a good homily today that was worthy of a much larger crowd, but I was glad to have been there to hear it. It was about sacrifice and giving and how we receive (even through pain) so much back from giving.

I was thinking that it makes me feel funny when someone praises my actions or comments that I am giving. I often think I should say something to negate their statement(s). I have had the experience (when I have given) of receiving back so much more than I actually gave, and I approach opportunities to give with a lot of enthusiasm and happiness. Even when I have given myself to a task that hasn't been pleasurable in and of itself, there was still a sense of accomplishment and fullfillment that I did what needed to be done (I think of that "sense" as a nudge from God saying "I did good").

One day, I was in one of the younger kids’ classrooms doing a project. A little girl came up to me and said, “I am always so happy when you come into our class, because I know we’re going to do something special.” Well- that put the pressure on, but also really touched me. Yes- it took time, effort and organization to create the “special” project for those kids, but that child’s statement was like winning the lottery. That child had genuine appreciation for my efforts, and it truly touched me. I've thought for some time that I am someone who gives my time but NOT myself, for I had separated who I am from what I do. I am revisiting that thought- maybe, I just give myself differently than others might. Maybe the way I give myself doesn’t come in the ease of conversation with others or in big, warm, fuzzy greetings- maybe that’s just not me. Maybe my self-giving comes in a different form, and maybe that’s okay. Maybe it looks strange (excessive, weird- whatever), but, if I am true to creating something positive when I give, and I give freely (and yes- accept and acknowledge the rewards when they exist) why does anything else really matter? I’ve been beating myself up over the things completely out of my control, when instead, I could be happy with the things that really bring me joy. My giving brings me joy in a huge way. I think it’s time to let myself experience it (joy) and stop responding to others who criticize (I guess that would be the pain). It took a great deal of stupidity to come to this conclusion, but if I can remember to act in “this” frame of reference rather than react to my apprehensions- maybe all my stupidity was worth it.

 
At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Markov said...

"I was thinking that it makes me feel funny when someone praises my actions or comments that I am giving. I often think I should say something to negate their statement(s)."

Why should you? People are genuinely appreciative of what you are doing and letting you know that. I think its great you are giving pleasure to people.

 
At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But, so was Pilate and the Roman soldiers; and, so were all of us."

Huh? When did we say that?

 
At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A MEDITATION ON ADORATION
Saint Peter Julian Eymard said: "One perform no more holy act on earth than that of Eucharist adoration. It is the perfect exercise of all the virtues:

1. Of Faith - The exercise of faith is complete and perfect when I adore Jesus Christ veiled, hidden in the Most Sacred Host. Then all my faculties, all my senses subject themselves and adore. entirely in the spirit of faith.

2. Of Piety - Piety, wholly centred on the hidden God, is exercised both inwardly and outwardly when I adore Him by prayer, contemplation, religious ritual, and with a deep respect.

3. Of Love - Since love takes in the entire law, I fulfil that law by adoring my Lord and God according to the first commandment, with my whole mind, my whole heaft, my whole soul and my whole being.

4. Of Charity - In my adoration I can practise perfect charity towards my neighbour by praying for him and acting as mediator and victim for his salvation, obtaining for him my Saviour's graces and mercies.

Eucharistic adoration is the most concrete expression of our adoration of God. Fixing our gaze on the Host we cannot but be aware of our nearness to God."

 
At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

"I would direct the conversation toward the Eucharist. Specifically, I would ask her about John 6 where Christ says to Peter, after the large crowd of people left Christ after the teaching on the Eucharist, “Do you also want to leave?” Peter responds with, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life?”

Thanks I will!

 
At 4:11 PM, Blogger fran said...

2:00 p.m. Anon-

Fr. Greg means that when we say "crucify him," (which we do in the readings during Holy Week,) we are crucifying Jesus with our sins.

 
At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Eucharistic adoration is the most concrete expression of our adoration of God. Fixing our gaze on the Host we cannot but be aware of our nearness to God"

Adoration is the time in church when I find it easiest to focus. I experience an actual "pull" towards the altar and I find it easiest to have an uncluttered conversation with Christ. It is truly an "experience" and I wish more would take the opportunity to spend time in Adoration, especially with their families, for I have found going to Adoration with children to be inspiring.

 
At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Fr. Greg means that when we say "crucify him," (which we do in the readings during Holy Week,) we are crucifying Jesus with our sins."

Oh, never thought of it that way.

 
At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"for I have found going to Adoration with children to be inspiring."

So, do I. I was in the Adoration room at St. John Neumann and saw a little boy at Adoration. He prayed so intently and and with such reverence it brought tears to my eyes. I was actually inspired by the child.

 
At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my children asks to go to Adoration with me. Another told me she wished church was always like it is at Adoration, and a third just "goes along" with me (or so he says), but they each understand that it is a unique and special time. The elder two are of that what's "cool" age, and I'm grateful we have priests who have been diligent in talking about loving Christ as the coolest. So, even though maybe they (kids) don't always express their faith in words, watching a child's actions and reactions toward Christ is amazing.

 
At 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I now this is way off topic, but it's in keeping with the thoughts on how kids inspire us. My favorite things to do are the things that involve groups of young kids. Their thoughtfulness and generoousity are limitless, and they always inspire me to give more. One of my children's teachers was selecting a card for me for a specific occaision and ran into one of her student in the store. She asked this little boy if he'd help pick out a card for me and explained the occasion. He selected several cards which she read until he found the one he wanted for me. She explained that this particluar card wasn't really for the occasion she was looking to acknowledge, but he felt it was "the one". The card read, "When I first saw you, I knew we were meant to be." Now, it's been years since I received a "love letter" and this was tuly the best of any I could remember. I thought, if nothing else is ever right in my world, this day will be perfect b/c this little boy "loves" me. Kids are awesome!

 

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