Being Rash for Christ

When reading the lives of the saints, it’s common to see both a relentless practical disposition and utter spontaneity side by side in the same person. This is that whole Catholic both/and thing Chesterton among others likes to go on about. Thus, great saints will typically devote themselves to a rigorous, no excuses life of prayer and discipline AND run off to convert the Saracens at the drop of a biretta. Or kiss the leper, give somebody the clothes off their backs, take a condemned man’s place – that sort of thing.

A certain tiny rash act on my part, not remotely in the league of anything an actual saint would do reflects,  I hope, a tiny bit of the spirit of the thing: I will, it seems, be in charge of a bit of continuing Catholic education at our parish. Because the director said I could do a class, and so I submitted an outline and that was that.

Here’s what I’ll be trying to do. First note my abiding hatred of the graded classroom model, so imagine this as being done in a way to defeat that model (which lurks, after 12+ years of Pavlovian training, in our minds despite our dislike of it and despite even efforts to root it out) so as to allow actual personal relationships to be formed – which is by far my most obvious weakness as a ‘teacher’. People are just so much more demanding than living in my own head! Anyway:

Feasts and Faith: Continuing Catholic Education

Overview:

Basic Idea:

  • An introduction to Catholic life, art, history and belief. A weekly class wherein the feasts of the upcoming week are reviewed, the Sunday readings read and discussed, and an appropriate text from the Catechism is presented. Half or more of the class will be open discussion.

For whom:

  • Any Catholic or anyone simply curious about Catholicism, of whatever age, but targeted to teenagers and adults.  No need to sign up for a definite number of classes – drop-ins always welcome.

By whom:

  • Joseph Moore, long-time parishioner.  Husband, father of 5; Broad background in philosophy, history and art, specifically as they relate to the Church; BA, Great Books, St. John’s College; 3-Year volunteer staff at Liturgy in Santa Fe doing Catholic religious education; lifetime lover of liturgy, music and art.

When:

  • Weekly, for 1 hour to 90 minutes.

Format:

Part 1: Presentation (total of 30-45 minutes)

  • First 10 to 20 minutes, I will go over the feasts to be celebrated over the next week, including, where appropriate,  the history, art, music and customs associated with those feasts;
  • Next 10 to 20 minutes, we will read the Sunday (or major feast day) readings;
  • Last 10 to 20 minutes, I will present a short section of the Catechism chosen for its relevance to the feasts or readings.

Part 2: Discussion (total of 30-60 minutes)

  • Customs and Traditions: Participants are invited to share any customs or traditions related to any of the feasts or reading discussed, including prayer, food, and local or household traditions.
  • Next, we discuss how the readings and selection from the Catechism are reflected, or might be reflected, in the feasts and traditions.
  • Finally, any questions about the teachings, practices and traditions of the Church are welcomed. If I don’t know the answer, I will look it up and report back the next week.

Sample Class Outline for the week preceding

Sunday, September 4th, 2016 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

1  Feasts:

September 3rd – St. Gregory the Great (white)

Provide brief synopsis of his life: Gregory the Great was a noble Roman, member of a great and holy family (his mother and sisters are also saints). He became Pope in the 6th century, and is called ‘the Great’ because of all he did for the Church in its liturgy, music, teachings and missionary efforts.  Gregorian chant is named after him.

Show pictures of San Gregorio’s in Rome: Gregory turned his Roman estate into a monastery, which is still there today:
San Gregorio’s in Rome 1San Gregorio’s in Rome 2

Sing a bit of Gregorian Chant, perhaps this:

Chant sample

September 8th – The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin (white)

Show & explain some artwork related to the birth of the Blessed Virgin:

Sts Joahachim and Anne Icon

September 9th – St. Peter Clavier (white)

Give a brief bio: Spanish Jesuit Peter Claver left his homeland in 1610 to be a missionary in the colonies of the New World. He worked in Cartagena (now in Colombia), a rich port city. Black slavery was a big business there.

Peter Claver declared himself “the slave of the Negroes forever.”

As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God’s saving love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.

He was canonized in 1888, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves.

2 Sunday Reading:

Reading 1WIS 9:13-18B

Who can know God’s counsel,
or who can conceive what the LORD intends?
For the deliberations of mortals are timid,
and unsure are our plans.
For the corruptible body burdens the soul
and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.
And scarce do we guess the things on earth,
and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;
but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?
Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

Responsorial Psalm PS 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17

  1. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.

  1. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.

  1. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!

  1. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!

  1. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Reading 2PHMN 9-10, 12-17

I, Paul, an old man,
and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus,
urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,
whose father I have become in my imprisonment;
I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.
I should have liked to retain him for myself,
so that he might serve me on your behalf
in my imprisonment for the gospel,
but I did not want to do anything without your consent,
so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,
that you might have him back forever,
no longer as a slave
but more than a slave, a brother,
beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,
as a man and in the Lord. 
So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

 

PS 119:135

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

Let your face shine upon your servant;
and teach me your laws.

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion? 
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? 
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. 
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

3 Catechism: Section on the Immaculate Conception

  1. . . .BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY

490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.

491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.

493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.

  1. Discussion.

 

Sample Class Outline for the week preceding

Sunday, September 11th, 2016 – 24rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Feasts:

Monday, September 12th – The Most Holy Name of Mary (white)

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies. Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims.

Quote:

“Lord our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, he gave us as our mother the one he had chosen to be his own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs” (Marian Sacramentary, Mass for the Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

Tuesday, September 13th – Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (white)

St John ChrysostomA great preacher, John ‘Golden Mouth’ was bishop of Constantinople during the 4th century, and constantly got into trouble for being outspoken about how Church’s teaching held just as much for the rich and powerful as for the poor. He is a great teacher (‘Doctor’) of the Church, and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is still used in Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic masses to this day.

Wednesday, September 14th – The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (red)

In early 4th century, St. Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, went on an expedition to the Holy Land to find the True Cross.  During excavations, three crosses were found buried there. Legend has it that a dying woman touched each cross in turn, and was healed when she touched the one upon which Jesus died. Constantine built a basilica on the site of the tomb of Jesus – this feast is celebrated on the day that church was dedicated.

Thursday, September 15th – Our Lady of Sorrows (white)

SEVEN SORROWS

The prophecy of Simeon. (St. Luke 2:34, 35)

The flight into Egypt. (St. Matthew 2:13, 14)

The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple. (St. Luke 2: 43-45)

The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.

The Crucifixion.

The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.

The burial of Jesus.

Friday, September 16th – Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs (red)

Today the Church commemorates two friends in the service of Christ and his Church. Cornelius, a Roman, was the twenty-first Pope during the reign of the Emperor Gallus and Volusian. He had to oppose Novatian, the first anti-pope, who believed that apostates who repented could not be forgiven. Helped by St. Cyprian, Cornelius confirmed his papal authority. He was beheaded in exile at Civitavecchia, Italy in 253. Saints Cyprian and Cornelius are mentioned in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) of the Mass.

2 Sunday Reading:

Reading 1 EX 32:7-11, 13-14

The LORD said to Moses, “Go down at once to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved.  They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ “I see how stiff-necked this people is, ” continued the LORD to Moses. Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying, “Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand?  Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; and all this land that I promised, I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’” So the LORD relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Responsorial Psalm PS 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19

  1. (Lk 15:18) I will rise and go to my father.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.

  1. I will rise and go to my father.

 

A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

  1. I will rise and go to my father.

 

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

  1. I will rise and go to my father.

 

Reading 2 1 TM 1:12-17

Beloved: I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.  I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.  Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Of these I am the foremost.  But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost,

Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.  To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Alleluia 2 COR 5:19

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Gospel LK 15:1-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them he addressed this parable. “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Then he said,  “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them.  After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.  When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need.  So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.  And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.

Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.  I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’

So he got up and went back to his father.  While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.  He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.  Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began.

Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house,  he heard the sound of music and dancing.  He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.  The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’

He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.  But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

3 Catechism: The Prodigal Son and Forgiveness

1439 The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father: the fascination of illusory freedom, the abandonment of the father’s house; the extreme misery in which the son finds himself after squandering his fortune; his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, and still worse, at wanting to feed on the husks the pigs ate; his reflection on all he has lost; his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey back; the father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure worthy, and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of his family, which is the Church. Only the heart of Christ who knows the depths of his Father’s love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way.

2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him. Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.

 

  1. Discussion

 

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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