Categories
Ink Slingers

False Crawls

Question: What can live for up to 100 years, is known to be harmless to humans and moves no faster than 1 mph but can still scare the living daylights out of a grown woman who comes face-to-face with one? Answer: A sea turtle. Years ago, I was snorkeling in Hanauma Bay in Oahu while on an anniversary trip with my husband when I turned my head away from some lovely circus-colored coral and straight into the snout of a gigundous Loggerhead turtle. Even though I do believe he was just as surprised as I was to make up-close underwater eye contact, it was me (the supposedly grown woman) who let out a garbled, high-pitched scream through my snorkel and made a hasty, comically uncoordinated retreat.

Since then I’ve had no close encounters with sea turtles, but this summer I saw evidence of them. Some dear friends and I were taking a morning walk on a beach in Florida when we stumbled upon what we thought were deep tire tracks in the sand leading to and from the water (Attention coastline residents: please try not to snicker over our ignorance—my friends and I all live in the flatlands of the Midwest!). Upon closer inspection (and a little Google confirmation) we realized we had discovered a sea turtle nest, even before the official turtle patrol had found and marked it with yellow caution tape. We were delighted to learn about the endangered sea turtle’s ancient ritual of crawling out of the ocean in the dark of night and finding a safe place to dig and deposit her eggs before returning to the sea. Further down the beach, however, we found a different set of tracks. These tracks made it only halfway to the high tide line and then made a very obvious U-turn in the sand and headed back to the water. There was no nest, no eggs, no fresh, fluffy pile of sand for the turtle patrol to mark.

“Something spooked her,” explained the patrol volunteer after we waved down his white pickup truck to inquire about this unusual set of tracks. “It’s called a false crawl,” he told us. “She got scared and turned back.”

A false crawl. That term floated back into my brain the next morning as I was prayer journaling.

Hmmm. I realized that the skittish Mamma sea turtle and I have a lot in common.

Yep, there are many instances in my life when I too have made a false crawl. I’ve left a mission unaccomplished, a task unfinished, a risk untaken because I got spooked. I made some initial progress toward a goal, but then fear took over and I made a U-turn. And just like that hesitant mother sea turtle, I withdrew to the familiarity of my home base.

I suppose if we are being honest, we’ve all made a false crawl or two in our lives. Fear is a real obstacle that can keep us from moving ahead or doing the right thing or trying something new. Something (or someone) scares us and then we retreat. I think back on those times in my life when I turned around and I wonder: What if I had asked for encouragement from the Holy Spirit at that moment of decision, that critical pause right before I changed direction? What if I had said a small prayer and asked for the grace and power to overcome my fear and any other hurdles at that particular instant? How would things be different?

I sometimes forget this: When we face uphill battles and fear enters in, the Holy Spirit is our encourager. He is our Advocate, the Paraclete that Jesus promised to send to us after he returned to his Father. In fact, Parakletos is closely related to the Greek word for encouragement! The third person of the Holy Trinity can help us set our troublesome fear aside and move forward in our journey. At those moments of weakness, He can kindle a fire of courage and strength in our hearts to help us persevere. He offers hope, peace, comfort. And when we are being persecuted, He provides holy fortitude to help us prevail.

The Holy Spirit is the antidote to life’s false crawls.

And we don’t have to go far to access all of the gifts the Holy Spirit has to give. You and I were instilled with every one of these gifts when we received the Sacrament of Confirmation. They’re all there, hunkered down in the corners of our hearts, waiting to be released and maximized. All we need to do is ask the Holy Spirit to flip the switch, so to speak.

So I decided to try something new—something that will help me confront my challenges with a fresh faith and a renewed determination. The next time I’m facing a dig-in-or-retreat situation, I am going to stop and ask for encouragement from the Divine Encourager. I am going to let the Advocate take over. I am going to close my eyes and fervently pray, “Come, Holy Spirit!”

I’m guessing there will be no U-turn, no retreat, and no false crawl.

And (hopefully) no garbled, high-pitched screams.

Categories
7 Quick Takes Catechism Doctrine Faith Formation Holy Days of Obligation Ink Slingers Kerri Mass Resources Sacraments Sacred Scripture

7 Quick Takes Friday, No. 18: Catholic Catechesis

Let’s have a little catechtical fun for this installment of 7 Quick Takes!! I asked the other ink slingers to help me identify 7 things that all Catholics should know and I got some great responses. I also know that this list could be much longer than 7, so feel free to add to the list in the comments. One thing we are focusing on with this list is that it is for Catholics. It is not for Protestants who have questions regarding why we believe something or why we do the things we do. In many ways, this should be a review for all of us of basic Catholic beliefs or a way to learn a bit more about the beliefs we take for granted or haven’t given much thought to.

So, here are 7 things we have identified as things that all Catholics should know, with appropriate references and links to further reading. Enjoy!!

–1–

Without a doubt, Catholics should know Jesus. He is our Lord and Savior, the second person of the Trinity, sent to earth by God the Father to redeem all of mankind. We need to have a relationship with Jesus. I was recently at a lecture given by a wonderful priest. He said something that really stuck with me. He said that just to know who Christ is on an intellectual level and what the teachings of the Church are is not enough. If it were, Heaven would be full of lots of very smart people. What we need is a relationship with Jesus, really get to know Him, spend time with Him, talk to Him, and listen to Him. How do we do this?

Spend time in Adoration. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) paragraph 2628. Also check out this page from the USCCB on Adoration with many additional links. And check out this great explanation from EWTN on perpetual adoration.

Read Scripture. St. Jerome is quoted as saying: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” There’s not much I can add to that.

Its also important here to remind us all that Jesus Christ is both fully man and fully divine. He has both a Divine Nature and a Human Nature. Read more about Jesus as true God and true man in CCC 464-469.

–2–

Every Catholic should know that the Eucharist (the consecrated bread and wine) is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. It is not merely symbolic of the Last Supper, it is truly Jesus’ body and blood. Under the two species of the Eucharist, the bread and the wine, Jesus is fully present. For this reason, you can receive Jesus in the Eucharist under either species or both depending on what is available to you. You can also choose to receive under just one and not the other.

For more in depth reading, check out CCC 1333 as well as many of the paragraphs following. Also just look up “Eucharist” in the index and follow the references, there are LOTS of places it is discussed.

Check out this Catholic Answers tract for more on what the early Church Fathers said about the Real Presence.

And do you know the term transubstantiation? You should. For a quick definition check out this link. For a much fuller explanation, NewAdvent.org has a great page devoted to the Real Presence including a section on transubstantiation.

–3–

Yes, we must know Jesus, but we must also know God. God as one God in three Divine persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God as Father and Creator of all. Without God there is nothing. Again, the Catechism is a great source for understanding more about God and the Trinity. Belief in the Trinity is what defines us as Christians.

Start learning more about God at CCC 1 and go from there. Seriously, paragraph 1. Another place to read is CCC 238-240.

The One True God (Catholic Answers tract)

New Advent has this list of articles all devoted to God. Go check them out.

–4–

As Catholics, we believe that the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. Jesus established the Church as His bride with Himself as the bridegroom. We proclaim this every time we profess the Creed at Mass: I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

You can start at CCC 748 for the section entitled “I Believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” For more specific paragraphs: CCC 796 explains the unity of Christ and the Church, CCC 830 begins the section “The Church is Catholic,” and CCC 857-865 explains the apostolic nature of the Church.

–5–

Can you name all seven of the sacraments? Do you know what makes them sacraments? Do you know what it means that something is a sacrament? If you’re like me, you know it but can’t articulate it. Here’s the quick definition for you:

A sacrament is an outward, visible sign instituted by Jesus Christ that gives the grace it signifies. (see CCC 1084)

This link from AmericanCatholic.org provides a good summary of the sacraments as well as a bit on each individual sacrament.

This article by Peter Kreeft appeared just recently on Integrated Catholic Life. It’s a good explanation on why we need the sacraments.

–6–

As Catholics we are obligated to attend Mass every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation. This is the first precept of the Church. See CCC 2042.

See here for a list of Holy Days of Obligation in the United States.

–7–

Did you know that the phrase “Roman Catholic” was originally used by Protestants as a pejorative phrase? Catholics in the west, where Protestantism flourished, eventually adopted it for themselves. As a result, we often equate “Roman Catholic” with what is really considered “Latin Catholic” since most western Catholics are part of the Latin Rite of the Church. Really, “Roman” would refer to any group of Catholics that is in communion with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. There are many different rites in the Catholic Church. Who says the Church isn’t diverse!? No way! We are incredibly diverse. EWTNs website contains this great explanation of what a Catholic Rite is, what makes a community a church, and a brief explanation of each of the individual rites.

Also, while I don’t normally use this particular website as a resource, I do like that in this case there are links out to the various Catholic Rites in the list. So check out this article to learn more about the various Catholic rites.

As Latin Rite Catholics, we may be the largest group of Catholics, but we are by no means the only Catholics around. I assume we have plenty of blog readers who are members of other rites in the Church (say hi and let us know in the comments). In many ways, we need to choose our words carefully when it comes to identifying ourselves with our particular rite. Otherwise, were all just simply Catholics.

I hope this Quick Takes installment was interesting and informative, or at least a review. We’d love to see what else you would add to this list. (I know there could be many, many more!!) While you think about it, don’t forget to also go visit Jen at Conversion Diary to check out many more Quick Takes posts from around the blogosphere.

Categories
Alessandra Apologetics Catechism Doctrine Faith Formation Prayer Sacred Scripture

Catholicism 101: The Unity and Trinity of God

We bless ourselves daily, “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”  These words came from the twentieth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, verse nineteen (Matthew 29:19).  This is what is called the Unity and Trinity of God.

 

The image below (black & white) helps us to get some idea of the Blessed Trinity.  I placed a ring around the triangle in this picture to show that the Trinity, perfectly made, does not have a beginning or an end; just like a ring is a symbol of unity.  {A similar union is found in Holy Matrimony between husband, wife, and God.  Those of you married, every time you look at your wedding ring, think of that!}  God told us that in Himself there are three distinct (really different) Persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  Each one is God almighty.  This is why we call each of them Divine.  Yet they are not three Gods.  None is older, nor greater than the other.  The three Divine Persons are one and the same God.  To our little minds this truth is a mystery (a truth we cannot fully understand).  There are many natural mysteries about things we can naturally know, such as electricity, radio, and magnetism.  But since God revealed the knowledge of the Blessed Trinity to us, we call it a supernatural mystery.  The three Persons of God are equal to the other as they have the exact same perfections or qualities, as knowledge, goodness and beauty as the other.  They are three in one.

I would like you to think of an apple, one apple has three parts:  the core where the seeds are found, the meat which we eat for nourishment, and the peal which protects the apple’s “meat”.  The core is the God the Spirit, Holy Ghost which plants seeds in our hearts, minds, and souls daily.  The meat is God the Son, Jesus Christ, most especially in the Holy Eucharist who feeds our souls and gives us nourishment.  The peal is God the Father, who protects us and watches over us daily.  (this little analogy can be found in a children’s book about the Holy Trinity called “3 in 1” by author, Joanne Marxhausen.

We cannot talk about the Trinity and end this post without discussing a saint known for his love for the Blessed Trinity, Saint Patrick whose feast we celebrate on the 17th of March (a day when everyone suddenly becomes Irish, even non-Catholics).  Though Scottish by birth (gasp!), the Lord called Patrick to bring the Gospel of Christ to the people of Ireland.  He did this and became a Bishop around the year 433 AD.  Here he explained to the Irish people, particularly the unbelievers, in very simple terms, what the Blessed Trinity was all about by using a shamrock.  Patrick would hold up a shamrock and challenge them by asking, “Is it one leaf or three?” “It is both one leaf and three,” was their reply.   So he would conclude, “and so it is with God!”  One shamrock leaf, with three parts…a simple concept again, three in one.  Here is an excerpt from his book, entitled Confessions regarding the Trinity:

“For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds. And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ who is revealed, and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name.”

Saint Patrick is one of many examples of Tradition passed down to us about the Truth of the Blessed Trinity.  Now lets turn to Sacred Scripture where we find several passages about this Unity.  Even in the Old Testament we can find a passage where God is referred to as more than one:  In Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the Earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the Earth.”  Then in Genesis 3:22, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil.”  In Isaiah 48:16 we also find reference to God being spoken of as three in one: “Come ye near unto Me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from The Beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the LORD GOD, and His Spirit, hath sent Me.”

When it comes to the equality of the three Persons, in Sacred Scripture we find more passages.  In reference to God the Father, we turn to Isaiah 63:16, “Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou, O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy Name is from Everlasting.”  Then in the New Testament in the Gospel of John 6:27, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto Everlasting Life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed.”   God the Son, Jesus Christ, was referred to in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  Then again we find this mention in Jesus’ own words found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 10, verses 27-36, “My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them Eternal Life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are One.  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from My Father; for which of those works do ye stone Me?  The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God.  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, I said, Ye are gods?  If He called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”

In reference to the Holy Ghost, we also find in Scripture several passages beginning with Genesis 1:2 when the Lord is describing Creation, “And the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”  In the beautiful Psalms, Chapter 139, verses seven through ten, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in Hell, behold, Thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.”  In the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul tells us in Chapter five, Verses three and four, “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost… thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.”

Now I know what you are thinking “but what about Pentecost?”   Well it’s simple the Father sent the Son, who sent forth His Spirit, the Holy Ghost, at Pentecost.  For this we turn to John, the Beloved, in his Gospel.  The ever popular John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have Everlasting Life.”  Then in Chapter 20, Verse 21, “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.”  Then we find that God the Son sends His Spirit in the same Gospel of John, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (14:26).  “But when the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me” (15:26). “Nevertheless I tell you the Truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you” (16:7).

To the doubting Apostle Thomas, Jesus said that those who do not actually see and fully understand a truth which God teaches are more blessed if they believe in it, than those who believe only after they see and understand it.  It is an act of Faith.  We believe many facts of history because we have the word of good men for them.  BUT it really is much easier for us to firmly believe in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity.  Why so?  Basically because this Truth of our Catholic Faith, the Unity and Trinity of God as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is once again revealed to us in both Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

 

If you missed the first of this series, Catholicism 101, you can find it here: The Purpose of Man’s Existance

Categories
Splendid Sundays

Spendid Sundays – Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

You can find today’s readings here.

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 4: 32-34, 39-40
Psalm: Psalm 33
2nd Reading: Romans 8:14-17
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

Today we celebrate our Lord’s existence in the Most Holy Trinity. The Truth of the Trinity is one of the most difficult mysteries of our faith to understand. Some non-Catholic Bible believing faiths argue that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct and separate persons, which is much easier for our human brains to grab a hold of. However, to understand how three persons can be distinct, yet the same One Holy God… well, we have nothing on Earth that quite replicates this Truth, so we accept it on faith. We take this Truth on faith so much, that it’s not explicitly spelled out in the pages of Sacred Scripture, but we can see where it is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is clearest in Holy Mother Church’s Sacred Tradition.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Trinity as, “The mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The revealed truth of the Holy Trinity is at the very root of the Church’s living faith as expressed in the Creed. The mystery of the Trinity in itself is inaccessible to the human mind and is the object of faith only because it was revealed by Jesus Christ, the divine Son of the eternal Father.”

It is by this Holy Trinity we are saved and can delight in life eternal in Heaven. God, the Father created us, created our souls and bodies. The Son, died for our sins and reopened the gates of Heaven so that we can gain salvation. We receive the Holy Spirit at baptism, and are sanctified through uniting our suffering to Christ’s suffering and through keeping our Lord’s commandments.

It is simply wondrous that after 2,000 years, the truth of the Trinity has been protected and handed down, generation by generation, such that so many Christians today can properly believe in God. The doctrine of the Trinity is a testament to the Holy Spirit protected truths taught by Holy Mother Church.

 

Categories
Ink Slingers Stacy

How 2B Your Teenager’s BFF

You become a parent, so full of hopes and dreams for your child. Those fat little baby hands reaching for you, the awkward toddling steps that seek you out, the insatiable curiosity of the growing student that so trustingly soaks up your answers and advice – you wonder what you ever did without that precious child. Then somewhere around age 14 you wonder who that strange person is that kind of resembles your son or daughter.

It’s…your teenager!

Gone are the days of you being so wonderfully wise and amazingly beautiful. Gone are the days of hugs and kisses and strolls in the park. They’ve been traded for head bobs, attitudes and even sometimes, “I hate you’s,” which are quickly followed by entitled demands for you to drop everything you are doing and drive her to the mall. Oh, and hurry up, you need to go pick up Britney! The little boy who prayed his prayers with you each night suddenly looks more like a praying mantis tapping away on his mobile phone, the one you pay for which is never cool enough and always seems to be off when you call and would like him to actually, incredulously, answer it and talk to you.

OK, even if it’s not exactly like that, parents of teenagers struggle. You want to be their hero, but because they are growing and learning to naturally be more independent, they change and turn outward to learn about the big world. What do you do? How do you stay connected? Where do you draw the line? Well, look to the example of the Holy Mother Church. Here are five reminders that will keep you grounded during confusing times.

1

Be a parent, not a buddy. Imagine if the Church tried to be everybody’s buddy, and a life of faith was all about feel-good undeserved praise and uncritical acceptance of anything people did. Don’t risk hurting any feelings, just let people do what they want to do, and tell them they are all wonderful no matter what. Right? No, the pews would be empty and souls would be lost. Just like we crave guidance and authority, so do teenagers even if they don’t show it. They need mothers and fathers more than ever. They can get their own buddies, and they’ll learn soon enough that buddies come and go – but family is forever.

2

Be a rock in any storm. The Church guards 2,000 years of Truth and it is there for anyone to access. She proposes, not imposes, but for anyone seeking truth there is abundant instruction. And that truth does not waiver, does not change with the times or styles, it is objective. People need this, teens need this especially. It’s so tempting today in our culture to compromise what we know is right. Primetime television and social media often promotes the idea that truth is subjective, that whatever makes us happy in the moment is right. But actors on TV don’t care for your children the way you do. Whatever it is – drugs, sex, music, clothing, food – tell them the truth without compromise and in love. If they don’t seem like they are listening or if they act like you have lost your mind, don’t worry and be a nag. Someday they’ll be glad they heard it over and over again.

3

Never let them forget where they came from. The Holy Mother Church teaches that we are all in communion, with the past, present and future of the entire Church when we pray. We belong, and the desire to belong is innate in us because we are made in the image of God, an internal life between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, distinct and real relations of one substance, the utter repose of the Three dwelling within one another. A parent remembers the origin of the teenager. A parent remembers things the child cannot. A parent has stood beside the sleeping body and prayed the humble prayers of gratitude and resolve. Every once in a while, look your teen in the eyes and tell her you still see your baby. When he’s strapped in the car beside you, tell him a story about himself.

4

Pray. Pray for the grace to know what to say when you need to say it. Pray for your teen’s future, for her future spouse, for his future vocation, for future health, for abundance of grace in his or her life too. There is no guarantee that a young adult will remain faithful to the Church or even to your family. There could be discord for a time. They will certainly make mistakes and need to experience the pain that teaches. Cover it in prayer. Don’t hesitate to enter the room of the teen, sprinkle the electronic devices with holy water (enough to silence them if necessary), and make a giant sign of the Cross as you pray for protection from evil. It lurks, and it lurks heavy for teenagers. They need your constant prayers, and have faith because God loves them even more than you do.

5

Speak of the Trinity during hard times. Proclaiming unity heals relationships. It lifts you above the pain and allows you to turn your gaze to what is true and good. Proclaiming unity is to affirm faith and hope. Don’t just think it; say it out loud and with conviction. “This is your family. It will always be your family. I will always be your mother. You are you, I am me, but we are one. Life will never be perfect, but no amount of imperfection will ever destroy the love that I have for you child. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. But by, through and in the grace of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are united permanently. If there is anything of this created world you can rely on without fail, it is my love for you, on good days and on bad days. It will never end.

Finally

During it all, keep a sense of humor. Teenagers can be wonderful companions and insightful conversationalists. They will, God-willing, someday reach their mid-twenties and suddenly realize, as Mark Twain once remarked, that you have become quite wise indeed in the last seven years. Remember, the foundations that you lay will truly allow your family to endure the tests of time and to be (2B) best friends forever (BFF) eternally in Heaven.

 

I speak from experience, having made all the mistakes, but get back to me in ten years and I'll let you know how it is going.