Customs and Traditions

IndiansOrg-Ancestry-300x250-5

H. Roe Bartle (Kansas City’s Bartle Hall); former mayor of Kansas City, businessman, and philanthropist, is famous to the average man for two important reasons: (1) He brought an NFL team to Kansas City which today carrIes his nickname and (2) In 1930, at Camp Osceola in southern Missouri, he began a little known but highly successful leadership development program for young men within the Boy Scouts of America based on the idea of an Indian tribe.

From its origins this endeavor has brought some tens of thousands of boys and honored adults through its ranks changing lives for the better and giving many a purpose previously absent. The program uses the framework of Indian customs, traditions, and culture, as well as a primitive romanticism, to capture the allure and excitement of young men. Paired with these trappings is a wonderful personal development program focusing on the elements of service to God, family, country, and those in need as a path to personal fulfillment for boys transitioning to manhood.

A few weeks ago I was extremely honored to witness some incredible moments learning about this program, and in doing so felt the power of the Holy Spirit close to me as I watched and experienced boys becoming men during some very special moments in their lives..

One such moment came when I was afforded the opportunity to watch boys moving from one tribal rank to the next. As part of the process in a “council ring” on Visitors Sunday, they performed two important dances for the audience dressed in, and acted out in, traditional Indian fashion.

The first dance was a personal expression of thanks to God for the gift of their life and the physical ability to transition to manhood. The movement was physically challenging to do; allowing them to show God their readiness, and was also an expression of thanksgiving for their physical gifts. It was a personal witness to God showcased before any and all to see.

The second dance was more internally driven. Originally done in Indian Culture as a marriage dance, the boys today pull their mothers from the audience and dance with them as their key partner in life. As a community of dancers they moved throughout the council ring as a parade in a successive progression becoming at first an honored pair in the center, and then honoring the next pair in line as a supportive element with the rest of the tribe. The dance clearly demonstrated the relationship between the family and the community: each family both reliant on the greater community as well as a supportive element of that community. Both concepts separate, but linked together as one.

These traditions happen every year.  It was just my first time to see them.  Year after year they occur defining a growing significance in the lives of the participants through a shared experience.  Therefore, these dances, though separate, were significant in theme by how they anchored the importance of tradition and custom to the life of the participant. Though rights of passage to the boy, each was thematic to a part of their life in individual importance. In watching these dances too I was drawn in my mind to a recent read by former Harvard University Sociology professor Carle Zimmerman entitled Family and Civilization.

Zimmerman, a native of Cass County, Missouri himself, draws a strong historical correlation from his research across both time and cultures between the strength of a given civilization and the strength of the influence of the family on its members within that same society. Regretfully in his research, Zimmerman reveals the deterioration of both the family and civilizations throughout history characterized by similar attributes. As the importance of family fades, so does the societal bonds that once tie a community to its values.  Ironically, in assessing the United States, Zimmerman spoke of our parents and grandparent’s generation in making this comparison to the American identity based on his research timeline.

In speaking of the family, Zimmerman explains plainly:

.… The child is born into a family and sees the world through its eyes. His introduction to civilization is through the family. At first he is only a child in a system of social relations consisting of a unity of husband and wife, parent and child. Later he learns that there are relatives (grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) who are closer to him than other people. In time he acquires the idea of friends, and then strangers. Then he learns that he secures his status through his family. He is an American, an Englishman, a Chinese because he is born into a parental unit that belongs to those nationalities. His parents belong to a certain community and so does he, and they are subject to its rules and privileges. He can and must go to the schools of his community.

As the child grows up, he founds a family of his own where the roles are reversed; instead of remaining a child, he becomes a husband (wife), parent, leader, breadwinner, responsible person, disciplinarian, and status conferrer. In the course of a lifetime, most people play changing roles within the organization known as the family. A broad and philosophical knowledge of the meaning of this to the individual and to the society is one of the first requisites of understanding the society of which he is a part. …. – Carle Zimmerman

In the United States its hard to define true American culture and tradition as it changes quite regularly.  As Americans we define ourselves by not being our parents.  We define ourselves by the change we bring to the world.  But what do we value?  What is important enough to continue to define how we see ourselves and establishes the expectations we have to define our legacy as a people?

Not an American Thing

I have a long time friend from Sheffield, England that I met in college. Later on in life, when I lived in England myself, I spent lots of time with he and his family when opportunities permitted. To my periodic chagrin, he continually reminded me that if his fellow Europeans thought Americans had no culture, they obviously hadn’t yet heard American Country music. Not a fan myself, I always rolled my eyes at this comment. But age and experience has made me appreciate his point. Country music, in its own way, defines a reliable constant in American culture.  But surely, we could and should have others?

What about our Faith Family

Family is strongly institutionalized and valued throughout the Bible.  Sirach 3:2-16,12-14 and Colossians 3:12-21 are both emphatic testaments to the importance of family.  Jesus modeled family for us and built the foundations of the Church around family.  The Catholic Church recognizes this through the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph each December 30th.  The Feast of the Holy Family celebrates the human family unit, as well as the ultimate family unit: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The feast, not a solemnity, is usually celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas. If Christmas is a Sunday, then the feast is celebrated on December 30th.

holyfamily

The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the “domestic church” or the “church in miniature.” St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a “family church,” and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit. Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the center of family and individual life. Ways to do this include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the actions of the Holy Family, going to confession frequently, and so forth, all done together as a family unit. (www.churchyear.net)

Tradition in the Catholic Church is Sacred, literally. As Catholics Sacred tradition is a cornerstone of our faith. We recognized sacred Tradition preceded the written New Testament by several hundred years as well as the Canonization of the Bible itself. Sacred Tradition is the faith as communicated by Christ to and through the Apostolic line and as such created the divine authority of the Church herself. Luke 10:16 tells us “Whoever hears you, hears me. And whoever despises you, despises me. And whoever despises me, despises him who sent me.”

In the Second Vatican Council’s document on divine revelation, Dei Verbum (Latin: “The Word of God“), we understand the importance of sacred Tradition through comparing it to sacred Scripture: “Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

Thus, by the light of the Spirit of truth, these successors can in their preaching preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same devotion and reverence.”

This is important for us as practicing Catholics, as the Laity, to remember. It is important not just from the perspective of jurisdictional authority as espoused wonderfully by our apologists, but also more practically as a vital tool for us to use in the living out of our faith. What does that mean? It means we have the same responsibility to own our traditions as members and families of the church as the Church has in protecting and preaching it.

Like my observations of the Indian ceremonies giving personal growth value within the Boy Scouts, we as the heads of our families – our increasingly at risk families – need to own the responsibility of creating and maintaining our family’s traditions and link those traditions and customs to those of our faith. For it will be through the care taking of these traditions by which we fulfill our new role as head of our family in Zimmerman’s explanation of the link between family and civilization. As we move from child to parent it is incumbent upon us to fulfill that role so that our children share in the same identification and warmth of development that we did (or even more importantly, as I can personally identify with, that we may have even been denied as a child).

Despite your attitudes on Lincoln car commercials, I found what says this best was the conversation that Matthew McConaughey’s character in the movie Interstellar said to his daughter when discussing a father’s purpose, “Now, we are just here to be memories for our kids.” Well that is in many ways right, and it is those memories that define and align our children to their greater society. It is those memories you make for them that will protect and guide them throughout the struggles of their life. Do you want your children to be tightly anchored in the storms of their life or are you too busy for that and leaving them free to be taken by the winds of the day? Or more sadly, are you like so many parents in America today and outsourcing that responsibility to others?

Are you helping your kids take root in the faith? Are you honoring sacred Tradition in your family?

Brothers, if we observe your family from its traditions can we recognize what Tribe you are from? Do you know yourself?

Happy Father’s Day,

YBIC

Let us pray

Jesus, our most loving redeemer,
You came to enlighten the world
with your teaching and example.
You willed to spend the greater part of Your life
in humble obedience to Mary and Joseph
in the poor home of Nazareth.
In this way, You sanctified that family,
which was to be an example for all Christian families.

Graciously accept our family,
which we dedicate and consecrate to You this day.
Be pleased to protect, guard, and keep it
in holy fear, in peace,
and in the harmony of Christian charity.
By conforming ourselves to the Divine model
of Your family,
may we attain to eternal happiness.
New St. Joseph People’s Prayer Book

Book Review “Into the Deep” by Robert Rogers.

Hello to all.  I am not a great writer, but I just finished a book that I feel all of you should consider reading.  The book is titled Into the Deep and it is by Robert Rogers.  This is a true story of a family of 6 living in Liberty, Mo.  The background of this family is amazing to begin with, a couple with 4 children, the oldest daughter who was 8 at the time of the story, a brother named Zachary who was born with Down syndrome, another son, and then a year old adopted daughter from China.  On Labor Day weekend of 2003 (i might be a year off), the family traveled to Wichita for a family wedding and headed home in a downpour late that night.  Just south of Emporia their can was caught in a flash flood at Jacob Creek near mile marker 116.  Their van stalled and water began to enter the van.  Soon a wall of water gushing at 30,000 gallons a second hit their van, wiped out the concrete median and pushed their van off the turnpike.  The husband, his wife, and oldest daughter were sucked out of the window that was broken open, the younger three were trapped in their car seats.  In the end, the father survived, and his wife and children sadly passed away.  However, his story of faith before, during, and after this tragedy is what made me unable to put this book down.  I literally began on Wednesday at noon and finished the 230ish page book on Thursday at noon.

I checked out the book from the Bonner Springs Library, but there are a couple copies available through JoCo libraries and I believe it can be purchased on amazon for 10-15 bucks.

I have attached a link to a video about this amazing guy.  If it doesn’t work, youtube Robert Rogers.  The pics do not do this justice.  Jill and I had just started dating not long before this and were actually headed to Wichita the day after this flood.  The destruction in such a short time from the water was incredible.

Bless you all

TJ

The Traveler’s Pass

Are you traveling this summer?  Will you be going to Mass when you’re away?

In my pre-catholic years the idea of going to Church on vacation was never anything I, or my family, really ever thought about. As a protestant, your Church wasn’t universal; your Church was in effect your local congregation. Your Church was the place you went to get “fed.” So when you went on vacation, the idea of going to Church while traveling became a somewhat practical, and often more conceptual, impossibility. You had those that occasionally would, of course; but outside of attending with family or friends most who did so were being opportunistic travelers visiting a “spiritual place” or celebrated church of note.  For the average traveling family, however, this was not usually the case.  So as a Catholic, the often debated urban legend of the “Traveler’s Pass” for not attending Mass while traveling is something I continue to find fascinating.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 1389 that The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season.  But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.

Our friends at Catholic Answers (www.Catholic.com) responded to this more practically by saying, “It depends on the availability of Mass while you are traveling. If there is no Mass available in an area in which you are traveling, or if just reason exists while traveling that makes attending Mass that Sunday or holy day not possible (e.g., illness, job requirements, unfamiliarity with the area), then you are dispensed from the requirement to attend Mass that Sunday or holy day…

…As a rule of thumb when traveling, it is good to try to make provision for Mass attendance before your trip. That way you have opportunity to find a local church, work a Mass time into your schedule, and make arrangements for transportation to the church. If Mass attendance is made a travel priority — at least as high a priority as leisure tours and/or business meetings — it is less likely that scheduling and transportation predicaments will derail Mass attendance while traveling.” (Michelle Arnold, Catholic Answers, 10/10/2007)

So how did Mass become optional to so many Catholics while traveling?

Who really knows? It’s fair to question where many things came from pre-Vatican II and pre-Catechism. I have heard many Bishops within the Church, when publicly interviewed, admit the lack of Catechesis that permeated the American Catholic Church over the last two generations. Much true understanding has fallen from many.

We could blame it on the Protestants, of course. It’s a fair argument in the face of un-catechized generations. One could easily imagine a husband-wife conversation such as, “Honey, the neighbors don’t go to church when they go on vacation, why do we have too? And don’t tell me it’s because of your mother!”

We could blame our parents because they never instituted the practice for us on our family vacations when we were kids; but we blame them for everything else.

We could blame it on our spouse, but it’s our responsibility to get them to Heaven – not the other way around.

Regardless of our rationale, I think the more important question we should ask ourselves though is….Why Not?  Why not go to Mass while traveling?

Father Robert Barron (www.WordOnFire.org) produced a DVD series released prior to Christmas in 2013 simply called, “Catholicism.” (www.CatholcisimSeries.com) The series is a fantastic overview of the depth, breadth, and historical scope of our Catholic faith. Not only is the cinematography very eye catching, but the ever expanding context of the series reveals an underlying belief most dedicated Catholics share; there isn’t enough life to learn all you can learn about the faith. Being a Catholic is a daily journey and learning about the faith is something you can only do in little bits one day at a time.

Stephen K. Ray (www.catholic-convert.com) in his book Crossing the Tiber described our faith and his conversion to it in this way:

“The ‘something’ we had once militantly resisted, the Catholic Church, was found to be glorious, beautiful, and splendid – like a massive creature, too grand and colossal to comprehend fully, yet modest and personal enough to put affectionally in your pocket.  It was fullness.  Why the term fullness?  Because the Catholic Church encompasses so much more than we had ever known in our Protestant past – the fullness of the faith carefully preserved and nurtured through the centuries.  We are not going from Cristian to Catholic, as though we are leaving the ‘Christian’ part behind.  We are developing and experiencing the Christian faith more fully by becoming Catholic Christians.  Catholicism is ancient, yet forever young; it is constant and firm, yet forever lively and robust; it is old, yet always new and vital.  It is simple enough for a mouse to wade in, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim in.” 

So…if you are curious at all about understanding your Catholic faith more, and you don’t attend Mass while traveling, you are missing what is arguably your greatest and easiest opportunity to do so. Whether it be different nuances within the Mass, the construction of the Church, the age of the Church, the placement of the Altar, the placement of the pews, the name of the Church, the location of the Church within the community you are visiting, the congregation that welcomes you, the Priest, the music, the art work, how the liturgy is presented, the communal prayers, and even the Mass times can all help you understand so much more about what it means to be Catholic.

Though far from attending Mass one hundred percent of the time while traveling, I have had the pleasure of participating in the Mass in many different cities, states and even in other countries. Going always – always – becomes a highlight of my trip. Even when I have to drag protesting family members with me, we always leave glad we came and that we made Mass a priority.  Oh and the kids – which is the best part – are like freshmen on campus, especially in the older Churches.  Their eyes are glued to the art and design of the building and They are curious as to where the people and the sounds of the Mass come from. To them, a new church is like a new car, they want to check it all out and see what is different.

One of the great things about being Catholic is its Universal nature, and that the Eucharist is available to you nearly everywhere in the world through a service you understand and can participate in. How could you not appreciate access to the Eucharist wherever you are?

Now as a traveler, might I ask if you know what a Basilica is? A Basilica is a Catholic Church with special privileges conferred on it by the Pope. Did you know that there is a Basilica in many of the major cities throughout the United States?  Some US cities even have two or more. St. Louis has two and New York has four. Several cities in Europe and South America have six to nine. Basilica’s are amazing places with a public mission and breathtaking art work. Many Basilica’s even show up on the top 25 places to visit in a city on web tools like Trip Advisor. Did you know that you can attend Mass at a Basilica? They usually have multiple Mass times daily, and if you do attend Mass there you’ll likely brag about it when you come home. It’s hard to keep the phone on your camera put away as many of them offer tours in between Mass times.

Don’t like Basilica’s; how about a Cathedral?  Every diocese has one.  It’s the main church of the diocese where the Bishop normally resides.  They aren’t too shabby either.  You might check one out. Have you ever checked out your own?

Another thought; does your Priest give good homilies? Not that it truly matters, but how do you know? Compared one lately? My favorite Priest to listen to is at my in-law’s parish where they live. It’s a small country parish on the outskirts of small town America. All of the music is played by a single guitarist, the singing sounds like someone strangled a cat, and the Altar Servers all wear high-water jeans and hand-me-down Air Jordan’s under their garments. But the homilies…the homilies are off the chart’s incredible and move your heart to the Eucharist every time.

So why not add value to your summer trip this year?  Go to Mass somewhere.

How about you brother?  Do you plan Mass attendance into your vacation?  Why not?  Have you thought about what your missing?

YBIC

Good Things

In 1991 the Band BoDeans released the Album Good Things which carried the title track by the same name. Though it is essentially a whimsical love song about the expectations a young man has about the future of a relationship with a girl he falls in love with, the song reminds me on occasion of the same attitude carried by some people of faith regarding their relationship with God. They only expect Good Things to happen to them because of God’s love.

A good friend of mine that lives in Olathe, and Mormon mother of four children, has seen her faith tested. Her husband was diagnosed with a debilitating muscle disease which lost him his job at Hallmark after running out of long-term disability. Until then a stay-at-home mom, she returned to work to provide for the family and nursed him at home when she wasn’t on the job. He came through it, and began a period of recovery.

One morning not soon thereafter he kissed her goodbye and sent her off to work. After she drove away he threw some personal belongings in his new car they saved for, took what money was in the house, and drove off to California with plans of restarting his life with his old high school sweetheart. A couple days later when she and I met up for me to hear the story, she cried openly with me and kept saying, “I don’t understand. We lived out our faith perfectly. We did everything we should have done. Why? Why does this stuff keep happening to us? We should have good things happening to us.

A current co-worker of mine went to lunch with me one day, and I drove, which allowed him the opportunity to discover I listen to Christian Radio. He was very excited to learn this and felt the need to share his witness with me at lunch. I sat, listened, and appreciated all he had to say. He then wanted to know about my faith experience. Not having the time to get into it at that point of our lunch hour, I just asked for his home e-mail address and later sent him a copy of my CRHP witness.

The next day he was my new best friend, and set up camp in my office. “I knew it. I knew it!” he said over and over again. You are a Christian, and that is why things are going so well for you. Everybody recognizes your success, and you have that because you have Jesus in your life.” And he kept pointing at me when he said it. “As Christians, God brings Good Things to us,” he finished.

Dumbfounded, I looked at him like a monkey doing a math problem and asked simply, “Did you read my witness? Not really sure if you appreciate my level of thanks to have Christ in my life. I don’t expect anything. In fact I’m trying to give more of myself everyday because I feel that my life has been too much about me?”

To this day my friend and I continue to debate over our versions of the Good Things that have come through my relationship with Jesus Christ.  He, like my friend the Mormon, attribute a sense of expectation to their faith.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life, (John 3:16).  Arguably one of the most famous of Bible versus.  But what is Love? What is God’s love? Is it the parental forgiveness of a patient father, or is it the responsive accolades of a praise appreciative creator?  Or is God’s Love possibly the commitment, and subsequent sacrifices, to a relationship of value many of us struggle our whole lives to fully understand?  More importantly, could it perhaps be the joy we receive from seeing the fruits of that mutual commitment and sacrifice in our relationship with Him?  And then…the model it becomes for us in our relationships with one another?

Personally, I am just thankful for Christ’s forgiveness. I have stopped asking for personal things in prayers and just thank God for all He has given me. In many ways I see my life as being over, and see each new chapter of my life through the purpose of serving others or serving in the role of husband, father, brother, neighbor or friend. Still a sinner in need of a savior, my prayer is that I may give in thanksgiving for all I have already received.

So bothers where do you stand? Should we expect something for our faith? Should we expect Good Things? Or have we already received it? If our relationship with Christ is on-going, what should our expectations be? Should there be any expectations at all?

YBIC

Is There Room in this Pew?

4595321005_46e1c4d442

“The West Wing” was a popular NBC television show that ran from 1999 until 2006 entertaining audiences with its whit and storytelling. One story from the show that still comes to mind for me from time to time occurred during episode 32 entitled Noël. The story was a plot analogy shared by the character of Leo, the White House Chief of Staff, and told to Josh, the President’s Senior Political Advisor, and was scripted out as follows:

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are you stupid? Now we are both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.’”

I love that story on multiple levels. But one sure reason is that it always reminds me of one of my favorite stories in the Bible found in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 2, vs. 1-5 – the story of the paralytic – which happened during Jesus’ ministry in Galilee:

“When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.’”

What I love about both of these stories is that they emphasize the empowerment of the individual to create significant impact in the lives of those around them, and an empowerment that goes beyond relying on the traditional systems of their lives to make things happen. Specifically within the Gospel story, it was “their faith” that granted the paralytic grace; it wasn’t the paralytics. And it wasn’t their faith in the institution; it was their faith in Jesus. They didn’t just drop him off at the gate and let him stand in line. They didn’t just find a disciple and say hey, “Can you make sure our friend gets in to see the big J?” They dug a hole in the roof and lowered him down into Christ’s lap. They believed in what Jesus Christ could do.

So who were those four men in the greater scope of history? Who was Joe in the West Wing story? Well, surprise, they’re you and me, and that is what we are called to do as members of the body of Christ.

Now if you haven’t heard the term The New Evangelization, I pray you open your ears, your mind, and hopefully a book to those words because they are talking about you my friend.

Now the word evangelize tends to scare people; especially Catholics. It reeks of crazy people walking in front of public spaces wearing sign boards reading, “Repent, for the end of the world is at hand.” Or creates a nervous muscle twitch thinking about the last time we went to lunch with those three guys at work who all go to the same Baptist Church. But those things aren’t the New Evangelization. The New Evangelization started with Pope Pius the VI, and has ballooned in significance over the last three Popes into the War Cry of the modern Catholic Church.

And we – that’s you and me – have a role. We are the laity. What is the laity? We the people are the laity. The few, the proud, the ones occupying our favorite space in the pew so we can hear Father clearly, keep our kids from embarrassing us to much, and making sure we sit close enough to get wine this week. We who wonder halfway through Mass if there will there be donuts afterwards? We who hope there’s not a second collection so we won’t be late for our breakfast reservation at the restaurant or miss the kickoff of the football game. We…the laity.

So what are we actually supposed to do?

Well, let’s ask Pope Francis that question. Below is a response Pope Francis gave to reporter Jeffrey Tucker when asked just that question back in April of 2013:

“We priests tend to clericalize the laity,” Francis said. “[We] focus on things of the clergy, more specifically, the sanctuary, rather than bringing the Gospel to the world… A Church that limits herself to administering parish work experiences what someone in prison does: physical and mental atrophy.

“We infect lay people with our own disease. And some begin to believe the fundamental service God asks of them is to become greeters, lectors or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Church. Rather, [the call is] to live and spread the faith in their families, workplaces, schools, neighborhoods and beyond.”

The reform that’s needed is “neither to clericalize nor ask to be clericalized. The layperson is a layperson. He has to live as a layperson… to be a leaven of the love of God in society itself…. [He] is to create and sow hope, to proclaim the faith, not from a pulpit but from his everyday life. And like all of us, the layperson is called to carry his daily cross—the cross of the layperson, not of the priest.”Pope Francis

Is Pope Francis being critical of established norms here, maybe, but what he is also describing is the New Evangelization. He is challenging us to live out our faith proudly, and when it’s recognized for what is; share it.

Maybe even…hold on….wait for it….invite someone to Church!

Why would I do that? Oh my, here come the sign boards and the crazy’s again.

No; not at all. The big ask is to just live your faith. L—i—v—e—I–t.

Why just live your faith? Because we, the Laity, are the only ones who can evangelize in this way. What does a priest know about being a parent, being a co-worker at your work, living in your neighborhood, and dealing with your family? He’ll have some insight, yes, but your role is so much more important. Do you realize those who know you, and know you are Catholic, see what it means to be a Catholic from watching you? They see what your interpretation of being a Christian is by watching you. So even if you’re truly not living the faith, you are already carrying a message. So what message are you sending? Here’s a thought – how about a message of what living out what it means for people to be a follower of Jesus Christ?

The blessing of that choice is that by living your faith come the opportunities to share your faith, from sharing your faith come the opportunities to jump into a few holes and show people a way out, and from jumping into holes come the opportunities to carry those paralyzed by sin to Jesus Christ. Be who you are. Be what He has called you to be.

You can do it. He believes in you, and you were made for it. Mother Theresa was once asked by a group of listeners to share an idea with them that would change their lives. Mother answered with, “Smile at each other.” When later asked how does one become a Saint? Her simple response was, “Say yes to Jesus.”

Brothers, have you heard of the New Evangelization? Are you living it? What’s holding you back?

YBIC

What if Adam hadn’t bitten the Apple

5adam-and-eve-in-the-garden-of-edenSM

This has always been one of the great brain teasers of my life. What if Adam in the Garden of Eden hadn’t bitten the Apple as told to us in the book of Genesis?

What would this life be like if we had never entered into original sin? Would life be easier? Would it be harder? For the longest time I always believed that I would have to wait until I got to heaven to find out the answer to that question.

However, after spending a lot of time with one of my favorite authors, Scott Hahn, through several of his books and in hearing him speak I came to realize that I was wrong. We do know what life would be like – it’s life in Jesus Christ.

Why?

Because Jesus Christ is the new Adam, that’s why (CCC 411).  Jesus established a new covenant relationship (CCC 50). So what does that mean? It means God flipped the biggest reset button in the history of the world. It means that God figuratively took the Apple back out of Adam’s mouth. We still have original sin, unfortunately, it did happen along with the rest of the Old Testament; but we are cleansed of Original Sin through Baptism and enjoy a new covenant relationship through Christ.

Okay then, well what does that mean? Well, it means that in life through Jesus Christ we re-enter life as a son of man, a son of Adam, and a son of a no-apple-biting Adam. We re-discover our purpose as Children of God to live out our lives in our garden of love and joy, to experience life in appreciation of all of creation, and to be thankful for all that is given and from whence it came.

However, this also means that as sons of Adam we run the same risk of repeating the sins of the father. We have responsibilities within this covenant relationship as members of the body of Christ. Furthermore, in paying for the sins of the father, original sin has left us with the misery of concupiscence and the blessing of free will as a challenge to daily life. So in staying within the analogy, God may have taken the Apple out of Adam’s mouth, but the Tree is still in the Garden and the serpent is still crawling around.

Nothing crystallizes this daily balance of living out our lives more than grasping the differences between our two deaths: Physical and Supernatural. Christ emphasizes this to us in the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, when in reading we experience the story of Lazarus. Christ clearly calls natural death sleep so that we may understand the severity of supernatural death. Physical death has no true meaning. Only supernatural death has significance because it separates us from our covenant relationship with the Father.

Now what adds further challenges to living out our modern lives and being leaders to our families is how complex we’ve made our lives to be. As Christians we know our daily challenge of a clear mind becomes a version of those famous words from Ricky Ricardo to Lucy, “You’ve got some thinkin’ to do.” But yet we humans make thinking clearly harder every day, we shorten our own attention spans, and we rationalize truths in terms of time we seem not to have. Just the other day in fact K-LOVE (97.3 FM) reported the results of a Canadian Research Institute’s study on adult attention span; it’s down to eight seconds. Eight seconds. They compared those results to that of a Goldfish, which is nine seconds. In our modern garden we have given the serpent not just one tree to pick the wrong fruit from, but fields of them, and we keep growing more.

So to summarize the answer to my question, I’ll share one of my favorite resources of faith from my old protestant days: the NOOMA Project (www.NOOMA.com), and invite you to follow the link to it. Ironically Pastor Rob Bell, like a few others I’ve read, is a protestant evangelical pastor who has intellectually stumbled over what are really fundamental aspects of Catholicism and, ignorant of this irony or not, shares them as new theological ideas Protestants should explore. Specifically from the NOOMA project, Rob Bell in episode 003 (“Trees”) nails my Adam question perfectly and clearly paints an analogy of the humanistic view of our need, as God’s children, for the new covenant relationship Christ created. In accepting Christ in our lives we in essence begin longing for life in Adam’s garden as we are made to do. Or, as more simply put by Pastor Bell, for a life between the trees.

One beauty of Catholicism then, by understanding our need we have for living in Christ today, is that it immediately becomes easier to also understand the role of Holy Mother Church – our support system and partner in living out our lives. What an amazing gift the Church is to us, and our relationship to her a key.

The Sacraments should also now take on greater meaning as well, becoming as much a need for life as the water we drink and the air we breathe. The Mass becomes the only food we truly need. Confession our only true medicine to heal the sick and dying. The Communion of Saints our strength and our real family.

So bringing all of this out, and knowing now that God took the Apple out of Adam’s mouth, the question becomes to us as brothers, “Are we living each day making decisions that help us and our families avoid some form of physical death, or are we making decisions that help us and our families avoid a supernatural death?”

Do you eat Apples?

“Lazarus, come out!”

YBIC