40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #13 The Creed

Earlier in this series we’ve discussed The Code of Canon Law and The Catechism of the Catholic Church.  These two books contain the nuts and bolts of our faith.  To paraphrase the late Ed McMahon, “Everything you ever wanted to know about being a Catholic is in these two books!”  Thankfully we don’t all have to carry these two big books around with us.  In fact, it’s not necessary to own, or even to ever have seen these two volumes to be a good Catholic.

For the Cliff Notes version of our faith, all we have to do is look to one of the creeds.  Chances are you know one, or both of them by heart, even with the recent changes to the English translations.

You may wonder, why are there two of them when they’re both so similar.  Basically the Apostle’s Creed is said to have been written by the Apostles (hence the name) with each of them contributing part of it.  That would make it the older of the two creeds.  The ‘newer’ Nicene creed was promulgated by the  Council of Nicea in 325 and revised by the Council of Constantinople in 381.  The official name of this version is the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed, but it was shortened to the Nicean Creed for obvious reasons).

At mass we refer to the creed as the Profession of Faith.  And, that’s what it is.  We stand and declare the things that we believe.  If anyone were to ask you what you believe in, you could do worse than reciting the creed.  We believe in one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  We describe each of the three persons.  We describe Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and His ascension into heaven.  He will come again.

One interesting thing in the last section of the creed is that we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  Note that the word “catholic” isn’t capitalized.  It means universal.  In fact the Catholic Church isn’t the only one who recites the creed.  But, since it was the big C Catholic Church that originally established the creed, we’ll go ahead and take credit for it.

5th Sunday of Lent

Why are we here?  I don’t mean why are we here in this church, or why are we in Saint Louis, MO (or wherever you are) instead of some other place.  The question is “why are we HERE?”; why are we alive?  What is our purpose?  In the thousands of years of human existence there has never been another person exactly like you or exactly like me.  No matter how much longer life exists on this planet, there will never be another person exactly you or exactly like me.  Every person is unique.  Even identical twins are different individuals.  Every person has a reason for being.

 

Jesus knew why He was here.  He says, “I am troubled now.  Yet what should I say?  ‘Father save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.”  For the rest of us, it’s not necessarily that clear cut.

 

Jesus was the Son of God.  He could do lots of cool things.  He could walk on water.  He could change water into wine.  He healed the sick and raised the dead.  Most important, He knew why He was doing these things.  He knew why He was here.

 

But, you and I go through life not knowing exactly why we’re here.  I know some of you remember the old Baltimore Catechism.

Question:  Why did God make us?  Answer: God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.

Question:  What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”  Answer: To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.

 

Simple enough, but what does it mean?  It means something different to each one of us and some of us spend our entire earthly lives trying to figure it out.

 

When a priest or deacon is in formation we go through a time of discernment; a time of deciding if this is really what God calls us to do.  I have friends who are deacons who swear that God spoke to them and told them they were being called.  I wasn’t so blessed. Right up to the day or ordination I had doubts.  My tenth anniversary of ordination is coming up in a few weeks and I still have doubts.  “Is this really what God wants me to do?  Does He really want me to be a deacon?  Does He really want me to be in this place?”

 

Father Thomas Merton wrote a prayer about discernment that goes like this:

O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,


I do not see the road ahead of me,


I cannot know for certain where it will end.



Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.



But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.



I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.



Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.


In John’s Gospel a voice comes down from heaven.  Some of the people present heard it as thunder.  Some said an angel had spoken to them.  John doesn’t say this but it’s very possible that some of the people didn’t hear anything at all.  God speaks to each of us in the way that we need to hear Him.  Some of us need to be smacked up side of the head.  Some of us need to be led gently.  Some of us just don’t pay enough attention and God’s message never gets through to us at all.

 

So, how do we know what it is that God wants us to do.  Simple…PRAY.  I don’t mean the kind of prayer where we spend a few minutes telling God how to do His job.  You know, “Lord, give me this.  Lord, give me that.  God, make this happen.  Lord, give me a winning lottery ticket.  Lord, give me patience.  DO IT NOW!!”

 

Believe me, God knows how to do His job.  You wouldn’t talk to your best friend that way.  Why would you talk to God that way.  When you pray it shouldn’t be a monologue.  It should be a conversation.  You have one mouth and two ears.  When you pray, you should use your ears at least twice as much as you use your mouth.

 

Some of us may not want to listen to God because we’re afraid of what we might hear.  Even Jesus says, “I am troubled now.”  He knows what His Father wants Him to do.  He knows that He’s going to be tortured and killed in just a few days.  Of course, He’s troubled.  But He also knows that’s why He was sent.  “What should I say:  ‘Father, save me from this hour?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.’”

 

Isn’t that last part what our lives are really all about.  “Father, glorify your name”?   Isn’t that what the Baltimore Catechism meant? What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”  To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world, even though we may be troubled by what He asks us to do.  If even Jesus knew not to disobey His Father, who are we to question His will?

 

 

 

Why are we here?  I don’t mean why are we here in this church, or why are we in Saint Louis, MO (or wherever you are) instead of some other place.  The question is “why are we HERE?”; why are we alive?  What is our purpose?  In the thousands of years of human existence there has never been another person exactly like you or exactly like me.  No matter how much longer life exists on this planet, there will never be another person exactly you or exactly like me.  Every person is unique.  Even identical twins are different individuals.  Every person has a reason for being.

 

Jesus knew why He was here.  He says, “I am troubled now.  Yet what should I say?  ‘Father save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.”  For the rest of us, it’s not necessarily that clear cut.

 

Jesus was the Son of God.  He could do lots of cool things.  He could walk on water.  He could change water into wine.  He healed the sick and raised the dead.  Most important, He knew why He was doing these things.  He knew why He was here.

 

But, you and I go through life not knowing exactly why we’re here.  I know some of you remember the old Baltimore Catechism.

Question:  Why did God make us?  Answer: God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.

Question:  What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”  Answer: To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.

 

Simple enough, but what does it mean?  It means something different to each one of us and some of us spend our entire earthly lives trying to figure it out.

 

When a priest or deacon is in formation we go through a time of discernment; a time of deciding if this is really what God calls us to do.  I have friends who are deacons who swear that God spoke to them and told them they were being called.  I wasn’t so blessed. Right up to the day or ordination I had doubts.  My tenth anniversary of ordination is coming up in a few weeks and I still have doubts.  “Is this really what God wants me to do?  Does He really want me to be a deacon?  Does He really want me to be in this place?”

 

Father Thomas Merton wrote a prayer about discernment that goes like this:

O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,


I do not see the road ahead of me,


I cannot know for certain where it will end.



Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.



But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.



I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.



Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.


In John’s Gospel a voice comes down from heaven.  Some of the people present heard it as thunder.  Some said an angel had spoken to them.  John doesn’t say this but it’s very possible that some of the people didn’t hear anything at all.  God speaks to each of us in the way that we need to hear Him.  Some of us need to be smacked up side of the head.  Some of us need to be led gently.  Some of us just don’t pay enough attention and God’s message never gets through to us at all.

 

So, how do we know what it is that God wants us to do.  Simple…PRAY.  I don’t mean the kind of prayer where we spend a few minutes telling God how to do His job.  You know, “Lord, give me this.  Lord, give me that.  God, make this happen.  Lord, give me a winning lottery ticket.  Lord, give me patience.  DO IT NOW!!”

 

Believe me, God knows how to do His job.  You wouldn’t talk to your best friend that way.  Why would you talk to God that way.  When you pray it shouldn’t be a monologue.  It should be a conversation.  You have one mouth and two ears.  When you pray, you should use your ears at least twice as much as you use your mouth.

 

Some of us may not want to listen to God because we’re afraid of what we might hear.  Even Jesus says, “I am troubled now.”  He knows what His Father wants Him to do.  He knows that He’s going to be tortured and killed in just a few days.  Of course, He’s troubled.  But He also knows that’s why He was sent.  “What should I say:  ‘Father, save me from this hour?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.’”

 

Isn’t that last part what our lives are really all about.  “Father, glorify your name”?   Isn’t that what the Baltimore Catechism meant? What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”  To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world, even though we may be troubled by what He asks us to do.  If even Jesus knew not to disobey His Father, who are we to question His will?

 

 

 

 

God’s Words are True!

Editor’s note:  The following is NOT a transcript of an Obama cabinet meeting.  It’s from today’s first reading, from the second chapter of the Book of Wisdom.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright:
“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.
To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
merely to see him is a hardship for us,
Because his life is not like that of others,
and different are his ways.
He judges us debased;
he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
He calls blest the destiny of the just
and boasts that God is his Father.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.

If you’ve been paying any attention to the news for the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that the atheists are taking over our public schools.  Kids can’t pray.  Christmas vacation has been replaced by a “winter break.”  Likewise, Easter break is now “spring break”.  Even minor holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween have taken on politically-correct, non-religious aliases.  But that’s the least of our worries.

Kids are being taught “revised” curricula where Church history isn’t taught, where great (Catholic) literature has disappeared, and where the benefits of abstinence aren’t part of sex education.  Some public schools, even at the grade school level, feel it’s their duty to pass out free condoms.  What’s a mother (and father) to do?

You really have three choices.  You can put your head firmly in the sand and send your kids to public school anyway, hoping you can monitor what they’re taught and counteract the foolishness when they’re at home.  Or, you can home school, an excellent choice but not one that most parents are comfortable with.  (It takes a lot of time and effort to teach them a full curriculum, especially when both parents work.

Of course, the final choice is to send them to a Catholic school.  While it’s expensive, it’s money well spent.  They’ll get a faith-based education, they’ll get more individual attention since class sizes are usually smaller than in public schools, and you can sleep at night knowing that their heads aren’t being filled with PC nonsense.

According to the National Catholic Education Association, there are just over 2 million students currently enrolled in almost 7,000 Catholic schools.  You can click the link to see more detailed stats, so I won’t repeat them here except to say that the average grade school tuition nationwide is $3,383 for elementary schools and $8,787 for secondary schools.

That may seem like a lot, especially if you have more than one child, but $3,383 breaks down to about $65.00 per week.  What makes financing Catholic school so difficult is that while you’re paying tuition to your parish school, you’re also supporting a public school system that you don’t use.  It’s high time the government started to give tax breaks to parochial school parents.  Imagine what would happen to the government school systems if those 7,000 Catholic schools suddenly closed their doors and 2,000,000 Catholic students suddenly showed up at their doors.  Giving Catholic parents tuition assistance would seem like a bargain.

But, I digress.  Catholic schools have a long history of providing quality education at reasonable costs.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost per child in our public schools is more than $10,000 per year.  That’s more than double the cost of a Catholic education.  Of course, if you’re sending a kid or two to the parish school, you’re footing both bills.

Here’s the thing.  Catholic schools are the best choice for quality education.  Across the US, local churches are making plans to improve the quality of our schools, and looking at creative ways to finance them.  Here in Saint Louis, Archbishop Carlson recently shared his Alive in Christ program, a long-range plan for our Catholic education system.  This plan, along with similar plans across the US will succeed, as long as we support it.  Will it cost money?  Of course.  Will it call for some sacrifices from each of us, whether we have kids in school, or if those days are in the past?  Yes, it will.  But we can’t afford NOT to support our schools.

As they always have, Catholic schools will continue to educate our children to become the leaders of tomorrow.  The list of graduates of Catholic schools who are leaders in our communities is too long to get into here.

Catholic schools offer the best possible education, both academically and spiritually, and that’s cool!

40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #15 Catholic Schools

If you’ve been paying any attention to the news for the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that the atheists are taking over our public schools.  Kids can’t pray.  Christmas vacation has been replaced by a “winter break.”  Likewise, Easter break is now “spring break”.  Even minor holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween have taken on politically-correct, non-religious aliases.  But that’s the least of our worries.

Kids are being taught “revised” curricula where Church history isn’t taught, where where great (Catholic) literature has disappeared, and where the benefits of abstinence aren’t part of sex education.  Some public schools, even at the grade school level, feel it’s their duty to pass out free condoms.  What’s a mother (and father) to do?

You really have three choices.  You can put your head firmly in the sand and send your kids to public school anyway, hoping you can monitor what they’re taught and counteract the foolishness when they’re at home.  Or, you can home school, an excellent choice but not one that most parents are comfortable with.  (It takes a lot of time and effort to teach them a full curriculum, especially when both parents work.

Of course, the final choice is to send them to a Catholic school.  While it’s expensive, it’s money well spent.  They’ll get a faith-based education, they’ll get more individual attention since class sizes are usually smaller than in public schools, and you can sleep at night knowing that their heads aren’t being filled with PC nonsense.

According to the National Catholic Education Association, there are just over 2 million students currently enrolled in almost 7,000 Catholic schools.  You can click the link to see more detailed stats, so I won’t repeat them here except to say that the average grade school tuition nationwide is $3,383 for elementary schools and $8,787 for secondary schools.

That may seem like a lot, especially if you have more than one child, but $3,383 breaks down to about $65.00 per week.  What makes financing Catholic school so difficult is that while you’re paying tuition to your parish school, you’re also supporting a public school system that you don’t use.  It’s high time the government started to give tax breaks to parochial school parents.  Imagine what would happen to the government school systems if those 7,000 Catholic schools suddenly closed their doors and 2,000,000 Catholic students suddenly showed up at their doors.  Giving Catholic parents tuition assistance would seem like a bargain.

But, I digress.  Catholic schools have a long history of providing quality education at reasonable costs.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost per child in our public schools is more than $10,000 per year.  That’s more than double the cost of a Catholic education.  Of course, if you’re sending a kid or two to the parish school, you’re footing both bills.

Here’s the thing.  Catholic schools are the best choice for quality education.  Across the US, local churches are making plans to improve the quality of our schools, and looking at creative ways to finance them.  Here in Saint Louis, Archbishop Carlson recently shared his Alive in Christ program, a long-range plan for our Catholic education system.  This plan, along with similar plans across the US will succeed, as long as we support it.  Will it cost money?  Of course.  Will it call for some sacrifices from each of us, whether we have kids in school, or if those days are in the past?  Yes, it will.  But we can’t afford NOT to support our schools.

As they always have, Catholic schools will continue to educate our children to become the leaders of tomorrow.  The list of graduates of Catholic schools who are leaders in our communities is too long to get into here.

Catholic schools offer the best possible education, both academically and spiritually, and that’s cool!

Paranoia? I Don’t Think So

I know you’re well aware of the US Bishops opposition to the Health and Human Services mandate that Catholic institutions must provide health insurance coverage for artificial birth control and other so-called “preventative medication and services”.  While the news media have made a big deal out of the Church’s opposition to this attack on our freedom of religion, a couple of other stories have received much less coverage.

 

On February 15 the Vatican received notice from J P Morgan Chase Bank that it’s accounts would be closed effective March 31.  [J P Morgan Chase was the recipient of $25 billion in government bailout money.]

 

On March 6, the US State Department placed the Vatican, along with 190 other countries, on a list of potential “money launderers”.  The Holy See falls into the category “of concern”, the second highest classification.

 

I suppose you could call these last two events coincidences.  But it seems pretty clear to me that there’s a definite message here.  If you stand up, speak out, and defend your Constitutional rights, there will be consequences.  The question is, do we as Catholics bow to intimidation tactics, or do we defend the faith regardless of the potential risks?  Ironically it seems that members of other faith traditions, particularly our Jewish brothers and sisters and several protestant denominations, are more upset about what’s going on in Washington DC than you and I are.

 

To paraphrase Monsignor Michael Witt who is, among his many jobs, the Director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate, the Bishops have dusted off their crosiers and are using them, not as walking sticks, but as weapons to defend the faith.  They’ve put themselves at the head of this fight and as loyal Catholics, it’s our duty to fall in behind them.  On March 2, representatives of the US Bishops met with the administration.  The Bishops were told that they didn’t understand the Catholic faith.

 

The bishops have asked us to pray and fast.  If you haven’t already, you should contact your senator and representative and let them know how you feel.  If this assault on the Church and on our Constitution is allowed to stand, the floodgates will have been opened.  Who knows what the next target will be?