Saturday, January 28, 2012

Whose Idea Was This, Anyway?

Apparently, I am teaching an adult confirmation class.

I got an email from the Adult Education Coordinator at my parish, asking me if I wanted to, and of course I said yes! So now instead of just being a discussion leader and team teacher for the RCIA class my husband is in, I'm actually teaching my very own class! There are supposedly 12 people signed up, but on Monday night there were 7 people there and 3 of them are actually supposed to be in RCIA. So, who knows?

It's sort of ironic that, after spending all 4 years of my bachelor's program insisting that I did NOT want to teach (I double majored in history and religious studies), all I really want to to do is teach about the faith.

Did any of you go through this process yourselves? I'm looking for a way to really teach the faith without being overbearing or preachy, but I also want to be honest and authentic without being touchy-feely. I went through it last year and the woman who taught it is so great, but I want it to be "me." Any tips would be so, so, appreciated. And prayers of course.

Monday's lesson is "how to participate in the Mass." 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

He Put A New Song In My Mouth

This was the second week of having to sing "Here I Am, Lord" at Mass. This wouldn't trouble me so much aside from the fact that last week, for some reason totally unbeknownst to me, we  got a new Holy, Holy, Holy, a new Lamb of God and a new Great Amen. All with a tune that sounds like something from a Disney movie new arrangement.

I highly, HIGHLY dislike these new arrangements. We also got the new Gloria. No, not that new Gloria, a NEW new Gloria, with a new arrangement as well. I like the Gloria Simplex because it fits the new translation of the Mass. It sounds sort of like a chant and the simplicity of it works better than the cramming of the new words into the tune we were singing to before, so you can focus on what you're saying and not the odd phrasing with the arrangement. (Aside: When I was a kid, even at The Other Catholic Church in town, the Holy, Holy, Holy and Lamb of God were sort of chanted and I find myself longing for these older arrangements. My big beef with the Holy Holy Holy that we were doing before the new translation and are now doing again is phrasing. What is the need to repeat the "your glory" and "who comes"? Why can't we just put it into a normal phrasing? If you are repeating things in order to make them fit the melody, methinks you ought to re-write your melody, especially if your lyrics are coming from Scripture.) These new arrangements of these very important liturgical songs do NOT fit the elevated status of the new mass. They sort of jar me out of where I am. When the pianist started playing the tune for the Lamb of God, I actually got confused. I actually thought to myself  "why are they playing a song, we're not supposed to be playing a song here," and, based on how long it took people to catch on, I wasn't the only one. Here's my question: what's wrong with the Agnus Dei? I'm not saying that to be flippant, I am totally serious. Why can't we just sing the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei? Why all this kumbaya hand holdy stuff now, NOW that we have finally gotten rid of the kumbaya hand holdy translation?!

In any event, when I looked at these songs in our hymnal, I realized that they were all arranged by the same composer. I will not name him, mainly because the thread on his music on the Catholic Answers Forums was closed because people were being uncharitable. Now, I won't say anything about him personally (because I didn't even Wikipedia him to find out anything about him personally), I just don't like his "hymns." One because they are trite and contrived lyrically, two because they all sound like something from a Disney movie the same. But the last two weeks, with the exception of the Gloria Simplex and our recessional hymn this week ("How Can I Keep From Singing" which is a Protestant hymn, by the way), ALL of the songs we sang in mass were written by this good gentleman. It was like a This Dude love fest and not a Catholic mass at all.

Catholicism. You're Doing it Wrong. 
What does one do about something like this? I finally left The Other Catholic Church after putting my foot down over a horrendous rendition of Alleluia in which we clapped. Yes, you read that right. I am not a RadTrad, I'm really only a regular trad and this stuff really, really, REALLY bothers me. Can I ask my Pastor to put a moratorium on all the David Haas, Marty Haugen, Dan Schutte stuff? Can I respectfully request that we have a Catholic mass for the reals, or have the pew-sitting Catholics gotten so into their "let's sing the Our Father, use the orans posture, and clap through the Alleluia" mentality that people would actually be upset at the Catholicization of the mass? I know my personal preference should not dictate things and I know there are people out there who are very emotionally attached to these songs, but some of us are emotionally attached to the MASS as it should be and would like to at LEAST hear the liturgical prayers sung respectfully. I would trade one awful hymn a week for two good ones. Heck, at this point, I would trade two David Haas debacles for one Panis Angelicus. With so many beautiful, relevant, traditional Catholic hymns, do we really need to subject parishioners to this stuff?

Ugh, and now I have "Here I Am, Lord" in my head.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Teb-Over It: Why I Dislike Tim Tebow

Here in Colorado, we are known for several things:
1. Mountains
2. Hippies
3. Snow
4. Skiing
5. Having a large KKK community in the 1920's
6. Rabid Bronco fans
(Okay, so some of these things we might not be known for, but they are all true nonetheless.)

So, there's this guy, this football player and maybe you've heard of him. He does this particular thing whenever he scores. It's commonly called Tebowing. We Catholics call it praying and we typically don't do it in front of thousands of people in person and God knows how many on TV. 

Quintessential Colorado. Only this guy is not a hippy. That I know of
The Evangelical world just loooooves him. I can't tell you how many people on my Facebook just get all choked up at the thought of this man "witnessing his love for Jesus.” Nevermind that, at his vocation, he has been medicore at best (save a few “miraculous” come backs). They say completely inane and obnoxious things about how he passed a total of 316 yards in his miraculous comeback last night. 316, you guys! Like John 3:16! Like "God so loved the world..."! God is on our side. God wants us to win football games. 

The secular world tends to dislike Tebow. I attribute this precisely to the praying-in-the-endzone thing, the constant talk about being blessed and Christianity in general, and I'm sure the pro-life ad featuring him and his mother didn't really help his cause. The average everyday Joe just wants to sit back, relax, have a beer, watch the game and not have to think about Church and those pesky God and Jesus fellows.

But a lot of Catholics really, really like Tebow. A quick search on the Catholic Answers Forums brings up posts about how he is living his faith, and helping to evangelize. He could be bringing people to God, we want to live next door to him and he “seems like a really humble and great guy.” (I don’t like giving him so much attention as a Catholic considering that he was raised Baptist, his father is a pastor and both of his parents are missionaries. He was born in the Philippines. Now, why would a Baptist missionary family be in the Philippines, when 90% of the population is Christian? Maybe because 80% of them are Catholic.) There’s also a double-standard that is exercised with Tebow. Catholics paising him on the forums for being a good Christian example are the same ones in other threads who attack the Duggars for having a TV show because it’s “materialistic.” I guess being a football star really does have its perks. No one seems to be talking about how awesome Philip Rivers is, though, and he’s a Catholic football star who is a chastity speaker.

I have no doubt that God loves Tim Tebow. I have no doubt that God loves anyone. I just have beef with something that looks to me like showboating. We are supposed to be a good example to others in the life that we live. We are not supposed to fall on our knees in prayer in front of millions of people (Matthew 6:5). I honestly believe that Tebow is coming from a sincere place and that he really wants to glorify God in his way and bring attention to Him. But I feel like people are starting to glorify Tebow instead. I feel like attention is being paid to the fact that Tebow is a Christian without much conversation going on about Christ. I cringe every single Sunday morning when I see the families go up to receive Communion in their Tebow jerseys. They have made Church just a stop before watching Tebow run the ball. Idol worship is idol worship, even if that idol is Christian. This brings to mind what happened last spring with Father John Corapi. So many people really looked to him and followed him and when he fell, people were upset and their faith was shaken. They had put their faith in the man and not what he was preaching. Tebow is young, he is in the national spotlight, he is making a lot of money. He is also human. He will likely fall and then the media wolves will be all over it. People who were once inspired by him may be disappointed and turn away. Even if he doesn’t fall, what happens when the Broncos don’t go to the Super Bowl? Or if they do and they don’t win? If God’s favor is evidenced by the wins, is it lost when His team loses? I know God sees and is involved in everything, but being involved in who wins which football championship reduces Him to a level that almost makes my stomach turn.

I want the world to stop talking about Tim Tebow. When we do talk about him, I want it to be about football. If he plays well, then he plays well. If he doesn’t, then I want them to say so. I don’t want to hear any more talk about anything other than his playing skills. If he’s a nice kid, great. I’m glad. I’m just as tired hearing about sports stars shooting or stabbing people, robbing people or raping people. But let’s focus on his actions in football, and hope his life off the field is a good witness.

Besides, I have a pretty good feeling that God is a Saints fan, anyway. 
St. Jeanne d'Arc in New Orleans, hoisting a Saints banner

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Keep It Classy, Colorado

Just another example of why I believe abortion is a SYMPTOM and not the disease in this society. What gets me is that the girl's mother is upset about it too. Why did she allow the picture to be taken in the first place?

Colorado Student Banned From Yearbook

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Holy Day of... Eh.

Happy Epiphany Eve everyone!! As you all know, tomorrow is a Holy Day of Obligation, so make sure you all check on Mass times at your local....wait. What? You mean they moved the feast of the Epiphany to a Sunday?

The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the day that the Magi arrived in Bethlehem and adored the baby Jesus and brought him presents and I think Mary had a little drummer boy show up and I'm pretty sure that it was the reason that men never, ever ask for directions...any more. It's one of oldest Feasts in Christianity- the prefigurement of all Christians on bended knee for our savior. 

With that said, I don't really understand why the Catholic Church in America has demoted this to a Sunday feast. I'm kind of a nerd in the sense that I really enjoy Holy Days of Obligation. I get so excited at the thought of taking time out of my normal life and going to Mass in the middle of the week. It's one of those things that make us Catholic, one of those things that no one else does. I read this book recently (and I apologize because I can't honestly remember who it was by or what it was called) about Vatican II and why it had such a big impact and why that impact isn't the things that everyone talks about-- the RadTrads talking about the change from Latin, for example-- but smaller things that slowly eroded our identity and lead to the really, really bad catechesis of the Baby Boomer generation which lead to the even WORSE (if it's possible) catechesis of our generation until we woke up and re-catechized ourselves. One of the things he talked about was this very thing. We all know we should go to Mass on Sundays, that's a given. And we all know we should go on Christmas and Easter, but it's those in-between feasts that should be shaping our lives. The ebb and flow of the liturgical calendar and the reflection outside of the race of this life. We've effectively been held less accountable for our own spiritual lives. The author of this book argued that we should all go back to the Friday meat abstinence (as the Bishops of the UK did recently) because it was something that all Catholics did, something that set us apart from all the other Christians out there. 

In today's world, when there is so much animosity toward Catholics and so many Christians aren't really all that much different than your average Secular Sally, (*coughunitarianscough*), it would be nice, just once to see the Church stand up for Catholic identity. To remind us that we are in the world, but not of the world. We need things like keeping up our Christmas decorations for the entire Christmas season and then going to Mass on the Epiphany (which is January 6, not "a Sunday between January 2 and January 8"). We need our Theophany water and chalk and whatever other trappings we can get. We need our St. Blaise days and May Crownings and Good Friday Fish Fries. We need to be reminded that that our Church isn't replaceable by going to whichever First United Congregation is closest to us, because the service times fit with soccer practice and the female pastor wears birkenstocks and a Hawaiian shirt and that's neat. Above all, we need to be reminded that we are Catholic and not only is it worth fighting for, it's worth living for, too. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ack! My Brain!

Last night, the Hubbs was watching Star Wars on a national cable television channel that is aimed at men, and literally EVERY single commercial break had a commercial for Trojan "Bare Skin"* condoms in it. It features a "beautiful" (read: sexy-librarian-type) "scientist" who works in a lab and couples who look like they are literally being magnetized together. Because this condom is to "bring you closer than ever before." Um... what? Even the Hubbs, who started muting the commercials after seeing it about 4 times, commented about how ironic it was that a condom, a device that by its very nature is meant to put a barrier between people, is being marketed to bring couples together.
I understand that not everyone is Catholic. There was a time that I wouldn't have considered myself Catholic. But I have said over and over that my reversion has made me see things from such a different perspective that it's actually difficult to understand the secular world any more. The Catholic Church's teaching on sexuality and human dignity is so profoundly beautiful that it actually makes me sad when I think that Protestant denominations who call themselves pro-life don't espouse about half of it. It makes me sad that so many people in the secular world- those going green, going organic, being crunchy- are still so tied up with their pills and IUD's and dubiously marketed prophylactics. Sometimes I feel like I've found the world's best product at a better price and everyone else is insisting on using something that just... doesn't work. 
In these Trojan commercials, where is the talk about how using a condom outside of a monogamous committed relationship *may* cause one or more parts of the couple to feel used, objectified or generally icky about things? Where is the warning that continued use of condoms may result in lower fidelity? Where is the caution that those who are being so "responsibly" intimate, may, in the end be irresponsibly treated by someone who claimed to love them?
Our product may not be as popular, it may not be as widely used. But. We win. 

John 1:23

*Please note that I do NOT condone the use or sale of this product. Ad is posted only for clarification purposes.