Friday, May 26, 2006

Can we say 'God' in Canada?


At the risk of sounding flakey, I will tell you that this entry is based on a dream I had a couple of nights ago...which I suppose means that I was asleep at some point that night...

I was walking in what looked a bit like an old-style know the type where you wander off the street into what looks like an exposed hallway or alleyway that has stores off of it...perhaps I'm remembering what I've seen in Europe.

Anyway...things were decorated for Christmas, in a fairly standard non-religious way.

I came across one building full of people, joyfully listening to a speaker who was telling the throng that we CAN say "God" in Canada...

The speaker referred to incidences I recognized from my own life in which I was rather surprised that what I was seeing and hearing was at odds with the politically correct notions we are told we hold as Canadians.

When my two oldest children were in Kindergarten, not so very long ago, I was very surprised to see 'priest' up on the board illustrating various occupations a person might have. This same school, which was a public school, also had no problems with singing 'real' CHRISTmas carols at Christmas time.

I might add here that we were at the time in the most politically correct part of the country, I'm sure. Well, next to Toronto anyway! That would be the Comox Valley in British Columbia...

Never at any time in my employed life, which I will admit was not a long one, was I told either by a boss or by a customer that I was wrong to say "Merry Christmas" when greeting a customer.

Currently, I live in a community which seems to have no problem waking people up on a Sunday morning with church bells.

This same community, and I think every other one I"ve lived in, has no issues with Christmas Nativity scenes on public property either.

Maybe it's me, but I don't feel any shame in praying a Rosary or a Divine Mercy Chaplet while I walk, either. No one has ever commented on it.

I suppose if anyone really had their shirts in a knot over this issue, they'd have managed to get the references to God taken out of our national anthem.

I do know it was a Catholic chaplain who was 'pro-active' in getting the cross taken from the Canadian chaplains' cap badge. Had any Jews or Muslims complained? No.

I wonder if we aren't too busy trying to read peoples' minds and act on what we think we see there...

So how did the dream wind up? I can't tell you. But I did wake up with a sense that we need to be aware that it may be kinder territory for Christians than we sometimes are led to believe.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Musings on the Body of Christ


In these last days of the Easter Season, I've been reflecting on the Body of Christ.

Catholics believe Christ to be with us in four ways during a Mass.

Christ is present in the Word, as proclaimed by the priest or deacon. The priest or deacon (or on occasion a presiding Bishop) reads from the Gospels during every Mass. Lay people are not permitted this privilege during a celebration of the Mass, although they may read from other parts of Sacred Scripture.

Which Gospel is read at a particular Mass is not at the discretion of the presider or the lector. The Gospel for a particular Sunday or Weekday Mass is given in the Lectionary. This ensures that the faithful are exposed to the entire of the Gospels, not just those which may be favoured by a particular presider or lector.

Christ is also present in the assembled Faithful. We are the Body of Christ...the Mystical Body. This body includes the deceased faithful, both those believed (or known, in the case of canonized Saints)to be in Heaven and those still being prepared for Heaven's glory in Purgatory. It also included the Pope and Bishops in union with him, as the Magisterium of the Church Christ founded. We recognize Christ Himself as the head of this Mystical Body. We are the members: hands, feet, eyes, etc. to do God's continued work on earth.

At times during the Mass, Christ is also present in a particular way in the Priest. If one listens carefully to the prayers of the Mass, one can notice a difference in the person speaking. Sometimes the Priest will speak as part of the assembled Faithful, but sometimes he also speaks as Christ. During the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the priest repeats the words Jesus spoke to his disciples "Take this, all of you and eat (drink) This is my body, (blood) which will be given up for you". We believe that God, through the priest, becomes present during the Eucharist, under the appearance of bread or wine. Jesus is present again, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. We are participating the sacrifice of Calvary. We are following Jesus' command to his followers in Scripture.

We are greatly gifted and privileged to be given such a gift from God! The bread of Angels becomes the Bread of Man!

In the past number of years (I suppose that rightly or wrongly, many would blame Vatican II again for this!) the language of the Mass has been changed and weakened. So many Catholics of this day and age would not have heard the phrase "bread of Angels". We talk about mass...instead of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or even just Holy Mass.

A couple of years ago, I was looking through a hymnal which is predominantly made up of traditional Catholic hymns. In the Latin version of one hymn, I thought I saw the word for pelican. I couldn't imagine what a pelican had to do with the Mass.

There is another tradition which has been dropped from the common Catholic lexicon...that of the pelican. The story goes that a pelican who is unable to provide for her nestlings will pierce her own breast with her beak and feed her blood to her babies. The Church in former times held the pelican up as a symbol for Christ!

Something else that has happened, is that many involved in Liturgy (the public prayer of the Church...simply put: Holy Mass) have been working hard to de-emphasise the role of Holy Eucharist and have tried to place it on par with the Word. The altar (of sacrifice) becomes a table (for that cozy shared meal. Hmmm. Lunch with God!). Of course Jesus himself refers to the meal...but anyone can make a meal. Only God can rise from the dead to make himself present to us in the a meal that lasts for all eternity.

Now, I firmly believe that in traditional practice in the Church, the Word does not tend to be given the respect and veneration that is due it. But is it possible that Christ present in the Word can be of the import of Christ present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist? I believe not. There is too much that my humaness can take as distraction from the Word...the quality of the proclaimer, the particular words spoken, how well I am able to focus at a given time. But the Eucharist is self contained. Once it is confected it is what it is: Jesus. There is no way that can be detracted from.

During Easter, we've been celebrating God dying for us and rising again so that we may join him in Paradise. He did not leave us. He told us he wouldn't do that. We meet with him in a mystical and wonderful way every time we attend Holy Mass!

Monday, May 15, 2006


A friend of mine related this story to me on Friday, and I thought I'd share. here is a bit of background.

My friend is the teacher of a primary class in a local Catholic school. Despite the school being Catholic, many, if not most of the children in it are not well formed in their faith at home.

A couple of months back and through a rather intricate series of events involving a Christopher West marriage prep kit, catechists from up the Valley, and a deacon from further down the Valley, I ended up with what seemed like a lot of mission rosaries that I didn't know what to do with.

These rosaries were of the very inexpensive variety. When I offered them to my RCIA group, one of the gals said "No thanks. I have a real one at home."

I was talking about my rosaries to my teacher friend who said she'd always wanted a class set of rosaries for her classroom.

I asked her how many she needed and she said twenty-three. We sat down to untangle the knotty pile of rosaries and counted them. There were exactly twenty-three. I gave them to her.

Last Friday, she was relating the effect these rosaries are having on her class.

Each child has a rosary to keep in his or her desk. They take them out as a class and start with the very basics. The first day, the children wanted to do an entire Rosary.

My friend said to them that they would only get the 'tail' done that day. She told them that to do a whole Rosary would take at least half an hour or maybe 45 minutes! I should also tell you that my friend was herself learning the Rosary along with the children!

As time progressed, the children had learned the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the Our Father and were learning the other prayers associated with the Rosary. The children became very upset if they forgot their rosaries at home.

The few children in the class who are not Roman Catholic are learning the prayers along with the rest of the class. One little fellow whose father is actually a minister in another faith was seen to turn around and teach a new child in the class how it was done.

They are also learning the Mysteries associated with the Rosary. One day, shortly after they'd begun their instruction, my friend was speculating as to which mysteries they were to do on that day. To her surprise one little boy piped up "Well Miss, if it's Tuesday it must be the Sorrowful Mysteries!"

Children who wish to lead a decade are invited to do so and are pleased to participate in this way.

And they are still champing at the bit to finish an entire Rosary. My friend has now learned that it will not take 45 minutes to finish, but more like 20 or 25 mintutes.

My hat is off to my friend for taking on what would seem like an onerous task to many, especially when it means she admits to her class that she is learning right along with them. She is definitely one of the better examples of the quality of religious education in our Catholic schools.

The Rosary is a prayer that I am relatively new to and am only now really beginning to feel like I am at home with it. What is rather sad about this is that I spent three of my highschool years in a Catholic school and was in Catechism class from grade 1 to grade 7 or 8. And I never learned the Rosary. I do not even recall it being discussed.

Many people seem under the impression that devotions were done away with, or at least discouraged by the Second Vatican Council. This is certainly not true. I think that that Catholic world is beginning to feel the loss of these devotional practices, including the Rosary, and more and more people are taking up these practices again. In both of the years I have worked with RCIA (that would be the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults...or the formal way adults from other faiths or no faiths enter the Catholic Church) we instructors were specifically asked when we would be teaching the Rosary! This year one of our candidates had already taught himself long before we did it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Greetings friends!

Unfortunately we have been victim to several computer problems. I am writing this little communique from the local library!

I have a lot I would like to tell, but please bear with us in our technological difficulties!

God Bless!