Category Archives: RCIA

Dishing Faith Topics

Sometime ago, I discovered blogger Andrew Sullivan’s site The Dish. His blog is probably not for everyone who might read my efforts at blogging, since he’s what many would call liberal in his politics and his religious beliefs. Mr. Sullivan could be described as a liberal Catholic, who struggles with what some would call his “faithfulness” to teach teaching. He is very positive about Pope Francis, by the way. Despite his struggles with some of the teachings of the church, or maybe because he is honest in grappling with them, I find him very readable and thought provoking, especially on Sunday. Each Sunday a series of “faith related” entries are posted which I often find myself agreeing with or pondering for a bit or questioning. It’s always good to be challenged about faith, for grappling with the challenge presented can refine and deepen faith.

Here are two articles from last Sunday (January 26, 2014) that I found myself agreeing with for the most part.

Being There During Bad Times (http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/01/26/being-there-when-things-go-bad/ echoes what I have learned through experience and training about “pastoral counseling” and especially giving care to those who grieve. The article gives good advice to anyone who visits a funeral home or has friends who are dealing with death or tragedy. Like I said in my previous entry “Retreat Thoughts – Part 2: Where’s Jesus?” sometimes people look in the wrong places for Jesus, instead of the compassionate people who stand with them in times of trouble.  I agree with what is written, but wouldn’t be as strong in stating religious faith shouldn’t be brought up too quickly. Sometimes, while being “present” to a grieving person it’s o.k. to say “Remember, Jesus didn’t cause your loved one to die. Remember the resurrection is our hope.”

The second article from this past Sunday Religion’s Degree of Difficulty (http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/01/26/should-religion-be-hard/) addresses a tendency I often run into when people think that the church should be “accepting” or “non-judgmental,” or “I should feel comforted when I leave Mass.” True, enough, but the church is also mandated by Jesus to preach conversion of heart, as he did when he said, “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Sometimes, to be a faithful disciple those who claim to represent Jesus have to point out where a change in a person’s life would lead to being more conformed to the heart of Jesus. For example, in working with catechumens my RCIA team and I would end every catechumen formation session with the question “How is the Word of God for this Sunday challenging me to change my life in a real and practical way?” Sometimes being disciple will be a challenge, but Jesus will help us meet the challenge. That’s not being judgmental and non-accepting of a person where he or she is at. It’s an act of love offering them salvation. Then it’s up to the person being challenged to accept the challenge. Of course, we who offer the Word of God’s challenges must also be willing to be challenged by others, too.

Well, that last part sounds like I’m getting ready for Lent. Its coming quickly!

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Early Lent Links

Allow me to humbly suggest the two links below for quick reflections on the events of the first few days of Lent, Ash Wednesday and First Sunday of Lent, the assigned day for the Rite of Election in the Church’s liturgical life.

Newly elevated Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York City (whose home town is St. Louis, MO, just a short drive from my home) did a quick video for AOL’s “You’ve Got…” series about the meaning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, last week. Here’s the link to click: You’ve Got Ash Wednesday. Sorry, you’ll probably have to view a commercial, first, since I’m not a “pro” member of this blog hosting service and can’t embed the video in my blog.

One of my favorite rites of the Church is the Rite of Election that takes place in most dioceses on the First Sunday of Lent. I was among the small group of laity and clergy who got this rite organized for its first celebration in the Diocese of Belleville back in the 1980’s (1983?) This is a wonderful sign of hope and celebration of the local church. Roco Palmo, the twenty something author of the blog Whispers in the Logia, writes a nice article about the Rite while reminding us in the church that we have a serious problem with retention of the “life long” Catholics among us. Here’s the link: Forget the Primaries and Oscars — In the Church, It’s “Election Day.”

How’s your Lent going? I’m still trying to get up to speed, to tell the truth.
May you have a blessed one!