Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Pope Online

The following message (sent to me via email from a friend in the Vatican) reinforces our heritage and culture, while promoting Tradition according to our studies. Please pass it along as much as possible and post a link on your own site, if you are so inspired. Thank you!

Benedict XVI Speaks to the Net Generation through the World of Social Networks

The new media of Facebook, the iPhone, YouTube and Wikipedia are increasingly becoming the new forum where the Catholic Church dialogues with the world. As Pope Benedict XVI noted in his message for the 43rd annual World Communications Day, the Internet is a place where young people need to develop true friendships which spring from an encounter with the Risen Christ. With this awareness and the courage to enter into the world of social networks, the project Pope2You was started with the idea of helping these networks become authentic places of friendship and true dialogue.

Pope2You was created in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications as an experiment in providing a new forum and channel of communication using the latest platforms. The Pope2You website provides a new way for Pope Benedict XVI to reach out to young people around the world. The site can be viewed in five languages and allows young people to learn more about the Church and Benedict XVI through his own writings, starting with the message for the 43rd World Communications Day. While the site aims to generate the interest of young people, it is also meant for people of all ages. It features news on the Catholic Church and details on the pastoral activities of Benedict XVI incorporating content from the Vatican’s YouTube channel. At the same time, a new application for the iPhone and iPod Touch has been created by the Catholic news agency H2Onews, with plans to add other mobile platforms later.

Pope2You also provides a gateway to a parallel world in Facebook with an application where you can create and send to your friends virtual postcards with the Pope’s own words, greetings and excerpts of his writings staring with this year’s World Communications Day message. Also, with the help of the Media Office of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, a special area has been created along the lines of a WIKI with suggestions on how to put into pastoral practice the Pope’s 2009 Message.

These new applications highlight the latest example of the Church reaching out in new ways in the world of social networks – a forum where the Church can meet new people, make new friends, dialogue and offer solidarity.

Out of respect for the Pope, and in hopes of sharing his website with as many people as possible, this blog will not be added to for the remainder of the week. My next post will take up where we left off, discussing the revelations of Christ in sacred Scripture, continuing on with chapter 2 of the Catholic Catechism.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thoughts on Catholic Catechism Chapter 2: Sharing Our Heritage

Don’t you just love listening to family stories told by your grandparents? They seem to have a unique insight into the actual events that took place, keeping them in perspective, handing down traditions through the ages.

Even though it’s not quite the same when your mom or aunt repeats the story, you know it’s still true. Oh sure, they may not have even been there, but you have no reason to doubt the realities of what took place, because they are a part of family history, well known and documented throughout the course of time.

So it is with the Catholic Church. Our story has been entrusted to each one of us, with dutiful respect given to those who have earned their place as leaders. The Magisterium, as a servant of Christ, authenticates how the Word of God is to be interpreted. It does not add or subtract from the revelations of the Holy Spirit, adhering solidly to the teachings of Christ.

The Magisterium teaches true dogmas of faith, connecting the entire community of believers, and unifying us as one body in Christ. There is a proper order for everything. Just as our grandparents are the heads of our families, so is the Magisterium, “bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome,” the head of the Catholic Church.

We cannot pick and choose our family heritage anymore than we can pick and choose to be Catholic, without accepting who we are, and living by what we stand for as one. Family traditions, whether handed down through bloodlines, or those who share our common beliefs, must be respected. If they are not, we sever ourselves from the very foundation we claim as our own.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts on Catholic Catechism Chapter 2: Tradition vs. Culture

I remember hearing the differences of Tradition and culture being described as the 2 traditions, one with a capital “T” and the other with a lower case “t”. It was confusing to say the least.

While there was no doubt of the significance of tradition in my faith, there was a great deal of controversy about how to practice it correctly, in view of capital T traditions, giving flexibility to lower case t accommodations.

It turns out that Tradition is handed down from Sacred Scripture, referring everything back to its original source, the Word of God. Scripture came from the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus Himself in word, deed, and inspiration. We should remember here that Tradition started with the Ministry of Jesus, before the New Testament was produced in written form.

Keeping this in mind, I now like to think of lower case t traditions as cultures within the church. “These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church’s magisterium.” CCC

There is only one way to celebrate Tradition in the Catholic Church, the way that directs toward God. There are many traditions, or
cultures and practices, which help us appreciate the Tradition God the Father gave us through Jesus, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Les Zsoldos shares stories of people who have converted to the Catholic faith, having discovered Tradition within its culture.

In honor of Memorial Day and remembrance of all soldiers, I have found an article on being a Christian soldier for you. Robert Searles is very passionate as he challenges all Christians to be firm in our beliefs and convictions.

Traditions and cultures differ within the Catholic Church, and especially throughout Christianity. Fr. Orestes goes back in time, to the roots of Christianity, sharing insights on the cooperation and influence of both.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thoughts on Catholic Catechism Chapter 2: Apostolic Succession

Now that we understand Jesus Christ is the Revelation for salvation, let’s take a look at how He chose to deliver His message and live out His mission. The Holy Bible as we know it hadn’t been written yet, though the Old Testament was used in temples of the day.

In the Gospels we learn that Jesus called His disciples, inviting them to accept an apostolic mission. It became their own mission to share the Word of God with others. Where did they get their information, and how do we know it is accurate?

The Catholic Catechism clearly teaches that the apostles learned from the master, Jesus Christ, directly and indirectly. Just like children learn from their parents and teachers, the apostles learned from Jesus by listening to Him, watching Him, copying Him, and also applying the inspirations of their hearts, given by the Holy Spirit.

All of these things generated into a dynamic faith shared by word, deed, and document. The lives of the apostles carried on the Tradition of the Church, and became the foundation for a living faith that would last for centuries to come.

The Catholic Catechism believes and teaches the validity of apostolic succession, manifested by the communication of God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, leading believers to the full truth of the Revelation of Christ, in a faith that continues to be actively alive today.

Vonda Sines has written a brief, yet informative, biography on the apostle, Peter. He is the first pope in the Catholic Church, and lived an interesting life as a fisherman.

Hugh McNichol discusses the role of our Catholic Pope, and why his significance in our faith matters so much.

Marybeth Springett shares how the church has changed through the centuries, sometimes straying from its apostolic foundation.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thoughts on Catechism Chapter 2: Fullness of Revelation

Do you ever wonder where all the answers of faith are hidden? Why does it seem so hard to believe sometimes? God is the only good there is, so how can we dare to even approach Him?

Funny, we never think about the fact that God already knew our feelings and hesitations, before we withdrew and relied on ourselves. So, because He loves us so much, God gave us the Word. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

It is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It means that the answers are in Jesus Christ alone. Without Jesus, we have nothing, not even Holy Scripture. Prophecy has been fulfilled in Christ. The New Testament has affirmed His deity and mission.

This doesn’t mean that faith development stopped short when Jesus resurrected. “…it remains for Christian faith to gradually grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.”

Private revelations are approached with learned discernment by the Catholic Church; they are welcomed when authenticated, as being consistent with Christ and His mission. Any revelation that detracts from the fulfillment of Jesus as the full and complete Revelation of God, and undermining the truth thereby revealed in Him, will not be accepted or promoted as valid.

Peter Menkin has written a passionate biography of Thomas Aquinas, saint and doctor of the Catholic Church. Aquinas shared his spiritual insights and revelations with all of us during his pilgrimage on earth.

Lily A. Thorns shares some of her thoughts on common misconceptions about what Catholics believe, in an effort to respond to some of our critics.

Ken Allen has composed a beautiful poem, giving credit to God for the direction of his life.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thoughts on Catechism Chapter 2: Stages of Revelation

So how has God revealed Himself through time, you might ask? Well, the first thing He did was introduce Himself to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Later, the floods came, and mercifully, He commissioned Noah to build an ark, thus saving creation for future generations.

As the human race grew, people ended up scattered all over the earth. God spoke to Abram, renaming him Abraham, and said, “In you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” The Catholic Church honors our heritage, stemming from the Old Testament, and uniting believers as one.

Of course, God didn’t stop reaching out to man; He freed the people enslaved in Egypt, making a covenant with Moses, and revealing His message to all of us in the 10 Commandments at Mount Sinai.

These prophets, and many others, even in recent history have revealed the saving power of God, and exposed His willingness to communicate with us throughout the course of time. Often choosing unsuspecting people, God revealed His plan of salvation and hope for everyone.

Belle Starr speaks about the important role of women in the Catholic Church. Women have always been held in high esteem, and are honored as mothers, teachers, contemplatives, and humble servants of God.

Carolyn Tytler affirms the sacredness of Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe, as she describes the events that happened to St. Juan Diego in 1531. Chapter 2 of the Catholic Catechism speaks joyfully about women in our faith, referring to Mary as “the purest figure among them.”

Hannah Curtis explains how St. Francis made peace with the Sultan of Egypt during the Crusades in 1219. Her article reveals that God is active in all generations, helping all those who listen to His voice.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thoughts on Catholic Catechism Chapter 2: God Comes to Meet Man

We are seekers, always trying to find God. Isn’t it amazing then, that God Himself would lead us in the right direction? God not only reveals Himself to us, He also gives Himself to us through His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus came down to earth to communicate with us, and share His message as our God. He made it possible for us to respond to Him, true God and true Man, inviting us to get to know Him and love Him, not as mere creatures, but as divinely inspired souls aroused by the Spirit within us.

Jesus doesn’t come down from Heaven and beat us all into submission, declaring his deity, or demanding our praise. He spends whatever time it takes, slowly revealing Himself to us, allowing us to respond to Divine Revelation, each at our own pace, for the greater glory of God.

Orestes J. Gonzalez is an authority on God. He explains his own personal understanding of God stating, “The activity of understanding belongs to intelligent beings.”

Dossie M Terrell has written a beautiful poem expressing God’s willingness to always stand beside us, and daring us to believe in His goodness.

Ronald Holmes shares his insights on several ways of knowing God, by asking God to reveal Himself, through scripture, and other interesting ways of discovery.

Catholic catechism teaches that God loves us enough to come to us on our terms, knowing us better than we know ourselves. God wants us to have a relationship and communicate with Him. He makes it easy to do so, as He reaches out and meets us while we are still living our earthly journey.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thoughts on Catholic Catechism Chapter 1: Knowing & Speaking about God

Love multiplies. It never divides. In order to truly learn to love through reason, we must deny ourselves, and all of our selfish motives. It is only through this response to God’s love that we will be able to open our hearts to Him in faith.

We are born with an innate capacity to know God, our creator. Accepting His existence is not difficult, until we clutter our hearts with false wants and desires. These are deceits that lead us into sin, corrupting our very souls.

To know God is to recognize Him in creation. It is to see Him in everything around us, as a point of reference for the good in life. Self denial invites us to meet God in the most undesirable circumstances with compassion.

It is only by rising to the task, and discerning what God isn’t, that we are able to contemplate on who God is. He is not sin, and He never diminishes our capacity to love one another. God cannot be defined or expressed. It is through this mystery that we come to know and speak about God.

©2012 All Rights Reserved; Photo Credit: stock.xchng Image ID:  1388746

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thoughts on Catechism Chapter 1: Developing Faith in God

I went to lunch with an old friend the other day. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so it was important to get together. As mom’s, we’re both pretty busy, and sometimes the demands of family life keep us apart. Still I know she’ll always be there for me, and she can count on me returning the favor.

Our relationship with God can be like this, in a way. We touch base with a prayer every now and again, making a point to share a meal at Mass. Lots of little things throughout our days trigger thoughts of Him, inviting us to keep in touch and have faith in His goodness.

We get to know God through the world, universe, and other people. We are invited to be His friends every time we recognize Him in the beauty of creation, listen to Him in the sounds of life, or meet Him in people dedicated to upholding His moral goodness.

God reveals Himself to us in so many ways. As we come to terms with the proof of His existence, it is impossible not to acknowledge that faith in Him is more than reasonable.

©2012 All Rights Reserved; Photo Credit: Wikicommons Public Domain

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thoughts on Catechism’s Chapter 1: Resting in God

What is a restless heart? Can we define it by anxiety, depression, or indifference? How is it that we seek so much, only to never be fully satisfied? We work so hard from the moment we are born.

As babies we cry to communicate our needs. As children we learn the basics to be self sustained. As teens we discover who we were meant to be, and then go off to become that person. When we are adults, we accept our calling, hopefully with true commitment. Finally, when we die, we struggle to release our souls.

Life is a journey that has been gifted to us. We were loved into the world by our creator, and we have an opportunity to rest in God when He calls us home. In the interim, we are pilgrims, helping each other along the way.

Jesus often spoke about how children see the world. He even told us to be more like them. The Catholic Catechism reinforces our quest for God, because He alone is where we will find never ending truth and happiness. Our hearts must join in joyful praises to God in order to find everlasting peace.

There is much to be learned from people who let their hearts rest in God while on this earth. These authors share some of their stories: EMoore, Elizabeth Rowe.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Understanding & Appreciating Catholicism

The Catholic Catechism and faith is about so much more than rules and traditions. It is about belonging to a community based on the deepest type of emotion and feeling there is, sacrificial love. It was founded by Christ, based on the need of the people; the gifts He lavishes on us, are more than we could ever earn or deserve.

You see, Christ didn’t just die for all people. He came down from Heaven and was born for us. That’s pretty powerful when you think about it, that God loves us enough to create us, and then to be born as one of us.

Catholic teachings are summarized by what we profess in our creed, commonly referred to as the Apostle’s Creed. This is where the Catechism begins, defining what it means to be a Catholic Christian.

You might enjoy reading the articles of these authors for a greater understanding of what Catholics believe and why we love our faith so much: Dante de Miura, Michael Bates, Arabella A. Kelly

©2012 All Rights Reserved; Photo Credit: stock.xchng, Image ID:  1364041