Friday, May 27, 2005

Some Jesuits just make me so MAD!

OK, so I got the new "America" magazine today. Yes. I know. Who reads that? There is an atricle in it called "Liittle Gray Cells" written by a Jesuit named James J. Di Giacomo, who , of course, does not go By Fr. Di GIacomo, but by James.

So I was reading it and I was getting really mad. He calles the younger clergy "careerists and climbers...who are moved not just by ambition but by a disturbing collectivism that narrows options for service and styles of leadership." I'll try to put a link to the article here, but I'm not sure you'll be able to read it if you're not a subscriber. I'll happily email it to anyone who wants to read his ranting themselves.

Here is my rebuttal. I'm going to have my pastor read it before I send it, since I say I am a religious educator and my name and town will be at the bottom of the lett. Assuming, of course they dare to print it.

Fr. Di Giacomo and I can agree on a two points in his article entitled “Little Gray Cells:” convents, rectories, and churches are half-full and that the Church is at a crossroads. We differ on every other point he makes.

Fr. Di Giacomo says, “Catholics are suffering from a loss of nerve.” I say that the church suffers from an overabundance of it. Fr. Di Giacomo accuses the hierarchy of silencing “adventurous theologians” and intellectually “circling the wagons.” If that is at all true, it is necessary since the average Catholic under the age of 75 doesn’t seem to know what exactly the Church teaches.

As religious educators, Fr. Di Giacomo and I have seen that the generation of Catholics coming of age immediately after Vatican II are poorly catechized and confused. This is what makes Fr. Di Giacomo’s homilial musings so dangerous. I work with the parents of children who have heard from priests in homilies and in stimulating talks in parish halls that attending Mass on Sunday is optional, receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is acceptable and that sacramental confession is superfluous. The Baby Boomer Generation of Catholics has embraced an “if it feels good, do it; if it feels bad, don’t do it” way of living the faith that has given us priests who eschew their collar and refuse to be called “Father,” nuns who won’t wear a habit, but do wear makeup and jewelry, lax liturgies, and low Mass attendance.

People around the age of 30, such as myself, and the priests Fr. Di Giacomo characterizes as overly ambitious and collectivist have witnessed the relativism, selfishness, and pride that our parents’ generation has foisted on Holy Mother Church. We have used our little gray cells to recognize that there is a difference between the truth and whatever others’ little gray cells think the truth ought to be.

It is ridiculous to think that our rectories and convents would overflow if all of a sudden the Church began to ordain women and married men. Consider the boom of vocations in countries where life is more difficult than in the USA and hence people make it a priority to develop relationships with Christ. Consider the fact that traditional, orthodox orders of nuns in full habit, such as the contemplative Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter are have more women and men come to them than they can handle. No, the problem is not with the Church or who is permitted to become a priest. Rather, the problem is the lack of humility or the lack of preparation of those who are called by Christ to serve Him.

Yes, the Church is at a crossroads. Where will we go? It seems that the direction from the Holy Spirit with the election of Pope Benedict XVI is clear. Will we be humble enough to follow?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Lent Charity Fundraiser final tally

OK, I know that Easter is over, butI finally got all of the money added up from the CCD kids' fundraising in Lent. Our CCD Students raised $2, 299.28! Isn't that awesome?! We're sending half to Catholic Relief Services and the other half to Sacred Heart Orphanage in South India.

I'm so proud of our 620 kids in CCD, I could just burst!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Top 10 reasons why I love NFP!

10. I love knowing my basal temperature.
9. Cervical checks are great exercise.
8. I spend quality time with my husband discussing our chart.
7. Never have to use a condom.
6. No icky pills to forget to take every day.
5. My marriage is less likely to fail than if I were contracepting.
4. Less risk of heart attack and breast cancer than if I were contracepting.
3. My husband takes equal responsibility to me regarding the size of our family.
2. I am not living in a constant state of Mortal Sin.
1. My husband and I are acting within God's plan for us.

I guess numbers 1 and 2 are the same thing. Even better that they got 2 spots on the top 10.

Go here for more information on Natural Family Planning.

How Liberal/Conservative are you?

This is pretty much me. It's funny how it nails you in 20 questions. I guess I'm not as complex as I thought I was ;)

Your Political Profile

Overall: 40% Conservative, 60% Liberal

Social Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Thank you Fr. Anonymous!

Last September, I was going with my mom and kids to the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA. I had to stop into the church on my way there from NJ where I am and we were already about 2 hours later than we wanted to be. I knew I had to go to Confession, but I was just in a hurry. You know how we make excuses. So, I run into the church to leave something on the organ for the musician that was playing at 7:00 Mass and I see that there is confessions going on. It was hot. Mom and kids were in the car, so I hesitated, but I left to get on the road to the fair.

We drove out there and walked around a bit, but decided to stop for shade by the creek in the middle of the fairgrounds so the baby could get out and walk (he'd been in carseat and stroller all day). We sat very close to a priest wearing a cassock and praying his Office. And it was nagging on me to ask him to hear my confession. I kept saying to myself, "No, no. Don't bother him." And he was so young-looking that I thought maybe he was a transitional deacon and not a priest at all. After a while, refreshed, we decided to go and see more stuff. But I really felt compelled to ask him to hear my confession. So I told my mom and she said, "Go ahead." So the elder boy and I troop back over and I asked the priest if he was a priest and he said yes. And then I told him, "I really feel compelled to ask you to hear my confession. Would you mind?" He said Of course not and he hears my confession. He knelt next to me, I confessed and he absolved me in Latin!

Now this was amazing to me. I was born in 1975 and have only heard Latin when we sing the Sanctus and Agnus Dei at my parish during Lent. And I stole a look at his book and it was all in Latin. I was really intrigued. I had never experienced the Sacrament of Reconciliation that way before. It was amazing. It was so different. I didn't understand the words, but it didn't make a difference at all. It was better.

I got to talk to this nameless priest (So rude. I didn't even ask him his name) and he was there with some boys from St. Gregory's Academy in Scranton, PA where he taught. I had noticed these boys walking around in shirts and ties at this big street fair and thought they were pretty special. His order is the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the boys from the academy are called to serve at Papal Masses all over the US. I thought that was so cool. And the Priestly Fraternity has had what seems like a real vocations boom. Isn't that interesting? The "traditional" orders of priests and nuns, where they wear the habit or cassocks (not just suits) are seeing this upsurge in vocations, and not your more "liberated" orders? Hmmmm. What does that bode for some of our orders?

So I have been thinking about this priest and I would like to go to a Latin Mass, just to see what it is like. I'm going to ask one of my CCD volunteers because that's where she goes on Sunday. I also an thinking about starting to wear a veil to church on Sundays. I don't know why. It just seems more respectful than not covering my head.

Anyway, if you're reading this, I want you to tell the next priest you see in a collar that you are grateful to him for his vocation and tell him thank you for wearing his collar in public. And while you're at it, tell the next sister you see in habit thank you as well. These folks have consecreated themselvs to the Lord, but they need support and encouragement at every step of their way, too. And where would we be without them? I shudder to think.

I saw some lady pundit on TV talking about making women priests and she said something to the effect that we needed to ordin women because God is calling fewer people. He's not calling fewer men to the priesthood. Fewer men are answering His call!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Shout out

Hey, Angry Twins!

Thanks for adding me to your list of blogs. It's an honor to be in such distinguished company!


Baby boomer Catholics

So I was asked to serve on the PCL (Parish Catechetical Leaders) Council in my diocese. It's a group of about 16 PCLs from the counties in our diocese and we meet quarterly with the Cathechetical Office staff to discuss what's going on in our diocese regarding catechetics.

I am flattered and honored that one of my colleagues asked me to take her spot on the council (her term was up). And the others on the council are very nice people, and so are the folks in the catechetical office. Here comes the BUT: they seem to be typical baby boomer catholics. You know, the voice of the faithful joining, Thomas Reese loving ones. I type this because we were electing a new Chair of the council and we did it conclave-style and the Sister elected was asked what her name would be (laughs all around) and then ones of the ladies in the room, grandmother of 5 under the age of 5, asked Sister if as one of her first duties she'd reinstate Fr. Reese. Then there were potshots at our Archbishop. I just know now how this is going to go every time I have to meet with these folks. Now I know why my predecessor never went to any of these meetings.

Anyhow, so here I am on this council and we don't meet until next fall, so I have plenty of time to read up on my Ratzinger. I think I'll wear a Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club T-shirt to the next meeting. Maybe I'll put the Archibishop's face on the front.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

seeking courage

So, I have been reading other Catholic bloggers and I have been slightly surprised to see how many there are out there who are in their 20's and early 30's who feel the same way as me. I have to say I was starting to get a little discouraged, thinking it was mostly just 5 of us young people and a bunch of great elderly people.

I was very encouraged and also chastened. I have been feeling like a real poseur and seeing that I am not alone in what I feel and believe has given me impetus to pursue a more genuine relationship with God than the one I currently have.

However, I'm not sure what that entails, so if anyone can get me in touch with a good Spiritual Director, or give me some tips on how to find one on my own, I'd be grateful.

Remember me in your prayers this Pentecost that the Spirit may infuse me with Courage. I feel that so much more is required of me and I am too afraid to take up my cross. I have gotten comfortable, but I feel pressed to move on.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

My May Calendar letter

This is the latest on what I've been up to with St. John's CCD. Classes are winding down and now I've got to start stumping for new teachers! If you're in North Jersey give me a call!

Dear CCD Parents,
I am so proud of the First Communicants and the Confirmation Candidates. Their Masses went beautifully well. It is so exciting to see them maturing in their faith. I am going to miss the 8th graders very much. I hope that they join our Emmaus CYO (Tuesday nights at 8:00) and that they stop by the CCD Office every once in a while to say hello. Please pray for these boys and girls and young men and women who received Sacraments of Initiation this Easter Season.
I want to revisit the Operation Rice Bowl project our students and families participated in over Lent. I am honored to report that out students in the CCD Program raised over $2,000 for Catholic Relief Services and for Sacred Heart Orphanage in India. The classes with the highest totals per student won a pizza party. Those classes were:

Monday Night: Section 2M, Mrs. Debby Zboyan
Tuesday Afternoon: Section 3A, Miss Jess Klingaman
Wednesday Night: Section 7A, Ms. Marilyn Zeman

I can’t wait to see how much money we can raise for the poorest of the world’s poor next Lent!!!
We will be changing our curriculum for grades 1-6 next year. We will be using a textbook called “Finding God: Our response to God’s gifts,” published by Loyola Press. We’re making a more concerted effort in the CCD Program to help you help your children develop a relationship with Christ. We also changed around the registration form a little bit this year, so read it carefully and get it to us as soon as possible. I want you to get the class you want, but if your register your child in August, I may not be able to schedule your child for what you need.
I am honored that you entrust part of your child’s religious education to us here at St. John’s CCD. It is important for all of us as parents to remember to claim our child’s religious education as our responsibility. As parents, what we say, what we do, and whether or not we take our kids to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation means more to our children than whatever they hear from their catechists one day a week.
Pope John Paul II called the family the first church. That means that our children’s attitudes toward God are formed from their birth. Did our kids know about Jesus before they walked into CCD in Kindergarten or First Grade? Do we tell them that God loves them no matter what they do? Do they know that there are certain ways we act and things we do because God expects them of us? If we don’t make sure our kids understand them at home, there is no way that it will sink in from being at CCD for an hour a week.
CCD goes until the week of May 23. This summer, I challenge you to take back your rightful position as your child’s primary educator of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. The first place to start is to bring your children to Mass at any Roman Catholic Church over the summer. There are Catholic churches in Disneyworld! If you’re going away this summer, don’t take a vacation from God. is a great website you can hit before you go on vacation to find out where the Catholic churches are and when their Masses are scheduled wherever you vacation-worldwide. And if your child asks you a question you’re not sure how to answer, just give me a call-I’ll be here all summer.
God bless you with a safe and happy summer. I’ll be praying for all of you!

Monday, May 09, 2005

I'm Back!

The Sacrament of Initiation Bonanza here at St. John's is over. Yes indeedy. 3 First communion Masses of about 40 kids each and 2 Confirmation Masses with about 70 kids each are finally done. On to Vacation Bible School!

I do have to say that we are blessed here to have so many children in our Religious Ed Programs. There are 620 in CCD and about 425 in the school. We are busy here all the time.
Parishes as busy as ours don't get closed, right?