As emerging adults in the Catholic Church many times we are asked the question why are you Catholic? or why do you remain Catholic? Sometimes asked from friends who fell away and sometimes asked by others in the Church that are surprised to see you present and active. We, as a Center, would like to share with you, at the end of each month, why we are Catholic and where it is that we find joy in our faith.
“We are an Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!” -St. Augustine of Hippo
I first heard this quote several years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I began to understand it more fully. Some of you may be wondering why I am writing about Easter in October, but this is exactly my point! We are always an Easter people, and we should constantly direct ourselves towards the joy of the Resurrection!
Nothing orients one towards Easter quite like participating in RCIA. This year, for the first time, I am helping to prepare catechumens, candidates, and confirmandi for full initiation into the Church during the Easter Vigil mass. This group is distinct from other RCIA groups because it is composed entirely of college students, both graduate and undergraduate, who are studying at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Every Thursday night, the ten or twelve students come together to learn about the faith through catechetical sessions presented by a member of the theology faculty or one of the chaplains of the university. Some students come straight from rugby practice, others from study sessions in the library, and a few grad students sacrifice time away from their young families to join us. What brings them all together in the campus ministry lounge on Thursday nights is a nascent love for the Church and a deep desire for the grace imparted through her sacraments. To put it simply, even in October they are oriented towards the joy of Easter.
The Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) opens with the following words:
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those
who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of
the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.
In the next few days, the Church celebrates not only the joy of “All Saints” and the hope of “All Souls,” but we also share in the sorrow of the families and communities whom the faithful departed have left behind. It is this sense of community that calls others into the fold. As members of the Church we are called to share in the burdens of our fellow man, but we do so with the recognition of what God-made-man has already done for us. However heavy our loads, we have hope in Christ who shouldered all of our burdens and sacrificed himself for our sins. We share the grief of others because Christ has shared in our grief; but we must also share the hope and joy that we have in Him . . . the same hope and joy that brings twelve college students together for an hour each week on a busy school night to reflect upon the beauty of our faith.
Where do I find joy? In the catechumens who long for Easter – even in October! – and yearn to become members of our community of faith. Leave it to the neophytes in the faith to teach us something about Christian joy!
Easter in October? I’m all for it!
Brett Garland is the Program Development Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center.
A few weeks ago my first niece was born. Needless to say, the pride of being an aunt flooded me and the joy of this news was shared with every person I spoke to. In these conversations I had one of those “you know you are a Catholic when” moments. The question that persistently followed “What is her name?” was “When is she going to be baptized?” This got me to think, “What’s the big deal?” And then the Holy Spirit hit me with, “PRIEST, PROPHET and KING!”
In infant baptism, we are not only cleansed of original sin and saved from “eternal damnation.” We are chosen and claimed. When immersed into the water with the Trinitarian rite – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – baptism is signifying and actually bringing about “death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ” (CCC 1239).
But our rite doesn’t end there. As. Fr. Kevin Nadolski, OSFS, puts it, “we are then slathered in Jesus gel and given a crown of royalty.” In being anointed with Sacred Chrism, we are chosen by God, claimed by Christ and through the Holy Spirit are named priest, prophet and king (CCC 1241).
St. Francis de Sales writes, “Be who you are, and be that well.” We, as baptized, are priests. We are prophets. We are royalty. The call as baptized disciples is to live these attributes and to live them well. Lumen Gentium explains that by our priestly duty we are called to “consecrate the world itself to God” (LG 34) through our works, prayers, activities, and daily responsibilities. It explains that as prophets we are to announce Jesus Christ by life and word and be witnesses to “life springing forth from faith (LG 35).” And lastly, that as His disciples we are named as His kings so that we too “might be constituted in royal freedom and that by true penance and a holy life [we] might conquer the reign of sin in [ourselves]” (LG 36).
This winter, my niece will join us in our royal dignity and become a priest, prophet and king! At that time I will begin to tell her, “Be who you are, and be that well,” and will continue to say that as she grows. The challenging part will be looking at myself as a Baptized Catholic and answering the question, “Am I being who I am – priest, prophet and king – and being that well?”
Pam Tremblay is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center.
Vacations with my family have the unique ability to be both one of the most relaxing and stressful times of the year. Being one of 14 people, including my six nieces and nephews ranging from infancy to 10 years old, in one house for a week can be a little overwhelming at times. While we may enjoy birthday parties and holidays together - spending a week with each other under one roof - well that really puts us to the test! But as families tend to do, mine usually teaches me some of my greatest lessons and this past summer’s vacation together was no exception.
Throughout the week my parents and I established a morning routine of attending daily mass at the local parish. After a few mornings of watching us head out the door together, while still chomping on his cereal in pajamas, my 8-year-old nephew asked if he could come with us the next day. So the following morning he eagerly got up, dressed and went to mass with us. However, looking back, I don’t know which he enjoyed more, attending mass with us or visiting the religious store afterwards and picking out a “treat”! Nonetheless, when most 8-year-olds don’t necessarily have “Going to Church” at the top of their to-do list (especially when it’s not an obligatory Sunday visit), I was pleasantly surprised by his eagerness to come.
As I mentioned earlier, while relaxing, these vacations can be rather trying and throughout the week I found myself learning lessons of patience. Sometimes we may consider ourselves very patient people until we are given a new scenario that challenges our assumptions. This may involve a four year old constantly asking us to play with her, someone who used our bath towel, or little hands always dragging us in the direction of the nearest sand castle. But as the week progressed I learned to hold my tongue and smile, and by the end of the week what used to bother me really wasn’t so bad anymore and my previous complaints seemed trivial. It gave me a new appreciation for St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “Love is patient”, and made me realize this doesn’t only apply to newly-weds!
As we embark on this Year of Faith I carry with me these lessons that I’ve learned from my family members, my very first teachers of the faith (CCC 1653). This vacation with my family taught me that the New Evangelization really does begin at home. Through the examples we set and, likewise, the lessons our families can teach each of us, there is an authentic communication of the joy and love that is our faith.
I once read a sign that said, “You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.” In light of the lessons they taught me, this is indeed true. I love my family and perhaps I just needed a little reminder of the great gift they are to me.
David Burkey is the Communications Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center
Tomorrow, the Catholic Apostolate Center will celebrate one year as an organization dedicated to reviving faith, rekindling charity and forming apostles. The support and encouragement that we have received has been amazing. Doors opened and the Holy Spirit moved as we collaborated with the Most Holy Trinity and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are grateful for what has been and the many great things that God, the Infinite Love has planned for us.
A few days ago, we arrived at the threshold of the Year of Faith. The door of faith is not simply one that leads inward to our own personal revival of faith, but also leads outward into a world in need of the transforming love of Christ. The confession of faith enkindles in us the flame of charity that enlightens those we encounter with the Gospel message. We are then moved outward as Pope Benedict says:
“‘Caritas Christi urget nos’ (2 Cor 5:14): it is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith” (Porta Fidei, no. 7).
During this Year of Faith, we invite you to revive faith and rekindle charity. Pope Benedict calls faith and charity, the “pillars of the New Evangelization” (Opening Message to the Synod of Bishop for the New Evangelization). The Catholic Apostolate Center will assist you in your formation in faith and charity as you move outward as an apostle. This blog, a sharing of faith and charity by apostles of Christ, will offer insights more frequently. Reflect on the posts that are shared and know that we are together with you!
May the charity of Christ urge you on!
Fr. Frank S. Donio, S.A.C., D. Min is Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center
“I believe in dinosaurs!” tenaciously proclaimed the small third grade boy sitting in the front row. It seemed as though my conviction of teaching belief and our creed back-fired on me. My optimistic side gave me some consolation: “at least he believes in something.” And the third grader in me wanted to scream with him, “I love dinosaurs!” Throughout the next year I will be embarking on the adventure of teaching the Catholic faith to a bunch of third grade boys and girls. But the question that prompted the response of dinosaurs, “What do you believe?”, is not a question that ends with the completion of third grade religious education. It’s a question to be asked daily, to be wrestled with daily, and most importantly, to be lived daily.
Today, October 11th 2012, The Church begins her celebration of the Year of Faith. This is a faith that begins at baptism and brings us into the Triune God who is Love. In this faith we profess “the Father, who in the fullness of time sent his only Son for our salvation; Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death and resurrection redeemed the world; the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church across the centuries as we await the Lord’s glorious return" (Porta Fidei). The Holy Father is calling for us to CELEBRATE this faith! He is asking us to “rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the JOY and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ.” In short, he is asking us “what do you believe?” and “how do you live it?”
Today, we also begin the renewal of our blog. As we, the Catholic Apostolate Center, celebrate this Year of Faith, we wish to share stories of lived belief through examples of discipleship and evangelization. We endeavor to be a place dedicated to reviving faith, rekindling charity, and forming apostles. It is a place to face the question “What do you believe?” Hopefully in our searching and questioning together we will be able to come up with an answer that goes beyond dinosaurs.
Journey with us! Listen to our stories and share your own! Ask questions, post comments, share wisdom and resources. By virtue of our baptism, we are called to live our faith through the Christian charity. Journeying alongside one another, may we meaningfully celebrate this Year of Faith in order to shed light on the joy of our Catholic identity!
Today I leave you with the question, “What do you believe?” Maybe it’s love, maybe it’s Christ, maybe it’s dinosaurs! St. Paul tells us to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess 5:21). May our belief lead us to a deeper love of God, the Supreme Good! During this Year of Faith, may the love of Christ, rooted in belief, urge us on! (cf. 2 Cor 5:14)
Pamela Tremblay is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center.