Friday, November 17, 2017

Sponsor in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

All catechumens in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) are to have a sponsor. The sponsor represents the parish community. The sponsor speaks on behalf of the Church congregation during the different RCIA Rites. The sponsor is someone the catechumen can share their faith with. The relationship between a sponsor and catechumen should develop into a long-term commitment and a lasting friendship. Choosing a sponsor is a very important decision.

The RCIA sponsor should be someone that is a witness to their Catholic faith. This is done by attending the Sunday Mass and daily Mass when possible. The Sponsor emphasizes the importance of daily prayer in their own life and by providing tools to the catechumen to do the same. Sponsors will be joyful for the opportunity to share their faith with others. Sponsors should exude hope. This hope comes from the knowledge that we have been offered eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus.

Sponsors must have love. We must love God, family, neighbors and those difficult to love. Love is shown by the actions and words we have for others. It is the searching for and finding God inside everyone we meet.

Being a sponsor does not mean you must have complete knowledge and understanding of your Catholic faith. The role of a sponsor is that of companionship not teacher. Others will teach. The sponsor walks with the catechumen on their journey into the Catholic faith. Being a sponsor is a commitment but one that will provide many benefits as you grow in your own faith. Call the Church if you feel the role of sponsor is right for you.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

New Facebook Page

Lately I have not posted on my blog as much as I would like or should.  I do feel bad about this but I think my focus may have shifted just a little.  I opened an Instagram account since the Cathedral uses this program and I started a new Facebook page.  The new page is for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is at this link:  The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans RCIA  Most of my postings are now on the RCIA Facebook page.  I do this because the RCIA is an active group and I hope the Facebook page will provide them with helpful information and links.   You may want to follow the page also as I think it will be interesting for everyone, not just for those in the RCIA.  I will probably put some of my post on both this blog and the RCIA Facebook page so there could be a little overlap. I hope you will desire to view and follow it both this blog and the the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans RCIA Facebook page.

Friday, September 15, 2017

We read in Luke’s Gospel that when Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the presentation, they met a man named Simeon. He was a devout, righteous man and the Holy Spirit was with him. Simeon held Jesus in his arms and knew he was seeing the salvation of the world. After praising God, Simeon told Mary “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

As Jesus hung on the cross, Simeon’s prophecy was fulfilled. Mary’s heart was pierced with sorrow at the sight of her son suffering this agony and death. Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Church asks that we recall the sorrows Mary endured out of love for her son. Mary’s silent suffering can be the example of how we endure our own trials and tribulations. We can use our sufferings to demonstrate that same faith Mary had in her son Jesus.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Astros Baseball, Technology and Our Prayer Life

I grew up listening to the Houston Astros baseball games on the radio.  This was a time before cable or satellite television. It was before Internet streaming and the MLB At Bat app.  I remember walking around the house carrying my little transistor radio tuned to the game.  When the Astros played on the west coast, the games would not start until after 9:00 pm so I would tie my radio to the bed rail.   I could not stay awake for the whole game and was afraid my radio would fall off the bed.

Over the years though the radio broadcast of the baseball games were either dropped or carried by a station whose power output at night was so weak I could not pick up the games anymore.  Then the MLB At Bat app. came along.  For one small yearly fee I could again listen to the radio broadcast of the Astros.  Technology kept improving to the point I was then able to receive televised broadcast of all the Astros baseball games. It was offered through the digital television provider I was using.  I was now able to watch every Astros baseball game on television.  That first year I watched every televised Astros game except for the few day games that were played during the week.  Everything was right in the world of baseball.

This past winter though I switch my digital television provider.  It was just better for me and my family.  The drawback: no more Astros televised baseball games.  I went back to using the MLB At Bat app. and listening to the radio broadcast of the games.  Do I miss watching the games?  Yes.  I miss not seeing the great catches, the homeruns and the multiple reply angles that are shown.  What I do not miss was the feeling of being tied down to the television.  I felt if I moved away from the television I could miss some exciting moment of the game.  By listening to the radio broadcast I "see" the game in my mind as I did when I was a little kid.  I am free to move around more and do other things as I listen to the game.

What I have learned from all of this is that sometimes we do not need everything we think we do.  If you feel your spiritual life waning maybe you do not have the prayer life that is best for you.  I did not give up on the Astros just because I could not watch their games anymore?   No, I found another way to keep them part of my life.  God is calling us and wants to be part of our lives.  If one form of your prayer life is not working, find one that keeps God as the central point of your life.  We are all different and so is our prayer life.  What one person may praise as a wonderful form of prayer may not be the best form for you.  There are millions of people following the game of baseball but not every one of them is an Astros fan.  They all though have ways of keeping their favorite team part of their lives.  That same effort should be part of our prayer life.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Use Lent to Spend Time with God

My wife and I are opposite in many ways. Some differences are larger such as our hobbies while others are just normal day to day things like when we wake up in the morning. I wake up early while my wife sleeps a little later. I will wake up, make coffee and say my morning prayers. My wife wakes up later and does not drink coffee. She will start her day with prayers, while I may be checking on things around the house or catching up on the news. God does bring us together though. As the morning slowly slips into the work of the day, our lives will come together. We will start the activities we planned on previous days. This could be a trip to the store, some special cleaning project around the house or babysitting some our grandchildren while their parents work. It does not always involve work though. Many days will include a movie we both want to watch. It could be listening to an audio book over a few days or weeks. The whole point is that we always come together. Though we have our own habits, wants and needs, we make sure we have time to spend with each other. It is where we learn more about each other and ourselves. It is where we let go of past hurts and ask for forgiveness of our transgressions. This time together is where we grow closer.

We should also have this type of relationship with God. The responsibilities of our family, our occupation and to our self will always be part of our lives. Our relationship with God should be our first responsibility. We should always have a time to sit with God. It is through this relationship that all other relationships are governed. This same relationship we should have with God is brought forth to the elect in the RCIA through the scrutinies. The elect will receive the second scrutiny today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Part of the exorcism prayer that is said over the elect asks that the Father free them from false values that surround and blind them. We need a relationship with God to understand his desires for us. Without a relationship with God we will have false values that separate us from God. These false values will blind us to the true journey God wants us to take.

The prayer of exorcism in the three scrutinies ask that the elect be freed from the influence of the devil. It asks for strength of the elect, so they may continue their spiritual journey. The scrutinies help the elect to open their hearts to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. During this purification and enlighten phase of RCIA the elect spend time with God. They have been taught that to have a relationship with God means they must devote time to Him.

All relationships in our lives are important. Think of how you build and maintain those relationships. If a relationship feels strained, weak or non-existent then you devote time to strengthen that relationship. Our relationship with God should be the same. When we feel earthly desires pulling us away from God, we know that our relationship with God is strained. This is the very time we need to scrutinize our life. It is the time to come together with God through our prayer life. It is what is required of the elect and it should be what you require of yourself.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Scrutinies of the Elect

Those who have never been baptized before are called members of “the elect.” As with all who are baptized, these elect will “die to their old self” and rise as children of God.  They will begin what is hoped a new way of living.  Those in our Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults are now in what we call the Purification and Enlightenment phase.  This phase includes three scrutinies.  A scrutiny can be described as an assessment of oneself.  This helps the Elect uncover and heal those things that are sinful and those things which make them susceptible to evil.  The scrutinies also bring out and strengthen all that is upright and good in the elect.

On the Third Sunday of Lent the elect in the RCIA will hear the prayers of the First Scrutiny.  Part of the prayer that is said for the elect is as follows:

that they will reject the sins and weaknesses that weigh them down. Protect them from vain reliance on self and defend them from the power of evil.  Free them from the spirit of deceit, so that admitting the wrong they have done, they may attain purity of heart…

Though a beautiful prayer, it requires an honest assessment of oneself.  We can join the Elect during this Lenten Season by assessing our own life.  This is a good time to remember that the successes we have in our lives are not just of our own making, but are brought forth through the gifts and talents God has given us.  We must also protect ourselves from denial.  We must not deceive ourselves into thinking we have done no wrong.

On Easter Sunday we will renew our baptismal promises.  We will be asked if we renounce sin, renounce the lure of evil and renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin.  By letting go of that which spiritually weakens us and strengthening that which is good in us, we can make our answer of “I do” a loud proclamation of the life we live.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Advent Reflection, Fourth Sunday, 2016

Bishop Robert Barron recently wrote that if we take an honest look at the Biblical texts dealing with Christmas, we will find that they have precious little to do with sentimentality. Bishop Barron writes of the visiting Magi from the East looking for the newborn king. Their search was not met with excitement or enthusiasm. Matthew tells us: “When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”  King Herod saw this newborn baby as a threat to his position.  Herod asked the Magi to return to him with news of this newborn king, When the Magi returned home by a different route King Herod became furious. To protect his kingship, Herod ordered that every boy in Bethlehem the age of two and under be killed. Herod does not sound like someone excited about the Christmas season.

Why would a newborn be such a threat to King Herod?  The Gospel reading for this Fourth Sunday reminds us of the mission Jesus is given. The Angel of the Lord tells Joseph during a dream about the child Mary is carrying; "She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” This newborn king could be the messiah who liberates the Israelites from the Romans and thus from King Herod's rule.

We have to remember that the Incarnation was just the first part of God’s plan.  The Advent season allows us the time to look beyond the birth of Jesus and make the connection to his death and resurrection. It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we are redeemed.

The Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent helps us do this.  In the Collect we pray that God’s grace be put in our heart so that through his Passion (the suffering of Jesus Christ up to his death) we will move to the glory of his resurrection. The Collect reminds us the Incarnation is just the beginning of God’s plan for our redemption.

The birth of Jesus is a challenge to each of us. It is a call to conversion and a call for self examination.  Just as Herod did, some of us may not want to let go of those things that distance us from God. That distance can keep us from the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Use these final days of Advent as a time for reflecting on the life of Jesus.  Have we let go of everything that is keeping us from the saving power of his resurrection?

This Christmas celebrate the infant Jesus in the manger. Join the angels in giving glory to God. Give glory to his birth and give glory to his resurrection.

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.