All posts tagged: practice

Actualizing Baptism: The Font of Lay Authority

It seems the common experience of most lay people today in the United States Catholic Church that they are disengaged from the liturgical celebration unless made a part of an active ministry (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Lector, Greeter, etc.). Yet, the documents of the Second Vatican Council point to the essential activity of the laity, whether part of an active ministry or not. The laity seem to have lost a rightful sense of authority when celebrating the liturgy. They see themselves as passive participants instead of active members of a Church communio. The decline in Mass attendance or engagement may be connected to this shallow self-understanding of lay identity that has seeped its way into the consciousness of so many Catholics. The rich rights and obligations of the laity articulated in the Code of Canon Law (CC 208ff.) spurred this essay, which seeks to flesh out a rightful authority of the baptized at liturgical celebration as baptismal priest and suggest a catechetical method for actualizing this authority. Baptismal Theology In Lumen Gentium, The Constitution …

Hitting the Lenten Reset Button

It’s hard to believe, but there are less than two weeks left of this Lenten season. I don’t know about you, but this Lent has been a struggle for me. It seems like every which way I turn, there’s something luring me to indulge instead of fast (I had a stressful day and I want to eat my feelings!), tempting me to slack off instead of pray (It’s so late/early and I’m so tired!), or enticing me to spend money on myself instead of give to those in need (I’ve done really well with fasting and prayer—I deserve to treat myself!). There is something hard-wired within human beings that runs away from the difficult and retreats into the comfortable familiar. There is also something equally innate that is all-too-eager to excuse one’s own failures, to overlook one’s own flaws (something that, oddly enough, seems all-too-eager to condemn the failures and flaws of others). We are masters of rationalization and justification, and Lent—the Church’s annual invitation (challenge) to look at ourselves with an honest eye—somehow turns …

5 Lenten Practices that Aren’t Giving Up Chocolate

With Ash Wednesday now come and gone, Catholics everywhere embark on their journey of Lenten disciplines. Lenten penitence can quickly begin to feel rote. While there is still great spiritual benefit in denying ourselves dessert or Netflix, sometimes we seek a more thoughtful or creative immersion into the three great practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Sometimes our imaginations need a jolt from the routine to help our bodies and soul enter into the Lenten spirit of preparation. Liturgically, baptized Christians undertake Lenten disciplines in preparation for the renewal of baptismal vows at the Easter Vigil. Christians enter Lent in order to re-enter our sacramental participation in the Paschal Mystery of salvation. Ideally, Lenten disciplines will baptize our imaginations, allowing us to approach the world with fresh eyes and refreshed charity. For anyone seeking different ways to practice Lent this year, here are five ideas that may provide a new approach to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. 1. Forgo music. Several friends have practiced variations on this theme. If you have a morning commute (by car, …

Practicing Tenderness in the Family

In Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, he includes the term ‘tenderness’ in his discussion on marriage and family life as something that must accompany love so that the two can mutually inform one another. He writes: Our teaching on marriage and the family cannot fail to be inspired and transformed by this message of love and tenderness; otherwise, it becomes nothing more than the defense of a dry and lifeless doctrine. (§59) Tenderness humanizes the daily disposition of love toward those around us because it sees in another or oneself a person on a journey. It not only sees their destination but also is there to brush the dirt off when they fall and to kiss their wounds. Apart from a notion of tenderness, love can often be influenced in ways that distort its authenticity, even ways that go unnoticed to the lover or beloved. Love can become a mere assumption that does not manifest itself, even in subtle dispositions. But authentic love in the family, informed by the practice of tenderness, can then …

Millennial Catholics and Fish Fridays

Michael O’Loughlin of America Magazine has a report on Millennial Catholics, drawn from a recent survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). While the report doesn’t reveal much change from a 2008 survey on the same topic, there are a couple of areas of concern. But when it comes to millennials, changes in how Catholics practice the sacraments are more dramatic. Take Lent, for example. In 2008, half of all millennial Catholics reported receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday. Now, that number has dropped to 41 percent. The number of millennial Catholics giving up something for Lent dropped 10 points from 2008 to 36 percent, and those donating money or trying to change negative behavior dropped 18 points, to 28 percent. Some Catholic habits, however, are proving stickier. More than half (58 percent) of millennial Catholics still do not eat meat on Lenten Fridays, a dip of only three points since 2008. But Catholic millennials mirror their non-Catholic peers, showing a downward slide when it comes to attending religious services, prayer and belief …

A Desert Becomes a Forest

“We must not be afraid to go into the desert and to transform it into a forest!” With these words Pope Francis challenged hundreds of people gathered on April 24, 2016 for the “Village of the Earth” event which was promoted by the Focolare Movement and Earth Day Italy. During his surprise visit that lasted more than an hour, the Holy Father drew attention to “the many deserts in the cities.” Recalling his own experiences from Argentina, he noted that these deserts are located in the gated neighborhoods, in prisons, and wherever people live in subhuman conditions. Most deplorably, the pontiff observed, we find such deserts in every human heart! In a famous little book on modern education, The Abolition of Man, the English Christian apologist C. S. Lewis wrote on the same theme and even used the same metaphor and imagery that Pope Francis employed of transforming a desert into a verdant landscape. Desert experiences are ugly, and we avoid them when we can. Yet, the Bishop of Rome emphasized, “We must not be …