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In the early Church, the Scriptures were revered and passed down orally and through the written word. These stories and accounts of Jesus connected them to Jesus and allowed them to spread his teachings. As time went on, the Bible became less and less important.

During the Protestant Reformation, the Protestant denominations became focused on Scripture, while the Catholic Church became more focused on the Sacraments.

Catholics were discouraged from reading the Bible. In fact, in many convents, not even the nuns read the Bible. Catholics received their biblical knowledge from reading the translated readings in their missals and by hearing the sermons of the priest. Many Catholics were told that if they read the Bible they wouldn’t understand it. I think much of the Church’s concern was that the laity wouldn’t be able to differentiate between the truth and myth in Scripture.

Things began to change in 1943 when Pope Pius XII wrote the encyclical “Divino Afflante Spiritu”. In this encyclical, Pope Pius XII encouraged the scholarly study of Scripture. He advised scholars to study the writings in their original languages. While this was a great advancement for the Church, it fell short of inviting the average Catholic to read and study the Bible.

Vatican Council II was a turning point in the Church. In 1965, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation “Dei Verbum”.(Word of God)
Dei Verbum declares that Scripture is integral to the Magisterium of the Church. It says,

“It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”

Later in the document all Catholics are encouraged to study the Bible. It says,

“Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful. That is why the Church from the very beginning accepted as her own that very ancient Greek translation; of the Old Testament which is called the septuagint; and she has always given a place of honor to other Eastern translations and Latin ones especially the Latin translation known as the vulgate. But since the word of God should be accessible at all times, the Church by her authority and with maternal concern sees to it that suitable and correct translations are made into different languages, especially from the original texts of the sacred books. And should the opportunity arise and the Church authorities approve, if these translations are produced in cooperation with the separated brethren as well, all Christians will be able to use them.”

Since Vatican II, more and more Catholics have been reading and studying the Bible both formally and informally. Many parishes have Bible studies lead by either a priest or a layperson trained in Scripture. There are also Church groups, such as RENEW, where Catholics gather in small groups to read Scripture, share faith and discuss how what is written in the Bible applies to everyday life. Most Liturgical music, especially new music, is based on Scripture passages, especially the psalms. While Catholics are learning about the Bible in many traditional as well as new and different ways, but I think we still have a long way to go.

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My parish is blessed to have to many young people involved in the parish. they serve as lectors, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, altar servers, greeters, collectors. They also help at parish fundraisers and at our soup kitchen. Yeah, sometimes these young people don’t always look the way we wish they did and we are trying to impress that upon them without turning them away.

Several of them are seriously considering vocations but I think they are all keeping it as an option.

These young people are truly the future of the church. They are our future priests, deacons, religious, & parents. Too many people don’t realize the potential within them. We have one teenage boy who really looks like something that crawled out of the gutter. With his long unwashed hair, straggly beard, chains and wristcuffs no one would think that he is a faithful altar server and one of our best servers are parish dinners. More than that, no one would think that his favorite subject to study is theology and he is considering entering the priesthood. I hope he cleans up his look before entering the seminary though.

While I am in no way endorsing his appearance, I think it is a reminder to look beyond appearances and see the person for who they truly are. After all, St. Francis must have looked like quite a character.

Below is an excerpt from Zenit’s translation Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa’s homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent. It struck me as something that needed repeating.

“It can be said that there is no newspaper or radio station that does not offer daily its readers or hearers their horoscope. For mature persons, gifted with a minimum capacity for criticism and irony, it is no more than an innocuous joke, a kind of game or pastime.

Meanwhile, however, let us consider the long-term effects. What mentality is formed, especially in children and adolescents? A mentality according to which success in life does not depend on effort, diligence in studies and constancy in work, but of imponderable external factors; being able to acquire certain powers — one’s own or others’ — for one’s own benefit.

Worse still: All this leads one to think that, in good and evil, the responsibility is not ours, but of the “stars,” as Don Ferrante thought, of Manzonian memory.

I must allude to another realm in which Jesus does not speak and where, however, he is made to speak all the time: that of private revelations, heavenly messages, apparitions and voices of various kinds.

I do not say that Christ or the Virgin cannot also speak through these means. They have done so in the past and they can do so, of course, also today.It is only that before taking for granted that it is Jesus or the Virgin, and not someone’s sick imagination, or worse, of fraudsters who speculate with people’s good faith, it is necessary to have guarantees.

In this area, it is necessary to wait for the judgment of the Church, and not precede it. Dante’s words are still timely: “Christians, be firmer when you move: do not be like feathers in the wind.”St. John of the Cross said that ever since the Father said about Jesus on Tabor: “Listen to him!” God made himself, in a certain sense, dumb. He has said it all; he has nothing new to reveal.

Those who ask for new revelations or answers, offend him, as if he has yet to explain himself clearly. God continues to say to all the same word: “Listen to him, read the Gospel: You will find there, no more and no less, all that you seek.””

I was criticized on another board for encouraging my pastor to remove the holy water in the fonts and to fill the fonts with sand during the Lenten season. I really think some people need to start criticizing the real Liturgical abuses.

For example what happened at the funeral I played for today….

The celebrant was a religious order priest. He greeted the casket and the mourners at the door of the church as usual and everything was fine until he reached the altar. Once everyone was in their places, he asked them to sit. He then read a rather lengthy meditation piece that while lovely, really should have been incorporated into his homily. Then the readings were proclaimed complete with the celebrants redactions (rather awkward inclusive language). After the homily, he went directly to preparing the altar. He completely left out the General Intercessions. I do not know if this was intentional or accidental, but I suspect it was intentional. The Eucharistic Prayers were also redacted. Thankfully everything else on the celebrants end was in order. During Communion, I watched as a woman received and I assume had some crumbs left on her hands, so she casually brushed them off as she walked back to her seat. I was appalled. I resisted the urge to pick them up off the floor, but I restrained myself until Mass was over.

Unfortunately, this was not the worst example of Liturgical abuse I have seen. Oh no, I have been at Masses where the parishoners of St. Joan of Arc would be quite a home. Luckily, I am at a parish with a pastor who would never allow such abuses to take place on his watch.

Forget the sand in the fonts and go after the real Liturgical abuses.

The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal regarding the anti-Catholic statue called “Holier than Thou” which is displayed on the Washburn University campus.
The bronze statue is of a portly bishop with a grotesque facial expression wearing a miter that strongly resembles a phallis. The caption on the base of the statue is degrading to the sacrament of reconciliation.

It is my opinion that Catholics are the current acceptable group to attack. Had this statue been of a rabbi or an imam, the outcry would have been universal. That is a true shame.

One day after the Spokane Catholic Diocese revealed Bishop William Skylstad has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor, questions mount about his effectiveness as a leader.

News4 has learned that only the Vatican can remove a Bishop from his ministry. Diocese attorneys say a national policy adopted in the U-S dealing with abuse claims says the priest should not be removed from office without sufficient evidence.

In this case, the claim is being kept secret by the court but attorneys for the accuser confirmed to News4 it is a woman living in Europe now who claims to have been abused by Skylstad in the early 1960’s while at St. Patricks and Gonzaga.

The bishop categorically denies the claim, and the church says they have no record of Skylstad ever serving at St. Patricks during that time.

The Catholic Communication Campaign has launched a great new website, “Jesus Decoded”, to counter the fallacies in the DaVinci Code. A few of the topics covered include: Opus Dei, Mary Magdalene, celibacy,and Ecumenical Councils.

There will also be a TV special which will air on certain NBC stations. Check the “Jesus Decoded” website for the day and time for your local station. It might not be a bad idea to call your local station and encourage them to air it.

The “Jesus Decoded” TV special will be available by mid-April on DVD from USCCB Publishing for $19.95. A companion booklet, “The Authentic Jesus,” sells for $2.50, and a box of 100 parish bulletin inserts on the same theme sells for $12. Prices do not include shipping and handling. Orders may be placed by phone at: (800) 235-8722. They may also be available at your local Catholic bookstore.

Visit the Website Here

It has come to our attention that the pastor you received was shipped with a slight defect: he is not psychic. This defect necessitates certain special procedures to ensure optimum performance of your unit.

1. It is necessary to inform him of any members who are hospitalized.
2. It is necessary to inform him of any members who should be added to the “shut-in” list.
3. If someone you know is sick or otherwise in need of the pastor’s prayers, or if you know of someone who should be included in the prayers on Sunday morning, the pastor must be told, or he won’t know.
4. If you are in need of a pastoral visit or some other service from the pastor, you will get best results if you ask him.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause. If these special procedures create an undue burden, please feel free to send the unit back, and one with full psychic abilities will be shipped as soon as one becomes available.

A few years ago I was training a class of altar servers and one of the children told me that he was thinking about becoming a priest. His mother instantly reprimanded him and said,

“You aren’t going to be a priest. You are going to be successful”.

I told the boy that I was very happy that he was considering a religious vocation, but he was very young. Then I instructed him to always keep his mind open to a religious vocation but to not commit to anything now nor to feel bad if he changed his mind later on. Then I addressed the mother.

There have been few things that have taken me aback quite like that comment. I wonder how many people measure success by the size of a persons paycheck. I measure success by the effect a person has on the world and the lives of those around them. I like to think I am successful, although I know I am not using my gifts to their fullest. I think most of the priests I know would consider themselves successful.

I am horrified to know there are church-going Catholics who don’t consider their priests successful or even think their vocations are valuable endeavors. I guess they would rather have the local doctor, lawyer or engineer perform their funerals.

We live in an age where money and pleasure have taken the place of God.

When I was a teenager, one of my cousins was questioning my lifestyle choices. She thought it was totally insane that I was planning to make ministry my career choice. She complained that I would never become wealthy on a lay-ministers salary. She made her opinions of me very clear through her words and actions. She also ridiculed me for not having a string of boyfriends and spending my nights clubbing. (At the time I didn’t have one because I hadn’t found anyone I thought was worth the time.) She said I was too particular and because of that I would never get married.

Here we are 10 years later. I am happily married and have been so for almost 6 wonderful years. She is single and still doesn’t have a husband, fiance or even a serious relationship. She has just returned to living at home after her third co-habitating relationship has broken up. I have a job that I love. I work approximately 15 hours a week and I earn just enough to pay the bills. She works nearly 12 hours a day and has a ton of money in the bank. Unfortunately, she has no time to enjoy her accumulated wealth nor anyone to enjoy it with. She has also openly admitted to me that she hates her job.

I am not saying that everyone who makes the choices I have will end up happy, nor am I saying that everyone who makes the choices my cousin made will end up alone and unhappy. I am not even saying that most people who make those choices will end up that way. I just thought it was interesting that things turned out the way they did.

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