Doing the Catholic Thing. But is Something Missing?

We Catholics tend to shy away from spiritual vulnerability, a kind of real intimacy and relationship. We suspect emotionalism- a kind of fluctuating faith anchored in ever-changing emotions. That's for "those evangelicals" whom we perceive to go from church to church, high to high, we think.

For many of us, faith is being a good solider. Following the rules. Duty. It's about something we accomplish by sheer act of the will. Sure, there may be a heart piece, but it's strictly private, interior, and in the grand scheme of things, inconsequential. Hear the congregation utter in unconvincing monotone, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say rejoice."

And many of us are spiritually beleaguered. Our faith witness is often a flat-line, if not grumpy. Hardly the portrait of one who has been a beneficiary to Christ's promise: "Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14)

Perhaps our ritual sufficiency is resulting in a relational deficiency?
Perhaps in this day we are being invited to open wide the door to the realm of interpersonal human experience with our God.  Indeed, this is what we were designed for: we are temples of the living God! (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Jesus promised us that external law and observance would no longer be the basis of our connection to Him: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Jer. 31:33)

To my Catholic brothers and sisters, let us listen, understand, and be challenged by the words of a great evangelical: "Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is an encounter with the Son of God that gives new energy to the whole of our existence." Pope Benedict. XVI

Thank you Pope Benedict for your persistent challenges - for your awareness of our real need, the hope of personal and cultural transformation.

May the mighty power of God in the Holy Spirit fall upon us all and awaken us to His great love in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
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A powerful expression of the real, TRANSFORMING power of God alive in real people in a real world.

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"The Plan": A Moving Story for Lent.

[PREFACE. This past Sunday, a young woman ascended to the pulpit to share something before Mass began. Though it seemed like just another pre-Mass announcement, it was not in "the plan." The priest had no idea, nor did her parents. At the young age 13, the same age Mary was given a "plan" that defied every expectation, this young woman was moved to write this announcement, and to share it with the rest of us.]   

Good morning, everyone!  I’m a part of this year’s Living Stations of the Cross, which is being put on by the St. George Youth Group. This is my second year participating and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it has touched my life.

For me, my family pretty much prays the Stations of the Cross every Lent, and occasionally attends them Wednesdays, here at St. George’s. If you have ever prayed the Stations of the Cross, you know that it is a journey we take with Jesus to Golgotha, where he will be crucified. We meditate on different “stations” of this journey, such as when Jesus is condemned to death, the times He fell, or the people He met. But sometimes the words seem so empty.

For me, sometimes the horrors Jesus experienced seem too horrific to be real. I can’t even begin to fathom how big a sacrifice His was. The Living Stations of the Cross sparked a new meaning to the Stations of the Cross for me. It made me realize that the Stations are so much more than just words we are saying, but words we are praying. Meditating on Jesus’ life and death actually brought me closer to Him. The Living Stations of the Cross helped me to further my relationship with Jesus Christ because seeing that He gave me everything made me want to give Him my all.

Of course, The Living Stations of the Cross are the Stations of the Cross, but The Living Stations bring the Stations of the Cross to life. People who Jesus met on his way to Golgotha will tell you what it was like for them. People like Veronica, who stepped out and wiped Jesus’ battered and bloody face. People like Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus drove seven demons from. What was it like for these people as they watched someone who was so close to their hearts die? What was it like for Jesus Himself? What about Ponchus Pilot, who sentenced him to death, or the very guards who dragged Jesus to Golgotha?

Last year, I was blessed to portray one of the women from Jerusalem, and this year, I was chosen to portray Mary, our blessed mother. This experience has been so extremely humbling for me. I think most of the time we don’t even realize how deep Our Mother’s sufferings were. As I’m up here, talking about how “my son” died, my heart feels so close to Mary’s. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain she must have gone through watching her son die. Even as I watch my friends portray Veronica or a woman of Jerusalem, I find myself amazed at their faith in God, and I just want to reach out and comfort them.

Whether you are portraying Mary or praying the Stations along with us it is so incredibly powerful God’s gift of love for us, His children. He gave His only beloved son, as John 3:16 says, “so that we might not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus came down to give all he had for us, and he continues to do so, no matter what we do. How unbelievably amazing is that?

The Living Stations of the Cross barely scratches the surface of what happened the first Good Friday. The “blood” you’ll see on Jesus’ back is just paint. The cross you’ll see Jesus and Simon carrying isn’t huge or very heavy. But imagine Jesus as you pray and meditate the Stations along with us. The Living Stations of the Cross helps us realize that Jesus gave his all for us, and we should be giving him the same. Are you giving Him your all?

The Living Stations of the Cross will be on Wednesday, April 4th and Good Friday, April 6th at 7:00 p.m. here in the church. Confessions will follow the Wednesday Living Stations.