Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge

Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Friday, March 31, 2006

One Year Later

Much to be celebrated:

VATICAN CITY, March 28 (CNA) - Throngs of pilgrims are expected to gather in Rome this weekend as the Vatican prepares to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. Events planned by the Holy See will commemorate the life of a man many are already calling "John Paul the Great."The Holy See has announced that they will mark the occasion with a Sunday rosary and vigil, followed by Mass on Monday.Sunday's rosary will be part of a vigil slated to begin at 8:30 p.m. in St. Peter's Square with singing led by the choir of the diocese of Rome. At 9:37 p.m.--the exact time that the late Pope passed on, Pope Benedict XVI will address the crowd from his study window, pronounce a prayer and conclude with his Apostolic blessing.Then, on Monday, the Holy Father will preside at a 5:30 p.m. Mass in St. Peter's Square.Similar memorials and days of prayer are being planned worldwide to commemorate the pontiff's death.

It was said that John Paul was seen in person by more people than anyone else in history.Last week, Parliament in the late Pope's home country of Poland passed a resolution expressing its "immense gratitude" to John Paul. Politicians stood and applauded as the country's lower house unanimously passed the resolution.
I've heard of several good things since the death of our beloved Papa. I'll let the links below speak for themselves:

Man Becomes Priest
Non Catholics Support Beatification

Prayer To John Paul II

Catholic JVC

There are some Catholics who are a part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corp, but I know that you don't have to be Catholic, some of the supervisors aren't Catholic, everyone lives together in one big happy house (guys and gals) and the formation is and loose.

Here they come to save the day! This is the way it ought to be.

If you have any young adults interested in spending 6 months to give of their time, be in excellent formation, and deepen their relationship with God and others, send them to Youth Arise North America. (or maybe you need a break from parish life, but don't want to leave the service of the Church)

YANA is an excellent choice. Their Four Pillars are: Catholic Household Living (divided by gender), Theological and Spiritual Formation (in light of orthodox Catholic tradition), Evangelistic Mission Trips (being trained and then putting the training to use) and Ministry Internships.

This is the organization I had always wanted to form when I was in Boston. There are SO many empty convents that could be used for a group like this, and such a better program than JVC has to offer. The formation will last a lifetime, living in household gives you support in your learning and work and working for the Church as a volunteer is a noble, rewarding job.

Pass this info on to anyone you think would be interested. If you know NET, it is like NET, but for a shorter amount of time-and you are working with a population that is broader than teens (but includes them as well!)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Justice And Immigration

I'm generally not a fan of regurgitating other people's blogs and information. Too many blogs repeat the same info and it gets, well repetitive.

However, I think this issue of immigration is quite a necessary thing to talk about, as it relates to many areas of our faith: Justice, compassion, mercy, Good Sameritan...justice, for them, for those of us here legally...

I don't find any easy answers on this one. Everyone has an opinion on this:
The Official Catholic Site
George Will

From my favorite opinionated woman, (and a great Catholic political thinker) Peggy Noonan:
When you don't love something you lose it. If we do not teach new Americans to love their country, and not for braying or nationalistic reasons but for reasons of honest and thoughtful appreciation, and gratitude, for a history that is something new in the long story of man, then we will begin to lose it.

Blogs postings: The comments are illuminating
The Cafeteria Is Closed
The Anchoress
Amy's Comment Box

This is one of those issues that I don't think there is an easy "Catholic" answer. I know, I know, many people including many Bishops are saying that we need to be Good Samaritans, that the government can't tell us not to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc... but I also wonder what about all of the other immigrants from other nations who just got told "Yeah, 12 million people who entered the country illegally, yes the same country you are now trying to get into-we're gonig to let them get to the front of the line". I'm pretty sure no one is asking for them to get a free pass, there is a proposal to have them to pay a fine, learn English, pay back taxes, not be a criminal in other regards or countries, but I'm not sure it's just to everyone else to grandfather them in.

Then again, we can't exactly send them all packing, and we can't jail them all. They have contributed to the work force and society, even if they haven't been paying their taxes...

Lots of good material to ruminate about.


I just can't get enough of this show:
Meanwhile, Jack and Kate discover a pallet of food on the island while Ana Lucia, Sayid & Charlie find Henry's balloon. But when they dig up the gravesite of his supposed wife, they find that Henry Gale has been lying to us the whole time…

AAAGGH! I KNEW it!! He was just too shady lookin'. They picked the right face to play this guy. He is one twisted dude, knows how to mess with people's minds. By the way, how DOES one fly an air balloon to a tropical island. Really???

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spending Time With A Legend

I get to spend the weekend with Dr Ronda Chervin. What a blast.

I only have a few heros in my life that I go gaga over: Pope John Paul II, Fr Mike Scanlan and U2. The rest I think are over-rated. Hey, they put on their pants one leg at a time, don't they? They make mistakes, eat food, blow their noses. I've just never been all that impressed with celebrity.

I had Dr Chervin as a professor in college. She was a philosophy professor unlike any other I'd encountered. While being a thinking person and teaching a cerebral course, she'd stop and go "I just can't get this person out of my mind. Can we all stop and say a prayer right now?" and we would.

She is personable and easy, maybe a little quirky as well. When you've had her life experiences, I guess you get to be your own person and I admire that. Born into an Jewish atheist family she came to the Church through questioning the meaning of life and finding meaning in Dietrich von Hildebrand's courses in college. (Dietrich von Hildebrand is often called one of the greatest philospohers of the 20th century, "A doctor of the Church" said Pope Pius XII). Under his tutelage and guidance Dr Chervin has become a popular speaker and philospher in her own right, teaching on subjects ranging from the philosphy of the human person to saints, femininity and emotional topics. If you get a chance to see her in person, I highly recommend it. She turns complicated philosophical theology and ideology into common language, easy for nearly anyone to comprehend. It is a joy of hers to teach and share the wisdom of the Church with others.

We got talking about "liberal" and "conservative" and in particular, how upset some conservatives get over things that happen in their parishes. "Y know, some things just aren't worth bothering about. People get all worked up about, say, what kids where to Church. You know what I say? Let's just be glad that they are there!-and I'm an arch Conservative saying this!" and we laughed.

She also finds that even though she is an "arch-conservative" she is so charming and disarming that you want to listen to what she has to say. She has come up with a variety of seminars and talks that are neither "liberal" or "conservative" in nature, like the course on anger this weekend. "Liberals AND conservatives are angry: they will all get something out of this talk", and in the midst of non-divisive topics she gets the truth of the Gospel across.

She has also authored several wonderful books. My two favorite are "Feminine, Free and Faithful" and "Quotable Saints" which I have listed on the side under "good reads".

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Music, Mass And The Apostalic Exhortation

I'm a big fan of our faith. More than that. I'm a devotee'. Ask what my hobbies are? Being Catholic is top on the list. Even more so? Talking to others about what the Catholic Faith IS and isn't. I love living as an orthodox Catholic minister. Tough sometimes, but love it. So good.

However, I will say that even for me, something are hard to hear and accept, like the following from Pope Benedict XVI's recent draft of the Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist:
The document would also encourage a greater use of Gregorian chant and classical polyphonic music; the gradual elimination of the use of songs whose music or lyrics are secular in origin, as well as the elimination of instruments that are "inadequate for liturgical use," such as the electric guitar or drums, although it is not likely that specific instruments will be mentioned. (From Catholic News Service)

I think that there are some at St Blogs who wonder if I'm a closet wack-job because I talk about Charimatic music, praise songs and Teen Masses. I'm a big fan all of them.

But I'm also a fan of reverance, beautiful Churches, excellent "high" liturgy, doing everything the way we called to.

But-and I'm not questioning the Holy Father here-I still wonder where, in all the granduer and decorum, is the room for cultural observations? While the use of Latin should never be taken out of the Liturgy, we have it in the vernacular for a reason. Far from saying we should be singing Kelly Clarkson's "Because Of You" at Mass, I'm still argueing that it needn't be all high hymns and chants. Aren't the older hymns the praise and worship of the past? Weren't they, at one time "cultural observations"?

I know people are tired of liturgical types and priests messing with the Liturgy. I am too. But need we throw out the baby with the bathwater? (again, not questioning the Holy Father, since he may not be explicit when it comes to instruments. Just asking, that's all.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sound Like Any Of The Kids You Work With?

I was over at one of my favorite blogs, the Church of the Masses, and an interview that Barb gave caught my eye.

For example, I was at a real live freak show not long ago with a woman who is a studio writer. Her daughter was playing in a soccer game. This woman was divorced and remarried. So, sitting at the game was my the woman and her ex-husband in the center - because they are the "parents of note", even though they don't live together. Next to the woman is her new husband cradling their new baby. Next to husband number two is his fifteen year old - really bored son from his previous marriage. Meanwhile, on the other side next to the ex-husband is his new wife with their new baby. And next to her is Debbie, with whom the father lived for three years after the initial divorce, and before he married the new one. In the three years of co-habitation, Debbie bonded with the little girl out there kicking the ball around, because she was there from 8-11, so Debbie was another pseudo mother figure. But wait, Debbie’s new boyfriend is also there. And then also in the line is the nanny, who has been the only real constant in the little girl’s life

I’m sitting there, and all these people are all healthy and chatting and meanwhile, hey are all kind of fervently there for the little girl so they can show that they are really invested in her, and they have so screwed up her life. She is a mess. I’m saying to myself, “What is comedy for this kid?” Her life is a circus...

Whew!! Did you keep up?? But do you also know some kids like this? It's an unfortunate reality.

How Do They Live Without It??

I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation this past weekend. I'm not sure I will be able to convey to you the extraordinary experience that happened in me, but I will try.

I decided to go to a different parish for Reconciliation. I don't like going to priests that know me-and I'm still one of those who prefer the screen. I knew that I needed to go, but it was rather on an intellectual level. I'd messed up, my prayer life was suffering and I knew that my sin was probably the cause of my not hearing the Lord as I should. So, I should go to Confession.

I went to this parish that others have told me is exceptional in it's practices as well as it's appearance. And truly, it was lovely. The entrace way had the appearance of an Italian prince's living room, a prince dedicated to the Church-it had pictures and relics and exquisite furniture. Inside the main Church it was quite open and airy, lots of beautiful stained glass windows and the baptismal font trickling and echoing. I was met with the sound of angels singing "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" and was drawn to the ornate gold tabernacle in front of which knelt.

I know it was a CD, but the music, combined with the ornateness and open feeling made me really think about preparing for the Sacrament.

The line wasn't long, and Father didn't say anything profound, but when I came out, with all of the atmosphere, the immediate release of my sins I knelt in front of the Eucharist and wondered "How do they do withOUT this?! I mean, I love our Protestant brothers and sisters, but Why would anyone reject THIS?!" My intellectual "shouldness" disolved into a passionate desire for Jesus in the Eucharist. To be near him. To dwell always in his presence. How lucky are we to have the Sacraments and Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity with us!! Present! Concrete! In the Flesh!

Who can survive, really, without this?!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Prayer Only For The Stout and Hearty: St Patrick's Breastplate

The beautiful prayer of St. Patrick, popularly known as "St. Patrick's Breast-Plate", is supposed to have been composed by him in preparation for this victory over Paganism. The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ at my right,
Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe

While there is a variety of opinions on St Patrick, (where he was born and exactly when for instance) we do know that his championship of the Faith is the reason he is so celebrated.

Most know that he was captured and made a slave when he was a young man, but what some don't know is what this did FOR him:
and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.

Feckless and fearless he was sent to Ireland to bring them back into the Church. Lucky for him he knew the language and customs and so had a good idea of what awaited him. He was bound and determined to set Ireland free from their beliefs in Druidism.

To read more, go to New Advant's Site on St Patrick.

Shout Out To Southie!

"Southie is my hometown"...well, for three years, anyway.

And they really do have the best
St Patricks' Day Parade.

Why Go?

In one sentence: How would you invite someone to a Steubenville Youth Conferences? A Steubenville Adult Conference?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

HAPPY SAINT PATRICK's DAY! (more to come...)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Justice and Equality

I got some who don't like my policy on Justice with the kids. What blows my mind is that we seem to think that serving others is about us.

It's not.

Charity, maybe. Justice is about others.

This is why I love Bono. If you think he is another dumb rock star with a pet project, think again. What he has to say here has to challenge us. If it doesn't, then we DON'T GET IT.

FOLKS: JUSTICE IS NOT JUST FOR THE LEFT!! It's not left or right or democrats or republicans, rich or poor. Hungry is hungry. Dying of disease needlessly is dying. We live in comfort and relative peace in this country not giving another thought about stretching ourselves for our brothers and sisters. And this is just not right.

Read and watch Bonos' speech from the National Prayer Breakfast. And for the love of God, do something.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

I hope Andy keeps his promise to comment on his generation's views and culture. Could be quite insightful, folks:

In addition, I think that some adults are to be blamed also for the ignorance of the new generation. The media problem did not happen overnight. It took years and years for it to reach such a state. The older generations should have been clearly aware of the change since they were clearly present during that time. However, instead of setting an example for the younger ones, they decided to actually follow the media along and continue their bad and immoral habits.

The kid has his head on straight.

Keep Prayin'

For our friend who is helping a student with cutting. They will be talking to the guardians this evening. Pray for wisdom and strength! St John Bosco, pray for us! St Maria Goretti, pray for us!

The IRS Should Hire Them

I'm talking about the folks at the Oriental Trading Company. They are great for small cheap stuff. I ordered a few times from them, so they must assume that I always want to order from them.

I have moved oodles of times in the past 10 years-and guess which piece of mail never fails to find me? The very same magazine that arrived at my NEW ADDRESS today. How do they DO it?!

Friday, March 10, 2006


Extravert, iNtuitive, Feeling and Perceiving. That's me in a nutshell.

Our current staff did the testing and had a day with a counselor who took us through a variety of exercises to learn about ourselves and how to work with others. Us "E"s loved it, the Introverts were exhausted by the end.

The last parish I was in had several people who were definate J's-Judging. Some of the characteristics are "closure, decided, plan ahead, scheduled, planned, settled, fixed, completed, punctual, purposeful". I'm way the other direction: Perceiving: options, open-minded, adapt on the go, spontaneous, open ended, pending, flexible, emergent, leisurely and adaptable.

One woman on that staff was VERY J. It drove her nuts that I didn't have a service event all planned out weeks in advance. One time she yelled at me-now, she was not my boss, technically I was over her, but she had been the "mom youth minister" before I arrived-WHY DON'T YOU HAVE IT TOGETHER?

Eventually she went to the deacon and complained (our boss was out of town). When the deacon told me he wanted to meet with me, I knew it wasn't going to be good. So I asked this woman what to expect. She actually shrugged her shoulders and said "I don't know what the deacon will say".

Then, in the closed door meeting the deacon proceeded to go through my list of "faults". Since he would have no idea what I do on a day-to-day business the only way he could have known was if this woman told him. Suddenly she chimes in "Why did you do it this way and not that way?!" she banged her hand on the table.

I couldn't believe the betrayal. She had gone behind my back instead of coming to me to resolve her obvious frustration with me. Nothing makes me shut down quicker that being betrayed, yelled at and not being up front with me.

It still bothers me to think about it-I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to write her and yell back at her. This time with the new staff was eye opening to me because I realized how "J" and Thinking she was and how important it is to have some clue as to where others are coming from.

I don't believe that she would ever be able to be open to who I was and how I am in this world. Her loss. It seems like so many parish staff not only disagree on theology but have NO idea how the other person works and ministers. Being a Church staff you'd think we would all get along but the reality is so very dark more times than not. Rarely have I met a staff that actually enjoys working together-and ironically they are there to minister together to the parish.

Let me say THANK GOD for the staff I get to work with in this job!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Prayer Needed

THIS is the exact reason why I started this blog:

I just have to tell you that this (on cutting)post was so helpful to me. When I got to work in the morning I had an email from a kid asking if we could talk later in the day. I of course said sure. Then in the course of the day I saw this post of yours and I knew instantly that this kid wanted to tell me she was cutting (even though I had no
reason to suspect it). While I was familiar with cutting reading the article a few hours before talking to her really helped. Thanks and please pray for this student as she has a lot of brokeness and pain in her life.

Stop for a moment and pray for our fellow minister and for his young person. For Grace, for wisdom, for strength, for the Holy Spirit to come and work through this youth minister and for the kid to find Christ in the midst of his or her pain.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

On A Lighter Note: D'oH!

Did you know that every opening of The Simpsons is different? That Bart never writes the same thing twice?

I found this clip particularly hilarious.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

And Then There's Choking...

I guess I hit the jackpot today on serious issues.

If you haven't heard of choking, it's a middle school fad where kids will choke each other until they pass out. The lack of oxygen causes them to get a high and the thinking is that if they aren't taking drugs or drinking then it won't hurt them.

I happened upon this discussion over at Lifeteen. Just read through some of the comments.

Most kids in this discussion are thankfully unaware of it or are advising against it. I'm intrigued that a girl asks about it anyhow-and it sounds like she does it.

Just want to give you a heads up about what might be going on out there.

Serious Trouble: Cutting

In light of the prayer request I got thinking about some of the kids who are in trouble.

I have never, ever been to a parish that hasn't had kids in trouble. The naive would say that the troubled kids are in the inner city or blue collar churches. My last parish was a very high income place with over worked kids and college entrance rate of about 90%. And we have kids in significant trouble

One such girl was from a solid Catholic family, she was very involved in Church, very involved on our leadership team, very strong and informed about the Faith.

And she cut herself. Arms, legs. Anything to relieve the pain that was inside her.

This article from Youth Specialties is quite good on this topic and the author also gives some other reading material. We cannot fool ourselves and think that we only deal with the "good kids" , or be afraid to go into the darkness and bring the Light.

Make it a point to read this article. The information and wisdom here is insightful.

Quote Of The Week

From one of the volunteers clutching her middle and swaying, to her husband:

"I'm either dying or I'm pregnant"

Fortunately it's the latter! Congratulations!

Prayer Request

Please pray for a family who is in crisis.

Actually, crisis never seems to leave this family. Dad is being sued because he shot the neighbors' dog-the dog who was frothing and hurtling towards him snapping and barking when the Dad was trying to get the dog away from his own animals and off their land-one of the sons has been accused of rape, a cousin was found in his car in a parking lot drunk out of his mind and had to have his stomach pumped. (And this is the "good" kid)

This family has struggled so much over the years. What I admire most about Mom and Dad is how FAR they have come from their previous life. They are bound and determined that their children won't make the mistakes that they did. Mom and Dad are faithful volunteers and dedicated to the work of the Church. I admire both of them so very much.

I get the feeling that Satan keeps hitting them for a reason-as if he's trying to drag them back down. Satan doesn't like it when people leave him for God. Please intercede for them-not just for their current problems but for the success of their life in Christ-who ultimately will triumph.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Liturgical Laugh and Relief

Any of you have to work with that song leader who makes you sing "Glory to God in the highest, and peace to GOD'S people on earth"?

This page is for you!

Welcome Again!

Props from Shea-what is in the water today? !

Thanks man!

Welcome to all viewers. Again-I try to stick to youth ministry and rel ed topics but have this disturbed way of ratting myself out. Kind of like a "Bridget Jones does Youth Ministry". Man do I do dumb things!

But less about me-I hope to be of service to the hurting, tired, inspired, weary, full of life, creative, church types who minister to the people of God. It's a bear sometimes, but the best part is that together we can remind each other of who is in charge (Christ) and who it is who is the tool (us). And yes, I mean "tool".

Welcome Shea-crew!

Service Time During Lent

Following up to the Justice and Service post, is anyone doing anything extra with their crew for Lent?

"My Dear Young Friends"

He says that a lot...

Pope Benedict XVI on World Youth Day, Palm Sunday, April 9th 2005 (celebrated in each diocese):

The theme that I suggest to you is a verse from Psalm 119 [118]: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (verse 105). Our dearly loved John Paul II commented on that verse of the psalm as follows: "The one who prays pours out his thanks for the Law of God that he adopts as a lamp for his steps in the often dark path of Life" (General Audience, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2001).

...This year our attention will focus on the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, who reveals Christ to us, the Word made flesh, opening the heart of each one to the Word of salvation that leads to the fullness of Truth.

...To build your life on Christ, to accept the word with joy and put its teachings into practice: This, young people of the third millennium, should be your program! There is an urgent need for the emergence of a new generation of apostles anchored firmly in the word of Christ, capable of responding to the challenges of our times and prepared to spread the Gospel far and wide. (paragraphs switched revisions, mine)

Welcome CurtJester ClubFans!

Welcome all you who have stopped in from The Curt Jesters' blog! If you come often you'll find that while I try to stick to Youth Ministry and Religious Ed topics I find myself telling stories that embarrass myself. I don't know why I do that.

I often found in parish work that there wasn't anywhere to go and bang my head against the wall-so I created this blog for youth minister types. It's like the teachers' lounge-yknow, they go in there, smoke, drink coffee, complain about the administration, update each other on kids, their families, share what works for them in the classroom...a place to say "I get what you're going through, Here's some ideas, let's keep each other going".

So, come, relax, put your feet up. Share your trials and joys of ministry here. Come back-and bring others with you!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I Don't Think That Means What You Think It Means

Heard just now on his radio show:
"I think I'll give up liberals for Lent" -Sean Hannity

Info On Lent

"Stolen" from (hey, I gave it props!)

Picking the Day Lent Begins ROME, FEB. 28, 2006 (
Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professorof liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

* * * Q: What determines what day Lent begins? P.R., Fresno, California

A: The short answer to your question is that the beginning of Lent depends on the date of Easter. Easter follows a lunar, rather than a solar, calendar and is celebrated on theSunday that follows the first full moon after March 21, the vernal (spring) equinox. Therefore Easter cannot fall earlier than March 22 or later than April25.

All the other movable celebrations in the Church calendar ultimately depend on the date of Easter. Most of the Eastern Churches follow the same basic principles but often celebrate Easter on a date different from Catholics and other Western Christians because they continue to follow the calendar of Julius Caesar without the corrections incorporated by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

Julius Caesar's calendar calculated the year as 365 days and 6 hours and thus was about 11 minutes and 9 seconds more than the sun's actual course. Although tiny, this excess puts the calendar off by a day, more or less, every 128 years. Thus, the Council of Nicaea already found it necessary to regress the date of the spring equinox to March 21 instead of the original date of March 25.

By the time of Pope Gregory XIII the difference had grown so much that the spring equinox occurred on March 11.

In 1581 with the bull "Inter Gravissimas" Pope Gregory promulgated a widespread reform which, among other things, re-established the spring equinox on March 21 by eliminating 10 days from October 1582. Coincidence would have it that St.Teresa of Avila died on that very night of Oct. 4-15.

The error of Julius Caesar's calendar was corrected by deciding that the turn of the century --always a leap year in the Julian calendar -- would be so only when the year could be divided by 400, that is 1600, 2000 2400 2800, etc., whereas there would be no leap year in the others.

Most Catholic countries, and even some Protestant ones, accepted the reform almost immediately. Some countries, such as England, held off accepting the papal reform until 1752 while Russia did not adopt it until after the Communist takeover in 1918.

The calculation is still not perfect as there is still a difference of 24 seconds between the legal and the solar calendar. However, 3,500 years will haveto pass before another day is added.

Getting back to Lent. This season comprises 40 days before Easter withoutcounting Sundays which, even though they are called Sundays of Lent," are not days of penance. Church tradition has always excluded fasting and penance on a Sunday.

The tradition of a fast in preparation for Easter goes back to the late third century but it varied in duration. The tradition of a 40-day fast was established in Rome between 354 and 384, although it began after the first Sunday.

As this period was also deemed suitable for the final preparation of candidates for baptism, the baptismal scrutinies were incorporated with the rites of this season. Scrutinies are communal prayers celebrated around the elect to strengthen them to overcome the power of sin in their lives and to grow in virtue.

Later, at the start of the sixth century, the beginning of Lent was moved up to Ash Wednesday in order to guarantee 40 days of effective fasting.

Lent Resources

I'm a bit slow on the ball here. I guess I should have saved sex for later.

Haha. Get it?

*sigh -hello, is this thing on? (taptap)*

Ok, Lent Resources. I'm a little sad to say that I have not found very good resources in this area. There are a few prayer resources for Youth Ministry, but I found them to be "of middle ground" so to speak.

Speaking of middle ground, the "Pastoral Associate" , "Sister Joan" wrote in the bulletin at my brothers' parish "If for some reason you cannot make it to Mass on Ash Wednesday, do not let this keep you from experiencing this ancient medicine. All of the earth is holy land and it's soil is blessed. So take some dirt or dust in the palm of your hand and mark yourself with the sign of the cross, thanking God..." Ahem. Ok. I thought the ashes were burned palms blessed by a priest but what do I know?

Anyway, last year I incorporated the kids who were in their schools' drama clubs to help with the Stations of the Cross. At first I was a tad worried because the lead girl is quite decisive and a little bit of a rebel when it comes to the Church. However, they did a brilliant job-and maybe this is an idea that you could use.

Instead of going around to each station, she organized the kids to act out each station. The twist was that we did it "shadow" style. We hung a wide cloth across two poles, turned off all of the lights and pointed a light at it so that all the people could see where the shadows of the actors.

We would turn off the light between stations, and reset each scene. Each scene was "frozen", that is, there wasn't any movement of the actors, but my high school girl director incorporated a lot into the picture. She was quite inventive and it came out great.

For each station we also had a few readers who read by candle light as well, though they probably should have practiced the readings a few more times.

All in all the kids did a great job. My favorite outcome of this was that the kid playing Jesus said that he found himself relating to Christ and what he was going through. This was a powerful statement from a kid who had been having a great deal of difficulty in his life at the time.

Not only did this prayerful presentation bless those who came to pray (they were quite impressed that "teens could be so prayerful") but how God worked in each of the teens' hearts as they presented AND joined in the prayer of the Stations.