Category Archives: Catholic Church

Exactly what is Christmas for, anyway?

CHRIST. So, why does it seem that the bible churches, mega-churches (yes, I mean you, Joel Osteen and Ed Young) and most of the other protestant congregations have decided that actually holding a service ON Christmas Day is such a big inconvenience to their members? Is taking an hour or two out of your Christmas morning too much to ask to give for the child Jesus who ultimately gave us Himself? Anyone who says “But Christmas is ‘family time’!” doesn’t get the real reason we celebrate this day. Sure, spend the day with your family. But FIRST, spend it with the birthday Boy. It’s no secret to anyone reading this that I’m Catholic, and proud of it. Catholics, this year, will be attending Mass on Sunday for the weekly obligation, and on Monday for the Christmas Holy Day (at least, they’re *supposed* to….) Now, for a little rambling and perhaps a history story…. It’s widely accepted that Christ was not actually born on December 25, 1 A.D. Which, since the Gregorian calendar we now go by wasn’t even created at the time, makes sense…. If Jesus was born ~5-6 B.C., as is supposed, and Herod had all children under the age of 2 killed shortly before his own death in ~4 B.C., and Herod’s action was triggered by the appearance of the “three wise men”, then the Eastern astrologers didn’t show up in Bethlehem, but two years after Jesus birth, most likely in Nazareth! The “12 days of Christmas” start on either December 25th or 26th, and end on January 5 or 6th, depending on which source you check. January 6th is the celebration of the Epiphany, and also referred to as the “Feast of the Three Kings”. This is at the end of the celebration of the Christmas season, preceding the return the following Sunday to “Ordinary Time” in the Church calendar. And one more related topic…about those Three Kings and their strange gifts. Why gold? Why frankincense (incense)? Why myrrh? If you read the words of the traditional carol “We Three Kings”, you get your answers. Each of the second, third and fourth verses are spoken from the view of each of the kings: Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar. Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain/Gold I bring to crown Him again/King forever, ceasing never/Over us all to reign Frankincense to offer have I;/Incense owns a Deity nigh;/Prayer and praising, all men raising,/Worship Him, God most high. Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume/Breathes a life of gathering gloom;/Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,/Sealed in the stone cold tomb. So, that comes out to: Gold for Christ’s kingship; Frankincense for His divinity, and Myrrh for the sacrifice of the Crucifixion. Prophetic and practical, all in there! Enough for tonight…Merry Christmas, ya’ll!

Open Season on Christianity

Open Season on Christianity–A Little Respect Is Harder to Find. The quote that attracted the most attention from me is this:

“The gallery owners know that although Catholics will be offended, they won’t harm them.” He added: “If they were to do the same to Islam, all hell would break loose.”

What do you think?


John Paul II dies — "Be Not Afraid"

The Vatican is official: John Paul II has gone home to God. This man, this Pope, who touched so many lives all over the world, has died at the age of 84. He was about a month from his 85 birthday and only 6 months shy of a 27 year reign as the Bishop of Rome. He was the third longest-reigning Pope, following Blessed Pius IX (31 years)and St. Peter (~35 years) himself.

Pope John Paul IIWe had the opportunity to see “Il Papa” about a year ago, when Terri and I visited Rome for a week. We had the fortune to get tickets to the Papal Audience, and were able to sit right on the aisle where the “Pope Jeep” (see the picture, left) passed, transporting the Holy Father to the steps of San Peitro. We also were able to attend the end of a Papal Beatification Mass where he spoke the weekly Sunday blessing.

St. Peter's Basilica at nightJohn Paul II contributed to the Catholic Church and the world in many ways. To me, personally, he demonstrated compassion and faith in ways that aren’t usually seen in everyday life. He was instrumental in the end of communism, and worked for reform within the Church as well; under his reign were the first revisions to the Codex Iuris Canonici (Code of Canon Law – the law of the Church) since 1917, the revision of the Catechism, and the current version of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (the rites of the Catholic Mass). He wrote numerous letters and exhortations, from Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity of Women) to Salvifici Doloris (On Human Suffering). But for all he did for the Church Universal and the world, one thing touched me in a very personal way. Standing in St. Peter’s Square, on a chilly Wednesday morning, I heard the Holy Father speak directly to my heart, in my own language, in his own words, and it was as if I was the only one he was addressing. I was one face in a crowd of hundreds–maybe thousands–and I know that he was really talking to everyone assembled, but to hear him speak my language, in person, was a very emotional moment in my life. I couldn’t tell you now what he said, but I know that just the act of him reaching out to the world community, in numerous languages, was measure enough of his love for all of humanity.

Edit: Actually, I do know what he said, thanks to Zenit News.

“I extend a special welcome to the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, including groups from England, Sweden and the United States of America. May your visit to Rome be a time of spiritual enrichment. Entrusting you to the protection of Mary, I invoke upon you the grace and peace of her Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.” –Ioannes Paulus PP.II, 24 Mar 2004 ]]>

$100 a plate?

Ed. Note: this is in regards to a celebration for the 100th Anniversary of St. Mary’s Catholic Center, the Catholic Campus Ministry for Texas A&M University. From a letter to the St. Mary’s Development Office.

Why did the planning committee for the 100 year anniversary of Catholic ministry to Texas A&M decide to place such a high price per person to attend this gala?

The committee is pricing out a large portion of former students from St Mary’s who would love to attend, but can’t because of the price. Many are young families with or without children who will not be able to justify the cost, even for such a good cause as St Mary’s. If the cost had been lower, say $30-40 a plate, I think that the Development Office would find that many more people might attend and even find that they are able to make a donation in addition to the cost of the Gala.

St Mary’s means so much to so many people. It would seem to me that an event like this would be cause to bring together as many former students as possible to share what St Mary’s meant to them while they attended Texas A&M. Setting the price at $100 a plate will likely turn people away who would otherwise attend. It sets the tone that only people who can afford to pay are welcome here, and that’s not what St Mary’s is about.

It is also a concern that only a handful of people may find out about this event. When the Aggie Awakening 20th Anniversary reunion came around last fall, it appeared that only those on St Mary’s mailing list found out about it. I talked to several people who were very active with Aggie Awakening who either did not know about the reunion or found out in too little time to plan to attend. To my knowledge, efforts were not made to place advertisements in diocesean newspapers around Texas or in the Texas Aggie Magazine to reach out to those who have lost contact with St Mary’s. By spending a relatively small amount of money in advertising this event, so many more people would have attended because of the opportunity to see old friends, not to mention how much Aggie Awakening touched their lives. In turn, by advertising and reducing the cost to attend the Gala, I feel that more people would feel welcome and want to attend a celebration of St Mary’s ministry to Texas A&M.


Terri ’98]]>

Why Rome?

I have a personal tradition of staying up and watching Midnight Mass early on Christmas morning as well as trying to take notice when Pope John Paul II is in the news. Each time I saw His Holiness on tv made me sad that he was continuing to grow weaker as he aged and his health worsened. I knew that I had not taken the opportunity to see the Pope or at least be in his presence when he has traveled to the US. I also knew that if I didn’t try soon, I may not get the chance in the future. Robert and I are both practicing Catholics, so I knew that a trip to Rome and Vatican City would be the trip of a lifetime for both of us. I began talking to Robert about what he thought of going to Rome and Vatican City. He, of course, was very interested. The only questions were when and how much was it going to cost us. I brought up the idea several times during 2003 until my mom put me in contact with a travel agent, Beverly, that she knew from work connections. I sent Beverly an email and began getting information about what it would cost us if we decided to plan the trip. The trip costs were not too bad, especially if we traveled during the winter season. After about 2-3 weeks of debating, we decided to go for it…even if it would rack up the credit card debt a bit. The trip was well worth it. We didn’t know if we would be able to see Pope John Paul II until we got there, but it was worth it to take the chance especially since we were able to see him twice!]]>