Search This Blog

Monday, April 19, 2010

5 Things that are Special about Being Catholic

"Peter, you are Rock, and upon you I will build My Church." Matthew 16:18

This weekend, I facilitated a retreat for our 8th grade Confirmation class. They all arrived thinking the day was going to be a necessary evil - boring, dragging on, and uninformative. By the end of the day, they were exclaiming, "Today went fast! This was fun! We should do this again!" In their reflections, one wrote, "I love being Catholic!"

What was it that got them so excited? The very essence of what we were called there to study: Our Catholic Church.

My goal for the day was to help them realize what's special about being Catholic - why they should be excited that they are choosing to confirm their Catholic faith rather than any other faith in the world. We made a poster with 5 main reasons it is "special" to be Catholic:

1. Universality
We are "one, holy, catholic, apostolic church." The kids were amazed that what we do here in Bowling Green, Ohio, is the same as is done in Italy or, as our presenter put it, "an underground church in China that's Catholic." We believe the same things. We practice the same things. We are led by the same Holy Father. We are one, just as Jesus prayed we would be. And we have been doing this for 2,000 years - since Christ Himself implemented the Church before his death.

2. Mary
We have a reverence for the Holy Mother of God. This does not mean we worship her or hold her equal to God - but we see her as a role model, a very powerful intercessor, and a mother who can lead us closer to her Divine Son. The kids learned that Mary, once assumed into Heaven, has been making appearances throughout history to encourage people to believe in God and to pray.

3. Service
Our Church places emphasis on loving our neighbor through service. Jesus told us that whatever we do to the least of his people, we do to Him. The spirit of the Gospel is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The point of being human is to live up to our likeness to God - and His essence is to give of Himself in love until He has no more to give (which will never happen, because He is infinite). As St. Francis of Assisi said, "It is in giving of ourselves that we receive." What do we receive? Fulfillment of our divine purpose, and, God willing, eternal life with Him.

4. Confession
Though an often scorned aspect of the Catholic faith, I see the Sacrament of Reconciliation as the most beautiful. I could go into reasons why we need the Sacrament in cases of mortal sin, but instead, I will discuss why it is a gift. God, having created us, knows and understands our desire for the tangible. Yes, when I commit a small sin, I can turn to God, acknowledge my wrong, and ask for His forgiveness in prayer, and He will grant it. But when I can go into the confessional, knowing that Jesus is working through the priest, and speak the words aloud, hear the absolution, and feel the forgiving touch of the priest upon my head, there is something much more substantial and transformative about that experience. Confession is a gift, and the graces that flow from it are immeasurable.

5. The Eucharist
Without a doubt the greatest thing that is "special" about being Catholic - and special being a drastic understatement - is the Eucharist. Our Lord and God, the sovereign Creator of the universe, lover of my soul, savior of my life, embodies Himself in lowly bread and wine, coming to His people in order that they may be substantially united with Him. This is the ultimate union, a foreshadowing of Heaven, fulfillment of our destiny - to be one with our Lord. This tiny paragraph does this unimaginable miracle no justice. I only wish that I could learn not to take it for granted any time I receive this precious gift.

Nolan, Hanna, Abby, Gabbie, Jessica, and Katie will be confirmed on May 8th. They are 13, but the future of our Church is in their hands. I pray that they will learn the faith they are inheriting, teach it well, enjoy the countless blessings it brings, and, in the true spirit of John 10:10, live it to the full.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do YOU think?