Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Catholic Topic of the Week 3

In my last post I alluded to an anniversary as part of this week's Catholic Topic. Monday June 25 was the 26th anniversary of the apparition of Mary at Medjugorje, a small village in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Blessed Virgin actually appeared first on June 24, 1981 (the feast of the birth of John the Baptist), but the six children who saw her didn't actually see her close up or receive any messages from her until the next day June 25, 1981.

Marian apparitions are fascinating. All Marian apparitions have to be investigated by the Church which tries to determine the authenticity of the apparition. There is a whole process and it gets very confusing. I am not going to get into that aspect here. But I do know that the apparitions of Mary at Medjugorje have not had any official church approval yet, though they are still under investigation.

Regardless, it is a powerful place and one I would love to go visit one day. There are several Marian apparition sites I want to see and this is one of them (the others are Fatima, Portugal; Knock, Ireland; and Lourdes, France).

Back to Medjugorje: the six children saw Mary, who was known to them as the Queen of Peace, every day for a long time. One by one, she revealed six secrets to them after which she stopped appearing to them daily. However, she stills appears to each of them on some kind of regular basis, yearly or monthly or something. I also think a few of them may still see her daily as they have not yet received all 10 secrets. I'm not totally familiar with the entire story, so see the resources at the end of this post for more details.

The first time I heard about Medjugorje was about 5 years ago. I knew someone who went there and I ran into him one night when I was out at a bar with some friends. He had just gotten back from his trip and was telling me all about it. We had each arrived at this bar with a different group of friends and then spent the evening talking with each other (and he drove me back to my car, which worried the guys I was originally with). Anyway, I honestly didn't know what he was talking about when he was explaining his trip and I had never heard of the place he had been to. Before I left him he gave me a little card (not exactly a prayer card, but close) that had a picture of Mary, a prayer, and a little silver medal in it. Now, 5 years later, this friend of mine was recently ordained a priest (see my post from May 19, 2007) and I bet his trip to Medjugorje helped in his discernment of his vocation. And I still have the little card from Medjugorje that he gave me.

I highly recommend reading about Marian apparitions. Reading about them is one of the things that made my faith stronger when I was rediscovering Catholicism and the many riches and wonders it holds. I recommend starting with this book:

Those Who Saw Her by Catherine M. Odell. I have the revised edition from 1995, but there could be a more up to date edition out now. It is published by Our Sunday Visitor Books. It has an entire chapter on Medjugorje as well as ones on many other Marian apparitions.

For lots of information about Medjugorje, including monthly messages from Mary, an overview, information on pilgramages and travel, reflections on the monthly messages, and much, much more, visit this site:

The site also has information on how to pray the Rosary and about Eucharistic Adoration.

Definitely check this information out. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Back in town ... again

Hi all!!

I just got back in town again from being in Atlanta over the weekend. I don't have time now to do a lengthy post but wanted to at least put up something quick.

The trip was good and I got to see a lot of people at the bridal shower. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of so many, especially my four wonderful bridesmaids!!! I'll post more later.

I have a Catholic topic of the week in mind, but probably won't get around to posting anything until Wednesday. So look for it then. I'll give a hint though: the 26th anniversary of this event was Monday. Put on your research caps and figure it out if you can. Otherwise, just wait for my post.

Have a great day!! --K

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Catholic Topic of the Week 2

A friend of mine recommended looking at the Sacrament of Baptism for this second installmend of the Catholic Topic of the Week. So I thought about this and tried to think of the various questions a non-Catholic would ask about Baptism. I came up with the following questions:

1. Why does the Catholic Church baptize infants?
2. What makes a baptism valid? And does a Protestant convert have to be baptized?
3. Who can baptize?

There are probably many other questions. I don't have a lot of time, but I want to offer some brief answers to the three questions above, offer a personal reflection on the sacrament, and then provide some web links for more information.

1. Why does the Catholic Church baptize infants?
This is a question I have been asked many times and it's not an easy one. Often the question is asked because in many of the Protestant faiths it is believed that it is up to the individual to decide if they are going to be a part of the church or not. Well, the Catholic Church believes that first it is up to the parents to educate their child and to set an example of Christian living. In many other things, parents make the choices for their children because the children are too young. They decide where they will send their kids to school, where they will go to Church, how long they can stay outside to play, and so on and so forth. Therefore, the Church believes that as part of educating our children and making many other decisions for them we should also baptize them into the Church. There is a second part to this. The child does make a decision later in life to continue to fulfill the promises made by their parents on their baptism. This is the Sacrament of Confirmation. At this point the child/young adult re-dedicates their life to the faith. There is a lot more about this in some of the links I will provide below.

(As an aside: I will also say that the order of Confirmation and Baptism has actually varied in some parts of the world and has been experimented with some in the US. From what I have learned about what is called "Restored Order," many of the US Bishops have reverted back to Baptism for infants and Confirmation for older children after trying Restored Order in their dioceses.)

2. What makes a baptism valid? And does a Protestant convert have to be baptized?
A valid Baptism is one in which the words are "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." That's it. For this reason, to answer the second question, a Protestant who is converting to Catholicism and who was baptized in their original church with those words is not "re-baptized" in the Catholic Church. They will however receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation, and first Eucharist. The Church does recognize valid baptism from other faith communities.

3. Who can baptize?
I threw this question in because it was refered to in my last Catholic Topic posting. I mentioned in there that Deacons can also baptize. There are actually three groups of people who can baptize a baby (or an adult) in the Catholic Church. The first two groups are obvious: priests and deacons. The third group is less obvious and usually happens in an emergency sitution and almost always involving a baby. The third group is the laity. Most people don't know that, but in the case of an emergency an unbaptized baby can be baptized with water by a lay person. This would have to be a special case; for example, a baby is born and something is wrong, there is the fear of death, so someone there can baptize the child.

Personal Reflection
I love baptisms. I always find myself crying at them, even when I just happen to view one from across the church. Occasionally there have been baptisms on Sunday mornings between the Masses (there is about an hour break between 2 of the 3 Sunday morning masses at my church). When I was in the choir, we'd be setting up during that time and if a baptism was going on, we had to set up fast and get out of the way. On occasion I've been able to watch some of the ceremony and it always brings tears to my eyes. To me it is such a special occasion for the parents, the godparents, all the other members of the family, and especially the child. The stain of original sin is being wiped away and the child is welcomed into the church by all those family members gathered around. I especially like the personal baptisms, where one family presents a child to be baptized into the Church, rather than the large gatherings of 5-10 babies at one time.

I'm not sure I can totally explain the overwhelming feeling I have when I watch or have actually been in attendance at a baptism. It is such an awesome mystery and such a beautiful Sacrament.

Additional Information
Here are some links for more info:

This first one is a list of links to articles on baptism as well as some Q&As.

This second link comes from the Catholic Answers website and is specifically about infant baptism:

Finally, if you really want to read something scholarly, here is the part of the Cathechism regarding Baptism or the Christian Rite of Initation, from the USCCB website:

Hope this was interesting and that the links above will be even more informative.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Great Book!!!

I finally finished reading Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel. It was a great book and I highly recommend it to everyone.

We read it with our Young Adult group at Church. I thought it was very good and I really learned a lot. He writes this book like a series of letters and, as the title suggests, he addresses all the letters to the younger generations, specifically those in their 20s and possibly 30s. He also kind of takes you on a "tour" of the Catholic world, visiting different churches, holy sites, and monasteries. It was really very interesting. Along the way he uses the places he visits and his discussions to get into specific Catholic teachings; that's where I learned a lot more about things that maybe I had a small understanding of previously, or possibly no understanding of at all.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the Catholic Church. I found it full of interesting stories and he very much takes a mentorship role as he speaks to his readers. I liked that approach a lot. This is definitely a book worth taking the time to read.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Catholic Topic of the Week 1

You may remember my post from about a week ago, Just thinking, in which I mused about the possibility of doing a Catholic Topic of the Week. Well, I got one response with a question to consider. So because of that and just because I like the idea myself, here is the first Catholic Topic of the Week.

The question I received had to do with marriage and had multiple layers. I will take each apart one at a time. Also, don't forget that I don't necessarily know what I am talking about. I will provide references where I find them and I welcome further comments if you have more information to add than what I could find. So here goes ...

First, I was asked about deacons being able to perform a marriage. Actually the deacon is the first witness of the marriage, as would be the priest if the priest were the person presiding. The couple actually marries each other. The bride and groom are receiving the sacrament of matrimony and therefore "perform" the marriage together. Remember also that the marriage, to be valid, has two parts. First they give their consent to marry and express their vows to each other in the Church and, second, they consummate the marriage act together. Therefore, whoever presides is there as the first witness. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) at 1623 and 1630, plus the paragraphs around those all deal with marriage as well.

But the real answer to the question was about the deacon presiding at the celebration. The simple answer is yes. Deacons are ordained clergy. I think we sometimes forget this and only think of them as men who are their to help the priest in our parish church. But they are ordained clergy who profess obedience to the Bishop during their ordination just like a priest does when he is ordained. Deacons have roles in the church that also include sacramental roles. CCC1630 refers to both Priests and Deacons as ministers of the sacrament of marriage. Deacons can also baptize and preside at funerals. Deacons also preside at a Liturgy of the Word service if a priest is not around. Each year the priests in our diocese take a retreat together for a few days. During those days the deacons will preside at a Liturgy of the Word/Communion Service during the times when daily Mass is usually held. Communion is distributed if there is some already blessed in the Tabernacle, since the priest (or bishop) is the only person that can do the Eucharistic celebration. The one Catholic wedding that I have attended at which a deacon presided, there was no distribution of communion. So they had the Liturgy of the Word and the marriage ceremony and then the final blessings. There are a multitude of reasons why a couple may choose to get married without a Mass, but that can be a whole other topic. For more about deacons, I found an FAQ on the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops website. Check it our here.

The second part of the question was where a couple can get married according to the Catholic Church. Does it have to be in the Catholic Church? Can it be outside, on the beach maybe, or even in another church? First about outside weddings. The Catholic Church teaches us that marriage is a sacrament that should typically be held as part of the Mass. CCC1621 has a great way of describing this (definitely go read that if you have a chance). A Mass is almost always held in the holy space of the Church. Therefore it stands to reason that you would get married in the Church as well. I happened to come across a short article on this very issue recently, which can explain things much better than I can and I highly recommend reading it. It can be found here: "Catholics Don't Get Married at the Beach!".

The issue of getting married in a church that's not a Catholic Church is a little more difficult to answer. Essentially the answer is yes, you can, but there is a but. My understanding is that a couple getting married in which one person is Catholic and the other is not, can get married in a non-Catholic Church with the consent of the bishop. Ah, I just found the answer!! Thanks to the book Fr. Frank gave Chris and I as a wedding gift, I have found that according to Canon Law 1118: "It [the marriage] can be celebrated in another church or oratory with the permission of the local ordinary or pastor." That's about all I know on this topic.

I think that about exhausts all my knowledge and I believe I managed an answer to all parts of the question that was posed. I would love to hear more comments or additional information anyone has to add on any of my statements. And if I got something totally wrong, please let me know that too.

Oh, and other topics for next week?? Let me know!!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Break Time

I'm taking a small mental break from work at the moment. I'm in the middle of checking work others have done and I keep running into the same problem ... so I need a small break.

It's been a pretty boring week around here. The most exciting this was the rain at the beginning of the week and the hail on Tuesday. It's raining again today. We really need to rain.

I did hear that the invitations to the bridal shower that my bridesmaids are having for me went out. I've heard from several people about how awesome the invitations look. I can't wait to see them! I'm looking forward to being in Atlanta for a few days and seeing everyone. It should be lots of fun.

In the meantime, Chris and I have a busy weekend planned ... but busy with lots of fun things. We're going to see the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, we're going to go dancing Saturday night at "Swingin' on Main," and Sunday we're going to a party at a church choir member's house for all the music ministry. In the middle of all that I need to clean my house before my parents come to visit later next week.

I hope everyone else has lots of fun plans for the weekend!! Don't forget that Sunday is the Feast of the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ, or more commonly known as Corpus Christi Sunday. I hope you enjoy the celebration and get a chance to participate in a procession of the Blessed Sacrament around your Church (I've done this in the past, but I think we'll be going to a different Mass this year).

Many blessings to you all!! K

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Just thinking ...

I have been thinking since Saturday and today I think my thoughts finally congealed into something worth talking about. Basically the class Chris and I took on Saturday made me wonder how most people would react to that class if they are either non-Catholic or Catholic but either not practicing or not well-versed in what the Church teaches.

This class had a lot of things in it that I would have found totally surprising 5 or more years ago. Today, I am much more informed and the class was reinforcement or better explanations of what I already knew. Even maybe subconsciously knew.

Now, I am by no means a scholar nor do I claim to know a whole lot about the Church. But I like learning new things. I'm also a librarian, so I know how to find things too (or I should, in theory).

So I had a thought: how about starting a "Catholic Topic of the Week" on this blog.

This means that I have to plan to post something like that once a week, which might take some planning, but hopefully you'll all forgive me if I miss a week.

I was thinking it would be fun to learn new things, to provide links for more information on a topic, or just to reflect on a Church teaching. Plus, all my non-Catholic friends might find it helpful to see what the Catholic Church is all about, since I know there are lots of misconceptions out there.

So, I think I might try this for a little bit and see how it goes. But first I need a topic. Anyone have a suggestion for a great way to begin? Once I have an idea I can do a little research and post something next week. I don't plan on getting theological (I can probably point you to those blogs if that's what you want). I want to keep it simple: just little windows into the Catholic Faith.

Any suggestions?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Weekend Update

We had a good weekend this past weekend. Friday night we watched Pirates of the Caribbean, movie 1. Chris had never seen it, so before we go to see the third movie in the series, I thought it would be a good idea to see the first two. Hopefully we'll watch the second movie next weekend.

Saturday we had another marriage prep class. This one is run by the diocese, so we had to go to the Catholic Center for the class. It was an almost all-day class; it was also the best class we've been to so far--much better than the Marriage prep class at our parish. The title of the class was "God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage." Mostly we watched a video of Christopher West speaking and between video segments we had some opportunities for personal reflection and couple discussion. Despite watching a video for most of the day, it was a really good video, Christopher West is a really good speaker.

Basically the class revolves around the Catholic Church's teaching and theology on marriage and family, including lots of details about the sacrament itself, and sexuality in marriage. There was also a section on NFP, which was just review for us. Christopher West's work is primarily based on John Paul II's Theology of the Body talks he gave in the late 70s and early 80s during his Wednesday general audiences at the Vatican. It was definitely a worthwhile class to take, even if Chris and I were already familiar with and on board with these teachings.

After the class we stopped at this new pizza place near Chris' house. This place makes the pizza pie, wraps it up for you, and then gives it to you to take home and cook. So we brought one home, put it in the fridge, and then went for a walk. We needed the walk after sitting all day. We made a salad to go with the pizza and I have to say, eating a fresh pizza was really good. We also watched the movie A Man for All Seasons. I gave it to Chris as a birthday present last weekend. It's one of his favorite movies, but I had never seen it. It was really good. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. It is about St. Thomas More and his struggle with King Henry VIII.

Sunday was a good day. We went to Church and then back to my house where I proceeded to clean out my fridge and pantry of all the bad foods and make a shopping list for myself. Chris took a quick nap. We then went out to Ramsey's for lunch where we met up with a college friend of mine who was in town with his wife. I hadn't seen them since their wedding two years ago, so it was really good to catch up and see each other again. And Chris finally got to meet someone from my college days. After lunch we went shopping (stocked up on lots of fruits and veggies) and then relaxed for a while longer before going back to Church to meet Fr. Frank.

Our meeting with Fr. Frank was fun: we went through the pre-rehearsal rehearsal for the wedding. I hope in four months that I remember everything we did! It was nice to see how we would be standing, what the bridesmaids and groomsmen will be doing, and just where everyone will need to be when. He also answered some of my questions so now I feel a bit more confident when discussing things with my florist, photographer, and wedding coordinator and anyone else I may need to talk this through with.

That was about it for our weekend. I hope to have a productive week this week and I pray for the same for all of you.