Catechism

Reverb Culture Launched!!!

homepageBannerPost It's been awhile since I've written here, and for good reason. One of the most exhausting and stress inducing things I've ever done is finally out in the public. And I couldn't have done it on my own.Over the past several months, myself and an awesome team of Catholics have been talking, praying, working, and arguing about a project that is the result of a simple idea: What if we created a community of young adults striving to live out the Catechism in a wild and real way?

I've been blown away by the support, positive reactions, emails, tweets, and encouragement this project has received. Its been a huge undertaking, one that I have been nervously hiding from people for too long. The fear of rejection or the weight of self criticism can be stifling.

We launched ReverbCulture.com this past Saturday, after already gaining a small but punchy email list following (thanks all you early adopters!). The day before and day of the launch, I probably put in around 20+ hours total into the design/content of the site, with the help of a bunch of great people. I was worn out. Just a few hours after we launched, we threw an online party, the Epic Launch Party on google+ hangouts. It was live and recorded (you can watch the hour of epic awesome here) and a bunch of people showed up. It was such a blast and such a joy.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX9r_XyeGO4&feature=share]

We gave away a catechism and a book, had tons of laughs, people from Puerto Rico, Hungry, a postulant from a religious order, and all over the US showed up. I can't say enough how much fun it was!

You can learn more about Reverb Culture on the website, I just wanted to throw it out here ad let you know what's been going on recently. I would love to hear your feedback and would be overjoyed to have you become part of this strange thing called Reverb Culture.

We have some blogs coming out, podcasts, interviews, videos, and tons more in store. We are in this for the long haul. Praise God for the opportunity to share our love of the Faith in this fun way.

I'm tired. Talk to you later. ;)

+JMJ Edmund

New Resource: Pray the Catechism [Print Out]

PrayingCCCthumb

“…this book can be transformed from a silent instrument, like a valuable violin resting on a velvet cloth, into an instrument that sounds and rouses hearts.” Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa 1st Advent Sermon to the Papal Household

I want to share a one page pdf describing the "Brief Way" to pray the Catechism of the Catholic Church which I created not too long ago. My wife and I have tried praying with the Catechism this way, and we love it. It takes about five minutes.  Download the pdf here.

Breathe the Faith

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, our Catholic faith entrusted to the Church by Jesus Christ, is not a salad - you don’t  at as much as possible as quickly as possible hoping to finish full and soon.

The Catechism is more like a fine wine - sip it slowly, breathe it in, and let it marinate your palate.

Cardinal Arinze prayerfully reads one page from the Catechism every day during his time of prayer. If a Cardinal is praying with the Catechism on a regular basis, why shouldn’t you? Praying with the Catechism instead of reading right through it allows the precious faith of the Church to seep into our bones and water our soul. Feel free to adapt this or work it into your own pattern of prayer. This method of praying the catechism can be used for private prayer or for praying with others.

How to Pray the Catechism

This way of praying begins with the Sign of the Cross the source and summit of our faith, followed by the Apostle's Creed, a summary of our faith handed down to us through the centuries and the foundation of the first pillar of the Catechism. We then pray the Our Father, which Jesus teaches us as the disciples ask "Lord, teach us how to pray" and which is the basis of the fourth pillar of the Catechism. We then prayerfully read and meditate on one In Brief paragraph from the Catechism (if you aren't sure what those are, see my post on How to Use the Catechism) and then pray one Hail Mary, honoring and asking for the intercession of Mary Mother of the Church and our Faith.  We wrap up this time of prayer by giving praying Glory Be to God, the Blessed Trinity and heart of the Catechism.

Some Deets

We read one In Brief and pray one Hail Mary a total of 5 times, which I found is just the right amount. But if you are feeling sassy, by all means don't let me stop you from praying all of them.

Why the In Briefs? For one thing they are on average shorter than the rest of the paragraphs in the Catechism. I found they are more succinct and easier to digest and meditate on. But if you are feeling doubly sassy, go ahead and pray with the rest of the catechism this way. You might want to cut down how many paragraphs you pray in one sitting though.

Download the pdf here and print out 700 copies to give to all dem Catholics you know, to stuff your Parish narthex with, and to slip inside all those Catechisms you bought recently graduated high school kiddos. Its completely free, just let people know where you got it from!

If you try praying the Catechism this way, let me know what you think. Its still a work in progress, and I would love to hear your feedback or suggestions about how to make it better.

"This Catechism is of historic importance. Depending on how seriously we take it, the future of the Catholic Church will be shaped accordingly." Fr. John Hardon

Our Excuses for the Boston Bombings

Boston bombing suspects If all of America can agree on one thing, it is that the Boston bombing was a deeply evil act. And if all of America could agree on the one question that needs answering from those responsible for these depraved acts, it is, "Why?"I sat around a dinner table recently with a bunch of Catholic friends and the Boston bombings came up in conversation. There was unanimous agreement; no one could understand how any human person could commit such a large scale and hideously evil act. "How could anyone do such a thing?"

Behind the frantic search by media outlets for any revealing details from the pasts of the two main suspects - anything that would pull back the debris and find a motive - there exists the natural response to intense evil: confusion.

As I watched online live coverage of the manhunt coming from one of Boston's local news stations, I heard the news anchors interviewing one of Dzokhar's high school classmates.

She describes her shock and horror upon finding out Dzokhar is suspected to be guilty of the Boston marathon bombings. After seeing his photo on television she scours her old yearbook to make sure its really him. She remembers Dzhokhar as a normal high school guy.

At the end of the interview the news anchor asks, "But was there anything different or odd about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that you noticed back then?" He's almost pleading with her.

"No, he was a normal kid like any other high school teenager."

Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing more difficult than understanding him.

Dostoevsky

After hearing that interview, for some reason I was disturbed. So much so that I wrote this article. I couldn't shake the feeling that we are all grasping for an excuse.

Certainly we do not want to excuse the guilty. No one is looking for an excuse that would save killers from just punishment.

I get the feeling we are looking to excuse ourselves.

In the smokey confusion that follows the presence of large-scale evil, we naturally look for a way to distance ourselves from the capacity to commit such acts. We look for a way to  excuse ourselves from the one thing we do share with all those who have ever carried out evil acts - the capacity to commit those acts.

Maybe I'm the only one willing to admit the question that sometimes flashes in the mind when using a large knife, or holding a gun, or driving a vehicle. It is a question I'm sure is intensified by exposure to horror movies, graphic video games, and television shows. But the question is present regardless of our exposure to graphic acts of violence, crimes against humanity, and evil.

Do I have the capacity within me to commit a gravely evil act?

Once the smoke settles on an event like this, there are immediate lines drawn between "them" and "us", "good people" and "bad people", the "stable" and the "unstable". And you will hear the phrase "I just can't imagine..." over and over again. "I could never do such a thing. I couldn't imagine doing anything like that."

But is this the correct Catholic response?

milgramEx

Leaving Divine Revelation aside for a minute, we could turn to science and ask the question "Are normal, ordinary people capable of intensely grave evil acts?"

I don't need to retell the stories of the Milgram Experiment, or the Stanford Prison Experiment, or the Abu Ghraib torturing; you can read about those yourself. All of them though, seem to prove that normal people, mentally healthy and ordinary folk, have a capacity for evil acts such as torture and killing. In all of these instances normal people were placed in situations that resulted in them committing or at least believing they were committing extremely evil acts.

Classically divided, the question of "Why do people behave a certain way?" could be separated into two categories. For us, we could be tempted to excuse the capacity for evil as either an innate personal characteristic, or the result of traumatic personal experiences and environment. Nature versus nurture.

mick-stevens-i-m-neither-a-good-cop-nor-a-bad-cop-jerome-like-yourself-i-m-a-compl-new-yorker-cartoon

Some might be tempted to suggest that Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev must have some sort of inbred flaw that allows them to commit heinous acts of violence without any empathy towards others. They might suggest a mental illness and chalk it up to simply being psychopaths.

Others might be more sympathetic and guess about the upbringing and environment the brothers were exposed to. Maybe they had abusive parents. Maybe there is some history of childhood trauma. Maybe they were under the influence of narcotics. Maybe time spent in Russia made them somehow capable of evil. And of course people will point to Islam Extremist influences that glorify "martyrs" and violence to further their cause.

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The banality of evil is displayed in the details of the bombing. Maybe Dzokhar didn't see the 8-year-old boy nearby when he laid down his back pack filled with high powered explosives, nails, and other shrapnel. Maybe he did. If he did, maybe he has a mental condition that leaves him unable to feel empathy. Maybe he has been conditioned by years of hate and trauma.

Or maybe he is just a normal guy who decided to commit an evil act for various reasons, none of which imprisoned his free will or forced him to do anything.

Notice exactly what I am and am not saying. I am not saying that psychology only excuses evil and sheds no profitable light on what makes an otherwise normal person commit evil acts. But I am also not saying that we should chalk evil acts such as these up entirely to outside forces, internal disorders, or religious provocation.

Do we ever stop and wonder if any murderer who has ever uttered the phrase really spoke the truth when he said "I don't know why I did it." That a man could have no psychological or personal motivations for committing an evil act other than the desire to commit it?

Psychology might be able to provide some insight into the circumstantial ingredients for a mass murderer, but even psychologists will tell you that psychology is not meant to explain away culpability.

And we certainly, as Catholics, shouldn't be surprised by man's capacity for evil. Nor should we try to distance ourselves from "them" who are capable of evil.

"Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile." (CCC 386)

In 1907 the Times of London asked a handful of acclaimed philosophers and writers to share their thoughts on the question: "What's Wrong with the World?". A  poignant response came in the form of a characteristically terse letter:

Dear Sir:

Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am.

Yours truly, G.K. Chesterton

We should not be surprised that man has a capacity for extremely evil acts. And we should never forget this. When you hear people confused and wondering how anyone could blow up strangers and shoot a cop in cold blood, don't be tempted to excuse the capacity for evil away.

"Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God's plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another." (CCC 387)

These are not just evil acts. This is sin. And sin implies a nuanced understanding of man. Sin implies free will. If Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were truly free in choosing to sin against God and commit such violence, and I also posses free will, then I am also capable of committing gravely mortal sins.

As odd as it sounds, when we buy into the disbelief of man's capacity for evil, we are only feeding a nihilistic worldview that sees man as merely a sum total of his given genetic qualities plus his circumstances.

This is not the Catholic worldview. And when this worldview is drawn out to its conclusion, the bombings shouldn't be a surprise at all. Viktor Frankl knew this well:

"If we present man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present him as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind machine, as a bundle of instinct, as a pawn of drive and reactions, as a mere product of heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone.

I became acquainted with the last stage of corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment - or, as the Nazis liked to say, "of blood and soil."

I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Trblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers."

Fulton Sheen once during the opening of a speech he gave at a National Prayer Breakfast meeting looked at the President of the United States, pointed, and said "Mr. President, you are a sinner."

He then proceeded to point to himself and say "I am a sinner. We are all sinners."

Do not forget that the greatest moral evil ever committed - the murder of God's only son, caused by the sins of all men - was carried out by masses of ordinary, average people. And the sins that caused this death have our names on them.

When faced with the sobering reality of man's capacity for evil, we mustn't turn away ashamed and detached. Certainly this is not Christ's response to our evil. We must recognize it as an event calling us to greater reliance on God's grace to become who we were created to be, which is a perilous and fragile journey.

Sin is an offense against God, and it is an offense against who we are created to be. This is different than calling it merely an evil act. Sin exists because we posses free will, and can freely choose evil instead of good. I can freely choose evil. Intense and grave evil.

G.K. Chesterton once pointed out that "[t]here are many, many angles at which one can fall but only one angle at which one can stand straight."

And when you hear of Boston Bombings and evil committed by men, pray for the souls of those guilty, pray for the victims, and pray for God's grace.

"There but for the grace of God, go I."

How to Proclaim and Defend the Entire Catholic Faith

Catechism 5 Ways

"...this book can be transformed from a silent instrument, like a valuable violin resting on a velvet cloth, into an instrument that sounds and rouses hearts." Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa 1st Advent Sermon to the Papal Household

So maybe you're one of those Catholics hipsters - hip young adult devoutly committed to Orthodoxy, sworn ally to the Pope, defender of Mother Church, reader of Chesterton and Percy, drinker of beer and wielder of apologetics.

Maybe you're not.

Either way, if you want to help spread the love of Christ, and fulfill Christ's not-so-optional Great Commission for all disciples (yes you too) then you have to spread the faith.

What faith?

          What parts of the faith?

                    THE ENTIRE CATHOLIC FAITH.

Yes that's right. And I mean Catholic as in the deposit of faith as guarded and upheld by the Catholic Church in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium.Right now there is a vast misunderstanding in our society, and even among some well-intentioned or self-professed Catholics, about what the Church actually teaches.

"Someone, somewhere in the Church founded by Christ must be in a position to tell the faithful, "this is true, and that is false;" or "this is morally good, and that is morally bad." Otherwise, the very existence of Christianity is in danger and the survival of the Catholic Church in any given country or locality is in jeopardy.

In many dioceses of America, attendance at Sunday Mass is down to some twenty-five percent of the professed Catholics in a diocese. Some Church officials are scrambling for a solution and recommending the most bizarre solutions. It never seems to dawn on these "experts" that the heart of the problem is the massive uncertainty in millions of Catholic minds about what is unchangeable doctrine in faith and moral principles." Fr. John Hardon

If you are striving to be a Catholic and defend the faith, then you must speak from the heart of the Church. You must be in a confident ability to charitably inform, or even sometimes correct, misunderstandings about the Catholic faith.

I mean the entire faith because the Catholic faith is not one long dainty necklace with doctrines and dogmas and pretty beliefs hanging separately and disjointed from one another.No, the faith is always entire and whole because the faith is unified and organic.

Our faith is more like a wheel. The center of the wheel being Christ, and the doctrines and beliefs being the spokes all in relation and connected to Christ - "the love that never ends".

The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love. Catechism Paragraph 25

Hold the whining. Its not as hard as you would imagine.

"We now have a one-volume reservoir of Catholic truth and practice for everyone who wants to bring others to Christ, if they are not yet Christians; to solidify the faith of those who have been baptized; to defend Roman Catholicism in a world in which the Church has been abandoned by so many once-believing Catholics and is being betrayed even by some of her ecclesiastical leaders." Fr. John Hardon

That's right my beloved Papists, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism is our one-stop shop for evangelization.

The Catechism might sound like a less-than-spectacular remedy for the slings and arrows of our time, but that's because of our preconceived notions, not because the Catechism is anything less than a powerhouse for evangelization.

"This Catechism is of historic importance. Depending on how seriously we take it, the future of the Catholic Church will be shaped accordingly." says Fr. Hardon. He explains that the course of the Catholic Church will depend on whether or not we see the Catechism as an act of God. "He is providing us with the opportunity of helping to make the twenty-first century the most glorious since the coming of Christ, but on one condition: that we capitalize on the gift He is giving us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church."

Fr. John Hardon, in his article "Understanding the Catechism of the Catholic Church", proposed five ways to use the catechism to help Christ evangelize the masses and spread the liberating and life giving faith who is Jesus Christ.

Here are Fr. John Hardon's five suggestions for using the Catechism:

KNOW TRUST ADAPT LIVE SHARE

Below each are explained in Fr. John Hardon's own words...

Know the Catechism.

Our most fundamental duty is to know the Catechism. How do you come to know anything? By reading, by discussing, by hearing it explained by competent persons.

Speed reading of the Catechism would be self-defeating. If anything, the Catechism should be not only read but prayerfully meditated. Spend some time set aside for reflecting, in God's presence, what the Catechism teaches through more than 500 pages of print.

How much time people waste in reading fiction, or worse. Is it too much for Christ to expect us to spend a few hours a week in reading, alone or with others, what promises to be the food that feeds the soul on revealed truth?

Trust the Catechism.

Already, critics have appeared who discredit the Catechism on both sides of the spectrum.

• Some criticize it for being outmoded and out of touch with the times.

• Others criticize it for giving in to Modernism and therefore discredit what the Vicar of Christ is offering the believing faithful for their spiritual sustenance in a world that is dying out of hunger for the truth.

Pay no attention to these critics. To distrust the Catechism is to play into the hand of the devil, who fears nothing more than security of doctrine among the followers of Christ.

Adapt the Catechism.

The Catechism is not simple reading. But neither is it sophisticated and out-of-touch with the vocabulary of the people. In any case, the Catechism contains all the essentials for Catholic faith, morality, and divine worship.

In using the Catechism to teach others, adjust the language to the mentality of those you are teaching. Adapt the ideas, without watering them down. Accommodate what the Catechism says, to the mental and spiritual level of those with whom you are sharing God's truth.

Live the Catechism.

This is no pious platitude. Teaching the true faith is unlike any other form of pedagogy.

The purpose of teaching the Catholic faith is to enable those you are teaching to practice the virtues which Christ expects of His followers. Very well, but how do you enable those you teach to practice what they have learned? You don't! Only Christ can give them the grace they need to practice what they believe. So how do they get the grace they need? From Christ, of course. But through you, their teachers.

What are we saying? We are saying that God uses holy people as channels of His grace to others. In the measure of our own union with Him, He will communicate to those we teach the light and strength they need to live the Christian faith. God uses humble people to give others the gift of humility. He uses chaste people as conduits of His grace of chastity; patient people to inspire patience; prayerful people to make others prayerful.

In a word, if we live the Catechism, we become instruments of divine faith to everyone whose life we touch. This, we may say, is the law of spiritual generation. Sanctity is reproductive; holiness is procreative.

Share the Catechism.

One final point should be made: On the last day we shall be judged on our practice of charity. How we hope that when Christ appears, He will say to us, "Come, blessed of my Father, and possess the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; thirsty and you gave me to drink; naked and you clothed me, sick and in prison and you visited me."

What does this have to do with the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Everything! This masterpiece of sacred wisdom provides us with all the resources we need to meet the spiritual needs of America. But we must be convinced that these needs are desperate, and that we have at hand the means of saving the soul of our society.

PRAYER

"Lord Jesus, you have given us the Catechism of the Catholic Church to bring light to those who are walking in darkness and supernatural life to those who are sitting in the shadow of death. "Enlighten our minds with your revealed truth and inspire our hearts with your divine love — so that by our courageous witness to your Name here on earth we may bring countless souls with us to that heavenly Kingdom for which we were made. Amen."

**This is an exerpt from Fr. John Hardon's excellent article "Understanding the Catechism of the Catholic Church"

“Say What?” Monday Catechism Series #8 - Sacred Heart of Jesus

A new series on this blog. Each Monday I’ll be posting a gem from our Catechism of the Catholic Church that is interesting or remarkable.

This week's interesting catechism is about the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

478  Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: "The Son of God. . . loved me and gave himself for me." He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, "is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings" without exception.

 

+JMJ

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