"If you don't behave as you believe, then you end up believing as you behave" – Fulton J Sheen
99% of the time we go to Mass on a Sunday, as opposed to the Saturday night service which is also offered. We do this because in my mind the Sunday service is the "main" one; the one you should be attending unless for some exceptional reason you can't be there, then Saturday night is an alternate option. I've had periods of life where due to work I've not been able to make Sundays so have attended Saturdays instead. These days however work is not such an issue for me, although I know for many it is.
The odd time I get rostered on as a Minister for Saturday, and I must say I do then really enjoy the lazy Sunday morning off as a real treat. On rare occasions when I've had a busy week I will go Saturday just to give me that full "day off" on Sunday. But as I said earlier, 99% of the time I'm choosing to be there on Sunday.
Now I know I'm on shaky ground saying Sunday is the main service, and both have equal status. I do wonder whether others feel the same. Or are there a few Saturday faithful amongst the BF crowd?
Just back from Ash Wednesday Mass and Lent has officially started! I love Lent. Yes, it's a time of sacrifice and fasting, but I love that. I feel that it's a time when my Catholicity truly becomes a lived thing more than at any other time of the year.
It also feels to me like new year's resolutions all over again. You get to plan a new start, create deliberate ways to get more "God" in your life and to be a better person.
And at the end of Lent comes Holy Week and by far my most favourite services of the year. The Holy Thursday Mass with the washing of the feet, the Good Friday service venerating the cross, the drama of the Easter vigil and the the joy of Easter Sunday. Yes, I love it.
There's one thing I miss from my childhood though. What happened to hearing "Remember, dust you are and to dust you shall return" on Ash Wednesday? I think that phrase is so poetic and stirring. It really makes you consider one of the great truths of life – we will all eventually meet our maker, our bodies are but dust and what is important are our souls.
For the past few years when I have recieved the ashes it's been, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel". Today it was simply, "Repent and believe in the Gospel."
Is this another example of the Church in NZ trying to be politically correct? Have the powers-that-be decided that it is too 'morbid' to remind people of their death? Is this another instance of us trying to dumb down our faith so that it is more 'acceptable' to the masses?
I'd be interested to hear what is said in the different parishes and whether people prefer it, or like me, miss the old way. If you don't get to hear it today, here it is just for you…
Remember, o man, that you are dust. And to dust you shall return.
I'm setting up a new feature column here on Being Frank – the Sunday Scrum.
Each Sunday I will create a posting with a short quote which can act as a stimulus for discussion, or else people can completely ignore it and post whatever they like in the comment thread to start a new discussion.
Occasionally weekday threads here do get highjacked or taken off course, and while it's good to have that debate arise, when you've put hours into writing and preparing a blog post, to see it get ignored in the comments is quite discouraging. As an example, my last two posts have had over 150 comments, which is good, but probably less than half actually "on topic". So to be proactive about that and to respond to the need for looser discussion, the Sunday Scrum is designed as a free-for-all each week to raise whatever issues you'd like.
Another possibility is that the first commentator chooses the topic. I will set the post up to go "live" at midday, so if you are keen to shape the debate then have something ready to post then. However the shape of it all will really be shaped by participants.
Let me know whether you think this is a good initiative. If so, I have a further idea for another regular slot that would also be commentator generated on another day of the week. As I said in my beginning of year post, I would love to see something new up here every day of the week for our readers. Hopefully this will help to make that happen!
I've just received a copy of a document from the NZ Catholic's Bishop Conference, entitled "The Catholic Education of School Aged Children". It's 24 pages long, haven't had time to read and reflect on it, but when I have I'll post some thoughts. Give me a fortnight or so!
The foreword is co-signed by all our Bishops including Emeritus Bishop Cullinane.
It's interesting to go to the dictionary definition of Emeritus… (thanks Wikipedia)
Emeritus is a Latin past participle that means "having served one's time" or " having merited one's discharge by service.
So if it's an honorary title effectively indicating discharge from service, why is the Emeritus Bishop still involved in drafting such documentation? Surely his involvement should be more like our current Emeritus Pope…removed from active duty, not commenting publicly on new intiatives, or overshadowing his replacement etc…
At least with our Emeritus Pope we know that he is retired. I read recently that he had only been seen in public three times since the appointment of his successor.
Our Emeritus Bishop? Maybe not so much!
In the comments section on my blog about the gift of faith a few weeks back Teresina told a great story about how when she was little and went to Mass (which was facing the Tabernacle) she saw the priest's hands moving, then going into the tabernacle, then raising the host. She put it all together and figured he was firstly kneading the dough, then cooking it in a little oven, then raising it up to show us all it was cooked. How cute it that?
I had a couple of my own misconceptions when I was little. Firstly, I used to think that when the priest washed his hands he was saying "Lord, wash away my nicotine". I had seen people with yellow-stained fingers from smoking so it made perfect sense to me!
The other one was based on something my Standard Two teacher told me. She said that Jesus had come down to earth to open the gates of heaven. I took this completely literally. I imagined heaven to be surrounded by this massive wrought-iron fence with just one gate. Apparently someone had accidentally let the gate swing back and close and it could only be unlocked from the outside. So, God gave Jesus the key and sent him down to earth as a person. He had to live a good life and then he had to die so that he could go back up to heaven, and then he could use his key to unlock the gate for everyone else. Simple!
I'd love to hear some of the other misconceptions people had about our faith when they were children… please share.
I have been thinking recently about the "online life" that so many of us live. It's in my thoughts because we are updating our policies and practices around student use conditions online.
In relation to this blog it made me think about my own online identity. I post anonymously here, but it wouldn't be that hard for a determined person to figure out who I am from the information that I've posted over the last six months. Some of you probably do already know who I am. Some of my friends do, and they give me real life feedback on my postings which I really value. I am still waiting for that first real life "tap on the shoulder" from a BF commentator!
When I was first offered the role at Being Frank, I did consider posting under my real name…I thought it would be good to really own my opinions in a very transparent way; I could see benefits in perhaps opening "real life" doors as a result; I saw that it could inspire others, and also might give me a different "slant" from other posters here.
However I then weighed up the cost of taking such a transparent approach. My main fear was the effect on others around me. If I made a comment on the clergy, would that be interpreted by my fellow parishioners as an attack on my parish priest? If I raised an issue on marriage, would it signal that mine was in trouble? If I spoke negatively about staff employed in Catholic schools – is that an indicator that I don't have confidence in my own staff? Would it be fair on my own teenage children to comment publicly on their difficulties engaging with the Church? It seemed to me that I didn't have the right to comment on these people in such a public way without their consent or right of reply…and from there it just seemed too difficult to maintain an online/offline balance.
I also had to consider in very real terms my employment situation. If I criticised a certain position of the Church – well, might that mean that I shouldn't hold the position of a Catholic school principal? If I criticised aspects of the catholic education system, how might that effect my future career? Would I get a tap on the shoulder from further up the food chain if I posted something contentious? Also my Board employed a Principal of their school, who is often the focus of their school's good name and reputation…it didnt seem fair to them to potentially create further issues through my online involvements here.
I well remember on the NZ Catholic front page a year or so ago the diocesan staff who attended a workshop and were then quoted on their opinions – some of which totally conflicted with Church teaching. My understanding is that this did create some uncomfortable employment discussions for some of them. I heard from one of them their annoyance that a personal opinion could not be seen as separate from their employment position.
And I guess (without condoning the situation or people in the paragraph above) that's exactly why I've chosen to post anonymously. I want to be really honest, and part of that honesty is expressing my frustrations with things at times, including issues in my own workplace, my parish, my diocese, and catholic education in general. I can't do that openly or else I would burn relationships and employment prospects.
I think it is better to be able to post anonymously and give those insights that to post openly and have to be incredibly PC. I am sure there will be people who see such reasoning and self-justification as a little gutless…own your convictions etc…fine, I can accept that point of view. But I do note that 99% of commentators here also post under a pseudonym, I'm assuming they do so for reasons not too dissimilar to mine.
I remember some time ago being challenged on here by a commentator to be more specific. There was an issue I raised in a post that was too vague, and more detail was needed for the commentator to respond. However due to some of the reasons listed above, I just couldn't give any more detail. I understood the commentator's frustration, but you have to weigh that up with the other issues of privacy etc.
So that's why I post here as Boanerges, not (censured)!