July 15, 2015

Daily Examination of Conscience Based on the Ten Commandments

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT: “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me.”
  • Have I performed my duties toward God reluctantly or grudgingly?
  • Did I neglect my prayer life? Did I recite my usual prayers?
  • Did I receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin or without the necessary preparation?
  • Did I violate the one-hour Eucharistic fast?
  • Did I fail to mention some grave sin in my previous confession?
  • Did I seriously believe in something superstitious or engage in a superstitious practice such as palm reading or fortune-telling?
  • Did I seriously doubt a matter of faith?
  • Did I put my faith in danger - without a good reason – by reading a book, pamphlet, or magazine that contains material contrary to Catholic faith or morals?
  • Did I endanger my faith by joining or attending meetings of organizations opposed to the Catholic faith such as non-Catholic services, Freemasonry, New Age cults or other religions? Did I take part in any of its activities?
  • Have I committed the sin of sacrilege such as profanation of a sacred person, place or thing?

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT: “You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.”
  • Did I fail to try my best to fulfill the promises and resolutions that I made to God?
  • Did I take the name of God in vain? Did I make use of God’s name mockingly, jokingly, angrily, or in any other irreverent manner?
  • Did I Make use of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s name or another saint’s name mockingly, jokingly, angrily or in any other irreverent manner?
  • Have I been a sponsor in baptism or participated actively in other ceremonies outside the Catholic Church?
  • Did I tell a lie under oath?
  • Did I break public or private vows?

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT: “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”
  • Did I miss Mass on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation?
  • Did I fail to dress appropriately for Mass?
  • Have I, without sufficient reason, arrived at Mass so late that I failed to fulfill the Sunday or holy day of obligation?
  • Did I allow myself to be distracted during Mass, by not paying attention, by looking around out of curiosity, etc?
  • Did I cause another to be distracted at Mass?
  • Have I performed any work or business activity that would inhibit the worship due to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the appropriate relaxation of mind and the body, on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation?
  • Did I fail to generously help the church in her necessities to the extent that I am able?
  • Did I fail to fast or abstain on a day prescribed by the Church?

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT: “Honor your father and your mother.”

For parents:
  • Have I neglected to teach my children their prayers, send then to church or give them a Christian education?
  • Have I given them a bad example?
  • Have I neglected to watch over my children, to monitor their companions, the books they read, the movies and TV shows they watch?
  • Have I failed to see to it that my child made his first confession and first communion?
  • Have I failed to see to it that my children have received the sacrament of confirmation?
For children:
  • Was I disobedient toward my parents?
  • Did I neglect to help my parents when my help was needed?
  • Did I treat my parents with little affection or respect?
  • Did I react proudly when I was corrected by my parents?
  • Did I have a disordered desire for independence?
  • Did I do my chores?
For adults with parents:
  • Have I supported my parents in times of need to the extent that I am able?
  • Have I ensured that my parents are adequately cared for in terms of food, clothing and shelter?
  • Have I spoken to my parents respectfully and been tolerant of their shortcomings?
  • Have I listened to their advice patiently and humbly, with an eye toward learning from their experience?
  • Have I made an effort to visit my parents and to allow them time to visit with grandchildren?

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT: “You shall not kill.”
  • Did I easily get angry or lose my temper?
  • Was I envious or jealous of others?
  • Did I injure or take the life of anyone?
  • Was I reckless in driving?
  • Was I reckless in the operation of mechanical equipment, chemicals or other potentially dangerous items?
  • Was I reckless in the use of firearms? Did I fail to keep firearms secured so that others, including children, could not access them?
  • Was I an occasion of sin for others by way of conversation; the telling of jokes which are religiously, racially or sexually offensive; dressing; inviting somebody to attend certain shows; lending of harmful books or magazines; helping someone to steal, etc? Did I try to repair the scandal done?
  • How many persons did I lead to sin? What sins were involved?
  • Did I neglect my health?
  • Did I attempt to take my life?
  • Did I get drunk or use prohibited drugs?
  • Did I get carried away with gluttony? Did I eat or drink more than a sufficient amount? Did I eat at the wrong times? Did I eat to make myself feel better? Did I demand overly prepared or fancy food instead of being satisfied with simple and plain food? Did I fail to eat with a sense of reverence and thanksgiving, knowing that each earthly meal points to the Heavenly meal of the Eucharist?
  • Did I participate in any form of physical violence?
  • Did I consent to or actively take part in direct sterilization such as tubal ligation, vasectomy, etc? Do I realize that this will have a permanent effect on my married life and that I will have to answer to God for its consequences?
  • Did I consent to, advise someone about, or actively take part in an aboration? Was I aware that the Church punishes with automatic excommunication those who procure and achieve abortion? Do I realize that this is a very grave crime?
  • Did I cause harm to anyone with my words or actions?
  • Did I desire revenge or harbor enmity, hatred, or ill feelings when someone offended me?
  • Did I ask pardon whenever I offended anyone?
  • Did I insult of offensively tease others?
  • Did I quarrel with one of my brothers or sisters?

THE SIXTH AND NINTH COMMANDMENTS: “You shall not commit adultery” and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.”
  • Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts?
  • Did I consent to evil desires against the virtue of purity, even though I may not have carried them out? Were there any circumstances that aggravated the sin: affinity (relationship by marriage), consanguinity (blood relationship), either the married state or the consecration to God of a person involved?
  • Did I engage in impure conversations? Did I start them?
  • Did I look for fun in forms of entertainment that placed me in proximate occasion of sin, such as certain dances, movies, shows, or books with immoral content? Did I frequent houses of ill repute or keep bad company?
  • Did I realize that I might already have been committing a sin by placing myself in a proximate occasion of sin, such as sharing a room with a person I find sexually attractive, or being alone with such a person in circumstances that could lead to sin?
  • Did I fail to take care of those details of modesty and decency that are the safeguards of purity?
  • Did I fail, before going to a show or reading a book, to find out its moral implications, so as not to put myself in immediate danger of sinning in order to avoid distorting my conscience?
  • Did I willfully look at an indecent picture or can an immodest look upon myself or another? Did I willfully desire to commit such a sin?
  • Did I lead others to sins of impurity or immodesty? What sin?
  • Did I commit an impure act? By myself, through masturbation (which is objectively a mortal sin)? With someone else?  How many times? With someone of the same or opposite sex? Were there any circumstances of relationship (such as affinity) that could have given the sin special gravity? Did this illicit relationship result in pregnancy? Did I do anything to prevent or end that pregnancy?
  • Do I have friendships that are habitual occasions of sexual sin? Am I prepared to end them?
  • In courtship, is true love my fundamental reason for wanting to be with the other person? Do I live the constant and cheerful sacrifice of not putting the person I love in danger of sinning? Do I degrade human love by confusing it with selfishness or mere pleasure?
  • Did I engage in acts such as “petting”, “necking”, passionate kisses or prolonged embraces?
For married people:
  • Did I, without serous reason, deprive my spouse of the marital right? Did I claim my own rights in a way that showed no concern for my spouse’s state of mind or health? Did I betray conjugal fidelity in desire or in deed?
  • Did I take “the pill” or use any other artificial birth-control device before or after new life had already been conceived?
  • Did I, without grave reason, with the intention of avoiding conception, make use of marriage on only those days when offspring would not likely be engendered?
  • Did I suggest to another person the use of birth-control pills or another artificial method of preventing pregnancy (like condoms)?
  • Did I have a hand in contributing to the contraceptive mentality by my advice, jokes, or attitudes?

THE SEVENTH AND TENTH COMMANDMENTS: “You shall not steal” and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.”
  • Did I steal? How much money or how much was the object worth? Did I give it back or at least have the intention of doing so?
  • Have I done or caused damage to another person’s property? To what extent?
  • Did I harm anyone by deception, fraud, or coercion in business contracts or transactions?
  • Did I unnecessarily spend beyond my means? Do I spend too much money because of vanity or caprice?
  • Do I give alms according to my capacity?
  • Was I envious of my neighbor’s goods?
  • Did I neglect to pay my debts?
  • Did I knowingly accept stolen goods?
  • Did I desire to steal?
  • Did I give in to laziness or love of comfort rather than diligent work or study?
  • Was I greedy? Do I have an excessively materialistic view of life?

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
  • Did I tell lies? Did I repair any damage that may have resulted as a consequence of this?
  • Did I unjustly or rashly accuse others?
  • Did I sin by detraction, that is, by telling the faults of another person without necessity?
  • Did I sin by calumny, that is, by telling derogatory lies about another person?
  • Did I engage in gossip, backbiting, or tale-telling?
  • Did I reveal a secret without due cause?

If you remember other serous sins besides those indicated here, include them also in your confession.


July 14, 2015

Bears Kill 42 Children: A Cruel God or an Unrepentant Nation?

That the Old Testament contains some gruesome stories is undeniable. The story of the 42 children killed by bears is one of the most often cited.

He [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and thence he returned to Sama'ria. (2 Kings 2:23-25)

Many struggle with this type of story in the Bible and rightfully ask how a loving God could sanction the death of 42 innocent children?

First we need to understand the background and some history. We have to understand who the prophets Elijah and Elisha were and what their mission was. We have to go back to Solomon and the beginning of the divided kingdom.

King Solomon was a great ruler but his wealth and splendor came at a price - he ruled harshly, levying high taxes and conscripting workers to build his kingdom. When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam forsook wise council from the elders. He listened to the young men and promised to rule even harsher than his father.

he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." (1 Kings 12:14)

The result was that the 10 northern tribes succeeded. They formed their own nation and set up not one but two golden calves to worship.

And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves molten images of two calves; and they made an Ashe'rah, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Ba'al. (2 Kings 17:16)

Two calves indicate that they were twice as bad as the people who worshiped one calf at Mt. Sinai! One of the calves was set up in the city of Bethel which was a center of pagan worship.

The ten northern tribes were known as the nation of Israel. The two southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah were known as the nation of Judah. Judah was by no means a faithful nation - they had their own problems, but Israel also had many problems and Elijah and his disciple Elisha after him were sent into the "enemy territory" of the ten northern tribes of Israel to preach repentance.

Elisha was a man consecrated to the God of Abraham. He was visible as such because of his bald head. He was a Nazarite, consecrated to God and all Nazarites shaved their head at the beginning of their ministry. Elisha was clearly a man of the God of Abraham and he walked right into the center of Bethel to preach repentance and do battle with the pagan gods. The 42 boys who came out knew knew this and that is why they mocked his bald head. In mocking his baldness they were mocking God.

That is the background to the story of the bears. God promised that the children of those who worshiped false gods would be devoured by beasts.

Then if you walk contrary to me, and will not hearken to me, I will bring more plagues upon you, sevenfold as many as your sins. And I will let loose the wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number, so that your ways shall become desolate. (Leviticus 26:21-22)

This was part of the covenant. Every covenant contains blessing for faithfulness and curse for unfaithfulness. Israel had entered into a covenant with God and was unfaithful to that covenant. The bear which killed the children was fulfillment of the covenant.

The people who forsook God knew that that children being killed by wild beasts was one of the consequences. The event would have been front page news and should have made the nation of Israel repent. They did not.


May 13, 2015

Was Man Vegetarian Before Noah?

Always ask yourself two questions when reading scripture; "How does this teach me about my own salvation?" and "How does this point to Christ?"
Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.  (Genesis 9:3)
One of the fundamental attributes of God is that He is a creator. Creation is part of God's nature and the story of Noah is a third creation story. The narrative isn't about diet but about restoration of the correct order in God's creation and a hint at the future eating and drinking of the flesh and blood of Christ.

The first creation story is Genesis 1. The order in which God creates things tells us about the right ordering of creation. Plants are first, then fish and birds, then the beasts. Man is created last. Those created first serve those created later. Those created later are stewards of those created earlier.

The second creation story is Genesis 3. In this creation story God names man and permits man to name the beasts. This tell us the order God intended in creation. Those who are named get their identity and purpose from the one who names them. Those who name something become their caretakers.
God names man: God cares for man and man serves God.
Man names the beasts: Man cares for the beasts and the beasts serve man.
It is true that the God neither explicitly prohibited nor allowed consumption of meat prior to Noah and the flood. Arguing whether man had a vegetarian diet prior to the flood however, completely misses the point. The point is creation, and re-creation. The story of Noah and the flood is the third creation account. The language used in this third creation account is almost identical to that used in the first account.
And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; (Genesis 1:28)

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. (Genesis 9:1)
Man had become no better than the beasts, and this is why God sent the flood. In telling man that he may eat the beasts, God is elevating man, restoring him to a more dignified place in creation and re-ordering man above the beasts which he had become like. Who eats whom tells us about the order God intended for his creation.

Notice that God gives flesh to man but not blood... yet.
Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Genesis 9:4)
The complete restoration of man to his proper place - in the image and likeness of God - would take place later, when man was permitted to drink the blood of Jesus.
So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; (John 6:53)
We eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus so that we might live the life of Jesus. Those who understood the story of Noah as a creation story would have understood Jesus words as a fulfillment. Christians today who understand the story of Noah as a creation story properly see the Eucharist as that very same fulfillment.

And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


March 05, 2015

Converts and Cradle Catholics: A False Division

The idea of Cradle Catholic vs. Converts is a false division.

God invites every Christian to become a convert every morning. Every Catholic is called to conversion of life on a daily basis.

We can't change the past. All we can do is change our mind about what we did in the past and how we will act in the future. That is the meaning of conversion. God invites us to do it moment by moment and that is the meaning of ongoing conversion

I was baptized 29 days after birth. Every morning I wake up, fall to my knees and pray, "God, come to my assistance. Lord make haste to help me." Then I ask God for the strength to do his will and promise to try my best cooperate with his grace and do better than I did yesterday.

The search for Gospel simplicity requires continual examination, that is, the effort "to do the truth", by constantly returning to the initial gift of the divine call which is at the root of one's own religious experience.
- St. Pope John Paul II,
Message to Abbot Dom Mauro Meacci on the occasion of the 1500th anniversary of the foundation of St Benedict's first monastery at Subiaco, Italy.

It goes by many names... repentance, metanoia, conversio, change... 

Every single one of us was born into original sin. Greed, self-loathing, fear and pride all cover the divine image. The divine image is washed clean at baptism so that we can move from the image of God to the likeness of God. God converts every single one of us at Baptism. We are all converts. We are called to conversion after our baptism as much as we are prior.

When we decide to change we are a covert just as much as the person who is baptized into Christ's Body at the Easter Vigil. In fact, baptism is the main reason why I go to the Easter Vigil. It is where all Catholics "return to the initial gift of the divine call", renew their baptismal promises and commit to ongoing conversion. 


February 18, 2015

The Four Pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Knowing the basic structure of the Catechism helps us understand the context of what we are reading. Like the Bible, it helps to know the context, and so I like to post this from time to time.

The Catechism is divided into four sections or "Pillars" of our faith.

Pillar 1: The Profession of Faith
  • What we believe
  • Paragraphs 26 through 1065
  • Covers the Nicene Creed line-by-line
  • St. Augustine said that the creed is God’s plan of salvation in “Tightly wound form”.
  • The Nicene Creed is at http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-tea...at-we-believe/
  • The first pillar is based on Scripture. The other three pillars depend on knowing the plan for our salvation as laid out in scripture. Scripture tells us God's plan for our salvation, and the Profession of Faith (creed) is a highly condensed summary of God's plan for our salvation.
Pillar 2: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
  • How we worship
  • Paragraphs 1066 through 1698
  • Covers sacraments and liturgy
  • How we get into the story of salvation.
  • How we take part in God’s plan through the sacraments
  • How we fit into God's Kingdom on Earth, his Church.
Pillar 3: Our Life in Christ
  • How we live our lives as Christians
  • Paragraphs 1691 through 2550
  • Moral theology
  • How we interact with Christians, non-Christians and all of God’s creation.
  • How we live out God's plan for our salvation and advance his Kingdom on Earth for the salvation of others.
Pillar 4: Christian Prayer
  • How we pray
  • Paragraphs 2558 through 2865
  • Covers the most sublime and most perfect prayer, the "Our Father" line by line.
  • Prayer is intimate communication with our Creator and the Lover of our Souls.
  • Prayer ensures the first three pillars.

Try to be conscious of which of the four pillars you are reading so that you know the context. The four contexts are belief, worship, behavior and prayer. The Catechism references scripture more than any other work so remember to read the Catechism with Scripture. It helps to have a Bible nearby to reference back the footnotes.


February 08, 2015

Ritual Edition Roman Missal from Liturgical Training Publications

Shown is a Ritual Edition Roman Missal from Liturgical Training Publications.

This is obviously not a pew missal but the actual missal that a priest will use at the altar to pray the Mass. Few get to see the Roman Missal up close and so I thought I'd share some pictures for those who have never seen one.

There are several publishers of chapel edition (smaller) and ritual edition (larger) Roman Missals. This particular Missal was on clearance sale for a very attractive price. It was suggested that the sale might be an effort by the publisher to clear out the stock of old Missals which do not include St. Joseph's name in Eucharistic Prayers II-IV as was recently required by Rome. Most priests with older missals include the name of St. Joseph by memory or have a reminder note hand-written in the margin and some publishers are including stickers to be placed on the relevant portions of the text.

This book originally sold for $189 and with or without St. Joseph, $60 is a bargain and so I present it for your viewing and discussing pleasure. Pictures are clickable with commentary in the captions.

Cover Page

These are the tabs used by the priest or emcee to quickly find the appropriate parts of the book - Order of Mass, Eucharistic Prayers I-IV, Prefaces, Masses for Various Needs, Communion Rite, Solemn Blessings and so forth. The priest or emcee does not want to be fumbling with pages so every page for Eucharistic Prayers I-IV are tabbed, not just the first page.

This is a typical page for a Sunday showing the opening antiphon, collect and prayer over the offerings. This particular Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, has a proper preface before the Eucharistic prayer which is included with chant notation. The word proper means that something specific is required for that day. Since this is Lent, the priest has to say that particular Preface prayer and cannot choose his own.

This is an example of a prefaces to the Eucharistic Prayers which may be used at the priest's discretion during ordinary time. Each preface has a theme. This particular preface's theme is "The Mystery of Salvation."

Smyth sewn binding and ribbons. This particular book is brand new and some of the ribbons have yet to be disturbed.

The words of institution for Eucharistic Prayer I. EPI is also called "The Roman Canon". Holding this book in my hands and reading the actual words said by the priest takes my breath away.

Two color artwork before EPII.
Another look at the tabs.

Entrance antiphon, collect, prayers over the offeringas, communion antiphon and prayer after communion for the first Sunday in Advent. 
 A sung Mass is called a Missa Cantata. Appendix I has chant notation for almost the entire Mass. 
An idea of the heft and size of this book. Very young altar servers often cannot hold the book for the priest. I have seen the priest grab the book and plop it on the altar server's head!

That's enough pictures for now and I'm sure I'm dangerously close to violating copyright laws. It is amazing to hold such a book and ponder all the Masses that will be prayed with it.

And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD. (2 Kings 23:2)


February 04, 2015

Pre-Lent Contest at Tim's Catholic Bibles Blog

I am a fan of Tim's Catholic Bibles blog. Tim is a scholar of scripture and lover of all things Bible related. He is running a pre-Lent contest, the subject of which is, "What does Lent mean to you?"
The number 40 in the Bible often represented a time of testing. Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years, recapitulated in the life of Christ during his 40 days in the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan. Lent to me means a time of testing. Much like Israel, and unlike Christ, I will probably fail along the way.  At the end of that number 40 however, is the promised land and the resurrection. At the end of that number 40 is the risen, glorified Jesus who I long for with all my heart. You have to go through the tomb to get to the resurrection. You have to go through 40 days of Lent to get to the tomb. It is the way of the Cross and is the way of the Resurrection.

That is what Lent means to me.


February 03, 2015

Thinline "Go Anywhere" NRSV-CE Bible by Harper Collins

Shown is the New Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE) Thinline "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins in bonded leather with sewn binding. 

Catholic Douay-Rheims onlyist's complaints aside, the NRSV continues to be the most widely used Bible in academia. This post is not an in depth analysis of the pros and cons of the translation.  Head over to Catholic Answers if you feel compelled to complain.  Tim's Catholic Bibles blog has some excellent scholarly analysis and comparisons of various translations worth reading as does Mark D. Given from Missouri State University. I prefer a more readable translation and this is about as good as it gets. 

It is always nice when traditionally non-Catholic publishers produce Catholic editions of the Bible. Including the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation and a picture of the Pope doesn't make a Bible Catholic and this includes neither. It does however, have all 73 books and orders them correctly. Also included is a 32 page concordance and several line drawn maps. Footnotes are extremely sparse. This is not a study Bible but meant to be carried and read.

Parchment paper, lack of footnotes and larger than usual height and width (6.5" x 9.5") contribute to this Bible's efficient use of shelf space - less than one inch when stood upright. There is a single brown ribbon and the page edges are more silver than gold. The bonded leather cover feel less like plastic than some others I have seen and the front cover is completely bare. The choice of modern 9pt sans-serif font surprised me and is very easy on the eyes given the large page size. .

Harper Collins has produced a very nice package given the price. Very thin and light, NRSV lovers who travel will surely enjoy this Bible. Savvy interwebz shoppers should be able to land it for around $20. The Harper Collins page for this Bible is here.

NRSV-CE "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins
NRSV-CE "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins
NRSV-CE "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins
NRSV-CE "Go Anywhere" Bible by Harper Collins