Instruct the Uninformed – 7QT, Volume 54

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Have you ever been an Extraordinary Minister? What we used to call “Eucharistic Ministers,” we should now call “Extraordinary Ministers.” That is my first instruction in this 7 Quick Takes version of this week’s Bright Maiden’s topic on the first Spiritual Work of Mercy, “Instruct the Uninformed.”

This is a tough task to ask of people trying to attract others to the Faith. To “instruct the uninformed” or to “instruct the ignorant,” as it is often stated, sounds arrogant. As if we must bless others with the knowledge we have and they go without. But how often do we welcome instruction when we really need it?

Isn’t that what all of those college loans are for? Aren’t you glad to learn the tips and tricks you find on how to make life easier on Pinterest? When you’re unsure about something, don’t you wish someone would just set the record straight?

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This is where we come in. Extraordinary Ministers hold the great position of distributing the Eucharist to His people. We actually give Jesus to hundreds of people.

“This is the Body of Christ” — Words of true weight pass our lips for fifteen minutes.

So what do you do when someone approaches you and obviously doesn’t know what you’re about to give them?

In most situations (ie, apathetic teens), we can only instruct with “This is the Body of Christ,” saying it with purpose. However, when someone is chewing gum, they are obviously ignorant of what they’re doing and unprepared to receive the Eucharist.

A fellow EM of mine says that when a parishioner approaches him with gum showing in the corners of their mouth, he leans down and says, “I can’t serve you with gum in your mouth. Go spit it out and then get back in line, please.”

It sounds harsh, but those who chew gum moments before receiving the Eucharist really shouldn’t receive at all. They haven’t prepared for it. However, that moment is a moment wherein this person could completely turn away from the Church out of embarrassment or recognize that this EM is giving them a second chance.

Then they work out the rest with God.

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One of my biggest pet peeves as an EM is a silly little ritual many parishioners at my church go through and I would love your input on how to handle it. Several married couples will approach me together, wait for me to give them both the Eucharist, and then receive it together.

ARGH! I should be concentrating on ministering, and I usually snap back into it. Quite frankly, when they stand side-by-side, I think, “Y’all are consuming the Eucharist! You’re in full Communion with EVERYONE who has ever consumed the Eucharist! You’re in full Communion with Christ! Why do you feel you have to add this extra bit of ‘specialness?'”

I’ve settled on the decision to just administer to the Eucharist to these folks rather than whispering, “I’ll serve you, one at a time.” What do you think we should do in this case, Extraordinary Ministers out there? Is this silly to you or are you ready to throw a punch at me?

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A friend once went to Mass and sat behind a young boy who, upon returning from the Eucharist line, proceeded to rip the Eucharist wafer into little pieces and tossing them into the air. He caught the pieces and threw them up in the air again.

Horrified, my friend’s husband asked the boy if he was going to consume the Eucharist, while the boy’s mom sat a few feet away.

It made no disturbance in the pew, my friend held out his hand as the boy poured the pieces into his hand, and he consumed it.

This is instructing the ignorant.

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On twitter the other day, a self-proclaimed “holiday Catholic” said he was going to get the “crackers and wine” and he needed to find a place to get them and ashes.

Because Twitter is a great e-vangelizing forum, even if our efforts there only plant seeds, I decided to reach out. My first thought on this one was, “Why do you care to go at all if you think they’re crackers and wine?” I corrected him and wished him good fortune in finding a place he liked. These are easy ways to instruct the uninformed because we don’t have the direct confrontation.

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Another Twitter encounter occurred the other day between me, Kate, Karianna, and “Feminist Breeder.” You can see some of those points here and here.

The Catholic Church is not anti-gay, as Feminist Breeder was saying, and we wanted to set her straight. Karianna said, “Anti-gay not fair. Catholicism calls for all singles to remain chaste, gay or not.” Kate followed up with, “And sin is sin, we’re all equally sinful – Church is anti-sin, not anti-gay.”


We need to inform those who think poorly of the Catholic Church as well as those who are tossing pieces of Jesus into the air at Mass.

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I don’t know whether or not my roommate thinks poorly of the Catholic Church, but I don’t think she was familiar with Natural Family Planning methods. The other day, I told my new roommate that I am interested in using NFP as a wife and she said, “Is that like biorhythms?”

Thanks to folks like Katie, I got to explain to her, no, NFP is not like the rhythm method anymore. I explained that the rhythm method was used back in the 1930s and that we know a lot more about how best to avoid or to achieve pregnancy while keeping God in our bedrooms.

I also used the opportunity to explain that most of the methods are at least 97% effective when used properly (which relies on married couples communicating — another benefit), which is far more promising than something like condoms. The error margin of condom use increases exponentially with every use (statisticians, help me learn how best to explain this, please!), while NFP methods remain effective as long as couples chart and communicate.

Every little conversation plants a seed and every little bit of ignorance we can rub out of the world leaves more opportunities for the Lord to work. This is our calling!

Combining Gilbert and Wentworth

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Yes, I’m cheating by doing this in Quick Takes form… a week after the topic was published.
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This topic was meant to be a light one, just in time for Valentine’s Day, because no matter your vocation or marital status, there have been and always will be literary men in your life. As Liesl explained in her literary crush piece, “Excuse me while I swoon:” 

I think one of the things I have learned most from my literary crushes is not that they have shaped my heart, but that they show me what is already imprinted on my heart.

We are who God created us to be when He first knew us, before He formed us in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). We are His children, at our core, no matter what additional outer layers we allow others or the world to attach to us.

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When you KNEW you could fly

My college art show focused on a related phenomenon: the concept of memory and how your life changes and experiences change your perspective on memories.

For instance, Anne of Green Gables was one of my first chapter books. Therefore, my perspective as a 5 or 6-year-old reading about Anne’s contentious relationship with Gilbert Blythe was simplified. I might have picked up on their undertones, but I certainly didn’t analyze it and try to apply my results to my own life like I did as a teen.

My perspective as a happy, confident, and in-Love 24-year-old reading this classic is less analytical and involves far more guffaws at some of my previously similar behaviors. Oh Anne, you’re almost as clueless as I was a few years ago!

I can only imagine that I will revisit my 24-year-old perspective as an older woman and share a few more guffaws with and at myself. It’s a cycle, folks, so embrace it!

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Say a prayer that everyone may shed the extra layers

This whole concept rests on the notion that we are who God created us to be at our core. My favorite quick quote is JP2’s “Family, become what you are.” As Catholic Christians, we believe God created our souls and and gave them a home in our bodies.

Our souls should come first in the health pecking order, but many times we feed our body and our pleasures first.

Throughout our lives, we pack on outer layers of junk. I know I formed some weird habits during my tween to teen years. We all add habits and mannerisms to ourselves in order to fit in or do what we think will be best for us. Unfortunately, this is often only “best” for us in our pleasure-seeking short term.

Praise God, we’re still US at our core. Through discernment, prayer, the will of God, and sometimes an Ah-Ha moment, we can shed these outer layers and reveal who we were created to be.

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This inner person, the core, is the one with whom others fall in Love! This is who Gilbert noticed about Anne, not her red hair or temper. I believe he fell for the passion that motivated the temper.

Captain Wentworth tried his best to forget about his Anne, the one who broke his heart. He thought he healed from the romance bruise, but as soon as he saw her again, seven years later, and noticed her resolve, clear-headedness, and strength, he shed the blinders.

JulieLiesl, and Sarah mentioned these fine fellows, and rightly so. I used to think that I Loved Gilbert because he was just a nice, intelligent country boy who is part of an example of an iconic Love story. I once thought I swooned over Capt. Wentworth because he secretly pined over Anne and then wrote a beautiful letter to make his affection known.

It’s both more complex and more simple than that: they Loved their Annes to their core and recognized the lovable qualities buried deep in them. Once more, swoon with me. This is why they are so swoon-worthy. Gilbert embraced Anne’s Anne-ness from the beginning and Capt. Wentworth couldn’t fall out of Love with his Anne, even after years and distance.

These are the men we want, ladies. Go find them.

To Instruct the Ignorant: Does My Life Having Meaing?

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy
 
Week One: To Instruct the Ignorant
 
 
1.  For those who are wondering, “Does my life have meaning?  Why am I here?  Why should I live?” 
 
The answer is a simple one but it has the power to change your life:
 
“We are here on earth in order to know and to love God, to do good according to his will, and to go someday to heaven.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1-3, 358/YouCat 1
Stay rooted in this belief.  It gives you purpose and meaning. 
You cannot imagine at all how much you interest God; 
he is interested in you as if there were no one else on earth.
– Julien Green 
 
2.  If you are already a practicing Catholic, you need to continue to grow in your faith.
 
“You need to know what you believe.  You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer.  You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing.  Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination.  You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a  dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless… ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever  I command you you shall speak” (Jer 1:7).” 
– Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to the YouCat
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name ‘of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!
Matthew 28: 19-20 
 
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God bless!

I Am That I Am

TBM Topic 26: Instruct the Ignorant

“I Am That I Am” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy every week.



Ignorant is not a word I particularly care for, yet most people are culpable. It comes from the Latin words in (not) and gnarus (knowing).

New Advent defines ignorance as “lack of knowledge about a thing in a being capable of knowing. Fundamentally speaking and with regard to a given object ignorance is the outcome of the limitations of our intellect or of the obscurity of the matter itself.”

Today, we Catholics (and fellow orthodox Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters) face bigotry based on ignorance of our faith, religion and history. The greater good would be served, society is led to believe, if God was kept in the pews and within the walls of our homes. God is good as long as God is contained.

But our God is an awesome God – awesome in the “awe-inspiring” way. God is not our bro. God is not our homeboy. God is the Almighty one – the Alpha (first) and the Omega (last) – the one who is, the one who was, the one who will be (Revelation 1:8).

And he will not be contained. We cannot limit his power, his mercy, his goodness or his Kingdom Come. Our reasons are not his reasons, and this is the first step to instructing ignorance: discernment of our own vocation.

Flannery O’Connor wrote that “Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an ax, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed.”

For many, the best reason to be a Christian is the joy and fellowship of other Christians. For others, Christians are the best reason not to be a Christian – their small-mindedness, their inability to compromise, their, well, ignorance.

And so, who has the high ground here? The miserable Christians who pray, “I believe – help my disbelief!” Or the one who discuss God’s take on a few things, would certainly invite him over for a drink, and then be done with the old chap. He’s not really our kind of man, if you know what we mean.

We certainly do. Which is ignorance on their part. I truly this many people intentionally stay ignorant of God – learn things about him, sure, and learn about things that surround him. But not him. After all, it is hard to look at God on the cross and really know that he knows our hearts. He can touch and change our lives, if we only get to know him. Our God is the God of all; our path towards God will never be repeated for another.

While discussing a struggle with my sister last night, she told me I had to believe the consequences would be bad if I continued. She did not mean in the short term, or even in human terms: she meant, if I really wanted a change of heart, I’d have to care more about offending God. The kind of caring that shows considerations for another feelings. In short, I need to know God on a much more personal level, the kind that changes my actions and words in the long-term as well as the short.

We Catholics have a prayer for that: the Act of Contrition. We say it after the sacrament of Reconciliation. It goes, O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

This prayer is not said or meant lightly. Humanity is like a heat-seeking missile: it seeks Truth. It is not pretentious to claim to know Truth, as the Catholic Church does, for example. 2,000 years of bad press and still the truths found in the dogmas and sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, resonate across every color and creed.

No one has it easy. No one knows (or can know) “everything.” Ignorance infects the best and most brilliant among us. It is the humility to ask God, to knock on his door, to seek his guidance, that really begins the journey. Some times, people need other people to help them get there, be it in books, blog posts, or conversations.

Perhaps more importantly though, a person needs to be self-aware where they are ignorant. One can always instruct where they know and understand, but they must also be willing to learn. That way, knowledge leads to wisdom, and not a higher level of ignorance.

I’m Sorrey, Anne!

TBM Topic 25: Literary Crushes

“I’m Sorrey, Anne!” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


Top 5 Reasons Why Gilbert Blythe (from the Anne of Green Gables series) Is (and will forever be) My Literary Crush:

5. He was great at nicknames.

Gilbert called Anne “Carrots” for her red hair.

This is before Anne breaks a slate over his head.

“Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him and failing utterly….she should look at him, that redhaired Shirley girl with the pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school.” (Anne of Green Gables)

4. He gave Anne a challenge (they were fiercely competitive in school, he critiqued her writing style for the better) and always looked out for her (gave up his teaching post for her so she would not have to leave Marilla or Green Gables).

3. He apologized when he was in the wrong… and pronounced “sorry” as “sorrey”!



2. Gilbert loved Anne for who she was, not who he wanted her to be, and more importantly, accept her wholly (temper and all!).

“There is a book of Revelation in every one’s life… Anne read hers that bitter night, as she kept her agonized vigil through the hours of storm and darkness. She loved Gilbert–had always loved him! She knew that now. She knew that she could no more cast him out of her life without agony than she could have cut off her right hand and cast it from her. And the knowledge had come too late–too late even for the bitter solace of being with him at the last. If she had not been so blind–so foolish–she would have had the right to go to him now…. If Gilbert went away from her, without one word or sign or message, she could not live. Nothing was of any value without him. She belonged to him and he to her. In her hour of supreme agony she had no doubt of that.” (Anne of the Island)

Gilbert Blythe: It’ll be three years before I finish medical school. Even then there won’t be any diamond sunbursts or marble halls.
Anne Shirley: I don’t want diamond sunbursts, or marble halls. I just want you.
(Anne of Avonlea mini-series)

1. Gilbert wanted Anne to be happy, even if it meant it was not with him.

Except that it was.

“I’ve loved you ever since the day you broke your slate over my head.” (Anne of Green Gables)

This last point is what really clinches it for me: throughout the THREE books leading up to their engagement, they became the best of friends and never specifically dated each other. All the while, however, Gilbert was courting and wooing her, because he loved her enough to let her freely choose him. And let me tell you: there were a lot of proposals in the third book.

There are “Anne and Gilbert” moments online. Do yourself a favor and indulge:
Chapter One – School Days
Chapter Two – College Days
Chapter Three – Teaching Days
Chapter Four – Things Change

Honorable mentions: Captain Wentworth from Persuasion and Char from Ella Enchanted.

My Picks for The Liebster Blog

 
My thanks to Tony Layne from Outside the Asylum, who selected me for The Liebster Blog, a chain award of sorts.  This award lets us come across bloggers with smaller followings who are writing wonderful stuff!
 
Here are the rules: 
  1. Copy and paste the Major Award to my blog.
  2. Link back the person who gave me the award.
  3. Pick out five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
  4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.
~ My Picks ~

Mandi at Catholic Newlywed – Mandi has intrigued me from the moment I found her blog.  She writes about meeting her husband online, marrying young, having a baby on a budget, and is a frequent guest poster for other blogs on various topics.  

 
Sarah at A Beaten Copper Lamp –  Sarah recently finished grad school, so you know she’s very smart!  Her posts cover a range of things, from museums, historical sites, Advent preparations, and chastity.
 
Katie at NFP and Me – Katie is a charming Catholic med student and wife.  She is a loud and proud proponent of Natural Family Planning and host a great series on NFP. 
 
Matt at Catholic Fried Rice – Matt is a talented guy I had the pleasure of knowing in college.  He did a year of service with Francis Corps in Costa Rica and is a wonderful addition to the Catholic blogosphere.
Barbara at The Catholic Science Geek – Barbara is a Ph.D. candidate with a love of God, science, traveling, and books.  Her blog often makes me comment, “SPOT ON.” 
 
Happy reading!
 

Help! I Hate Valentine’s Day!

Well, it’s here.  That time of year that is so wondrously celebrated by some and dreaded by others: St. Valentine’s Day.
 
If you are single, take heart.  Please don’t fall into a pit of despair.  When I was single on Valentine’s (every year of my life until this year, by the way), I always enjoyed the day, and I’ve cooked up these little tips to making St. Valentine’s fun for the single gal:
 
1.  Dress up.  Wear your favorite shirt or those jeans that fit you so well.  Add a pop of color to your lips.  Style your hair differently.  Primp and embrace your beauty.
 
2.  Go to Mass or Adoration.  The Lord, the Author of Life, loves YOU.  Make a date with him.  Spend time with the Eternal Lover.
 
Still feeling down?  Meditate on this:
 
The happiness you are seeking, 
the happiness you have a right to enjoy, 
has a name and a face:
Jesus of Nazareth.
– Pope Benedict XVI, August 18, 2005
 
3.  Give out Valentine’s Day cards, especially to your single friends.  They don’t have to be fancy – the ones you distributed during elementary school work just fine.  I have been surprised and touched to visit friends in other states and see my Valentine’s Day card posted in a prominent space.  You can touch the lives of others with a simple note!
 
4.  Call your family and tell them you love them.  You are single, not alone.
 
5.  Host a wine and chocolate movie night…BUT…no men-bashing allowed.  I know, you’ve been hurt.  Burned.  Or you’re lonely.  You’ve heard bad stories, and you want to write all men off as jerks. But that’s not fair.  And this is a night of enjoyment!  Bitterness is not welcome.  If some idiot didn’t realize how great you are, well, good riddance.  Rejoice that you’re not with him.
Source: google.com via Trista on Pinterest
 
6.  However, if you need to have a quick cry, do, and then move on.
 
7.  Affirm the good men in your life.  Our culture encourages permanent Peter Pan behavior.  Know a guy or two who doesn’t buy into that?  Thank him.  Nice guys need to know we recognize them and value them.
8.  When you see a coupley-couple, and you have the urge to either puke or rage, pray instead.  “God bless them,” works well.
9. Pray for your vocation and your future husband.  

O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings and Catholic singles, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for!  May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy.  
Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for 
the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country.  Remember the weak, you who are strong–you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with the resplendent glory of God. 
Amen.   
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Happy St. Valentine’s Day!  May you know you are loved!
Please feel free to leave comments, concerns, and pray requests in the combox.