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!

She reigns

Feminine Genius: The Interior
“She reigns” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

The original Bright Maidens chose this topic to follow last month’s topic (Feminine Genius: The Dress) because of the unexpected blow-up in [uncharitable] comments on Julie’s blog post. We happen to think some of those who commented were misunderstanding her post’s objective, but in an effort to “listen first to understand, then to be understood,” we want to explain our full understanding of the Feminine Genius.

“You ain’t all that, honey, and all the dresses in the world aren’t going to fix what’s wrong with you.” 
-Anonymous Commenter 2

I still laugh when I reread the comments on Julie’s last Bright Maidens post. This offending concluding sentence came at the end of a ramble about good tailoring, an insult to Julie’s friend’s wardrobe choice, and more random explanations about what makes a woman look her best.

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The consensus is this commenter was a female. Comments like the above quote prove that she missed the boat on how to make a woman appear in the best light, ie, not eternally insulting and provocative.

We’re all called to serve in Christ’s mission. Our mission is to serve for His mission.

Some have God-given musical talents or use humor to serve Him, while others must assume a role through sportsmanship or writing. We use what He gave us, including the gifts of our femininity and masculinity, depending on our sex. The roles of men and women are simply different, not one better or worse than the other.

One major hang up for non-Catholic onlookers (and for some within the Church), is the concept of the woman in the body of the Church. I’ve heard the lament many times that the Church doesn’t treat women well, the stand out reasoning stemming from the ordination of male-only priests.

Have they forgotten our reverence for the Holy Mother of God? Have they forgotten that we refer to the Church as a female body?

Christ died for the Church, just as men “die” (either literally or figuratively) for those they are called to protect. This doesn’t mean a man is greater just because he is the same sex as Jesus. It means we have different roles with different service opportunities.

As Bl. John Paul II once wrote, God entrusts people to each and every other person. However, the woman is entrusted with the ability to bear human beings “precisely by reason of their femininity” in a special way.

He went on to explain that the “feminine genius” is the effect of the strength drawn from this awareness and this entrusting. It has been this way since the beginning of time, throughout the Old Testament, especially during the Annunciation, and continues today.

“A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting, strong because of the fact that God ‘entrusts the human being to her’, always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them ‘strong’ and strengthens their vocation.” -Bl. John Paul II, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women on the Occasion of the Marian Year”

The genius of femininity does not take away from the masculine genius anymore than the masculine genius strips power from the feminine genius. The two work in tandem, ideally filling the roles we human beings can possibly fill on Earth. The power is God’s.

Let’s look at the feminine genius of three very different women in my life: My mother, my confirmation sponsor, and my cousin.

For more by Elaine Golden, visit her site!

My mother utilized the gift of her fertility to bring three daughters into the world, furthering her own genius as well as bringing more of it to light! She constantly serves us, especially in her sacrifice with her job, which she has held for more than twenty years.

Her avocation was to provide for her family and she sacrificed some of her career happiness for us in that regard. On top of that, she offers each of us tailored emotional support and counsel.

My confirmation sponsor has been a family friend and true role model for me all of my life. My sisters and I are her spiritually adopted children, whom she serves with deep love and devotion, for whatever purpose we may need.

This woman is the one who cleans up the table when she’s a guest at your house, but will wrestle you to the ground to prevent you from doing the same at her house. She is a humble servant of God through the sacrifices she makes for others.

My cousin is only a few weeks younger than me and, likewise, is unmarried. When my grandmother died in April, she was at the starting gate with a tray of sandwich meats in one hand and a hug waiting on the other arm.

She didn’t share blood with my grandmother, but she had grown up with her always present at family events. Her selflessness, helpfulness, sacrifice, and servitude for us during that grieving period was poignantly impressive and a true show of her love for God through us.

As I mentioned in my “Month of the Dress” post, it doesn’t matter how feminine we look, whether or not we have borne children, or how good we look doing it. Our “dress” is our service.

It’s the consolation of a friend in a time when words won’t do the trick. It’s the casserole we made when our co-worker loses a family member. It’s the laughter we share in with those we love.

It’s the glance we posses as we look at the man we love in a way that communicates to him how important he is to our life. It’s the softness of our skin when we sit in a nursing home, 40 years beyond the hustle of motherhood.

Through Mary’s example, let us pray that we women gain the strength to recognize that which God has entrusted in us.

“For her, ‘to reign’ is to serve! Her service is ‘to reign’!” – Bl. John Paul II about Our Mother Mary in Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women.

Bright Maidens: Your turn!

I’m sorry for my absence lately. I was concentrating on my family around the time my grandmother died and I was across the country to watch my oldest friend (she’s not that old, just 24) get married!

I’ll get back on schedule next week. Plus, y’all are going to be busy with Easter so you won’t be around to read it anyway!

As I mentioned in last Friday’s post, it’s your turn to help Bright Maidens fill the Google bucket. The more passionate voices we have out there, the better. Everyone is welcome to participate, as long as you are civil and polite.

Here’s the deal:

*After Lent is over, we will switch to a bimonthly, Tuesday posting schedule.
*We’ll alert you about topic in the week before on our blogs and/or on Facebook.
*You write your own take on that topic, borrowing our lovely Bright Maidens image, if you please, and link back to our Facebook page or blogs.
*Post the link to YOUR post on our Facebook page, in a comment on one of the three Bright Maidens’ links.

You get exposure, we spread the messages further, and, by the grace of God, we can reach the hearts that are searching!

We will not be posting a TBM post on April 26. The next post will be May 3 and we will keep you in the loop before then!

Thank you! I can’t wait to read your contributions!

Half measures

Week Five: Issues with the Church

“Half measures” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

This is the fifth post of a blog post series called “Bright Maidens.” 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!

Oooo scandalous. The Bright Maidens are going to share their issues with the Catholic Church! If you were hoping for a crew of young women calling for female priests, contraception (if this is you’re guess, please read this), or a revolt on the Holy See, you will be disappointed.

Though we have some eyes to roll and some heads to shake at the several times in Church history, we contend that Christ founded the Catholic Church and the Holy Spirit has been her unfettering guide. We’re the Bright Maidens because we’re not what the secular world expects of young women who grew up in the Catholic Church.

(I don’t own the rights)
What does growing up in the Church require? 

Is this the right question to ask? Many parents run down the concrete answers to this question like it’s a honey-do checklist. Baptism, religious education, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, *ding* Catholic microwave says you’re done!

Rather than determining how to bring their families closer to God, they go through the motions. Perhaps these parents don’t understand the teachings or they disagree with them, but they want to give their children structure and checklists. I’m sure some worry about suffering the all-consuming condemnation from their own parents or in-laws if they neglect the checklist.

It would be a smaller travesty if their apathy and unwillingness to research and ask questions about the faith only affected their children. However, these parents are mixed in with all parents and assigned to elementary, middle, and high school religious education classrooms.

The parish plops a little “Ask Me Anything” button on their chest and identifies them as the authority in the classroom of eager children following their Holy Spirit-guided noses. Apathetic teachers, volunteers, or parishioners teach children by example and those who answer questions incorrectly misinform entire generations.

Until about three years ago, I thought my faith was just for me. I was meant to bundle up, tie a polar bear coat around it, and pray quietly in an igloo, holding my knees to my chest.

(I don’t own the rights)

Saying “Praise God” when I felt the urge would brand me a Protestant Jesus freak. Rebutting an insult on the faith with anything more involved than, “It’s okay that you believe what you believe and I believe what I believe. We’re both right to us,” would be over the top and somehow non-Catholic.

Somewhere along the way, Catholics started keeping the zeal for Christ to themselves. The darkness in that cave seems to dissolve any zeal left over from childhood.

We forgot it needs to be in the light and breathe. We’re called to bring it to light and pass it around. In forgetting this, we created more of the apathetic parents who teach their practices.

Queue the battle drums call for more involved grassroots efforts in our parishes! We need to make sure kids know this is what it means to be Catholic.

Many parents are busy and can say they have too much taking up their time to learn the answers to the questions they never asked.

“In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked, lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men… All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics. Oh! if I might ask the Divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit: What are those wounds in the midst of Thy hands? The answer would not be doubtful: With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries. And this reproach can be levelled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries.” —Pope St. Pius X, Discourse at the Beatification of St. Joan of Arc, Dec. 13, 1908

Take the time. Catch yourself on FIRE so you can show the Church’s children how to be on FIRE for Jesus. We make up the Church He founded!