Sunday, March 31, 2013

Greenville-Ephrathah 14: Mass Appeal

l'il 'phrathah needs to stay little
Easter Sunday Greenville SC newspaper lede: "Catholic Church growing fast in Upstate: Upstate Catholic population grew by 41% in past decade while largest Protestant denominations fell in members." 
Our parish brought in 28 at the Vigil: half converts, half unbaptized. That's good. Yet:
Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring Lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

Smart Kids

this post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets and Convert Journal

 as a bride adorned for her husband

1. In the March 20 class we covered this bit of Acts:

"And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them."

Every year I run a skit with a Saint Paul, a mother, a father, a deathly ill daughter, and a dishrag to show how this sort of miracle prefigures the physical aspects of sacraments. The kids have to get into the roles on the fly; and they do a good job, especially considering I don't read the verses until the skit is done. But this year Paul and the mother went beyond the usual performances. First, when the father brought the dishrag to preaching Paul, Paul just stood there with it. Sometimes Paul will vigorously handle it, or breathe on it before giving it back, which already shows what the kids have learned. But this year: nothing. I prompted, "So Paul, you gonna do anything, or just stand there while his daughter dies?" Paul says, "Uhh...should I bless it?" Well I dunno, you're God's man, not me. And he launches into a beautiful ad-libbed blessing of the rag: "Dear God, please put your healing power into this rag so the little girl can get better," and serenely hands it back to Dad. Normally during these skits the peanut gallery is yelling advice to the players, but they all shut slap up at this. Dad is absolutely sober as he carefully accepts the rag and takes it home to his wife. The mother focuses on the sick child, played by a rubber fetus on her desk. She takes the rag, and using all her 12-year-old nascent maternal instincts, softly strokes her sick daughter. After a few seconds she stops, and tucks the rag as a blanket around the baby. "So how is she?" She's all better now. The class is totally silent, plugged in, and ready to burst with thoughtful answers to a series of pointed questions that lead to conclusions about how sacraments work.

2. On March 27 we finished our Grand Catholic Tour of the Bible with the Book of Revelations; which is no surprise considering it's the last book. The whole sweep from Eden to the Fall to Jesus to the Second Coming to the New Jerusalem is recapped. The kids hear: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them." We compare the New Jerusalem with Eden in their sinlessness and happiness.

After class a couple of kids come up. "Hey Stratopops, we have a question: why is it called the New Jerusalem and not the New Eden?" Ehh...great question! Nobody's asked that before! I never thought about it before! Huh...well...OK: in Eden did God have a body? No, God doesn't have a body. Right, except for...? Jesus. Yes, Jesus has a body; was he in Eden? No. Right. And in the New Jerusalem will we live with the Lamb? Yes. Who is...Jesus. Yes. Were there cities in Eden? No it was just a garden. Yes, but a big garden wasn't the sort of world Jesus lived in. So maybe it's important that after the Second Coming we live in a place that's a sinless version of the world Jesus lived in the first time, so it'll be a city, not a garden. And tell me where God dwelled with the Israelites. In the Meeting Tent. Oops, I mean after the Tent. In the temple? Yes, in...Jerusalem! Yes, so maybe God doesn't want to go back to living in the Garden of Eden. Maybe he wants to live in a perfect version of Jerusalem. Is that enough of an answer? Yes, that's fine. OK, you kind of caught me by surprise. If I learn anything else about this great question I'll let y'all know."

Smart, smart kids. They are a wonder.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Like, who cares, right?

 in its unwashed splendor

My 2002 Z28 5.7 Hurst 6sp turned 11 years old on March 27.

Total repairs:

1. Replaced passenger side power window motor in 2007.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Never Noticed

This post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets

I just noticed in Palm Sunday's Gospel reading from Luke, that at the Last Supper Jesus didn't eat or drink after the words of Consecration:

"And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. 15* And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; 16* for I tell you I shall not eat it * until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." 17* And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 18* for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19* And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."

Nor in Matthew: 

  "When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples... Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; 28* for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

Nor in Mark:

"And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." 23* And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24* And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, * which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."  

Having thought about this for several minutes (!), I believe this points to Transubstantiation. If Jesus were speaking symbolically when he said "This is my body...this is my blood," then why not share in the eating and drinking along with the Apostles? If nothing else, it would clarify that this bread and wine were no different from any they had consumed earlier in the evening; lest anyone erroneously suppose Jesus was speaking literally on this night, and also the day after the Loaves and Fishes miracle (John 6). 

On the other hand, if Jesus had indeed transformed the elements into his own flesh and blood, then it would be appropriate that he not partake in consuming himself.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tempus Fugit 7: Don't Dare to Blink

This post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets

The little girl on the chin-up bar got married in November. 

I'm reminded of this from my own childhood.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Teachers' Conference

Last Friday at the S.C. Catholic Teachers' Conference, I gave two presentations (same content both times) on Bible-sourced catechesis and 4 teaching methods I use in my 6th-grade class. The blurb from the program:

"This session recreates a typical classroom experience, based on the content of my book, The Bible Tells Me So. The audience will play the part of students, and will learn through participation how guided discussion, drawing, props, impromptu skits, fine art, and the Bible can be used to effectively teach middle-schoolers their Catholic faith."

A couple of weeks earlier, my DRE hosted a 2-hour light dinner and workshop with a couple of local parishes' catechists so I could get a feel for dealing with adults instead of kids, and also find out how much I could cover in a given amount of time. Based on that experience, each 60-minute session went like so:

A short prayer ("Holy Spirit, don't let me waste anybody's time. Amen."), and a few lines of Psalm 78 were followed by a brisk presentation of 4 teaching methods:

1. Teach by drawing, using the story of the Loaves and Fishes as the example.

2. Teach with impromptu skits, by having volunteers play the various characters in the Healing of the Paralytic.

3. Teach from Bible languages, in this case some useful Greek from Acts of the Apostles.

4. Teach from fine art, using a Christmas card and an Annunciation.

So how fabulous was it? was terrific! The teachers plugged in right away, participated fully, and more than half of them left with copies of the book. And on my side, I could've done four 1-hour sessions with no trouble, covering different topics each time.

I'll be doing another diocesan workshop this fall, and am interested in taking the show on the road. If anyone you know may be interested, please send them this brief description.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How Many Times Do I Hafta Tell Ya?

 In preliterate cultures very little is written down. For example in Jesus’ day, covenants were formally entered into (or canceled) by agreeing out loud three times in the presence of witnesses. This pattern of triple assent shows up repeatedly in the Bible.

Young Samuel ‘contracts’ to serve the LORD:

“…the LORD called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And the LORD called again, “Samuel!” And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”
Young Elisha agrees to “take up the mantle” of Elijah:
“Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind…Elijah said to Elisha, “Tarry here, I pray you; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. Elijah said to him, “Elisha, tarry here, I pray you; for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. …Then Elijah said to him, “Tarry here, I pray you; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “I will not leave you.”

Centuries later in the desert, Jesus three times rejected a covenant with the Devil. 

The Gospels don’t say if the apostles had a formal covenant with Jesus; but whatever deal they had was clearly canceled one Thursday night:
“[Jesus] said to them, “[R]emain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed. And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed. And again he came and found them sleeping. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
But Peter’s singular status as the founding-stone of the Church, and key-holder of the Kingdom of Heaven required a personal renunciation:

“Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the porch, another maid [said], “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

But after the Resurrection, and before the Ascension, Jesus re-established his covenant with Peter:
“This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Jesus specifically contracted with Peter to take charge of his flock, his Church; and that authority is wielded until today by the man who sits in Peter’s Chair.

In Catechism class, I make it clear to the kids with Samuel that they have to watch out for examples of 3 assents or 3 rejections. Starting with Elisha, they figure it out themselves.