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Friday, January 19, 2007

Catholic Customs and Sacramentals - A Call for Questions!

I realize this is a very dangerous post, but I'm going to do it anyway.

I would like some "audience participation", especially that of Catholic Converts.

Next Wednesday, I am providing the catechesis on Catholic Customs and Sacramentals.

I will be covering some obvious things: the Rosary, the Scapular, Statues, Icons, Holy Cards, blessed objects, etc. What, specifically, do people want to know about these things and any of our common customs?

But I need to hear from people who have sat through RCIA, who may not be Catholic but have specific questions about our customs and observations, or even Catholics who suddenly realized that they have NO IDEA why we do certain things.

PLEASE post your questions or, if you feel more comfortable, e-mail them to me.

Please also, if you have a blog, link this post so that those who have questions that fall into these categories may have an opportunity to find the explanation they need.

I promise, to the best of my ability, to answer all questions consistently with official Catholic teaching.


Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

One thing that was not well explained was the different, "Our Lady's".
We heard Catholics talk about a devotion to a particular lady , ie fatima, Lourdes, but as a new convert/revert we couldn't understand this. Did Catholics have different Mary's that they venerate?
Perhaps you could clear this up with your group if it's a question.
Also, the theology of sacramentals, magical vs reminders vs objects to convey grace vs sacraments.(I humbly refere your readers to my blog post on sacramentals)
Also, the role of suffering and how to offer it up.
Also,Why we genuflect at certain times in the Mass and towards the tabernacle. Catholic converts need to know the beauty and reason of why they are doing these things.
How to make a good confession, the role of examining your conscience, how often to go to confession(as much as possible!)
That confession not only gives forgiveness, but grace to help us not to sin too!
What's a Holy Day of Obligation and Why?
2 minute apologetics too!
Stautes, Mary, Catholics and the Bible (we wrote it) Papacy and the role of the Holy Father.
Perhaps emphasize that Being Catholic is not just a change of address on Sunday AM, but a whole new wonderful way to draw to closer to God through Jesus and the Church. The RCIA folks should understand why they need a savior and how becoming Catholic and the sacraments provides all they need to live holy lives and avoid Hell!!! (A distinctly unpopular doctrine)
I would also stress why we believe in NO artificial contraception. Not just the rules but the beauty of the theology of the body teaching regarding the unitive and the procreative.
In our RCIA course, there was not much emphasis on the philosophy of birth control. Again, the understanding of Catholic "Rules"
always is beautiful once explained rather than read off as rote rubrics.
I gave a little more than you needed here sorry.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I'm in a Catechism class now with a person exploring our Faith coming from the Baptist church. Here's one of his questions and I think this is a common one:

Why wear a Scapular or a Miraculous Medal? How is this not a superstitious practice?

(Even though you think I whine, I gave your post a shout-out on my blog! :-)!)

nicole said...

I think an explanation of when we genuflect and we just bow our heads when entering a church or chapel would be helpful. Even pracaticing Catholics are often unaware of what's appropriate.

Unknown said...

If you don't mind, Adoro, I'm going to give you some questions and the answers that I have discovered over the years from the perspective of age and experience.

1. How do I keep my mind from wandering when I say the Rosary.

That was a big one for me. Then I discovered the "Scriptural Rosaries." In the traditional method, we introduce each decade of our Rosary with a mention of the particular "mystery" for that day, then an Our Father and ten Hail Marys and then finishing with a Glory Be and the Fatima-recommended "Oh, my Jesus...." But not everyone says this last part.

So during the ten Hail Marys, the mind often wanders.

In the Scriptural Rosaries, and you can make up your own, you break down the particular Mystery into parts of the historical even and think of one on each of the Hail Marys.

For example, when I come to the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, Jesus' Death on the Cross, these are the meditations that I contemplate as I say the Hail Marys:

5. Jesus Dies on the Cross
1. Meditation on saying the Rosary for the Remission of Sins
2. Meditation on Jesus’ Death on the Cross; The Seven Last Words of Christ
3. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
4. “Amen I say to you, this day you shall be with me in paradise.”
5. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
6. “Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother.”
7. “I thirst [for your love].”
8. “It is finished.”
9. “Father into Your Hands I commend My Spirit.”
10. Meditation on Jesus’ Death on the Cross.

Not all the Mysteries are easy to break down, but I have found this method helps me tremendously in keeping my mind on what I am doing.

It will add 5 or ten minutes to your Rosary time. But it is worth it as far as I am concerned.

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

I second the question about the different "Our Ladys". Here are some other questions I had:

- What is "offering it up"? Why is it work?

- Can non-Catholics bless themselves with holy water?

- Specifically, how are holy water, blessed objects, etc. different? What happens to them once they're blessed to make them "special"?

Adoro said...

Wow, everyone, thanks! Great questions, and some of those have come up.

Keep in mind, though, that some of you posted things that would need more than one class to cover. I have only 30-45 minutes, max, for this talk, and that's including time for questions. We have small groups also, after the catechesis, and many of the points will likely be answered in more detail there.

And Ray...great observations, and thanks for the info. I'll be talking about the Rosary, but not in such detail. :-) I think your comment alone would use up the full time in class!

Apparations/Appearance of Mary...thatnks for the reminder on that one. That question came one once and now I'll have to research it and get back to that person! Perfect topic.

"offering it up". Ok, definitely a custom with some meaty theology behind it. I'll have to cover that because that's ingrained in us Catholics!

Hmmm...I'm not sure about the holy water things. I'm thinking I'll have to enlist the help of one of our priests to answer that one! NONE of my books answers that! Good question!

I could go on and on with all the awesome suggestions. There is blog fodder here worth a lifetime's post on blogs.

And Tiber...I think I might "lift" some of the explanations from your blog. You mind?

Genuflecting, bowing our heads...yes, great topics for customs. This is somethign many Catholics don't udnerstand...I used to be one of them!

God bless!

Keep 'em coming, people! I'm Catholic...I take some of this for granted, and I want to be sure to hit the main points.

AND I will do my best to blog the answers, also! :-)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Adoro:

A second tidbit that may help private prayer is to remind people that they are not in a race when they are praying. It would be far better to say less words, but say them much slower. And think about them as you say them.

Even more powerfully, think about the most powerful petitions that all of us say quite regularly, but rarely think about.

The Lord's Prayer.

The "Our Father" is actually seven petitions, seven requests of Our Lord in Heaven. Say it as if you were saying seven individual prayers.


Our Father, who art in Heaven,

1. Hallowed be Thy Name;

2. Thy Kingdom Come;

3. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven;

4. Give us this day our daily bread;

5. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;

6. And lead us not into temptation;

7. But deliver us from evil.


The phrase that was added to the Our Father, "For Thine is the Kingdom, etc.", is not a petition, but a statement, so the "Seven Petition" description doesn't change when that is said.

Take a couple of minutes or more to say the Our Father and really reflect on what you are saying.

Jesus taught us this prayer, remember.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ray,

The topic of prayer in general is going to come up on a seperate day, taught by one of the priests. I'm not going to get into the ins and outs of prayer at all, other than prayers that are specific to Catholicism. The techniques are a MUCH bigger hold all your advice on prayer so that I can get that down with a different post! LOL. You're WAY ahead of what I'm teaching here!

Ray, you are doing what I do all the time...overthinking the topic. Consider the things you take for GRANTED and then ask yourself why you do genuflecting, blessing yourself with holy water, etc...things you do without thinking about it. People who are entering the church have no idea what this is about...THAT'S the kind of stuff I'm looking for here, because THOSE are the questions they have. They aren't ready for contemplative prayer or techniques in praying the Rosary...the sponsers are, but they are already Catholic. Remember this class is for the uninitiated. Think BASIC.

:-) You have great advice, just too much for this particular and very short talk.


~ Adoro

*and another thing with google blogs...I don't recommend it. It won't "remember" my login so I have to log in EVERY TIME I POST!!!!!!! DON'T DO IT!!!!! DON'T SWITCH!!!!!! I HAVE cookies enabled and this is the ONLY SITE THAT WON'T REMEMBER MY LOGIN!

/ rant

Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Feel free to take anything you want, but I pray that it is true and correct! I do my best but so much wish that I could have a priest in my kitchen when i post blogs!!

You will do great!!!!

Adoro said...

Thanks, Tiber Jumper,

I hope to do well! After the tanker I gave on Wedding at Caana, I'm a little gun shy! (note to self an anyone who is learning how to teach: too much information is NOT a good thing esp when your time is limited!)

I wish I had a priest in my kitchen is messy right now....but I'm certain they have much better things to do than to be armchair theologians. I don't think a single priest reads my blog (Thank God! They'd be giving lessons in their homilies as to what NOT to say!) :-)

Tiber...send questioning persons my way! I won't answer immediately but will have blog posts up as I go! This has already been great prep for my talk!

Sarah Reinhard said...

One thing I have observed in my role as parish office employee - many people do not understand offering Mass intentions (like where you call the office and get it scheduled). Why does it cost? (it's a sacrifice that you make, even as the priest offers a sacrifice of the Mass for your requested intention - and it used to be how priests got paid) How do you do it? (varies by parish; at ours you just call the office)

Anonymous said...

Sarah ~ That's a great suggestion, and I just recently went to request that a mass be offered for someone! In our Archdiocese, it's $7.00 stipend. Thanks!

~ Adoro

Anonymous said...

Note: The Mass stipend differs according to diocese. Here, it's $10.00.

Cathy said...

That makes sense.
Also, I have to say:
I have never once needed something for my spiritual good or the spiritual good of others that the Church has not provided for me, for free, if I could not afford it.
(This includes a $700 annulment years ago. The parish sec'y called me and asked if I had mailed my payment for the month. When I started crying, she stopped me, offered words of comfort, and said, without my asking, "No, no, it's done, honey. We'll take care of it.")
If I went to my parish and asked for a Mass for my grandmother, and informed them that I could not afford the stipend, they would do it anyway.
But most people can afford $10... It's 2 fewer Starbucks drinks for the week...

By the way, the comments here have been enlightening and astute.
I've really enjoyed them.

Anonymous said...

Sacramentals are something I have come to LOVE about the Catholic church. Long before becoming catholic, when I was a Southern Baptist minister for many years, I was drawn by the Icons I saw, and found that the talk of "offering it up," and having other things which remind us about our faith, well... it was appealing rather than repellent. Of course, this was not the Baptist offcial line, which sees these as superstitious. SO, I STUDIED and learned why catholics did these things.

Give it your best Adoro, it is a blessing for any who will receive it.

Therese Z said...

As a Catholic who spent years ignoring my faith, and now am happily immersed in as much Catholic culture as I can assemble around me as I fall in love with Jesus more and more, I still wonder what actually happens when a priest blesses you? Can a priest bless another priest? All priests present on the altar at Mass say the words of Consecration, which makes perfect sense to me, but if there are two priests and one layman and it's time for a blessing, do both priests bless the layman, or does the senior priest bless the other two?

Sister Mary Martha said...

Holy cow! I answer so many of these questions every day on my blog:

We talk about offering it up A LOT (see for example 'Brownie Theology;)and we talk about Mary all the time.