Tag Archives: catechism

‘The Catechism of Hockey’: not just for sports fans

December 10, 2013

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It doesn’t matter whether you have season tickets to the Minnesota Wild or don’t know what to call that black disc thingy on the ice rink. In her book “The Catechism of Hockey,” Alyssa Bormes will help you understand the complexities of the Catholic Church using hockey analogies.

Cat of Hockey CoverSkeptics, take heed. Bormes is the first to admit she knew very little about hockey before writing the book. (Her “technical adviser” is a friend’s son and bonafide hockey player.) But for me, who has only a fascination with hockey because of the fights, the parallels Bormes makes between the sport and my faith make complete sense. (Sports enthusiasts, please don’t dismiss my opinion just because I proclaim my sports apathy. Surely, between my Gopher hockey fan of a brother and my husband, who takes an interest in everything from football to curling, I know how important sports are.)

Bormes compares going to “the box” in hockey to going to the confessional. She suggests that we’re at our best in the confessional; our worst was when we were sinning. The redemption found in the confessional brings us back to playing at “full strength.”

She pushes us past the analogies and makes us question why we don’t put as much fervor into our faith as we do our beloved sports:

“In hockey, families will sacrifice physically, spiritually, and financially. . . . We rarely ask our children to physically and spiritually sacrifice when it comes to the Faith. This is exactly why offering it up has been relegated to a type of Catholic humor. Yet, suffering for the Faith doesn’t break the souls of our youth, it elevates them. There is a great satisfaction in having given everything — putting the heart into it. When our youth learn to serve, to really offer up, to be Christ to others, they experience a new sort of victory.”

web.Alyssa BormesBormes merges two worlds that are often separate, but shouldn’t be. People talk about the game after Mass, but do they ever talk about God during the game? The book has been lauded as an unconventional evangelizing tool. And rightly so. Her approach makes people ask themselves: What am I doing to live my faith, to share my faith?

What gives merit to the book is Bormes’ personal story of how she took a 17-year hiatus from the Church only to return with gusto — speaking about her faith publicly, studying in Rome, receiving a master’s degree in Catholic studies, leading retreats and teaching Catechism.

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U.S. air strikes and Church teaching on war, peace

September 13, 2013

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 St. Joan of Arc followed God's direction as she entered battle. Photo/dbking. Licensed under Creative Commons

Whether or not she studied just war theory, St. Joan of Arc followed God’s direction as she entered battle. Photo/dbking. Licensed under Creative Commons

God only knows if the U.S. will launch a military strike against Syria, but it looks like the threat has been averted for now.

As negotiations aimed at convincing Syria to surrender its chemical weapons continue, Catholics may be asking what the Church teaches about an attack. Would it be justified?

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has spoken quite a bit on the subject of war. At last week’s prayer vigil for peace in Syria, he said:

  …look upon your brother’s sorrow, and do not add to it, stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this not by conflict but by encounter! May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity. Let the words of Pope Paul VI resound again: ‘No more one against the other, no more, never! … war never again, never again war!’

‘Never again war’ probably would be most people’s desire, but are there times when an armed conflict is morally permissible such as in the case of self-defense or to avoid a greater evil?

Conditions for Just War

The Church holds that there are strict conditions requiring rigorous consideration for legitimate defense by military force. The Catechism states, “the gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy.” (CCC 2309)

The conditions are laid out in the Catechism as part of just war theory, developed by St. Augustine and later by St. Thomas Aquinas. According to this theory about acts of war, at one and the same time:

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of        nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be          impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition. (CCC 2309)

According to the Catechism, those with responsibility for the common good in their “prudential judgment” are to evaluate these conditions.

Resolve conflicts together

Since the US government’s potential action would not be for its own defense and because it could act together with other nations, the Church says that such international or regional organizations “should be in a position to work together to resolve conflicts and promote peace, re-establishing relationships of mutual trust that make recourse to war unthinkable,” according to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. 

The best outcome of this crisis would be for our leaders to continue their current talks and reach a peaceful solution. If they exhaust that possibility, hopefully they will follow the tenets of just war theory in making any decision on the matter.

At Vatican II the Church Fathers left no doubt about their hopes regarding war:

 Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until the coming of Christ; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished and they will make these words come true: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Gaudium et Spes 78)

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Looking at the Church’s immigration teaching through a personal lens

July 26, 2013

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Photo/ scazon. Licensed under Creative Commons

Photo/ scazon. Licensed under Creative Commons

It seems like Catholics are all over the map when it comes to their views on  immigration reform. Attitudes and laws regarding the undocumented can vary considerably by state but the Church takes a pretty clear position.  Personal experience with immigration also affects how we look at it.

I know how it feels to be an immigrant because I spent almost two years as an undocumented worker in a European country. I wasn’t compelled to leave my own country for economic or political reasons, as are many who come to the U.S., but I have in common with them the fact that I was seeking something I couldn’t find at home.

Like many who come to America, I didn’t have too much trouble finding work – in a job that most of its citizens weren’t qualified to do. I was paid pretty well though not as well as I would have been if I’d had papers. Not all migrants in the United States are so fortunate; some have to deal with very low wages and substandard living and working conditions.

The Church’s view

Personal anecdotes and media spin aside, what does our universal Church say about a global phenomenon that’s garnered so much national attention lately?

Are undocumented workers wrong to come to countries that restrict their participation in the official economy and civic affairs?

According to the Catechism, governments have two responsibilities in regard to immigration: to welcome the foreigner and to secure their borders. It doesn’t say much about how to integrate those responsibilities, however, which might be one reason  for the divergence in public opinion.

In his 1996 Message for World Migration Day, Bl. Pope John Paul II affirmed undocumented migrants’ right both to emigrate and to immigrate:

The Church acts in continuity with Christ’s mission. In particular, she asks herself how to meet the needs, while respecting the law of those persons who are not allowed to remain in a national territory. She also asks what the right to emigrate is worth without the corresponding right to immigrate.

How to treat immigrants

The Catechism also gives guidance on how we should treat immigrants, especially those who come to escape poverty or suffering in their own country:

The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his own country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him. (CCC2241)

That doesn’t mean governments shouldn’t restrict immigration. It also doesn’t exempt those coming to a country from obeying its laws, the Catechism continues:

“Public authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.” (CCC2241)

The U.S. Bishops and immigration reform

The U.S. bishops have had quite a bit to say about immigration reform. In a 2011 statement they supported earned legalization with a path to citizenship, a future worker program, family based immigration reform, restoration of due process rights, addressing the root causes of migration and the legitimate role of the government in enforcing security.

For the undocumented who are already working here, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church stresses that immigration must be regulated according to “criteria of equity and balance.”

Institutions in host countries must keep careful watch to prevent the spread of the temptation to exploit foreign laborers, denying them the same rights enjoyed by nationals, rights that are to be guaranteed to all without discrimination.

Along with not exploiting workers, countries should respect and promote the right of family reunification, the Compendium states. But it also emphasizes that they should help foster increased work opportunities in immigrants’ country of origin.

I eventually returned to my native country and so do many immigrants who come to the United States. While immigrants are here though, the Church makes it clear both that they should receive fair treatment and that they should follow our laws.

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Catholic Guy cracks jokes and cracks wise over his foibles and his faith

September 19, 2011

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I hate to feed Lino Rulli’s ego, but here  goes: His book “Sinner” had me chuckling out loud.

Fortunately there’s a good dose of humility left in the St. Paul native despite his success in both television and radio. When that’s combined with the self-deprecating humor that he spreads on pretty thickly in stories from his relatively young life-and-times, it makes for reading that’s both funny and — I’m searching for a word here — well, evangelizing? Catechizing without trying too hard? Preaching as much to himself as to others?

Lino is a self-admitted screw up who’s trying not to be.

He’s trying to be a good Catholic, holy, even a saint. He claims to be not doing so well at it, hence the book’s title. You and I might call him normal.

Okay, maybe obsessive.

Definitely gregarious and out-spoken.

Yes, paranoid.

But still funny. And he’d want me to mention that he’s single and still available, ladies.

As he both stumbles along and finds success , the tales he tells are the stuff of sitcoms. The pratfalls are both physical and moral, and that’s where the faith connection comes into play. The stories usually have a punchline, and most have a sliver or two of catechism, too.

Catholic media someone will actually watch & listen to

So that makes “Sinner” not unlike Lino’s “The Catholic Guy” show on SiriusXM Radio afternoons daily, which he tries to make three hours of Catholic radio that doesn’t suck (his description).

That’s what the book is: It’s funny stories that end up being a teaching vehicle about things Catholic that won’t bore you to death or hit you over the head with dogma. The Catholic teaching is there, but it’s a pill that’s not that hard to swallow.

Frankly, the quality of the writing in “Sinner” isn’t unexpected. Lino’s writing talent made the pages of The Catholic Spirit young-adult friendly for a number of years. The “Generation Cross” show that he hosted on Twin Cities cable television aimed, successfully, to be Catholic TV people 18-to-34 would actually watch. His quick wit and his professional know-how around a camera and microphone have been recognized with three Emmys.

Readers of “Sinner” will find themselves appreciating Lino’s dedication to his Catholic faith and his commitment to excellence in his chosen vocation. And they’ll laugh out loud, too.

“Sinner” is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, via Kindle and audiobook as well.

 

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What does the Church teach about suicide?

May 21, 2011

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When Ántonia’s father kills himself in Willa Cather’s novel My Ántonia, his body can’t be buried in either the Catholic or Protestant cemeteries. Feeling the stigma of suicide, the gentleman’s family puts his remains to rest on their Nebraska farm while a neighbor offers a merciful prayer.

Suicide is no longer viewed the way it was in the late 1800s but the question remains of how the Church views this tragic action and what happens to the soul of a person who ends their life.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, cooperating voluntarily in suicide is contrary to the moral law. (CCC2282)

Suicide “contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.” (CCC2281)

Objectively suicide is against the commandments, and justice, hope and charity, said Father James Livingston, a chaplain at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, who offers spiritual assistance to persons who have attempted suicide. “There is something counteracting the rational inclination to live, something contrary to hope that suicide speaks to.”

When someone commits suicide to set an example, especially to youth, the Catechism states, “it also takes on the gravity of scandal.” (CCC2282)

However, a suicide victim’s behavior may look wrong objectively, but it’s not possible to know what’s going on in their mind, he said. “It’s not something somebody chooses.”

Clinically, suicide involves major mental illness, Father Livingston said, adding that 70 percent of those who attempt or commit suicide suffer from depression. Oftentimes, they feel hopeless and helpless, and die emotionally before they die physically, he said.

Suicide victims lack the resiliency skills to overcome their problems, Father Livingston said. They don’t have full freedom in their lives when stress is factored in—their emotions take away their sense of freedom.

The Church takes into account the state of mind of those involved in suicide. “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.” (CCC2282)

Rather than deliberately intending to end their lives, some may attempt suicide or engage in parasuicidal behaviors such as cutting, to get help, Father Livingston said.

Because we don’t know a suicide victim’s thoughts, we can’t speculate on the state of their soul after death, he said. “The interesting question for us as Catholics is, where does the soul go? We don’t know.”

Unlike in the past, the current tendency is to err on the side of mercy, Father Livingston said. The Catechism offers hope:

“We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.” (CCC2283)

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