Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


First, a hat tip to The Curt Jester for the cool graphic.

Second, I want to express how pleased I am in this morning's Mass. Sometimes we get visiting priests who lean towards the bongo/kumbaya/tambourine thing, but today Fr. S delivered not only as reverent and beautiful a Mass as may be had in English (especially notable, given the appalling current ICEL translation), but when the time came for my imposition of ashes, Father actually said: "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return."

In 2007! I know! So that was excellent.

So, had it not been Lent already (wasn't Christmas, I dunno, Thursday?) I would have hopped and skipped. For those likeminded folks, rest assured the Spirit of Vatican Three will soon let us skip and hop during Lent.



Most people get Lent, as we used to say at school, "bass ackwards." The idea is for us to be reminded of the logic-defying generosity of God. By giving up the unessentials we are reminded of the abundance He has provided us. Abundance, I hasten to add, none of use ever deserve. Look at it this way. God took his people Israel into a land flowing with milk and honey. That is, a certain people were placed by God in a situation of abundance...not, you'll kindly note, did people draw ever-closer to God by going around accumulating milk and honey.

"Wait!" I hear you clamor.

"Is this the free market acolyte speaking?" "Is he desecrating the memory of Adam Smith?"

Pay attention. This will be on the test.

We are tempted to gather stuff, things material and otherwise. Items which God will provide you in His inimitable Providence. By focusing on the gathering these rather than in He who provides them from His bounty, we are almost trying to make a vacuum and "forcing" God to come along.

During Lent we have to be mindful of two things:

1- How much we owe God: spiritually, materially, etc., and
2- How utterly undeserving we are of such blessings.

As Christ emptied Himself, we awkwardly join in by emptying ourselves of the spiritual debris we've gathered over the last year. Those attractions which pull our focus away, which occupy our attention which otherwise get us off-message.

Lent, in short, is teh time for us to focus on some stark realities, realities which the frivolities and vanities of everyday life prevent us from seeing let alone meditating upon.




  • At 6:00 PM, February 21, 2007 , Blogger Karen said...

    I liked that post. I'm about to do the penance of going to Mass in Orlando. I figure it will at least give me something to blog.

    In our bulletin a few weeks ago there was an article written by a nun, explaining why confession is not as important as it used to be. Can't wait to hear what the Ash Wednesday message is.

  • At 7:17 PM, February 21, 2007 , Blogger Joe said...

    My guess is the message will be along the lines of "Salvation: Is it all it's cracked up to be? Leading scholars say 'Not really.'"


  • At 8:37 PM, February 23, 2007 , Blogger BobK said...

    Hello Joe,

    I also teach CCD for Confirmation and saw you do the same. I teach at St. Rose of Lima in North Syracuse. I was wondering if you could to me a favor and email me your last CCD final exam you put together to I would like to give it to my 9th graders. I have a bad feeling most would fail. I have been having an ongoing debate with our DRE and a couple of the other teachers we are doing a disservice. But I have been told by our DRE that any 9th grader wanting to be confirmed will be per the Bishop.

    Bob Krause

  • At 10:10 PM, February 23, 2007 , Blogger Joe said...


    As soon as I get to the office, I'll fire one off. I might even throw in my midterm and syllabus.



  • At 7:55 AM, February 24, 2007 , Blogger BobK said...

    Thanks! Btw-I like your comment about using the Catechism. I had thought drop in my brain the last couple of weeks as I wrestle over the text book which I tend to use less and less over the years since the students I get need the basics.

    I always believe that teaching Christian Morality is nice, but they need to understand what being a Catholic is first. If not it is Mr. K's, another adults, morality for all its worth being told to them.

    Sort of like building a house on sand or rock. If they don't have the rock foundation, then the quality of the timbers (moral principles) does not matter if the flood hits, which it will eventually. Thanks again!

  • At 8:36 AM, February 24, 2007 , Blogger Joe said...


    The problem with just dropping a crate of Morality on poorly/un-catechized kids is that in their minds they're just thinking "Says you." At most they think all those things they are hearing sprang from the brow of some old guy in a pointy hat standing on a balcony in Rome.

    In other words, if sailors are to obey a command they must realize the authority of the admiral as both legitimate (coming from the Pentagon) and applicable to the current situation.

    Most kids ignore the Morality angle for the exact reason you state: that house has been built on sand. Once the house has been on a solid foundation, and built well, the matter of Morality can be covered in one lesson. Maybe two if you like the sound of your voice on the matter.


  • At 10:08 AM, February 24, 2007 , Blogger BobK said...


    I screwed up the email address of mine it is: unfortunately staying up to 2am and being up at 5am with my 18 month old I some how fat fingered my email address. Sorry for the screw up.

    Or worse yet sprang from the brow of some middle age bearded guy teaching their class. Glad to hear a similar view on the approach. Now I need to spend the next year till Fall trying to sell it to our DRE more actively (who is a good lady and has been DRE for around 30 years at the parish) and build a base with some of the other teachers.

    And yes, you are right it would be at most 2 classes. But for us, we only have 11 classes for 9th graders (the last grade of formal CCD) which is run as a Fall class then a different Spring class of students. Because of a concern that the students would need the session they are not in to work on the 40 hours of service they have been assigned since 8th grade and can work up till 10th grade on and the REAL reason to allow students to take it in a off-season for a sport.

    Which has put me on a tangent...we had a meeting last Monday on Presidents Day to organize our Lenten mission in the school and I commented to our DRE that it was interesting we do not have classes because of the school holiday but the jr. high youth basketball (which have some of my students) were able to meet and practice in the gym that evening.

    I look forward to the materials you will send me. Thanks.

  • At 11:46 AM, February 24, 2007 , Blogger Joe said...

    Whoa. ELEVEN classes? E-L-E-V-E-N?

    We have 32 per year (confirmandi are required to take 2 years of CCD if they do not attend one of the non-parochial Catholic schools), and I still think that's not enough. Granted, you may be working under some diocesan constraints or perhaps the even more-dreaded "We've always done it like this."

    I'll also send you our DRE's contact information. It may be worthwhile to cross-pollinate.




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