How to Become a Better Weekday Catholic

Ite Missa Est. The recessional hymn sounds and Mass is complete. You’ve fulfilled your Sunday obligation. Sometimes people will rush out of the church building so fast that they don’t realize what just happened or Who they just encountered.

A person may unknowingly “activate” their faith at the beginning of the Mass, but then it deactivates at the end of Mass. It’s a sense of obligation. You “have” to be there, but in reality you’d rather be sleeping in or doing something else, anything else, than to be at Mass.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” –Matthew 18:20

It is possible for laity such as you and I to get more out of being Catholic, and to get more out of just some Sunday obligation. The answer is to become a weekday Catholic.

There is a very simple approach to becoming a weekday Catholic. Not only that, but a devout weekday Catholic. It’s so simple that anybody can accomplish such even with a demanding, overflowing schedule.

Attending a beautiful and reverent Mass is a first step to applying your faith in a practical sense during the week. The reason for this is you need the beautiful experience to plant the seed to become a weekday Catholic. That seed of desire will be planted at a reverent Mass. We desire to be satisfied at Mass yet hungry for more. It’s a hunger for more Catholicity that you can continue to enjoy during the week. Not only that, but prayerful practices during the week can make you hungry for the Eucharist on Sunday. It’s cyclical.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” –Acts 2:42

Christ wants to be part of your life every day, not just for one hour a week at Sunday Mass. Being a weekday Catholic is not difficult. Some speculate that it’s overbearing and time consuming, but being a weekday Catholic is simple with the right approach. Satan wants you to think that being a weekday Catholic will take too much time out of your day from work or obligations. Satan wants you to think Jesus is an afterthought, that prayer is dull, that the sacraments are rigid. If the devil can get you to think that being a Catholic is low on the priority scale, then he has won.

People make time to eat. Eating is important, especially eating healthy. If you stopped eating and drinking that would be bad for your health. People make time to do the things they either need to do or want to do. Spending time with Christ, such as prayer, each day works along the same line.

Prayer is essential to your spiritual health just as eating is to your physical health. Prayer nurtures and feeds the soul. Poor eating habits eventually catches up with the person and they become sick. The same with poor prayer habits. Prayer is easy to do every day. One of the most satisfying prayers outside of the Mass is the Rosary. I’ve mentioned the importance of praying the Rosary before, because the Rosary really is that powerful of a prayer.

“Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” –Matthew 6:33

Praying the Rosary takes minutes out of your day. The Rosary can fit into anyone’s schedule. Praying the Rosary together as a family is powerful. The Blessed Mother wants to be part of your prayer life with Christ at the center. It takes no time at all for the Rosary to become habitual. Praying the Rosary around the same time each day helps to create a better habit. No matter how busy I am I will stop what I’m doing to pray the Rosary out of habit as well as a desire to pray. It makes a tremendous difference.

Some parishes offer Eucharistic Adoration and Reconciliation during the week. The Sacrament of Penance is essential for those that have grave matter on their soul, but confession is not only for mortal sins, but also venial sins. Make a habit of weekly sacramental Penance for even the smallest of venial sins. After an examination of conscience there’s at least one venial sin that could stand absolution. Afterwards spend a few moments before the Blessed Sacrament, whether it’s exposed in Adoration or reposed in the tabernacle. Regular visits to the confessional keeps the soul clean. Reconciliation also fortifies the soul when temptation emerges. Make a habit of the Sacrament of Penance.

The daily scripture readings are easily accessible for free on any smart phone or tablet. It takes minutes out of a busy day to read the daily scripture. Allow God to nourish your soul with His Word. Time is precious but so is God’s Word. There is always time to be a weekday Catholic. A few minutes here. A few minutes there.

 “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” –Romans 10:17

Over time as your weekday Catholic habits grow, daily Mass is a great option. Why wait for Sunday for the Eucharist when a parish near by may offer daily Mass during the week. If you’re hungry for the Eucharist, go to daily Mass.

Being a weekday Catholic is a great way to prepare you for being a great Sunday Catholic at Mass. Your soul will be prepared for the Liturgy. Rather than run out the door as soon as Mass concludes you may find yourself sitting there in the pew for a moment and reflect on what and Who you just encountered–a beautiful Liturgy and Christ in the Eucharist.

by John Connor

Related Articles:
Liturgy You Deserve
Patience is a Virtue
Born to be Magnificent

A New Year, A New You

New year’s resolutions are gaining a full head of steam. More people are deciding to seek the devout Catholic life. Weight loss may still reign at the top of many lists, but it’s very admirable for someone to add to their list to become a better Catholic. To commit fewer sins, to go to Mass on a regular basis, to frequent the confessional more often, or have a better prayer life.

With change comes discipline and the act of the will. This involves breaking old habits and forming new ones. Habits can be changed in a matter of weeks. The will acts as a beacon. A person that wants change in their life wills it. When a person decides to take their faith more serious and become a more devout Catholic, there are so many avenues one may venture.

While the list may go on within such prayer avenues, it’s the obvious approach people tend to miss. There are prayers and practices that fills the soul and are easily accessible. This simple approach to the devout life doesn’t involve a “feel good” conference for a quick “Jesus jolt.” An effective approach to the devout begins with ancient Liturgy.

The Traditional Latin Mass is the gateway to the devout. A reverent Eucharistic sacrifice is the foundation. People that take the Liturgy seriously are more likely to take their faith seriously.

“When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt.” –St. John Vianney

Eating healthy and exercising promotes a healthy side effect–weight loss. The same goes for attending a reverent Liturgy such as the Latin Mass. Mass that is taken seriously and treated reverently could itself net a healthy side effect–the intent to take the faith seriously. A genuine attempt to live the Christian life as God wills.

Lex orandi, lex credendi is a Latin phrase that refers to good Liturgy championing good theology. Not only that, but beautiful, reverent Liturgy can lead to a devoted prayer life. The Latin Mass is an accessible approach to a bona fide spiritual growth.

“The heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” –St. Gregory

Soul-satisfying Liturgy from the Latin Mass can be the momentum needed to devote oneself into deeper prayer outside of the Mass. The Rosary is a most powerful prayer. It is a mighty weapon against Satan and his minions. Sinful temptations may also falter. The Rosary is also a chance to spend silent time meditating on the Mysteries of Christ through the Blessed Mother.

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” –Saint Francis de Sales

One may also choose to pray the Rosary in Latin. It is the liturgical tongue of the Church. There are good reasons for praying the Rosary in Latin. There is less distraction while meditating on the mysteries. Moreover, the devil hates Latin; he loathes Latin. The evil one is fully aware how powerful and rich praying (or speaking) in Latin is to Catholics. Latin in the Liturgy dates back over a thousand years, and some believe that the earliest Masses were offered in Latin. The traditional Rosary in Latin is a personal preference. The Most Holy Rosary offers the Rosary in both Latin and English.

“The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” –Pope Leo XIII

The Divine Office, or in Latin Divinum Officium, is a most important prayer that the Church offers using a liturgical book known as a Breviary. Traditionally these prayers are chanted by monks and nuns, but may also be recited by devout Catholic faithful. The Divine Office is made up the 150 Psalms that are spread throughout the week, and also incorporates readings from Sacred Scripture, commentaries from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and short accounts of the saints lives. A beautiful aspect of the Divine Office is that it follows the traditional liturgical calendar of the Church. One can easily incorporate the Divine Office morning prayer (Laudes) and evening prayer (Vespers) as part of their daily routine.

The Traditional Latin Mass, Rosary, and Divine Office are three obtainable methods to live a robust, healthy, and devout life with Christ in His Church.

by John Connor

Related articles:
Liturgy You Deserve
Getting to Know the Mother of Jesus
Born to be Magnificent

A Christmas Birthday

Christmas is a particularly special time for me. My birthday is on Christmas Day. As my faith developed I came to the realization that even though my birthday lands on Christmas, that there’s something much more significant. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) That is the realism we assist at in every Mass. The fact the Christ took on a human form, and we see His physical presence at every Mass under the veil of the Eucharist.

Christmas is not merely a jovial holiday, it is a holy day. The Nativity of our Lord is one of the holiest days we celebrate in the liturgical calendar.

The God of the universe took on human form and became one of us, yet He has two natures, fully human and fully divine. Christ took on human flesh to be the once and for all perfect sacrifice on our behalf, to save us from our sins, and to lay the foundation for the earthly Kingdom, the Church, as the cornerstone.

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC 1324) Without the Nativity of our Lord there is no Eucharistic sacrifice. No foretaste of Heaven to prepare us for the banquet that awaits those who are in friendship with God (e.g. in the state of grace). The Eucharist is so important to Catholics that our intellects cannot fathom what life would be like without it. We as Catholics thrive on the graces received from the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist.

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” –C.S. Lewis

At Christmas we receive Eucharistic overtones. Christ, the Living Bread from Heaven, was born in a town called Bethlehem, in Hebrew means “House of Bread,” and He was born in a manger, which is a feeding trough that animals eat from. These are foreshadows or antitypes of what would take place at the Last Supper with the institution of the Eucharist. Through Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, He prepares us for the realism of what we’ll receive in Heaven, and we have a foretaste of that when we consume the Eucharist at Mass.

There are two times of the year where we should intensely focus our senses on the Eucharist: Christmas and Easter. Christmas because that is when the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. At Easter, specifically the Triduum, the Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper.

Prior to receiving Holy Communion at Mass we say, Domine non sum dignus, or Lord I am not worthy. We are not worthy, but God in His self-sacrificial love (Greek: agape) invites us to participate in the Eucharistic feast. The Eucharist being the perfect thanksgiving sacrifice worthy of God the Father. It would not be at all possible unless the Word had become Flesh, born on Christmas Day. There are some that may argue that Christ was not literally born on December 25, but the Church has celebrated the Nativity of our Lord on this day since the early ages of Christianity. It is one of the earliest feasts along with the Epiphany.

How splendid it is to lift up our hearts at a momentous time of the year. Christ offers us a super-substantial (Greek: epiousios) treasure in the Eucharist at Mass. A supernatural gift it is indeed. It’s important to remember the real meaning of Christmas. All the presents in the world cannot stack up to what we receive in the Liturgy. Christ’s Mass, or Christmas, is the beginning to an epic journey that reveals the truth of how much God loves us and wants us to be part of His family. Not only at Christmas, but every day of the year. The true meaning of Christmas is centered around Christ in the Eucharist.

“Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.” –Luke 2:14

by John Connor

Why Be Catholic?

Christianity has been around for nearly two millennium. It is as diverse as the depths of the oceans. Vast cultural characteristics span around the globe within Christian communities. For those that are Christian, or on the cusp of considering the Christian faith, the next logical question is, why be Catholic?

Catholicism proclaims the fullness of the Christian faith. It has only been in the past 500 years or so that Christianity became diverse through Protestantism and pseudo-Christian sects. In order to live the Christian life to the fullest, we have to ask, why be Catholic? The foundation of Catholicism is that Christ started one Church, not many church communities. It is an unbroken link that leads to the present. As Catholics, we shouldn’t take our faith for granted. We need to be able to answer the question, why Catholicism?

The phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs approximately 122 times in the New Testament, primarily spoken by Jesus Himself. “The Kingdom is not a thing, it is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms. It is a person; it is he. On this interpretation, the term ‘Kingdom of God’ is itself a veiled Christology. By the way in which he speaks of the Kingdom of God, Jesus leads men to realize the overwhelming fact that in him God himself is present among them, that he is God’s presence.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part 1)

Christ in essence is the Church, the cornerstone. But not simply a mystical church, where Jesus (i.e. Kingdom of God) is spiritually everywhere or only in our hearts, but it’s a living, breathing Church.

The earthly kingdom (i.e. the Church) and the heavenly kingdom are interrelated. They are in essence one. We see this in the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus founded the Catholic Church.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” –Matthew 16:18-19

We can establish two principles here. One, Jesus founded one church, singular tense. Two, that this church, singular tense, would have the power to bind and loose. What ever is bound and loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven. Christ did not merely establish a mystical church, He primarily established a physical church, and He made that Church authoritative in terms of binding and loosing.

Jesus passed on His authority onto His apostles (Matthew 28:18-20). The authority given by God doesn’t end with the death of the last apostle. No. Jesus proclaimed the gates of hell shall not prevail. The apostles were tasked with evangelizing. Sharing the good news (Gospel) to all known nations. In order to do this the apostles had to pass on their authority onto others. This is called apostolic succession. For 2,000 years there has been an unbroken line of bishops from the apostles authority given by Christ, to the current living bishops.

It is impossible for Sacred Scripture to be the sole authority of the Christian life. Scripture is not authoritative unless someone with authority, given by Christ, makes it so. Just like the Constitution of the United States is not authoritative unless the branches of the government, such as the judicial branch, makes it authoritative. Believe it or not, there was a time when there was no Bible. For nearly four centuries, there was no canonized Scripture. No table of contents. It took decades after the Ascension of Christ for the apostles to write the New Testament. Some theologians believe that the last writings were by the apostle John around A.D. 68. That’s over thirty years after the Ascension. Before anything was written the Church had only Sacred Tradition. Not to be confused with “traditions of men” or man-made tradition. Sacred Tradition begat Sacred Scripture, all bound by the Magisterium of the Church–the bishops in union with the Successor of Peter, the Pope.

It would take nearly a thousand years before the Church would see its first split, East and West. Then another 500 years after that before the Church would see a multiple fracture occur in the Protestant Revolt. But the gates of hell shall not prevail. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church has stood strong since the time of Christ.

While Holy Mother Church is the pinnacle of holiness, there is still the human element attached to the Church. No Catholic parish is perfect. No priest, bishop, or even the pope is perfect, or impeccable. The Catholic Church itself is perfect. We have a perfect Liturgy in the Traditional Latin Mass, full of beauty and reverence, with all the “smells and bells.” We have a perfect Eucharistic sacrifice given to us by Christ Himself that occurs at every Mass. Catholicism is the fullness of Christianity. Even though modernism and the progressive movement emits itself within the Church today, we can and should embrace our traditional Catholic faith.

“Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” –St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. A.D 110

by John Connor

Do We Really Need Advent?

Recently I visited a 4th grade CCE (Continuing Christian Education) class to teach the kids about Advent. “Who can mention the seasons of the Church,” I asked. Eagerly, the kids raised their hands. “Summer,” the first kid said. “No.” I replied, pointing to another kid. “Winter,” another kid quickly blotted. I turned to another kid, expecting a good answer this time. “Spring,” was his answer. Then I knew that I had to lower my expectations. “I mean the seasons of the Church year,” I explained. At that point, some of the kids gave me the “what is he talking about” look.

Eventually, they mentioned Lent and Easter. But they had a very poor understanding of Advent. Then I realized that for these kids, and many kids, and even adults, the season of Advent is like the “appetizer” which you can skip, depending on how hungry you are. Everyone who is really hungry is looking forward to the main meal – Christmas. Worse still, the over commercialization of Christmas, seems to make Advent less appreciated, and more negligible. But is Advent just an appetizer? If yes, why does the Church devote so much time and energy in celebrating these four weeks before Christmas, and how relevant is the season of Advent?

Advent (Lat. adventus) means arrival. The question is whose arrival? When you hear songs like “Oh! You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, Cause I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town!,” it seems that we are preparing for the arrival of Santa Clause and not Jesus Christ, the Savior. I call those who put too much emphasis on Santa Claus and shopping, “Santaholics.” These are not just the kids, but adults as well. Some would rather say “Happy Holidays” than “Merry Christmas.” It is really difficult to tell what a good number of people celebrate during Christmas. That raises the question: when people are preparing, what are they preparing for? How are they preparing?

Advent is for those who are preparing for the arrival (birth) of Jesus Christ on Christmas day. The four-week period of Advent emphasizes penitence and joyful expectation. Different parishes have different events scheduled. They include penance services, in addition to regular confession times. There is also communal adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Advent season also encourages works of charity and mercy. The color purple is the liturgical color for the season to mark the penitential nature of the season. Floral decorations are used in moderation. The organ and other musical instruments are also used in moderation. The “Gloria” is omitted during Mass. The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday. The color rose is used at the liturgical color to expresses a joyful note of anticipation for the coming of the Savior. All these are done to suit the character of the season. Advent emphasizes the first coming of Jesus as Savior and Redeemer, and His second coming in glory as Lord and Judge. Therefore Christ himself has instructed us on how to prepare for his coming by saying, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mk 13:33). Clearly, there is more to preparing for Christmas than knowing the date and shopping for it.

Scripture tells us how Jesus prepared for His coming: “he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance …” (Phil 2:7) The self-emptying, taking the form of a slave, and then coming in human likeness, all describe elaborate preparation. If the Lord did such elaborate preparation for His coming, why would He find us unprepared when he arrives? Material preparation is very important, no doubt. But moral and spiritual preparation is much more important. Otherwise we would be like those described thus: “he came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gave power to become children of God ” (Jn 1:11-12)

Advent is to Christmas what John the Baptist is to Jesus – preparation for the real thing. But not just in the sense of an “appetizer,” but in a more profound and meaningful way. He declares: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Jn 1:23).

One of the titles of Jesus Christ is “Emmanuel” – God is with us. God desires to be, not just with us, but in us, in our hearts. “It is by faith that he dwells in our hearts, in our memory, our intellect and penetrates even into our imagination. What concept could man have of God if he did not first fashion an image of him in his heart?” –Saint Bernard.

It is only by God’s grace that we can fully utilize the great opportunity provided by the season of Advent. We need the wisdom, courage and humility to know and to do what it takes to prepare for the coming of Christ. In the words of St. Anselm, we pray to God: “Teach me to seek you, and when I seek you show yourself to me, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, nor can I find you unless you show yourself to me.” This is one of the main reasons why I would answer: Yes, we really need the season of Advent.

by
Rev. Augustine Uchenna Ariwaodo
Parochial Vicar, St. Mary’s Catholic Center
College Station, Texas

Catholicism in College

In youth group, a major concern was how to keep us Catholic in college.  We were read terrifying numbers of how many people leave the Church in their college years, we were given talks and books to prepare us for the college experience, and we were encouraged to deepen our relationship with God.  I was given great advice, but I would like to share with you a reflection on the first two years of my college life.  By finding God in each day, I not only stayed Catholic, but grew in my faith!  He is everywhere if you look for Him!

I turned the time between classes into a time to raise my thoughts, contemplate on the beauty of creation, and give thanks to God.  I was blessed to be on a beautiful campus my first two years.  Every time I walked from class to class all of the flowers, trees, and other creation pointed directly to the Creator.  It is rejuvenating to take a deep breath of fresh air, look around at the beautiful sky and earth and thank God.  But nature is not the only type of creation that points to God.

Everyone we pass by each day is a beloved child of the Father.  It is amazing how uniquely complex people are.  Everyone has hopes, dreams, fears, passions, etc.  We’re all amazing creatures that can interact with each other in complex ways, have the ability to be rational, and have the vocation to love.  Most amazing is that everyone has a soul, an immortal soul made in the image and likeness of God.  Everyone has the image of the Divine in them.  Nothing on earth can compare to the infinite beauty of our souls, not even the most breathtaking sunset, piece of art, or music.  We are surrounded by beautiful masterpieces everyday – human beings.  Yet people hardly acknowledge others.

“And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

God can also be found in the classroom.  All of the subjects have the mark of the Lord in them because He is their source.  “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

In any of the sciences, we learn about how creation works and how our amazingly brilliant and wise Creator did it!  Everything is so complex and intricate that it is hard to picture anything at all coming about without a creator.

In English, we get to learn how to use language to eloquently and convincingly convey truths and the Gospel that were put in place by the Divine Author.

In history, we study those who have gone before us and witness how God worked in their lives, but also learn from their mistakes.

In government, we learn how humans should to interact to protect the rights and dignities of each other, especially the most vulnerable among us.

In philosophy, we seek truth and wisdom.  In Greek, philosophy literally means “love of wisdom.”

In psychology, we study the infinite complexities of the mind that God has given us.  In Greek, psychology means “study of the soul and mind.”

Though it was a challenge, I have even found God in math!  God brings order out of chaos.  In the beginning, He separated light from darkness, the sky from the waters, and the waters from the earth.  Just as God has brought order out of chaos, we get to bring order by the logic and rationality of mathematics.

Finding God in my studies and time in college has helped my faith grow.  He is present in the beautiful earth, the people that fill it, and the knowledge that He has blessed us with.  This mindset gives me greater perspective on what the purpose of an education is.  It is to learn and know more about God to be able to serve Him.

I think these practices of seeking God in each day is a powerful prayer that can be practiced by anyone, regardless of stage of life or vocation.  I pray that each day you will be blessed to see God’s presence in your life!

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

by Sarah Pressman