Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Confessions of a Confirmation Catechist: Gratitude Code

Every class, when written up, sounds a lot smoother than the class I actually presented. In reality, I jump around a lot in a disconnected way, and as I'm often actively trying to combat my audience's disinterest, class seems like a lot more of a slog than it may read here. Still! Confirmation is coming up, so the Holy Spirit is going to take everyone off of my hands.


Anyone watch National Treasure? Remember what it was about? Nic Cage hunting for treasure. "I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence." And what did he spend most of his time doing? Yes, hunting for treasure, but for most of the movie he and his crack team were trying to break the code. People love code breaking.

Wait, can I digress? That movie was so historically inaccurate, it made my teeth hurt. Right at the beginning, we hear that the Knights Templar and the Freemasons were working together to hide the treasure. Guys, that is completely bogus. The Knights Templar were a crusading order who were suppressed in the 1300s because the King of France wanted their money. The Freemasons were founded around the time of the French Revolution, and they hated Catholics. So the Knights Templar and the Freemasons didn't exist at the same time, and they wouldn't have been working toward the same goal, or working together at all. End Rant.

Anyway, code. I've brought something in code for you today. Anyone understand this?


(I wrote this out on the board from memory, in what was probably the most impressive moment of my teaching career.)

What language is this? Not Arabic. Not Hebrew. Yes, it's Greek. Try writing it out yourself.

Let's break this code. εὐ means "well" or "good". χ is not "x"; it says "k", or as we'd write it, "ch". The fishy-looking α is "a", so that's not too hard. ρ is not "p", it's "r". ι is pretty easy, just like it looks. σ is "s" -- crazy, right? τ is... tau? That's right! How'd you know that? Get this: ή is not "n", but "e" that sounds like "a". And ς is a different way of writing "s" at the end of a word.

Eucharistesas. Want to take a crack at that?

Yes, eucharist, but in this case it's a verb. It means "having given thanks", and it's used 9 times in the New Testament.

In all but one case, it's used around food. In several cases, it's used when Jesus multiplies the loaves and fishes: he took the break and having given thanks, gave it to the apostles to distribute. And in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it's the word used at the last supper when Jesus gives the bread that is his body. Look up Luke 22:18-19. Yes, you're right! We do hear those words at mass at the consecration. "Having given thanks" is important: Jesus has already given the perfect thanks to the Father, and in the mass, we're participating in his thanksgiving.

I read an article about gratitude in the paper this weekend that said that kids these days are ungrateful. What do you think of that? Of course, the article was written by an older person, so... Every generation thinks that the kids are less grateful now than they used to be. What do you have to be thankful for? Take a moment and write down a few things that you're grateful for. If you have clothes, if you have shelter, if you have a family that loves you... if your feet don't hurt, be grateful for that! Look, as you get older, you'll really appreciate it when parts of you don't hurt.

The Eucharist is our perfect prayer of gratitude, because all good gifts come from God. But we can show gratitude badly, can't we? Let's look at another instance of the verb eucharisto, from Luke 18:11: I give you thanks, Father, that I'm not like sinners, adulterers, cheats, or like that tax collector over there. Is the Pharisee expressing gratitude well? Oh, you think so? You think the proper way to thank God is to thank him that you're better than everyone else? We can express gratitude badly, and it can be harmful to our soul. We have to be careful about the attitude that we bring to the Eucharist, because we can cut ourselves off from God if we receive it poorly. That's why we have the penitential rite before we receive the Eucharist, and that's why we have the sacrament of Confession: to help us to approach God in a spirit of true gratitude.

Anyone feel like they're great at praying? Do you feel like you pray enough? Who can say, "I don't need to add any more prayer into my life"?

Now, who hates wasting time? (Girl: "I hate wasting time, but I always do it.") Who hates filling time with busy work? Do you like efficiency? You like to know that when you're doing something, it's effective, that it means something. The Mass is our most efficient prayer ever. It packs all the different ways we can pray into one total package, and it does so in words that have been carefully chosen to convey the deepest meaning. In one hour, the Mass has a more powerful, more efficient, more compact form of prayer than we can achieve by our own efforts. Let's go through the forms of prayer we'll find in the Mass. Write down on your page:


A is for adoration, the worship that we reserve for God alone. We don't adore any other person, even Mary the mother of God. Only God is worshipped, and the mass contains this form of prayer in the Gloria.

C is for contrition. Yes, it means sorrow, sorrow for sins and repentance. In the penitential rite, we confess that we are sinners and ask for pardon.

T is for thanksgiving, gratitude. Again: "having given thanks". We participate in Jesus's prayer of thanks to the Father, and we bring our thanks for all the blessings we've received, especially for the Eucharist.

S is for supplication. Yes, asking! We have a part of the mass for this, the Prayer of the Faithful. And we don't just ask God for spiritual things. We ask him for the physical things that we need as well: "give us this day our daily bread". We offer prayers for friends, for family, for the world, for ourselves. All good things come from God.

Let's review! What does Eucharist mean? Thanksgiving! What prayer is the "source and summit of our faith"? The Mass! Does National Treasure have anything to do with history? No! Alright, ten minutes in the gym: go!


It is fashionable in this day and age to write articles about how dress codes and talk of modesty impinge on females, and how girls feel demeaned by discussions of appropriate dress, and how the fashion industry is sexist and women are victims, and let's fight against demeaning standards of dress that put inordinate demands on girls.

My friends. Bosh. In discussing dress codes for Confirmation, the girls in my class were models of decorum and common sense. They all agreed that it was proper to cover one's shoulders in church, that cleavage was not appropriate, that they wanted to wear a dress long enough that when they bowed in front of the altar, their derriere was not exposed, that wobbling in stiletto heels made you look silly in front of everyone. They were eager for standards to help them find the right dress -- or pants; we're not drawing lines in the sand here.

But oh my stars and garters, try telling a bunch of teenage boys that they need to wear a suit and a tie, and a belt and dress shoes! Picture to yourself the moaning and agitation, the horror, that one cannot wear jeans or cargo shorts to a mass with the bishop to celebrate the reception of a sacrament! The bargaining, the groping for loopholes!

"Can I wear sneakers?"
"What about really nice Vans?"
"No, you need to wear dress shoes."
"That's not fair! What if I wear a jacket and cargo shorts?"
"Then that demonstrates that you don't really have a proper understanding of and attitude toward the sacrament of Confirmation, even after a year of classes, so you'll probably be asked to leave."
"Oh, snap!"
"You can rent a suit. You can borrow a suit. You can wear a dress jacket and slacks. But wearing appropriate clothes for an occasion is a signal that you understand the importance of the event and want to show your respect for the occasion and the people involved. And we want you to be confirmed! We don't want to kick you out. So if you come without a jacket, we'll find you a jacket. If you come without a tie, we'll find you a tie. If you come with bare shoulders, we'll find you a sweater. But it may not fit, and it may not look good. So avoid that situation by finding your own suitable outfit."

The girls nodded, the boys wept like babies. Oh, the unreasonable demands we place upon guys!


Lisa said...

Sometimes young men are receptive to the idea of a uniform if they are sports oriented. You wear the *uniform* because that is what the expected dress is for the event. Just a thought for a future example.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! (Re: the boys and dress code.)