Monday, August 29, 2016

Media & Mercy: The Way of Perfection

I’ve decided to end the summer (which technically doesn’t end for another month: but it’s a fact universally acknowledged that everything that comes after Labor Day is just a formality) with St. Teresa of Avila. Granted, “The Way of Perfection” isn’t exactly a beach read. But she is the saint that I named myself after—and the patron saint of Spanish Catholic writers, to boot. With the Summer of Mercy (and this column, which constitutes my first attempt at ‘religious’ writing: though what isn’t religious, if you’re a believer?) coming to a close, I wanted to spend some more time with her. 

As a writer, I’ve been struggling with my choice to write about media. Sometimes, it can’t help but feel a little frivolous, especially when I compare it to everything that St. Teresa talks about. I’m attempting to follow in the footsteps of a woman who wrote lines like “Let us not allow our will to be the slave of any, sisters, save of Him who bought it with His blood” and “let any who wish to talk to you learn your language; and, if they will not, be careful never to learn theirs: it might lead you to hell.” In light of this, I find myself wondering if writing about The Fault in Our Stars and The Legend of Zelda is really the best thing that I could be doing. 

There are plenty of reasons why entertaining such thoughts is a bad idea. St. Teresa wrote “The Way of Perfection” for a group of sixteenth-century nuns that were living in an especially strict convent; and I’m a twenty-something neophyte living in Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago. In the August of 2015, I wasn’t even a Catholic. The comparison isn’t exactly valid. Still: why media? When tasked with writing about mercy, why did I decide to spend fourteen weeks pointing out different examples of it in pop culture?

After some reflection, I’m left thinking that it might have something to do with being a convert. For the first twenty-five years of my life, media was effectively the God that I worshiped. I would hazard that this is true for many people, even those who try to be church-goers. Media lends itself to being worshipped, after all; it’s everywhere. And placing it at the center of our lives is much less demanding than taking the people, places, and events around us seriously. The latter entails analyzing our own place in the world, and examining how we contribute to both good and evil; the former, on the other hand, only asks that we have some intelligent things to say about the latest show we’re watching. It’s definitely possible to explore themes like giving drink to the thirty, food to the hungry, and visiting the sick through artistic expression. But it’s also possible to lose yourself in artistic expression, and to avoid engaging with reality by devoting yourself to escapism.

By writing this column, I suppose that I wanted to revisit the scenes of my youth, and maybe spot the redemptive seeds that I was too blind to see before. I wanted to learn how to be a good Catholic, and bear the wrongs of my past self patiently. I don’t know if I succeeded—but I do hope that the work I produced helped people to think twice about mercy, and the places where you might be able to find it. 

Teresa de Mallorca is the pseudonym of a neophyte who just completed the RCIA program at Holy Name

Share your thoughts below or on social media, tagging Holy Name Cathedral and using #SeasonOfMercy.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bear Wrong Patiently

“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8–9)

I must admit that this has been challenging for me to write because I do not bear wrongs patiently. When I was younger, I was a doormat – now that I’m older I’m the opposite. I’ve gone from one extreme to the other.

So, I did a little research to see what others have written about“Bearing wrongs patiently” and it was very enlightening – something I think the Lord needed me to see “Do not return evil for evil” hit me like a ton of bricks. In many ways I’m ashamed to say that is what I do.

How can I change that? How can I become a version of myself that shows the God in me? 

“Bear” according to means; to hold up; support: to hold or remain firm . . .

As human beings we all have flaws, as Christians it is incumbent upon us to love the flaws as well as the goodness inside someone. So, when someone does something that offends me, hurts me, saddens me I should absolutely address the situation but still have love in my heart. Because I’m sure that I have wronged someone as well and I would want forgiveness. I would want to be given another chance to show my better self. Shouldn’t we do that for each other? After all we are to treat people the way we want to be treated – not just sometimes but all of the time. I have been humbled by this exercise and know that I have work to do. I have to learn to be a more accepting person. 

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21–22) That’s what we have been tasked with straight from our Lord. I’ll keep trying!

By Michelle Peltier
Liturgy & Ministries Associate and long time parishioner of Holy Name Cathedral.

Share your thoughts below or on social media, tagging Holy Name Cathedral and using #SeasonOfMercy.

One Word at a Time - Unknot

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pew to Pilgrim - Admonish the Sinner

Integrity means your words and your actions are in synch, the wholeness of your character is honest and trustworthy. The Act of Mercy, Admonish the Sinner, encourages us to question whether our actions and words match – simply stated, do they fit? Are we living the words we speak? Are the people we love also able to live a moral life?

Before proceeding through this week’s Pew to Pilgrim practical suggestions on how to perform this Act of Mercy, reflect on what is Admonish the Sinner. Review this week’s postings to uncover some new perspectives. Discern over how this week’s act of mercy is (or is not) a part of your life.
The starting point for this Act of Mercy is with ourselves. We are human and we fall. Christ challenges us and urges us to own our stumbles and to ask for forgiveness. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is his invitation to spend time with him and receive his love and mercy.

Going to confession does not mean we are promising to never sin again. It does offer time to open our hearts to both our own sins as well as those committed against you by others. This is an opportunity to experience God's love for you so that you are able to share it with others.

Preparing for confession offers us a break in our daily routine to reflect and prayerfully answer the question of where in your life you may have fallen, for example:
  • Daily prayer or attendance at Mass
  • Truthfulness or gossiping 
  • Taking the Lord’s name in vain 
  • Disobedience 
  • Hate, revenge or lack of forgiveness 
  • Immoral behavior 
  • Harming others 
An interesting and perhaps paradoxical approach to examine our own sins is to look at what bothers us about others' behavior. Often, what bothers us the most is exactly what is problematic in our own behavior. Be kind to yourself but be honest and let this become a regular habit of reflection. Pray to the Lord for forgiveness and guidance.

The essence of Admonish the Sinner is a call for us to urge our “brothers and sisters” to address their sins. Of course, this needs to come from a place of love. This familial approach allows us to share our true intention of helping the other person, not just something we want to tell the other person. This requires extraordinary empathy and compassion, both to approach the other person but also to help them be able to truly “hear you.”

So how do we practically offer this Act of Mercy?
  • Apologize to someone for the way you treated them; let them know you realize your mistake 
  • Find a way to make a regular practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation - reflect on your sins
    • Been awhile? there are many helpful guides to prepare (an examination of conscience), how to confess your sins, ways to listen to the priest's advice, expressing your sorrow (an act of contrition) and absolution & penance
  • Recognize that "values are caught, not taught." This proverb encourages us to be a good example for not only our children but also for our community.
  • Talk to your priest about what you are struggling with and how to improve your own actions 
  • Read Fr. Barron's Word on Fire blog on The Gift of Confession
  • Think about someone you may have shut out because of their sinful actions. 
    •  Reach out to them to discuss how you were hurt and/or why you thought their actions were wrong. Work on forgiving that person. 
  • Begin reading the Bible more often or sign up for daily affirmations or Catholic newsletters that encourage you to discover new aspects of the Catholic faith. 
  • Start to have a better understanding of what Catholics are called to believe in so that you can work towards living that life and you can also better educate others who are not living in the way Catholics are called to live. 
  • Attend a Faith Formation lecture to educate yourself on different aspects of Catholicism; bring someone with you to share and jointly reflect on what you heard
  • Participate in Nightfever tonight, August 27 (or another one in the Fall) at Holy Name Cathedral - talk to one of the priests who are there for guidance
  • Have a Mass intention done for someone who needs "admonishment" but you may not be able to talk to them directly 
  • Join the Wednesday evening Holy Name Cathedral Bible Study group
  • Watch the political debates and take note of the candidates' positions. How do they fit into Catholicism? How do they not? 
  • Go on a retreat to take time to reflect on how you are living your life; what changes would you like to make? Are there people in your life you should be talking with? Use the time to consider what steps you would like to take in your journey as a Disciple of Christ:
  • Ask a friend on how to approach someone who needs your support; perhaps even role play with them on what you might say or how you could say it

Lori Doyle and Gabi Schultz have served as members of the Parish Pastoral Council, active with a variety of Liturgical Ministries as Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers, Cathedral Altar Servers and Ministers of Care at Prentice Hospital/NW Hospital. Both parishioners for about 6 years, Lori loves to travel and cook and is a proud mother of her son John, a UM Wolverine. Gabi enjoys trying new restaurants, running, cooking lessons and spending time with friends and family.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

#TBT - C.S. Lewis

Recognizing that we are all sinners walking the road together, we can open our hearts and minds to the efforts of God to draw us closer to him through the guidance he offers. Finding companions on our journey who will compassionately speak the truth is one of the greatest gifts God offers us. 

Who speaks truth to you, offering an honest evaluation of your words, deeds, and choices?

How do you respond to that truth?

How can you show your gratitude to this individual?

Take a moment to offer your thanks to God for the truth in your life.

Jennifer Delvaux
Director of Faith Formation

Share your thoughts below or on social media, tagging Holy Name Cathedral and using #SeasonOfMercy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Caught in God's Generosity

Take some time to read through the passage, Matthew 7:1-5, then return to this reflection. 
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Sandwiched between words about God's generosity and messages of answered prayers come these five verses on judgement of others. I do not see this as a coincidence. Judgement is what comes when we approach admonishing the sinner without love, without mercy, and without a full understanding of how God responds to our own sins.

Spend some time reading Matthew 7:1-5 within the context of Matthew 6:25-7:11. You can find Matthew 6 here and Matthew 7 here.

  • When have you found God to be a source of strength, someone you can depend upon?
  • How can you more fully trust in God?
  • When has someone been generous towards you? Merciful towards you?
  • How can you embrace mercy and not judgement towards others in your life?
  • How can you mercifully reach out to those who are sinning?
  • How can you more openly embrace the admonishments of others regarding your own failures and sins?

Take a moment to give thanks to God for his mercy and generosity.

Jennifer Delvaux
Director of Faith Formation