Tag Archives: rules

What is the Triduum and Why Should I Care?

Three days in a row at church?  Maybe it sounded miserable when you were six, but this year you’re much older and wiser.  More importantly, you have gotten to know the person of Jesus Christ.  And there is no better or more fitting way to commemorate Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection than participating in the Easter Triduum.

 

What is the Easter Triduum?

The word “Triduum” can mean any three-day period of prayer that typically precedes a feast day.  The Easter Triduum (or Paschal Triduum) is the three days of prayer that precede the celebration of Easter.  These three days see the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, a Good Friday service that recalls the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and finally, the three days culminate in the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection at the Easter Vigil, after nightfall on Holy Saturday but before dawn on Easter Sunday.

 

Holy Thursday (that’s today!)

Tonight we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (your parish probably has this mass tonight around 7pm).  At this mass, we commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus (as, of course, we do at every mass—but in a special way tonight).  We recall Jesus’ words to the twelve in Luke’s Gospel on the night he was handed over, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” We recall Christ’s washing of the apostles’ feet in the institution of the priesthood, and the institution of the Eucharist.  The mass will end with the procession of the Blessed Sacrament out of the church to a place of repose, where the faithful are typically able and encouraged to stay and pray for a period of time.  The altar in the church is then stripped and crosses are covered with a red or purple veil.  This is a perfect way to prepare for Good Friday.  Celebrate with Christ the Passover meal, and enter with him into the Garden to pray.

 

Good Friday

Good Friday is the day that we commemorate the passion and death of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  This is the one day out of the entire year that the Catholic Church does not celebrate the mass.  Instead, there is a Good Friday service (usually takes place in the afternoon) that typically consists of the Liturgy of the Word, veneration of the Cross, and communion (the communion hosts received at this service were consecrated at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday).  This is a solemn day on which Catholics are obliged to fast.  Especially between the hours of 12 and 3pm, the faithful are called to meditate on the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

 

The Easter Vigil

The “mother of all holy vigils”, on this night, the Church keeps vigil for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is also at this mass that the Church welcomes its newest members through the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist).  You will not find a more joy-filled or a more glorious celebration on this earth than the Easter Vigil.  A lot more could be said, but words just won’t do it justice.  :)

The goal of our worship, of our liturgy, as Catholics is communion with God.  Over these next three days during which we commemorate the good news of our faith as Christians, what better way to be united with God than to walk the steps of Jesus along with the Church?  To participate in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper this evening, to enter with Christ into the Garden tonight, to walk with him on the road to Calvary tomorrow, to wait in haste on Saturday and keeping vigil into the night, ultimately celebrating his resurrection from the dead and victory over sin.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

The Teachings Our Generation Missed

Receiving the Eucharist is a big deal to us Catholics, yes?  Ok, good.  Glad we are on the same page.  However, I have this sneaking suspicion that our generation missed, or just wasn’t told often enough, some basic rules about receiving the Eucharist.  Maybe the older folks are afraid we can’t handle them, or are just worried that we’ll think they’re uncool or something.  Regardless, I’m letting the cat out of the bag.

You ready?

(1) We have an obligation to attend mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day of Obligation.  If we miss mass without a serious reason, we’re guilty of mortal sin and need to go to confession before we can receive the Eucharist again.

(2) We have an obligation to go to confession at least once a year.  If it has been over one year since the last time you went to reconciliation, you should not be receiving the Eucharist.

***Update Re the Comment Box (in other words, stealing from the comment box):

“The once a year thing is interesting… the most recent code of canon law requires that we confess our grave sins at least once a year (989). Which, legally speaking, makes the most sense, since the sacrament of confession is actually only strictly necessary for the forgiveness of mortal sins. Venial sins do not need to be brought to confession in order to be forgiven.
However, practically and spiritually speaking, it makes sense that we would need to go to confession at least once a year, no matter what. Because even if we don’t need, strictly speaking, to confess venial sins in the sacrament of confession, we should, because it makes us aware of our sins, we receive grace and strength to overcome temptation and grow in holiness, and we actually hear the words of Jesus  saying, ‘I forgive you'”

(3) We also have an obligation to receive the Eucharist at least once during the season of Easter each year.  Translation: if you’re a baptized Catholic just going to mass every Sunday but not receiving because you’re aware of a mortal sin on your conscience, you need to go to confession sometime before Easter season is over this year so that you can receive communion.

The point of all of this: We cannot receive communion in a state of mortal sin.  Just because we made our first communion when we were seven does not automatically make us forever eligible to receive.  We have to live it out, too.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

-1 Cor 11:27-30

Yes, you read that right: Sickness and even death as a result of receiving communion in the state of mortal sin.  Of course, we should be wayyy more concerned about our spiritual health than our physical health, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking the two are mutually exclusive.  There have been many miracles in which people were healed from physical ailments after going to confession.

I’m not usually about fire and brimstone, but pretending it doesn’t exist is just not at all helpful.  The fact of the matter is that sometimes the truth is scary.  That is, of course, until we decide to live in accordance with it.  :)

Diving Into Lent

Lent is less than a week away!  Have you made your Lenten resolutions yet?

A while ago I bought into what I am now deeming not-so-good advice about Lent.  I can’t remember where it came from, all I know is that I somehow got into my head the idea that it was best to make one or two resolutions that you know you can really stick to as opposed to a bunch of life-altering changes that might result in miserable failure on day three.

Well, forget that.

This is a blog for young adults, and we’re not particularly well known for being overly cautious.  Why should that change when it comes to one of the few cases in which caution is actually NOT desirable—in growing in relationship with Jesus?

We’ve got six days, people.  Let’s ask Jesus what things in our lives are keeping us from loving Him as we ought to and—whether it’s a list of three or three hundred things—cut. them. out. 

Is sleeping-in keeping you from prayer?  Set seven alarms and sleep on the floor for Lent (it’s much harder to sleep in when what you’re sleeping on is uncomfortable).  Wasting time on Facebook?  Block it.  Deactivate.  Whatever it takes.  Also, fast.  Fast a lot.

A lot of people ask how giving up something like chocolate or soda can help your relationship with Jesus.  It’s simple, really.  We are supposed to love Jesus above all else; and as Christians, we want to love Jesus above all else.  So we practice.  We practice by refusing ourselves some lesser good—not because enjoying that lesser good is wrong, but because by refusing that lesser good, we are showing and increasing our love for He that is the greatest good.  If we don’t practice saying no to ourselves and to lesser goods, then our prayer becomes empty.  I can’t truly say that I love God more than anything if I’m unable to do something as simple as giving up dessert as an act of love for Him.

There’s a catch, though.  The thing about the advice I took a few years back was that it was safe.  If you’re just giving up chocolate for Lent, it’s not so difficult to just get into the habit of not having chocolate.  It’s a simple recipe for a “successful” Lent.

The non-cautious route to Lent isn’t safe.  And you may not be “successful” in the same way as you used to be on the safe route.  But Lent is all about renewing your total reliance on God, and sometimes we learn that best after falling a few times trying to do it on our own.  The sooner you learn that you will fail when you try to do it alone, the better.  The battle was never yours to begin with.

“Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works”

Heb 10:24

7 Steps to Being Young & Catholic

Ok, so I’ve gotten some questions from readers asking about the specifics of how exactly to do this—that is, how is one to go about being “young and Catholic” in the world today?

Below is a battle plan of sorts…

1.)  Regular Mass and Adoration

The non-denoms have it right when they say that relationship with Christ is what your faith has to be grounded on.  But you won’t get there if you don’t make it a point to schedule time with Him.  For this reason the Church makes it mandatory for all of us to go to mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation—but mass is offered every day of the week.  Sure, I have friends with whom I only check in for an hour or so a week, but the people closest to me in my life I talk to on a daily basis.  It’s true that we can pray to Christ whenever we want and wherever we are (and we should!).  It’s also true that you’ll never be more united with Christ than in those moments after you receive Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  How close of a relationship do you want?

Reality Check: Many of us young people can’t make it to mass on a daily basis (especially if we’re not at a Catholic school or do not have a particularly vibrant Catholic parish nearby).  To those I say first of all to still try.  If you have trouble getting up every morning at 6:30 to make it to 7:30am mass, make it a goal to go to daily mass one day out of the week.  Christ will honor your sacrifice of sleep.  :)  If you can’t make it to mass and receive Christ in the Eucharist, make a spiritual communion insteadAnd find out the hours of your parish’s Blessed Sacrament (or Adoration) Chapel.  Make it a habit to spend at least an hour in there a week.

 

2.)  Regular Confession

We’re talking once every two weeks.  …Seriously?  Yes.  I know the typical rule of thumb nowadays is once a month, but I personally find myself needing to go more often than that.  And for me, it’s much easier to answer the question “Did I go last week” than, “Have I gone yet this month?”  Let’s face it: we all do little things that hurt our relationship with Christ on a daily basis.  What kind of friend would you be if you didn’t say, “I’m sorry”?  And besides, who couldn’t use more grace?

Reality Check: A lot of us are afraid of confession.  It’s not that we can’t do it every two weeks, it’s that we don’t want to.  But I promise you, after the first time you go to confession saying, “It has been two weeks since my last confession,” you will want to come back the next time being able to say the same thing.  Make it a habit and you won’t be sorry.  No one regrets having his or her sins forgiven.

 

3.)  Spiritual Reading

If you’re not reading the Bible, or something written by a saint, or a sound theologian of the Church, you’re going to find it difficult to grow in your faith.  Our love for God grows the more we know about Him.  Plus, reading will make that hour a week you’ve just committed to spend in the chapel go by that much quicker :)

Reality Check:  Where am I to find said books?  The Bible is a good place to start!  The word of God in the very words of God—can’t get much closer than that!  Other books I recommend: Introduction to the Devout Life (St. Francis De Sales), I Believe in Love, True Devotion to Mary, Confessions of Saint Augustine.  Send me an email if you want more suggestions.

 

4.)  Be honest.

If your friends don’t know that you’re Catholic, there’s a problem.  You don’t have to turn into the crazy religious kid who doesn’t talk about anything but church, but do let your friends (religious and non-religious) know that you’re Catholic.  Going to confession on Saturday?  Invite your Catholic friends.  Headed to Mass?  Invite all of your friends (but politely let the non-Catholics know beforehand that communion is only for Catholics living in a state of grace).  Speak up if someone bashes the Church, and maybe skip that frat party on Friday if you know that it will lead to you having to go to confession on Saturday.

Reality Check: It’s a little late for some of us.  We have friends who already know us as someone we no longer want to be.  Time for a heart-to-heart.  Lay it all out on the table.  Write a letter if you don’t think you’ll be able to say it all.  Look, I know I used to do this or I told you I’ve done that, but I’m trying to change.  I’m going to take my faith more seriously and as my friend I just wanted you to know what’s going on with me. But please: Don’t drop your friends for Jesus.  He wouldn’t do that, and it’s not a very good witness to faith if your friends think you dropped them because they’re “not holy enough”. Now, you may find that you can no longer take part in certain activities and as a result some friendships may naturally fade away, but make it a point to be upfront and honest so it’s not perceived as a personal attack.

 

5.)  No really, be honest.

You don’t have to pretend that you’re perfect now that you’ve decided to take your faith seriously.  In fact if you do, no one will take you seriously.  Your Facebook statuses do not all have to be about Jesus or taken from the Bible.  You’re allowed to have a social life outside of church.  You can listen to non-Christian music.  Most importantly, when you mess up, own up.  It’s human to struggle.

 

6.)  Find Catholic friends

Like I said, don’t ditch your non-Catholic friends (so long as they’re not leading you into sin).  But it’s important to have friends within the Church, too.  Why?  Because being a Catholic is difficult, and human beings are not able to survive without friends.  Sometimes you just need the friend next to you in the pew, or someone to call when you don’t understand the Church’s teaching on something.  They don’t need to have the right answer for you, but you need someone who understands the struggle, and who can encourage you in faith.

Reality Check:  That’s nice, but what if the only other Catholics in your town have gray hair?  Two suggestions: 1) Pray, pray, pray that God will send a friend your way.  And keep an open heart—be a friend to everyone.  He could be preparing your non-Catholic friend’s heart to receive His truth through your friendship.  2) Make friends with the old people!  They’re probably awesome and full of stories and great advice.

 

7.)  Do well in school (and/or at work).

Chances are good that God is not calling you to drop out of school and go off into the desert to pray.  It could happen, but it’s more likely that He is calling you to live your life for Him right where you are: in school, at work, at the gym, etc.  You really want to be a good witness of Christ?  You have to strive for excellence in all that you do.  Period.  In other words: Do your homework.  You may not be able to get straight A’s, but you better try your hardest.  Offer your hard work up to Christ as a prayer.  Jesus didn’t cut corners, so neither can we.

Reality Check: When asked, “Is it befitting a cardinal to ski?” Blessed JPII replied, “What is unbefitting a cardinal is to ski badly.”  :)  Seriously.  You cannot be a Christian and settle for mediocrity.

Bottom Line?  Do good, avoid evil.  Easier said than done, of course.  But be encouraged!  You are not alone in the struggle.

Why I Love Jesus AND Religion

[Please, if you would, take a moment right now to pray for a special intention of mine today.  Thank you so much!]

This video was making the rounds on my Facebook news feed yesterday.  You may have seen it:

Now I was a fan of this guy’s last video.  And in this video, he does say some things that are right, and I get that his heart is in the right place.  Where I take issue is that he is not merely saying that Jesus is greater than Religion (which, by the way, I agree with).  He is saying that Jesus hates religion.  And while it may be tempting to play the, “yeah, I think religious people are lame, too” card in an attempt to get more people to hear our message, we need to be careful that our message does not fly in the face of the Gospel.  I don’t have time to cover everything misleading in the video here, but I will try to hit the main points.

What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?

…Then I’d say you probably haven’t read the New Testament very carefully.  Jesus is pretty clear in Matthew 5:17 when He says,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

The Law, of course, being the Law of Moses, i.e. The Old Covenant, i.e. RELIGION.

In the Old Testament, God actually calls religious people whores

Yes, God called some religious people whores in the Old Testament—when they were being unfaithful to the Law (in other words: when they were disobeying the laws of their RELIGION—their religion given to them by God, by the way)

In the New Testament, Jesus refers to the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites an awful lot, but remember the definition of a hypocrite: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.  Jesus actually told the disciples that they should DO what the scribes and Pharisees tell them.

“…practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice” (Matthew 23:3).

“Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20)

Doesn’t sound like Jesus hates religion to me.  In fact it sounds like He takes it pretty seriously.

When individuals use religion as a mask or for personal gain?  Yes, Jesus hates that.  But only because religion is not (and never was) meant to be a mask.  It’s meant to be an aid.

If I’m sick, knowing the doctor is definitely going to be important.  I’m going to need a relationship with him in order to let him know what is hurting me so that he can heal me.  But the fact of the matter is, if there’s no hospital, I’m not going to be able to find a doctor.  If I don’t go in for regular check-ups (even when I don’t feel like I’m sick), I’m not going to remain healthy.  If there’s no medicine when I am sick, my relationship with the doctor isn’t going to be enough to make me well again.  There’s a reason the doctor prescribes medicine, just like there is a reason God gave us the rules of religion.