Monday, April 22, 2013

On Earth Day: Stewardship for Future Generations

Happy Earth Day!  I remember the first one, April 22, 1970 - the "teach-in" heard around the nation.

Today, let's remember that the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts care of the earth in the context of not harming God's creatures and not stealing from future generations.  CCC 2415-18 and 2456 says:  
Respect for the integrity of creation 
2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.
2416 Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.
2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.
2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly...
2456 The dominion granted by the Creator over the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be separated from respect for moral obligations, including those toward generations to come.

Respect for Creation. It's what we are called to.  Pray for the planet today - and do what you can to preserve and respect it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Seeing Tragedy Through the Eyes of Catholic Faith

In the wake of the unspeakable act of violence in Boston Monday, our hearts are broken. When we see photos of the carnage, hear the testimony of those who were there, we find it difficult not to be very sad. It is only natural that both children and adults will ask questions.

Catechists and catechetical leaders have a special role to play in helping children and adults understand and deal with this tragedy through the eyes of faith.  Because of our Catholic faith, we see the "Problem of Evil" differently.

We should remind them of our beliefs about evil:

Yes, bad things do happen to good people. Look at Jesus and the martyrs. None of them deserved their suffering and deaths. Indeed, their suffering was redemptive. We should unite our sufferings with the suffering of Christ. (A nice explanation of the Pauline theology of that can be found here.)

God does not cause evil or suffering. Evil occurs because some people do not listen to the voice of God but instead make evil choices.  This is because God gave us free will -and because he respects us he permits us to choose. Sometimes, because of sin, we choose evil.  Free will is a gift, but it comes with the responsibility to form one's conscience, through reading scripture and study of moral teaching, and to seek to follow not our own will, but the will of God.

Good will overcome evil - but not always right away. For some things we may have to wait until Jesus comes again at the end of time. All we can do for now is pray regularly in the Our Father: "deliver us from evil..." Meanwhile, we are called by our baptism to  make the world a better place. We should never give up our fight for justice, to right things that are wrong, or to defend the poor, the helpless and the innocent.

Good can come from evil. The Resurrection of Jesus depended on his suffering and death. Sometimes we have to suffer pain or loss before we can accept the call to something better. As St. Paul wrote "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted. As an Easter people, looking toward resurrection, we should never succumb to despair.

Lastly, we need to pray for those who were killed or injured and their families. We also need to pray for peace and an end to violence and hatred.  Even more than that, we are called to pray for whoever did this, since Jesus told us to pray for our enemies - and indeed prayed from the Cross for those who hurt him.

For older students and adults, you might want to call their attention to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 309-314, the section on Providence and the Scandal of Evil.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Season Resources: The Liturgical Catechist Web Update

Resources for the Easter Season are now posted and available on The Liturgical Catechist site!  Check out the videos and links to liturgical, catechetical, spiritual, musical and family traditions that can be used in faith formation sessions and by families - as well as for individual reflection and renewal.

Suggestions are always appreciated, too!

I Know My Redeemer Lives: Songs to Share with Kids for the Easter Season

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!  For the next 50 days, we are challenged to remain an Easter people - our hearts filled with joy, our gatherings full of celebration.

Catechists might want to make more conscious use of music during faith formation sessions to help set the tone of celebration.  Here are a few suggestions from several musical genres that might be somewhat inviting to children and teens:

And for a little humor:

Happy Easter!