(Written on Wednesday, Nov. 17)
Hi to all you bloggers,
I’m all excited about tonight’s activities for our teenagers: square dancing. I love to square dance. I grew up with it as part of family weddings and physical education in school. I also square-danced when I used to have a date or two (boy, has that been a while). I still call them for different functions, and now we have this activity as part of our religious education program.
You may ask, “How is square dancing related to religious education?” First of all, my cousin, Fr. Mel Lochtefeld, taught square dancing years ago. Much of our faith comes from tradition. I’m just continuing the tradition.
Next, our students are studying the Theology of the Body. So much is made of what is inappropriate. We thought of a way to teach what is appropriate. Just because you dance with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean that you are dating them.
My nieces and nephews have been square dancing with each other at weddings for years. They’ve been dancing since they’ve been in grade school. To be able to hold hands with boundaries and a purpose is a good thing. So much of what we teach in regards to the physical person is taught in response to fear or suspicion. Dancing gives an outlet for good fun and social appropriateness.
The Church says, in John Paul’s writings on The Theology of the Body, that the physical aspect of man is good. I believe that our square dancing lessons will bring out the good in our students and respect for the physical person.
If you’ve ever seen our students in sports, you know how physical they can be. Tonight, they can see how they can work together to dance with the stars. We need a name for our class. “Dancing with the Stars” is taken. Maybe someone can come up with a good name.
I’m off to practice my Li’l Liza Jane.
This is a guest post by Connie Cleemput the Director of Religious Education.
Where do you stand on abortion, on underage drinking, on the death penalty? Where do you stand on taking time to pray as a family, on having a meal together or attending church on Sundays as a family? Where we stand, so stands our children. They mirror what we say and do as their parents, as their role models, as they people they look up to.
When practicing songs and prayers for Mass (after three weeks of practice) I mentioned to the First and Second graders to ask their moms and dads to take them to Mass on Sunday mornings or Saturday afternoon. I said “Your parents will say yes, just ask them.” I can not tell you how disheartened I was when a second grader told me that he had asked his parents and they said no.
Where do we stand? How can you, as parents, help your children be the best Catholic they can be? How can you help them form their consciences so they can make good, moral decisions?
As parents we have a moral obligation and a Catholic obligation to help form and support our children into whom God calls them to be. Yes, God calls all of us to take a stand. God has placed these children in our care, knowing and trusting we will do our best to raise them in our Catholic faith.
Take a stand. Take them to church, pray as a family around the dinner table at least once a day, tell them about God. Look in the mirror and you will see a reflection of your child. Listen to your voice and you will hear your child. Do you like what you see and hear? Take a stand.
It’s Pioneer Days in Kalida and it will be a busy weekend. I’ll be working with the Bingo booth, Duck Races, flipping social burgers, calling square dances and most of all enjoying the food and atmosphere.
When I was young, church festivals and fairs were tough to attend because I did not have money for a lot of extras. That meant I had to be careful of how I spent my quarters, dimes and pennies(yes, I am old). I thought to myself of how neat it would be to run away with the circus, so to speak.
I’d be surrounded by cotton candy, taffy and parades all the time. I think I was secretly called to be a carnival person rather than a priest. As a young person I was looking for the sweet life, and that meant cotton candy. My mom always said that too much cotton candy would make my teeth fall out.
Either my mom was telling me stories, I didn’t eat enough to make my teeth fall out or there was a lesson my mom was trying to teach me. I’m banking on the latter. Life isn’t always a sweet carnival. There is real food that must be eaten sometime. Sweets are fine for short intervals but will I really grow without substance?
I believe this lesson goes not only for the body but for the whole person. To be a whole person there will be things on our plate that might not be the sweetest but may bethe best for us. Sacrifice and hard work are hard to swallow but may help us grow more than selfishness and laziness.
Mom always said our teeth would fall out if we had too many sweets. Mom made sure our teeth didn’t fall out due to proper eating habits at the table and in life. I am better for it and smile with my own teeth.
I believe we want a sweet life for our kids and for ourselves. Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full. When I see the kids here I smile and want the best for them.
Today, I don’t think they have to run away to the circus to be filled with sweet things. The circus is here. As a nation and a community we have been blessed with many sweet things. The challenge for parents and our community is to help the kids keep their teeth and to smile because they have a full life.
And yes, I will have some cotton candy this weekend. I’ll also work the booths to keep our community strong.
In the spirit of Pioneer, what are you most looking forward to in this weekend’s festivities?
The question about having sex before Marriage is an important one to grasp. It hints at something more than a common, usual experience. It alludes to something desirous that needs to be treated in a special way. Thus it is imperative to understand the act of sex and how it can manifest love.
The union of man and woman during sexual intercourse is a unique gift of giving and a clear role in the action of creation. The sanctity of sex is reflected in the ultimate communion of two people, the complete giving and receiving of one for another. In addition, that union may be further mirrored in a new human life. The act of sex brings man and woman together as one. It continues the story of creation. It must be an action of love.
For this reason, we can not treat sex as a casual, earthly event. When we recognize the sacred nature of this union, we must surround it with the reverence and appreciation that it deserves. The Church looks to Christ to understand the complete giving of self for another and how to embrace full communion.
When we consider how Christ became a man, suffered, died and rose for us, we have the truth about love. He is what love looks like. His witness shows that love is given totally, freely, faithfully, and fruitfully. He gave Himself without holding anything back. He did so freely, not forced. He remained faithful to us throughout his entire life on earth and continues to be with us in the Eucharist. The fruits of His action of love are mercy and the opening of Heaven.
By using this lens to look at having sex before Marriage, we can see the shortcomings of that action. Pre-marital sex is not a total and faithful giving of oneself because it lacks a complete commitment, no witnessed pledge or vow. Pre-marital sex is not often given freely, but rather coerced as a ‘show of love’ or ‘just something that two people do next.’ Pre-marital sex does not strengthen the family unit that children need.
With this truth of Christ before us, we see why sex is an action of love between husband and wife. Through the Sacrament of Marriage they have answered the questions that most identify a loving relationship:
- “Have you come here freely to give yourself to one another without reservation?”
- “Do you promise to be faithful until death?”
- “Do you promise to receive children lovingly from God?”
Their vows to one another are a witness to us that they desire to love one another as Christ loves his Church – TOTALLY, FREELY, FAITHFULLY, FRUITFULLY – and every time they unite in sex, it is a renewal of those vows.
Jan Kahle received the following email last week from Ann Barrick, of the Pro Life Connection, about two girls who chose life after contemplating abortion (when approached at the Center for Choice, in Toledo, OH). Jan wanted as many people as possible to hear this story:
PRAISE GOD!! Two women chose life for their babies this evening!! I thought you might like to hear the stories… Enjoy!
A young couple passed by a sidewalk counselor as they went into the abortion center. The man took the information that the counselor offered but didn’t stop to talk, just looked at her strangely. Five minutes later, he walked out of the center right to her and stood there. She asked him if he wanted to talk. He said, “I just can’t stay inside that place! It’s so depressing!” The counselor talked to the man for awhile, and he kept trying to justify the abortion. Meanwhile, 3 teens, 1 pre-teen and a woman was praying on the sidewalk in front while another counselor was across the alley praying. God touched the man’s heart at some point in the conversation because he softened and eventually listened to the advice, “Go fight for your baby!” He said, “I’m going to go talk to her!”
Not much later, a girl and her mother came out and walked over to get rosaries from the counselor. They were there to schedule an abortion but told me that the plan had changed! The mother of the girl was in the room when the ultrasound was done, and when she saw on the screen her grandchild move, she said, “You’re not aborting my grandbaby!” Her daughter is 7 months along!! And that baby could be aborted!! Thanks be to God that the grandmother saw that ultrasound!!
As the girl was showing the ultrasound photo to the counselor, the young man mentioned earlier walked by so the counselor asked him to come look at the photo. After a few minutes of looking and talking, he told the counselor, “Go talk to her!” His girlfriend came over and talked to the counselor and told her that she wasn’t going to have an abortion. She said that her boyfriend had changed his mind after talking to the counselor and that helped her because she had seen “the children praying” and that made her not want to go through with it!!
PRAYER AND WITNESS!! The girl who’s mother saw the ultrasound—she was the recipient of prayers even if she never talked to anyone!! The same with the young woman—and the presence of those young people touched a chord. It is SO important that we never forget the power of prayer and witness!!
I also want to put a plug in for Heartbeat Pregnancy Center which is located across the alley from the Center for Choice. They, along with all pregnancy centers, are crucial in the pro-life movement. However, they particularly need our help since they ARE located near the abortion center! They need financial help to get an ultrasound machine and all the expenses that go along with it. Can you imagine if they had that and we could just walk someone over for an ultrasound?!? They also need more volunteers so they can be open longer hours, especially on Thursday evenings. Please let others know how important our local pregnancy centers are!!
Remember—40 Days for Life is coming and we need you prayer warriors! However, we are praying at the center year round. Visit the Stand & Pray page at ProLifeConnection.com for more information!
In Christ our Hope,
I often hear that our youth is the church of tomorrow. I never understood why the youth aren’t the church of today. Why do they have to wait? If our faith is somehow tied to the childlike there needs to be room for the children today. All of us need to celebrate with a childlike faith and vitality.
It has been my pleasure and honor to work with young people throughout my 25 years of priesthood. Youth retreats, school Masses, vacation bible schools, living rosaries and stations of the cross for youth have all been ways in which faith has come alive for the different parishes I have been in. It is not only the youth who are renewed in faith. Many times God speaks through these young people to enliven the faith of a parish.
Here, in Kalida, and hopefully at St. John the Baptist we have already begun the youth movement of faith. It is exciting for me to hear children volunteer for Stations of the Cross, to record vast numbers of first time servers, lectors and Eucharistic ministers from Jr. high and high school and to have kids coming over to the rectory for Friday Night Frenzies and ping pong.
As a parish, we need to continue to grow our kids in their faith. We need to be open to childlike ways that may include different styles of music and worship forms. Several of our youth have inquired about a mission trip to Africa. I love it.
My favorite story about the children of today comes from Children’s Hospital in Columbus. For the Sunday Mass the children who were patients always got the opportunity to preach if they wanted. One girl preached 3 weeks in a row until she was released from the hospital. A five year old said that she would like to recite the 23rd psalm that she learned in Bible School. She did it perfectly and the adults heard a new way of hearing that the Lord was the shepherd of a five year old girl. It was lovely.
Let us pray and encourage our young people to embrace our Catholic faith. I challenge the young people to praise God with your band instruments and your voices. If our parish can help you grow in childlike faith, let me know. Please share your favorite stories about children worshipping in the comments.