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The Physiology of Success
In response to an article by Armstrong Williams titled: The Physiology of Success: Balancing Body, Mind, and Spirit
, DTB writes:That article reminded me of a summer camp in Michigan I attended when I was sixteen. It was called 'leadership training' and was comprised of four attributes: physical, mental, spiritual and religious. It was a great experience. I was awarded a scholarship that paid my way because I had submitted an essay on leadership. That's where a speaker asked the audience of about 200 of us young women who could tell him the scripture for: 'And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man'. It was a quote that I knew by heart from a Bible school class I took one summer where we had recited it every morning for two weeks! When I piped up "Luke 2:52" everyone looked at me like I was a Biblical authority when it was just a fluke. :)
Homeopath and the Occult
: I would be so pleased if you could tell me if all forms of Homeopathy are of the occult. What about the medication " Glucosamine sulphate" taken for sore joints.HSI
: From what we understand about the subject, homeopathic treatment for the most part is a legitimate, if unorthodox, form of treatment. We invite readers to comment.
Vacationing During Lent
DG writes: First I have to say that I very much enjoy your emails. I am a Catholic and we are going away for our vacation on a cruise Feb. 17th. We will be sailing on Sunday and if there is not a Priest on the Ship we cannot attend Sunday Mass. Will that be ok? I am sure hoping there will be a Catholic Priest on board. And also Wed of that week is Ash Wednesday. What is the policy of the Church when one is on vacation. Do we have to fast that day? And another question regarding fasting -- on a fast day can we drink beverages in between our meals like coffee, tea, soda or does that break the fast? Thank you for answering my questions and have a blessed day.
HSI replies: If there is no Priest on board, you can always spend an hour in prayer. Pray to the Holy Spirit. Then read the Sunday readings and reflect on them and share your reflections with your family or frends, if possible. Pray for the needs of others. Ask Jesus to show you how you can share him and his love with others on board in some practical way. On Ash Wednesday we fast which means we have one full meal and one small meal. You can also have a cup of tea in the morning and evening. The spirit behind this is of more importance. It is to remind ourselves that Jesus died for us and that we also have to empty ourselves to be life-giving to others in word and deed. So it is good to pray, sacrifice and share Jesus with others in some practical wayof kindness or help or concern.I hope this answers your questions. Wish you a very pleasant cruise and a happy vacation.
Need Answers, Not Assurances
Ivana from Croatia writes
: I'm very interested in any site or forum that would help me and other catholics ask or share experiences with neo-protestantism which is spreading like fire, even in my own coutry, which has been known and claimed as 'traditionally' catholic. We are very exposed to false teachers and prophets. I have a lot of questions, but most of my friends just tell me to drop the issue. I have met a lot of protestants lately and I really need answers and advice; not just suggestions to leave things hanging in the air.HSI
: Read the Holy Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church - both of them together provide us with all the answers we need about our faith. The site Holy Spirit Interactive also provides a lot of catechetical information that you will find useful. Once we know WHY we believe WHAT we believe, we don't need to worry about false teachers and false prophets. Please also read the article on False Prophets by Aneel Aranha.
Satan is Waiting for You!
) sends in this caution to all Catholics who believe in purgatory:
I am a christian and believe only in the Bible and not man made rules. I was deceived all these years and now I am set free.
I read your article on purgotary which is not mentioned in the Bible. Jesus spoke about heaven and hell. Please read the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth.
The dead are dead and you cannot pray to or for them. Your only chance is now to make Jesus your Lord and saviour. Or else satan is waiting for you in hell.
Sex and the Holy Life
I would like to comment - positively! - about the answer to "Is Masturbation Okay?
" God bless you for that answer! I work with young people in our church and have such a deep burden for them to discover the joys and benefits of living a holy life, in every area.
I'd like to add to what you said about this. We recently watched a great DVD series on marriage in our church, and the minister had a lot to say about this. He mentioned that even the secular "anything goes" crowd is now realizing the damage this does to married sex. They're finally saying this is a major cause of sexual dysfuntion in men, as it literally retrains the mind/body response to sexual stimuli and erection cannot be achieved the normal way any longer. Ergo, all the ED drugs out there, and they're not all being used by men with legitimate medical problems (on blood pressure meds, etc).
This is also, sadly, tied in with pornography - which also retrains the mind and body's response away from what is normal, the way God intended. This minister in the DVD series pointed out that even among the couples he ministers to, a majority of sexual dysfuntion is a direct result of the use of pornography. These poor guys cannot 'function' without a magazine to look at...and these are Christian couples! Many of them ministers...
Sex education in many public schools has been promoting various perversions as "not sex" (talk about euphemism!) to students, for many years now. As if merely cutting down on pregnancies and STDs justifies all this. Not to mention blurring the boundaries of right and wrong. We're going on a second generation hooked on perversion, destroying their marriages and leading them into immorality, and they haven't even a clue that these behaviors are wrong!
Mrs. C Grove, TX
The King's Anguish
from Japan writes:
Concerning "The King's Anguish: Mistranslating the Holy Scriptures
," most of Anthony Esolen's points are well taken, and I greatly enjoyed his humorous and intelligent protests, but the use of the word "man" followed by "his" for the archetypal human is problematic for a female reader. A scripture-oriented (and male-centered-book reading) child grows up almost homosexual if she is female. "One" and "oneself" may not do, but the Greek has "anthropos"(human being, the archetypal human) as well as "andros" (male, man) while English does not. Perhaps people who speak in English have lost the very idea of an archetypal human. Please think more about this! Jesus framed his protest against adultery in both genders in Mark 10:11-12.
P.S. In my American Protestant childhood, my favorite hymn was the new version of the one quoted in parallel with an older version at the end of this article. I had no trouble with its English or with memorizing its several verses. It left a lasting impression of the Presence of God in nature which continues to console me as a Catholic. I am now 58, having been married to a Japanese for 26 years and living in Japan for 21 years. (I have been a Catholic since 1975.)
Cheaper by the Half Dozen?
This one came from Trevor, and though it isn't related to any HSI article (that I know of anyway), I just had to share it!
Mark Shea's On The Ball
Mary Casio has this to say on the article Women Priests?
by Mark Shea.I agreed with Mr Mark Shea about the so call "right" of women to be ordained priest. But I think this topic also can be narrowed down in a simple way when recalling what we were taught in our Baltimore Catechism. Every Sacrament has a matter and a form. The matter for the Eucharist is bread and wine, not Coca Cola and gram crackers. The matter for Matrimony is a man and a women, not two men, or two women. The matter for Holy Orders is a man. This is divine law, not Church law. In other words the pope cannot change something that is divine law. I cannot Baptize my cat. Many Catholics of all ages did not understand the difference between Church law and divine law. So after Vatican II and many the changes we saw in Church law after centuries, sadly enough many left the Faith because they could not understand why what they were taught as children is now thrown by the way side. Then when leaving the Sacraments, and losing the graces we receive from the Sacraments lead them into a state of venerability to sin. But back to the ordination of women, the Church has had many women who certainly didn't need to be priests to "move mountains." Look at Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa and many like her NEVER felt she needed to be a priests, or was denied her rights because she couldn't become one. I have to truly wonder about any one (women) who thinks they need to be a priest, or they're being denied their "rights." But I have an idea of who would put this kind of egotistical thought in to their minds.
Mark Shea's Article Insulting
CJ, an Ed.D. candidate of Religion and Education of Columbia University has this to say about Mark Shea's article titled Women Priests?Mark Shea's article about women's ordination was insulting and harmful to women. As Shea suggested, I have taken the issue up with my dear friend, the Christ. After conversing with him about it, I offer my response to you.
Male priests are the appropriate form for serving the bride in the liturgy? Many ordained men today have no interest in having a bride of any kind and are as unfit or fit as any woman for this important and underfilled role in our Church. None of us are worthy, but Christ called women in His lifetime, and calls them today to the role of ordained priest in His church. Shea reiterates what John Paul II said in his lengthy encyclical, which says, in brief, "Women, SHUSH. There will be no more conversation about ordination." Thanks for reminding us women that the door to ordination in our Church in which we are the majority is closed. Shea's article seems inappropriate for a newsletter called "Holy Spirit Interactive."
The Beauty of Marital Love
ABJ writes: I so enjoyed reading "The Beauty of Marital Love" by Regis Martin. It is what family is all about. I'm proud to say that my husband and I have been married 27 years, my parents 55 years and their parents well over 50 years before their deaths. It is a true legacy we leave our children to have such a strong marriage bond, the same legacy my parents passed down to my siblings and I.
Congratulations ABJ! We pray your lives inspire others! - HSI
Intelligent Design - Is It True?
In reference to Steve Hemler's article on Intelligent Design (Intelligent Design - Is It True?
), Shani Serrao writes:I am sorry to inform you that your article on intelligent design was sorely misguiding in that it implied that evolution is simply not a plausible theory. The arguments are either taken out of context and/or not all aspects of the arguments are taken into context.Just to let you know, Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II believed in evolution and stated that in no way was is against the creation story in Genesis. In the encyclical Humani generis, it states: "The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, insofar as it inquiries into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter."In fact, in Genesis, it says that God created the world in 6 "days"....who is to say that they were 24-hour days....remember that all the books were written by men who interpreted it a certain way. If you study the evolutionary chart, it follows the creation scheme of Genesis.There are so many arguments supporting God and evolution together......there is no reason that there has to barrier between those two topics; God is the ultimate biologist, he could have guided evolution to go the way he wanted.....hence the creation of Adam and Eve (and the DNA of the mitochondria in women can be traced back to a single woman in Africa or "Eve").I think it is time that you and other Christians stopped being so ignorant and actually learned what each point of view dictates. I hope you take this into consideration and correct your mistake.Steve Hemler responds:Many thanks for reading my article on Intelligent Design and for taking the time to reply. I also encourage you to read my previous article on Genesis and you will see how we totally agree on that. Also, you are right of course that living organisms have changed over time and that God could clearly have guided that process.
However, as you know, many of the most vocal proponents of evolution are strongly committed to a naturalistic philosophy that leaves no room for God's action in the development of living organisms, including human beings. For example, Oxford Biologist Richard Dawkins has gone so far as to say evolution makes it possible to be "an intellectually fulfilled atheist." Unfortunately, this naturalistic view of evolution is what is taught in schools even though it has been repeatedly rejected by the Vatican and others. I'm sure you will agree that naturalistic philosophy should not be allowed to mascarade as objective science. I'll discuss more about this in my next article entitled, "Is Evolution True?"
I encourage you to take the time to learn more about the theory of Intelligent Design. A good place to start is www.discovery.org. Many, many PhD scientists are now questioning much about what is claimed regarding the THEORY of evolution. I am sure you will agree that natural selection as the only mechanism that could possibly explain all the complexity of life is just a theory and not a proven fact.
Intelligent Design is merely pointing out some things in nature that cannot be readily explained by the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection. I am confident that you will find much of what has been written in the Intelligent Design literature to be a real "eye opener"! I especially encourage you to buy the DVD entitled, Unlocking the Mystery of Life.
Again, thanks for your comments.
New Age: Zero Cal
In reference to our section on New Age, Harold writes:
I enjoyed your site. Many years ago, I too fell into "New Age" Christianity as one of the well-known "Jesus Freaks." I found that it was a confused, incoherent movement that basically wanted Jesus to be a nice guy that wasn't all that preachy. Sort of a grandfather figure. I had a copy of the Aquarian Gospel, and even read stuff by Prophet. They all smoked pot, lived in sin, drank, gambled, and all the rest. They had a version of Jesus that they could accept. But when confronted with the Bible, they fell away from the faith quickly. The idea that Jesus would actually JUDGE people, and even condemn some of them, was just not their cup of tea. The idea that Jesus had AUTHORITY over them was just too much. The entire New Age is Jesus Light. Not very filling, and no calories! Now I find myself a committed Pentacostal, and l have never looked back!
A Message From God?
Orlando, Florida, was hit by Hurricane Charley on this day in 2004. Its 140-mph winds uprooted trees, tore down power poles, and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. The storm also killed 32 people. One of the few things left standing in Orlando was a billboard. The current advertisement had been ripped off by the winds, revealing the message beneath that had been covered up:
Heeding Our Lady's Warnings
Mary Cascio writes:In college during the late 1970's, I went to a pro-life rally in Springfield, Illinois, nearly 2000 miles away from home. When I was there I was given a paper back book on Our Lady of the Rosary. In this book was the story of the apparition of Our Lady of La Salette, which was the subject of Fr. Saunder's recent article. I was very impressed because all that I was reading about "people going to meat markets like dogs on Fridays" and "3/4 of France shall loose Faith, and the other fourth will practice it with tepidity," was coming true, including the prophecy that "the next pope shall not be a Roman." After reading Our Lady's words I have been very conscious about doing unnecessary work on Sundays. I can never recall having missed Mass on Sunday, despite working for many years as a full time nurse, and some years this included 12 hour shifts on weekends. My husband has been working hard the last 4 years trying to build our home by himself, and I insisted when he started that he was not going to be working on Sundays, if he want Gods blessing on our home. You have touched on a few of Our Lady's warnings, but from what I read there were many more. Women are the ones to set the tone for faith and morals, but regretably I've seen an entire breakdown in strong women helping to keep their families on the straight and narrow path.
Ralph Coelho writes:The article by Aneel Aranha - Christian Unity: Let's Make It Happen - was interesting, though perhaps it could have been a little more broad based to cover the desire that many of us have to make the world a better place for ourselves, our children and those in need. Leaders will always fall short and the seats on the right hand and the left hand of God may be of greater importance to some than their work! On the other hand each one of us is commissioned to do God's work by baptism and might be able to discharge such duty better than most leaders. Can we not attempt to do something for people directly? Can we discharge the commission to evangelise them?
Aneel Aranha responds:You are right in saying that each one of us is commissioned by God to make disciples of men and one of Holy Spirit Interactive's most popular programs is the Discipleship Program, which empowers "ordinary" people to do exactly what you suggest. I hope that you will get a chance to attend it, when it comes to a parish near you. In the meantime, we will try to put down key concepts as presented in the program, in an article or two, to show how simple people like us can make a huge difference to the world.
A Bit of a Stretch
In reference to at article titled "The Bible and the Water Cycle" in our youth section Scientific Facts in the Bible
, Neil Morris writes:Your statement that the Bible describes the water cycle accurately would seem to be a bit of a stretch. Consider Isaiah 55:10 (WEB): For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn't return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater Obviously the Hebrews believed the water returned to the start of the river by some other means, probably from under the earth.
In response to an article in this week's article by Sister Manners
on the subject of Lectors, ABJ from Conyers, GA has this to say:I'm a lector at our church and I know what you mean about the differences in delivery for each individual persons. I myself take this privelege very seriously and each week study the readings, whether or not I'm on the schedule to read just to be ready. I also get feedback from my family. I always ask them how I read. Was I too fast, too slow, too monotonous, so I can correct it for next time? Lastly, I pray to the Holy Spirit to guide me so that I can deliver the Word so people can understand.
Wonderful Use of the Net
Sue Lehmann of Iowa City, Iowa writes:Dear Friends at HSI, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your wonderful website. I have received the HSI weekly newsletter for about a year, and I have never once read anything that didn't reflect the fullness of Christ's love and truth. Thank you for your faithfulness. I find that I regularly forward an article to a friend or family member. What a beautiful way to redeem the Internet, and the lives of so many.
Talking to Teenage Girls about Sex
In response to an article in our Youth Section: Growing Pains
, Pearl writes:I love this wonderful website and enjoy reading all the contents. I have a question, however. What is the best way to talk to your teenage daughter about sex? I have read the articles by Dr. Leela Francisco on the subject and they were wonderful, but how do we convey this message to girls.
Dr. Leela replies:The best time to start talking about this subject is to wait for the opportune moment, which usually manifests itself depending on the nature of your child. Those who are quiet and mild tend to take longer to express sexual interest. Those who are more aggressive and active tend to be more expressive about sex earlier.IF you think its time to bring up the subject, then look for the opportunity for the subject to come up - in a movie or in a conversation or in a real life situation eg: unwed mother. I think a teenager needs to know exactly what your values and perspectives are regarding sexual activity - the values that the parents has. They also need to understand why these values are important.Further, they need to understand what role sexuality plays in a marriage - that there are other aspect to marriage that have hardly anything to do with having sex that are equally important. This is serious sex - and not the "fun" and "pleasure" that the world offers and makes a priority. Loving the other person is an essential component of sexuality, rather than selfishly seeking personal pleasure using someone else which will leave one more emotionally isolated and immature.With that crucial benchmark - your teenager is still going to want to make up her own mind about how she deals with her sexuality - unfortunately - at least in the short term. :) But, the good news is, that in the long term, she will prefer to choose and imbibe the values you taught her.The rest may simply be a good anatomy and physiology lesson (using appropriate terms to explain the various aspects) and there are books available to explain the actual sexual act - if one wants to go that far.
The Journey Back Home
Greg writes:My name is Greg and I have recently found my faith again. I want to learn more about the church and why we believe what we believe. I have started reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church and I'm trying to do a study on it so when challenged with a question I can give an answer. My problem is that I have no idea how to study the text I'm reading. Is there someone out there that can help me and give me some direction?
Aneel Aranha responds:You are in the same position I was when I rediscovered my own faith four years ago, and I am almost envious of you because what lies ahead of you is pure adventure. Don't worry about looking for people to guide you. God will keep putting people in your way as and when you need them, and they will help you out from time to time. But understand that the most part of the journey is better travelled alone. It's not hard; on the contrary it's easier than you might imagine - and it's fun!
There is a lot on HSI that will help you along the way. Read my own articles on the site, especially the School of the Holy Spirit. With regard to your specific query, there are two books that you might find helpful. One is called the Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church; the other Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The latter is essentially an abbreviated version of the CCC and makes for a much easier read.
A Note from God
As you got up this morning, I watched you, and hoped you would talk to me, even if it was just a few words, asking my opinion or thanking me for something good that happened in your life yesterday. But I noticed you were too busy, trying to find the right outfit to wear. When you ran around the house getting ready, I knew there would be a few minutes for you to stop and say hello, but you were too busy. At one point you had to wait, fifteen minutes with nothing to do except sit in a chair. Then I saw you spring to your feet. I thought you wanted to talk to me, but you ran to the phone and called a friend to get the latest gossip instead. I waited patiently all day long. With all your activities I guess you were too busy to say anything to me. I noticed that before eating your lunch you briefly debated talking to me, but after a quick glance around, decided that it might be too embarassing, even though some friends of yours two tables across did bow their heads and pray. That's okay. There is still more time left, and I hope that you will talk to me yet. You went home and it seems as if you had lots of things to do. After a few of them were done, you turned on the TV. I don't know if you like TV or not, just about anything goes there and you spend lot of time each day in front of it not thinking about anything, just enjoying the show. I waited patiently again as you watched the TV and ate your meal, but again you didn't talk to me. Bedtime I guess you felt too tired. After you said good night to your family you popped into bed and fell asleep in no time. That's okay because you may not realize that I am always there for you. I've got patience, more than you will ever know. I even want to teach you how to be patient with others as well. I love you so much that I wait everyday for a nod, prayer or thought or a thankful part of your heart. It is hard to have a one-sided conversation. Well, you are getting up once again. And once again I will wait, with nothing but love for you. Hoping that today you will give me some time. Have a nice day!
Heaven's Very Special Child By Edna Massimilla
A meeting was held quite far from earthIt's time again for another birthSaid the angels to the Lord above"This special child will need much love.He may not run or laugh or playHis thoughts may seem quite far awayIn many ways he won't adaptAnd he'll be known as handicapped.So let's be careful where he's sentWe want his life to be content.Please Lord find the parents whoWill do this special job for you.They will not realise right awayThe leading role they're asked to playBut with this child sent from AboveComes stronger faith and richer loveAnd soon they'll know the privilege givenIn caring for their gift from HeavenTheir precious charge so meek and mildIs Heaven's Very Special Child".
This lovely poem was sent in by Flavia who is a parent of one such child. She believes their lives are all the more richer because of him.
Sr. Manners is Gossipy!
Barbara writes:Although the column Sr. Manners Goes to Mass does catch my attention, it comes across to me as"uppity" and "gossipy." What is there such much emphasis on this impression that Sr. Manners has that everyone is trying to be the center of attention? I was instructed that we are to make a gesture of reverence before receiving communion. Bow, genuflect, or the sign of the cross. Is that incorrect? I pray on my way up to communion and focus on theLord. If someone wants to joyfully sing, great. I show reverence differently. The column is becoming a turn-off for me. Kindness and patience go a long way in regards to mothers with children in tow. Glares and rude comments are not loving. So you miss a few sentences ofthe sermon...so what? Please quit focusing on the externals and quit judging the intentions of Catholics who are trying to show reverence and love for Jesus.
Sr. Manners is Wrong!
Valerie Doherty writes:I'm afraid I have to seriously disagree wtih Sr. Manners re how one receives Holy Communion. A traditional Catholic would NEVER receive Holy Communion from a eucharistic minister. I never do, and will change lanes (when I attend the Novus Ordo church, which is rare), but I do so discretely. Also, I NEVER receive on the hand.
Eucharistic ministers were only meant to be used if priests were scarce. Nowadays, it's trendy to have more eucharistic ministers than priests and for the priest to sit back and let them get on with it.
No Catholic should EVER receive Our Lord on the hand. This is another rule that did not come from the Pope, but from trendy bishops who no longer believe in Our Lord's sacred presence in Holy Communion.
Sr. Manners is wrong!
The Lazarus Symptom
15 year old Lenville has a question. Readers are invited to answer.In the year 1244, at age 29, King Louis IX of France "died" of plague. During his funeral ceremony, to everyone's horror, he sat up in his coffin. He lived for another 26 years. Similar incidents take place even now where people look like they are dead but are actually still alive. What is the viewpoint of scientists as well as the Catholic Church on this particular symptom?
Dana Donia writes:I just finished reading the article by Fr. Peter deSousa titled Reordering Our Priorities and wish to say a hearty AMEN!!!
I used to live in a lay apostolate community (Madonna House in Combermere, Ont. Canada) and living the Gospel was the code we followed. To the best of everyone's ability we lived vows of poverty, chastity and obedience following Christ's example in the Gospels. I have always felt that this model was what was originally intended - for married/single/religious alike.
So I just wanted to say "thank you" to Fr. deSousa for his article - I hope many read it and feel called to really look at their priorities through Christ's eyes and reorder them where the need is greatest.
Tots need to be taught
Linda Williams begs to differ with Tate Franz who expressed her views below. This is what she writes:When my children were infants, I made sure their behavior did not distract others from prayer. As they grew older, I taught them that Church is a place where we go to pray with others and they should not distract others from prayer. I was consistent with teaching Church etiquette. They need to sit quietly. They are to pray when they know the prayer. No snacks or toys allowed because this is our time to pray with others. When you teach them early, they know certain behavior is expected of them. When my 3 year old behaves, she gets to ring the bell outside Church as a reward. She is a very prayerful child. This is a lot easier than trying to teach proper behavior when they're too old for childcare and I've found the more she participates, the stronger she gets spiritually.When my older children acted up in Church, we left and returned later. I told them if they continued to disrupt me and others during prayer time we would continue to return until I was able to pray. They did behave and learned to participate but there were many trials and their prayer life was not as deep as my younger ones until they were older.
Let the children come to me!
Tate Franz of Sinking Spring, PA writes:In her latest article in Sr. Manners Goes to Mass, Sr. Manners said that the place for toddlers during Mass is in the nursery---my church doesn't have a nursery. This means that toddlers have to come to church and (gasp!!!) the congregation actually have to take Christ's attitude towards those noisy little buggers ("Let the children come to me..." right??). When I hear or see those dear little ones in Mass---whether they are making a fuss or not, I am so glad that their parents care enough about them to bring them to Mass. If the Catholic church wants more Catholics, then we need to have a welcoming attitude towards children--because they are (noisy or not) the future of our church.
I am the mother of a special needs child. His name is Tad and he is 12 years old. He is autistic and while he has gotten much better, he used to be very noisy in Mass. So noisy, in fact, that when I moved 4 years ago, in the first church I attended, I was asked to leave because of how disruptive he was. I attend a church now where Tad is welcome--thanks be to God. Tad cannot help that he calls out and he cannot help that he can't sit still. To many, especially when he was younger, he looked like an unruly, undisciplined child. In some churches I went to, I received scowls and sighs as eyes rolled heavenward--the silent (but never subtle) message to me that my son was not welcome in God's house because he was "disturbing". I am so very glad I now attend a church where the parishioners understand that God is not surprised my son is autistic and God is quite glad Tad comes to Mass.
Pope John Paul stated many times that Mass is not individual prayer time. It is community time---it is time for family. Families are noisy. Families have children. We are the Family of God, and we are not asked, but commanded to love one another--and if that means smiling at the poor mother of five children who got up three hours before Mass to make sure all were washed, and dressed and fed so that they could come to Mass as a family, then that is what we are commanded to do.
That being said...I agree if a child is being exceptionally disruptive, then perhaps mom or dad should take the child to the lobby or to the crying room until they are calm---but keep them from church just because we have no nursery? No way!! I know my son was disruptive---but the only way I could teach him to be calm in Mass was to take him to Mass. I am glad God led me to a place where the people understand that. I know I am very blessed to have found such a place, but it saddens me to know that my church is probably more the exception than the rule, and I have to say, that advice like yours, may not help things much. I very much doubt that if a mom asked Jesus if her noisy toddler could come to church, that He would turn her away.
What's the right age to take kids to mass?
Valerie asks: I want to know what would be the best age for a child to start going for Mass. Many a times I have taken my two children (Age 4 & 2) to church for Mass but they just won't stop talking and making noises. I feel very embarrassed because the people are so engrossed in the reading and then one of my kids come up with a cackle.
I also realize that it is important for the child to know the importance of the Church and its teachingsm but do you think this is the right age not forgetting that he will start Catechism when he turns 6 years old.
Toddlers at Mass
I would just like to add to your response on Toddlers at Mass
. Not all churches have a nursery or cry room for toddlers. I have attended many a church that do not have this facility.
I think parents need to let toddlers know, who is boss and take charge of them. Talk to the kids and let them know ahead of time that it is Sunday and we are going to church. Explain what behavior is required at church and follow through with consequences if they do not behave appropriately. Remember to praise the toddlers after Mass if they have behaved well. Books, food and drink are not necessary for the toddlers for a short hour if we try to engage them in the singing and prayer. Firmly have toddlers sit on your lap until they are able to sit in the pew without fidget.
I did it with my toddlers who are now 9 and 6 and both children sing and participate at Mass with great enthusiasm and praise for our Lord.
It really can be done. A prayer in the car on the way to Mass helped us through this difficult time.
Translations of "Come Holy Spirit" wanted
Mariann from the US needs some help and we'd be grateful to any of our visitors who provided it to her. She writes:I just discovered your wonderful website by accident, and will definitely be back!
I wondered if you could help me with a liturgical project for Pentecost. My plan is to create pew pieces for our parish, using a few greens and ribbons. On white ribbons, I want to print "Come, Holy Spirit" in as many languages as I can. I will probably create a Pentecost graphic and laminate it, attaching it to the top of the ribbon, then attach that whole piece on a bed of fresh greens.
Do you have such translations or can you give me any direction as to where I might find them?
Sr. Manners goes to mass
Our new series on HSI - Sr. Manners Goes to Mass
has proved to be an instant hit going by readers' reponses. Here is one of the letters we received soon after Sr. Manners went online:
Ami writes: Your article about dress code with Sr. Manners is so appropriate this time of year. People who go to church with skimpy clothes on are a distraction. Our church has a huge Hispanic population and I have noticed that a good number of them attend Mass in spaghetti straps and other inappropriate clothes and the men in tank shirts. I'm thinking this is a cultural thing. What's your take on this?
Readers are invited to respond.
Birth Control and the Church
Anthony Kowalski has this to write in response to Mark Shea's article we ran on HSI titled Cooperating with the Creator: Birth Control and the Church
. Readers are welcome to comment.The article has some fine points in it, but is clearly written for a very conservative base. While I applaud some of its insights, I am uncomfortable with suggesting that young married couples need to first check the period of fertility before considering love-making.
Don't get me wrong, I have never purchased nor used contraceptives in my life, nor have I ever practiced artificial birth control of any kind. Yet my appreciation for the beauty of God's love and the sublimity of the marriage act leads me to a different approach in advising married couples. Self-discipline is of course necessary in all areas of life. But I tend to be much more understanding of married couples and the conclusions to which they are led in conscience during the course of their sexual and marital life. I can no longer be apodictic and absolute in such matters. I find frequently that those who speak in absolutes regarding sexual activity don't really know what they are talking about.
I recognize the "gratia supponit natura" argument and the biblical interpretations contained in this article. But I have become weary of such argumentation. And as for the scientific world, I find more to praise about the advances in science than to condemn. I have moreover come to admire the writings of Huston Smith (retired professor at Berkeley) who argues for the need for the mystical and the spiritual in our lives, and the broad and necessary insights which they bring, while respecting and seeing no contradiction with the scientific advances of our time. I will return to the article again in the future. For now, that is all I wish to say about it.
David Lobo writes from Bangalore:I see a number of Christian churches being "planted" all over the place around me. These "churches", though unorganized and often of questionable nature, are taking the Word of God and the name of Jesus to many places that the Catholic church does not seem to be reaching out to.
Last week, for instance, I came across three Hindus who accepted Jesus through such initiatives, and all are very ardent in their faith and their proclaimation of it. I hardly see anything like this happening in the Catholic Church and I wonder if any figures are available of lost sheep the Catholic Church brings in, in comparison with those our brothers bring in.
This is not a condemnation, but a concerned enquiry to find out what we are doing, and to know if there is anything that lay people like me who have regular jobs, but still interested in spreading the Word of God, can do?
Aneel Aranha replies: There is a huge revival taking place in the Catholic Church and the Spirit is empowering lay people from all over the world to spread the Word of God. HSI is only one such initiative. In a little over two years since it was founded, it has begun reaching close to half a million people a month through its various ministries, which is an amazing figure. I know of other ministries that are also reaching many people, though unfortunately I don't have the kind of comparitive figures that you are looking for.
While it does appear that the Catholic Church does not encourage lay initiatives, it is only because it tries to protect the faith, which many lay preachers - though, well intentioned - often distort. But if it sees that we have the fundamentals in place, it is supportive, and I can bear ample witness to that. There is much that lay people can do, even those with full time jobs, and if you - and anyone else reading this - drops me a note with your area of residence and your areas of interest/expertise; we'll try to find ways in which you can help.
May the Spirit be with you.
HSI Youth: Simply Fantastic
Gladwin Abrio writes:I am a regular visitor to the HSI site, especially the Youth Section.
I think the latest article in the Growing Pains column is really good and applicable not just to youth, but to persons of all ages.
I also love visiting the Christian Music page. My favorite band is Casting Crowns. Even though most of the artists are Protestant, having them share space with Catholic bands on a Catholic site makes the site very ecumenical. So great going again!
I hope your ministry continues to grow and flourish and expand the kingdom of God. And may Jesus's prayer - "Father I pray that they may be one" - soon come to pass.
Listening to the Word of God
Marie writes:Ever since I came to know of the Holy Spirit Interactive web site, I have been going through the Daily Missal, Inspiration and Reflections. I feel blessed.Can you tell me where I will be able to download the whole Bible (Old as well as New Testament) which can be read aloud? My brother is unable to read and this would help him immensely.
We are unaware of any Catholic audio Bibles that can be downloaded, though there are several available on audio tape and CD. There is a Saint Joseph Edition of the New American Bible
available, as also a New American Bible
(both New Testament only) from Amazon.com. There are also complete Bibles available here: http://www.biblebible.com/Catholic-bible.asp
A Whale Lot of Gratitude
Someone once said that gratitude is the memory of the heart. Unfortunately, most of us tend to be extremely ungrateful people, and very often, the most ungrateful of all are the ones who have the most to be thankful for. Perhaps we can all learn a lesson from this true life story e-mailed to me by Terry Fenwick
.If you read the front page story of the SF Chronicle on Thursday, Dec 14, 2005, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines.
She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body-her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.
A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help.
Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her - a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around---she was thanking them.
Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.
May we, and all those we love, be so blessed and fortunate----to be surrounded by people who will help us get untangled from the things that are binding us. And, may we always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude. I pass this on to you, in the same spirit.
May we, like the whale, remember to go back and thank all of those who helped us, beginning with the Lord and then others He sent to us.
HSI: Precious Help
Ivan and Dorothy Pais of Dubai write on April 19:Here's good news for Mr. Aneel Aranha and his team. This is what Bishop Paul Hinder, o.f.m. (cap.), the new Vicar Apostolic of Arabia, has said in his first Pastoral Letter in the context of Bible groups and Bible courses: Those who have internet-access may get precious help on the website "Holy Spirit Interactive" (http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/). Copies of the Pastoral Letter have been distributed to all the parishioners in the Vicariate which comprises the U.A.E., Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen and Saudi Arabia (no churches).
Bishop Paul, like his predecessor, Bishop Bernard Gremoli, who recently retired after 29 years as Vicar Apostolic of Arabia, will visit all the churches in the Vicariate during his Pastoral Visitation every year. According to Canon Law it is an obligation to do so only once in 5 years.
The Vicariate is the size of Europe!