Announcing “Foundations of Faith” – Adult Faith Formation in Jefferson City

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Have you ever found yourself during Mass wondering what something means as you listen to the Scriptures? Perhaps something the priest mentioned in a homily was unclear? Maybe you know you’re Catholic but you’re not sure why the Church teaches what she does on a number of pressing and important issues? Perhaps you want to be better able to explain to your friends what you and the Church believe? Or maybe you’re just curious.

Thankfully there is a solution arriving here in Jefferson City, Mo. Beginning on October 15, 2018, I will be offering an adult education, faith formation, catechesis, class, seminar, whatever you want to call it, and you are most welcome to attend. The classes will begin at 6:30 PM and will be held in Kertz Hall at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The course will be geared towards adults, that is anyone 18 & older.

I am titling the course, “The Church in the Modern World.” That is both a reference to Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes, as well as something broad enough for us to cover a wide variety of topics across different sessions.

I will be offering a six week session this fall. In the future, I plan to offer more 6-10 week sessions. Each of the sessions will be based on a particular theme as requested by those attending the class. Click here to see some potential future topics.

For this initial session I consulted our parish education commission and came up with the theme, “Foundations of Faith.” Our class topics will be:

October 15: Faith & Reason

October 22: Faith & Science

October 29: Revelation

November 12: Origins of Sacred Scripture

November 19: Scripture & Tradition

November 26: Jesus

December 7: Mary (N.B. – This is on a Friday as a part of the parish Advent Soup Supper)

It will not be a linear course in the sense it will not be necessary to attend every week, you can come and go as you please. I will also post readings and resources on this web site, though it will not be necessary to review them beforehand. Even if you can’t make it a given week, you’ll still have access to all of the resources found at this hub.

I look forward to seeing you on October 15th, let me know if you have any questions. Please help me spread the word. Below is a printable flyer you can print.

If you already know you want more information, click here, to send me an e-mail, and I’ll add you to the e-mail list.

On Obligation and Consistency

Yesterday I read an article online titled, “10 Reasons American go to Church — and 9 reasons they don’t.” It wasn’t just for Catholics, but nonetheless as a former journalist and a theologian I found it to be a fascinating read.

One reason included was particularly relevant for today, 31% of go to Church because, “they feel obligated to go.”

Given that the study was for more than just Catholics, and certainly not merely in reference to today’s feast, I suspect that number might be quite a bit higher for those of us gathered here on this holy day of obligation, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This poses for us two questions worthy of consideration:

  1. Why do we as Catholics have these holy days of obligation to begin with?
  2. What’s so special about this particular feast, the Assumption?

The key to understanding both of these questions is consistency, or in other words, as the Gospel tells us this evening, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

So why does the Church have this Holy Day of Obligation? The Church’s mission is help us all get to heaven. So she names these holy days, and has other “rules,” not so she can be some sort of evil controlling dictator, but rather so that she can carry our her mission in helping us get to heaven. In that regard she is being true to herself, true to her mission, she is consistent.

It’s easy for us to get busy, especially this week with school starting up again. Even I as the priest can be tempted to point out that there is the Back to School BBQ tonight and a parish council meeting, and can forget what matters most. It’s easy to get distracted from our faith with a wide variety of things that are going on in our personal lives, in our families, and even in our country or world. So many of us have been talking about how with school starting up we can get back to the regular routine. Even Sunday Mass can become a part of our routine to the point that it can begin to seem somewhat empty. So in having these holy days of obligation, while they may appear to be an inconvenience,  the Church is consistent in her taking times every so often to interrupt our routine, our schedules, our busyness and remind us of the eternal. Thus the holy day of obligation is not so much a burden, but rather a gift, which throws us off and gives us a chance to remember God, a chance to recalibrate our lives and our priorities.

In the end, the reason the Church has these holy days of obligation is so that we can grow closer to God. Interestingly enough, 81% of respondents to that survey said the reason they went to Church was just that, “to grow closer to God.” For those of you wondering 59% go for the sermons, and it was even less for Catholics.

So regardless of our motivations for showing up, how does the feast of the Assumption help us to grow closer to God? Despite the false critiques, we as Catholics do not believe Mary is God.

Rather, there is an old latin phrase which helps us understand today’s feast. Ad Iesum per Mariam. To Jesus through Mary. Mary’s role is to lead us to Christ, to God.

She is consistent in doing just that, leading us to Jesus, from her very Immaculate Conception, until now her Assumption into heaven. We teach that she was Assumed into heaven because it is consistent with her whole life, conceived and lived in purity, without sin, and pointing us to Christ. She was immaculately conceived, so that her body could give life to Jesus. Throughout her life, she is always accompanying Jesus, and leading us to him. Now as she is assumed into heaven, she once again points to where he is now, where we ought to want to go.

Even today, she brings us here in her name, so that we can receive her Son in the Eucharist. Not just because obligated to do so by the Church, but rather because we want to be closer to God. She wants us to be closer to God. There is no closer we can be to him than to literally receive him into our bodies in the Eucharist. So instead of being inconvenienced or obligated out of guilt this day, we rejoice that we have a Church who is consistent in her teaching in helping us get to heaven and Mary who is consistent in bringing us closer to Christ. Ad Iesum per Mariam.

Immaculate Conception Church
August 15, 2018 A.D. – Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

*As always these homily texts are representative, as I deliver my homilies without text or notes, and naturally there are variations from Mass to Mass.

Santi Marcellino e Pietro

The Lenten Station Church for Saturday of the second week of Lent is Santi Marcellino e Pietro. Read more about the church here.