EXPANDED OUTLINES FOR THE SECOND QUARTER CHOOSE LIFE CATECHESIS
* This expanded outline is a guide. You do not need to use all ideas, examples or Scriptures. Choose what will be most helpful for your household/group. What is important is that you have material you can work with.
|TOPIC 4: CHOICES THAT KILL THE CHURCH|
At the beginning of the second quarter, we talked about DEATH Choices. We reflected on the choices that we make that kill the SELF, then the choices that kill the FAMILY. This was followed by the choices that we make that kill the COMMUNITY of CFC-FFL. And finally, today, we will talk about the choices that we make that kill the CHURCH.
II. Who is the Church?
In the first quarter, we talked about who the Church is. There were wonderful images we discussed like how the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. This just means that we are Christ’s spiritual Body, not as individuals, but when we unite as one, we make up Christ’s Body, the Church.
Another image of the Church is Church as Servant, which reminds us to serve each other, especially the poor. As the video “Welcome to the Catholic Church” said, we are “largest charitable organization in the planet, bringing relief and comfort to those in need.” (The Catholic Church takes care of ¼ of all the HIV victims and people living with AIDS all over the world.)
One last image of the Church is Church as Mother, who cares for us and sometimes rebukes/scolds us because we need to be disciplined, but mostly she is loving and compassionate, going way beyond the call of duty to be there for us and take care of us spiritually and in other ways.
- The Church is every believer in Christ.
– Sometimes we think that the Church is just the leadership, the hierarchy, the Magisterium (the official teaching authority of the Church), and while these structures are important, we have to remember also that WE, each one of us, are the Church.
- But the Church is also the universal Christian community who recognizes the authority of the pope.
– We are the human stones that make up the loving community called the Church. But we recognize the pope to be the successor of St. Peter, who Christ gave the keys and authority to. So, we honor and listen to the pope and His teachings.
- Closer to home, it refers to the parish that we celebrate Sunday mass in.
– The Church is also the local church, our parish. This is where we receive our nourishment, build community, and hopefully, share our time, talent and treasure in.
Sometimes, we have choices that hurt, kill, and destroy our Church.
III. Our Choices That Kill the Church
- No participation in the parish. Just a Sunday Christian.
– Not getting involved in the parish is acting like you don’t care. We are called for more than just attending Sunday mass. As the laity, we are given more and more responsibilities today than ever before. The Church teachings reveal how important our role in the Church is, especially today. If we don’t get involved, we don’t grow, and the parish community doesn’t get blessed by our presence, either.
- No support for the parish and its parish priest.
– We need to support our parish and its parish priest. This is not just financial support, although this is still needed, especially with parish programs for the poor in the parish. But more than that, we need to show our physical support by participating in the parish activities. We need to make the parish priest know that we want to help. The programs and ministries of the parish will not move without lay people supporting them.
- Getting involved in the squabbles, intrigues, gossip and competition with other ministries, organizations and Catholic groups.
– Just like in our community, CFC-FFL, when we get involved in all that divides the parish, we KILL the Church. It sometimes happens that in the parish, we feel that we’re better than other communities or other ministries, but this is not the way of Christ. Stop comparing! Work together with others. Expect disagreements. It comes with being unique individuals with different views. Act lovingly always.
- Criticizing and putting down the Church, your parish priest, the pope and the bishops.
– It’s easy to criticize your local clergy, especially when you don’t agree with them. But there’s a need for respect, too, and realizing we’re on the same team. We sometimes tend to expect perfection and greater holiness from them. We may also tend to be more educated and gifted than some clergy, due to opportunities available to us, but they were put in your parish, diocese, country for a reason. Work with them and pray for them!
- Dabbling in New Age, horoscopes, white/black magic, superstition, Feng Shui, the Occult, Masonry
– These are actions that will really KILL the Church as these are means that go against our Faith. Being a Christian means to trust in God and not on all these other “powers.”
IV. Getting Into the Roots of “Church Kill”
Where do these death choices come from? Here are some possible roots:
- A shallow sense of faith
– It could be because we have not grown in our faith. Going to Church is a mere obligation. Maybe God has not become a personal God to us, or Jesus is not “REAL” to me/us so that we don’t see ourselves as really part of the community, either.
- Lack of an understanding of what Church and community really mean.
– We don’t see the important role of the Church and the local parish, so we don’t get involved.
– Or maybe we don’t see ourselves as really part of the parish. We lack the “roots” and would just as well attend any parish every week.
– Or maybe we are content to serve and be an active member of CFC-FFL alone, and not the parish. Yet, you ARE part of the parish and it spiritually nourishes you, at least on Sundays.
– Maybe there is no clear sense of sisterhood and brotherhood in the One Body of Christ because you don’t “know” other parishioners. Maybe the parish is just too big and impersonal.
- Powerful influence of media to put down the Church and its bishops so that you believe their criticisms and agree with them.
– There is the reality that the major magazines, newspapers and television networks are not only anti-Christian but anti-Catholic Church! When media indoctrinates, people start to believe them. The principle is: If you say it often enough, people will start to believe it.
– Here are some examples below of how media has sensationalized and put down the Church. You can think of your own examples from your own context.
- Examples for the Philippines: RH Bill, Pajero 7 Bishops Scandal (where it was all media hype and the senators saw no guilt in the bishops; none of them even had a Pajero, but the damage may have been done on the Church’s credibility), Mideo Cruz exhibit (offensive art that blasphemes against Christ seen with a condom and other sensationalist “art” due to “creative license” of the artist, who wasn’t even original in his “creativity.” The concept was “borrowed” from a foreign artist.)
- Anti-Church personalities like Celdran who are loud and vocal in their criticism of the Philippine Church.
- For the U.S.: strong media criticism whenever the Church speaks against homosexual activity, gay marriages, contraception, abortion, etc. so that some bishops and lay would rather keep mum.
- In Europe and the universal Church: Condom Issue # 1: 2009 press conference with Pope Benedict XVI on his way to Africa. He said: “The AIDS epidemic in Africa cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms; on the contrary, they increase it!” Prominent biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins (who constantly and vocally attacks the Catholic Church) called the pope either “stupid, ignorant or dim.” But liberal Edward Green, the world’s leading researcher on the spread of HIV and public health intervention, and director of the Harvard AIDS Prevention Research project, agreed with the pope.
- Condom Issue # 2: Nov. 2010, German journalist Peter Seewald interviews the pope on condoms for his book. Three days before press con on the book, L’ Osservatore Romano released extracts of the pope’s statement without due permission or knowledge of the publishers. Among the extracts was one on the use of condoms in trying to prevent the spread of AIDS.
Benedict XVI said: There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.
The media frenzy led to headlines like: “Pope says condoms sometimes permissible to stop AIDS,” but they had taken his words out of context!
- Secularism’s Drive for Sex, Money and Power and everything materialistic, makes it anti-Church and specifically, anti-Catholic Church. Many groups take potshots at the Church and the pope considering them “old fashioned” and “conservative.” Because the Catholic Church seems more forgiving and compassionate, many secularists attack it. (Try the same comments about Islam and get every Moslem believer with a personal mission to kill you. Or say a comment against homosexuals, feminists or any other group that feels like a minority and is “fighting for their rights” and you cannot get away with such strong words.)
- Secularism lives out what CS Lewis calls “verbicide” which kills the true meaning of words in the name of political correctness (example: not abortion but “reproductive rights,” not euthanasia but “the right to die,” etc.)
- Misinformation or no strong foundation of what the Faith asks of us: Do not have any other gods besides Me! (First Commandment)
– Rely not on feng shui or horoscopes, etc., but on God.
V. Contributing to the Church Revival
How can we do better?
- Get involved.
See how you can bring in CFC-FFL into your parish. See how CFC-FFL members can serve in your parish.
- See the clergy-religious-laity partnership in our mission for evangelization.
We’re all in this together! It’s not an “us against clergy.” More and more, God is calling the lay to get involved in the Church and bring Christ to the world. We reach people and places that priests and religious may never get to. We live and work in the world so we reach more people who may never go to Mass or clergy and religious may never meet.
- Support your parish priest.
This can be done through time, talent, treasure, kind words and encouragement. Unlike the religious, a parish priest gets lonely and is alone in his parish. Help him go against sexual temptation by feeling loved by the community, not search for “love” from one person, especially from women who look for “men in uniform” (their parish priest).
- Rally behind your bishops.
Support them in the issues, but first KNOW what the issues are about and WHY the local bishops have that particular stand. We are not meant to be blind believers, but a thinking laity, responsible for knowing the truth!
– In the U.S., the Catholic Church and other Christian groups are uniting against Obamacare, since it violate the religious freedom and is unconstitutional. Obamacare forces religious institutions to fund contraceptives and reproductive health of their employees to be charged to their insurance (which people will pay based on the premiums anyway) even if it violates their conscience. Finally, the US bishops are speaking out. They need the support of the laity.
- See the Church as Mother.
The Church is not out to get us or make life difficult for us, but looks out for our own good. She will discipline us, push us to do the good and lead us to holiness. Be patient with her, open to her teachings but realize that she is always willing to dialogue.
- Be critical when media comes up with a headline.
It may just be meant to sell papers. Check out both sides of the story all the time. For life issues, log on to lifesite.news (at http://www.lifesitenews.com/).
- Pray and intercede for the Church.
“There is an enormous disparity between the powerful resources available to the forces promoting the culture of death, and the means at the disposal of those working for a culture of life and love. But we can rely on God for whom nothing is impossible.” (EV#100)
– The Church needs our prayers. The clergy, the pope and bishops are under attack. They need our prayers as well.
We are in a battle. It is a spiritual battle against the forces of good and the forces of evil. The main target is the Catholic Church, because we stand for everything Christ stood for. We are His people and His army. Daily, we are faced with the choice to KILL the Church by our selfishness and death-dealing choices, or choose life and bring life to the Church. Let us pray for the strength that all Christians may unite in doing God’s work through the Church.
Source: Evangelium Vitae, PJPII, 1995, “On The Value and Inviolability of Human Life”
How have you contributed to upholding the Church?
What issues or concerns do you have about the Church (whether the local Church/parish or the universal Church and the papacy)?