Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Prayer to the Precious Blood of Jesus for Teenagers

Today I was working on writing a "collect"-a type of structure for a general prayer in Christian liturgy for my Youth Ministry class. I believe the goal of this exercise was to learn how to formulate a spontaneous prayer (which I am not comfortable with, nor do I have much experience with). Four general principles are used: YOU, WHO, DO, and THROUGH. 1) YOU...We address God and praise him using divine titles. 2)  WHO...We describe the great things that God has done. 3) DO...We pray for God to do something for us now. 4) THROUGH...We pray to the Father, through his Son, Jesus, with the Holy Spirit. 

The following is my collect for teenagers:

Most sweet Jesus, 

You gave your life so that we may live free of sin, you made the ultimate sacrifice. We ask for your help during our times of hardship, struggle and misfortune. We also ask for patience and mercy when we are quick tempered, especially with our parents when we do not feel like they are being fair or even understand us. We ask for guidance for our friends who do not always make smart choices because being cool is more important than being safe. We ask for all of these intentions and the ones we hold in the silence of our hearts, through the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who redeemed the world. Amen.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Pastoral and Theological Reflection Through Photography" - A Practicum Project

This coming spring, Spring of 2014, I will be entering the end of my Master's Degree experience therefore in order to graduate from my program, Pastoral Ministry, I must complete a Practicum Project. A lot of master degree programs require a thesis however, since I am in a ministerial program we do things a little differently. The following excerpt is a description of my practicum project in which I have spent nearly the last 4 hours on writing. 

My high school art teacher told me that if I went to college to study theology and not photography I could one day find myself bored with theology. In order to entertain both of my interests in theology specifically pastoral ministry and photography I chose this topic as a practicum project. Theological aesthetics was certainly not on my radar but I wanted to learn more about these topics coexisting because they are both a major part of who I am. Growing up when I was three-years-old I owned my very first camera a Fisher-Price 35mm by Kodak. As I grew older the cameras became more and more sophisticated. From film to digital to point-and-shoot to manuals with detachable lenses. Just as I was given more advanced cameras as I aged, my faith and understanding of God has equally changed over time. When I was a little girl my understanding of God was no more than knowing that there is a God and Jesus loves me. As an adolescent I began picturing God based upon the classic movie, the Wizard of Oz in my mind God was like the wizard in that God watched over all of us through a cylindrical like television. Later in life my understanding of God took on a deeper understanding as I began to learn about theological concepts including: the Trinity, Christology, morality, heaven and hell and much more.

I have been drawn to the Saints ever since I was a little girl when Monsignor Charles Foeller (Father Foeller) nick-named me Catherine, after Saint Catherine of Siena, a doctor of the Church. Father Foeller used to fascinate me as well as educate me by showing me a variety of relics which were important to him and subsequently became important to me as Father Foeller was a profound role model to me. Ever since then I have been on fire not only with my faith but also with the saints. I have great appreciation for the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, which is the second-largest Shrine in the United States after St. Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Maria Stein displays over 1,000 relics. The Maria Stein Shrine preserves relics of the saints and makes them available for public adoration as well as provides programs for pilgrims of all ages and abilities. In a way I feel as though I am living out Father Foeller’s legacy in which through my own appreciation for the saints, I can share the lives with the saints to others by sharing my knowledge of the saints, the Church and more at the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics in which thousands upon thousands of people come as pilgrims each year. 

Please Note: This is un-edited and un-approved version. (Due to the amount of time I have poured into this and the thought provoking, as well as Spiritual journey this has taken me on this afternoon, I wanted to keep a copy for myself as well as share it with others that may be curious.) Suggestions on how to make it clearer, stronger, or otherwise are highly encouraged! Happy reading.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Reflection on the Sacred Liturgy

This semester I am taking a Liturgy and Sacraments course. As a part of the course we are encouraged to write reflections based upon certain writings that speak to us. The following is my first reflection: 

I find it difficult sometimes to acknowledge the Liturgy as more than "merely a historical re-enactment." When I go to mass so much of my attention goes towards remembering Christ's sacrifice that I am not sure if I recognize that there is more than just this one element to the Liturgy. At least on the subconscious level. I suppose that I do not tend to think about Christ as ever "present and active." I find myself also equally concerned about the act of "worshiping" which is a term not of my own vocabulary as much as in the protestant traditions. (To me "protestant" is any Christian church that is not Catholic; yes I realize that this is not the correct use of the term). 

Having experienced non-Catholic Christian faith traditions when I was little has seemed to do nothing but hinder my want or desire or lack of to understand them. I was forced by my family members to go to their church growing up--many of the people, if not all, turned up their noises when they found out that I was practicing Catholicism--or maybe in some of the very early years it was still my hope that I would become Catholic. I had hope that one day I would be baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. I yearned to be a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church--the only Church that made me feel at home and at peace. Finally when I was around 8 or 9 years old I became Catholic, at this point I was baptized. I remember early on being taught that I may not or should not partake in what my family members church referred to as "Eucharist" or "Communion" as the Catholic Church and these Christian Churches do not have the same beliefs. Again family members and other congregants turned their noses up and they had disbelief that the Catholic's "Eucharist" and theirs was no different. In their eyes, hearts, and minds it was the same, they did not understand. The Eucharist was never for me just symbolism. For me as a Catholic the Eucharist is actually the body and blood of Jesus Christ, poured out for all of us so that we may be saved from sin and be granted ever lasting life. 

The beautiful thing about being Catholic is that the Liturgy is not just a mere symbol  nor just a re-enactment but also most importantly a sacrament. The Liturgy is an "encounter with the living God in Christ Jesus, present and active in a dynamic and sacramental way," this I am still ever presently trying to grasp. Catholic Theology, specifically Christology, sometimes is unexplainable, you just have to have faith and believe. 

This reflection was based upon the following readings:

Sacrosanctum Concilium December 4, 1963 (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) 

The Liturgy Documents Vol 1. Edition 5. 
"An Overview of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy" ~ Rev. Msgr. Richard B. Hilgartner