24th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2013
My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,
Our Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has graciously opened the Year of Faith since October 11th, 2012 and will be concluded on November 24th, 2013. We are living in the Year of Faith and celebrating our faith of God’s gift to mankind. Since our Holy Father Pope Francis was elected, he continues to lead the Church of Jesus Christ in the year of faith and recently published an Encyclical Letter called Lumen Fidei meaning the Light of Faith. All of us Catholics have been part of Christ’s faith since our baptism. Since I am pastoring here at St. Boniface and St. Mary’s, I am impressed how strong your faith is and have witnessed many of you coming to weekly masses. However, a simple question is being asked; what is your faith? This question may make us pause to answer or even share with others. I recently read a simple article called Why I Love the Catholic Faith by Peggy Bowes*. This week and the following week I will insert in the bulletin for us to reflect upon the faith we have received and continue expressing it in our daily life. Through faith we partake in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for the journey of our eternal life.
Why I love the Catholic faith
I am a “Cradle Catholic,” and my mother claims that my first word was “Jesus” because she often took me to daily Mass. As I grew up, I began to question my faith and drifted away for a few years after I left home. I felt a great void in my life and finally realized that I needed the Catholic Church and the comforting rituals and traditions. The more I practice and learn about Catholicism, the more I fall in love with it. Here are a few reasons why.
The Catholic Mass is not only a beautiful liturgical celebration but also a means of gaining grace by receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist. During every hour of the day, somewhere in the world, a Catholic Mass is being celebrated, fulfilling Jesus’ request to “Do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22:19)
I love the fact that I can attend Mass in Spanish, Latin or any other language and I know exactly what is going on because there is a rhythm and ritual that is always the same. Yet each community can personalize the celebration through music, church décor and ethnic customs. I feel equally at home in a “gospel” style Mass in a tiny chapel in New Orleans as I do in a Latin High Mass in a cathedral in South Dakota.
The Catholic Church offers seven sacraments which are visible signs of grace, instituted by Christ. Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist are sacraments of initiation and are the foundation of our faith. Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick are sacraments of healing. Matrimony and Holy Orders are sacraments of service.
I love the ceremony and tradition that defines each of the sacraments, and I am grateful that I can go to Communion and Confession as often as I’d like. I am awed by the fact that reception of the Eucharist at Mass transforms my body into a tabernacle in which I carry Christ out into the world. I also appreciate the humility required to say my sins out loud in the confessional. It seems that the more often I participate in the sacraments, the more blessings and grace I receive.
Traditions and Rituals
Flickering candles, fragrant incense, statues, rosary beads, stained glass windows, colorful vestments, altar bells and holy water are just a few of the visible signs of Catholic traditions and rituals. Catholics understand that engaging all the senses is important to fully participate in our faith.
I also love the devotions that have been passed down through the ages such as the Angelus, the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration. These customs deepen my faith and connect me with other Catholics in the past, present and future. I feel it is important to teach them to my children so that they can continue to keep these traditions alive.
To be continued…
Rev. Joseph-Quoc Vuong
*Peggy Bowes is a former Air Force pilot and the author of The Rosary Workout and Tending the Temple. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.