Posted by: L. E. Barnes | February 28, 2010

Second Sunday of Lent

Lent goes on, and for folks involved in RCIA, that means taking steps to ready the catechumens for reception into the Church this Easter. Please remember both the RCIA leaders and the catechumens in your prayers!

In our catechumenate class today, those planning to be confirmed (not baptized) this Easter were reminded to provide either a copy of their baptismal certificate or an affidavit signed by a witness to their baptism. (So for our catechumens reading this, please turn that in ASAP, if you have not done so already!)

The scripture discussion focused on today’s gospel reading, Luke 9:28-36. This passage tells of Christ’s transfiguration in the presence of Peter, James, and John. (It was pointed out , by the way, that the gospels usually single out Peter when the disciples are mentioned, demonstrating how early on the disciples recognized the importance of Peter.) These three disciples received a “sneak preview” of both Christ in His “God body” and the glorified body that awaits us in heaven. An Old Testament parallel to this incident is Moses having to wear a veil after being in God’s presence because his face radiated so brightly with the glory of God that people could not look directly at him. The gospel passage reports that both Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ on the mountain, and their presence has been interpreted as a sign of Christ’s fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.

We touched only briefly on today’s Old Testament reading, Genesis 15: 5-12 and 17-8. The passage recounts God’s covenant with Abraham. God manifested His presence with “a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,” just as He would later manifest His presence to the Israelites in the wilderness in the form of a pillar of fire.

We went on to “The Fifth Commandment: Moral Issues of Life and Death” in Catholic Christianity. What does the commandment actually cover? For instance, is it a call to pacifism? No, it rather prohibits the taking of innocent life. Also, as the chapter title indicates, the commandment raises key questions about life and death. Important issues to consider include abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and even fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization. As Kreeft points out, modern society unfortunately has adopted a “quality-of-life” ethic rather than a “sanctity-of-life” ethic. The “quality-of-life” ethic serves as the justification for abortion and euthanasia. However, life is sacred–period. Even unborn infants have a soul. (And Catholics should keep in mind that procuring an abortion is grounds for excommunication.) Likewise, in vitro fertilization, or producing “test-tube babies,“ is condemned by the Church, not only because it is an unnatural way to procreate (i.e., it separates procreation from the sexual union of husband and wife) but also because it creates “extra” embryos to be disposed of, thus becoming a form of selective abortion. So abortion is never acceptable, and neither is euthanasia. What about extraordinary means of extending a dying person’s life (such as feeding tubes and respirators)? The Church teaches that these are optional. It also teaches that “[p]alliative care… should be encouraged.” If the fifth commandment forbids taking innocent life, what about the death penalty for criminals? The answer is that the death penalty is acceptable only there is no other way to protect society from a violent offender; however, modern prisons have pretty much obviated the need for putting criminals to death.

At the end, we discussed the rite of reconciliation. One of the group leaders and I role played this (with yours truly playing the part of the priest). Since our catechumens will soon be making their first confession, we demonstrated how they should focus on giving examples of their sins (and not going into a two-hour monologue that tries to cover every sin we can remember committing!). However, we should not color the truth or try to justify our sins. One person assisting with the class, a lifelong Catholic, also mentioned that today the Church speaks more of reconciliation than confession, and it emphasizes community (i.e., considering how your sins have affected others).

Whoo! Once again, we had a lot to talk about. I hope that our catechumens aren’t experiencing “information overload” as they attend the class. I was received into the Church in ‘07, and there’s still much for me to learn.

This week St. Peter’s is having its parish mission. Fr. Charlie Cross, a Passionist priest, will be speaking on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. Services start at 7:30 pm. On Tuesday night we will also have our Lenten penance service. The bulletin reports that seven priests will be available to hear confessions that night.

May you have a blessed week!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: