Hoping to have the courage and faith

Dear Wally,

hi!I have watched and I heard about the trials you encountered before you started the parishworld.I hope I can also have the courage and faith that you have.I made a terrible mess in my life.It's maybe because back in the Philippines where I originally came from there are a lot of hopelessness and poverty around.So, I decided to work abroad. I have a missionary visa but I do another job and go to a Methodist church!At first I thought it was just same as our Mass. I took for granted the importance of the Holy Mass.I will go home on July and I promise myself to give importance to it.It's like my soul is dead because I haven't received the Eucharist.Inspite of this, I thank God because he is also going high tech!I have found a Mass on the net.It's in Pennsylvania and I also found the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on line.I don't know why I tell you about this.It's just I think I need to unload my burden.I'm sorry. Thanks a lot!(especially for reading this novel of mine) :-) More power to your ministry and God bless!

~ Cindy L.


Dressing Modestly in Church

This past Sunday at the Holy Trinity Mass at St. Christopher's in MV, a scantily clad teen participated in the Mass as an usher. It was beyond shocking at her lack of regard for her dress. I approached her during Mass because I felt she was being highly disrespectful. This teen was upset that I encouraged her to dress appropriately, especially as a Mass participant. She said, she didn't have time to change her clothes... and Jesus says, COME AS YOU ARE. Hmm... I think she needs a bit of deeper understanding about the need for modesty and a healthy sense of shame. I know some Parishes require all Mass participants to wear choir robes as they serve our Lord. It's a good idea.

With that said, I think it is the time once again to address the issue of modesty in our parishes for both men and women. It seems like people need to be reminded to DRESS THEIR SUNDAY BEST. What does Sunday Best mean? It does not mean sleeveless and cleavage showing tops, halter tops, ragged and baggy jeans, tank tops and skirts above the knee. Modesty means to be decent and respectful towards others as we are worshiping God and we are in the company of heavenly Saints and angels! Modesty calls forth the good in each other through edifying behavior and dress.

Unfortunately, many men and women are quite naive about the impact on others of immodest dress. Modesty in dress and respectful behavior around others and especially at MASS, is governed by the principle of not offending others and not being an occasion of sin for others. St. Augustine said, "in all your movements, let nothing be evident that would offend the eyes of another."

Moreover, our Catechism expounds upon these principles of modesty. "Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of the person and their solidarity. Modesty protects the MYSTERY of the other and their love. It encourages patience and modesty in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet." (nos. 2521, 2522)

As followers of Christ, we might ask ourselves as we dress for Mass, "what am I stating by what I am wearing?" Should we all wear choir robes before entering Mass? A close friend of mine raised that idea. It certainly would cause each person to focus more on the Mass than on the distraction of others clothing. Since that reality is not possible or most likely probable, the question needs to be asked by the individual, why am I dressing this way? Is it to draw attention to oneself and pique and arouse the curiosity of another? If so, then modesty has been violated and the virtues of humility are not evident as the other feels the need to showcase their defined body to possibly promote others to an occasion of lust. We are obviously not serving love.

Let me know your thoughts and let's discuss this topic at Parish World News.

In His Service,

Vanessa Browne
A concerned Catholic woman

CLICK HERE to view "Modesty, Modesty, wherefore art thou" a blog by Paul Dion, STL.

An uplifting story

Thank you for :The Fern and the Bamboo." It is amost uplifiting story.
~ Anonymous


More on Yoga and the Catholic Church

June 3, 2007

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to you in regards to your article, "Catholic faith and Yoga? They’re incompatible."

I realize that this is a very long letter, but I hope you will indulge me by reading it. I have been studying the document, "Jesus Christ The Bearer of the Water of Life" for several months, so I want to make it clear that I agree with you, in that Catholic faith is incompatible with Yoga. However, I was very disturbed by the course of actions taken by the woman, “Mary” at Ft. Meyer.

It appears that the world is much more adept at evangelizing Christians than Christians are at evangelizing the world. Why is that? Could it be that we lack the one indispensable ingredient—the love of God? St. Paul warns us that knowledge of the truth is not enough—without love we are nothing; merely a “noisy going.” If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. (1Cor.13:2). It is not enough to have the truth, we must live it. We are all prone to sin and need to discern what our true motives are—whether our ego is moving us to do something, or whether it is the love of God—the Holy Spirit. If we are motivated by our ego, we are not living the truth, and not motivated by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul counsels Timothy: a servant of the Lord is not to engage in quarrels, but has to be kind to everyone, a good teacher, and patient. He has to be gentle when he corrects people who dispute what he says, never forgetting that God may give them a change of mind so that they recognize the truth and come to their senses, once out of the trap where the devil caught them and kept them enslaved. (2Tim.2:24-26).

The document on “New Age” states: It should be recognized that the attraction that New Age religiosity has for some Christians may be due in part to the lack of serious attention in their own communities to themes which are actually part of the Catholic synthesis, such as the importance of man’s spiritual dimension and its integration with the whole of life, the search for life’s meaning, the link between human beings and the rest of creation, the desire for personal and social transformation, and the rejection of a rationalistic and materialistic view of humanity. The document states its purpose: These reflections are offered primarily to those engaged in pastoral work so that they might be able to explain how the New Age movement differs from the Christian faith. . . .It is an invitation to understand New Age and to engage in a genuine dialogue with those who are influenced by New Age thought. The document uses Jesus as a model of how to minister to those involved in New Age, citing his encounter with the Samaritan Woman by the well: The gracious way in which Jesus deals with the woman is a model for pastoral effectiveness, helping others to be truthful without suffering in the challenging process of self-recognition (“he told me everything I have done,” verse 39). The Samaritans of Jesus’ day could be compared with those caught up with New Age, today. Jesus gave the woman dignity, humbling himself to ask her for a drink, acknowledging her as a person of worth (Pages 7-9, 81). St. Paul gives a similar example: Men of Athens, I have seen for myself how extremely scrupulous you are in all religious matters, because I noticed , as I strolled round admiring your monuments, that you had an altar inscribed: To An Unknown God. Well, the God whom I proclaim is in fact the one whom you already worship without knowing it (Acts 17:23). St. Paul has the humility to admire the work of their hands and to acknowledge the good intentions of their heart—acknowledging their dignity. Then, he goes on to enlighten them and lead them to repentance—to turn away from their idols.

After reading Mary’s story, I couldn’t help but wonder if she has a spiritual director. If she doesn’t, it would be wise for her to get one. If she has a spiritual director, I wonder if she checked with her director before taking the actions she did. From the article, it appears that the parish in question wasn’t even her parish; that she read about these classes being offered; and that she took it upon herself to form a pose—“including a relations manager from Relevant Radio.” She seems to have intended to make her quest very public—and even took a camera to take pictures. This whole incident was turned into a public scandal—damaging the reputation of the Church, the women, the Pastor, and the Bishop who was responsible for the parish. Certainly, it is shocking that Catholic women would practice Yoga in a Catholic Chapel, (although, not surprising in our current culture), but I doubt that these women were aware that what they were doing was idolatry.

Why didn’t Mary attempt to speak to the Pastor, or Assistant Pastor, before the event took place, (or her own Pastor) in order to convey her concerns to them. If they didn’t listen to her, then she could have gone to the Bishop. Mary should have gone to the Bishop before making this incident public, not after. It is true that Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple, but Jesus is the only Son of God; he was without sin, and embodied the fullness of the truth. The rest of us are all blind—it is just a matter of degree. The fullness of the truth resides within the Catholic Church, but not within any individual Catholic, or group of Catholics. Is there any Catholic alive today, or priest, for that matter, who has never held an erroneous belief, or said, or done something contrary to the faith? If so, then let him cast the first stone. Jesus taught his disciples: If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: “the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge.” But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector (Mat. 18:15-17).

As was stated, the Chapel is consecrated ground—a holy place (not a place to provoke confrontations and dissension. I suspect that somewhere in the Church there was a tabernacle holding the Blessed Sacrament, as well as holy water fonts. It is also true that each of these women, by virtue of Baptism, is a “temple of the Holy Spirit.” Why did Mary feel that it was necessary for her to sprinkle the altar with holy water and blessed salt? Jesus is not a prisoner within the tabernacle. Jesus was present in that place, and has more power than the holy water and blessed salt. Why didn’t Mary go to pray before the Blessed Sacrament and ask the Lord to enlighten these women and lead them back to the truth? In my opinion, Mary used these holy sacramentals in a superstitious manner. (See CCC 2111).

Mary’s courage and zeal for the faith are commendable, and I’m sure she meant well, but in my opinion her actions were not an example of a pastoral approach, or an effective means of evangelization. I would hope that others do not follow her example. This incident was damaging to the reputation of the parish and to the pastor, and an embarrassment for the Bishop—not to mention the attack on the dignity of those women. We don’t need to start another “Inquisition.” Instead, we need to pray for enlightenment, for ourselves, and for those who are led astray; and follow Jesus example to the “woman at the well.”

Thank you for all that you do for the faith.

Lenora Grimaud

CLICK HERE to view the article Lenora references to as well as all the wonderfully illuminating comments that have been pouring from our readers about it.