Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Second Sacrament for Zooey

Zooey was very relieved to make it to his First Penance last Saturday.

Okay, backing up. We've been helping him prepare to receive this Sacrament with a packet of information provided by his religion teacher, who has also been helping him prepare. For weeks, we'd been talking through the whole "examine your conscience" part.

Hmmm....that sounds like we were aMAZing parents. Truth was, we got the packet on the day we moved into the new house and I set it aside to read it later. Later was 3 weeks later and I found out we were supposed to be doing a little bit every night for all that time. Huh. So we crash-coursed it in a much shorter time period. And that was only when he was in the bathtub, because it was the only time quiet enough for him and one of us to go over the materials. So we didn't by any means spend WEEKS preparing him; it was more like a total of two hours spread out over two weeks time. Thank you, Lord, for our excellent Catholic school and religion class!

ANYway, we were helping him examine his conscience with questions like, "Do I ever disobey my parents?" and all that, and Zooey would consistently say things like, "Not lately" or "Not really" or even a flat out "No."

I started to worry that he wasn't getting it -- blaming myself, of course, because I hadn't read the packet for weeks and now it was too late. And then one day, the poor kid was lying in bed moaning, so I went to see what was wrong. His head hurt, his stomach hurt, his whole body hurt. He sobbed, "I think I'm dying, and I haven't had my First Penance yet!"

Bingo. The conscience must have kicked in somewhere between bathtime and sleepyville.

Naturally, I hugged him and talked to him for a long time about the whole thing and he did end up going to sleep after a whole bunch of Our Fathers and Hail Marys and at least two Acts of Contrition.

So by the time Saturday rolled around, Zooey was very, very eager to head into the confessional. And indeed, he came out with a BIG smile on his face and proudly returned to the pew to pray his penance. After that, he came to fetch his dad and together they went forward to pin his nametag on the "Lord is My Shepherd" banner and receive a lamb pendant as a keepsake.

Part of the service included three boys performing the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Zooey had been cast as the father, and Sister Mary had already told me she thought he was reading beautifully, so I wasn't nervous for him at all. Christian was to play the prodigal son and Tommy was the narrator. (The narrative stopped before the elder brother entered the scene.)

When the time came, I saw Zooey and Tommy exit their pews, approach the altar and move to the microphones. Where was Christian? I had no idea. My husband and I nervously looked around the church to see if we saw Christian or his family, but none of them were there.

Tommy started reading. Christian had the next line -- what would happen?

Then Zooey in a clear, strong voice said, "Father, can I have my money now?"

Tommy continued his narrative and got to the father's first line. Zooey read that, too. He went back and forth between the father's and son's parts without any trouble at all.

Afterwards, his religion told me that right before the service started, she had asked Zooey if he knew Christian's part well enough to read both of them. He said he could, and he did it, with no slips, even though he had never read Christian's lines aloud before. I was totally beaming with pride (can you tell?!??!). And Sister was right, Zooey did read the father's lines beautifully. I wanted to cry when he said, "My son was dead, but now he is alive again!"

Still do. Not because of my son's eloquence, but because Christ really made this possible for us, through the absolution of our sins.

Our Sacraments are so very beautiful. I wish I would remember to more often take advantage of the two I have the privilege of participating in any day of the week. Zooey wants to go to confession weekly, which may be a bit of overkill for such a well-behaved boy, but there's been plenty of times I would have benefitted from such attendance.

First Communion is next -- April 22. We have the suit and the tie...the shoes are a little big, but they'll do if thrifting and consignment shopping doesn't turn up a size smaller in the next few weeks.



***Edited to fix typos. THANKS, Alicia!****

Friday, March 16, 2007

Many becoming Catholic this Easter

Here's the story I wrote about our new candidates and catechumens following the Rite of Election a few weeks ago.

Rite of Election welcomes 120 to Catholicism

Last Sunday, February 25, those preparing to enter the Catholic Church this Easter were welcomed by Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz during the annual Rite of Election. The Rite was held at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln and attended by 31 catechumens and 89 candidates who are expected to be received into the Church from throughout the diocese. Many more could not attend the event but were remembered in prayer.

Each candidate or candidate has journeyed to the Church in a different way, but a common thread in their stories is the pursuit of truth.

As he addressed the catechumens and candidates, Bishop Bruskewitz said, “We must remember that the truth is not just something, it’s Someone. And that is the joy of coming into the Catholic Church.”

Historic Perspective

Elizabeth W____ had a strong Protestant upbringing. She attended a Presbyterian liberal arts in her hometown of Spokane, Wash., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music and studied theology and Biblical literature.

For her Master’s degree, Miss W____ chose to study at the _____. She didn’t limit her education to music, however.

“I wanted to pursue further studies in church history,” she explained. “I was already interested in Eastern Orthodox Christianity…The ‘missing link’ in my pursuit of truth was Catholicism.”

In January 2005, Miss W____’s roommate introduced her to Father M___, pastor of ____ parish and instructor at Saint Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward. When he learned she was interested in church history, he offered to teach a “mini-course” that emphasized the Reformation and divisions that followed.

“I realized two important things in studying the Catholic Church,” Miss W____ said. “One, that I had many misconceptions of Catholicism that were not rooted in anything substantial. And two, Catholicism has preserved the fullness of the Christian tradition in an unbroken succession.”

This past January, Miss W____ went on a spiritual retreat at the Community of St. John in Peoria, Ill, where every morning was spent in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. There, she had “a profound sense of all the fruits of the Holy Spirit,” and determined that Catholicism was the fullness of truth.

“I have a myriad reasons for becoming Catholic, and all of them point to only One Reason, who is Christ,” Miss W____ said. “Everything – incense, sacred architecture, Gregorian chant, Mary, the Pope, the saints – everything points heavenward to Christ.

Dante and Devotion

Another of this year’s candidates is Seth T____, a ____ College student who will soon finish his degree in history and political science with a minor in philosophy.

“The first time I remember really thinking about Catholicism was studying Joyce and Dante at W____ High School,” recalled Mr. T____ who was raised in the Methodist church.

In his first year at ____ College, Mr. T___ further indulged his interests in Dante, the Italian poet who penned the after-life epic The Divine Comedy, and Irish history. “The Catholic faith plays a major role in both,” he noted. While traveling in Italy that year, he went to Mass for the first time.

He began attending Mass regularly with his girlfriend, Jena A___, around two years ago. When the couple became engaged, Mr. T____ had been considering converting to Catholicism for some time. Still, he hesitated to enroll in RCIA until he had learned more.

Last year, Mr. T___ said, “I decided to really throw myself into the Lenten season.” He attended daily Mass often, observed Stations of the Cross on Fridays, attended Holy Hours with the campus FOCUS group, and participated in as many of the Holy Week activities as he could.

“By Easter Vigil,” he remembered, “I really regretted not entering the church that year… I loved the tradition of it all, and the community that tradition fostered. I love the saints, the sacramentals and the devotions.”

Resolute, he signed up for RCIA last fall at Saint C____ parish, where Father G____ is his instructor. Mr. T____ said, “As I got to know the Church better, it felt so natural for me.”

Couple on a Quest

When Bruce and Molly H___ met, he was atheist; she was evangelical Protestant. He asked her out, but since she only dated Christians, he had to settle for friendship and occasional cheerful debates about religion.

At the time, Mr. H____ was accompanying his widowed grandmother to weekly Methodist services simply to spend time with her. It wasn’t long before Mr. H___ had two people arguing against his atheism: “…this Methodist preacher and Molly.”

Mr. H___ read the Bible for ammunition against Christianity, but the tactic backfired. He soon became a Christian and was baptized. In time, the couple began dating and was married.

The H____s attended an evangelical church in Fremont as newlyweds, then a non-denominational church when they moved to Lincoln. However, Mr. H____ frequently found himself disagreeing with Protestant theology.

He started asking co-workers about their Catholic faith, but the combination of his natural skepticism and his wife’s reaction held him back.

“I was not going to become Catholic,” Mrs. H____ emphasized. She thought that if her husband investigated Catholicism thoroughly, he’d see its faults.

After more than a year of searching and reading numerous books, Mr. H___ decided to enroll in RCIA with Father K____ at ____ parish. “RCIA cleared up a lot for me,” he said. “But if there was any one thing that convinced me, it was Apostolic Succession.”

He longed for his wife to come into the Church with him. Nearly every night after their children were asleep, the couple debated. Not only would they discuss the RCIA material, they also read David Currie’s book, Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic.

When they got to the chapter on the authority of the Church late last year, everything suddenly clicked for Mrs. H_____. That was the point at which she realized, “Catholicism didn’t contradict what I believed. It was everything I believed, but it gave it much more fullness.”

Father K____ agreed to meet with Mrs. H____ privately to give her the instruction she needed to catch up with the rest of the RCIA candidates and catechumens. The whole H____ family will be received into the Church together this Easter Vigil.

Everybody's a little Irish tomorrow, right?

Your Leprechaun Name Is:

Sniffles O'Taters
What's Your Leprechaun Name?

This isn't because I'm crying all the time, or because of allergies, or illness....Hmmm, maybe it's because I plan to chop some onion later?

Anyway, things are going all right for us. We said good-bye to the old house on Monday for the last time...signed the papers Tuesday and were very happy to find the new owners are so excited to have our house. My husband is still up in the air on jobs, but we are holding our own financially.

Getting ready for Zooey's First Penance (a week from tomorrow) and First Communion (13 days after Easter). He's growing up and really showing good understanding of the concepts of sin and absolution. I'm really excited for him.

Also, our friends, the H. family, are all coming into the Church at Easter Vigil. Mr. & Mrs. H had an interesting journey, and they will have their six-year-old daughter and (nearly) 3-year-old son baptized as well. I wrote their story for the paper, along with the tales of two others. I'll post it in a minute.

Be well.

Eat bread, drink wine. Learn to sin
the Song of Christ. If you can dance, dance.
Everywhere grace awaits. Desire to love, to love.

--Sister Maura Eichner

Monday, March 12, 2007


Seems that I know a lot of people who have lost their dads very recently. The B family's father/grandfather died rather suddenly two weeks ago...The M family's dad/grandpa was diagnosed with stomach cancer the first week of January and died the last Sunday of February, surrounded by his family as they prayed a Rosary (his son the priest later said it was "the perfect death")...and just yesterday, the S. family lost their dad/grandpa -- he had been doing work for a local charity last week and suffered a bad fall that resulted in a massive brain injury. With his condition deteriorating, the family elected to remove him from life support. May God be with all these men and have mercy on their souls.

Meanwhile, my good friend and sponsor, the godmother to all my kids, tells me that her dad's battle with cancer is not going well. A second round of chemo did not deter the tumor's growth, and his last shot for treatment is a particular procedure that few oncologists do. One is in Omaha, very close to his home, so he is hoping to be taken on by that physician before it's too late.

Please pray for these good men and for the many other dads that you know who could use some spiritual support today.