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February 13, 1998     The Message
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February 13, 1998

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1998 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 11 .;7 Explaining to a child why Jesus died By FATHER JOHN DIETZEN Catholic News Service I try to explain my Catholic faith to , I get into a bind on why Jesus died. e I've been told he died for my sins, in payment for my sins. This makes like a sadistic accountant. Our God is a loving God. I would appreci- an you can give. (Illinois) First, it is essential to remember we are with an awesome myster), one closely to the mystery of the incarnation itself. e fully human and still a truth we can never completely put into human categories of this incarnate God's redemptive to us and to his and our Father. it is, Jesus gives us some wonder- what was really happening in his suf- as he repeats often in one way or a free act of the infinite Spirit himself and the Father. There is, as Jesus says, no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. Thus, for neither Father nor Son was the cross a humiliation, a degrada- tion, an imposed sentence. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in its treat- ment of the subject, says the sacrifice of Jesus "expresses his loving communion with the Father. 'The Father loves me because I lay down my life,' said the Lord, '(for) I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father"' (No. 606; Jn 10:17, 14:31). As I noted, we simply have no human experience of this kind of love to compare it with, to help us understand it. Which brings us to your question. If it was not the suffering and pain and death for its own sake that made the cross redemptive, then what was it? Again, the Gospels give us numerous insights. The "sins of the world" to be taken away by the Savior were all to some degree victories of the powers of evil, of the seductive insinuation that somehow human happiness and fulfillment will be found in dis- obedience to God, in surrendering to the powers of vengeance and destruction rather than to those of love and life. At least once Jesus had to rebuke the disciples themselves for wanting to take revenge on those who rejected Jesus, to kill them (Lk 9:51). When gentiles approach the disciples, apparently hoping to provide Jesus an escape from the rising tide of hatred around him, he answers that the grain of wheat must die to produce fruit. "When I am lifted up from earth, I' ill draw everyone to myself," he said. When I am on the cross, I will attract everyone to me (Jn 12:32-33). This attractive power was the love he talked about. On the cross he absorbed all the hatred and evil of human sinfulness and turned it back, not in revenge or escape, but in love. By some mysterious insight his taunters seemed to sense what was happening. Come down from the cross and we will believe, they said. But he did not. This is why Jesus calls the cross his hur of glorifi- cation, his supreme fulfillment as Savior, sent by the Father. And why the church's liturgy sings "Regnavit a tigno Deus," God reigned victorious as king, from the cross. This may be too much for your 5-year-old. You can break it up for her. A free brochure answering questions Catholics ask about annuhnents is available by sending a stamped, self- addn'ssed envelope to Father John lietzen, Holy Trinity Church, 704 N. Main St., Bloomington, Ill. 61701. Qftestions for this column shouM be sent to Father Dietzen at the same address. St. Valentine's day started out for the birds ;OFIUSLAW Service (cNs) -- feast of St. 14 Spurred the between r task. hunt astb0I cer and bal- bme knowledge its of birds .head on Valentine's a figurative two saints Both were the religious early Christians. the New Catholic, both saints died day, Feb. 14, 270 A.D. One priest and the 486-3977 off Hwy. 50 00ntgornery, IN other was the bishop of Terni, a choose his mate." symbolize honesty and trust- At the turn of the 20th centu- village 60 miles from Rome. In any case, there does not appear to be any direct relation- ship between the saints and today's Valentine's Day obser- vances. Instead, Valentine's Day with its professions of love seems to be a matter directly related to the mating habits of birds and to folklore. Early English tales reported that birds, choosing their part- ners for the coming summer sea- son, mated during the month of February. With his observations of mat- ing birds, Chaucer, the cele- brated 14th-century English poet, appears to be the one who should be credited with start- ing the tradition of exchanging greetings on Valentine's Day. Observing the birds, Chaucer wrote in "Parliament of Foules": "For this was Seyny (St.) Valentine's Day when every foul (fowl) cometh there to Chaucer further observed that many of the English gentry seemed to exchange love notes at about the same time of year. Once Chaucer documented that sending love greetings was the thing to do on Valentine's Day, it became the thing to do. Not to be outdone by the British in the art of wooing, the French quickly took upon the custom of exchanging greetings and may even have begun the custom of "trothing" when two lovers committed themselves to marriage. References to the custom of getting engaged on Valentine's Day first began to appear in French ballads written during the 14th and 15th centuries. A variant on sending Valentine greetings was putting Xs with a signature to symbolize kisses. This tradition apparently goes back to medieval legal practice of placing the sign of St. Andrew a cross  by a signature to COMPLETE INSURANCE SERVICE Auto! Homel-Fire & Life! Your Personal Service Agent James L. Will Ins. Agency Inc. 1925 W. Franklin Street 425-3187 All You Care To Eat Buffet Dining FAMILY STYLE DINING AND A LA CARTE BANQUET ROOMS AVAILABLE PRE-ARRANGED AMISH TOURS FLEA MARKET EVERY TUES. & WED. Browse The Village Shops Every Monday Seniors receive 15% offl worthiness. Contracts would not be con- sidered valid unless a St. Andrew's Cross appeared. Both parties would kiss the document near the cross to signify compli- anon. Because the crosses were often hurriedly signed, they looked like Xs. As centuries elapsed, the hurried cross or X became asso- ciated with just a kiss  a kiss of commitment. ry, Christmas cards became pop- ular as a form of greeting. Later Easter cards, and then birthday cards, and finally cards for almost any celebration came into vogue. The long atus In n:dvIng i,! ,:,:' preprinted greetings between Christmas and Easter was solved with Valentine's Day cards  cards of love, maybe commitment, and often signed with Xs. " Wo00h mentzon ng Catholic Education Foundatio campaign underway The Catholic Education Foundation, Diocese of Evansville, Inc., has begin its 1998 campaign, with a goal of raising $157,063. Throughout its history, CEF has provided over $2 million in funds for the support of Catholic education in Evansville. During the 1997-1998 academic year, CEF distributed $131,850 to 121 students at Mater Dei and Memorial high Schools. CEF also helps support Marian Day School, with awards to date totaling more tahn $250,000. CEF relies on the generosity of donors, including individ- uals, businesses and foundations, to provide the funds for its tuition grants. For more information, contact Linda Montejano at (812) 963-8857 or (812) 424-5536. Declaration Toward a Global Ethic Area artists will exhibit works depicting the core values of a global ethic, at Holy Angels Community Center and Park in New Harmon); May 1 through 9. Father Earl Rohleder, pastor of Holy Angels, said the theme is derived from the thoughts of German theologian Hans Kiing, who said that a universal ethic already exists to a great extent, but it needs to be acknowledgtKi and declared. Father Rohleder said there is a common set of core values, found in the teachings of religions, and that these form the basis of the global ethic. Time to subscribe to the Message New and renewed subscriptions to the Message are being accepted, for the 51-issue term which begins March 6. The fee is $18.50. Subscribers may use a parish envelope or sim- ply send in name, address and parish infi:rmation to the Message, P.O. tkx 4169, Evansville, IN 477244)169.