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February 23, 1996     The Message
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February 23, 1996

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( m 1996 The Message- for Catholics of Southwestern indiana ) " Bishop's Forum -- Of Sacraments and Sacramentals Blessings are sacramentals. One of the most popular bless- m our Church includes the use It is the Blessing the Feast of St. Blase 3. Although the story we have the practice is the blessing is a prayer asks God to protect the recipi- from "all diseases of the throat ery other evil." We some- "from every other of can remember, how- the touch of cold candles to as the minister said the r blessing. It is a sensible, , sign. a book of blessings has been pub- use in the Church by bishops, priests, and other lay ministers. At about the same of household blessings, to be used by Was raade available. keep us in touch with the sacred by symbols that are familiar to us. Just celebrated Ash Wednesday antici- Sunday of Lent on our annual jour- Seems to be something about Ash Wednes- ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER day that draws people to the Church, to a renewal of faith. It is my conviction that the sacramental of blessed ashes -- the remnants of burnt palm from the previous Palm Sunday -- iscentral to it. The sign of the cross on the forehead made with ash is symbolic of our own hu- manity and a reminder of our need to reform our lives. This is a very prominent, visible sign of our per- sonal profession of faith. For the distribution of blessed ashes, there is an option to use one of two prayers. There is the tradi- tional prayer which is said as the minister makes the sign of the cross with blessed ashes: "Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return." It is a clear signal to each of us that we are mor- tal. We will die and our bodies will return to the ele- ments from which God created them. The second prayer is more of a challenge to use Lent to reform one's life. It too is recited as the min- ister imposes ashes in the sign of the cross. "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." The "Way of the Cross" is also a sacramental. It is the painful depiction of the last hours of Jesus' life/, his horrible death by execution on the cross, and his burial in the tomb owned by someone else. It calls, us to pay attention to the price of our personal and collective sinfulness. The cross, as horrible as it is, became for follow- ers of Jesus a sacramental of hope. Jesus died for us on the cross because he loves us. "Greater love than this no man has than to lay down one's life for a friend. By dying he overcame sin; by rising from the dead he overcame even the punishment for sin. The cross is a most powerful sacramental. Many Christians wear the "empty" cross around our necks because of the hope it signifies for Jesus lives, He is: risen from the dead. The crucifix -- the cross with Jesus' body affixed I to it  too, is a sacramental. Its stark and awful story needs no explanation to one who believes in Jesus. It can be an impossible barrier for one who, for whatever reason, does not understand the story of Jesus, the Gospel. The Way of the Cross and the crucifix, for us who believe, are constant reminders not only of Jesus' love but also of the responsibility each of us must assume for our own sins that made his awful suffer- ing and death on the cross necessary. More next time. essays focus on Priesthood, Sisterhood in Catholic E. Vansville area tn the annual essay contest. This How do I view sd Sisterhood Z rnes, a student at School, z first place, and tudent at St. Wendel, was Shepherd seSol Sider yourself to For may be a School work. For or a ram- think about strong is there is some- a lot or really probably to it. the priests about ded- Vocations easyl If you of being a r, You have to lacrifices. You chastity, This married or sacrifice, a lot of mate- must be I with no talk to you Any of I is a Vocation. peo- If we Who would inister the mar. baptism! of the I know who has hard Ted always ad my faro- : us get over some family problems and was there to comfort us when we l)st a loved one. Every week- end when I see him at Mass, he amazes me. I can't get over the fact that he knows everyone by name and knows just what to say to make them smile. He al- ways has a few encouraging words for the adults and is al- ways ready to give us kids a high five and congratulate us on any little thing we "do. He has his own special way of making everyone feel impor- tant. This is probably the best thing about him. As a child growing up, often you feel as though you don't belong or that you're not as good as everyone else. If this happens to you, go see Father Ted. He'll let you know you're important! Let's talk about the sister- hood. Now, I don't know of one young girl who has said, "When I grow up, I want to be a nun," but I'm sure there are many who have. Even if this is not the vocation you think you want as a child, your interests change as you grow up and this may be the vocation you end up choosing. This may be what God calls you to do and if it is, go for it! In many ways, sisters are like priests. The more of them we have in our lives, the better. Sisters usually live to- gether in a religious commu- nity. They learn about God, and then they go out into their community and teach all of us about His ways. The principal at my school, Sister Mary Ce- lestin Maurer, helps everyone to learn about God. Although many students may deny the fact that she teaches us about God, I see it in many different ways. The reason I think many students deny it is becatme she doesn't simply say "God... "or "Jesus said..." Instead, I see God's love shining through her every morning as she greets us with a warm smile as we enter the school building and every afternoon as she stands in front of the school and waves good- byes to each and every one of us. She shows us God's way by setting rules for our school. These rules resemble God's commandments. For example, the rule "no fighting" resembles the Great Commandment "love one another." These are two ways that Sister helps teach us about God. I'm sure many of the other sisters that all of you know teach about God in this same way. The two vocations I've talked about are very important, don't you think? So, after knowing the importance and about how priests and sisters help in the world today, how many of you would consider the vocation of priest or sisterhood? I hope a lot of you. Now you may be thinking, "My friends will make fun of me if I tell them I want to be a priest or a sister." This is where you need to make a very important decision as a member of the Christian faith. Do you follow God's call or don't you because of a couple of stu- dents who laugh at you? Keep this in mind: Your friends will get over it and, if it's something you really want to do, they should accept it. Follow your heart and remember, I'm be- hind you one-hundred percent!! By LISA DILGER St. Wendel School I truly admire the priesthood and sisterhood in today's world.. There are certain qualities that priests and sisters must have to fulfill their jobs. They have to be extremely devoted to God, unselfish, and have a willing- ness to serve. What it means to be a priest or sister has changed through the years. The calling for a vocation used to be for everyone and anyone. It still is, but people aren't as willing to listen, or they close their ears altogether and hope that the next guy listens. I think it is both disappointing and scary that the number of priests and sisters is decreas- ing enormously. I'm not really sure why the ordination of priests and the commitment of sisters has gone down so rapidly, but hopefully encour- aging friends to consider voca- tions will change that trend. The roles of priests and sisters has also altered through the years. It used to be that priest's roles were to offer Mass, cele- brate the sacraments, visit the sick, and so forth. Unfortu- nately, now they seem to be bombarded with paperwork and meeting after meeting. Some of the roles sisters per- form are teaching religion class, visiting and praying for the sick and shut-ins, and car- ing for the sacristy. Going to a Catholic school has increased my interactions with priests and sisters. Hav- ing Sister Irma as a first grade teacher has had a real impact on me. Although it has been seven years, her impact on my life is still very helpful. I can still remember the loving, car- ing smile on her face that never let me down. She taught me to love everyone because I wasn't any better than the rest in God's eyes. My favorite part of the day was when she'd sit in her rocking chair and read us a bible story. One of the things that made her my favorite teacher was those warm, em- brasive arms ready to give me a hug whenever I needed one. Father Nunning is another per- son who has helped my faith grow. He celebrated the sacra- ment of Confirmation with my classmates and me last year. He made it an exciting experi- ence. Father Nunning is more than a priest, he's more like a good friend with a great sense of humor. I come from a strong Catholic family. We pray when we get up in the morning, be- fore and after every meal, and before we go to bed each evening. I think this helps me to keep in touch with God a lit- tle better each and every day. One of my uncles is a priest and another is studying to be- come one. They have listened to their calling, and I wish more people would too. Through these encounters with Sister Irma and Father Nunning and spending time with my uncles, I have realized that priests and sisters are real people, and that they are im- portant parts in our daily lives. Today, priests and sisters are needed more than ever. En- couraging people is one way to get them to follow their voca- tion. I would encourage some- one by telling them that they would make a good priest or sister, because what we hear is what we tend to believe. The priesthood and sister- hood are an important part of our faith. Through their homi- lies and teachings we can bet- ter understand our faith. This is how I view the priesthood and sisterhood in today's world. The voice of the patient! Qualified, competent, help- ful, courteous -- words that at- tempt to describe an important person in the successful opera- tion of a hospital  your nurse. Commentary By MSGR, CLINTON F. HIRSCH During a recent bout with pneumonia, while a patient at St. Mary's Medical Center, there was ample opportunity to refurbish an appreciation for the nursing profession  an on-going asset to a community. The nurse stands in a unique position, a go-between of the medical profession and hospi- tal administration; she/he is an interpreter and implementor of the doctor's orders, while, at the same time, upholding and defending the directives of hos- pital administration. More than the voice of the patient, the nurse is a vital link that minimizes the trauma of being hospitalized. Join me, if you will, in offer- ing a well-deserved salute of the voice of the patient, your nurse.