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May 2, 1997     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana op's Forum-- ! month of May holds sacred special memories for In the Catholic Church, the Sacraments of ptism, Confir- First Do they not some- First Holy Communion By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER tage rooted in tradition and Christian sacred natural events. events _ the birth of oiling of its dell- 'st feeding -- the Sacra- The first recep- is a special moment for Christian as they consciously ' Most Blessed Sacrament of our faith. instated the first reception of at an age when children are able between right and wrong, the a practice that had been lost in the to the heresy of Jansenism. Jansen taught that we were too unworthy even Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus t. Those who followed this totally from Holy Communion. Pious devotions arose replacing the true act of communion with the Lord. Our Church countered the Jansenistic heresy with one of the "Commandments of the Church" that every Catholic must receive Holy Communion at least once dur- ing the time defined as "Easter Time." It extends from Ash Wednesday until Trinity Sunday, the Sunday following Pentecost. The Church, in order to emphasize the awesome nature of the act of receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus in a sacramental way imposed very strict fasting laws prior to Holy Communion These practices of self-control were designed to prepare the recipient both in body and spirit to recognize, with the greatest of respect, that Holy Communion, the partaking of the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord, touches the deepest mystery of our faith. An expression the young people use today, "It's awesome!" fits most appropriately this moment of the exercise of our faith. Here are but two vivid teachings imprinted in my being from my earliest recollections of the teachings about being prepared to receive Holy Communion. Firstly, anyone who dared approach the com- munion railing had to be free of all mortal sins. Many, out of fear of hell, felt obliged to go to confes- sion every time before receiving Holy Communion for fear of committing the sin of sacrilege, an unworthy reception, a very grave sin. Secondly, one wishing to receive was expected to abstain from all foods, medicines and even water from the midnight prior to receiving Holy Commu- nion. This was a most demanding discipline. When a person was not able to keep the discipline, to approach Holy Communion was not an option. That person did not receive that day. Happily, my first Holy Communion remains for me a most vivid and cherished event. For most of us it was free of all anxiety for we were innocent Children. The white attire, veils and folded hands truly reflected the purity of heart of the first communicants. In our time, following Vatican Council II, there have been marvelous changes in our liturgical prac- tices and disciplines. There has been a relaxation of the stringent laws of fasting before Holy Commu- nion. There has been a refreshing emphasis on goodness rather than sinfulness. More next week. 5 at Mass, Good Manners Don't Hurt: Readers react writer John discussion Catholics ers at Mass. ctions I sat in whispered the last 10 time before chit chat, even talked priest's open- out the I gave The kind in body Was invading It was Which always out with my ! regret for hav- Prayers. of that book, of having a I'd like to Woman, if enough to sit in , Maybe she'll Debbie Page EVansville book about a list of a few that bother me: 1. I don't like it when lay peo- ple who give out Communion wear shorts, or short split skirts, or blue jeans. They need to wear a robe, or at least' their Sunday best. 2. The ones who give out Com- munion should wash their hands before touching the hOst. 3. No genuflection. Some come in and sit down, as if waiting for a show to start. 4. Loud talking and laughing at anniversary Masses and other special Masses. 5. Kids running around in church, crying, talking, scream- ing and eating Also, noisy toys. Parents make as much noise as kids do. Use the cry room, if one is available. 6. Musicians and choir prac- ticing before Mass. Sometimes it's like a party with all the talk- ing and laughing. Some people can only come to church on Sum days, and then can't pray in quiet due to the practicing. 7. Adults talking all through Mass. Visit after Mass on the Outside or at home. 8. One couple almost started arguing in church because of something said in the homily. Several people noticed this. 9. Bells need to ring at Eleva- tion, so people know this is a sacred time of Mass. 10. We need to get back to the basics of our faith: a) Taberna- cle needs to be out where it can be seen. b) Statues up front, c) Crucifix, not just the risen Christ. Joyce Kreilein Jasper To the editor: I've seen at times where some people don't even make the sign of the cross with holy water as they enter into our Lord's house. They have the expression on their face as seeming to say, let's get this over with. I've seen short shorts with flip flop shoes, very low cut dresses, and mini skirts. I've also seen sloppy T-shirts with old blue jeans. Yes, we have some prob- lems with our clothing. I've heard people say the Rosary without any feeling at all I've seen where parents let their children run in the aisle, talk almost through all the Mass and cry through most of the homily. It's as if they don't know we have a crying room anymore. I agree with the author on a lot of these things. We need to get back to showing our heav- enly father the respect he deserves in his house. Carol Hedrick To the editor: My own personal thoughts about Mass conduct (are these): terrible, no reverence, loud talk- ing, laughing, etc. People don't seem to know what they sup- posed to do! (About Mass customs): I can tolerate the newer customs. I don't like them, but I can live with them. I've seen short shorts on women, torn jeans, T- shirts advertising heavy metal bands, bare midriffs, gum chew- ing -- even while receiving Holy Communion -- total lack of respect. No wonder people are seeking religions or beliefs that give them direction and leadership. Leonard It. Adams Evansville To the editor: Last Friday, April 18, during my weekly Hour of Adoration beforethe Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel of St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville, I chanced to read an article pertaining to manners at Mass, entitled, "Dressing for the Lord's dinner party," which asked, "Why do so many of our parishioners come to Sunday Mass informally clad?" It expresses my own sen- timents. For several years now, I have been deeply concerned about the lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Eucharist in the Diocese of Evansville. This has been evidenced by people chewing gum and receiving Com- munion (is not an hour fast still in effect?); allowing Eucharistic min- isters (women) in mini-skirts (four inchea or more above the knem) to distribute Holy Communion; permitting women lectors, cantors and even religions sisters to cross their legs when seated in the sanc- tuary; a complete disregard by those in authority of the offensive attire worn by men and women at Mass -- shorts, as well as back- less dresses and halters by the women. In addition, there is so much noise going on in our Catholic churches that I wonder if peo- ple even know it is God's house they are profaning. How can anyone hear what God has to say in his holy temple when, before and after Mass, parish. loners are hollering, laughing, shouting and gossiping with their neighbors? Will God hold us in contempt for not giving him the glory that is his due, especially when we come together to worship him at the Sunday liturgy? Patricia J. Burggrabe The Legion of Mary ission director thanks supporters the Message Your gener- appeal for of our to our mis- way in peace of East- and While aspects highlight the gift impor- ;he appear- disciples his open- be with you". Jesus knew that with all their fears and uncertainty, the disciples needed peace. Peace would help them put things in perspective and would encourage them for the task ahead. Peace is Jesus' gift to us as well. Peace helps us let go of what is non-essential and embrace what is essential. Peace helps us empty ourselves so that we can become instruments in the hands of the Lord. Peace helped Jesus through his trials; it can help us through ours. People who are at peace reflect a calm and quiet composure that can never be ruf- fled or disturbed. We all benefit from being around such people. Missionaries all over the world pray each day that you may experience God's gift of peace offered to everyone through the resurrection of Jesus. As Dioce- san Director of the Propagation of the Faith and the Holy Child- hood Association, I thank you for helping ofir missionaries share that same peace with others, especially the mission people they serve. AS the 1997 Propaga- tion Of the Faith Lenten Appeal concluded with Easter, 264 won- derful generous adult donors con- tributed $10,126.00; an average gift of $38.36 per donor. As the Lenten sacrifices from the young Catholic school chil- dren and Religious Education Programs are being reported to the Mission Office, the Missions have received the following to date: Resurrection School, Evans- ville -- $50; Westside Catholic Consolidated Schools, Evans- ville -- $751; Religious Educa- tion, St. Mary, Huntingburg $320; Precious Blood School, Jasper -- $597.80; Religious Education, St. Joseph, Jasper $957.14. The total, as of April 24, was $2,175.94. Msgr. Clarence A. Schlaehter Diocesan Director , . J.. ,, . The word of life A study in Finland published in the British Medical Journal (1996, p. 1431-4) found the suicide rate (within just the first year} after an abortion was three times the general suicide rate and six times that associated with birth, The Post-Abortion Review, Winter 1997