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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
October 2, 1987     The Message
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October 2, 1987

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Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, October 2,1987 _ ijw Past made present By Katharine Bird NC N,s Service t Holy Trinity Parish in Washington, D.C., peo- ple always look forward to Toy Sunday, celebra- ted as part of the parish's preparation for Christmas. On Toy Sunday, during the family Mass, children bring usable old toys and new toys to the altar as part of the presentation of gifts. Later these toys are distributed to needle'children. This parish tradition "is fun to do but also plants the seed of generosity," said Jesuit Father James Maier, pastor of Holy Trini- ty. "It helps children learn to share and to realize there are kids with no toys." In an interview at his Holy Trinity office in a building designated a historical landmark, Father Maier discussed how im- portant tradition is in parish life. Homegrown traditions are a way for [:rishes to create their identi- ty. At the same time, the church's ancient liturgical tradition con- nects each individual parish with Catholic parishes throughout the world -- those of today and those of centuries long gone by. For Father David Drewclow, church tradition has "a way of saying something happened in another time that is beyond time, forl#ways." He is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Salem, Mo., and of two mission parishes 30 miles away, Christ the King in Bunker and St. Jude in Montauk. Tradition helps to plug us into th- synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches" (No. 19). So, you see, the Bible is a writ- ten record of an already active tradition, an ongoing process which continues until the end of time. The mystery of Christ never will be fully comprehended or adequately expressed in time- conditioned human formulas. As Vatican II puts it: "The tradi- tion which comes from the - apostles makes progress in the church with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on .... As the cen- turies go by, the church is always advancing toward the plenitude of divine truth, until eventually the words of God are fulfilled in her" (No. 8). (Father Castelot ts a professor of Scripture at St. John's Seminary, Plymouth, Mich.) the timeless word of God. It links us to moments in history when God interacted with his people, Father Drewelow said. Thus "it encourages us to see God will be with us too." The riches of tradition are readily visible in the celebration of the church's sacraments. For Father Drewelow, the use of rituals or elements of rituals from the past allows Christians to make a connection with those who preceded them, he explained. "The riches of tradition are readily visible in the celebration of the church's sacraments .... The use of rituals or elements of rituals from the past allows Christians to make a connection with those who preceded them." The present rite of baptism is a case in point. This ritual "reflects what the church was doing from the earliest times," Father Drewelow noted. The ritual uses "sign, sound and symbol" to communicate to Chris- tians what is happening in bap- tism, he added. It is an action of faith today that "invokes the en- tire tradition of the church from the beginning -- the waters of Noah's flood, God bringing life through death, through water." In miniature form "all of salva- tion history" is repeated in the baptismal ritual, said Father Drewelow. It "can't help but touch us" both "intellectually and emotionally." Parishioners meet tradition head-on in another practice that is frequently part of parish life today m the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults used with those plan- ning to become members of the Catholic community. It is a prac- tice reaching back to the roots of Christianity. People who go through the RCIA process "would never dream Christianity is anything but com- munal," said Jesuit Father Lawrence Madden, director of the Georgetown Center for Liturgy, Spirituality and the Arts in Washington. Mirroring the ap- proach of the first-century church, the RCIA process addresses not only those entering the church, but the entire community. Focusing on the behavior ex- pected of Christians, it encourages "an integrated life view," a life where Sunday worship and daily practice reinforce each other, Father Madden said. It asks people to reflect "on their past and pre- sent to see how God is active there." (Ms. Bird ts associate editor of Faith Today.) FOOD FOR THOUGHT Think about some particular traditions that you observe at home -- on holidays, for example, or at meals. Is there a sense in which these practices or customs express the church's tradition about Jesus Christ? How is the core tradition of the church expressed in particular tradi- tions -- gift-giving at Christmas, prayer at meals, reading Scripture alone or with others, for example? Why would it be true to say that tradition is a dynamic force for the present and future? In the church's liturgical tradition, Christians are reminded of their rich heritage. At a wedding, for example, the intimate bond between Christ and his people is reflected by the couple in the commitment they make to each other. How is the church's tradition reflected at other points in the celebration of the sacraments? Second Helphqg$, What makes a wedding traditional? Does it mean that all Catholic weddings are exactly alike in every detail? Who. chooses what scriptural readings are used and who decides what kind of music is appropriate? These questions and many more are addressed in a practical handbook called Celebrating Marriage: Preparing the Wedding Liturgy, edited by Paul Covino. The book, aimed at helping couples take an active part in planning their wedding liturgies with their pre-marriage instructors, stresses the liturgical aspects of weddings. Christian weddings are both tradi- tional and contemporary, this workbook says: "Your wedding liturgy will be traditional because it is based on the Rite of Marriage and therefore is faithful to the church's understanding of marriage. It will be contemporary because, as it is celebrated, the wedding liturgy will reveal your love for one another and make present here and now God's love for you in its ac- tions and symbols" (The Pastoral Press, 225 Sheridan St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011. 1987. Paperback, $4.95.) iMow Do You ANSWER QUESTIONS 00llABOUT YOUR FAITH? When friends, neighbors or relatives ask about the Catholic Faith, do you struggle to find a simple explanation? Do you know where to find the answers? The Catholic Church Extension Society offers a new brochure that clearly explains the basics of the Catholic Faith as never before. In 16 easy-to-read, full-color pages, The Catholic Church -- Who Are We? invites readers to learn what Catholics believe and what the Church can offer them. This booklet gives practicing Catholics renewed pride in their faith, and is a perfect gift for anyone seeking to know what it means to be Catholic. The Catholic Church  Who Are We?, produced in cooperation with Franciscan Communications, is part of Extension's commitment to extend the Catholic Faith across America. Enclosed is  for _ Who Are We? at $1.50 each. Name FT 0933 x copy(s) of The Catholic Church -- Address City State__.. Zip 33