The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review of Day 2: What, then, is Sabbath? by Fr. Arnold Francis And Mrs Colajean Butler

Below is a very perosnal interpretation of tonight's session by Mrs. Colajean Butler. I can recall a recent similar discussion about Saturday being the Sabbath, and the accusation that the big bad Church "The Catholic Church" changed it from Saturday to Sunday. Here are few comments made by some during that discussion....

Who said that Saturday was the Sabbath day???????

  • God did: Exodus 20:8-11.
  • I believe it is Saturday, according to the calender we have observed for thousands of years, which as far as I know, coincides with the Jewish calender. I am not an Adventist, but I mose believe dey get it rite.
  • According to the Old Testament Saturday was the Sabbath but remember there was a new Covenant when Jesus came and in the New Testament things changed so that's why Sunday is considered the Sabbath......please read your Bible... but really who cares once you keep holy one day of the week to worship your God.......
There are many Catholics who are married to Protestants and go through a tough time defending their faith against family members more so than spouse. I do not believe it mattered to me personally whether I married someone of a different political persuasion but I can attest that it mattered to me whether the person shared the same Christian values as myself. I too did not marry a Catholic but an Anglican Baptized and after 16 great years of marriage I'm very happy that she will be joining me and our kids in full communion with the Church during Easter of next year.

Mrs. Butler shares her story of being married to a Baptist and into a Seventh Day Adventist family, along with highlights from Day 2's session with Fr Arnold.

Why would a talk on the Sabbath bother a Roman Catholic as much as it did?

I am married to a Baptist who was schooled in a Seventh Day Adventist School. The only church that he attends regularly (to a degree) is the Roman Catholic Church, but he has not yet converted to Catholicism. We have been married 25 years. Some years ago, a priest asked me, "How could you, an active Roman Catholic marry a non-Catholic? "

My answer to my priest was, "I was so full of myself and so sure that my Catholic faith was so powerful and enveloping , that anyone who married me would be happy to convert when they see me live my faith. I thought that I could help to convert him and felt no qualms in entering into a mix-religious relationship."

But I was wrong. Only God could change the heart of man or woman. I was not omnipotent, God was. This choice to marry someone who was schooled in many ant-Catholic doctrines could have caused my marriage to fail, but God blessed our covenant and we learned to live in mutual respect to each other over time and I placed his conversion into God's hands and accepted the 'good' in him as equal to the 'good' in me. God was present in my husband (a non-Catholic) just as He was present in me. I had a better marriage when we both stopped 'talking religion' and began 'living religion.'

Yes, the topic of 'Sabbath' is indeed a contentious one in my house where my mother-in-law and most of her family are active Seventh Day Adventists and my father-in-law and most of his relatives were active Baptists. Me, being Catholic, and almost all of my family are active Catholics,our fight on the 'where' and 'how' our children were going to be raised had to be decided long before marriage and long before children. This decision had to be in writing and without the document, I am sure my stance with my responsibility to raise Catholic children would not have been taken seriously, but those who 'live by the Word' also respect the Word. Thus, the covenant relationship in marriage to a non-Catholic had structures in place to protect the faith of the Roman Catholic who so desired. Our relationship was joined with the agreement of me remaining Catholic and our children being schooled and nurtured in 'things Catholic.'

So, the topic, Sabbath, brings me much pain and served as an enrichment to my soul. The Seventh Day Adventists observe their Sabbath very strictly, but as Roman Catholics our understanding of the Sabbath far exceeds a day. As Fr. Arnold said in his talk, "When we go to church we must not think that the blessings that we get is only oriented towards material things. Our Sabbath far exceeds the mere 'written law' but runs straight to the core of our souls.' Our Sabbath is more than a day of rest and a day to worship."

Yes, as a Catholic, we have a faith of the New Era which was not a part of the reality of the Old Testament who followed the 'letter of the Word' because they had not yet awakened the 'reality' of God as we now know Him. The idea of living forever with God was not a part of the reality of that time. We are elevated towards the Kingdom of Heaven with aspirations that are far beyond the material. Having things are necessary to being a human being, but our lives our not oriented towards 'things' but should be oriented towards to things of God. In the Old Testament, the goals was was once oriented towards Canaan, but now we are oriented towards Heaven.

After the session last night, I spoke with Fr. Arnold. Of course, I am worried because my husband goes to church infrequently. He does not discourage any of his children or me from going to church, but he lacks the innate motivation to go to church frequently. I am not talking about coming to a Catholic Church, but he does not go to the Seventh Day Church frequently, or the Baptist Church. Father Arnold threw out the question, "Would we worry if our partner does not go to church? Should we worry if they do not go to church?"

People do not get good spiritual formation when they do not come to church and church related activities. People would do anything possible to material success, but do we do what is needed for 'eternal happiness'. So, am I worried because my husband does not come to Church as he ought to or because he has no commitment to an established church (not even those of his childhood and youth)? Of course I am and I know women and men who share my plight are also worried about their spouses!I do know that 'though we are called unequally yoked' my spouse has many more good qualities than I have – even though he does not come to Church. He simply needs (like so many others) to 'catch the 'spirit' and what we do and how we who do what we do is merely a 'grace.'

As a Confirmation Teacher, a catechist who helps in the formation of young souls for adulthood in our Church, I was even more touched by Fr. Arnold's question, "How long is confirmation class?" Yes, Confirmation Class in our Archdiocese is two years and my previous Confirmation Class, the parish and I felt it was best to hold them for three years. They were too young and needed more formation. Even after Confirmation, our young people and adults must continue learning and growing in the faith.

Fr. Arnold continued, "No one wants to be prepared for what is most essential." This is true in all aspects of life. These things that we desire that are temporal (related to the material world) will come and we would enjoy them for a while, but they will not give us the same joy as things that are ethereal (belonging to the celestial sphere). The new Joy is not about what happens on earth, but what happens in Heaven. Our children should be socialized into accepting this. This is not a 'Old Testament' hope. It is true Sabbath , that we will have eternal peace and have full communion with the Trinity. The Sabbath has now been elevated. Not merely a day of rest, but the real Sabbath will bring out the things that are most important.

The Law of the Gospel fulfills the Gospel of the Lord. It releases the hidden potential. It has new demands and rights on them. Just to say that we follow the Ten Commandments does not say much,, but we have to remember that this was perfected by Jesus in His life, death and resurrection. The truth of the Sabbath is brought out by Jesus. It is not about 24 hours, but it is about our light and our destiny. It is much more than allowing a day to come and on that day we praise the Lord. (See Romans 14 or 15) The Christian chose Sunday because Sunday has become that' great day of life.' We used to call it the Day of the New Creation.

The Sabbath does not add external precepts, but it is about reforming the heart. What is coming from within will be good. We are man and woman and choose between pure and impure. It is more about our own formation in terms of the people that we have. The Gospel brings about our fullness. We seek to be whole like God is whole and compassionate. Our being is directed to this. When we live in Christian community and people are not like that we become sad. (See John 8: 1 The Woman Caught in Adultery)

This story is not about who is guilty. According to the Law the woman should be punished. Jesus is reminding everyone that everyone is not perfect and we should be compassionate. We want a compassionate society where people are reformed as our Heavenly father is compassionate. He does not want a society where we do t kill, but where we give life. If we recognize this Law in us, we realize that we have work to do. The Christian community realizes that we have job to reform society. We come to realize that we need a compassionate society, God is reaching out to us to reform us so that we can be the human beings that God has formed us to be. Through forgiveness of our enemies, in immolation of Divine generosity; only when we are moving in this direction, we can truly call ourselves followers of Christ. Otherwise we sound like people who sing nice songs, and are not changing.

Fr. Arnold continued, "I was trying to understanding why men behave as they do in the Caribbean. They are married and having children all over the place. They see no problem with that. We have a lot of this in our church. We must bring ourselves to a point where we realize that we must change.

We do these things to be seen by people. We do these things to emulate God's love. When we give alms, we give to get the blessings of God our Father... (See John 13:34-35) "My little children, I will only be here a little while longer. As I told you, where I go, you cannot go. So I say to you, love one another."

The moral catechesis give us many of the things about the way we are supposed to live. The virtues flow from faith in Christ. Charity is the principal gift of the Holy Spirit. If we do not have this, we really have nothing. "If you give all you have and all your body, and you have no charity, you might as well be....The new law is called the Law of Love and gives us the strength to act by means of faith in the sacraments. It is a Law of Freedom. It can set us from the Laws of the Rituals of the Old Testament. The ritual should lead us where we need to go.

The New Law also includes the Evangelical Councils. The precepts are intended to remove whatever might hinder the development of conscience. There are three evangelical councils.. chastity, poverty, Christians who have made a public profession – these keep us from what is not charity.

A virtue is a firm disposition to do good. A vice is a firm disposition to do bad.

Some people are married, but because of their disposition they have to break up. If you come up in a family, where men beat up women., you may develop a disposition to abuse. When you get aggressive you use your hand. Some of the dispositions that we have can prevent us from doing good. We can have a very good priest who can do good, if he have a disposition that is negative the good will not be manifested. We have a disposition that is not good, it prevents us from having proper relationships. "

How do we escape this entrapment in a negative disposition?

We need the virtues.

To have these virtues is to have salvation. To not have these virtues we have hell.

What is justice? Justice is the firm will to give God and neighbor their due.

If you have developed justice as a disposition, whether people complain about you, we have developed the disposition to do good. The type of person who has Justice as a disposition will be more ready to forgive because they have come to realize the weakness of the person and that person is in need of salvation. Those who do not have this disposition are ready to take vengeance.

St.Maria Berette and the young man prayed for the man who tried to rape her. She was stabbed and she prayed that God would forgive the person and enter Heaven. The man while in prison, was converted so much, that he entered a monastery.

What can you get away with?

Many times we know what is wrong or right, but we have never developed the disposition to do right.

What about prudence? Prudence the practical reason to discern our true good. In situations that are merky, if we have prudence, we can choose the right means to achieving it.

We can't choose by any means, but by the right means... otherwise we corrupt the product.

Fortitude...constancy for the right for good. If the thing is very good, to have firmness for the good., we have fortitude. You cannot forsake seeking good just to keep a bad kid home or to save a marriage, or to be a part of a group.

We want created goods. We want a nice home, television, and we can use them in a bad way. I buy a nice car because I want the girls to see me to take them out at night.

The pleasures of the sense can sometimes have no moderation such as womanizing, 'manizing, 'pornagraphy, same-sex marriages or relationships and many more vices Even if these pleasures of the senses are enhance and overly developed, the virtue in the heart tells you that this is not good.

(I Timothy 1:10 and Romans 1:26-27 Scriptural references in homosexual )
Once we recognize those dispositions in us that are not good, we can seek reconciliation with God. Now, what we say here is will only apply to those who share our confession, that is why the church we are so concerned with the Natural Law – in terms their own bodies and functions, so that we can reach out to those who do not share our Confession (our belief systems).

Happiness is always there but we sometimes are not prepared for it.

Through education, and acting accordingly... perseverance in struggle , the theological virtues are faith, hope and love will develop in us.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are very important. They are supposed to operate in our conscience.

So folks, like me, who through ignorance may have entered relationships not understanding the gravity of the dynamics, we understand that God is bigger and He takes what was meant for bad and can work it for God. This is indeed the "new creation" and folk like me and you live in this 'new era' where God transforms us and those around us through something bigger than dogma. We live in a live of Sabbaths, not merely a day of Sabbath. Sabbath, then is our ability to enter into a life in full communion with our Lord.

By Mrs Colajean Butler

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