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.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Continuing education is necessary these days

Unlike many who could not wait for graduation day during their senior year of high school, I've always enjoyed taking on new learning experiences. During the course of my career I have had the opportunity to attend various training courses in order to keep up with changes or enhancements to my way of life. Some people on the other hand wish never to set foot in another classroom setting.

As I sat down yesterday to take a break, I tuned into one of my favourite channels on Cable TV, yes EWTN. Just about to begin was a favourite show of mine, "The Journey Home." The name says it all so there is no need for me to explain its content. The show took on a different approach for this episode where four converts to the Church were invited to discuss the importance of Tradition and tradition in the Catholic Church. Yes, I know, I used the word twice in the previous sentence, but that was on purpose.

Unfortunately I was not able to continue the entire show; however it got me to thinking back to our last RCIA session at my Parish where this particular topic was also discussed. Are we as Catholics continuing to hold true to the notion that Tradition and tradition is still a part of the Churchs' growth? If you are a true Catholic, you will not be ashamed of the history and traditions of the Church, but knowing why we do what we do is very important as well.

There is a joke around that "you know you're a Catholic when you kneel before taking your seat in a movie theatre." As funny as that may sound, we need to ask ourselves: "are we only doing what we see other people do or do we truly understand why we do and say certain things?" I am guessing we are habitual beings that emulate what we see. Some may take the time to question why, while others just go with the flow. The Church does not force anything on anyone, but do have answers to everything you may have wondered about.

As I visited St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Wichita KS this past weekend something stood out that made me truly sad to say the least. Granted I can only speak from my own observation, but speaking with others confirms my own theory, that we may be falling away from the ways of our forefathers. Just as I am required every six months to sharpen my piloting skills so that I am not caught with my trousers down (so to speak), we as Catholics need to be fed continuously with the ways of the Church so we are not caught doing our own thing.

I arrived at Church early that morning, so I was able to observe the members as they walked in, genuflected and took their seats. With the tabernacle placed directly behind the altar it was easy to identify where to genuflect. I've observed many of my fellow parishioners, especially the young members who barely bend their knees as they face the front of the church before taking their seat, while others just take their seat.

My wife is going to love this, but what I found to be so "Catholic" was seeing a significant number of families who walked into Church with a minimum of three children, with some having four of more. Nowadays we put our trust and faith in our own hands, and so we decide the number of children we are able to raise and support. Very rarely do we see big families any longer. Lack of knowledge regarding the best way to plan a family as a married couple is very important in our communities.

Promptly at 7:30am the bell chimed to indicate that Mass was about to begin; everyone stood at that point. As Fr. McGinness and the altar servers moved their way to the front of the Church, a crowded church stood in silence. There was no music, no singing to see who can sing better than the other person; there was complete silence and reverence of what was about to take place in short order. I decided last year to find out if this was normal and was told by the office administrator that the 7:30am is attended mostly by the senior members of the Parish, but that they do sing at the later service. I have never attended the later service, but I'm guessing it is just as solemn, even with some music.

I've probably struck a chord in many who look forward to raising their voices in praise and worship, and do not get me wrong I enjoy hearing music sung at Church even while participating myself, but there should be a time and place for it. There I said it! While everyone including myself was walking up to the altar of our Lord to share in the Eucharist, you could hear a pin drop. That is how quiet it was, there was no singing and waving at the person still seated in their seat. There was complete reverence. You walked with trembling and fear as you approached to what we as Catholics believe to be the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We should want a clear mind as we mentally prepare our body and soul during the anticipated walk. Do we really need to sing as we approach the altar?

So here is what truly got me thinking about this trip that opened my eyes: when everyone got through with receiving the Eucharist and returned to their seats, there was complete silence and everyone was still on their knees. I realized something at that very moment; Jesus is still in our presence on the altar. Not until Fr. McGinness placed the ciborium back into the tabernacle, locked it and turned around did everyone sat up on their seat. It was like a programmed move, but you could tell the reverence in the members.

In comparison to other Church denominations around, the pulpit in the Catholic Church is primarily used to preach the Word of God as it relates to our daily lives, unlike others who bash its members. I know it can be a hard task to send a message to members from the podium, but the weekly bulletin is just as good a place to inform members of things that should be considered and remembered. An example and one that I've heard so frequently rumoured is the dress code in our Parishes. There is nothing wrong with addressing such a matter in the bulletin in order to avoid finger pointing at any particular person. It would be more sutle that way than looking at the congregation and telling them to dress more appropriately while in the house of God. Ouch!

Ask questions; probe your Church for answers to why we do the things we do. As we age our memories lack the ability to retain information so at times we should constantly be reminded by our Church of the small things that if not attended too can slip away before the blink of an eye. Things like, "there is the confessional," I guarantee if you use it you will feel better; "Eucharistic Adoration" there are not words to describe the honour to sit 12 feet away from Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament; "praying the Rosary," yes we still pray the Rosary, what better way to begin Mass than by joining in with others as you recite the Rosary. Let us always seek education in our faith.

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