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Adult Faith Formation

Adult Faith Events


Bible Study

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Prepare for this week’s Sunday readings with the Saint Benedict the African Bible Study at 6:30 p.m. in the Parish House.

Bible Study

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Prepare for this week’s Sunday readings with the Saint Benedict the African Bible Study at 11:00 a.m. in the Parish House.

Writings


Want to refresh your basic understanding of your Christian faith? Or want an introduction to Catholic practices and history? Learning, understanding, and living our Catholic Christian faith never ends even as we grow old.

Read the posts below on the bible, liturgical practices, holy days of obligation, and more.

CATHOLIC PRACTICES

LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING

The why, when, where and how of singing at Mass

Why? Because the bible says it. The Apostle Paul instructs us to gather as believers who are watching and waiting for the Lord and sing psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles. Why? To keep the faith and the focus of what we are doing. Nothing is worse than having a great solo performed during church. Why?

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WHY USE INCENSE AT MASS?

Prayers rise, blessings come down

One has to chuckle when a Catholic complains that the use of incense bothers him or her. In ancient times incense was used to drive demons away!

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WHY AREN'T PEOPLE KNEELING AT CHURCH?

Nothing to do with church furniture

Once in a church that had no kneelers a bishop asked a pastor, “Why aren’t the people kneeling?” The pastor responded, “Because we have no kneelers.” The bishop asked, “So why aren’t the people kneeling?”

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WHY GOING TO SUNDAY MASS MATTERS

Great feast or a great waste

The Lord opens the doors of the church. The Lord gathers the Body of Christ. The Lord invites his friends to celebrate His Resurrection. The Lord gives us communion. We become new creatures in Christ Jesus, and then the Lord sends us on a mission.

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WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO GET BAPTIZED?

To change and trouble the water

If Jesus was born without sin, why did he have to get baptized? First it is important to note that he didn’t have to, he wanted to.

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WHEN TO BOW, WHEN TO GENUFLECT

Respecting vs. recognizing

Genuflection is the more profound gesture. Genuflecting is kneeling, but only on one knee to acknowledge God’s presence. To genuflect one brings the right knee completely to the floor as an outward sign of adoration. We humbly adore you O mighty God. We see you, and so we genuflect.

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WHEN ARE WE INSTRUCTED TO PRAY IN THE MASS?

The Collects

Watch us as we arrive for prayer. We are early. We are late. We are settling down. We are moving. We are greeting. We are thinking. We are distracting. We just came to praise the Lord, but we also just came from someone or somewhere or something. Something has to pull us together, gather our thoughts, gather our words, gather our attention, gather us into one voice, one church, speaking to one God. THE COLLECT.

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BLESS YOU! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

What a blessing!

What are you doing, what are we doing when we bless someone or something? We are preparing someone or something to be used by God for Christ’s sake.

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WHAT ARE SACRAMENTS?

Blessed by grace

Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian’s life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life.

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WHAT ARE SACRAMENTALS?

Preparing for God's grace

Ashes, holy water, palms. Crucifixes, rosaries, holy cards, lit candles, and all things and persons and places blessed to praise God and pray for His gifts are sacramentals.

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THE USE OF HOLY OILS

Consecration, blessing, healing and unification

One of the most impressive liturgies of the year is the Chrism Mass. At this Mass, the Bishop, the leader of the local church, blesses oils that will be used all over the Archdiocese for baptism, confirmation, ordination, consecration and the anointing of those who are suffering. These blessed and now Holy Oils are sent from the Cathedral so the work of the church can be done in unity anywhere.

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THE ROLE OF THE LECTOR AT MASS

To proclaim, not read

What do you call a man or woman who stands up in a Catholic church and lends his or her voice to God? A LECTOR.

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SILENCE AND STILLNESS IN THE CHURCH

Stopping so God can start

A good liturgy has moments of silence built into it for good reason. Daily, we need time to stand still and let God be God and let God move! Silence and stillness are important if we hope to give our self away to be used by God. It really is fairly simple. We stop so God can start. Lay down everything, forget about yourself and concentrate on HIM. That’s the reason for silence in the church.

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OUR PROFESSION OF FAITH

The Creed

The reason to belong to a church is to become more God like. At the center of our faith is the all-important and inclusive clarity of what do we believe about God. Without this clarity our future is questionable.

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WE PUT IT ALL IN HIS HANDS

On the Offertory

The Liturgy of the Word is the liturgy of God speaking to and instructing His people. The Lord gives us His time for one single reason, to tell us to get to the altar!

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STOPPING FOR THE LORD

The Mass entrance procession

Something is stopping, because something is starting. Recall stories from the bible where Jesus is coming to town and people, in anticipation of His coming, began to gather to “be in that number when the saints go marching in.” We, just like they did, have to stop doing what we are doing in order to welcome the Lord and start doing what He is doing.

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IS THE MASS ENTRANCE PROCESSION LIKE A PARADE?

The focus of the Mass is the Lord

While attending a Mass recently I was distracted by one of the priests who decided to dance a two-step during the procession. I thought, “Look at Fr. X hot dogging.” Later, while talking to a woman who was at the same Mass she commented on how great the Mass was, she was especially thrilled by Father X’s dancing down the aisle. I thought, “THERE IS THE PROBLEM!!!”

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THE OLD WATERS OF BAPTISM

Touching the Holy Water

The waters of Baptism are old. They roll all the way back to the Beginning when God stepped out on space and created water. The Catholic theology of Baptism takes one back to the place where I, my Fathers, Grand Fathers, Great, Great-Grandfathers, all those who have gone before us in faith, first believed. In church we call that the Economy of Salvation or Divine Economics.

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THE CENTER MYSTERY OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

On the Holy Trinity

In our faith we understand that GOD IS! That’s about all we really know. The greatest mystery of all times is the center mystery of the Christian faith. We cannot KNOW this ONE fully; we have to take this one on GOOD FAITH. God and only God can reveal, can make himself known as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God is. God exist. God does.

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WHAT IS ECUMENISM AND WHY DO WE NEED IT?

One universal church

Ecumenism is the movement to promote Christian unity. Jesus founded one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Catholic with an upper case “C” is used for the proper noun naming the Catholic Church. In the creed catholic is spelled with the lower case “c” to mean ecumenical, universal, or all over the land.

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ON THE CREED

Do you believe?

After we hear from God, the Liturgy of the Word, the next thing that comes out of our mouth is very important. “I believe…!” The Creed, a concise declaration of what we believe, a public declaration of the faith, follows what God said. God said it. I believe it! This is not an accident. It is very good liturgical design.

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CROSS OR CRUCIFIX

Life and death

The cross is simple T shape to remind us that Jesus was crucified. The instrument of crucifixion was a cross.

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PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL

The Universal Prayer

For most of the beginning of Mass our voice is silent. We break our silence to say “amen” to let God know that we hear him, we agree, we intend to be obedient to Him. Even the responsorial psalm is a kind of an “amen”.

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I WANT JESUS TO WALK WITH ME

The Catholic entrance procession

While I am on this pilgrim journey, I want Jesus to walk with me. That is the theology behind or beneath a Catholic entrance procession. The entrance procession recalls Jesus entrance into Jerusalem. Jesus coming forward to carry us to the altar and carry us home. The entrance procession symbolizes our pilgrim journey, how we are putting the world behind us and the cross before us, marching to Zion, that beautiful city of God.

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THE BODY OF CHRIST

WITBOCTD vs. WWJD

A mysterious moment happens as we realize the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid to rest is found empty. “Where is the body?” Is a most important question for the church.

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A BLACK CHURCH THAT PRAYS IN CIRCLE

Enculturating Catholic liturgy

When we take something from the culture and mix it into the liturgy, the act is called enculturation. This is no easy trick!

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THE ANCIENT HYMN OF PRAISE

The Gloria

The year starts with Advent and the GLORIA is omitted from our bank of prayers. Did you miss it? It returns to the liturgy for Christmas. It is an ancient hymn of PRAISE.

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CHURCH CALENDAR

TEN FACTS OF ADVENT

Preparing for the Second Coming of the Son of God

  1. The season is four weeks

  2. The purpose is to prepare for the Lord

  3. The color is purple for prayer, not Lenten penance. Rose on the Third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, is for joy. Think of the Resurrection! Hopefully, by this time there’s a great sense of “we have come this far by faith” and “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” No sense in turning back!

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WHY HAVE HOLY DAYS OF OBLIGATION?

The Intention of the Obligation

First giving honor to God on the first day of the week. The law intends for the WHOLE CHURCH to gather and celebrate the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist. A day of what we do to be united with Christ and our sisters and brothers in Christ.

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WHAT IS ORDINARY TIME?

Ordering our steps

After all the high church of Easter and the litany of solemnities, we are back to ORDINARY TIME in our liturgical year.

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SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL

What's the difference between an Apostle and Disciple?

All apostles are disciples, not all disciples are apostles. When Catholics talk about the Apostles, we are referring to the twelve men Jesus choose, called by name. The word APOSTLES means “one who is sent forth”. Sent not as a simple messenger but as an agent or delegate on a mission. We could call them ambassadors of Christ, but Apostles of Christ makes their role and person most clear.

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PREPARING FOR LENT

Preparing for Jesus

The bible tells us that after Jesus was baptized the Spirit led Him into the desert for forty days. During those days he prayed, abstained from temptation and fasted. This was a time of preparation for what was to come, the Resurrection. During our season of Lent we do what we are called to all year long, FOLLOW THE LORD.

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HOLY WEEK, WHAT A WEEK!

The high point of the year

Just as the Eucharist is the high point of liturgy, Holy Week is the high point of the year. Holy Week considers what the church will need to make it for another year.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EASTER VIGIL

New Fire, Water and Members

“My soul looks back and wonders how I got over.”

The Easter Vigil is THE MOST important night for the church. It is the ultimate night of revival! Basically it is a night of preparation for Easter Sunday and for the whole next year of the church’s mission.

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HOW IMPORTANT IS EASTER?

It's HUGE

The forty days of Lent gave us a time of preparation. As Lent ended on the evening of Holy Thursday, we were given three days of prayer with the Lord as He rose from the dead. Now we have the seven weeks of Easter, fifty days of Easter, the Easter Season to get with the program! Easter ends after the celebration of Pentecost.

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HALLOWEEN, ALL SAINTS’ DAY AND ALL SOULS’ DAY

How to celebrate

From the perspective of the church, we understand Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve in connection with All Saints Day. Just as we anticipate Sunday Mass on Saturday evening, we anticipate All Saints’ Day on the evening before November 1st.

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CELEBRATION OF EPIPHANY

Moving forward with Jesus

It is the church’s festival to celebrate the first manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles. Notice how the scripture readings in the Christmas season give us details of Jesus’ heritage. How they define the role of His mother and father. How the family practices the faith, follows the old traditions and rituals passed on from GENERATION to GENERATION. It is all to document how Jesus is FULLY HUMAN. He goes way back! He is FULLY CONNECTED to all that happened from the beginning. He is past.

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SOLEMNITIES, FEAST DAYS, AND MEMORIALS

An order of prayer

When you look at the liturgical year, you see that it is filled with lots of days we might call just another day journey and then there are high and holy days! We call them solemnities, feasts and memorials. Depending on the status of the day, the Mass is celebrated in a particular way.

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CHURCH HIERARCHY

WHAT IS A DEACON?

An ordained servant

We kind of know that there are two classes of deacons. Transitional deacons, men who are preparing to be ordained priest and permanent deacons, men who are ordained deacon for life. Both are ordained, both are clerics in the church. All deacons do not become priests, but all priests are deacons.

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WHY HAVE CATHOLIC CARDINALS?

The task of leading

The Pope is the head of the church on earth. The Bishop is assigned to a certain area and heads that local church. Some Bishops or Archbishops are Cardinals.

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WHO'S THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH?

Jesus, founder and head of the church

It’s not the Pope, it’s not the priest, oh it is Jesus! Jesus is the founder and head of the church. This is the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the original pastor but not a pastor emeritus because he did not retire. Without Jesus it is not a church. It is a headless body.

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WHICH OFFICE IS HIGHER IN RANK?

On the office of Bishop

As the Pope is the successor of Christ, bishops are the successors of the Apostles, pastors of souls. In order to teach and care for souls, the Holy Spirit CONSECRATES a bishop for each soul. A bishop is SENT to continue the work that God was pleased to begin through Christ Jesus.

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DIOCESE AND ARCHDIOCESE

Landscape of the church

Jesus is the head of the church. He sits at the right hand of our Father who art in heaven. From his rightful place he reigns forever. This Ascension requires all of us to be his representatives on earth.

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BIBLE

THE DIFFERENCES AND SIMILIARITIES IN BIBLES

The Books of the Bible

The Catholic bible is divided into two parts. The Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament also called Christian Scriptures. Both are God’s Word. Together they tell the story of the history of our salvation.

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SUMMARY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT BOOKS

Who we are and whose we are

The first 5 books of the Catholic bible are called the Pentateuch. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They give us the story of our beginning with God and the laws given to us by our Creator.

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SUMMARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT BOOKS

From the old to the new

There are twenty-seven books in the Catholic New Testament. After the four gospels, which are written as if the writer had an actual encounter with the historical person Jesus, we are given books that chronicle the growth of the church.

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SACRED SCRIPTURE AND SACRED TRADITION

Two sources of revelation

Some people only have one source of revelation, Catholics know God in two ways. We know God through sacred scripture and we know God through sacred tradition. How did this come to be? It is God who chose to reveal himself in the person of Jesus Christ and in the action of Jesus Christ.

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ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION

Keep the faith, no matter come what may

The final book of the New Testament is the Book of Revelation. It is perhaps the best example of why the bible, in order to be effectively understood, has to be studied, not simply read. It’s lessons are only clear when put into the original context of to whom it is speaking and what the persons or world was experiencing at that time.

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IS THE BIBLE MORE THAN A BOOK?

As God speaks, we live

Catholics have two sources of revelation. God speaks to us in two ways.

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THE HISTORY OF SACRED SCRIPTURE

The Books of the Bible

God speaks, humans hear, humans pass on the stories of encountering God (ORAL TRADITION). Next, as we evolved, we began to communicate using symbols that could be scratched or painted on to walls and materials. The Egyptians refine these scratches to a system of writing known as hieroglyphics. Don’t forget the story, Moses, who thought he was a privileged Egyptian, goes to the burning bush, God speaks to him and he writes down what God said.

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HOMILIES

TOLTON MASS OF THANKSGIVING

Salt of the earth, light of the world

The church of Chicago celebrated Pope Francis’ declaration of Father Augustus Tolton as “venerable” with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Philip Neri. The following is the full video recording of the Mass and a transcript of the homily given by Father Jones.

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Saint Benedict the African Parish
340 W 66th Street
Chicago, IL 60621
773-873-4464
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