Catholics: Know Your Business!
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth” (2 Tim 3:15)
We have a saying in our language, when we speak about someone who is competent in his work, that “he really knows his business!” How crucial it is in a world of work, when success or failure in business—and therefore in the livelihood and flourishing of a family and an entire community—that we “know our business” when it comes to whatever the skills and competencies are required to really succeed. It has been said that “the business of America is business”, and this is a way of pointing out that when it comes to “doing business”, that is, getting work done, turning out a product, making a profit and investing it, the culture in the United States is the greatest that the world has ever seen. And could anyone really doubt that?
But are we Americans, or Christians, first? The answer is—at least in the eyes of God and the Church—that we are Christians before anything else. There is a “business” to do in Christianity, and I’m not talking about the management of Church assets and property and the administration of merely temporal goods. I’m talking about, as C.S. Lewis put it, “The Business of Heaven.” As Christians the whole of our lives are the very business of the Church, and thus we ourselves have a direct concern in that business.
Getting down to Christian business. Fundamental to the “business” of Christianity is participation in the order of public Christian worship and the sacraments. Although these are the “source and summit” of Christian life they can be reduced in their fruitfulness if we are inattentive and casual in our attitude such that the awesome privilege of meeting the Lord on Sunday becomes a mere duty which we obey out of mindless habit. When this happens our spiritual lives deteriorate and so does our Christian witness. Let this not be the case with us!
How then are we to make the most out our participation in Mass and the sacraments? By cultivating a competent knowledge and understanding of our faith. If we have this, our Christian duty becomes joy, our Christian witness becomes confident. I have no doubt that any member of this congregation who has worked or who works for a living would be competent at the drop of a hat to hold forth on the nature of your professional task—what it entails, what you achieve, how you go about the work, and what skills you have had to master in order to compete in the cutthroat economy. Why then should we be complacent about the spiritual and doctrinal knowledge that we require for spiritual flourishing and witness to our faith? Isn’t it ironic that so many Catholics can hold forth on things like the purpose of fifteen different sorts of drill bits (construction workers and carpenters), or the usage of a dozen different complex computer programs in managing an office team (office managers), or the intricacies of international import-export law and federal employment regulations (corporate lawyers)—fill in any profession you like here—and yet when it comes to talking about the Incarnation or explaining the basics of salvation history or knowing the difference between divine revelation and magisterial authority, we often clam up like a politician pleading the Fifth Amendment before a congressional committee?!
Knowledge of the spiritual life and the doctrines of the Church are not just for the bishops, priests, religious, and theology professors. To be a Christian means to be a professional person in the area of religion, because to be a Christian means to make a “profession of faith.” We do this on every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation when we recite together the Creed. However well we may know the meaning of the terms and statements in our official Profession of Faith we can always delve more deeply into its truths. Good doctrinal homilies are important but they can never be sufficient by themselves, especially in a world of many ideas, of bigotry and confusion and often hatred of Christianity and the Church, when we are bombarded by every kind of media message preaching emancipation from rather than obedience to true Christianity.
We the pastors and staff of Holy Cross are committed to doing everything we can do to help foster the habit of continuous faith formation for the whole family in our parish. The pillars of our parish faith formation program are:
- FORMED.ORG: this online streaming service is offered free to all parishioners. We advertise this regularly in our bulletin and on our parish website, and from time to time on Facebook, easy access to the large and ever-growing body of content on FORMED.ORG. From catechetical videos on the many aspects of Catholic faith and practice to movies about the lives of the saints, things for children and adults and newlyweds and married folks, supplemented by eBooks and for online or offline reading, FORMED.ORG has been used by Holy Cross parishioners for the last two years to great effect. However, we can see from the online user-statistics that many more of our parishioners are not taking advantage of this excellent, cost-free resource. Fr. Howe and I and the faith formation staff encourage you all to take a second look at FORMED.ORG and incorporate this marvelous technological path for faith formation regularly into your lives.
- FAMILY FAITH FORMATION: visit our parish website for an overview of our Family Faith program, which is getting ready for launch again for this academic year 2019-2020. Sacramental preparation and integrated learning for the whole family is available. In Family Faith your children six years or older can prepare to receive Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation in a holistic context that includes formation for parents as well.
- MONTHLY ADULT FAITH FORMATION: Beginning this fall (watch for bulletin announcements soon) there will be a 90min evening course of classes for adults called Introduction to [Catholic] Christianity, held on the first Wednesdays of the month from October to April at 630pm in Kolbe Hall. In this course we will address major points of Catholic doctrine and learn how to apply the Catholic truth in our daily lives.
- RCIA: Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is a weekly class on Wednesday nights which is for adults 18+ who want to become Christian, for non-Catholic Christians who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, or for adult Catholics who wish to receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
This year let’s start to become a parish full of Catholics who really “know our business”.