Tag Archives: Year of Faith

The Preference Test

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

I had the privilege to attend a beautiful and well-organized “Day of Faith” at the old Crystal Cathedral, now called ”Christ Cathedral” in Garden Grove, CA.  It was a day filled with public prayer, speakers, faith testimonies, and beautiful art of sight and sound.

Catholics can be one of the shyest types of religious people to share what their faith is all about to anyone.  One speaker, Fr. Peter John Cameron, encouraged Catholics to not be so shy during the “Year of Faith,” but instead invite people to experience the joy of believing.

He said that in some ways, just proving that “there is a God” is hard enough for Catholics.  Fr. Cameron proposed that maybe Catholics could use “the preference test” developed by another priest he knew.  The test is only six questions, and shows what Christians believe and gain by their faith in Jesus Christ.  It’s a test that asks the basic question: What would you prefer?  Forget what you think is true, what you believe, what you have been taught.  Answer the questions according to preference.

Preference Test:

Question 1: Which do you prefer to believe?

When someone you love dies, they are dead, and that’s it.  You will never see them again.

Or

When someone you love dies, they somehow live on, and you have the possibility of seeing them again because when you die somehow you will live on.

Question 2: Which do you prefer to believe?

Your limitless desire for happiness will be answered continually forever.

Or

Your desires will last for your biological life and then your desires and you will be destroyed by death.

Question 3: Which do you prefer to believe?

You are loved.

Or

You are not loved.

Question 4: Which do you prefer to believe?

There is a God who created all of reality and who loves you like a father and who wants you to exist.

Or

Life is accidental, outside of what you see and touch there is nothing that cares if you exist.

Question 5: Which do you prefer to believe?

Your value depends on your abilities.  People who have greater abilities than you are more valuable than you.  When you lose your abilities your value will diminish.

Or

Your value comes from the fact that there is a God who wants you to exist.  He loves you like a father, and so even when your abilities are not the best and when other people don’t think your valuable, He still loves and values you.

Question 6: Which do you prefer to believe?

God exists, but in this life, He can never be known.

Or

God exists and can be known and experienced in this life.

Christians have lots of good news to announce, more than what other philosophies, even other religions promote.  But the question is whether Christians can be clear and concise in their beliefs.  And one way to be clear is to present the good news in contrast with the underlining bad news of Agnosticism and Atheism.

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Extra! Extra! Extraordinary Blessings Available NOW!

Yes, the Catholic Church still promotes “plenary indulgences” and “partial indulgences.”  These are special blessings that the authority of the Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, bestow upon its followers.  These are not just any blessings, but a type of blessing that actually lessens or eliminates time in purgatory!

Okay, what if you’re not into purgatory or ranking blessings?  Well, bare with me.

The Catholic Church ranks blessings according to their hardship and their intention.  Sure it’s great if you prayed to God every night.  That is a blessing.  But imagine saying a prayer every night for 28 to 30 minutes, and doing that for some months….even for some years!! Isn’t that person gaining more spiritual benefit than the one who is just going to “say a quicky” before bedtime?

And there are blessings for those who decide to study the bible, or make a pilgrimage, or pray for those that have died, etc, etc.  Prayer helps a person be in touch with The Divine.  The type of prayer does matter because it’s like eating.  Certain foods are needed to gain different types of vitamins.  So as much as you may want to live off of pancakes and milk, a lack of vegetables will harm you down the line.  This is the same with prayer.  A person who sticks to only one type of prayer, like maybe a routine of reading the bible 15 minutes and then saying an “Our Father”, will miss out on the richness of other types of prayer, like community prayer and meditative prayer to name two other types.

So, check out this list, and try some of it yourself.  Even if you’re not Catholic, you will gain something out of the experience of prayer, because God bestows blessings on all people who will try to communicate with The Holy One.

Plenary Indulgences (aka Prayer Practices) for Year of Faith:

(Catholic note: A Catholic earning indulgences also needs to be truly penitent, go to Confession in a timely manner, receive the Eucharist afterwards, and pray thinking about the Pope’s needs and intentions for the Catholic Church and the world, which this webpage is helpful.)

  1. Listen to 3 sermons or lectures about the documents of Vatican 2, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  2. Do a pilgrimage to a cathedral, or to catacombs, holy sites and take part in a sacred celebration or say a specially thought out and designed prayer at that site in honor of the pilgrimage completed.
  3. Visit a baptism font, or the place where you were baptized and renew your baptismal promises.

Here’s the article I got this info from: Vatican Announces Plenary Indulgence for Year of Faith |Blogs | NCRegister.com.

Open doors for the Year of Faith

Open doors for the Year of Faith. (click on words for link)

Hey cool!  Visit Vatican museums in a special way in honor of year of faith…and do it for free!!
Going to Rome, anyone??  Remember, the Year of Faith is from October 2012 through November 2013, before Advent 2013 begins.

Musei Vaticani: Braccio Nuovo (inside).

Musei Vaticani: Braccio Nuovo (inside). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vatican 2: An Update or A Total Revision of Catholic Faith?

Vatican II @50 years (Oct. 2012)I was very fortunate to attend at Loyola Marymount University the first session of eight that looks into the effects of Vatican II in the Catholic Church.  I know V2 was a huge catalyst of change in a variety of areas of Catholic life.  From what I hear, there was a rail where people would come up to and wait kneeling to receive communion, and that nuns and priests would be the ones to teach religion.  That is far from the case now.  And believe me, there are more changes that came that I just take for granted as I say to myself, “We always did it this way.”

The session (or symposium, to use the proper academic term) was helpful in that it summarized what some of the key themes were; it delved into naming some of the struggles that the “laity” or “people in the pews” had during the changes after V2; and it presented the effects of V2 on the Latin American Catholic Church and Asian Catholic Church.

Yet one issue that the presenters discussed was whether V2 was a progressive occurrence, or an event that was only restating in different terms what the Catholics always held to believe in.  It’s a sharp contrast of “either/or” mentality.

The speakers said, “It’s a council of both/and,” not “either/or.”

As my title suggests, there are many who see V2 as a “total reform” of Catholicism.  And there are others who suggest that the reforms were too radical, and that V2 was merely updating how we think of certain theological ideas, but wasn’t intended to change the Catholic culture as what has happened since then.

Yet, going back to the response of the speakers, there is more depth given to the work of V2 if it viewed as a council that was both total reform and an updating of Catholicism.  It was a council that restated the traditions in different terms, and a council that sought to replace theological ideas that were not faithful to basic Christian principles.

Think of it as the CD industry and the MP3 industry.  There was a “total reform” in that CDs were no longer needed.  Yet, in the bigger picture, it was also keeping to same goal: delivering music to the consumer.  I’m sure there are debates about this as well, but my point stands: CDs were overhauled with MP3 downloads, but it was still the same thing: a method of delivering music.

My great hope is that people will use the “Year of Faith” as a time of reflecting in small groups over documents of Vatican 2.  And anyone not Catholic can take part in the same exercise by reviewing important writings from theologians that have affected their particular faith affiliation.

Education is the best remedy for confusion and division of people due to misinterpretations.

Year of Faith…an explanation

So the title can be a little confusing, or plain, or uninteresting?

Year of Faith? Doesn’t faith exist for a life time, and not a year?  Correct.  The Year of Faith is a reference to Pope Benedict 16th’s call to all Catholics to use this particular period of time to delve deeper in their faith.  The year begins on October 11 to commemerate the day Vatican II begun 50 years ago, and the publication of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” 20 years ago.  The year ends the week before Advent 2013 begins (November 24).

It’s more exciting than you would think!  The hope is that Catholics will attend some lectures about Vactican II and what the documents from that council mean for the Church today.  There is also a promotion to read the hefty work called the “Catechism.”

Best of all….this all doesn’t necessary need to be for only Catholics.  How cool would it be that we practiced deepening our faith together, like a communal new years resolution!  We can all do the following:

1) Know exactly what you believe.  Study your faith, look into its roots and historical makeup.

2) Pray more, prayer deeper.  Increasing knowledge of your faith isn’t enough.

3) Incorporate more communal worship, or actively engage in it more.

4) Serve the poor.
So, come on, why not join in and make this resolution with me?  INCREASE AND DEEPEN YOUR FAITH!  =)

I’ll be posting resources and suggestions in upcoming posts.  For now, check out the official page run by the Vatican: http://www.annusfidei.va/content/novaevangelizatio/en.html