Human tradition and attitudes of the heart Print E-mail
Written by Jean Denton   
Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
Psalm 15:2-5
James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

The singsong voice still echoes in my head all these decades later: "We missed you at church Sunday night."

Simultaneously, I still hear my translation: "Shame on you for not going to church on Sunday night."

I was a teenager and the singsong voice was that of a youth group leader. I accepted the implied criticism and felt guilty for not showing up at the Sunday evening service -- although, for the life of me, I didn't know why I had to go to church twice!

That was hardly the only community where members press extra "requirements" on each other as proof of faith. Religion is about expressions of faith, so naturally people are going to sometimes confuse outward signs of reverence, discipline, or commitment with actual attitudes of the heart.

In some people's minds, the signs grow into conditions necessary for salvation: saying your prayers every night; never missing Mass -- or the collection basket; for some traditions, abstaining completely from alcohol; the list goes on.

People -- and churches -- tend to put obligations on us beyond what God asks. Unfortunately, it leads to misunderstanding, unnecessary guilt, and misplaced resentment.

For example, when I taught a Confirmation class, a candidate once asked, "If you don't receive the sacraments, will you go to hell?"

In today's Scripture from Deuteronomy, Moses describes God's law as just and whole, and tells the people that they should not add nor subtract from God's commandments.

In the Gospel, Jesus warns against overemphasizing human traditions that distract from the fundamental truth to which God wants us to aspire. Instead, Jesus calls us to examine our hearts for greed, malice, licentiousness, envy, and other evils that lead to acts more harmful than not going to Confession.

In fact, healthy church communities offer some enhancements that become human traditions -- Bible study, devotional practices, special prayers and teachings -- that help us understand and follow God's commandments.

When offered and received as help, not requirements, these human traditions can heal and form our hearts and draw us closer to the heart of God.

This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.

Daily Scripture Readings Print E-mail
Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013 -- 10:21 AM
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Scripture readings from the United States Conference
of Catholic Bishops website.
Pope's Prayer Intentions: August 2015 Print E-mail
August Universal Intention

Volunteers. That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy.

August Evangelization Intention
Outreach to the Marginalized. That setting aside our very selves, we may learn to be neighbors to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society.
Holy Days of Obligation Print E-mail

The following are Holy Days of Obligation for 2015.

Holy Days of Obligation Description
Wednesday, Jan. 1
Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God
Thursday, May 14
Ascension Thursday
Saturday, Aug. 15
Solemnity of the Assumption (abrogated because it falls on Saturday)
Sunday, Nov. 1
All Saints
Tuesday, Dec.8
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Thursday, Dec. 25
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Prayer to St. Raphael Print E-mail

photo of Pilgrim Icon of St. Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

We beg you, assist us in all our needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the "medicine of God" we humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of our souls and the ills that afflict our bodies.

We especially ask your guidance of our diocese as we journey toward the rebuilding of a cathedral bearing your name, and the great grace of purity to prepare us to be temples of the Holy Spirit. As our intercessor, beg the Blessed Trinity to prosper the work of our hands and, above all, to bring us, face-to-face, into their Holy presence.


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