To God everything is exposed: all of our faults, imperfections, personal secrets but also all of our talents, traits, successes and achievements … that's the good news. The even better news is that God is always seeking you and me.
Now a lot times we think the bride wears the white dress to show that she’s a virigin or that she’s pure, and that is part of the tradition. In this case, the linen garment shows in an outward way that on the inside is pure. This is one of the reasons that in Corinthians the Church says before you go to receive the Eucharist, you should be in a state of grace. You should not have serious sin. You should not have mortal sin in your soul. You should go to Confession before you go to Communion.
What the Church is trying to teach us, what God is revealing to St. John to reveal to us is Revelation. The book of Revelation is not a book of damnation and hell; the book of Revelation is about a wedding.
I once had a very observant teen lean over (in the middle of Mass) and ask me, 'Hey Mark, what does the 'IHS' stand for on the gold box up there?'
The gold box he was referring to was the tabernacle, where the Blessed Sacrament (Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist) is reserved. While the middle of Mass wasn't the best time to stop and give a lesson on Greek or Church history, I have to say I was proud of him for asking.
Most of us see things like I.H.S. all over our churches and sacred vessels, but don't really stop to ask what it means.
I.H.S. stands for Incarnation High School ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_ it's the high school prep academy where Jesus went, just outside of Nazareth. Their mascot is the fightin' footwashers ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_
Well, another new football season is under way and it got me to thinking about how the Catholic Mass can be a lot like a football game, if we look at it the right way ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_
About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, 'Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it's not even in the Bible?' “Well, first’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_' I replied, 'Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.' That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.
Billy then replied, 'Okay, fine’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_but it's still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.'
This is where the conversation got really interesting.
It was a Saturday night and I was completely alone. I had cash in my pocket and gas in my truck but I had no friends ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_ anymore. The phone was not ringing. The silence was a deafening reminder to how 'sad' my social life had become in a very short amount of time. This had never happened to me in my previous three years of high school. My senior year was supposed to be epic! Instead it was growing increasingly lonely and there was only one person to blame: Jesus.
When I began my faith journey, I was constantly comparing myself to my peers. It's like I was walking into God's kitchen, shaking as I showed my Heavenly Father my report card. I tried to justify all of my sins. I measured my holiness by the sin of others instead of the holiness of God. I turned down the ability for greatness that His grace offered me. I settled for being 'better than most' rather than all that He called me to be. I didn't want to do the work. I eased into a spirit of contentment and lived a spiritual life that was 'good enough.' Others praised me for my 'B' effort in my faith, especially since so many kids my age were so much worse. But I knew I could be better, and I knew that God knew it, too.
Confirmation is probably the most misunderstood Sacrament out of the seven. Let's take a quick look at the misconceptions, shall we?