There’s something appropriate about turning 40 in a place where you might get eaten by a grizzly.
The mountains don’t care about you,” says the forest ranger, having just finished his bear-safety talk for probably the third time that day. In case you don’t already know: Hang your food at night; only prepare meals in designated areas; and whatever you do, do not run from a bear (it activates the chasing instinct). These are rules to live by in the wilds of backcountry Montana, where one should also be on the lookout for mountain lions—far less predictable than grizzly bears.
Being a practicing Catholic has become a covert operation for some young adults, who are choosing to keep their faith to themselves rather than explain the church’s public stance on certain controversial issues.
Ten ways to determine if a practice is compatible with your Catholic faith.
Just because a spiritual practice comes from outside the Christian tradition doesn’t automatically mean it conflicts with church teaching—nor does it automatically mean the opposite. If you’re not so sure about your son’s meditation practice, your friend’s devotion to reiki, or if you can, in good faith, take that yoga class, your goal should be to wisely discern the answer.
Susan Pudelek spent two decades working in interreligious contexts, including a stint on the staff of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In her current work as director of pilgrimage ministry at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago, she oversees occasional interreligious workshops and events. For those who want to learn about or participate in practices of other religions, she offers these guidelines.
1. The more grounded you are in your own religion, the more you have to offer others.
Catholics searching for ways to experience their faith in both body and soul often look to other religious practices. But do they stretch their faith too thin?
Christine French attends Mass every Sunday, sings in the choir, volunteers with Vacation Bible School, and participates in a Bible study. She’s also a committed yogi who, whenever she’s in her hometown of Omaha, makes a beeline to her favorite yoga studio.
Much has changed about religious life but at its heart the mission remains the same.
We were called Immaculata. We were called Concepta. We were called Chrysostom, Eusebius, and Stanislaus, after a Polish boy-saint. We were called Bernard, John, and Thomas after our fathers and Theresa, Elizabeth, and Maureen after our mothers. We were called Paul Kathryn and Robert Rita, pleasing both parents. We were called Serena, signifying calm dispositions. We were called Seraphine, trusting an angelic nature would ensue. We were called Jerome, after a crotchety biblical scholar.
Books have a special way of opening our imaginations to moments of grace in life.
Catholics are a sacramental people. We see signs of the presence of God around us in every moment of our lives. We know, of course, that God is greater than we can imagine and beyond all that we can touch, but we are also convinced that creation, from the most ordinary—water, oil, bread—to the most unlikely—the stranger, the enemy, the cross—can reveal divine love.
As we’re reminded every Advent, our Catholic Christmas customs are somewhat at odds with the secular “holiday season,” which starts before Thanksgiving and goes on until the last college bowl game. But even though we Catholics wait a bit to get going, we have a similarly long season of celebration, of which the “12 days,” made famous by a certain 12-verse carol, are but a piece.
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