Greetings!

Tears welled up in my eyes at Mass again last Sunday. 
(Me on the right with the best dad in the world and brother David, Sunday, after going to Joy Road Baptist Church)

It was not always so. As a former Baptist I used to think the Catholic Mass was a sacrilege and an abomination. How could anyone worship a piece of bread? Really!

However, last Sunday I was overcome with emotion while sitting in an older Catholic church in a relatively poor area of town during a "normal" Sunday Mass. Why? Let me explain.

But first I have to take a step back in time to my delightful childhood.

The door of our Baptist church opened and the early arrivers stepped in with well-worn Bibles under their arms and colorful ties snugged up tightly around the neck. (I still have my dad's marked up and notated King James Schofield Reference Bible on my desk. The date in the cover reminds me of his conversion from pagan to Christian in 1954, the year I was born.)  Children with cute bow ties and frilly dresses were herded in and dropped off at Sunday School. Women adjusted their hats and smiled at all their friends...continued below.

**ONLY 9 SEATS LEFT:  Act by July 29th**

Poland Pilgrimage

to places of Pope John Paul II, Saints Kolbe, Faustina & others 

Sept 14th - 23rd   2011   

In the wake of the beatification, this is a great time to explore the land and the early life of Karol Wojtyla.   
  • Wadowice, his birthplace and hometown.
  • Visit the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and see the baptismal font where he was baptized.
  • Celebrate Mass at Wawel Cathedral, where he was ordained priest and celebrated his first Mass.
  • Ride up the hillsides of Zakopane where Pope John Paul II used to climb and hike the trails and view the beautiful vistas. 
  • Basilica of the Divine Mercy, which was consecrated by the Servant of God, John Paul II, during his last trip to Poland.  
  • Visit sites of other polish saints including: the tombs of St. Stanislaw and St. Hedwig Auschwitz and the Shrine of Maximilian Kolbe. Basilica of the Divine Mercy and the tomb of St. Faustina. Also, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, and Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, chaplain and martyr of the Solidarity Movement.
  • Cities we'll visit: Warsaw, Niepokalanow, Czestochowa, Zakopane, Kalwaria, Salt Mine, Krakow, Wawel Hill, Wadowice and others. 
See the itinerary and pricing here. For more info, contact Suzanne or Maria: 1(800) 727-1999x121 or email sparran@ctscentral.net
TearsContinued (tears at Mass, continued from above...)
It was always the same - enter the church with chattering friendliness accompanied by the organ or piano to set the mood. Everyone takes their place in the padded pews. The pastor steps up to the front and welcomes everyone, especially any visitors. They are asked to fill out the "Visitor Card" in the pews in front of them. Then we all stand as he opens in a solemn and often wordy prayer.  A number is called out and we all grabbed our hymnal and proved we were real Christians by belting out the song, not just the first verse, but verses 1, 2 and 5.

Then came announcements, the doxology and the collection while a soloist sang. I remember at one church they even passed a credit card machine up and down the pews.

Then we were enriched by nearly an hour of preaching with the exercise of flipping from one end of the Bible to the other. I don't recall us ever reading any lengthy selection of Scripture in context. It was usually a thematic study - using verses out of context from one passage then another.

It was usually concluded with an altar call - a passionate, heartfelt appeal to come forward to receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. I always wondered about this since I assumed everyone there had already done that at least once, if not many times. No one ever came forward except in the yearly revivals when flocks came forward just to make sure. Then came the closing prayer and a hymn (we sang all four verses) with a reminder of the Sunday service at 7:00 PM in the evening.

It never dawned on me or any other person sitting in the pews to ask what the very first Christians did on Sunday mornings. After all, Christians have been gathering together on Sundays for over 2,000 years. Jesus and the Apostles set something in motion and their immediate disciples followed them in their manner of worship on Sundays.

They certainly had a structure to their "worship service" as is clear from the New Testament and the writings from the first and second century. The Apostles certainly taught them what to do and how to do it, if only by their example.

In my Baptist congregation (and later in other churches we attended like Reformed, non-denominational, Methodist, Calvary Chapel, Presbyterian, New Testament Assembly, Plymouth Brethren, etc.) we had the "Lord's Supper." This was done only once every three months tacked on the end of a regular church service.

 The broken crackers were distributed on a silvery tray followed by the grape juice in individual mini-glasses. We were all well aware that nothing happened to the crackers and grape juice during the ceremony. (Only the heretic Catholics believed that unseen magic took place). The crackers and grape juice were just symbols to remind us of the the body of Jesus that was nailed to the cross and the blood that resulted from the nails.

Jesus had ordered us to do this so we obeyed and did it - calling it not a sacrament but an ordinance. The ceremony did nothing but remind us of the crucifixion. It was simply a "meal" - meager as it was - to remind us of our Lord's death. We were always anxious to get out of church - to rush to our real meal at the diner on the way home.

Jesus said, "As often as you do this..." - but in our Baptist church it was interpreted as, "As infrequently as you do this..." No one seemed concerned that the Apostles and the early Christians celebrated this ceremony "often" and that it was more than just sharing crackers and grape juice. St. Luke informed us that the very first Christians "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42).

The Apostles and their disciples met frequently to "break bread" which was the earliest term for the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper. This was shared no less than weekly (Luke 24:30; Acts 2:46; 20:7). The daily bread of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai was called manna. The manna prefigured the Eucharist and we are taught likewise to pray for the Father to provide us with our "daily bread" which certainly refers to the Eucharist as well as our daily provisions.

In addition to the book of Acts and St. Paul's epistles, do we have any idea what the Apostles did on Sunday mornings when they gathered together? Did the early Christians leave a record of what they did on Sunday? Was it similar to the typical Baptist church service?

We are fortunate! The early Christians did leave us a record of what they did, as taught by the Apostles. It would serve us well to read their testimonies.

Why? Well, who can provide us with the best and most accurate idea of what the Apostles taught, practiced and expected the Church to do on Sundays than those who actually learned it from the Apostles? The first Christians are an authentic witness to the teaching and tradition of the apostles.

There is an old axiom, "The water is always cooler and clearer the closer you get to the source."

Continued here...


For More Information
about Pilgrimages Call

Corporate Travel Service

(800) 727-1999

 ext. 121 Maria
or Suzanne


www.InviteSteve.com
Dates in 2012-13 now being booked.

07/29/11 Steubenville, OH, University 08/01/11 Walsingham, ENG, NewDawn
08/06/11 Woodcote, ENG, Evangelium
08/13/11 London,  ENG, Westminster
08/23/11 Arlington, TX, Fullness of Truth
08/29/11 Kirkland, WA, Holy Family
09/27/11 Peoria, IL, Legatus
09/28/11 Peoria, IL, Notre Dame School
10/01/11 Lake Orion, MI, St. Joseph's
10/03/11 Akron, OH, St. Francis DeSales
10/08/11 Little Canada, MN, Tentative
10/14/11 Sycamore, IL, Lighthouse Conf.
12/21/11 Prior Lake, MN, St. Michael
02/24/12 Overland Park, KS, Men's Conf
02/28/12 Denton, TX, St. Mark Parish
03/03/12 Milwaukee, WI,   Men's of Christ
03/09/12 Piscataway, NJ, Bible Conf
03/18/12 Naples, FL, Faith and Ale
More events at StevesSchedule.com

 

 

 

 

HOLY LAND RIDDLES

Amer visited the Judean desert looking for wildlife. All he could find were camels and ravens. He began counting them, but for some reason he did this by counting the number of legs and heads of these animals. When he got back to the hotel the pilgrims asked what he found, he said, " 35 heads and 78 legs."  

Do you know how many ravens and how many camels he saw?  

---------------------------- 

 

Three times I have been divided  doing what God had decided.
Twice a garment was the tool
that led me to obey God's rule.
I was the threshold of new things 
and the limit of many kings.
Once God's son I did embrace.
Once the ark stood in my place.
Never have I walked the ground,
nor in the heavens was I found.

 

What am I? 

 ----------------------------

Click here for the answers. 

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Contact Suzanne or Maria at Corporate Travel Service 1-800-333-7277x121 or email sparran@ctscentral.net