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Re: Part Two of the Course, Fifth Assignment, Question 2
by arnetta sims - Thursday, 16 August 2012, 3:42 AM

The way in which we celebrate the sacraments today are different from the way we did prior to Vatican II. Now we understand the ways that the sacraments are celebrated where we fully express our experiences. The direction of the Church's official and unofficial development of the sacraments rely heavily on cultural influences.

Today in American society Catholic families have undergone changes. Families that once carried a uninterrupted lineage of Catholicism have been dismembered by affiliations to other non-Catholic religions. Another factor resulting in lost of interest are those who are "unchurched". A society that does not understand the practices of Catholicism presents a challenge with limited facts on the truths of the Catholic faith. It is necessary to continue implementing catechism of the sacraments as a means for salvation.

The official practices are not unattached from the institution of Catholicism, but expresses the ideology of a particular culture. They are practices of a religious experience that are sacred functions. We can borrow from Vatican II the term"vernacular", meaning incorporating ones culture to celebrate sacramental life. In my own experience the cultures that are apart of my life are: a culture of Catholicism, born into an African American culture and a French heritage of Catholicism. One would think with these mixtures it would be a conflict in the Catholic experience, but the official expression becomes central. The other elements were taughts to be means to enhance, grow and develop to celebrate sacramental life. I feel that the decline of African Americans into the Catholic Faith was because the "other elements" were alowed to obscure the rootness of the theology of Catholicism. The "knowing" is truth , but the "feeling" of cultural expression did not have substance and was ever changing. Therefore there was not a concrete indoctrination to the actual catechesis of the sacraments. I realize that this in itself seem confusing, but I have witnessed many fallen away African Amriecan Catholics who stated that they left because they did not get anything out of the Faith. This concerns me greatly because I know the historical truths that the sacraments hold. I can not say that it was the lack of formation, but no enough.The advantage that my family held were the values of a lived sacramental life. My father demanded that we know our Catholic faith because he felt that it would shape the ethical aspects of our lives. Many families did not recognize the importance of "knowing" the sacraments.

An item of concern in today's society is the use of rosary beads as a piece of jewelry adorn by anyone. This custom was developed from Catholics who used the rosary beads as protection of sickness. The rosaries were also used to ward off evil as a talisman or ammulet. This unofficial ritual has caused society to misuse this item of sacredness to a secular display. Examples such as these are a danger to the official expression of sacramentals.

I do see a decline in unofficial practices because society has become more intelligent and conforming to an official religion. I would like to see more catechesis, especially in the formation of the newly baptized or catechumente. On-going formation in parishes should be launched to promote further education of sacramental life. The theology of reverence of sacred items and rituals should be included in the New Evangelization. Each moment should be a teachable moment.

GRADE 3 (Writing and spelling issues keep it from having a top score.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Wednesday, 15 August 2012, 08:41 PM)