Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blessing the House

I 'blessed the house' this week, sprinkling holy water in each room.

There's a formal blessing of the home and household that some folks do on Epiphany. It's a wonderful ceremony: and one we don't do.

I know that we're missing out on part of what it is to be Catholic, but Catholics have been accumulating ways of living our faith for two millennia. I doubt that one person or family would have time to follow them all.

'Cafeteria Catholicism?'

This isn't what's called 'cafeteria Catholicism,' where folks decide to believe some of what the Catholic Church teaches, but not the whole package.

As a hypothetical example, someone might say 'I like the idea that Jesus is the Son of God, but don't want to believe that Jesus really died on Golgotha: and I'm Catholic.'

A person might have those two beliefs, but you can't be Catholic and pretend that Jesus didn't die. You have to believe both, among other things. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 430-445, 599-618)

What happened after Jesus stopped being dead is important too, and that's another topic. (Catechism, 638-655)

Let's see. Where was I? Beliefs; 'cafeteria Catholicism.' Right.

The Credo

What Catholics must believe is in the Nicene Creed, although the very basics are in the Apostle's Creed. (Catechism, The Credo)

John Paul II explained a little of the history involved, and that's yet another topic. ("The Holy Spirit in the Creed," John Paul II (October 31, 1990))

Being Universal

How we express our faith and live out those beliefs varies quite a bit, depending on which century you pick, and which part of the world you're looking at. We're literally catholic, καθολικός, universal: and have been around for millennia. This is okay, although some folks act as if their community's pious customs in 'the good old days,' as they remember them, is the only 'real' Catholicism.

Even before I became a Catholic, I realized that Christianity wasn't limited to middle-class America of the 1950s, and that's yet again another topic:
Bottom line, what we believe is not optional. Rules for expressing those beliefs in church take different cultures and eras into account:
"The diverse liturgical traditions have arisen by very reason of the Church's mission. Churches of the same geographical and cultural area came to celebrate the mystery of Christ through particular expressions characterized by the culture:..."
(Catechism, 1202)
An example of this diversity is liturgical dance. I think it's a great idea, the Church says our culture isn't ready for it, I agree, and I've been over this before:

Blessing the House

When I 'bless the house,' I start at the top floor, sprinkling holy water and asking God to bless this house and the people in it. I work my way down until I get to the last room in the basement.

I can look at it as God's blessings filtering down from Heaven. I could see what I do as 'driving the devil out' in the general direction of Hell, but that's not what's happening.

Blessing the house is not an exorcism, since what I do isn't public, and I'm not trying to useng my Lord's authority to drive out demons:
"EXORCISM: The public and authoritative act of the Church to protect or liberate a person or object from the power of the devil (e.g., demonic possession) in the name of Christ (1673). A simple exorcism prayer in preparation for Baptism invokes God's help in overcoming the power of Satan and the spirit of evil (1237). "
(Catechism, Glossary, E)
Exorcisms are quite real, and probably not like what you've read about, or seen in the movies. Links to some of what I've written about exorcism are near the end of this post. Now, back to blessing the house.

I'm asking God to bless the house; and using holy water, a sacramental. It's not 'magic,' by the way. There's no way I could 'make' God do something, for one thing; and trying to tame occult powers is strictly against the rules. (Catechism, 2117)

Making deals with stray spirits is also a very, very, bad idea, and still another topic.

Sacramentals

Sacramentals are visible signs of sacraments: baptism, in the case of holy water. (Catechism, 1668)

Using sacramentals, properly, is a way to make everyday life holy. (Catechism, 1667)

Sacramentals are not substitutes for the sacraments, but help us get ready for cooperation with the Holy Spirit. They always involve prayer, and often go with a sign: like sprinkling holy water. (Catechism, 1668, 1670)

My guess is that holy water is a fairly common sacramental, no matter where or when Catholics are. On the other hand, the Church doesn't take a 'one size fits all' approach to sacramentals.

Local culture matters, and that's - what else? - more topics. (Catechism, 1674-1676)

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.