To the outside observer, there is something mysterious about the Catholic mass. What with the funny costumes, various gestures, silent prayer, and even the Latin language, it would be easy to misconstrue what is going on with some magical incantation.

For just this, reason people have associated the origin of the phrase “Hocus Pocus” with the Catholic mass for centuries. While the actual origins of the phrase are unknown, all the way back in 1694 an Anglican priest suggested that it derived itself from the Latin phrase Hoc est enim corpus meum (this is my body) said during the Mass in Latin, a way for Protestants to make fun of Catholics. More recent speculators have even connected the “hokey pokey” dance to the same origin. And even though scholars have mostly debunked the former and completely debunked the latter, the fact that such ideas prevailed for centuries shows that there is at least an intuitive connection between the two. You can definitely see it being true, even if it isn’t.

Which presents an obvious question for us as Catholics: if what we are doing is not magic—and it most certainly is NOT—what is the difference between the sacraments and magic? An investigation of the two reveals differences in overall worldview, role of the minister, purpose of the ritual, and overall effect.

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In college, each semester follows the same pattern: you study for 15 weeks, and at the end you bring everything together in a blue book where you take your final exam. Just thinking about those little blue books gives me anxiety.

In podcasts, at least the way Br. Tito and I are doing it, there is a similar pattern: you ramble for 11 weeks, and at the end you bring everything together in a discussion about the Green Book for a season finale. This process was much more fun.

You see, in our first season, Br. Tito and I talked about how the world is more than just good and bad people, and that we should avoid such labels; what the nature and limits of getting offended were; the “happily ever after” trope; “based on a true story” movies, and how these often played on nostalgia; we looked at storytelling as a means of sharing one’s life and breaking down barriers; and how to handle conflicts. And while each of these topics is independent and covers a wide variety of genres, we found a movie that has elements of almost everything we’ve talked about this year (sorry, no virtual reality world or death). That movie? Green Book.

As always, click above to listen, and we want to thank you all for joining us this semester. We had a great time figuring out what we were doing and plan to be back at it in mid-January.

“Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body.”

This is a quote from the Bible. The letter to the Ephesians to be exact. It is a part of what we called the “Word of God,” the codified and canonized list of individual writings meant to guide Christians in life. And it is completely antithetical to progress and 21st century morality.

As faithful Christians, texts like these appear to pose a difficulty for us, forcing us to choose between the Bible and our consciences. Or worse, they don’t challenge us at all but serve to reaffirm already distorted views of gender. What are we to do when we come across texts like these?

This week, Catholicism in Focus goes back to the beginning… the very beginning… to investigate this claim that women are inferior to men and are thus to remain subordinate. What do we make of this? How might we approach these texts in the future?

Are you excited? Have you been counting down the days with anticipation, filled with joy? Can you barely control yourself? Today’s the day!

The day for what, you ask? Advent beginning, of course!

If you’re not overwhelmed with excitement for the season, not filled with anticipation like a child, I can understand. Advent and Christmas can be extremely busy and even difficult times for many adults. The simplicity of the season as a child—making gingerbread houses, writing letters to Santa, and getting a pile of presents—has long since faded, and it has left many adults wondering, “what is there to get all that excited about? What are we even waiting for?”

This Advent, join me each week as I offer a reflection on the Sunday readings and the season, journeying together towards our great feast. This week, I look at the sense of excitement that we used to have as kids and suggest that there might be a pretty big reason to wait with anticipation as adults.

 

People, this is not a drill. There are only 25 shopping days left until Christmas. Also, maybe a little more importantly, there are only 25 days of preparation left until the most important Christian holiday of the year! (Many will argue Easter is more important, but as a Franciscan I have to go with Christmas. Topic for another time.)

At the time of writing this post and observing the vigil, the start of advent is a mere 54 hours away! That’s like… two days from now! And with Christmas being on a Tuesday this year, our fourth week of Advent is really only two days long, meaning that our time to prepare is drastically cut short.

And so I ask a very important question: are you ready?

If not, you’re going to be like me each and every year, loving the season but falling behind, surprised that Christmas is already here. Forget about Christmas shopping, what about spiritual nourishment? What a shame it is to run into the holiday without being ready.

This year, I hope that we can all make this season meaningful, that we can all put the effort in that we need. If you have any special forms of preparation, I would love to hear them! Leave a comment on the YouTube video or over on Facebook!