August 12:   Squirrels eat nuts for their nourishment!  Rabbits eat everyone’s flowers, vegetables and plants for their nourishment (much to the dismay of those who planted them!).  Shelties love the many TREATS parishioners bring to Mass!  But Catholics LOVE the Eucharist!!  And what an awesome gift the Eucharist is: the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ! 

Catholics believe this because Jesus proclaimed this many times through the scriptures!  For example, “I am the bread of life! Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven….” John 6:48-56.

Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. 
In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2000 years ago!  The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.  There are many more scriptural references of the Real Presence.   It is clear that Jesus was not speaking symbolically, but literally and Catholics have held on to and embraced this teaching since the very beginning of Christianity and the teachings (traditions) of the earliest apostles! 

And this bread is a WHOLE lot better than all the stuff the rabbits and squirrels are eating

August 5:  So I’m in the back yard watching the squirrels jump from tree branch to tree branch while one of them approached me with a question about the necessity of Mass attendance.  A good question as I’m thinking there are a lot of (even Catholics) who think it isn’t too important to attend Mass.  Well, I shared with my squirrel friends the following:
A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. He wrote: "I've gone for 30 years now, and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons, but for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them.  So, I think I'm wasting my time, the preachers and priests are wasting theirs by giving sermons. This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column. Much to the delight of the editor, it went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher: "I've been married for 30 years now.  In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals.  But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work.  If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"
So that gave my furry friends something to really think about and Yes – MASS IS IMPORTANT!!!! 

July 29:  Every Catholic knows that Mary is the Mother of Jesus.  But not every Catholic knows the mother or the father of Mary!  July 26th is the feast day of Sts Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary.  But what do we know of them?!!
Saints Joachim and Anne are the parents of the Virgin Mary. There are no mentions of them in the Bible or Gospels.  What we know comes from Catholic legend and the Gospel of James, which is an unsanctioned, apocryphal writing from the second century AD.  There are about 150 copies of the ancient manuscript which often have different titles, but tell the same story, that Mary was promised to Joachim and Anne by an angel, was consecrated to God, and she remained a virgin all her life.  Naturally, there is plenty of room for scholarly debate about these saints. We have no true primary sources that prove they even existed, but certainly we can agree that Mary had parents. Likewise,
we can agree that Mary had good, faithful parents who raised her with a love and devotion to God like none other except Jesus Christ Himself.
Joachim and Anne serve as role models for parents and both deserve to be honored and emulated for their devotion to God and Our Lady Mary, the Mother of God.

July 22:   So, squirrels don’t really have particular religions among themselves, ‘cept for those who live on the other side of the tree!!  Some were wondering just what constitutes being a Catholic? I mean, what are the most essential requirements the Church asks of any Catholic? I know sometimes people ask this question, so I thought I’d use my Sheltie smarts this week and explain what the 5 precepts of the church are. They include:

(1) You shall attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation and abstain from work or activities that offend against the character of the day. (2) You shall receive the Sacrament of Penance at least once a year. (3) You shall receive the Eucharist at least during the Easter season. (4) You shall observe the prescribed seasons of fasting and days of abstinence (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday). (5) You shall contribute to the material support of the Church.

These precepts are supposed to remind us that one cannot be a Christian without making a moral effort, without participating personally in the sacramental life of the Church, and without union with her in solidarity. They are obligatory for every Catholic Christian! 

I found these precepts in my Dad’s Catholic Catechism, so if you want to know more, just go to section 2041 – 2043 and you’ll learn much more! You might even be smarter than the squirrels in my Dad’s garden. ☺

For more of Maggie's musings, see our online bulletin archives.  Maggie's column appears on page 3.