But there is one place millennials will go if they need to figure out how to solve a problem. A place where you can see, hands-on, how to tackle any project big or small. It’s one of God’s greatest creations: YouTube.
This week our parish staff shares in a Thanksgiving lunch, and Fr. Mike gives me the job of cutting the turkey. For those of you who know me, you know that I couldn’t tell a spatula from a tong in the kitchen; I have no clue how to cut a turkey. But low and behold I found a YouTube video and now I am a turkey carving expert, just like grandma!
One of my favorite YouTube channels is actually produced by one of our school parents -- it’s called “The Urban Prepper”. Preppers are people who specialize in preparedness; in being prepared for worse case scenarios. And there is a whole subculture of preppers who look at tools and gear for dealing with all kinds of disasters; everything from the flat tire on the side of the road to a full on zombie apocalypse, there are preppers out there to show you what you need.
My buddy Cliff, who produces this channel “The Urban Prepper,” often has videos on what are called “EDC kits,” or “every day carry kits”. And I brought one with me today to show you; they’re so neat. They come in these Altoid containers because they’re meant to be portable and discreet. And there is a ton of stuff inside of here; basically everything you would need to be prepared for life except breathe mints.
Let me show it to you in detail. (Screen shots). Click here for the Urban Prepper YouTube Channel.
I’m showing you this little kit because I immediately thought of Cliff and his channel after reflecting on this weekend’s Sacred Scripture, in particular our first reading from Ecclesiastes and our Gospel parable from Matthew. Both link two concepts that are so critical for us as Catholics: preparation and wisdom. I’ve always enjoyed how clear Jesus was in his use of the parables in Matthew. Here is says, in no uncertain terms: “Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Stay awake, be prepared, because it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when”. When the master returns, will we be found ready?
The challenge comes from the Gospel but the solution, I think, comes from the first reading. Part of being prepared - mind, body, and spirit - for us as Catholics, is to gain wisdom. Let’s never make the mistake of thinking that wisdom and knowledge are the same things; wisdom is so much more than simply knowing things or ideas. You don’t need a graduate degree to be wise. You don’t need to be an expert in technical theological language to go to heaven.
Why? Because wisdom is not an idea, or a concept. Wisdom is a person. Wisdom is personified in the reading from Ecclesiastes, it’s given a face and a soul: “resplendent and unfading is wisdom, she is readily perceived by those who love her and found by those who seek her.” Wisdom, because she is a person, can only be found in relationship. Not in a book, not online, not in the classroom. In relationship to others, to the Church, and most especially to Jesus Christ. We become wise, when we are close to Christ.
As Catholics we get close to Christ through the 7 sacraments, most especially the Holy Mass when we receive Him, mind, body, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist.
A few weeks ago we finished a four part teaching series on the Mass. Today, since we’re talking about wisdom and preparation, I want to wrap all that up by sharing with you just a few items that I think every Catholic family should have in their home -- in our tradition we call these sacramentals. So on the one hand we are blessed to have the sacraments, like Mass, which give us God. On the other hand we have sacramentals; things which remind of us God -- sacramentals are the signs and symbols which help us keep God in our minds and hearts even outside of Church. These are the “things” of Catholicism; Catholic swag, if you will.
Sacramentals are important for one simple reason: exterior things help us articulate interior realities. Think about wearing a Seahawks jersey. Your Seahawks jersey is like a sacramental: it tells others who you are and who you’re for. When you wear a Hawks jersey you are saying “I am the 12th Man,” and “I’m for Russell Wilson”. The same goes for these Catholic items. They remind us who we are (beloved sons and daughters created in the image of a Divine God) and who we are for (Jesus Christ, crucified and risen).
Inspired by Cliff, I’d like to share with you a list of items that will help us in our preparation as Catholics. These are every-day items all Catholic families should have in their homes:
- Bible(s) -- one for every person. Be sure to get one with all the deutero-canonical (sometimes called “apocryphal” books). Any version with the word “Catholic” should cover this. My favorites are the RSV or the NAB. Don’t keep your Bible in the sitting room with the china cabinet no one ever uses. Bibles belong on the bedside table, where they are readily available and used often.
- Crucifix -- get one with a corpus (the body of Jesus). Put it in the entrance of your home. You want people to know what you’re about. If you are willing to fly a “12th Man” flag outside of your home, I hope you willing to show the logo of our faith in your home as well. Also, it’s a good idea to place a crucifix above each bed as a reminder that God is present to us at all times, even when we sleep.
- Rosary -- we don’t pray to Mary. We pray with Mary to Jesus. I like to hang one in my car to help with road-rage.
- Mary Statue or Icon -- what is the best part of coming home? Mom. We need Our Blessed Mother watching over our homes.
- Holy Water -- bless yourself, bless your children.
These items all help us stay close to God. They help us prepare. Remember it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.” When game-time comes I want to be wearing my Seahawks jersey. When the master comes, I want to be ready, mind body and spirit, for him to invite me into the wedding feast.