Today July 30, 2011 in Reno Nevada the Catholic Engaged Encounter in Reno Nevada held its district convention. The conference was held at the Silver Legacy in downtown Reno Nevada.
Several presenters were present. The first presenters were Kim and Jason Kotechi from Wisconsin. We also had our singer, Jesse Manibusan who came for entertainment and enlightenment through song.
The third presenter was Dr. Mary Finn Maples, who will be talked about in a second article.
Kim and Jason Kotechi gave their presentation about a disease they called adult-itis, or inflammation of being adults. Kim and Jason have a test to find out if you have this disease at http://www.adultitis.org/intake.php.
Kim and Jason pointed out that we are often like the full-grown elephant at the circus. When the elephant is newborn a chain is placed around its feet that it is not able to break and escape. As it grows older it learns that it cannot break the chain. The problem is that as the elephant grows into adulthood, it can break the chain but is unwilling to try. Jason refers to this chain on the elephant as “Rules that Don’t Exist.” We come into adulthood with the proverbial elephant’s chain of rules that were designed by adults for our necessity as children. As adults they need not exist. Like the adult elephant who could break the chain with ease, we remain tied to rules that no longer apply. Another example is Queen Catherine’s Rose. When Catherine was Queen of Russia she planted a rose in a garden and ordered a guard to be posted to protect it.
Over time, the Queen Catherine died of old age and so did the rose. Two hundred years later came the Russian Revolution of 1917. One quard was too busy protecting the spot where the rose was to have time to protect the Tzar.
Examples of this type of “rule” include:
“Act Your Age,” whatever that means.
You will color inside the Lines.
You will not wear white after Labor Day.
You will not dream too big.
Work first; play later.
Eat your desert last.
Always wear clean underpants.
Do not blow bubbles in your milk.
Do not jump in puddles.
When we are young, we learn rules designed for children. Among those mentioned is eating desert last. When we are young, our stomachs are not able to hold our regular meal we eat, our vegetables, fruits, and our grain and meat, plus our desert. Therefore, to make sure we eat that rabbit food, we are instructed to eat that first.
When we are adults, we are able to eat that full meal, and we are able to discern how much of which food is important. Still, like the elephant, we are chained into eating the rabbit food first, then the meat, and finally the whole grain. Only then do we move to our desert.
Jason correctly pointed out that in Luke’s telling of the blessing of the children, “Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke then adds to the telling of St. Peter’s version of the account as related in St. Matthew and St. Mark, saying, “Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”
Just what is it that separates the child from the adult. The article, “Did Jesus die on the cross for us?” presents what follows this passage and its meaning. St. Mark tells us about the ἄρχων . In St. Luke, this person is simply an ἄρχων. From this word, we get our words, Patriarch, and arch-enemy. It means any person from the leadership class.
St. Luke tells us, Jesus says, “You know the Mitzvah: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; hold as important your father and your mother.” The ἄρχωνreplied, “Teacher, all of these I have guarded from my youth.”
The first thing to notice in this section is the count Jesus uses as he lists the Ten Mitvah. “You will not defraud,” is a Jewish faithful rendition of, “You will not covet.” Notice that it is only given once. In our Catholic count, it is given twice. Jesus is using the Jewish Count. In the Jewish counting of the Ten Mitzvah, the first Mitzvah is Deuteronomy 5:1-6. It is important that we notice which Mitzvah s Jesus does not mention, the first four.
The first Mitzvah in the Jewish count is Remember, “I am The Personal Name your Mighty Judge who rescued you from Egypt/the land of Oppression, the place of menial labor.
The ἄρχων is forgetting that Mitzvah . To remember that God first rescued us, we must first remember we were rescued from something. That is why the Jewish liturgy focuses around the escape from Egypt, and the oppression there. That is why our liturgy focuses around Jesus Passion. We remember what it was like to be there.
Then we remember our rescue. The ἄρχων does not do that. The ἄρχων also forgets the second Mitzvah . He forgets that God rescued him, not his silver and his gold. There is no mention of giving God’s name its proper reverence as the one who rescues, Joshua/Jesus. There is no mention of Sabbath observance. Taking one day out of each week to remember our rescue.
This brings us to what Kim and Jason are talking about. As Erik Erickson points out in his stages of child development, before we can develop at all, we must have trust. His first stage is “Trust Versus Mistrust.” We then learn “Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt.” “Initiative vs. Guilt,” and “Industry vs. Inferiority.” We then move into adulthood and “Identity vs. Role Confusion,” “Intimacy vs. Isolation,” “Generativity vs. Stagnation,” and “Ego Integrity vs. Despair.”
Kim and Jason push us to bring back the first four of our Ten Mitzvah. We must learn to trust. First, we must learn to trust God. Then we must learn to trust those around us. What first separates children from adults is that they trust. We must be happy, like healthy children with who we are as autonomous human beings. We must have initiative. In the language of Kim and Jason, we must allow ourselves to be spontaneous and do things simply because we want to.
We do not trust ourselves and we are not spontaneous. We forget that Luke quotes Jesus as saying, “Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” We must cast off the chain of the elephant and feel free to be spontaneous and trusting.
Jesse Manibusan discussed the tree that strives to become what it already is. When it finds obstacles in its way, it grows around those obstacles, always trying to become what it is, a living, breathing creature of God’s love. Likewise, we as human beings are also called to be living breathing creatures of God’s love. The Church, as a collection of individuals, us, is called to be a living breathing expression of God’s love.
Jesse sang songs, told stories, cracked jokes, played his guitar, and provided experiences and memories in order to affirm and inspire, encourage and empower, motivate and challenge the convention paricipants to live in the Church, in Christ; to live a life of charity, compassion, forgiveness, hospitality and defending the dignity of all persons AND the care of all of creation.
When Jesse Manibusan left the stage, Dr. Mary Finn Maples came to speak next. The article on this speech may be found at:
Our Engaged Encounter Weekend, being children and communicating totally part 2