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Neela Kale :
167 article(s)

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
November 10th, 2011

If you’re planning a Catholic wedding, then you and your fiancé have been working closely with your priest throughout the preparation process. He has probably met with you many times, helped you to arrange for an engaged encounter and/or marriage preparation classes, and guided you through the liturgical planning for the ceremony. Over this time you have come to know each other fairly well and he has become an important support for you as you prepare to enter the sacrament of marriage. Not only is it appropriate for you to invite him to the reception, but it is also a kind way to thank him for helping you on the journey. He would be delighted to celebrate with you – priests enjoy a good party as much as anyone else!…

November 3rd, 2011

Priests should dress tastefully and modestly, just as we all should, whether they are “on” or “off” duty. But, except for members of some religious orders that wear habits, they don’t have to follow any specific dress code. Black clothes and the Roman collar are extremely common for parish priests in the United States but are certainly not required. Depending on the community in which a priest is serving, he may never wear them or may wear them only on special occasions. Some priests may choose to dress in black and wear a Roman collar when they are at work, and then to wear different clothes when they are out of the office or away from the parish, as a sign to others (and to themselves) that they are taking a day…

October 27th, 2011

If your only disagreement with your family about your wedding has to do with your aunt’s voice, you’re probably ahead of the game. But in the interest of family harmony, rather than reminding your mom that your aunt is no American Idol, get someone who’s a little removed from the situation to make your point for you. If you’re concerned about her singing during the liturgy, ask the parish wedding coordinator to help you arrange for musicians from the parish music ministry; you can tell your family that the church gives preference to its trained liturgical music ministers. If you’re concerned about her singing at the reception, give the DJ a heads up and ask him/her to keep things rolling and not give up the…

October 20th, 2011

Although Roman collars, habits and wedding rings are widely recognizable signs of the wearer’s life commitment, these visual markers are customs, not requirements (except in the case of some religious orders that do require the habit.) The fact that a person is not displaying one of these signs does not automatically mean that he or she is available for romantic attachment: engaged people, those called to the single life and those who for the time being are not seeking relationships, for example, are also unavailable, but don’t necessarily have an easy way to show it. No one should be deceptive about whether or not he or she is open to an exclusive relationship. Thus a seminarian should be forthcoming and firm…

October 13th, 2011

If your dog is a service dog and you or another member of your wedding party depend on it in order to participate in the liturgy, then you should be able to include the dog. You can even put a bow on its collar if Fido will tolerate it! But you can’t have a pet in your wedding for any other purpose. Liturgy, by definition, is the work of the people – it is the way that we come together to celebrate who we are and glimpse who we are called to become as the people of God. Even though pets are increasingly accepted in public places in the United States and some people think of their animals as members of their families, pets are not, in fact, people. Animals are a beautiful part of God’s creation, to be sure, but only humans are made…

October 13th, 2011

The best answer to your question is that you should first make an appointment with your parish priest. Each person’s situation is different and each annulment case is unique; your priest will work with you through the process and guide you through the steps that are necessary for you.
As you are considering an annulment process, another preliminary step is to gather the documentation necessary to present an annulment case. This includes the civil marriage license, the civil divorce decree and any baptismal certificates, if either or both of the former spouses are baptized. If you are seeking an annulment of a prior marriage because you wish to re-marry, your intended future spouse will also need to provide…

September 8th, 2011

Does your workplace have a dress code? If so, remind your employee that when she was hired she agreed to follow it. Review the dress code with her during her performance evaluation or at another appropriate opportunity. If you’re a man, you might ask a trusted female colleague to have this conversation with your employee; she may even be able to make tactful suggestions about wardrobe adaptations. Consider this an opportunity to help your employee learn an important lesson and improve her professional demeanor.
If you don’t have a dress code, this might be the time to institute one. It’s important to keep expectations clear and consistent so that no individual feels targeted; it’s also important that…

August 25th, 2011

Imagine that an opposing team’s player found your team’s playbook and wanted to share it with his teammates. Would that help you to answer your own question? The eighth commandment (do not bear false witness against your neighbor) calls us to respect the truth, and that involves a respect for private information and legitimate secrets. Even though you obtained the playbook by accident (as opposed to, say, by stealing it), it contains confidential information. The other team’s mistake does not give you permission to violate its private material. Consider an analogy to physical (rather than intellectual) property: If you had found a new football belonging to the opposing team, would it be yours to keep?…

August 18th, 2011

Your coworker’s marital status is actually insignificant – the fact that you describe your behavior as “leering” suggests that it has gone beyond appropriate admiration and become an expression of lust. How can you tell the difference? A good clue would be that you would be embarrassed if your coworker found out what you are doing. In Catholic language, we might say you are showing a lack of chastity, the virtue which seeks to integrate sexuality within the person. You have introduced an inappropriate sexual element to your relationship with your coworker, even if it is unbeknownst to him/her. Rather than encouraging your own healthy integration of your sexuality, your behavior drives a wedge between…

August 9th, 2011

The answer depends on your employer’s policies, as well as on whether you’re a day care provider, an office worker, or a firefighter, to give just a few possibilities. Some parents, occasionally or regularly, manage to integrate their children into their working environments. Others find it inappropriate or downright impossible. But your question highlights the need for social structures and labor policies that protect and promote the rights of parents and the wellbeing of the family.
Two key principles of Catholic social teaching come into play here: the importance of the family and the dignity of human labor. Parenthood is a vocation, and parents have a sacred duty to care for and educate their children.…

August 2nd, 2011

Schools that require students to wear uniforms know that we take things more seriously when we are dressed for the occasion. Our dress communicates a great deal about who we are and what is important to us. When you dress for mass, you are telling yourself – and others around you – how much you care about what is taking place. Celebrating the Eucharist is the high point of our lives as Catholic Christians – isn’t that worth showing attention and respect?
Acceptable attire at mass varies from culture to culture, place to place and occasion to occasion. In the United States, extremely casual dress has become the norm in almost all public places. But going to mass is different from going to the mall, and it calls…

July 27th, 2011

First communion day is very special for children. After a long period of preparation, they will finally receive the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time. There is often a lot happening that day. Your son may find himself sitting in a different place than your family usually sits and doing some things differently than he usually does at mass. He may have a special role to play, such as walking in the entrance procession or helping to bring up the gifts. And he will be aware that he and the other children are receiving special attention that day. Children, just like adults, can get nervous when things are special or different. That’s why the rehearsal is so important. If he knows ahead of time what is going to happen,…

July 25th, 2011

A church building is a special place calling for special behavior. While the church is our home and we should feel comfortable there – indeed, the church (small “c”) is a gathering place for the Church, the people of God (capital “C”) – that doesn’t mean that anything goes. Your actions in church show respect for God and for the community that gathers there. If you are stopping by the church to pray, even just for a moment, your actions should respect the place and its purpose.
Spit out your gum, turn off your cell phone, check that you’re appropriately dressed and make the most of the precious opportunity to step away from the ordinary and into a sacred space and time. If you are in the church for mass and…

July 20th, 2011

Congratulations on your daughter’s upcoming first communion! Of course you want to make sure that it is special, but don’t lose sight of what is really important. First communion is not about the dress or the pictures or the party – these are merely extras. First communion is about your daughter receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. It should be the first of many receptions of the Eucharist, so that she can continue to grow in her understanding of the great mystery of the Eucharist and be strengthened by Christ’s real presence in her life. She comes to the table of the Lord as part of the Christian community – her faith formation classmates, other first communicants and your entire parish. The pastor has…

July 20th, 2011

The Catholic Church teaches that human sexuality is a beautiful gift from God. It allows us to love others and, in a special way, to truly give ourselves in love to one other person…

July 12th, 2011

It’s good that you’re tackling this issue before first communion day. Make sure your child understands that you expect reverent behavior; do not encourage or tolerate any kind of silliness around the act of receiving communion, even when you are practicing.
Children have a natural curiosity about new things, especially something as special and mysterious as the Eucharist. Give your child an unconsecrated host and let her hold it in her hands, look at it, and take her time tasting it and consuming it. She won’t be able to do this when she actually receives communion, but it will allow her to satisfy her curiosity. Then show her how you receive and ask her to imitate you. Some people, finding the dry host difficult…

June 16th, 2011

Mary MacKillop, the co-founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), is one of our most recently canonized saints and was the first Australian to be canonized. She lived from 1842-1909. As a teacher and dedicated servant of the poorest of the poor, she led her sisters to found schools, orphanages, homes for the aged and various other ministries. In the publicity leading up to her canonization, one aspect of her career received intense attention: During a conflict with the local bishop, who tried to change the Josephites’ constitutions after the order helped to remove a priest suspected of pedophilia, she was briefly excommunicated for insubordination. Ultimately…

June 7th, 2011

Good for you for taking your Lenten fast so seriously! During the season of Lent, the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are meant to help us turn away from whatever has derailed us along the way and turn back to God. By giving up dessert for Lent, you are fasting from something that gives you pleasure and offering that sacrifice to God. If skipping dessert has been hard for you, it’s probably a sign that your sacrifice is working. Your effort in keeping to the fast is a concrete step that helps you to turn to God.
Is slipping from your Lenten fast a serious sin that requires you to go to confession? No. Giving up something for Lent (if it’s not something that’s a sin in itself) is a discipline that you set for…

June 3rd, 2011

Let’s imagine that your friend were sober and broke your phone by sheer accident. Should she feel obligated to compensate you? Yes. She is responsible for the damage, much the way one would be responsible for breaking a dish in a china shop. The fact that she was drunk implies negligence and increases her responsibility, rather than mitigating it. (Consider how a drunk driver who causes an accident incurs greater penalties than a sober driver.) So of course she should apologize for what happened and pay for the repair of your phone. It is reasonable for you to expect that.
As far as whether or not you should demand payment, ask yourself about the nature of your relationship. Is it a strong friendship, which will weather…

June 2nd, 2011

In the biblical notion of time, one day ends and another begins at sundown, rather than at 12:00 midnight. (Recall that “evening came, and morning followed – the first [etc.] day” in the creation story of Genesis 1:1-2:4a.) Thus when evening falls on Saturday, according to the understanding of the Church, Sunday begins. When you attend a Saturday evening mass, you hear the lectionary readings and prayers for Sunday; participating in this mass “counts” to fulfill your Sunday obligation. Anticipating the Sunday mass – celebrating it on Saturday evening – came about in the latter half of the 20th century, as the rhythms of modern life made attending Sunday morning mass increasingly difficult for…

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