This morning I celebrated "First Communion Enrollment" with our children who are going to receive their First Holy Communion next year. It is a nice ceremony in which they and their parents promise to better prepare for the Sacrament, come to Mass every Sunday, pray at home, and practice their faith more openly. Towards the end of the ceremony, each child came up to receive from me a memento from this day. It was a bookmark with the "Anima Christi" prayer that you can recite below. Many people still recite it after receiving the Eucharist. Now as the children were coming up to me, I noticed that they had their little necklaces with a small crucifix or medal of the Virgin Mary, but on many of them, right next to the Lord or Our Lady was a small black onyx rock called an "azabache." This rock is used by many as a form of "spiritual protection" and they particularly put on children starting when they are newborns. Now there are many origins to where this comes from. In the Cuban culture it is quite prevalent as it is tied to Santería. Obviously, this goes against our faith, so I addressed the parents about there curious choice of jewelry for the children who were preparing to receive the Lord and quite simply told them: "Children, I know your parents aren't going to like what I'm about to tell you, but when you get home, if you have a black stone next to your crucifix, take the stone off your necklace...and throw it out." Now I knew most of the parents were probably floored by what I had just said so I reminded them that a superstitious stone from another religion or cult went totally against our Catholic faith. If they wanted true spiritual protection for their children, all they needed was the cross.
I can be a bit too blunt sometimes in catechizing my people, but we can't be wishy washy when it comes to our faith. Our people deserve to be told the truth about our faith without apologies because many have given their lives for our faith, our Church, and our Savior. God has sent us His angels to protect and His only Son to save us. What more do we need?
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever