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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Please pass the grace

Just in time for the great marriage debate in Australia today, Bishop Robert Barron writes up, in good news fashion, comparing Grace with Karma. Read it twice. Better yet, listen to his podcast of it (Word on Fire). He did not have our current issues in mind, but I think this is a challenge for Christians in Australia: how are we doing in the debate about same sex marriage today? If all we are about is condemnation, fire, brimstone and no, no, and no, then we're not preaching good news. We'd be talking at the other side, not dialogue at all. Instead, I think we should pass the grace on and say:

Here is the Christian institution of Marriage. These are the gifts flowing from it. This is the grace of God in action through families built on this version of Marriage. It is indissoluble, built as a total, exclusive self-giving as exemplified by Christ for his bride, the Church (us). It is fruitful if we die to ourselves and live for each other. We don't always get it right, and it's not easy, but when we get it right, it's pretty good, and it makes us better people. We build families this way, where our children learn about love, patience, kindness, delighting in one another, creatively rich in our diversity - yes, a man and a woman, united as one body. We all learn resilience and support for one another amidst challenges. We learn and practice forgiveness over and over again because we are not perfect, and marriage, and our kids, teach us that about ourselves. They also give is every opportunity to get it right (eventually). Day by day, at each episode, with each drama we find ourselves in, this develops our character. The civilization we enjoy today was built on this institution. It has tamed our barbarous ways. We've been making a hash of things because we've trashed marriage and family in the last half-century. We can get things right again if we go back to how it was instituted in the beginning. This is the grace of Christian marriage. It is built on firm foundation, unassailably beautiful in physical form, philosophy and theology.

We are not screaming "no" at you (on the other side). We are inviting you to consider our "yes" to all the above.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Matthew 22:34-40:

Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. 

Why is the command to love God the first command? It isn't because he needs anything from us. Why should adults secure their own oxygen masks in an airplane emergency before helping others? Because if we're not alright, we're no good to others. To love God above anything with everything we've got is to get our ideals right, to set a real foundation for what our life will be about. First off, what is truth? Next, what does it truly mean to love? Knowing God will teach us that because God is Truth and God is Love. Truth is reasonable, so it is not whimsical, and can be grasped with or reason. Truth can be objectively known, and is not subject to contradictory opinion. Truth can be tested, and is a necessary foundation for everything else that follows. And Love.. Love is a verb. It does not rely on arbitrarily changing moods and emotions. It is to will the good of someone else, and act accordingly. It is not self-seeking, for if everyone loves like that, then we are reduced to beasts.

Let's get back to basics. If we don't build our lives on God, anything we build will come to absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

He who perseveres to the end will be saved

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

Whenever we suffer some distress or tribulation, there we find warning and correction for ourselves. Our holy scriptures themselves do not promise us peace, security and repose, but tribulations and distress; the gospel is not silent about scandals; but he who perseveres to the end will be saved. What good has this life of ours ever been, from the time of the first man, from when he deserved death and received the curse, that curse from which Christ our Lord delivered us? So we must not complain, brothers, as some of them complained, as the apostle says, and perished from the serpents. What fresh sort of suffering, brothers, does the human race now endure that our fathers did not undergo? Or when do we endure the kind of sufferings which we know they endured? Yet you find men complaining about the times they live in, saying that the times of our parents were good. What if they could be taken back to the times of their parents, and should then complain? The past times that you think were good, are good because they are not yours here and now.

(From Universalis.com, Office of Readings today, 23rd August, 2017)

I get the feeling, what with the question before the Australian public about marriage and assisted suicide, as well as the coinciding charges against Cardinal George Pell, that we are hemmed in with but one question: Convenience or fidelity? Are we with the times or with Christ? Modernity or orthodoxy?

Lest we be mistaken again, it was complacency and inaction that got us here. When we stopped flapping our wings, we started falling. When we stopped advancing, comfortable where we were, well that's just an invitation to relinquish our past triumphs.

And so here we are.

Just my two cents worth.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The demands of Christ and joy of heart

From Saint John-Paul II,:
Discourse to young people in the Netherlands, May 14, 1985 

Dear young people, you tell me that you often think the Church is an institution that does nothing but promulgate rules and laws… And you conclude that there is a deep discrepancy between the joy that issues from the word of Christ and the feeling of oppression that the Church’s rigidity gives you... But the gospel shows us a very demanding Christ who invites to a radical conversion of heart, detachment from earthly goods, forgiveness of sins, love of enemies, patient acceptance of persecutions and even to the sacrifice of one’s own life out of love for neighbor. Where the particular area of sexuality is concerned, we know the firm position he took in defending the indissolubility of marriage and his condemnation even as regards the simple adultery committed in the heart. And could anyone not be impressed when faced with the precept to “tear out one’s eye” or to “cut off one’s hand” when those members are an occasion of “scandal”? … 

Moral licentiousness does not make people happy. Similarly, the consumer society does not bring joy of heart. The human person is only fulfilled to the extent to which that person is able to accept the demands flowing from their dignity as beings created “in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:27). That is why, if the Church today says things that are not agreeable, it is because it feels obligated to do so, it does so out of a duty to fidelity… 

Does this mean that it isn't true the gospel message is a message of joy? On the contrary! It is absolutely true. And how is that possible? The answer can be found in one word, one single word, one short word, but its contents are as vast as the sea. And that word is love. It is perfectly possible to reconcile uncompromising precept with joy of heart. One who loves does not fear sacrifice but even seeks in sacrifice the most convincing proof of the authenticity of their love.

Source: dailygospel.org

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Good Wine First in this Generation

In past generations, the virtue of Patience was extolled: good things come to those who wait, time heals all wounds, save the best for last, delayed gratification. Not now, perhaps. We are steeped in instant gratification, of quick results. Good wine first. Today we eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Patience is a hard sell these days. Even when the impatient know enough to apply it to other things like baking, cooking, crafts, sports, business, or even the environment. Not in other things that count, though, like health, studies, family life, or relationships. The patient know it to be proper virtue but the impatient won't understand until much later, sometimes not until it is too late.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Jesus Christ prays for us and in us and is the object of our prayers

From a commentary on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop

Jesus Christ prays for us and in us and is the object of our prayers God could give no greater gift to men than to make his Word, through whom he created all things, their head and to join them to him as his members, so that the Word might be both Son of God and son of man, one God with the Father, and one man with all men. The result is that when we speak with God in prayer we do not separate the Son from him, and when the body of the Son prays it does not separate its head from itself: it is the one Saviour of his body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who prays for us and in us and is himself the object of our prayers. He prays for us as our priest, he prays in us as our head, he is the object of our prayers as our God. Let us then recognise both our voice in his, and his voice in ours. When something is said, especially in prophecy, about the Lord Jesus Christ that seems to belong to a condition of lowliness unworthy of God, we must not hesitate to ascribe this condition to one who did not hesitate to unite himself with us. Every creature is his servant, for it was through him that every creature came to be.

From universalis.com, Office of Readings