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Monday, July 30, 2007

Over at other blogs: John Stott; Vatican II

Just noting down goings on at other blogs, on two unrelated topics. Intentional Disciples reports on the last public address by Dr. John Stott, the most widely respected Evangelical preacher/writer today, it seems. I've only looked at a few of his writings and they are very good. His last public speech, Dr. Stott shares his insights about Christ-likeness being "the will of God for the people of God." In my days with the La Sallian Campus Ministry, being Christ-like and Christ-centered was the common theme (and so we had one week every year to celebrate this message).

And Darwin Catholic muses on Vatican II based on his reading of Frank Sheed. Vatican II was not necessarily either of what extremes in the Church claim it to be (or have been).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some thoughts on infallibility

In a recent post about my having been slammed down by a Calvinist for my Romanist ranting, I quipped about him

  What a horribly precarious perch when one can no longer allow the possibility of being wrong.

And then Lito made a worthy point:

  "Is this not applicable to the claims of the Pope and the Magisterium to infallability?"

I would be doing a Rand if I were to dismiss this point, because it's a valid point. Where lies the difference? After all, both Rand and the Church are citing the anointing of the Holy Spirit in making pronouncements with authority. One could cite, of course, that the evidence from Scripture and Tradition are on the side of the Church, but that doesn't quite convince Rand or others who likewise consider themselves infallible when it comes to interpreting Scripture.

I think the difference is that Rand believes he is right simply because he is born again. In other words, having been born again is, for him, his guarantee of certitude. Not that his infallibility comes straight from his state, but the Holy Spirit's anointing which guarantees infallibility does.

For the pope and the bishops, the Magisterium's credibility is not by their state of justification, which is no different from everyone else. It is not by their state of holiness either, which is no different from everyone else. For the pope and the bishops, the Magisterial infallibility has nothing to do with their personal characteristics because infallibility is a gift given by the Holy Spirit *despite* their inadequacy and unworthiness. It is, truly, outside of them. Simon son of John, who was nicknamed Rock by the Lord in Ceasarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-19) does not cease to put his foot in his mouth consistently, simply because he was given the authority to bind and to loose, the certitude that his authority is ratified from above, and the keys of the kingdom. He is, in fact, the perfect example from among the Apostles (those who did not hang themselves) of how the Lord shepherds his people despite their inadequacies. Why choose such men as our leaders? Because we are earthenware jars, and what overwhelming power and gifts are given become clearly of God, not of men.

I am often confusing in my arguments, so the Historical Christian's posts on the Holy Spirit's guidance and papal infallibility are must reads on this topic.

Lito's point has also made me rethink the problem with Rand's evangelical approach. It is in not allowing the possibility that those who disagree with him have something worth hearing, or that they have something to say. As Lito had told me a few years ago when I first told him about Rand, this approach may win arguments but never hearts.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Phariseeism and Pride

Mark Shea has a great post on phariseeism which got me thinking (a dangerous business, I know). Mark describes Phariseeism (with some cited material from the Catholic Exchange scripture study) thus:

  "The Pharisees, at their best, were people who were trying to remain faithful to the law of Moses as best they could. The problem was that the law of Moses could make no one holy. It could merely say, "This is defiling". Consequently, Pharisees constructed a vast system of protections against all the defiling things in the world..
Under the old law, ritual defilement was intended as a kind of sign or shadow. It was meant to show us in our pride that we could not, by our own strength and power, keep ourselves clean from sin. The power of sin is greater than our power of sanctity. So the Pharisees understand sanctity in only one way: separation. ...
And so they separate themselves from the Gentiles, from touching the dead and dying, from lepers, and from menstruating women. They are right to see in these ritual prohibitions an image or sign of lifelessness. But they are wrong to conclude that by separating themselves they can avoid the sin which ritual uncleanness signifies. And so in an ironic way, they take the mirror of ritual uncleanness that God has given them in the Mosaic Law, and instead of seeing in it an image of their own uncleanness and defilement by sin, the turn it around and say to those around them, "See how unclean you are!""
This reminds me of my recent encounter with Rand, whose parting shot (by email) included these unforgettable words:
  "I know you care nothing for the Scriptures, Jeff. Despite your vehement objections. It is clear through your words. It is clear by the plain fact that you are a Romanist. ...
And that's why I cannot, and will not have anything to do with you anymore, Jeff. You, like so many other Romanists I know, are so self-deceived, so convinced that the carnal doctrines of men, invented by wicked popes throughout the centuries, are correct, that you place these above (far above) the plain teachings of Scripture. I'm ending this here, because your religion is blasphemous and profane, and I can't bear to read the wicked stuff.
So, this is goodbye Jeff. You are a false professor and a false teacher, and the Scriptures teach that I ought to stay clear of you, not humour you, or have anything to do with you [quotes 2 Tim 2:20-21]..
ps: I am 100% honest Jeff. No more e-mails, no more comments. They will be deleted on the spot. I'm not playing, I'm not on a power trip. This is my faith, and I will be true to it."
And all that over three comments in his blog and one email.

Is there some Phariseeism involved here? It seems like it, and not only over his specific abhorrence at my correspondences, but at his Calvinist background. He had long ago claimed that there is no Scriptural support for free will, which is consistent with a form of pessimism in which our salvation does not involve our will since we are totally depraved. Hence, that particular twist of predestination. But it also brings about the same problem of pride as in Phariseeism. The Pharisees appeared to have been obsessed with their cleanliness -- they were convinced of it. Hence, those who do not share their views are looked down upon, making it tempting perhaps to consider that that they (the non-Pharisees) are predestined to remain unclean forever.

While it is possible for such a person to admit to struggling with sin, that is a negligible matter when compared with the fact that they have been cleaned -- born again (as Rand said) -- and that state is (in his mind) irrevocable. His sins are therefore as nothing compared to mine, given that I have not yet been "saved".

  'Arrogance and pride. Yes. Of course. This charge is both hypocritical, and dare I say, cheap. Am I arrogant? Is there pride in my life? You bet. They are most definitely the most deceitful and wicked sins in my life. Now, here's a news flash for you Jeff: you have the exact same problem, without the blood of Christ taking your sin away. As I look through your comments, and this e-mail... are you not here affirming your "correct view", and thus, rejecting my "incorrect view". Tell me Jeff, do I visit your blog to set you straight? Am I so full of envy and pride, that I have to reach out over an ocean to show you how wrong you are? Time for a visit to the mirror perhaps?'

He even used the "mirror" metaphor. So if I offered my view in opposition to his, I am guilty of pride and arrogance. And every time he does the same thing to wicked, lying Romanists everywhere then he is .. only serving in the Lord's vineyard? What a horribly precarious perch when one can no longer allow the possibility of being wrong.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How does the Holy Spirit teach?

The Historical Christian posts a thought-provoking exegesis on how the Holy Spirit leads us unto all truth. There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit will do that (and thanks be to God for that), but the how is in dispute.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A dialogue of church signs

This is a must-read (or must-see). Quite funny.

[Thanks to The Catholic Report for this link.]

Brother and sister and mother

In today's Gospel reading (Matt 12:46-50; also see Mk 3:31-35 and Mk 3:21), the Lord makes this assertion:
 'Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.'
In the light of objections to Marian devotion (Catholic, Orthodox or otherwise), it becomes generally necessary to discuss the topic of our Lord's "brothers" (considering assertions of our Lady's perpetual virginity) and our Lady's state of grace or sinlessness.

But my son Justin, seven years of age, homed in on what was really important: "What is the will of our Father in heaven?"

What came to mind was the Father's command at our Lord's transfiguration (Lk 9:35):
 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'

Traditions of Christianity

Interesting post from a non-Catholic entitled "Tradition, Traditions and Controversy". In it, the blogger observes:

  "..equally true of the Calvinist segment. For us, the Bible is clear about those passages about predestination and providence, and human free will takes its place in that context. Our Sola Scriptura and theirs is the same, but our traditions lead to different conclusions. There is a sense, I think, that those of us who have moved from one persuasion to the other find ourselves not so much reading the Bible and realizing we were wrong all this time, but rather find that another tradition gives us the tools to understand parts of the Bible that were enigmatic to us."

But then the problem is by no means trivial. For if he speaks of traditions in understanding Scripture, what then is the basis for discerning which tradition is correct?

Dave Armstrong selling 11 e-books for $25

Dave Armstrong is a great writer and Catholic apologist. You can get a good preview of that in reading his blog: Cor ad cor loquitur. And then if you're interested in understanding more about the Catholic faith, his e-books are worthy investments.

Witness contradicting love: impossible

On to another scenario of the Christian witness, here is a lighter example of bad Christian witness. Tough language is not a problem. Love can be as tough as it has to be, since it must have truth at its side. But I'm talking about judging others without knowing them; preventing them from speaking from the heart (via commenting rules) because one does not care about what is in their heart; perhaps because one is only concerned about being right, and so no one is allowed to propose the possibility to the contrary. And there is a double standard imposed where opposing views must follow certain rules, which the blogger (and those who agree with his position) are excempt from, such as not treating the other parties like idiots.

The blogger is Rand, and the topic is the idolatry preached and practice in the Catholic faith. This is a valid concern because we do have icons and statues, and there are many who go to extremes when venerating the saints and attaching extreme significance to consecrated physical objects. My comments are in blue.


Many people don't understand the objection to the use of images. However, consider what we would think of someone who doted over a photograph of their dead spouse to the point that they saw in that photo a replacement of the person who was at one time flesh and blood. They might put the photo in a frame surrounded by candles and the like. Perhaps they might even speak to the photograph. We would most likely consider the person a bit sad, if not crazy, no?

Of course, I don't think that the commandment forbids the use of all "carved" images that represent "things". There would be no furniture, after all!
Franklin B | Email | Homepage | 07.16.07 - 11:29 pm | #

"but the Lord will judge all in righteousness and truth. Repent and believe on the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."

I will let the Lord Jesus Christ judge me and not you, Rand.

Dennis | Email | Homepage | 07.20.07 - 6:58 pm | #
He will judge- and those who serve a corrupt false "church" and bow to a living idol from the Vatican City will be judged for it. Salvation is not found in Romanism, it is found solely in Christ. Period.
pregador27 | Email | Homepage | 07.20.07 - 8:41 pm | #

Neither you nor Rand are the judge. It is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please let Him do the judging as it's not our place.

Just because you think it's idolatry does not make it so. Jesus Christ is the one who makes that call and for us to do the thinking for Him is prideful.
Dennis | Email | Homepage | 07.20.07 - 9:08 pm | #
Dennis, do you want to go and misquote Matthew 7 while you're at it? You speak from ignorance. We are taught to judge by God's Word. Read your Bible, or if you need one I can send you one. Skip the Apocyphra- it's not really Scripture.
pregador27 | Email | Homepage | 07.20.07 - 9:47 pm | #

You would do far better heeding to Pregador and my "judging", than to continue rejecting the plain teachings of Scripture. Don't worry, I'm all to aware that the final, and most meaningful judgment is to come, Dennis.

It's just hard to watch someone obstinately claim that he is alright, when he is, quite literally, doomed.

Repent and believe on the Gospel,
Rand | Email | Homepage | 07.21.07 - 12:02 am | #
Hi Rand!

The nature of idolatry goes beyond talking to, asking favors of, or greeting (feast days of martyrdom) the object of those icons and statues.

The comment rules won't allow me to say more. Please let me only ask that you please not treat Catholics like idiots who can't read the Bible. If we believe things in a way that seems incomprehensible, please grant the possibility that it simply requires more thought.

Jeff Tan | Email | Homepage | 07.21.07 - 11:30 am | #
"The nature of idolatry goes beyond talking to, asking favors of, or greeting (feast days of martyrdom) the object of those icons and statues."

A further application of Jeff's rationale:

The nature of immorality goes beyond thinking sexual thoughts, looking at pornography, or even some types of petting.

Or how about this:

The nature of lying goes beyond telling half-truths, little white lies, or not being forth coming toward authority.

I don't think I need to give any more examples. Jeff, please let me only ask that you please not treat ME like an idiot who doesn't understand Romanism and its disobedience to the Bible. If I believe things that seems incomprehensible, please grant the possibility that it simply requires the Second Birth, life in Christ Jesus.

Repent and believe on the Gospel,
Rand | Email | Homepage | 07.21.07 - 12:17 pm | #
Well.. given the commenting rules, I can't reply to this in substance..

I have repented of my sins, Rand, and do believe in the Gospel, and I have been reborn in Christ Jesus.

And I do not think you are an idiot, so you need not get hot under the collar. It doesn't make one an idiot to have misunderstood something. And that remains my position: that you misunderstand both the Catholic position and the Scriptural witness concerning idolatry. But you are not an idiot. I would only ask that you not dismiss all Catholics as idiots and intentional liars.
Jeff Tan | Email | Homepage | 07.22.07 - 11:03 pm | #

Poor Jeff, there is nothing you can reply that will make your position any less hypocritical and false.

You most certainly have NOT repented of anything, and definitely are NOT born-again. A person who is alive in Christ doesn't keep up idolatry in his/her life. You claim to be in Christ, but your words and actions make it clear that you are of the devil. The fruit is bad, the tree is bad (Matthew 7:17).

I know your position Jeff; and it is untenable. I know Romanism both in theory and in practice. It has been part of my life, and to a certain extent, it is still in my life (by contact with my family). You, as a Romanist, are an idolator and a liar. As the Scriptures put it: you were deceived and now are a deceiver. (2 Timothy 3:13)

Repent and believe on the Gospel of Jesus, not on the falsehoods invented by the papacy.
Rand | Email | Homepage | 07.22.07 - 11:28 pm | #
Well.. once again I can say nothing given your iron-clad commenting rules. I cannot quote Scripture and I cannot explain my position -- even as you treat me like an idiot and label me evil.

I do wish, however, that you would prayerfully examine your own attitude and behavior as well. Do they truly reflect Christ's regeneration? Are you speaking in love or triumphalism and hatred?

Are you acting as a person who is alive in Christ?

Peace be with you.
Jeff Tan | Email | Homepage | 07.23.07 - 10:35 am | #

The Witness and the Loss of Faith

Amy Welborn comments thoughtfully on the LA Times story of one man's journey and loss of fath. Once Evangelical, William Lobdell went through with RCIA and was stopped from entering the Catholic Church by the scandal of clergy sexual abuse. It is a sad story, but his journey is not yet over and we can pray that he and many who were similarly driven away from the Church will find the Prince of Peace at journey's end somehow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Marriage or Me?

This is a must-read from Charles Colson about me, myself and Marriage -- and why the "me" mentality contradicts Marriage.

Lex orendi

Liturgical prayers in the daily missal and the liturgy of the hours -- from the tradition of the ancient Catholic Church -- have started jumping at me lately. They suddenly seem to me to be great opportunities for non-Catholic Christians to better understand the Catholic faith. There is too much distrust of what Catholic apologists say for too many Protestants. I've encoutered this firsthand a few times, when I simply could not get through. So I think I'll start noting down what the liturgy of the Catholic Church has to say for the Church.

In this week's weekday celebrations of Mass, the opening prayer is short, sweet, and sure to raise Protestant eyebrows:

Let us pray that the gospel may be our rule of life.

God our Father, your light of truth leads us to the way of Christ.
May it guide us to always reject what is contrary to the gospel.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Of course, there are many who are not only non-Catholic Christians, but are staunchly anti-Catholic Protestants, and such excerpts will do nothing but be an occasion for conspiracy theories about deceptions and duplicity. But perhaps I can find at least one or two who are willing to examine the Catholic Church from the inside -- right at the heart of her prayer.

Mortification: works-righteousness or love?

Back in my Opus Dei days, mortification was a relevant topic. I never came close to becoming a numerary, but those three on-and-off years were blessed years anyway. As I told my wife, they were among my most peaceful. Mortification was a key element. It can be easily misunderstood as a means of earning my way to salvation, but that is far from what is taught.

Why delay that drink of water? Why shower in cold water? Why walk the extra mile? Why bite back that irritated retort? The clear lesson from St. Josemaria Escriva was that this was training. Training for what? The most succint answer came to me the other day while meditating on the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. Daily mortification is training for love by small exercises -- deliberately done for love.

Every ounce of pain and sorrow that the Lord endured, from birth to Calvary, was for love. We share that calling. The thought came to me that, one day, or perhaps in several occasions throughout our lives, the Lord will invite us to some considerable acts of love. Watching my wife's sacrifice with the kids, I know she has been called in a special way to acts of motherly love. My sisters go through the same with their children. Such occasions, where purely natural and human love would fail, is where supernatural and holy love is called for. Small acts of sacrifice -- mortification, or dying unto ourselves -- are the small exercises in preparation for those times. We must die to our self-love so that it does not hold us back from loving God and our neighbor. For love of our God, we want to be well-prepared for the opportunities that will come.

Some of the above mentioned exercise seem insignificant. But think about how we train up our children with small, seemingly trivial exercises, which turn out to be indispensable. Not because they are objectively important, but they are the necessary single steps to walk a mile, then two, and so on.

The Lord invites us to pick up our daily crosses, and I heartily agree that delaying a drink of water is nothing compared to holding back an angry retort. But any act, with a holy intention, with love as the inspiration and the rule, becomes a supernatural act. Not in order to merit salvation, but rather to condition ourselves to love as the Lord wills.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Clarifying how the Church established by Christ subsists in the Catholic Church

The Holy See clarifies why it uses the word "subsists" rather than "is" when Lumen Genium declared:

  "This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity."
Why is this being clarified today? Papa Benedict has been steadily and firmly working towards visible Christian unity. The recent motu proprio which clarifies the perpetual validity of the Tridentine Rite also points out the unacceptability of broad and liberal experimentation with the liturgy. This reaches out to those who reject the Novus Ordo because of grave liturgical abuses of the past generation or so. This clarification on Lumen Gentium is also relevant to the same people, some of whom protested at the word "subsists", so strong was/is their need to reject false ecumenism that was grounded on politeness and relativism. This also reaches out to the Orthodox Churches, our sisters in the East. But how do Protestants react in the way they are addressed? I guess we'll have to wait and see if they react at all. In any case, I think the clarification is about being precise, which is a necessary ingredient in true dialogue anyway.

Updates: A very good follow-up at the blog of Fr. Philip N. Powell. The Pertinacious Papist identifies a very good Evangelical response. And Lito at extra nos says "I told you so".

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Glory of God

A very good explanation of the quoted verses from the preceding blog post:

  "All lack the glory of God. God is not satisfied with the actual state of humankind, even if the latter feel quite satisfied with their mediocre condition. He calls us to share his Glory, that is, everything in God that makes him great, happy and everlasting. God has created us to bring us into communion with him, and as he is out of reach, he reaches out his hand to us and makes us just (v.21). ... when Paul speaks of the justice of God, he means God's way of making us upright [in] his eyes. God makes us just and holy.

One of the things I've noticed lacking in some Protestant thought is a bit more hope, an appreciation of the totality of God's love for us. As I've heard Dr. Scott Hahn say in one of his talks, God not only declare us to be righteous: he makes us righteous. Why stop at covering our dunghill with snow when he can change our dunghill into purest snow inside and out? A new heart and a new spirit -- that's how far he goes when he makes us righteous, so that he can truly say to the righteous at the end of time, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you.." because not only are the blessed declared to be just, they truly have become just -- even in action: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'" (Matthew 25:34-36)

God's targets are beyond us, but he can afford to raise them so high because he knows exactly what his Holy Spirit is capable of in his children whom he raises up in holiness. As St. Josemaria Escriva quotes in The Way, our souls were bought at a great price, and that redemption in the blood of the Lamb is more potent than our weakness.

The commentary goes on about faith:
  "Now confronting all those who think they are worthy before God because of their own efforts, because they fulfill all the commandments, Paul says: true holiness must be given to us. For there is no other righteousness or holiness than sharing the perfection and love that are in God himself."
I am glad that we repeat certain crucial short prayers or verses during certain crucial moments of the Mass. For example, anticipating the partaking of holy communion, the faithful repeat the centurion's sentiment of humility and trust: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive thee, but only say the word and I shall be healed." This is a holy gift, the body and blood of our Lord in the Eucharist, and this is a holiness that is given graciously to sinners who are not worthy, and will never be worthy in and of themselves. But there is total trust, and so we open ourselves to receiving this gift of holiness -- by faith.
[Commentary comes from the Christian Community Bible, Catholic Pastoral Edition, Claretian Publications, Philippines, 1997.]

Verses to make Catholics tremble

Imagine the shock running through my Catholic bones when I found this verse (Romans 3:23-25) in my shortened breviary, which was given to me by Sister Roma a few years ago:

  Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they have been justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God has set up as an expiation for sins in his blood, which is received by faith.
Okay, it was no shock. It just made me wonder again what my Evangelical Protestant friends would think about the Liturgy of the Hours. How perplexing it must be when they find that the verses that supposedly nail Catholicism as a fraud were, rather than swept under the rug, included in her liturgy from ancient times until the present. This musing only makes sense, of course, if one is familiar with the Chickean proposition that Catholics are not allowed to read Scriptures as a rule.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fair is fair ... Really?

One of the greatest things about having kids is the amazing opportunity for learning from them. My eldest Justin is still grappling with the notion of fairness. I recently had to explain to him what crab mentality meant. It's an idiom which I've heard used back in the Philippines as a challenge not to engage in such thinking. For Justin, it is a pained and impassioned assertion that "if I can't have it, then so can't he!" And little brother Patrick is starting to use that line as well. It can be frustrating to have to explain the way this doesn't work to my kids, and I still struggle to be calm each time (I have a temper). It's usually more amusing than frustrating when I see adults use the same kind of thinking for a lot of things:

  • I'm doing it, so they probably are, too!
  • If I can't do it, then they can't possibly do it!
  • I can't be sure, and neither can you!
Amusing -- until they happen to use it as a club to beat you senseless from their online or TV soapbox or, worse yet, from parliament. May we be delivered from such crustacean logic -- and I apologize to my dearly departed pet lobster of many years ago for that unintended insult.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Iconoclasm as a suppresion of Christianity

Excellent post at the Historical Christian blog about the subject.

[Source of Link: The Catholic Report.]

In Communion with Peter

This is amazing. As palliums are conferred to archbishops, Orthodox delegates are present. What a sign of hope!

[Source of link: The Catholic Report.]

The Latin Mass: Why?

As Dr. Robert Moynihan points out,

 [Pope Benedict] is not concerned with Latin in itself. His respect for the "old Mass" is not a nostalgic cultural attachment to an ancient language. No, Benedict is concerned about the essence of the Mass itself.

And what is that essence? The right worship of God.

I was conversing with others at a recent parish council meeting, and the subject came up. I did put in my own misgivings about some who seemed fixated on Latin for the Mass, but now I see that this isn't generally the case -- at least, not for Papa Benedict. It really is right worship that is at stake.

I've always been fond of Latin in liturgy. I have yet to attend a Latin Mass, but I have attended Benedictions in Latin back in college, and they were solemn and beautiful. Did I understand what I was chanting or singing? In time, I did, since I had the English and Latin text side by side in my booklet. It didn't take me long to learn the Rosary in Latin, either (the Spanish training helped immensely). This is really no different to attending Mass in English as a child (the norm at our parish when I was growing up), whereas we spoke in Filipino or Chinese at home. Of course, it helped that English was used in primary school, but perhaps if we had Latin in primary school, too?

And there is that valid point about inappropriate liturgy, which I didn't really see back home, but definitely saw here in Australia --- and as I've seen footages, much worse occur in the US. Some make me wince, groan, even pray for deliverance. Why is this so important? Is this aesthetics? No. It's "right worship of God." Either you revere him completely or you don't. God need not command that reverence. We simply owe that to Him in gratitude and love.

A happy thought elicits a smile, but a smile is also capable of eliciting a happy feeling. That's just how it works. And irreverent liturgy is capable of diminishing what we think of our God. It really is that simple. Sadly, as much as I love the English language, it is hardly the most reverent in 21st century usage. So much has become ambiguous and tainted with strange double meanings that it is very easy to lose the proper liturgical meaning in English.

So who's afraid of the motu proprio on the Latin Mass? No one should be. The vernacular Novus Ordo is not being replaced; it is only that the Latin Mass may now be used without the priest having to jump through episcopal hoops to obtain permission to do so. Amen to that.

[Link source: The Catholic Report.]

The hand on the plough

Last night, we watched "Spirited Away" on DVD, and one of the lessons I explained to my kids was to finish what you've started. This from Kamaji telling Chihiro to do so after she had picked up a heavy piece of coal in order to rescue a sootball trapped underneath. Chihiro then proceeded as told, to bring the coal to the incinerator, completing what she had begun. Today's readings (oddly enough) say the same thing. The first reading (1 Kings 19:16 - 21) relates how Elijah appointed Elisha as an apprentice, and Elisha had first asked to go and say goodbye to his parents. The great prophet pointed out that he had to make a hard choice. In the second reading (Galatians 5:1 - 18), St. Paul exhorts us:

  When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

This, too, is about finishing what was started, in this case, what was started in us by baptism: our justification. As was the Lord's words in the Gospel reading (Luke 9:51 - 62):

  ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’.

Stories of cafeteria Catholicism or Christianity-lite in general are always sad. It's easy to fall into the trap of taking our calling for granted. That's why I do admire people such as Cardinal George Pell, Pope Benedict XVI and the late Pope John Paul the Great -- and there are countless others leading families and churches/congregations/orders -- who understand that the Lord's calling is nothing trivial. St. Josemaria Escriva was wont (it seems to me) to present the seriousness and gravity of the Lord's calling, and he was entirely right to do so. How can the Lord's calling ever be considered anything but a clarion call to arms when so much is at stake? It is easy to forget, especially in comfortable societies such as here in Australia, that our Christian calling has always been and is always a call to war, when good must confront evil -- in ourselves and around us -- and win. And we have in our arsenal faith, hope and love, and among our ammunition is prayer, and they all as their source and object the king of kings, the lion of Judah! But in any struggle, commitment and perseverance is crucial. When we slow down in our momentum towards Heaven, there is always the danger of letting distractions divert us from our goal -- to see the face of God and live!

Regnare Christum volumus: we want Christ to reign!