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Thursday, June 26, 2008

So what's new?

I am reading The Imitation of Christ and find it immensely edifying. The advice on admitting the distractions of the world around us is most apt. I suspect that a substantial amount of my time is wasted on such distractions, reading up news from at least three continents each day, a handful of my favorite blogs, writing my own blog posts ..

! oops

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Order and Discipline

It wasn't surprising that a 12-year-old would sue her own father for grounding her from a school trip for posting objectionable pictures of herself and chatting on websites against her father's objections. Just the logical conclusion of how things have been sliding down the politically correct slope where the superficial is replacing the substance of life, straining gnats while swallowing camels. Thankfully, the notions of order and discipline are intrinsic in human beings. Thus, there is hope, as when Kiwis have had enough of anti-spanking laws that take parenting away from parents.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Church of England no more?

The gospel has been attenuating in the Church of England, I suppose, but here is a turning point, an amplification of sorts:

  Dr Jensen said that the Global Anglican Future Conference was acknowledging that a new state of affairs existed within the worldwide Anglican communion, in which the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury was no longer considered dominant. "My way of putting it is to say that the British Empire has now ceased to be, and the British Commonwealth of Nations has come into existence, or the nuclear family has turned into an extended family. This is the new reality."

[Source: The Age, 22/06/2008

Dr. Jennings said that they held the conference in Jerusalem in order to discern "what God's mind is on certain matters" -- and that, I think, is exactly what makes it a turning point. Returning to the root of Church mission -- God's will -- is the only true guide. It won't be easy for the Anglicans (it hasn't been), but there is always reason to hope when that hope springs from faith in God.

The Language of the Liturgy

One might have thought it obvious that great care should be taken that the language used in worshipping the Almighty; that reverence and awe, focusing on the God we are adoring, is only fitting. So why are some bishops seemingly unhappy with endeavors along those lines? Happily, the arguments for maintaining the dignity of liturgical language are not hard to understand, and here given most excellently by Bishop Seratelli (with emphasis and comments by Fr. Z).

The arguments for keeping things simple, resulting in keeping them too simple, remind me of arguments for keeping doctrines simple, which results in watering them down. Like arguments for doing away with homework and examinations in schools, with the result of dumbing down education. They do the intended beneficiaries a disservice, condescendingly treating them as lesser beings than they really are. Baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ, his grace gives us the impulse to be raised up to Heavenly heights. That, after all, is our calling. And if this is not reflected in our liturgy, then we're in trouble, aren't we?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Casting pearls amongst the swines

Or, in this case, a dog. I cannot see the logic of giving a dog 10 or even 2 million dollars when starvation ravages many parts of the world. Exceedingly bizarre.

Right to Life Australia is Protesting outside the office Maxine Morand

From RTLA's mailing list:

The Brumby Government is attempting to redefine abortion from being a crime to a 'health procedure'. What is healthy about killing small babies and ruining their mothers' lives? Yet Maxine Morand, Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development and Women's Affairs - and a member of the notorious Emily's List - is guiding the Decriminalisation of Abortion Bill through Parliament.

This Minister is supposed to care for children and women!

We are going to let her know what we think of trying to pass abortion off as a 'health' item. Please come and join us outside Ms Morand's electoral office this Wednesday. Bring your children if you can!

WHERE: 1/40 Montclair Ave, Glen Waverley 3150 MEL 71 B2
WHEN: Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 18 at 11am

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Faith versus works

Or the dog that never barked, perhaps. Or the issue that never was.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio delivers as good an explanation as any, if not better, about this artificial confrontation between faith and works. Many Christians assert "faith alone, but this faith is never alone" (or some permutation), and still find fault in the Roman Catholic position. The obstinacy is sad and frustrating. There is already a common, orthodox understanding of faith and works, not as opposing systems but as necessary components of what is expected of us: a living faith. To nevertheless maintain that there remains a contention hides what the issue really is.

Whatever that/those might be, the disappointments, heartache and frustrations that brought them on are real.

There is the city on a hilltop

I feel less and less inclined to wade into ecumenical debates. There's been one brewing at Cum Ecclesia between the Catholic and Lutheran positions. The primary issues at hand are authority and the question of where the Church is.

I can't count the number of times that I had prepared a lengthy comment in the comment box only to find myself aborting the comment in the end. Not because I wasn't sure of what I wanted to say, but because my comments seem futile in the end. The Lutheran position does not hold much hope to me of dialogue. It is too subjective, it seems, and the Lutheran sentiment of one's unbending stand gets in the way.

In the end, lazy as it seems to be, I am inclined these days to simply lift my arm and point to the Church Magisterium: there she is, the city on a hilltop. Don't take my word for it, take hers. In any other Christian denomination, my interpretation of the Bible is the sure foundation of my arguments. In the Catholic Church, the interpretation of Scripture and Tradition that is offered by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church is the sure foundation. I have had the Iglesia ni Kristo or the Jehovah's Witnesses thrown at my face before, as an answer to this assertion of mine. Let me be clear then that I refer to Christian denominations who share the Nicene Creed and the pronouncements of the councils up to about the first millennium at least. Those who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, the closing of revelation with the death of the Apostles, the Trinity, the hypostatic union of Christ's nature.

In predicting the demise of Jerusalem, the Lord told his disciples to scatter away. Going against prevailing practice at that time, they were to depart from Jerusalem, rather than to hide within and wait out a siege. No such warning is recorded about the Church that he built on the rock of Peter. He declares a promise that asserts the opposite: "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." St. Paul confirms this when he calls the Church the pillar and foundation of Truth.

If you pose a difficult dogma to me, I'll point to that city on the hilltop. I may not understand everything she tells me, I may fail to uphold my avowed obedience to her judgments, but I trust my Lord, who told me to trust that city. Even if I don't feel like it, even when I don't understand it -- even when I feel like dissenting. You see, at the end of the day, I just don't feel comfortable with the idea that I know better than all those popes, bishops, clergy, scholars, doctors and ordinary Catholics down through the centuries. Even if I were to consider that many of those popes, bishops, clergy, scholars, doctors and ordinary Catholics were individually sinful, and perhaps often individually wrong in word and deed, I'd be loathe to dissent. The Lord has already warned of what fate awaits those false teachers and leaders. I shall observe whatsoever the Magisterium teaches, but there will be times when I shall not do as they (of the Magisterium) do. God have mercy on them if they cause scandal, but I shall not make of myself a rebel. Some hats are simply too big for my head.