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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Catholic Answers needs help

Please donate to this worthy cause for evangelization. We are all called to evangelize, but not all of us can be high profile, high impact evangelists. That's what Catholic Answers provides, and we can assist them in the work that Christ calls us to.

Justification debate

Read about it at Christianity Today, involving Pastor John Piper and Anglican bishop N. T. Wright. David at Sentire Cum Ecclesia covers some of the latter's views in this blog, which homes in on the distinction between "life after death" and "life after life after death". Confused? Follow the links above and think about it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Movie Review: The Blue Elephant

This was a good movie to watch. Notwithstanding some puzzled comments in Amazon and this blog, its flaws are in the production itself, e.g., some of the lines and dialogue were dry. The story itself is a good one. It includes some perhaps 16th century episodes in the history of Siam and Burma, but the war itself is not glorified. The critique suggests this, and seems to deliberately miss the professed point of war in the movie. The good prince in the move states clearly that they go to war, not because they want to, but because they have to. It is a twisted view of life and reality to actually denigrate self-defense as something to be ashamed of. The movie was also clear in differentiating the evils of aggression against the necessity of self-defense.

On another note, my kids enjoyed the movie, and I think they appreciate the message of the movie. I have no intention to raise extreme pacifists. While I teach them to avoid fights, and never to start them, I am not about to raise them up as victims. It's a tough world out there, and they cannot find happiness and peace as doormats. Of course, I'd have to teach them as well that it is God's right hand that brings victory in the end, not the strength of horses. I just have to find the opportunities for that lesson.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Twists and Cheap Imitation

I'd often marveled at how much of the crazy world out there is based on "almosts": almost true, almost good, almost rational. Tolerance is almost charity, but not quite. New age spirituality is almost about spirituality, but not quite. Pacifism is almost about peace, but not quite. Euthanasia is claimed to be about dignity, but not really. Today we have almost-marriage, almost-happiness, almost-equality, all just twisted and cheap imitations of the real thing.

Christ is the real thing. Charity goes where Tolerance dares not: charity risks one's self, and goes beyond lofty words. Christ offers the Holy Spirit, which is holiness and life. Christ offers peace that comes through charity and justice. Christ makes death a way in, not a way out. With Christ, because of love, suffering and death have meaning -- and through love, so does life. With Christ, marriage is a sacrament, a covenant giving of entire persons, not simply contract with strings and opt-outs. With Christ, happiness is eternal, and it is not about fleeting pleasures, but is about being who we are meant to be. And with Christ, there is true justice, not a lazy attempt that only bears a resemblance.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The fullness of God: don't settle for less

This evening prayer's antiphon, taken from the first Psalm of tonight, Psalm 136 (137), cries with a passion that we should all share: If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Given that Jerusalem is a foreshadow of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of our hope, this sentiment brought to mind with some regret how we often settle for less. Settling for accolades from men, putting our ultimate trust in human reason, settling for purely natural notions of beauty and goodness, lust instead of love, material instead of Heavenly wealth. How ironic when the Lord seeks to give us abundance and fullness. In the evening prayer's reading, St. Paul wrote (Col 3:16), "Christ's message, in all its richness must live in your hearts. Teach and instruct each other with all wisdom." There's too much in Scripture to quote which I don't even know off the top of my head (and any visiting reader might want to put them in the comments). But look at what he's given. The Hebrews wanted Saul, God gave -- not just David, nor Solomon -- but the Son of God. Many people believe in a spiritual resurrection, or a reincarnation. Christ promises a complete resurrection -- body and soul -- and Heaven.

With that offer on the table, how can we settle for less -- without even examining the offer thoroughly?

[Note: the readings above are based on Tuesday of the 4th week, rather than the vespers before the Feast of St. John the Baptist's birthday.]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Oh that we would stick to the truth

Some days, especially when it comes to TV or mainstream media, this seems to be wishful thinking... First order of business for anyone bent on destroying everything seems to be to make obfuscation an art form. A trendy, hip and popular art form.

From Eli Stone to Supernatural to the news, the boob tube is quick (or a quick and easy way) to portray truth as falsehood and vice versa. And people so easily take for granted what they see on TV. There is little inclination nor time to get to the truth. Or underestimating the effect of "a little" falsehood portrayed as truth on TV. Truly, how awful for those who do not hunger nor thirst for the truth!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Places in Heaven?

Mark Shea tackles a reader's question about this in his blog, and of course, great answer and comments. He quotes St. Thomas Aquinas ("I will have Thyself") and St. Therese of Liseux (who will take everything that God offers because she "will not be a saint by halves!"). For me, there are moments of blessed prayer when I almost whine in despair "but there's nothing else to desire!" Often this comes after repeating the Psalmist who says "Why cast down, my soul? Why groan within me? Hope in God, I will praise him still: my Savior and my God!" For some reason, this almost desperate admission makes me happy. :-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

but never despair

Today's First Reading is from 2 Cor 4:7-15, which includes these words of pragmatic reassurance:

 We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted, but never deserted; knocked down, but not killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body.

It struck me because these words of St. Paul were not assuring us of an easy life. Such would be meaningless to us because we all suffer difficulties. Far from the New Age gospel that blames our ills on our own "negative vibes", St. Paul tells it as it is: life is difficult, but God is with us. And the latter makes all the difference. As to why life is difficult, it would be senseless to blame it on any one single thing. It would be just as senseless to think that we will always have the answer. Quite often, we won't, but we need not despair. God is with us.