Universalis, About this blog

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Hierarchical Body of Christ

Someone I esteem highly told me tonight of her departure from the Church after a solid attempt to be Catholic for I think a year, and the part that the hierarchical nature of the Church played in her decision to leave. I believe this pertains to the perception of and lapses into officiousness in the Church via the parochial system of Catholic schools. It is a saddening revelation. It isn't the hierarchical structure that causes problems, as the structure itself is mandated by Christ and supported by the Biblical accounts of Israel's and the Church's organization. Officiousness would come from domineering, and an abuse of authority. Some of it may well be perception only, whereas lapses into it comes from human nature.

I've seen some of these lapses, and they are tragic, but should not put one off from the Church that Christ founded on Peter. This Church continues to minister the sacraments, through which life in the Holy Spirit is given to us. This Church continues to teach definitively, with the Magisterium coming from Christ's authority, and his insistence upon it.

Where else can one go? As the Son chose to be incarnated in flesh and blood, and to act upon the world in his body, the Church, why should it surprise us that the body, while yet being perfected on earth, is as presently human as we are?

Christians and Politics

Interesting report from WorldNetDaily. Very interesting quote from C.S. Lewis cited:

 Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says; we are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party ..

And while such an attitude exists among Christians, we are not presenting a very coherent witness to a world that is drifting more and more away from God. Much of what we got right in the past are still there in the formerly more Christian West, but without Christ at the true center, they will all have sand in their foundations.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rosary Reflections: Remembering Baptism

Meditating earlier on the Baptism of the Lord, the first Luminous Mystery, and I realized just how important it was to be reminded of our baptism frequently. Perhaps it's human nature, given that we are time-bound beings, that we fail to appreciate past events enough. Baptism is something that probably most Catholics do not remember, as they were very young then. Yet this sacrament that was not only instituted by the Son (whose disciples went baptizing soon after his own talking to Nicodemus about baptism), but participated in by him at his own baptism. I think I heard Mark Shea describe on one of his past podcasts how this baptism had the wondrous affect on the water: whereas Jesus did not need to be washed, justified and sanctified, the element of water was thereby itself blessed by him as an instrument of grace. And each baptism is of such significance that.. our lack of appreciation for it is tragic. By baptism, we were washed, justified and sanctified. Original sin was forgiven, we were made right with God and made his sons and daughters, and we receive in ourselves the Holy Spirit. Thus, called and gifted, we should then proceed like Christ on our mission. This mission is one of those things lost or underestimated as a consequence of neglecting the wonder of baptism. Hence we might proceed in life, marked and consecrated, ignorant of our calling, gifts unused, lives unfulfilled.

Which is why the inclusion of this Luminous Mystery in the Rosary is such a blessing. We should remember baptism often, and hear in our minds the wondrous words uttered from above to the Son: "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased." To think that the Father also said these words at our baptism is to remember who we are, and to confirm us in a life of mission.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fr. Bob: a question of will

There is, of course, the will of God as our ultimate guide. Ours is to conform to His, simply because, even by careful and painstaking analysis, especially with hindsight, His will trumps ours in all respects: efficiency, gains, timing, and so on.

There is the will of the Church, and likewise, the will of the (arch)bishop, speaking as the overseer of his diocese on behalf of the whole Church. This will is not of its own sovereign authority, but in lieu of the anointing by the Holy Spirit, it is taken to be conforming to the will of God. We can decide either way in Fr. Bob's case if the archbishop is himself conforming to and passing on God's will or not.

And then there is the will of Fr. Bob. That he would pit the will of the parish "elders" against that of the archbishop reveals a sadly rebellious spirit.

As for whether or not the archbishop (or canon law) is speaking the will of God or not, I suspect that the archbishop is being more prudent and discrete by not speaking of other reasons for Fr. Bob to retire. If only that he is beginning to confuse the Gospel and setting himself up as an idol, there is a very good reason for Fr. Bob to seek, not the will of his "elders" in the parish, but the will of God, the same God who instituted the office of bishops with his own authority and Holy Spirit.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Love demands honesty

Retired Bishop Rene Henry Gracida of Corpus Christi, shares the thoughts of Phil Lawler from Catholic World News, concerning the recently deceased Senator Edward Kennedy. It may seem disrespectful to call out the sought after conversion (back to the faith of his youth) from the late senator, but that sentiment comes from the same place where we dread to call out a living person to repentance and truth. It is a deceptive place. What might be thought to be love, preventing us from speaking truth to spare ruffled feathers, even genuine pain, is not love when it does not seek to save one who hurtles towards destruction.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Population, Environment, and Thinking Things Through

Or perhaps I should say "and the Sky Isn't Falling." I was at the cafe of the Science Centre at the university earlier, and it just so happened that there was this huge, framed page from The Age about population being a menace to the environment. There was a big picture, the silhouette of a pregnant woman, that had the caption "A growing problem", I think. What a difference a few years can make. Time was when The Age worried over the economic viability of Australia having a small population. The pendulum has swung the other way for some, I guess. My impression is that some folks in the more affluent countries are too pessimistic. Instead of valuing both the environment and human beings, and putting them together, they seem to see a conflict where there isn't necessarily one. I mean, rather than focusing on culling the human race, why not focus on educating the human race? They might think that shrinking the gene pool is good for the earth, but I wonder if they realize how many future champions of science, the arts and other fields they'll be eliminating from our future. If we now have a few leaders in the sciences have emerged to sound the alarm and do something about the environment, what can be achieved if we invest in more of them?

Oh and I just noticed that we see a lot of prominent people sounding the alarm with.. not exactly the right credentials. Here is a professor of reproductive biology sounding off on terrorism and climate disaster. Here's a poet, and here's a population expert in there talking about CO2 emissions. Don't get me wrong: I'm not a climatologist myself, which is why I can't go gung-ho on my own opinion and limited reading. But I can say that it is wrong to blame it on numbers (of people on the planet) and seek to resolve it by population control in any which way.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Reflections on the Sorrowful Mysteries

Earlier today, I visualized a certain transformation that should happen to us as we journey in faith. We begin our journey as sinners whose guilt rightly includes wrongdoing that the Lord atones for in his passion and death. So in meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries, it is our sins that unfold before Jesus, bringing him to tremble at the thought of his impending sacrifice. It is our sins that scourge him, and our hands that hold the scourge that flays and humiliates him in excruciating pain. Our idolatry of power, comfort, wealth and things of the world above right worship of God add to the thorns that adorn his crown, and add to the shameful verbal abuse of crying Ave! Ave Rex Iudaeum! with our hearts somewhere else. It is our sins that weighs down the cross that he resolves to carry through to Calvary anyway. It is our sins that nail him to the cross in a holocaust for our ransom.

But there is a transformation that should take place as we journey. The more we cooperate with grace and allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us, the more we participate in the passion and death of Christ. Since we are in the Body, that same body that suffered and died for us, then as we are willing, we unite our own sufferings with Christ. We participate in agonizing for souls, making their pain and suffering (due to sin) our own -- a work of compassion. We join our tribulations and persecutions with his, as he foretold we would encounter as his disciples, bearing the scars of scourging on our backs, and humbling thorns on our heads. We carry our daily cross, and bear the burdens of others too, as best we can. Finally, we mortify ourselves, dying to sin, dying to ourselves and concupiscence. And we experience the tremendous grace that the Father sends through the Spirit, because of love. The Sorrowful Mysteries come alive in our lives more and more as we allow them to, and by God's grace and mercy, we slowly switch sides. Rather than the perpetrators whose sins wound Christ, we become participants of Christ's sacrifice, sharing some of the pain and redemptive work of love in our lives, with the hope of thereby sharing in the glorious resurrection one day.