Universalis, About this blog

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Covenant or Contract?

My understanding of this topic is far from thorough, so this may not make much sense. But the two non-equivalent concepts came to mind today, for no particular reason, then a few other thoughts came to mind. A covenant is supposed to be an exchange of selves, whereas a contract is an exchange of goods or services perhaps. Catholics, in particular, have a very strong sense of two things: marriage as normally indissoluble and the Church as indivisible. Hence, marital divorce and subsequent remarriage is not permitted, and apathy towards the oneness of the Church is unacceptable. In both cases, we have God's covenant(s) with his people as a model. Throughout all of Israel's lapses to infidelity, God remained faithful. What does that mean? Didn't He supposedly replace Israel with Christians? By no means, as St. Paul might say. In reading the New Testament, it is a key concept that, in Christ, the new fulfills rather than abolishes the old. The covenants remain, but in fulfillment. Rather than junk the covenant as God to Israel, He brings it to fruition in the new covenant. Two things occurred to me about Protestant Christianity -- loosely applied, considering that there is no singular Protestant position: (1) leniency in divorce and subsequent remarriage, and (2) a very relaxed notion of one universal Church. Could the two be related to the notion of contracts rather than covenants? Hmm... does that make any sense?? So the notion of a divorce -- in marriage as well as in a schism -- is unthinkable because covenants are unbreakable. How so? Well, if a covenant is an exchange of selves, and God entered into a covenant, wouldn't that mean that it is an infinite and perfect giving on the part of the infinite and perfect God? Therefore, while God stands (which is forever), the covenant stands. Since the Church extends through time as well as space, then the covenant covers the saints who have gone before. Having been perfected in the past, e.g., through martyrdom by God's grace, then the Church will also never totally defect, since that is now impossible for the saints in Heaven, already in God's presence. But that speaks of the Church triumphant in Heaven, not the militant on Earth, doesn't it? Well, which Church on earth claims such strong bonds with, or even speaks of, the saints in Heaven? Which Church claims an indissoluble and uniting bond among its members, and sees itself as a family rather than a group of like-minded believers? That does not make for a solid case, though, but it can be indicative... Aahhh.. 1 am blog posts can be confusing..

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Christian Disunity and the Good News of the Kingdom

Today's Second and Gospel Readings jumped out at me because my wife has just told my children that she is not Catholic. They haven't asked too many questions about it yet, but it will come, and it won't be easy to navigate these waters.
 I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chlo'e's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apol'los," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? .. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.(1 Cor 1:10-13,17)
 Now when [Jesus] heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Caper'na-um by the sea, in the territory of Zeb'ulun and Naph'tali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
"The land of Zeb'ulun and the land of Naph'tali,
toward the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles --
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned."
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb'edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb'edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
(Mt 4:12-23)
I don't think anyone can claim that St. Paul was only concerned about the unity among Corinthians, one congregation. Nor that it was a minor matter, nor that a unity in name only, or on a subset of beliefs and practices only. As the Lord prayed repeatedly,
 ".. that they may be one, even as we are one.. that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. .. that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." (Jn 17)
It is important! These are heartfelt words of St. Paul and the Lord himself, and I am living them now! This unity is inextricably linked to the Good News that we should proclaim in how we live, how we follow Christ, and what we preach. Disunity casts a shadow upon the Good News, and it is a cause of great sorrow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bed and Breakfast owners fined

.. for turning away gay couple [LifeSiteNews.com]. This jumped out at me:

Judge Rutherford acknowledged that the Bulls had good reason to want to preclude what they regarded as immoral sexual activity in their home, but commented, “Whatever may have been the position in past centuries it is no longer the case that our laws must, or should automatically reflect the Judaeo-Christian position.”

Does it mean that the couple has no right to live according to their Judaeo-Christian position? It is one thing to say that the government should not be run by any particular religion, which I can accept, but it is another to say that citizens cannot have religion.

Pope explains 4 keys to ecumenical work

.. which he ascribes pithily to this verse in Acts 2:42: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” [CatholicCulture.org]

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What every Catholic can learn from Steve Jobs

.. according to Eric Sammons, is to focus the benefits in sharing their faith. This is almost a note-to-self for me because I can get carried away by what's under the hood. Sometimes I can't help myself; the details provide so much insight and can be absolutely amazing. But .. it's about evangelizing, so it's not about what excites me, but what might excite the audience.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

About this blog

As I have recently informed family and friends recently about this blog, it is probably appropriate to explain a few things about this blog.

Why? I started this blog years ago as I began to journey deeper into my Catholic faith. This was mostly prompted by my having fallen in love with, married and now have four children with an Evangelical Protestant. But that was just the beginning. Back in college, I was aware of the growing Evangelical presence within the university. Soon after the Internet became prominently part of life (and my career), my eyes were opened to the distressing scandal of schisms and heterodoxy among Christians. Over the years, the distress seemed to focus into a calling. I started this blog mostly (I think) to collect my thoughts on the subject matter, but also to reach out to those who might drop by. It is my prayer that, by God's grace, I may participate in the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing Christianity back into reasonable and visible communion.

How? I offer my thoughts and my prayers. I offer my time to prayerfully research matters of division that should not be. I believe (as many do) that most people hate what they think is the Catholic Church, but is, in reality, a misrepresentation of it. It is not my place to judge people and groups, and may I never do so. My sincere belief is that most branches of non-Catholic Christianity are on the right track but are sorely missing essential elements of the deposit of faith that comes down to us through the Apostles. Thus do they miss out on the fullness of Truth that Christ wills and willed for us to all share within the Church.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Busy no-op

From today's Office of Readings:

man passes away, like a shadow. Nothingness, although he is busy:

What keeps me busy? It is incredibly easy these days to be constantly doing something. This age of technology presents man with so many possible distractions, but only one thing is important, a certain Martha was told once. Why do I blog so much when there is so much more to gain in praying the Scriptures, or other spiritual reading? Why the online games? Why spend an hour everyday on the news? Where is my treasure? I seem to surround myself with so much activity that I hardly have time to think beyond the moment...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Singing the Mass

.. an interview with Jeffrey Tucker (NCRegister.com) where this jumped at me:
  .. with liturgical music. Church music uses free rhythm that always points upwards in the same way that incense is always rising. This assists our prayer. Secular styles of music, in contrast, use rhythms that elicit temporal thoughts and emotions. Rock music points to nothing outside of itself, so it does not belong anywhere near the liturgy.
While I do love some contemporary and Rock music (and bands), he has a point: liturgy is prayer, and should point up above, not to ourselves nor things down here. There's ample opportunity to enjoy and even be inspired by those kinds of music outside of sacred liturgy.

Study: Contraception use up, abortions double

.. and researchers can’t figure out why (Jill Stanek). Perhaps because, as other researchers have found, the problem is behavioral.

Monday, January 03, 2011

A father's joy

My 11-year old son and I went to Mass this morning (Monday) because we were unable to receive Holy Communion yesterday, having missed the hour-long fast. I did tell him that it was not obligatory that he receive at every Sunday Mass, although it would be good whenever possible. He said he understood, but insisted that he wanted to receive today. This was no small thing because we would otherwise get up late during these school holidays.

Watching him serve at the altar, I was reflecting on his response to the Holy Spirit, on my fatherhood and that of God. A staunch Calvinist once asserted that there is no such thing as free will. What does this doctrine say about the goodness of God? The idea that He would limit his children to act only upon divine "programming" -- without free will -- is unthinkable (David Armstrong on soteriology and creation here).

Today my son responded to grace, I believe, and while the grace is God's, the will to respond was his. He is growing in faith, into an obedience of faith, and it is as joyous to behold as it is inspiring to me.

First Anglicans are received into the Catholic Church

in a historic service (Telegraph). Many would say that such conversions are unnecessary, but I think that it is always about conversion. Hearts must turn to God in such a way that the communion of saints in Christ is not just a loose confederation of like-minded Christians. Christ alludes to his unity with the Father (Jn 17) in what can only be a perfect unity. Such unity can brook no contradiction that is simply ignored. Distinctions, yes. Different charisms and ministries, yes. But contradictions should be unthinkable, but there it is. This is not to deny the work of the Holy Spirit among every stripe of Christianity. But we are ignoring Christ's will that we may be one if we leave things alone, thinking that unification will come without a cross. These courageous former Anglican bishops know that cross very well, but they took it up anyway, for the love of Jesus Christ.
.. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. .. "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.