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Monday, May 27, 2013

The Truth, The Lie and the Last Battle - Troy Hinkle

Troy Hinkle posts his reflections on current events in comparison with C. S. Lewis' "The Last Battle", and he hits a few home runs, I think. When I read that last Narnian book years ago, and when I read it again more recently, I remember that the unfaithful dwarves struck me the most: their cynicism and apostasy after having being confronted with the truth, their disillusionment and weariness from Shift's lies, they filled me with no small amount of dread because their reaction was understandable. I remember thinking, Who can blame them? But then I realize as well that they are not innocent of wrongdoing either. There is something wrong with the fact that they went along with atrocities that they would surely have known to be evil acts. Sure, they got tired of the lies that had caused their lives so much bitterness and injustice, but they also got so lazy that they were no longer interested in the truth -- and that is something we must never tire of seeking: Truth. No matter how bad things get, we must never think that the truth no longer matters. It always matters, and it does exist! The great irony is that many who would claim to be enlightened, rational intellectuals contradict this truism by subscribing to relativism.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Catholic growth in US Bible Belt states

according to this NCRegister article. This remarkable observation from someone in the area struck me: 'it is easier for Northern Catholics to take their faith for granted because most of their friends belong to the Church. “It doesn’t really challenge the Catholics there to know their faith as well or be able to explain it clearly..'

Challenges can be very good for the faith, no?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coptic Pope stresses urgency of Christian unity at Vatican :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

"The Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt met with Pope Francis at the Vatican and spoke about the urgent need for unity among Christians in the Middle East. “We must prepare our people for this very real and needed unity that we know and live, we must work quickly and seriously,” said Pope Tawadros II in May 10 remarks provided to CNA by his office." More from the Catholic News Agency (CNA)
When I read stories like these, I often wonder how the world would have fared if we were able to live the unity of one Church on earth that Jesus prayed so fervently for (Jn 17):

.. 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 (one) 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.

Christian Hip-Hop?

The cover story at Christianity Today asks if Christian Hip-Hop can call American church back to the gospel -- not referring to Catholics, of course. My first thought was that this cannot posibly fit into liturgy, but, to be fair, Evangelicals do not share the original meaning of the word "liturgy" anyway. I suppose that any form of art, if truly uplifting and inspirational, can be used to glorify God. Setting word to rhyme can be good for many, but never in the Eucharistic celebrations of the Mass, of course. I've often thought that a Catholic parish that is Christ-centered in the Eucharist primarily, and the other sacraments, can bear much fruit with other communal celebrations, including prayerful song -- maybe even Christian hip-hop, -- outside of the Mass. Thoughts, anyone?

How the West Really Lost God -- Dr. Mary Eberstadt

How the West Really Lost God | Crisis Magazine -- Austin Ruse summarizes a remarkable thesis, perhaps unheard of, that the West lost its faith beginning with the weakening of the family as an institution. It is worth considering that a moment (and even more so, reading Dr. Eberstadt's book. Raising a family is indeed challenging to one's faith, and the size of that family is proportional to the challenge, but does faith not grow stronger, by God's grace, the more it is challenged? Indeed it does, as anyone who has allowed oneself to be challenged would know. No pain, no gain, right? We mature with every challenge that we meet (and perhaps fail to mature with every one we run away from -- assuming there was a choice). My children being young, I know there is so much more awaiting us than my wife and I have already encountered. But these, so far, with deep gratitude for the assistance of God and the loving friends and family he has surrounded us with, have both challenged and enriched us. How we get by is no small miracle.

And such contempt for big families, by the way, is no longer unexpected even here in Melbourne. The mindset of two-children families appears to be typical fare. We get stared at openly when we have all four children with us out and about. It no longer bothers me. My wife has been told more than once that we have too many -- four kids!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Learning to love Heaven

It’s not as automatic as you think , according to Msgr. Charles Pope. Indeed, if Heaven is a place of complete happiness, then everything Jesus said about that in the Beatitudes must be front and center. As I have much to learn about being meek and poor in spirit, having hunger and thirst for righteousness, loving peace, purity of heart, entrusting my heartaches and grief to God and perseverance in persecution, then I have a lot of work and learning to do, and who knows how much time I have left?

Friday, May 03, 2013

Reflections on the Crucifixion: the Other thief

We often cite the good thief on the cross next to Jesus as a good example of repentance and of Christ's mercy, but something about the other thief struck me today as I meditated on the fifth sorrowful mystery of the holy Rosary. The taunts and desperate pleas of the unrepentant thief seemed to me akin to the temptations we face, sometimes daily, to walk away from our commitments to our spouse, our family, to love them regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. I know these temptations well, and it doesn't have to be about walking away completely. Even walking away from today's commitment to be supportive, to be patient, that already falls into this mindset of 'me' rather than 'them' who depend on us. Yes, we may be in great pain, and what would it cost to give ourselves a little comfort, a break from our commitment, even for just a day? Nothing wrong unless it costs our family something that they truly need. What that might be would vary, but I am keenly aware that the small breaks I give myself, by shutting out my family just a bit can, little by little, accumulate towards aloofness, alienation, indifference. If I could find a way to give myself a break while maintaining good relations with them, such as in playing a game with my children that I enjoy as much as they do, I should. But to shut myself away at a moment when they need me -- that may well be the beginning of walking away. Christ on the cross would have been tempted to at least ease his pain a little -- he did not deserve any of it, after all. Why didn't he? Here was a man truly committed to his Bride, his Church; to the family he gathered to himself. He didn't deserve any of the pain he endured at the hands of our sins, but he took it upon himself to defeat it by embracing it to the very end, every lash and cut and bruise, every spit and insult -- and every temptation to walk away, and he stayed the course. Why? So that sin would be crushed completely, absolutely, even to the last loose end. In other words, to make for total victory. I believe that we who are united with him in his body and Holy Spirit are called likewise to such a battle and absolute triumph. When we hear the taunts, or even the reasonable suggestion to give ourselves a break, we should consider what it costs the ones who depend on us and whom we are called to love. Perhaps with a little creativity, with due consideration for our need for a break and their need for our love, we can find a middle ground, one that does not sacrifice their needs and our commitment for the sake of wanton selfishness. Not that it would be easy, but we are not called to go easy. We are called to be faithful, loving and confident in hope.