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Friday, April 18, 2014

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and the Last Supper

The readings for Holy Thursday cite two different acts of Jesus that evening before Gethsemane: the institution of the Eucharist, and the washing of his disciples' feet. The first is obviously important when you accept the Eucharist as a sacrament. The second is not so obvious, but praying about it, I can offer some thoughts. The obvious significance is two-fold: humility and service, but there seems to be more. In the opening verses, we are told that Jesus was aware that the hour had come: he was soon departing out of this world to the Father, and he who loved his own -- his disciples -- in this world would now show how perfect his love was. One translation says that "he loved them to the end." Here is Jesus preparing to leave, but his disciples would have a long way yet to walk this life, in this world. They have been prepared previously, washed and thus "clean all over" as he tells Peter who wanted to be washed all over. Jesus points out that only his feet now needs washing. Why? I think it's about the journey. Just as they need food to sustain them, they need to wash the dust and dirt off their feet. Getting them dirty is inevitable along the way, just as are the scars, wounds and even the corruption of the world that opposes Christ. We need to clean them up as soon as we're aware of them, and who better to notice than someone else, an objective party who can see what you cannot. This service is also part of communion. So, food for the journey in the Eucharist, and washing the dust off one another in the meantime. Jesus makes these provisions in his compassion because he knows we'll need them, and like a good parent, he prepares his children not only to do this for themselves but, more importantly, to do this for one another. To me, this means not only the receiving the Eucharist, but celebrating the Eucharist as a community, within which we can serve one another, such as in encouraging one another, instructing one another and providing spiritual direction: a one-on-one ministering in the interior life and apostolate. I am grateful to have a director, and hope to serve others likewise if they'll have me, but I don't know if I am ready yet.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Relativism: pulling the rug from under truth

At least that's what seems to be the case in this story about Sister Jane Laurel, OP. What happens when a Catholic nun, a highly qualified teacher of the faith, expounds on that faith as had been taught by the Church for ages? Apparently, with enough of the audience having picked and chosen which parts of the faith they subscribe to (read: relativism), there is an uproar. Why? Because it's every Catholic for himself or herself, apparently. They believe only what they want to believe, which is ridiculous in the Catholic faith.

Well done, Sister Jane and Bishop Jurgis. Fr. Z is right: if we are to be faithful to Christ, we are in for a fight. Since the problem is so much falsehood, it makes sense to wield the singular weapon of Truth. Sadly, it is an in-house fight to begin with, delaying the fight which should be taken out there instead.

Nabuchadnezzar: pride distorts us

If you refuse to worship it, you will be thrown into the fiery furnace; and where is the god who can save you from my power? An outsider will see how ludicrous this statement is. Yes, the king has immense power, but even then, he would know that he not a god -- until a certain insanity sets in. It is called pride. It is an insanity that brings about delusions of grandeur, and the danger is that it is built on falsehood, a distortion of one's assessment of self. These words infuriated King Nebuchadnezzar; his expression was very different now.. in other times, this king seemed reasonable enough, but injured pride, especially for one holding such a distorted self-estimation.. He throws a kingly tantrum. Such is pride. The scary thing is that, along with other virtues, we don't seem to instill humility in our children anymore. Being nice, yes. Humble, no? Humble is seen as backward and harmful, when in fact, being humble (based on truth) is being honest. And don't get me started on truthfulness...

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Nature and Grace

Book 2, Chapter 54 of The Imitation of Christ, contrasts sharply what it refers to as "nature" and grace. The former cannot be contrasted thus, as something oppositional to grace, if it was something that God created. As one of my favorite writers, Mark Shea, would point out, the human nature that God established from the beginning was good. The problem is sin, because it perverted humanity, so that sin makes us gravitate away from God. I would join Mark in saying that the sins we commit are not due to our human nature, for that which God created was entirely designed to cooperate with grace. It's the gaping wound to human nature that gets us, but let us never forget that God made us good to begin with. That is who we are meant to be.