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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What god is like our God?

My soul, give thanks to the Lord all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion,
who fills your life with good things,
renewing your youth like an eagle’s.

Psalm 102 (103)

It's not about the power to dominate kingdoms or in spectacular signs and wonders, but the power to redeem, heal, and renew to perfection. Down the centuries we've come to understand the heights of our achievements and the depths of depravity, so we understand that there is a difference. Jesus Christ remains entirely about empowering us to the fullness of human potential, beyond anything we can achieve without his help. The battle is and has always been in the human heart, in the core of our being, where Love - Caritas - makes us live a truly and perfectly human life.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Get-Pell: when journalist are no longer interested in the truth

In a few generations, people will think back to this one and marvel at the utter disregard for the truth - all for the sake of sensational news, fame, wealth, power. Whatever the motivation, it is no longer about serving the truth, nor serving anyone, for that matter. It is the greatest irony that these so-called journalists would employ deceptive reporting to cover this royal commission, a massive undertaking to discover the truth and, based on truth, apply justice for all concerned. Deceptive, lazy journalism is deeply unjust since the journalists claim to serve the lofty ideal of truth while employing half- and omitted truths in order to serve up nothing less than untruths.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Looking on him whom we have pierced

Spiritual Canticle of St John of the Cross:

Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.

  Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians "not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God."

On one hand, how many Christians are led away from the cross with the error of looking for a utopian life here, finally rejecting their faith when it cannot be found nor established? On the other hand, how close is the Lord or God to the humblest of people whose lot in life is to learn to bear a cross everyday, but that they should remain steadfast therefore.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

What god is like our God?

Q: What is the measure of God's power?
A: Love

Isaiah 40:25-31
‘To whom could you liken me and who could be my equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look. Who made these stars if not he who drills them like an army, calling each one by name? So mighty is his power, so great his strength, that not one fails to answer. How can you say, Jacob, how can you insist, Israel, ‘My destiny is hidden from the Lord, my rights are ignored by my God’? Did you not know? Had you not heard? The Lord is an everlasting God, he created the boundaries of the earth. He does not grow tired or weary, his understanding is beyond fathoming. He gives strength to the wearied, he strengthens the powerless. Young men may grow tired and weary, youths may stumble, but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they put out wings like eagles. They run and do not grow weary, walk and never tire.

Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus exclaimed, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

I may be frequently troubled by daily burdens, but worse are the burdens that aren't even mine, which I nevertheless take on and worry about: politics in places far away, the mysteries of next year or further off, the far-fetched what-ifs. Most of that, I may relinquish, there being trouble enough with today and what is proximate. Only one thing seems to be paramount: Charity.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

A treatise on the value of patience, by St Cyprian

Patience is a precept for salvation given us by our Lord our teacher: Whoever endures to the end will be saved. And again: If you persevere in my word, you will truly be my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Dear brethren, we must endure and persevere if we are to attain the truth and freedom we have been allowed to hope for; faith and hope are the very meaning of our being Christians, but if faith and hope are to bear their fruit, patience is necessary. We do not seek glory now, in the present, but we look for future glory, as Saint Paul instructs us when he says: By hope we were saved. Now hope which is seen is not hope; how can a man hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience. Patient waiting is necessary if we are to be perfected in what we have begun to be, and if we are to receive from God what we hope for and believe.
In another place the same Apostle instructs and teaches the just, and those active in good works, and those who store up for themselves treasures in heaven through the reward God gives them. They are to be patient also, for he says: Therefore while we have time, let us do good to all, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith. But let us not grow weary in doing good, for we shall reap our reward in due season. Paul warns us not to grow weary in good works through impatience, not to be distracted or overcome by temptations and so give up in the midst of our pilgrimage of praise and glory, and allow our past good deeds to count for nothing because what was begun falls short of completion.
Finally the Apostle, speaking of charity, unites it with endurance and patience. Charity, he says, is always patient and kind; it is not jealous, is not boastful, is not given to anger, does not think evil, loves all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He shows that charity can be steadfast and persevering because it has learned how to endure all things. And in another place he says: Bear with one another lovingly, striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He shows that neither unity nor peace can be maintained unless the brethren cherish each other with mutual forbearance and preserve the bond of harmony by means of patience.

(From today's Office of Readings, except from Universalis.com)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Beings of time and space and flesh, our faith must be lived with faithful endurance and constancy

By his divine power, he has given us all the things that we need for life and for true devotion, bringing us to know God himself, who has called us by his own glory and goodness. In making these gifts, he has given us the guarantee of something very great and wonderful to come: through them you will be able to share the divine nature and to escape corruption in a world that is sunk in vice. But to attain this, you will have to do your utmost yourselves, adding goodness to the faith that you have, understanding to your goodness, self-control to your understanding, patience to your self-control, true devotion to your patience, kindness towards your fellow men to your devotion, and, to this kindness, love. If you have a generous supply of these, they will not leave you ineffectual or unproductive: they will bring you to a real knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But without them a man is blind or else short-sighted; he has forgotten how his past sins were washed away. Brothers, you have been called and chosen: work all the harder to justify it. If you do all these things there is no danger that you will ever fall away. In this way you will be granted admittance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 1:1-11)

Christian without the Eucharist?


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jesus is not soft, but he is merciful

'I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.'" After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

On today's Gospel reading (Luke 19:11-28), Jesus relates a parable that is jarring, as it was likely intended to be. But up front I would say that this is not intended to convey a cruel, bloodthirsty Messiah. I will quickly point out that Jesus proceeds to Jerusalem, to his most merciful act of sacrifice for any who are open to his mercy. As all parables do, this one sticks to particular points and no more. First, the demands of the kingdom are high because the stakes are high. If we who receive gifts as capital did nothing to earn them, then it is only fair to do something with that capital as three fiber expected. Even a modest gain is better than nothing, although the invitation is there to dare more, strive more, and merit more rewards. Nothing unreasonable there. Second, I think the arrogance of the citizens, heading off the king-to-be with a delegation behind his back, is foolish and futile. The reality is that the man is to be made king. It is not a popular election; it is not up to them. Balanced with Jesus heading to Calvary, the brutal disposal of the dissidents is not the self-serving execution that we might think it to be. God takes no pleasure in the death of the sinful man, but prefers his conversion and fidelity. The reality is that they have no place in the kingdom if they want nothing of its eternal king. They made that choice. It seems fitting that the parable is so brutal in the seeming reprisal in contrast to the Cross. There is an otherwise easy tendency to undervalue the grace and mercy of God - to our everlasting detriment. How long should we sit on the fence? It becomes too easy to postpone making a stand if we think that we can get away with it.

The stakes are high. God is merciful but he will not violate our free will. If we reject him, what can he do?

Continued rumblings after the synod

Sometimes I think that the seeming to-and-fro, not only of Pope Francis' mind, as reported here and there, but the synod proceedings as a whole, reflects a discernment process. It seems like it anyway. It is like some form of annealing, like a boggle game shaken vigorously. and no one knows what it will say when the pieces come to rest.

Apart from that, it is an interesting spectacle to watch how the different characters and groups react and reveal their minds and their cards. Some, God bless them, are simply orthodox. Others are unapologetically less interested in orthodoxy, despite the fact that it is Christ at the giving end of the doxos. Some are close to panic, others are calm but vigilant, and others yet, smug, indifferent, or both. It's interesting to consider that they - we - are all being tested on this. Christ, as always, is a stumbling block and a cause to reveal the secrets of our intentions. Our intentions are on the scales. Is our position chosen out of charity or selfishness, fidelity or worldliness, conviction or comfort, faith or despair?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Peace, not Affliction

The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. You will call upon me, and I will answer you, and I will lead back your captives from every place.

From the Mass entrance antiphon today, Jeremiah 29.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Divorce is a big deal to the Christian faith, because it is breaking faith and unity

From Malachi 1:1-14,2:13-16 in the Office of Readings today:

And here is something else you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and wailing, because he now refuses to consider the offering or to accept it from your hands. And you ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the Lord stands as witness between you and the wife of your youth, the wife with whom you have broken faith, even though she was your partner and your wife by covenant. Did he not create a single being that has flesh and the breath of life? And what is this single being destined for? God-given offspring. Be careful for your own life, therefore, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel, and I hate people to parade their sins on their cloaks, says the Lord of Hosts. Respect your own life, therefore, and do not break faith like this.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sharing in the body and blood of the Lord sanctifies us

St Fulgentius of Ruspe's Tract against Fabian

When we offer the sacrifice the words of our Saviour are fulfilled just as the blessed Apostle Paul reported them: On the same night he was betrayed the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and said: ‘This is my body, which is for you: do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

  So the sacrifice is offered to proclaim the death of the Lord and to be a commemoration of him who laid down his life for us. He himself has said: A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. So, since Christ died for us, out of love, it follows that when we offer the sacrifice in commemoration of his death, we are asking for love to be given us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We beg and we pray that just as through love Christ deigned to be crucified for us, so we may receive the grace of the Holy Spirit; and that by that grace the world should be a dead thing in our eyes and we should be dead to the world, crucified and dead. We pray that we should imitate the death of our Lord. Christ, when he died, died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God. We pray, therefore, that in imitating the death of our Lord we should walk in newness of life, dead to sin and living for God.

  The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been sent to us. When we share in the Lord’s body and blood, when we eat his bread and drink his cup, this truly means that we die to the world and have our hidden life with Christ in God, crucifying our flesh and its weaknesses and its desires.

  Thus it is that all the faithful who love God and their neighbour drink the cup of the Lord’s love even if they do not drink the cup of bodily suffering. Soaked through with that drink, they mortify the flesh in which they walk this earth. Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ like a cloak, their desires are no longer those of the body. They do not contemplate what can be seen but what is invisible to the eyes. This is how the cup of the Lord is drunk when divine love is present; but without that love, you may even give your body to be burned and still it will do you no good. What the gift of love gives us is the chance to become in truth what we celebrate as a mystery in the sacrifice.

From the Office of Readings today, via Universalis.com

Thursday, September 24, 2015

St. Augustine to pastors today

Well then, shepherds, hear the words of the Lord. As I live, says the Lord God... See how he starts. It is like an oath sworn by God, calling his very life to witness. As I live, says the Lord God. The shepherds are dead but the sheep are safe. As I live, says the Lord God. What shepherds are dead? Those who have sought their own interests rather than Christ’s. So what of the shepherds who seek Christ’s interests and not their own? Of course there will be such shepherds, of course they will be found: there is no lack of them and there never will be.

(From the Office of Readings, 22 September)

Friday, September 11, 2015

It is not Christ's will to forgive without the Church

From a sermon by Blessed Isaac of Stella, abbot -

There are two things that are God’s and God’s alone: the honour of receiving confession and the power of granting forgiveness. Confession is what we must make to him, and forgiveness is what we must hope to receive from him. The power to forgive sins belongs only to God, and this is why we must confess them to him. But God has taken a bride. The Almighty has taken the feeble one, the Most High has taken the lowly one – out of a servant he has made a queen. She was behind and beneath him and he raised her to be at his side. From out of his wounded side she came, and he took her to be his bride. Just as all that the Father has is the Son’s, so too what the Son has is the Father’s, since they share the same undivided nature. In just the same way the bridegroom gave all that was his to the bride and shared all that she had, making her one with himself and the Father. Hear the Son making his plea to the Father for his bride: I desire that just as you and I are one, so these should be one with us. The bridegroom is one with the Father and one with his bride. Whatever in her was foreign to her nature he took away from her and nailed to the cross. He carried her sins with him onto the tree and by the tree he took them away from her. Whatever was natural and proper to her he took on and clothed himself in it. Whatever was divine and proper to him, he bestowed on her. He took away what was diabolical, took on what was human, conferred what was divine, so that all that the bride possessed should be the bridegroom’s also. Thus it is that he who has committed no sin, on whose lips is no deceit, can say Take pity on me, Lord, for I am weak – for he who shares in his bride’s weakness must share in her lament, and thus all that is the bridegroom’s is the bride’s also. Here is where the honour of confession comes from, and the power of forgiveness, so that it can truly be said: Go and show yourself to the priest! The Church can forgive nothing without Christ, and it is Christ’s will to forgive nothing except with the Church. The Church can forgive no-one except the penitent – that is, one who has been touched by Christ – and Christ does not wish to forgive anyone who does not value the Church. What God has united, man must not divide, says Christ, and Paul adds, I am saying that this great mystery applies to Christ and the Church. Do not sever the head from the body so that Christ is whole no longer. For Christ is not whole without the Church, nor is the Church whole without Christ. This is why he says No-one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man who is in heaven. He is the only man who can forgive sins.

(From the Office of Readings, 11 September)

From Lamentations to Hope

Brooding on my anguish and affliction is gall and wormwood. My spirit ponders it continually and sinks within me. This is what I shall tell my heart, and so recover hope: Heth the favours of the Lord are not all past, his kindnesses are not exhausted; every morning they are renewed; great is his faithfulness. ‘My portion is the Lord’ says my soul ‘and so I will hope in him.’ Teth The Lord is good to those who trust him, to the soul that searches for him. It is good to wait in silence for the Lord to save. It is good for a man to bear the yoke from youth onwards, Yod to sit in solitude and silence when the Lord fastens it on him, to put his lips to the dust – perhaps there still is hope – to offer his cheek to the striker, to be overwhelmed with insults. Kaph For the Lord does not reject mankind for ever and ever. If he has punished, he has compassion so great is his kindness; since he takes no pleasure in abasing and afflicting the human race. (Lamentations 3:1-33)

Hope flares the brightest in the midst of darkest despair.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

We don't hear this from the Gospel very often

‘But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.

Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.

Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.

‘Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’

Luke 6:20-26

Is it the case that we Christians tend to get to comfortable in the West? We probably did, while the gospel does not go out to the nations where it must be preached, where now they are in dire need of God's healing and peacemaking mercy. They must have looked at the Christian West as no more than rich, spoiled and not good for much.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Lord is Faithful

This is a rebellious people, they are lying sons, sons who will not listen to the Lord’s orders. To the seers they say, ‘See no visions’; to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy the truth to us, ‘tell us flattering things; have illusory visions; turn aside from the way, leave the path, take the Holy One out of our sight.’
.. thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel: Your salvation lay in conversion and tranquillity, your strength, in complete trust; and you would have none of it. ..
But the Lord is waiting to be gracious to you, to rise and take pity on you, for the Lord is a just God; happy are all who hope in him.

Isaiah 30:1-18

The new eMANgelization

Catholic Report says Catholic men are keen for priests to lead and challenge them.

Definitely resonates with this man.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Who will proclaim the Good News to the rich?

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ When the disciples heard this they were astonished. ‘Who can be saved, then?’ they said. Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he told them ‘this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’ (Matthew 19:23-30 )

For rich men, without the grace of God, the kingdom of heaven is unattainable, apparently. Why? Having everything they need and more, what need have they of God? What make them think about the hereafter? Unfortunately, their riches will not give them eternal life, not even a supernatural life now, where the treasures are charity and sacrifice. In a rich, materialistic life, there is no call for charity, the heroic sort that hurts, and has little to do with warm and fuzzy feelings. In a luxurious life of toys and leisure, there is no need for virtue. One is in control, so who has need for faith, or God?

So who will introduce charity and virtue to the rich of this world, whose attention us so riveted on the material world and it's pleasures? Will they tear their senses from material possessions long enough to pay any attention? Only by the grace of God.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Love and Marriage

So they defiled themselves by their deeds and broke their marriage bond with the Lord till his anger blazed against his people; he was filled with horror at his chosen ones.

Part of today's Psalms at Mass (Ps 105), is a common theme in the writings of the prophets as well, associating the relationship between Man and God with marriage, and so infidelity is the abomination of worshipping other gods. One of the questions that come to mind when many bishops suggest that divorced and remarried Christians can be worthy of Holy Communion while remaining in the same state of adultery, is this: is there still such a thing as fidelity? Where, too, is justice, given the price of redemption and given the aggrieved other half of the abandoned marriage? If fidelity is impossible for some people, is it claimed that the grace of God is insufficient?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Communion for persons who have divorced and remarried civilly

about the “challenge” of “Christians who are in a marital situation theologically called ‘irregular’… ”: “We must help them, certainly, but not in a reductive way. It’s important to get close to them, to create contact and maintain it because they are members of the Church as everyone else, they are not expelled and even less so excommunicated. They are supported, but there are problems in regard to the sacramental life…. The question of access to the sacramental life must be addressed sincerely on the basis of Catholic teaching …. twenty years ago, after a long and laborious negotiation, John Paul II didn’t accept that remarried Christians could accede to the Eucharist. Now, we can’t ignore his teaching and change things.”

- Archbishop Georg Gänswein

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What are the priorities of Amnesty International these days?

"Christians are being beheaded in Syria, and here is AI campaigning in Ireland and El Salvador to bring in abortion on demand while claiming to protect women," she added. "They've already spent more than a million dollars on a media campaign. They've bought advertising and gathered signatures and are outspending everyone else."

There's the rub, identified by life campaigners in Ireland protesting AI lobbying aggressively with so much money that should go to promoting freedom and saving innocent lives in many parts of the world, but instead go into campaigning for abortions in countries that don't want them. Priorities?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ekkles-illogical musings

Stumbled into this questionable bit of scholarship about the alleged mistranslation of the Greek ekkelsias that is claimed to cause the supposedly mistaken notion of a universal church. I have to question the investigation when there is no mention of the translations centuries prior to the English language even being recognized as such. What did St. Jerome translate it into in Latin, which was the prevailing international language at that time? What did the local churches teach at that time about a universal church? What were the thoughts from Greek communities prior to the English translation? What about the Chaldean and other translations on the region? What did the writers of the first few centuries write about ecclesiology, and what of the bishops and other leaders whose writings still exist today?

Monday, August 10, 2015

From the news today.. Oh wait..

Why this tumult among nations, among peoples this useless murmuring? They arise, the kings of the earth, princes plot against the Lord and his Anointed. ‘Come, let us break their fetters, come, let us cast off their yoke.’

Rather, this us from the Office of Readings today, from Psalm 2.

The Eucharist, food for the journey

One often thinks of a journey as one from here to there. Regarding the Eucharist, perhaps it is more appropriate to think of the journey as going from who one is now to who one can become, from dead to living, from seed to fruit, from infant to adult, from homeless to one come home, from me to Christ. In other words, it is not a journey of going, but of becoming, and so the food, the Bread of Life, is not simply of sustenance but of transformation.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Bad news could be good advice

To Amos, Amaziah said, ‘Go away, seer;’ get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple.’

Amaziah and Jeroboam the king disliked the prophecies of Amos, but that changes nothing. No one likes hearing bad news but what if such news could be lifesaving? It is the height of folly to ignore the truth. Close behind is the folly of neglecting to carefully consider and investigate proposed truths out of laziness or fear of inconvenience.

Monday, August 03, 2015

May the Lord raise up more Dominics

A pattern in the Old Testament that certainly emerges over generations is the forward-backward step of the people of God, faithful and then unfaithful in turns. Today we need the prophets, the Dominics, to be raised up among us again and again. I have four children, each one baptized and therefore anointed as prophets - worthy of constant prayer!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mea culpa on religious education

I must apologize for hasty words below on Catholic education. I am tempted to delete them but that would be dishonest and cowardly. It is perhaps best to leave them as a reminder of my pride and folly.

To be clear, yes, religious education is far from ideal, but like parenting, most of us do our best with limited resources, including me. We have the best intentions but we always fall short. We also fall into pride and think we can do better than others, and while being better than ourselves is always a good goal, judging ourselves above others, as I have done, is always a doomed exercise. As the records show, my judgment was laced with poison.

I have much to learn, and perhaps these matters are best kept between my spiritual director and myself. To all whom I had offended, please accept my apologies. To any who agreed with me in any way, keep the good intentions but throw away the pride, as I should have done before I had published that post. If I could rewrite the past, I should have brought up these concerns as questions, clarifications, and at most, suggestions. I may have had good points to make, but I made them very badly.

And here is a blogging resolution: never blog or send email in an anxious state. Prayer first, always.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why do we have anti-Catholic educators teaching Catholic educators?

I suppose we've had false teachers in the Church from day 1. Seems like another case of housekeeping to me: clean daily and do some more, a lot more, in Spring. And, be calm, but vigilant.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Caesar is in the (German) Church

Perhaps that is why it is in trouble: it cannot serve two masters, and only one of them can grant supernatural faith. Sadly, their leaders don't seem to get it.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Quo Vadis?

Update: I deeply regret the tone and presumptuousness of the post below.

The other evening I witnessed first hand how the Church is poisoned from within, as I sat dumbfounded at times while a religious education teacher taught falsehood in preparing children for Confirmation. This explains how we got here, and a few thoughts came to mind later.

1. Teachers of Catholic religious education should have more than teaching degrees and theology courses. They must be committed to daily Liturgy of the Hours. They must be faithful in orthodoxy. Ex corde ecclesiae!

2. Our priests and nuns should pull out of politics. It is not in lobbying, but in the education of our young that they can change the world. That has been neglected, and so we are in this mess.

3. Teaching is where I should consider my ministry, because this is where the Church is bleeding, infected, and exposing its members to poison.

4. It is high time we stop being quiet and politically correct. Problems will not go away without naming and addressing them head on. We do not serve our neighbor by affirming them in or abandoning them to their poison.

Friday, July 17, 2015

We are called to be faithful, the battle is God's

Our fight is not against human foes but against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark world, against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavens. Stand firm, I say, and fasten onto the belt of truth. You have but to stand firm and watch the Lord coming to your aid.

That responsory from the Office of Readings seems very apt. The whole world, as they day, has gone mad. It strains the gnat and swallows the camel, nurtures beasts and murders children, and even where we least expect it, our children are taught falsehood while Godly doctrine is shunned. But our job is to stand firm, the battle is God's, and he has already won the war.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Marriage and Family is the Battlefield

.. in a Great Spiritual War because this is where love is first sowed and reaped, where it is first taught and practiced - Christian marriage and family, that is, for the foundation is Christ himself.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Doctrine does not fit the format of news

This post about poor news reporting on Pope Francis got me thinking on what has probably occurred to others before: at the very least, news gets it wrong because the format doesn't fit. News reporting goes in for the quick and lasting impression. They work with word count limits. They work for the scoop, so they rush. At worst, they go in with an agenda, so they simply write everything into the story they already had.

The bigger point is this: doctrine is not news. You don't go to a fast food joint for nutrition, so why inform your spirituality from the news? Why not read the encyclical itself? How about that biblical passage? How about that free forum to clarify and go deeper? How about that priest, deacon or prayer meeting group? This is the age when there is practically no excuse for being uninformed.

So don't go for sound bites or news summaries. The whole thing is out there. Just go for it!

[Update: That should teach me not to use the android phone to blog. Too many funny and not so funny mistakes like "Doctrine doors not for the.." That was the original title of this post.  I miss my Nokia n900 with the slide out keyboard! ]

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

More signs of hope

Since Christ identified Church unity as the definitive sign to the nations of his mission, then Pope Francis' priority to bring the east and west together is worth every prayer. Much of the world's ills, particularly the western disdain of their Christian heritage, comes from the lack of evangelization. May we be one indeed!

Marriage battle was lost in the culture long before it was lost on the courts

I would go further than what George Weigel wrote. Yes, the marriage battle was lost in the culture long before it was lost in the Supreme Court, but it must have been lost in the Church first. That would explain why the Christian west was entirely too quick to walk away from Christian marriage and into the arms of cheap Hollywood romance. We lost the plot a long time ago. We exchanged the true meaning of love and freedom for shiny false substitutes. So now we have the work of a few generations cut out for us: to have faith and to remain faithful to the author of true Love. It will take his mighty hand to get the world out of this one.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Patience of God

It struck me as I read Jesus assuring Simon Peter shortly before his crucifixion: "I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail."

Well, it did fail. He denied Jesus when confronted at the courtyard. So what is Jesus talking about? It seems to me he took into account, not just those moments of failure, but also the moment of grace when he repented and turned back. Taken together in chronological order, by the grace of God,  Peter's faith did endure.

He has a longer, more complete view of things. We tend not to see that far because our lives are short and the long term can seem too great to contemplate. Thankfully, God takes the long view, and additionally, he stacks things in our favor by giving us the grace we need when we need it. It may take a while, and not according to our schedule, but in the long view of things, we can get by and more: we can triumph. One thing is needed, however: we need Faith. And even that is a gift.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Do Catholics babble?

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:7-15

Do we babble? I hope not. Why then the long prayers like the Office of Readings or the Mass? My answer: we do not use many words in order to be heard, but rather to hear more the word of God, straight from Scriptures or expounded for clearer understanding.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lutherans against the papacy

As I read the back and forth comments, I get the sad feeling that this here is what makes them unreceptive to the unity that Christ willed and prayed for in John 17. There is the same spirit of "prove it!" that drove Luther. Ironically, this is not a spirit of Faith. It is a spirit of "I know". The catch is that it is the rationalist approach that feeds atheism as well.

To me, it is a wonderful thing for God to order his household with a hierarchy to govern his people. It reflects the fact that divine truth is revealed. The alternative is almost a mob of sheep who teach themselves, a flock that will not accept leaders unless they first prove themselves to the sheep.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Salt and Light .. To whom?

Matthew 5:13-16 --

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men. ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.

And what if we start thinking that we are salt of the Church and light to all Christians instead, shining the light of the nations for everyone in the household of God so it will conform to the times?

Perhaps just as misguided, what if we decide that we don't need to shine this light and share this salt to the world, that we should all just get along in a pluralistic society, to just live and let live?

Monday, June 08, 2015

Faithful, Orthodox Christianity and the World

Our task is not one of producing persuasive propaganda; Christianity shows its greatness when it is hated by the world. -- from the letter of St Ignatius of Antioch to the Romans

Monday, June 01, 2015

The Word who bestows the Spirit

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

From a  letter by St Athanasius

I found this fascinating, taken from the Office of Readings for Trinity Sunday, because it continues to disappoint me that anyone would make a schismatic point about the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son. We have that in the Latin Rite creed and the Orthodox object to it. Well here is St. Athanasius, an eastern Father, I believe, and he is very clear about what it means. As a Greek Orthodox friend once told me, the division really is more about the bishop of Rome. In the meantime, the schism and various Protestantisms continue to weaken the sign to the nations. Seems to be mirrored in the all too common splintering of marriages and families.

Friday, May 29, 2015


The Holy Father recently tweeted that Christians are witnesses, not to a theory, but to a person, Jesus Christ, the risen savior of all. It struck me that this incarnate nature is necessarily shared by his body, the Church. Her members must participate in the life, the mundane and ordinary days and nights of that bodily community.

Jesus Christ is not a theory. He is a man. His Church is not a vague grouping of Christians with shared ideals. It is the Body of Christ, a household, a family, and we are its members, and we have a mission.

Catholics, wake up!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Always rejoice in the Lord

The Apostle commands us to rejoice, but in the Lord, not in the world. For, you see, as Scripture says, whoever wishes to be a friend of this world will be counted as God’s enemy. Just as a man cannot serve two masters, so too no-one can rejoice both in the world and in the Lord.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

Monday, May 25, 2015

It doesn’t work anyway, so you can have it

What lies ahead for marriage in Ireland? Michael Cook nails it. Marriage was broken decades ago, and this generation probably doesn't know that it wasn't always so, nor that it doesn't have to be.

Who am I to judge?

Psalm 81 says: How long will you judge unjustly and favour the cause of the wicked? Do justice for the weak and the orphan, defend the afflicted and the needy. Rescue the weak and the poor; set them free from the hand of the wicked.

How does one accomplish the above without judgment? Who is wicked, who is needy? Who is weak or poor?

While judgment of persons is God's province, since he alone sees into our intentions, we must all practice judgment of actions, both ours and those of others. Sometimes we must examine the acts of others and decide to emulate or oppose, to advocate or to question, to affirm or to caution. We cannot judge what we cannot see, such as the intentions behind the actions, unless they were self-confessed, for example. But we can see actions, and likely or certain consequences, and these, we can judge.  In certain cases, to withhold judgment can be irresponsible. And perhaps that had been happening far to much for far too long, to the destruction of many, many lives, generation after generation.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Is it important for Christians to be visibly and truly united?

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 17:20-26.

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."

You betcha.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sensus Fidei

From the dogmatic constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council - The mission of the Holy Spirit in the church:

"When the Son completed the work with which the Father had entrusted him on earth, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost to sanctify the Church unceasingly, and thus enable believers to have access to the Father through Christ in the one Spirit. He is the Spirit of life, the fountain of water welling up to give eternal life. Through him the Father gives life to men, dead because of sin, until he raises up their mortal bodies in Christ. The Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful as in a temple. He prays in them and bears witness in them to their adoption as sons. He leads the Church into all truth and gives it unity in communion and in service. He endows it with different hierarchical and charismatic gifts, directs it by their means, and enriches it with his fruits. By the power of the Gospel he enables the Church to grow young, perpetually renews it, and leads it to complete union with its Bridegroom. For the Spirit and the Bride say to the Lord Jesus: “Come!” In this way the Church reveals itself as a people whose unity has its source in the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The whole company of the faithful, who have an anointing by the Holy Spirit, cannot err in faith. They manifest this distinctive characteristic of theirs in the supernatural instinct of faith (‘sensus fidei’) of the whole people when, from the bishops to the most ordinary lay person among the faithful, they display a universal agreement on matters of faith and morals. This instinct of faith is awakened and kept in being by the Spirit of truth. Through it the people of God hold indefectibly to the faith once delivered to the saints, penetrate it more deeply by means of right judgement, and apply it more perfectly in their lives. They do all this under the guidance of the sacred teaching office: by faithful obedience to it they receive, not the word of men but in truth the word of God."

People sometimes use sensus fidei to justify heterodox doctrines that contradict orthodox teaching, missing the entirety of the point as emphasized above, that it applies when all are in agreement from the bishops down to the lay people. The whole people spans the centuries all the way back to the Apostles, and to the bishops that taught and clarified after them. Another crucial point is that the Spirit who reveals all this is the same Spirit of communion and unity, thereby making contradictions impossible. Blessed John Henry Newman made the case for the organic growth of doctrine that explains how doctrines can be applied to new settings without any rupture in Truth. A new doctrine is therefore suspicious when it contradicts orthodox teaching and the magisterium.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The silence of Christ as he was being accused

That silence caught the attention of Pilate, because it spoke volumes. The thought occurred to me that, while Pilate marveled at this, for it is natural to defend oneself given the stakes, silence must have been logical for Jesus. There wasn't much point because the accusers don't really care about the truth anyway. Furthermore, Jesus wasn't concerned so much about saving his life, since his accusers wouldn't allow it in the first place. For him it was about his mission.

I keep going back to the idea of mission these days. I've been realizing with growing clarity that the world is sinking into a huge mess right now because, to a great extent, the Christian mission to the nations is being badly compromised. One, Christian unity as a sign to the nations was practically rejected in the Schism and the Protestant Reformation. That echoes on in today's heterodoxy within the Church, and that goes back to the rebellion after Vatican II. Some sign that ends up being, and the parties don't seem to even see that! They nod their heads and sagely state the obvious, but where is the effort? And those are the few who would be prevailed upon to see unity as a good thing! Two, the world has become so beholden to relativism that one has to construct a basis for truthful discourse from the ground up, even with otherwise intelligent people.

So does the Church stay silent when accused of so many things by truth-agnostic accusers? As against wrangling and trying to look good, maybe so. Perhaps we have no recourse but to focus on the mission after all. Perhaps St. Josemaria Escriva was right: ignore the dogs barking at you as you walk the Way. Just keep to the mission. Evangelize from the rooftops, ignore the catcalls from the disinterested. Works of mercy and the gospel. Chances are that querulous attempts to defend oneself according to the world's standards will be no more than entertainment for the mobs, and there is plenty of that already. What we need, as always, is light.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Cross, abandoned

How do today's Christians react when they read such Scripture as "take up your cross daily and follow me" or "we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the Kingdom" and similar passages? Most, I think, can relate because they do experience poverty, injustice, oppression, and persecution. What of the rich who live comfortable lives? What of those in rich, safe countries in the West? Can they relate at all? Do we turn to imagining our slight discomforts as suffering? Do we invent problems and crises for ourselves? I have and lapse into this from time to time.

I imagine that one of the reasons why life might be oddly too quiet, particularly for many Catholics in the West, is that we lost the urgency of evangelization as a shared mission, and the rigorous challenge of holy living, set apart from the rest of the world. If life is too easy and quiet, perhaps one has quit the field while the battle rages yet. Worse, if one cannot even see that there are battles to be fought out there, then one has sadly lost the plot.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Leave the quiet of contemplation and witness!

From the Office of Readings on the feast of St. Catherine of Siena:
Now that you are endowed with the gift of my Spirit, cleansed from all stain by the outpouring of my blood, leave the quiet of contemplation and resolutely take up the work of witnessing to my truth, alleluia.

It should not shock me that whatever charisms we receive, gifts of the Holy Spirit, are ordered towards service to others. I actually heard this for the first time at a Called and Gifted workshop run by Sherry Weddell of the Catherine of Siena Institute. But Jesus indeed said "you are my witnesses," his martyrs, and so all his baptized should be. And what a different world we might have were we so faithful in this commission to evangelize!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Various Protestantisms

Mark Shea lays out the way Protestantism ends up inconsistently protesting against Catholic doctrines, perhaps simply from the fact that they are Catholic - and nevertheless following some anyway, including the person of the Holy Spirit, the canon of the New Testament and monogamous marriage.  Insightful observations, as always, and something that Protestants should take on thoughtfully and prayerfully.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What to do in times of persecution

Acts 8:1-8 from today's readings shows the incredible fruitfulness of the early Church. "That day a bitter persecution started against the church in Jerusalem, and everyone except the apostles fled to the country districts of Judaea and Samaria. .. Those who had escaped went from place to place preaching the Good News. One of them was Philip who went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached .. there was great rejoicing in that town."

A brilliant example of how they managed to flourish despite adversity. Could it be that the persecution of Christians from the murderous actions of ISIS and the suffocating restrictions of secularists can bring about a similarly surprising growth? That would be amazing, and is something to pray for fervently and works towards with evangelical zeal!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The celebration of the Eucharist

From the first apology in defence of the Christians by Saint Justin, martyr

No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

  We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Saviour became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

  The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

  On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

  On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

  The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

  We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our saviour Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.

Taken from the Office of Readings, 3rd Sunday of Easter, via Universalis.com.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A new creation in Christ

From a sermon by Saint Augustine:

I speak to you who have just been reborn in baptism, my little children in Christ, you who are the new offspring of the Church, gift of the Father, proof of Mother Church’s fruitfulness. All of you who stand fast in the Lord are a holy seed, a new colony of bees, the very flower of our ministry and fruit of our toil, my joy and my crown. It is the words of the Apostle that I address to you: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh and its desires, so that you may be clothed with the life of him whom you have put on in this sacrament. You have all been clothed with Christ by your baptism in him. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor freeman; there is neither male nor female; you are all one in Christ Jesus.

  Such is the power of this sacrament: it is a sacrament of new life which begins here and now with the forgiveness of all past sins, and will be brought to completion in the resurrection of the dead. You have been buried with Christ by baptism into death in order that, as Christ has risen from the dead, you also may walk in newness of life.


  This is the octave day of your new birth. Today is fulfilled in you the sign of faith that was prefigured in the Old Testament by the circumcision of the flesh on the eighth day after birth. When the Lord rose from the dead, he put off the mortality of the flesh; his risen body was still the same body, but it was no longer subject to death. By his resurrection he consecrated Sunday, or the Lord’s day. Though the third after his passion, this day is the eighth after the Sabbath, and thus also the first day of the week.

  And so your own hope of resurrection, though not yet realised, is sure and certain, because you have received the sacrament or sign of this reality, and have been given the pledge of the Spirit. If, then, you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your hearts on heavenly things, not the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

-- from Universalis.com, Office of Readings,  Divine Mercy Sunday

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The blindness of Emmaus today

On the road to Emmaus, the two disciples were unable to see who it was who spoke to them. One interpretation is that they were shattered from the demise of the Messiah. They were perhaps blinded by grief and despair.  I often wonder at my own blindness after - and usually only after - I finally see what was always there before me. I am typically blinded by my assumptions. I thought it would be easy. I thought that the object I was looking for was red so I was focusing on red, and it turns out that it was orange after all. I assumed it ends here when it instead continues elsewhere. Our assumptions can blind and bind us because we are capable of bending the universe to them, so to speak. We build our own walls. That is not all.  Bad habits compound the problem: I give in to sloth,  preferring comfort over the work that needs to be done, or choose my priorities badly, get distracted easily by trivialities, become too emotional to think, and a few other things that my wife can tell you about. I need the constant reminder of the Church that the reality dwarfs what I might perceive at any moment of lapse or weakness. The point that St. Paul keeps driving home, according to Fr. Robert Barron, is that there is this power -  in Christ - that he has tapped me into, his own power, this life in the Spirit that reveals the whole truth if I but open up beyond my presumptions. This is not by closing the eyes of reason, but, rather, looking farther and ranging further beyond the horizon, because there is more to see. And there usually is. I would have to be blind to think that I could see everything there is to see.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter, In Christ Jesus

Romans 6:3-11

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.
  If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection. We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin. When a Christian dies, of course, he has finished with sin.
  But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

Friday, April 03, 2015

They divided my clothing among them. They cast lots for my robe.

Psalm 21 (22)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
You are far from my plea and the cry of my distress.
O my God, I call by day and you give no reply;
I call by night and I find no peace.

Yet you, O God, are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you set them free.
When they cried to you, they escaped.
In you they trusted and never in vain.

But I am a worm and no man,
scorned by men, despised by the people.
All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
'He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend.'

Yes, it was you who took me from the womb,
entrusted me to my mother’s breast.
To you I was committed from my birth,
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Do not leave me alone in my distress;
come close, there is none else to help.

Many bulls have surrounded me,
fierce bulls of Bashan close me in.
Against me they open wide their jaws,
like lions, rending and roaring.

Like water I am poured out,
disjointed are all my bones.
My heart has become like wax,
it is melted within my breast.

Parched as burnt clay is my throat,
my tongue cleaves to my jaws.

Many dogs have surrounded me,
a band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet
and lay me in the dust of death.

I can count every one of my bones.
These people stare at me and gloat;
they divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.

O Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!
Rescue my soul from the sword,
my life from the grip of these dogs.
Save my life from the jaws of these lions,
my poor soul from the horns of these oxen.

I will tell of your name to my brethren
and praise you where they are assembled.
‘You who fear the Lord give him praise;
all sons of Jacob, give him glory.
Revere him, Israel’s sons.

'For he has never despised
nor scorned the poverty of the poor.
From him he has not hidden his face,
but he heard the poor man when he cried.'

You are my praise in the great assembly.
My vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and shall have their fill.
They shall praise the Lord, those who seek him.
May their hearts live for ever and ever!

All the earth shall remember and return to the Lord,
all families of the nations worship before him;
for the kingdom is the Lord’s, he is ruler of the nations.
They shall worship him, all the mighty of the earth;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust.

And my soul shall live for him, my children serve him.
They shall tell of the Lord to generations yet to come,
declare his faithfulness to peoples yet unborn:
‘These things the Lord has done.’

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

From the Office of Readings for Good Friday, 2015, via Universalis.com

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Preach from the Rooftops: Evangelium Vitae at Twenty

Preach from the Rooftops: Evangelium Vitae at Twenty

So how do we preach the truth to a world that can be vehement in denying that there is such a thing as Truth? I remember reading a book years ago about beings who started out perfect until they stumbled into this paradox of lying. Why a paradox? Because they use words which, while intended to convey only truth, can be bent to convey lies instead. But I think today's challenge to evangelization is not only this paradox caused by relativism. Not only can people repulse the truth by clinging to the notion that objective truth does not exist -- itself a paradoxical assertion -- but we've been fed too much from the font of feelings. It's akin to relativism, but it is its own form of poison: one's emotional instincts are equal or superior to one's reason. While I think we do benefit from being honest with ourselves as far as how we feel about things, it is the gravest mistake to let emotions take the wheel.

How do we evangelize such a crowd? I think we can simply take it on faith that all we can do is to proclaim in season and out of season, and let the seeds fall where they may, all the while building families and friendships and communities in all charity and hope. It's the formula that the Apostles left us with and which the Church had applied across the generations all over the world. It works or (sometimes) it doesn't. A wise man somewhere wrote that our mission is to be faithful, not effective. I have the power, by God's grace, to be faithful. The effectiveness is largely out of my hands anyway.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Adulteress and St. Mary Magdalene

Today the Gospel reading was about the adulteress that was brought before Jesus in order to trap him (John 8:1-11). I was reminded of how the identity of this woman had often been conflated with St. Mary Magdalene. Then it struck me that whoever this woman truly was, this shameful past can be seen, in the end, as a cause for joy and rejoicing - not because such a past is in any way glorious, but the victory of mercy and repentance is. I think it is entirely human to dwell on a given moment but Christians are called to take a longer view. St. Josemaria Escriva refers to enlarging one's view until it is universal or Catholic. I think I need to start doing so in earnest, because I am often incredibly short-sighted. If the notion of sin should ever pop into my head, I should probably immediately think "Mercy!" Because, seen from the other end, sin really doesn*t have the last word. I must have read that from Mark Shea somewhere, or G. K. Chesterton. It is the sort of thing they had probably written about already. Not to mention, Jesus himself said this to the woman to tie off that dreadful episode: "Neither do I condemn you.. Go and sin no more." It slso seems fitting to point out these last words (among others) of his as he was dying: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Repentance, not signs

In today's readings, Jesus seems exasperated that many were more interested in signs while he, and John before him, and the prophets before him, were preaching repentance. They demand spectacles when they are offered reconciliation and peace. It is like speaking to an obstinate offender who refuses to confront the truth in himself: he would change the topic, counter the argument off on a tangent, attack the speaker to deflect and misdirect; anything but the topic at hand. In this generation of societies that once upon a time proudly declared themselves Christian, the same topic is even more urgent for deliberation: who is Jesus? He is neither spectacle nor one of many gurus. Both man and God, he is reconciliation and peace; he is healing and life.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow

A thought struck me from today's Gospel reading (Lk 9:22-25) and a reflection from DailyGospel.org: is it true that there is no other way to escape the cross that we are inevitably challenged with everyday except to reject virtue? Is it inevitable that rejecting sacrifice means embracing sin? Can one only carve out perfect comfort and self-indulgence from injustice to or neglect of others? Hmm..

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Living in the moment.. from the perspective of eternity

How did Jesus at Gethsemene consider the sacrifice he was being asked to make? Reflecting on how one might have considered things (in the first sorrowful mystery of the Rosary), it occurred to me that a long view -- a very long view -- helps one to see beyond the agpny of the moment. A cynic would argue that Christians are fools for giving things up for the sake of the promises of eternal happiness. However, a longer view of things makes sense of it. The question, as always, is one of faith: can we trust the one who makes the promise? We can quantify years or decades of sacrifice and see how small that is compared to eternity, but faith, as always, is a gift that one must ask for daily -- and live in each moment (in the backdrop of eternity).