Friday, May 30, 2008
The tornadoes that hit the local area on Sunday afternoon are still all over the news, and well they should be. But I criticize the media, for they are focusing on only one area of damage, that being the most dramatically hit, while ignoring the area where the tornadoes began. People in lesser-devastated areas are not receiving the same help, and they need it just as desperately, for some of their homes are just as completely condemned. They weren't leveled by tornadoes, but they WILL be leveled by bulldozers and wrecking balls as a result of this storm.
Where are the news stations with regard to their plight?
The other day I had a meeting in Forest Lake and I returned back via highway 61 which took me right past the worst devastation. It's one thing to see it on the news..it's completely another to be looking at it from ground-level, even in passing.
That pile of twigs? Yeah, that used to be a house, just a few days ago. That neighborhood of plywood and 2x4's, disconnected rooves, tarped shingles of structures left standing, and windowless homes...yeah. That used to be a vibrant comunity. Not a decade or so ago...just last weekend.
That same afternoon, en route home, I took a tour through the neighborhood slightly north of me, and observed the damage there as well. It wasn't as bad as the damage in Hugo, but it was bad enough, and too close to home. I was nearly caught in that storm. Had it shifted only slightly south, well, maybe I'd be homeless and waiting for a restoration company.
But let's talk about the people who aren't getting any help. At my meeting, the big topic was the storm, as it had happened in our area and the women there knew a lot of people directly affected. One of the women was late; she spoke of her friend from whose home she had just come. Her friend was in shock, completely paralyzed, living in la-la land. The tornado pretty much touched down in her yard, from the sound of it, yet NO ONE had been by to help her. Her house was not livable; the walls were bowed inward, waterlogged, the pictures were askew, and the woman was simply incapable of making any decisions. Not due to lack of intelligence or organizational ability; she is a person very gifted with organizational skills. But this storm has unseated her, rendered her out of control, and she is helpless to get it back. She needs help...but all the help is being called into the city of Hugo and her area will get "overflow" if there's too many volunteers (a number which has been capped and filled). There is no volunteer organization for her neighborhood. And she's only ONE soul. Only ONE family.
Where is KSTP? Where is KARE11? Where is WCCO? Where is KMSP?
What I really want to know is this:
Where is the media when they can really do some good for people who really need the call for help that they are incapable of making?
Oh, right...they're getting the money shots at Minnesota's version of Katrina, as this is likely to be billed.
If there was true justice in this world, the people such as the woman I mentioned (and the rest of her young family) would have a host of media attention and volunteer assistance to match that of the worst sections of Hugo. I'll not slam Hugo or the help they have; I am only demanding that justice be met and that those who ALSO need help receive it. The platitudes of the media and some other organizations are sickening and speak of corruption and PR-seeking, while many people in need of assistance are being summarily dismissed. Why?
Because their devastation is quiet drama. But they are no less in need. It is just that their needs are less obvious since their homes were not leveled directly, but will be leveled later.
MAYBE they'll have a brief apppearance in an afterthrough-story in 6 months or so, and at that point the spin from the media will be to point fingers at the government, the churches, the neighbors, or any other convenient target. And the only question we'll have then is...Where were YOU when this story was in progress?
Right. You were selling your soul for money shots where you perceived the real action to be.
There's a reason I didn't go into Journalism. I considered it, but in the end, I decided that Journalism, as a whole, had no soul.
I have not once been proven wrong. Except for my commment here, that is; for one cannot sell a soul that one does not possess.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tomorrow, May 30, is BOTH the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus AND the World Day of Prayer for Priests
This is significant, for who is Christ but our High Priest? And who is the Priest at your parish, the one you call "Father", but one chosen by Christ to follow in His steps, who in turn, calls you and teaches you to conform yourself to Christ?
From the website above:
It is timely that we express our appreciation to so many priests who are indeed a daily reflection of Christ's love for his people. We wish to express our love for our priests and provide them with the support and encouragement they deserve. We express great joy in affirming and encouraging our priests as the servants of God's people. We are also encouraging people around the world to stop whatever they are doing at 3pm local time and spend a quiet moment praying in thanksgiving for our priests and contemplating the gift of priesthood.
The priesthood is a gift to us all; it was Padre Pio who observed that the world can survive more easily without the sun than it can without the Mass. And indeed, what happens at Mass? Heaven touches earth. At the behest of whom? God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, through the consecrated hands of the priest.
The world could not survive without the priesthood!
I used to be terrified of priests. Not because they ever did anything wrong, but because I did. I had a guilty conscience. I had fallen away, and my perception of priests was that they were the holiest of the holy, they'd be able to see right through me, and if they ever met me they'd drag me immediately off to the Confessional to be reconciled to God. Because that was what I needed and I knew it.
But I didn't want to go. God is merciful, though, and through a long winding road, He finally brought me to Confession and made me face who I really was; but more importantly, who He was calling me to be. And I made that 12-year Confession face-to-face to a priest I'll never forget. While I am an affectionate person, I do have a strong sense of boundaries, and after I was absolved, I came very close to throwing my arms around the dear priest who talked me through my distress and revealed to me the true face of Jesus Christ. He had called me the "prodigal daughter" and was overjoyed I'd come Home, finally, and to this day I wish I HAD followed that impulse, for I would have been hugging Christ himself in that joyful moment. I only wish I knew who he was so I could pray for him by name.
I was still terrified of priests for a long time, for it was hard to leave the life I was living; it's aways hard to dig yourself out of pit of your own creation and one the world helps you dig more deeply but has no interest in building steps for escape. But I was serious about wanting to really live a life in Christ, and God did not abandon me and in fact, used His priests in various ways. Since that time, I've come to know the priests at the parish I attend; we've had many as we are a large parish so they send us newly ordained priests for a couple years and then send them onward to be on their own.
Not only have these priests provided me with the Sacraments which I so desperately need, but they've provided me with an example of holiness, encouraged me in trying to be a better human being, and even a Saint (an ongoing joke with one of them...I wore out my "extension", though!). The priests I've known have helped me teach RCIA especially when I began, and remained available for questions as I prepared my talks. Two of them provided me references for two different grad schools, even though they really didn't know me well enough at the time of those letters, but apparently felt that someone seeking to be more Catholic was a good thing! And I was accepted to both schools (so the must have lied for me....) Those same two also provided me with references for my current job (a church), and their references were crucial!
But it goes beyond the Sacraments and Administrative things; these men who have given their lives to Christ really ARE our Fathers. As a woman, maybe it's easier for me to understand the image of the "Bride of Christ" that is the Church, and see truly how these men have given up everything in order to bring Christ to us all! They love children, they love families, and they know they will never have their "own". Yet I have to wonder how often our parish mimics a large family, and how often Father goes home (Fathers plural in our case!) and rubs his temples, willing the headache away, realizing that even adults are his children? And we're WORSE! His work is largely thankless and he goes from a harsh funeral one moment to a joyful parishioner who's been greatly blessed in some way, to a wedding, to hearing Confessions (of even prodigal daughters like myself), to even his own family tragedies. And yet, in all of this, he continues to serve Christ by serving us and leading us.
Every time I say "Father" I mean it. Every time I see a priest, I'm thankful to Christ for calling him and sending him across my path. I'm thankful to the priest who baptized me, who heard my First Confession, gave me my First Communion, and the Bishop who Confirmed me. I'm thakful for all those priests who have ever been there to provide an example, lend an ear, respond to an email, and offer friendship in Christ for a tiny soul seeking to do God's will.
I will be praying hard tomorrow for priests, especially at 3 pm, and I ask you all to join me and the rest of the world in doing so.
Were it not for the priests God has sent across my path, I don't know where I'd be...certainly not where I am now. Pray for priests. Pray for their holiness, their strength in living out their vows, their Fatherhood to us all...and for an increase in many more!
Thank you, Fathers, and maybe you don't hear it enough, so let this resonate with you:
WE LOVE YOU!
And we will NEVER stop praying for you!
But as I came back, the neighbor on my other side delivered some news; he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, and confessed he's pretty angry with God right now. So we talked for a long time outside about that and a few other things, including the neighbor issue. He's had problems with the guy, too, and is ready to go to the Association; especially since it concerns threats towards his "tween" daughter.
By the end of our conversation I felt a lot better about some things, an more concerned in other regards. But one of the things the neighbor and I spoke of was St. Paul's admonition not to "let the sun go down on your anger." We were both ticked off at similar and not-so-similar things, but we have some common ground in our beliefs.
And I found this funny; my neighbor (the good one) last night observed that he's NEVER seen me really angry. He's seen me variously irritated about things, but never really angry. And he's far from the first person to make that observation! And he's right; I don't often get really angry. If I do, others don't see it. Thank God for small favors! As it is, my flash of temper last night against the other neighbor is something that I think should not have happened and I think I went too far.
Well, by the time I went back inside, I was much calmer and went up to go to sleep.
Then it got worse...I had a message from Mom. She got conned by one of those warranty company letters one gets in the mail. She called them, they convinced her that her car was going to turn into dust tomorrow, and she gave them her credit card number so they could charge her with a $3,000 warranty, to 135,000 miles or something. I don't think her entire car is even worth that much! She wanted out, and so I made some suggestions (really strong forceful ones because I wanted to reach through the phone and strangle the person who had taken advantage of my Mom!) Man...if I wasn't ticked off before, I sure was THEN!
But I needed to sleep and determined to calm down and try, so I went upstairs. But something was bothering me...I needed to pray Night Prayer. I don't usually (usually just pray LOH Morning Prayer). But last night I got up, came down to get the book and went back up. And what should I read, but the very verse I'd quoted to my neighbor (on behalf of both of us)..
If you are angry, let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your wrath; do not give the devil a chance to work on you.
THAT one hit home!
And as a bonus, from the Office of Readings, I found another quote that really stood out, applicable to my entire life:
Your best servan tis he who is intent not so much on hearing his petition answered, as rather on willing whatever he hears from you. ~ St Augustine, Confessions
Amazing how God does that! So I ended my evening by praying for BOTH of my neighbors, hoping that someone was praying for me, too.
And this morning is better. I do feel better, still ticked when I think of my neighbor and Mom getting scammed, but the edge is gone. And cool thing; I woke up to grades for two of my classes in my inbox. A- in both! YAY! I'm only awaiting the grade from my New Testament class...and outside of the paper, I believe I have an A...the paper will either solidify that or drop me down, but it can only do limited damage. I will be able to keep my scholarship! Yay!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Yet for a few years now, I've been noticing a tendency even among the most devout to sort of simply the ideas and almost "excuse" themselves or others with the adage..."We have to trust in God's mercy."
Yes, we do. But we also need to talk about OUR obligations, and we need to discuss the real theology behind what we believe. We are obligated, as Catholics, to know our faith, and even to evangelize! But what message does it send when we can't be bothered to care about the fact that Baptism is NECESSARY for salvation?
FACT: Those baptized invalidly ARE NOT BAPTIZED. Thus, in order to correct the situation, they are notn "conditionally" baptized, but, in fact, they must be BAPTIZED for the first time! Simply "trusting in God's mercy" doesn't correct an invalid baptism. The idea of "baptism of desire" applies to an extraordinary situation. It would apply, if, say, you are en route in desperation to the church to request baptism and a large mosquito picks you up and feeds you to a nest of velociraptors in the swamp behind your house. You'd have the proper disposition and desperation and intention. God can work with that. But you can't go through life and excuse the lack of baptism by saying, "Well..they MEANT well...I'll just trust in God and evetually get around to being baptized again."
In my previous post on this issue, while sitting in class on Sunday I took what I was learning and made it "personal", asking the "what if" question. This solidified everything for me, for it's easy to take an abstract idea and just learn it. But to make it personal and applicable to me, or someone I love? NOW it's a big deal! And I nearly wept right there in class at the very idea of having an invalid baptism. I may have spoken with some hyperbole in order to make my point, but I had a more important point, one applicable to EVERYONE!
LOSING YOUR BAPTISM
Are you aware that, when you committ mortal sin, you completely sever your relationship with God? It's not God that severs anything; He is immutable, unchanging, and basically unaffected. It is WE who change, and in fact, we erase our Baptisms completely!
THIS was really the main point of that post; the reality that we may sometimes CHOOSE to deny our Baptism and sever ourselves from a relationship with God. And it's in the Catechism, folks. Pick it up and read it and let it change your life!
So, in a state of mortal sin, if we recognize we've done such a thing, why aren't we all FLOCKING to Confession, calling up the priest and in desperation asking to be restored? We can certainly have a "perfect act of contrition" but with that we must also have the intention of getting to sacramental Confession as soon as we are able. So what's the problem? Why aren't we desperate?
Simple; because we don't understand the teachings, we don't understand what we've lost, and even some of the most educated Catholics have been drawn into complacency with regard to the true effects of sin. (And yes, even the most devout Catholics may sometimes commit mortal sin, but that's not the point of this post).
We cannot just pooh-pooh sin and losing our Baptism with the adage, "God will understand" or "We have to trust in God's mercy". YES! That's true, we DO, however, we have to take responsiblity and realize where we are wrong and get our butts into the Confessional where God can directly enact His mercy upon us! To do otherwise is to be Protestant! We are not saved by faith alone!
I realize most of my readers probably "get" this concept and I'm probably preaching to the choir. But you've all lamented the short confessional lines. That's good for you when you need to go...bad for the implicantions of everyone who isn't there...and should be!
In a state of grave sin, we lose our Baptism; but in a moment of contrition, there in Confession...we are restored according to our dispositions. Isn't this glorious?
We have to be educated in order to help others understand; because we have to face the fact that most Catholics in this day and age have NO IDEA what the teachings are. They are caught up in secularism and relativism. Yes, teach them about God's mercy and really focus on that...but don't let them wallow around thinking that all they have to do is trust...and continue in their sin. People need to be restored to a relationship with God, and YOU are the one God is sending to reach out to those people and (gently) provide them with the information they need to increase their desperation for God.
Don't be complacent and don't let someone else's complacency keep you from understanding that the Sacraments are a HUGE DEAL, and we SHOULD be excited about them, and we SHOULD have the desperation of the woman with the hemorrhage of the gospels EACH time we receive a Sacrament!
Trust in God's mercy, certainly...but His Mercy still requires us to have a particular disposition in order to receive it!
I can't say this strongly enough; if you aren't excited about the Sacraments, if you aren't receiving them in a state of pure desperation out of love for God...then you simply have no idea what's going on!
** (yes, I'm speaking in hyperbole again...but only slightly!) ***
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I've written of the intense fear I used to have of storms; I was already afraid of them for some reason, but when a tree hit our roof, right over the room in which I slept in morning daylight in what seemed to be a garden-variety storm, well...my fear went into overdrive. For a long time.
I watched the weather closely, and if the nighttime promised storms, I refused to sleep either with my Mom or even in my own bedroom. Why? Because there was a very large tree directly outside my window, and I was afraid that a strong wind would topple it right on top of me.
So I slept on the floor in the livingroom right by the big bay window that ran from the floor to the ceiling.
It was a stupid place to sleep, but then again...I was so terrified that the slightest rumble of thunder woke me up and prepared me to take immediate flight. I slept by the windows with the drapes open, for that way, I could see what was coming. As long as I could see, I was terrified and shuddering, but I was OK. Because it gave me a sense of control over my ability to protect myself and sound the alarm for my family. I was the self-appointed "guard", and I would be assured of being the first to know if a storm threatened us.
My heart just goes out to all the kids in Hugo, and their families, for guaranteed, never again will ANY of those people be able to look at a threatening sky and go about their business. They will remember the EF-3 that wiped out their homes, took a life, injured several...and destroyed their sense of safety.
Please keep all of those people in your prayers.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Here I am, an adult, having been Baptised, having received Holy Communion countless times, and having been Confirmed. I have fully embraced our faith, I believe all the Church teaches, and I'm constantly striving to learn more...I have 2,000 years to catch up on!
But I asked myself that question: what if? What if it was a sham, and I was never validly Baptized?
Had I died, as I would still have the stain of original sin, I would not have the Beatific Vision, but I would be seeing God through a veil, for I would have the Baptism of Desire...but that's not what we're made for. We are made for eternal union with God. But I am living; so in my musings I need not think too hard on limbo or purgatory.
I would need to focus on my life as it is...and where I'm headed.
If I was not validly Baptised, it would mean that the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation would be invalid. I wouldn't really be Catholic. I wouldn't be receiving those graces. But I would have to then be Baptized properly, I'd have to receive First Holy Communion...for real, and I'd have to be Confirmed.
As I sat in class, musing on these things, suddenly a sense of desperation arose in me; I nearly wept at the very thought that I would be so cut off from the mistake of those who had gone before me! I would be angry at the betrayal of the priest and my parents, and I would RUN, not walk, to my Pastor, pound down his door and BEG for the Sacraments, right there on the spot!
I would not be able to live another moment without valid sacraments; I would fear for my salvation, and I would desperately be grasping for our Lord, in that very moment, panicking, realizing that I'd been living a false life.
I have no idea how a priest would handle that, if a fully informed adult would come to him begging for the Sacraments, someone known to him but who had only learned of an invalid baptism. I have to wonder if that has happened, and how the Pastor handled it?
Would he be able to provide those Sacraments on the spot, so to speak? Or would that soul, even the most educated, still have to attend classes for "preparation"?
I'd be begging for instant Baptism, instant Confirmation, instant Holy Communion...because, knowing what these Sacraments mean, I don't think I could live without them. And I suspect my Pastor would be as horrified, or even more so than I in such a situation. Yet...what would he be able to do?
But this musing made me ask another question, one with more universal application.
Are you aware that, if you commit a mortal sin, you lose your Baptism? Literally, you are severed from God. That literally means that you've rendered your other Sacraments not only invalid, but each time you receive Holy Communion you bring judgment upon yourself. Because it's not a matter of someone else's embrace of the heresy of Modalism or some other, but your own personal rejection of God.
So I considered this, and wondered...when I have been in a state of mortal sin, or if I am in the future, or even now, why have I not felt that same desperation to come back to God? Why have I not immediately beaten down Father's door, begging to be reconciled? Because each valid Cofession is akin to being Baptised again, to being Confirmed again, and, upon the reception of Holy Communion, it's like the same one again!
We get so locked into our sins that we don't realize how lost we are; we sometimes learn about the heresies, but without understanding that their implications are alive and well today and they are condemned because even our everyday actions might thrust us outside of God's grace! And we're so complacent to that. It's great to talk about Modalism and how awful it is that the feminists have cut so many off from Salvation...but what of all of us who choose mortal sin and sever that relatinonship with God all on our own?
Why are we not so desperate?
We should all receive all of the Sacraments in such a state of complete desperation. We should all be striving for our Salvation in a state of fear and trembling, loving our Lord so much that our fear is that we would be cut off from Him for eternity.
** "Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier" is actually the heresy of Modalism, which finds its way innocently even into common religious ed programs, including RCIA, through well-meaning instructors who use the example of water: vapor, ice, water. This is Sabellianism, or Modalism, as it was commonly called, which mistakenly identfies the Trinity according to "modes" as in different modes of water. To baptise someone according to modalism is invalid for it is not a pronouncement of the Trinity. And to teach others about the Trinity according to the example of water is to indoctrinate heretics....don't do it. It has been oficially condemned in the Early Church. **
The tornado that touched down near me did do some damage in a local neighborhood, but it was nothing on the scale of the damage done in a suburb to our east, in Hugo. The tornado, which apparently they think might be an EF-3, seemed to follow the street and just tore the homes apart, sending some of them into the pond. That's the very pond where the little boy was found, and those who tried to save him were unable to do so.
I can't imagine what that family is going through; their four-year-old is also hospitalized and in very serious condition. Please pray for that family.
I know several people in that town, and am thankful I haven't seen them or their names on TV. When I get to work tomorrow, hopefully we'll find out who is involved and who isn't, and I suspect the parish will be doing something to help that community.
In the last couple years, it seems that whenever we get storms, they are severe, and they are destructive. I remember the days of hearing of a "severe storm" and it passes over, fairly benign. But for the last two summers, I can't remember a single severe storm that didn't do pockets of major damage, at the very least. And it seems we don't get run-of-the-mill thunderstorms anymore. It's either just rain..or it's severe.
Please keep all those affected in your prayers.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
But I'm concerned. We finished class around 4 pm, but a lot of people were still there when I left, and a lot of the students are traveling in all directions from our class location, some students have around a 150 mile drive or so to get home.
I arrived home around 4:30, the sky was blackening the closer I got to home so I prayed for the time to let me dog out and get back inside. Sure enough, I walked her around our building, got back to my door as the wind was gusting, closed the door, turned on the TV ,then went to close the garage door. It was POURING out and it looked like we had some hail!
God answers even the small prayers.
That storm passed mostly to our north, but another line is coming this way, and both storms are very destructive. Please pray for us, for those traveling, and for all in the path of these storms!
And there are the sirens for the second round...signing off!
UPDATE 5:48 PM: During the second round of the storm, I opened my front door (sirens were no longer going off), looking at the hail covering the ground. But it looked like maybe something else had dropped from the sky..something that from afar resembled a Miraculous Medal. I bent down to pick it up (as it was literally at my feet) and it was a flat piece of hail, perfectly formed, round, but containing an oval that looked like an eye, with layers of clear and white ice. I put that and similar pieces of hail in the freezer.
They just said on the News that a tornado touched down about 1/2 mile north of my house during the first round of storms. That particular storm went on to cause a lot of other damage, too. Also in my city apparently are reports of downed trees and even cars tipped over on the highway. There doesn't seem to be any damage in my immediate area.
Please keep those affected by the storm in your prayers.
I usually watch the news/weather in the morning as I sip my coffee and check email. On Sundays, however, at least when I'm up this early, there is no news or weather. So I flipped to EWTN, thinking maybe they'd have the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or something.
Nope. They had a show on called, "Answering the Master's Call." The info blurb on it (which is usually incorrect with regard to EWTN programming) said that it was "priests talking about their lives and vocations". I found that description acceptable and selected the program. And there appeared before my eyes a Carmelite Sister, talking about her discernment, and then about her life as a Sister. It was a great show.
Why have I never heard of it? So I went to EWTN's website to see if it's on at any other time. Because, let me be honest...I am NOT going to get up at 5:00 am every Sunday to plant myself in front of the TV, even for a show like this.
Well, good news...it's ALSO on Tuesdays at 2:30 pm!
Which isn't helpful. I'm always at work at that time. Which is good...to have a job, that is.
I don't know what EWTN is thinking here. I love EWTN. They're incredible. But THIS is REALLY BAD marketing! What audience do they have at those times? I just happened to find it, and would consider myself to be one of their target audience for such a program.
But I'm not going to be regularly available at this time of day, nor at 2:30 on a Tuesday. The funny thing is this: people who have their lives together enough to seriously be discerning something so big as their vocation, and actually considering religious life or priesthood are not home at 2:30 in the afternoon, typically. They're working, or sitting in class somewhere. And if they're up at 5:00 am, they're not likely to have the TV on because they're getting ready for Mass. Or they're praying. (I'm an anomoly).
So....there you have it. The program exists, it's great, and you should know about it. Everyone should know about it. It should be on prime. Or at least close to Prime.
Cool thing about today's though; it was a Sister from the Carmelites of the Divine Heart of Jesus. This was a community I wanted to visit a few years ago, although in a different location; Wisconsin. (Or maybe Indiana?). In any case, I tried to send emails but they didn't go through, and the timing didn't work out, anyway. But a friend of mine gave me a 2nd class relic of their foundress, which I still have.
OK, end of PSA for this morning.
Friday, May 23, 2008
My Dad was an unflagging optimist who stubbornly held onto ideas even when they were proven to be wrong...because they had to work! They just had to! And so he would try the same things again and again, making minor adjustments, sure that eventually the "formula" would be right and there would be success.
Unfortunately, sometimes his ideas, with love as the foundation, intruded into reality in ways he did not intend.
As a "Daddy's Girl", I always wanted to be around him and I trusted him implicitly; in my eyes, he could do no wrong. And so, when it came time for me to learn how to ride a bike, Dad was right there for me. I had been riding with training wheels, but Dad felt maybe it was time to give me my own wings. He knew I was afraid of falling, so I wouldn't let him take the training wheels off. Dad understood, so he studied the problem and came up with a solution.
He would leave the training wheels on...but he'd raise them a little bit. That way, as I rode, if I started to lose my balance, the bike would tip down on the wheel, which would be enough to stop it from tipping, and I'd be able to work to right it again. I agreed this idea was logical. Many things operate on such a principal...it was a "safety catch" of sorts. So I let him move the wheels.
Trusting Daddy, I got up on my bike, and started to pedal. And then I lost my balance...and spilled hard onto the pavement. I got up crying, and Dad dried my tears, assured me I was fine, and said he thought he knew what the problem was. He adjusted the wheels again, thinking that he'd put the training wheels up too high...if he lowered them, the idea would still work.
So off I went again...and crashed! And again, I was crying, and I didn't want to fall again so I told Dad his idea didn't work and I wanted the training wheels back like they were. Dad was very very sorry, but he asked for another chance, because he KNEW this idea would work! So, still trusting Daddy, trusting that all would be well, and his promises that I wouldn't crash, I let him adjust the training wheels again.
You see where I'm going with this, don't you? Yup. I crashed again. It was just like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. Over and over again. And that time, I was done crashing. I couldn't handle this any more, and I was really really crying. And this time when I got up I ran inside to get Mom. Because it really DID hurt when I hit the gravel and pavement, and I really was all scraped up, and although I knew Daddy really did think his idea would work, my bruises proved him wrong.
I still remember my dad's stricken expression as I ran away from him, refusing to be comforted, going to Mom, and my Dad turning again to his work, trying hard to help me learn how to ride a bike through proper mechanics.
Mom and my older brother (by 2 years) talked him into putting the training wheels as they were. And finally they all coaxed me out to get me to ride again, and Dad proved to me that the wheels were just as they had been, and he was really really sorry that I'd fallen before. And I accepted his apology and gingerly got on the bike...and rode off into the sunset.
Or at least down to the end of the street and back. A few weeks later, one of my brother's friends observed, "She's just dragging those wheels...she's riding all by herself." But I didn't believe him, as usually, they were always teasing me. I didn't want to crash. It took them a few days but finally I was convinced of their sincerity and allowed my brother's friend to take the wheels off.
I was terrified, but desperately wanted to trust I really could do this. I really did want to ride my bike, all by myself! So I began to pedal...and didn't tip! So I pedaled a little more...still going! I got to the end of the block, turned around, and rode past the house, triumphant, joyful, and proud! And I only wished Dad had been there to see me. It seemed wrong that he wasn't the one to take off the wheels. He'd offered to do so...but I'd refused, because I didn't trust him any more.
It's one of those bittersweet memories, but one I think we all have at some point; that our parents aren't perfect. I laugh even at spilling into the street and my Dad's absolute insistence that this would work. Why? Because I'm just like him, in more ways than I care to admit.
Trust is a huge thing. It's a big deal. It's foundational. And when trust is lost, it messes up a lot of other things, too. That day I learned that I couldn't always trust my Dad, and I followed through with that distrust by allowing someone else to take over "his" job.
I don't think this particular situation applies, as there is a difference in types of trust and "betrayal", which I define as any decimation of trust, big or small. So it was a small betrayal that day, maybe even a necessary one, but larger ones came later on in our lives. Yet it is in us to want to trust, to need to trust, and to really retain that as a foundation of all our relationships.
And who is it most important to trust? Our parents. They stand in for God, so when things go wrong with a family, there's a domino effect that carries the harm far beyond the family itself.
I've often thought about this especially since I started realizing that God was asking me to make a committment to Him..or SOMEONE. I've often lamented that it's hard to let God love me, and even that I don't love Him enough. And I think, as it's all on my end, it's from the trust that was destroyed when I was so young. Not from the bike and the training wheels, but from the destruction of my family.
I used to argue that although I come from a divorced family, I'm totally normal and fine and blah blah blah. Lies. I still remember making my last argument...and in that argument I affirmed the point that indeed, I have been injured by my family's crisis. No, I'm not angry with my parents, and objectively, the divorce was a good thing on many levels. Mom did what she had to do, and her decision protected us from worse harm. But that doesn't mean that there weren't casualties.
All of us. We're all a bunch of walking wounded.
But God is faithful, and over time, He knows how to rebuild trust. And He is patient, because it takes time. He first reveals Himself to us, and then asks us to take a step. And He gives us success. And then He asks for something more and something more. He rebuilds us. He reveals a larger family, and when we're ready, he takes off the training wheels. And even if the wheels fail, He is always there to catch us. We may fall of our own accord and sprawl in the street, but God never causes injury...He binds it.
My Dad wasn't perfect, and no parents can meet that standard. They do their best. My memory of the training wheels actually makes me love my Dad more for his flaws..and for the lesson he unwittingly provided. If he was still walking the earth, I'd call him up today and remind him of that...and of the lessons I've learned since then.
I think that part of the injury of broken homes comes from such a huge betrayal of trust on so many levels that the "walking wounded" don't even know that they have to forgive. But if we look back on the little things and see the small imperfections, it's much easier to look at the bigger ones in a different light. And from that standpoint, forgiveness comes more easily.
I forgave my Dad a long time ago for the little things, and I think that, now, as an adult I can finally forgive him for the bigger ones. Dad was nothing if not human, and if it wasn't for both the good and the bad, I wouldn't be the person I am today.
I miss you, Dad. Rest in Peace.
Requiem aeternam dona ei,
Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace. Amen.
As you know, I'm extremely worried about being able to pay my bills this summer. And while I do want to visit the Sisters (either an overnight or a weekend, maybe in July once I'm done with work), it's hard to find accomodations for my dog...because that costs money. And going out to the Sisters' motherhouse..out of the question right now.
I've been lamenting the irony that I have the time...but not the money. There is a chance that I can get some work at a business owned by friends this summer as they have an employee taking a few weeks off. And so if they call me, I'll certainly go! And I'll have 10 hours each week through my own work. But that's not a lot of income.
But there's one question I haven't been asking in all my musing...what does GOD want me to do with this time? What is HIS plan for my summer? I know part of it (going to Cleveland...woohoo!), but I can't spend an entire summer away.
There are a few religious communities around here, habited sisters, and some of them have active apostolates that, I think, also utilize volunteers. I realized that even if I'm not interested in their particular communities, exposure to their work and their lifestyle and of course proximinity to those sisters could be very helpful in my own discernment. I'm not sure if this is what God has in mind, but it hit me that if He wants me to volunteer for this purpose, He'll also provide the funds to cover my summer expenses, one way or another.
God doesn't call us to things and then drop us like hot potatoes! (We actually tend to panic and jump ourselves, right out of His hands....)
So, I think I'll be spending some time talking to God as I consider this possibility...or others if they come to me in prayer.
I've so been looking at the world from a human perspective, a perspective of materialism and even attachment. But I think it's important to take this step back and really ask...does God want me to work for money....or for His Kingdom?
Thursday, May 22, 2008
5.....4.....3....2....1....CRANKY CATHY is BACK! And she's ticked off about weddings, about the bride and groom dissing God, and about the general lack of respect for the sacrament. And she's also ticked off at the same Modernist philosophies that ran through our last episode's theme! And don't even get her STARTED on the topic of CHEST HAIR!
And what of Swissmiss? As it turns out, she's a bad influence, admitting to theft and posting a Meme that encourages the same behavior via her lack of tagging! But WAIT! There's more! She's wondering, if she adds rum to her coke, will things get any better? Go READ and find out!
Meanwhile, back in OHIO....
It's Father Schnippel's 4th Anniversary of ordination, and he's celebrating. Does that have anything to do with the disappearance of Father V. and his missing morning post? He's decided it was "too late" to post for today and claimed his computer was down. What's the real deal? Was it a conspiracy? A spiritual attack? Where's Father V.? Even his Cybersis hasn't heard from him! Does this bode badly for Father S.?
Send the COAST GUARD! But WAIT! She's about to DELETE HER ENTIRE BLOG! Stop the travesty! We need her to save our homies, report on the Church in Chicago, and her dear wee one! Will Ma Beck disappear off the face of St. Blog's?
Speaking of the Church, and the future of the Church....
What's going on with the Brothers and Sisters of Perpetual Discernment?
When we last left the group, they were inviting suggestions for new Monastery names, but so far, one has yet to be chosen. Sister Caprice, the airheaded maybe-discerner has taken her woes to Father, and revealed some of the dark secrets of her past that keep her from knowing God. Father, in a moment of true priestly service was generous in his spiritual direction...could this be a moment of healing for Sr. Caprice? Could Sister's revelation and obvious need for a real family change Father's and Mother Frangelico's ways? Or will they revert to their hardened selves with the entry of two newcomers, Brother Gus and Sister Maxine?
And what of the GHOST in the Monastery? Is it a newbie or is a menacing presence truly terrorizing Sister Caprice? Or could it be, as a commenter suggested, that there is a practical joker in the house?
Go to the Monastery to follow their story!
Next we return to Ironic Catholic, the Catholic Worker of St. Blog's. She's exhausted and is taking a vacation, by her report. And she's tired. Could she be sick? Or just sick and tired of school this year? But if she doesn't recover, we all ask the question....WILL SHE BE FUNNY ANYMORE??????
And what about the elusive Uncle Jim. He's associating with those in the Witness Protection program, tampering with those named "Tony". Is he going to have a show on HBO or is his revelation of Tony's secrets enough to endanger his business and his prayer life? Keep an eye on Uncle Jim!
But that's NUTHIN' up against the battle Angela is fighting! It's a carrot versus butter! Who can withstand such a test?!
And finally, we check in with Adrienne, who was angsting over the bananas when last we met.
She survived! And what's more, she gives great kudos to REACH, a teen ministry in the western states, and we are asked if maybe she is trying to matchmake a Byzantine Priest, (He IS married!) who, according to local teens, looks very cool in his hat? Or could it just be that the teens flock to the rockstars that make up the priesthood in our day and age?
Stay tuned for our next episode of....Blogs of our Lives!
(Stage cue...Music.... Ave Maria.....)
What time is your alarm clock set to? 6:00 am most days, class weekends 5:00 or 5:15 am
What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? That they are the opposite sex.
Do you think people talk about you behind your back? Isn't that why my left ear keeps ringing?
What movie do you know every line to? You should never end a sentence with a preposition. It's bad grammar. The proper way to phrase the question is this: "To which movie do you know every line by heart?" My answer is this: "The Princess Bride" and "Finding Nemo"
What is your favorite movie? I have a few favorites: "Flicka", "The Princess Bride", "Gone in 60 Seconds", "The Guardian", and obviously, "Finding Nemo."
Is anyone in love with you? Um...not likely.
Do you sleep on your side, stomach or back? Side and back, and back to side again.
Who was the last person to make you mad? That's a tough one. I don't remember...I must have forgiven that person. Hmmmm....will edit if I can remember who last torqued my jaw.
Are you a lover or a fighter? Both. In my last job, especially when I got towards the end and was just sick and tired of people lying to me, I became quite confrontational, and sometimes in person. My superior happened to be with me one day, and while my confrontational attitude was not that bad, my superior found it necessary to comment, "You're not carrying a .9mm anymore! Confront him on the phone!" He was right. But by nature, as one of my FTO's observed, I'm more of a "meek and mild" sort. I will avoid confrontation if I can and find a reasonable resolution to conflict rather than fight. But I'm no pushover....most of the time. Just don't corner me or the claws come out (and they are LONG claws!)
Are you a morning or evening person? Used to be evening, maybe that's often still the case, but I worked nights for almost 4 years, and ever since then, I've been far more appreciative of daylight. I won't go so far as to say I'm a "morning" person, but I do realize that I'm sharper and more productive in the morning....during and after my coffee!
Are you a cuddler? Yes.
.Are you a perfectionist? Selectively
Have you ever written a poem? Several, a couple published here on my blog. I don't write poetry anymore, though.
Do you have more guy or girl friends? Both. I used to have more guy friends as I worked in many male-dominated fields. What was ironic was that, there I was hanging out with a crowd of about 10 guys, all friends, and they were speaking of the movie, "When Harry Met Sally. " Great movie. But they held to the premise of the movie: "It's impossible for men and women to be friends because there will always be sexual tension." It always made me laugh, because there I was and they barely recognized that I was a woman, in spite of my painted nails, my makeup, my long hair, hairless face, etc. LOL! And I can honestly say that NO, I NEVER considered... * ahem * ...with ANY of those guys! Perhaps I can't speak for all of them, but not a single one of the 10 ever hit on me. (You know...come to think of it, that's insulting...) I probably have more female friends now, but I can still easily relate to guys.
How many tickets have you gotten? 1 "Failure to Yield" back in 1992 when I totalled my car, and 1 parking ticket for parking on a bridge in Minneapolis when I gave up on finding a parking spot in Dinky Town! (Locals will relate to that frustration...)
Piercings? Nope. My Dad ticked off my Mom by getting my ears pierced when I was 13, and they ended up getting infected (Mom's fault, ironically), and I never got them re-pierced and refuse to do so.
Do you have a tattoo? Two of them, both obtained after the age of 25
Are you patient? WHAT ARE YOU ACCUSING ME OF? OK, seriously, I'm working on that particular virtue. Others have told me that I'm patient, but I don't see it. It was a virtue I had as a child, but then I grew up and it went away.
Do you miss anyone right now? My Dad, who passed away in 1995.
Tea or coffee? COFFEE!
Regularly burn incense? Sometimes. The good stuff, not the church stuff, but Incense from India, selected ones. When I feel like it.
Ever been in love? I thought I was. I was wrong because I didn't know what love was.
Best room for a fireplace? Livingroom
What do you do when you’re sad or upset? Write, walk, go to the gym, pray, go to Adoration, go to Mass
Afraid of heights? No. However, I have a strange fear of falling that I've had ever since I was a child. Firefighter training was absolute agony for me, and although it helped, the fear has not gone away. Thus, you will not find me on the roof!
Can you change the oil in your car? No. I know the idea behind it, but I've never done it, was never taught, and don't even have the tools to do it. (But I sure can tell you lots of stuff about your engine and can write damage estimates on the components of the engine compartment!)
Favorite flower? There are a few: Lilacs, roses (especially if they are given to me!), sunflowers, bleeding hearts.
Favorite hangout? Apparently my computer. (Wow, that's sad)
Middle name? Marie (after my Grandmother)
Most romantic sounding language? Spanish "Cuando dos personas se quieren y se sienten bien, ellos se embrazan y se besan mucho..."
Ever been overseas? I spent a semester in Mexico in college, but otherwise I've never been anywhere outside of this country. Not even Canada, about 6 hours to our North.
I tag...no one. Steal it as fairly as I did!
Jesus was crucified when he was 33, and that's something I've kept in mind all year long, and especially during Lent and on Good Friday. St. Catherine of Siena also figured prominently into my year, and she also died when she was 33.
And you know, it's been a great year, but a tough one. Shortly after my birthday last year, my greyhound was diagnosed with Osetosarcoma, and less than a month later, I had to take him to the vet to put him to sleep. That was quite the agonizing time, especially considering the fact that I'd finally given notice at my job and was jumping into thin air, sure I'd be homeless by now. But God is always glorified when we trust Him and give Him everything. I quite literally gave Him everything last summer, including my dog...and God was there for me. He sent me many kind souls to help me pay the vet bills, He sent me kind souls to help me pay for some of my grad school expenses, and He gave me a new job.
And He has been leading me by the hand all year. I don't even think I'm the same person now than I was a year ago.
So it's been a glorious year, filled with great joys and terrible sufferings throughout, and really, that's how Our Lord conforms us to Himself.
And I'm sort of sad to see this particular year go, because that particular number, 33, has come to have meaning for me. It's a year that helped me grow closer to Jesus Christ in ways I could not have expected. Although, just as that was only the real beginning for Him and for us, I know that He is only inviting me to take a new look, to go deeper into the mystery of the Cross, and truly let it define my life.
Life isn't about numbers and it's not about time, although it IS something that binds us in our humanity. But it doesn't define us.
Yet, I can't help but realize that within a month, I'm going to be "older than Jesus."
Now, that's just downright depressing!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Ugh...I have TWO MORE YEARS of this agony?
You know..if I didn't love God, I wouldn't do this at all.
And although my brain is fried (thus my last paper isn't finished tonight), I'm all psyched up for some strange reason. Which is bad, because I really need to go to sleep. Being wound up and sleeping don't go together well. It usually ends with "tossing and turning". Followed by a long miserable day.
But since this paper is nearly done, well, tomorrow evening I can finish it as I grill my dinner (going to be a nice evening)...unless I'm lazy and just bake a pizza. No matter!
OK, off to try to relax. Eventually, maybe as early as tomorrow, I'll get back to trying to post deep thoughts, Adoro-style. Until then...ta-ta!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I still have stuff to finish for my other classes, and I have huge mental blocks that are preventing me from wrapping my mind around some of these ideas. It didn't help that Sunday (or maybe Saturday) night I had a dream. A terrible one. I dreamed that on our lunch break at class, our professor set a piece of paper down on my desk, and when I turned it over, I saw my grade: "F"! It was awful! And I realized that I'd forgotten to turn in my assignment, so I went to the professor, whom I know to be very merciful, and explained that I hadn't completed it, didn't know why, and asked for our lunch break to complete it. He agreed. And I turned it in, knowing that I'd be docked a full grade, and as a result, I'd have to drop out of the program because I'd lose the scholarship and the bad grade might force me to have to retake the class. And I became very resigned to this disaster.
I woke up very relieved that I don't officially have a bad grade...yet.
And then last night...oy! It was a conglomeration of bad dreams! First I was in a building sorta like my Alma Mater, but with more twists and turns than any building ever created! And someone told me to carry an elderly priests' bags up to an area near the chapel there, which I was happy to do, but I had to do something else there, too. But I wasn't sure what! And Mass was going on, and I went into the sacristy (which looked like a large industrial kitchen), thinking I was supposed to help the sacristan, suddenly terrified that Father had nothing to consecrate and it must be my fault! But a student was present and sent me back downstairs. So I nearly fell down the stairs and found another chapel, then learned that was where I was supposed to bring the bags.
Oh, and for some reason I was planning a wedding, I was wearing a veil and realized that somehow all the wedding planning was done although I didn't remember any of it, and invitations had been sent. But it was to be a small wedding and I was really relieved because I was tired from dragging the elderly priest's luggage all over a crazy building! And of course, I had NO IDEA to whom I was about to be married! (And no, it wasn't the old priest..! LOL!)
And now I'm going to go to sleep. I hope.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Basically, the "scholar", a "leading New Testament scholar" and "former priest" (these terms are ALWAYS red flags especially when used in the same sentence!), Geza Vermes, has condemned Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth, claiming that he's "turned back the clock on "modern scholarship".
Actually..the Pope indeed has done so, and thank God! The Pope has condemned most modern "scholarship". Because, unfortunately, most modern biblical scholarship is in fact, Modernist, and actually rejects Divine Revelation in favor of the modernist or "progressive" idea that religion does not come to us from outside of us, but internally, and is subject to an interior evolution.
Some modernist biblical "scholars" to avoid have names like: Bultmann, [Raymond] Brown, Fitzmyer, and Vernes. (Fitzmyer actually plagiarized Bultmann just as Luther plagiarized Ockham). FYI.
Anyway, on with some of the article (I encourage you to read all of it):
Vermes devoted his presentation to arguing that on the basis of the New Testament, the image of Jesus that emerges is that of a charismatic, wonder-working Jewish holy man, and thus not the divine Son of God claimed by later Christian tradition.
Does anyone ELSE see a problem with this? If Jesus was a "charismatic, wonder-working Jewish holy man" and NOT the Son of God, WHY in the WORLD have so MANY gone to their DEATHS to proclaim that Jesus was who He claimed to be: THE SON OF GOD! Our illustrious and holy Pope Benedict also calls our attention to this fact in "Jesus of Nazareth" Those who actully bother to read this book will find themselves convinced by the logic of the Pope's exegesis...versus this "scholar's" idiotic claims.
“In Jesus of Nazareth, published under the alias of Joseph Ratzinger, the pope declares that the Gospels’ Christ of faith is the historical Jesus, thus turning the clock back by several centuries,” Vermes said.
Actually, the Baptismal name of Pope Benedict XVI is and remains "Joseph Ratzinger". Using the term "alias" is actually a red herring designed to discredit him. As a former investigator, I am well versed in the use of the word "alias", and it normally has negative connotations. Thus, this simple word "alias" actually gives us a very CLEAR and RESOUNDING signal as to the loyalties of the author of this article. And this author ain't fond of our Holy Father. Nor is he or the subject of the article (Vermes) a loyal son of the Church.
And you know, it's about darn time that the "clock be turned back" on "centuries" of what passes for "biblical scholarship" in this age! Would that Bultmann, Fitzmyer, and Brown never found a pen to express their idea of "scholarship"! Would that Modernism never found a foothold in the world!
Seriously, read the entire article. The "scholar" cited, Vermes, was a Catholic in Name Only. His parents converted in order to avoid the Holocaust, but were killed by Hitler, anyway. (Please pray for them, and for their misguided son). Vermes was ordained, and then reverted to Judaism, likely partially because he was never really Catholic. And I understand; the faith that should have saved his family still killed them. I can't imagine his heartache, but I still condemn his alleged scholarship, which conflicts with the Magisterial teachings of Holy Mother Church.
His interview is enlightening:
In a nutshell, what’s your objection to the pope’s book?
I reviewed the book in the Times of London, where I called it “pre-Copernican.” It’s the way he approaches the problem. He claims to be following the historical method, but when it takes him somewhere he doesn’t want to go, it’s no good. He even criticizes Catholic New Testament experts
The problem is that the Pope used the historical-critical method properly, not divorced from faith, and remained loyal to the Apostolic understanding of who Christ really was. In other words, the Pope wrote his book and his exegesis in the hermeneutic of continuity. As far as criticizing "Catholic New Testament experts", well, they're not experts. They are Modernists. They have left the faith and they are deconstructionists who reject Divine Revelation. The Pope's JOB is to denounce them! It's a HUGE PROBLEM when "experts" are trying to take precedence in their personal opinions over and above the authority given to the Magisterial teaching of the Church with regard to faith and morals!
He’s obviously fond of the work of the Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner, who seems to believe that the historical Jesus understood himself to be more or less what Christians think of as the Christ of faith.
Jacob Neusner is a very old friend of mine. We’re bosom pals. My impression, however, is that when it comes to the Gospels, Neusner is pulling our legs. Suddenly he becomes almost a fundamentalist Christian in the interpretation of the New Testament, only in order to disagree with it at the end. But it’s a very useful argument for the pope, because here’s this unbelieving Jew who’s acknowledging what the pope really thinks.
Anyone who actually READS THE BOOK will realize that Rabbi Neusner approaches the Christian perspective from a great deal of integrity, both from his own position of faith and also of the true Catholic faith. He does not compromise either, and ultimately disagrees with Christianity. Pope Benedict, in his own clear integrity, shows both the Rabbi's agreement and disagreement, but is classy enough not to refer to his dear friend Rabbi Neusner as a "bosom pal" as a way to give him seeming credibility. He allows proper scholarship to stand on its own, in black and white, allowing for agreement and disagreement for the enlightenment of all.
Would you give the pope credit at least for being conversant with modern Biblical scholarship?
As far as I can see, he’s conversant with the kind of scholarship he studied as a student. Apart from Neusner, however, he doesn’t seem aware of any scholarship that dates from after 1970. Of course, the pope was never trained as an exegete. I’m not sure how well he knows the languages involved. There are a few funny bits in the book that experts in Judaism at the time of Jesus wouldn’t say.
If the Pope is not "aware of any scholarshop that dates from after 1970", well, how exactly can the Pope condemn the very ideas that are most prolific in modern "experts", which build upon and outright plagiarize the "scholarship" of those who came before 1970? I challenge you to find ONE "expert" that Vermes will agree with that does not ascribe to the very same things that Bultmann, Fitzmyer, and Brown have advanced! (As I am not a Biblical scholar, I know there are more, I can check my course notes from this semester, but those are the big three.) I don't think that the "scholars" of the "Jesus Seminar" will qualify as offerings...they're following the path begun by those I cited and others who thought in a similar vein.
The pope wants to reconcile traditional doctrinal beliefs about Christ with what we find in the New Testament. Are you saying that’s just not possible?
It’s possible, if you follow the reasoning. Historical scholars distinguish between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. If you admit this distinction, you can then argue that the Christ of faith is an interpretation of the historical Jesus. You can hold this point of view, as long as it can be argued in a rational way.
Actually, as Catholics, legitimate Catholics, we believe that at one point God entered history and became a part of it. And in fact, we see that the sacrifice of Christ is the absolute CENTER of history. We cannot therefore divorce Christ from consideration of history. Nor can we divorce faith from consideration of Christ and what has been revealed, for Divine Revelation requires faith, a certain assent of the will, assent of faith, to what God has revealed. We can understand that God exists through rational and logical means, although if we refuse the gift of faith, we are nothing but naturalists, and thus we cannot be Catholic. God has revealed Himself, but if we choose to read scripture divorced from Apostolic Tradition and from a hermeneutic of continuity, we make ourselves heretics. St. Pius X denounced this same type of scholarship as "Modernism", which divorces faith from reason, just as described above. And Modernism is indeed the "synthesis of all heresies".
I offer this very article as a perfect example of it. Question any "modern biblical scholar" that renounces the Church Fathers, the hermeneutic of continuity and claims that the "clock is being turned back."
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
In my reading for one of my classes this year, there have been things that have truly helped me to obtain a better grasp on who God is, which is something that I apparently need, intellectually as well as spiritually. We are all called into a greater union with God, and in order to truly enter into such an intimate relationship, we need to know more about the other. God knows everything about us; He knows us better than we will ever know ourselves, and He loves us anyway. He loves all of us unconditionally. Isn't that profound, especially when we consider our true faces?
God sees what the world doesn't get to see; He deals with our temper tantrums, our begging, our pleading, and our refusals to obey. And yet He waits, He doesn't flinch, and He doesn't argue. All the argument comes from us.
Then the more I study for my class, the more I come to understand that sin is, as St. Thomas Aquinas defined it, really a rejection of God's love. It is a distrust in His promises, and such an act is painful more so to Him than to us; for He has a far greater understanding of what we're doing and He knows the real harm that is being done wheras we cannot even FATHOM the depths of even our own pain.
I have come to realize that even though I have this knowledge and now a greater understanding, it does not stop me from turning my back on God. Through this realization, I see how desperately I need a Savior, how desperately I must cling to Jesus because without Him, I would be completely lost.
There is such IRONY in us, the realization of which never fails to floor me. We human beings, ALL of us, are complete and utter hypocrites. We commit spiritual adultery.
We go back to the Garden of Eden, and we see that the serpent tempted Eve; he introduced distrust of God, and through that, Eve sinned in the rejection of His love. And that sin spread, didn't it?
The Bible is a love story; it is a continuous story about how God, the Lover Rejected, has continued to reach down to humanity repeatedly through covenants and miracles, trying to restore the relationship man rejected. It's about centuries upon centuries of stories of God in His infinite love, seeking to restore man to his former and always-intended dignity.
Yet have you noticed that it is not God who EVER rejected us?
It is WE who first rejected GOD, and it is WE who CONTINUE to reject God! Yet the very moment something does not go our way, what do we do but accuse God?
We blame God! We call GOD into question! We curse God! We reject His Love!
In other words, the more God does to restore our dignity, the more we struggle, the more we fight, and the more we reject Him.
All we really need to do is recognize who God is, stop having spiritual temper tantrums, and submit to His will for us.
And even now, though I've stated all of the above, I can't for the life of me figure out how to truly surrender to God.
I have come to realize that I'm in rebellion. Against what, exactly, I don't really know. But I have come to see that I am rebelling against God, and through this, God is not able to get through to the core - I simply won't let him.
Why is this so hard? Why can't I just let go and let God love me?
* Top: Van Dyke, Betrayal of Christ, Baroque
* Lower Right: Mark Kostabi
Friday, May 16, 2008
It was a BEAUTIFUL day, still is beautiful, although it's cloudy now. But I took advantage of the nice breeze, the sunshine, and the fact that I had to plant my nose in a book and went outside to soften the difficulty of studying.
Class is next weekend, and I still have a boatload of work to do! This month I've had a really hard time focusing, partially because my work hours are all over the board, I've had only partial days off and have had to work long hours during the week so as to get even one solid day off without having to drive to work. (Seriously...it's costing me MORE to drive to work on some days than I'm earning in the time period I'm there!) But I'm making the sacrifice because it's important to others and I'm just going to have to trust God to pay for the gas that goes into my car on those days. But it's also spring, my brain is tired, I can't seem to focus at all on my studying even when I DO have time, and basically...I have spring fever.
It's time to be done.
But I've got a Christology paper to do for my New Testament class, and it's a doozie! And I still have to finish my essay questions on Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth. And what's more...I have to finish my essay questions for my two other classes, and I'm struggling with a couple of them. I wrote to the professor yesterday for some clarification and direction, which he provided, but I'm still unsure. And I NEED to do well this month because last month I didn't do as well, made some really dumb mistakes, and I can't do that again!
I do so much better with structured time, regular days off, regular hours, and secure in the knowledge that my next check will cover my monthly basic expenses. I've considered not returning to school next semester, but if I make THAT decision, the loans come due...and I'll be officially declaring bankruptcy. I'm in it for the long haul, I think, and that makes it even MORE important that I do well, because if I don't, then I will lose my scholarship. And that scholarship may only pay 1/3, but it's something.
Going to school is a really bad financial decision, especially considering I don't even know what I'm going to do with it. Because in reality, this MTS degree is NOT going to obtain for me a career that will pay me enough to live, especially in our current economic recession (which they refuse to call a recession). Everything is up...my mortgage payment, my association fee, gas prices are ridiculous and truly, uncalled for other than by a thing we like to call "greed", groceries are up...and I'm going to be unemployed for six weeks this summer unless one of my options comes through. And even then I'm guaranteed to have at least a couple weeks without employment.
Yet is is what it is.
And now it's worse...because my time studying outside today caused a sunburn. A really red, hot one. I can feel the heat radiating off of my arms and legs...the constant sting won't leave me.
Yes, I'm an idiot. I'm just glad I wore a baseball cap otherwise I'd be chopping off my nose about now.
Right now, I'm grilling and rain is threatening. And given the cost of EVERYTHING, including charcoal, I'd prefer to not have my dinner rained out. Because then I'd lose my outdoor fuel and have to pay for my indoor fuel to cook my food. And I'd rather pay for my dinner only once, thank you.
So...a lot is coming up for me this weekend through work, and studying, and next week...please pray for me. I need to get all this stuff done...and what I've written here is only the TIP of the iceburg.
Great...I just heard thunder and now it's pouring.
* sigh *
Thursday, May 15, 2008
When last we met, the Spirit of Vatican II "church" was struggling with issues of incompetent pastorship, drugs, liberating chairs, and all sorts of things. That "community" became divorced from the local ordinary and formed their own Modernist commune involving some really strange militants and even some Federal Agents instrumental in liberating the people from the cult. For the whole story, click on the link and go back to the beginning to read it all! Truly, the end of that "church" is the same (spiritual) end of the modernism we witness today.
But...we have to ask....WHEN will the next "community" pop up and give us something to talk about?
So, to begin our true episode, we go to visit Ma Beck, whose home is on the market and requests prayers. And her adorable daughter Mary is walking and getting into things and constantly inquires, "What dat!?" And to juxtapose the innocence of childhood complicit with the joys of motherhood, she draws our attention to the documentary, "At the Death House Door". She also draws our attention to a woman who has gained glory in Heaven, although she lost the Nobel Prize to Al Gore. Just a reminder that our small (and purely heroic!) efforts on earth will reverberate for eternity...even as the accolates and rewards gone to another for false ideologies corrupt into the same dust and oblivion from which they arose. What other information to inspire holiness will Ma Beck provide for us?
Meanwhile, back at the kneeler....
Swissmiss at St. Monica's Kneeler laments that she's perpetually "out of the loop". Yet she realizes that the loop isn't everything it's cracked up to be and tends to focus on the more important factors in life...such as being a mother. She's also dealing with the realization of the suffering that surrounds her in friends and neighbors and her own social groups. And of course, she's facing the issue of modernism that surrounds her, "intolerance" versus "permissiveness". Will Swissmiss give in and become permissive, leading her children to Hell, or will she maintain the proper balance of true "tolerance" in her life in complete rejection of the modern notion?
Next we go to check in on Father V. at Adam's Ale, who highlights the importance of mothers and how they combat and conquer the world with charity, part of a gift that influenced his own Vocation to the Priesthood. He also discusses Social Justice and feeding or giving money to the homeless that inhabit our cities and highways and byways. In spite of all of the suffering and angst over how to deal with the poor, will Fr. V. continue to LOVE to be a priest?
Speaking of Vocations...
We have a NEW PARODY in town, the Brothers and Sisters of Perpetual Discernment! It seems that our new neighbors, a fledgling community made up of Mother Frangelico, a cloistered nun given permission to start this community along with Father, have only a couple "postulants" so far. They seek to help the youth of today discover God's will for them...with hilarious results! Already, Sister Caprice has "discerned" that she is called to be a priest...and you can't IMAGINE the uproar! Thanks to the other "postulant", Brother Brit, she's come to her senses and the whole monastery is getting along now.
But Mother Frangelico is sick of her shenanigans and is trying to push her out of the nest. And Brother Brit seems to have things figured out, but we're still awaiting his info on his recent retreat. Father seems to be more interested in getting onto cool vocation movies but has a few shining moments of real pastoral care, enough to keep us guessing. And Sister Caprice...oy, what are they to DO with that young lady? One moment she's speaking with the angels...the next minute she's snapping at Mother Frangelico!
But wait...there's MORE! Mother Frangelico is asking for names for the Monastery, in keeping with their mission. So far, the offerings have been along the lines of St. Perpetua, St. Jude, the Archangel Raphael, and Our Lady of Perpetual Hope. They need help in finding a name, and their welcome message is inviting visitors and even postulants. Go visit...help this little community find more parody!
And on a more serious note, with regard to Vocations:
A newcomer to Blogs of our Lives, Father Schnippel of Called by Name invites you to discover your Personal Vocation, and to engage in a new endeavor of Building an Ark! He also asks if you've ever invited anyone to discover the priesthood, and speaks proudly of the new deacons and priests in Cincinnatti. (Hmmm....I'm thinking that the Brothers and Sisters above could use his wisdom...)
Back in Minnesota...
Cathy of Alex, the Recovering Dissident, is lamenting, too, realizing that we are all the Body of Christ, and we are broken. For the theme of Modernism rears its ulgy head again in the form of the protesters who show up every Pentecost, trying to usurp God's glory in favor of their own political agenda.
And we are brought back to the topic of Vocations, as Cathy discusses the impending entrance of Mary G. of Veritatis Splendor, into a Benedictine cloister in early June. And she still has debt to pay before that date. Will the debt be satisfied, or will a Vocation be quashed? Only YOU can help!
And what of Ironic Catholic? Well, this theology professor is up to...well...something as she gets into the world of writing about sex. She is advancing the idea that Catholics like sex, and thinks it's getting very warm in here. I agree! Whew! But in typical style, she's also pointing out sacred trash and welcomes our brothers and sisters from Outer Space. She's a professor of what, again?
(And how did we go from a cloistered nun to sex?)
Moving On...this is a family blog...
Father Erik Richtsteig (did I spell it right this time?) is lamenting, too. And over Modernism, this time how it strikes in the form of Gay Marriage (which is theologically impossible). He's suggesting that maybe we take the advice that Nevada become a beach or we put up the Great Wall of California. Will Father's ideas be taken up by the logical and intelligent populace...or will the great evil of California's idiocy overcome America?
Back in Idaho...
Adrienne, another newcomer to Blogs of Our Lives, is buying bananas. Lots of them, having learned from experience. And she believes she's insane. Is she?
She's also writing the Twelve Steps for Catholics, based upon her own knowledge and experience, all for YOUR spiritual benefit. And she ALSO laments during this episode...for the youth don't "get it" when it comes to Confirmation. And yet...it seems they change when the Bishop enters the Church...
And finally...who will fix Adrienne's driveway.
And in Canada..
What is Angela up to?
No one knows. She posts random questions and comments and is otherwise just wandering around Canada, being Catholic. What's UP with that? She says she's fine, but I wonder...what's going on with Angela?
This concludes this episode. Tune in next time for more wild and crazy stories from...
BLOGS OF OUR LIVES.
STAGE DIRECTION: Music: "Ave Maria....."
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
And they all prayed together, saying: You, Lord, know the hearts of men; make your choice known to us. You, not we. Appropriately they said that he knew the hearts of men, because the choice was to be made by him, not by others.
They spoke with such confidence, because someone had to be appointed. They did not say "choose" but make known to us the chosen one; the one you choose, they said, fully aware that everything was preordained by God.
~ From a homily on the Acts of the Apostles by St. John
Each one of us has been called from eternity, brought into being to fulfill a particular mission. We all have a place, we all are called. We have been created with specific gifts, to obtain specific knowledge, specific education, and even to undergo specific sufferings. (That's not to say that God wills the latter only that He brings a greater good out of that which He knows will occur.)
This reading got my attention today, for I can recognize in it the profound truth of the prayers offered, and the deep humility required in order to be removed from the "choice".
NONE of us chose to be born; we were chosen. We were called into being, from eternity to become a part of eternity.
But if we don't understand this, how can we understand what it means to make a choice? Can we really choose?
We as Catholics don't believe in predestination, for such a man-made dogma is contrary to free will. God has a plan for us, but He does not infringe upon our free will. We always have a choice...accept God's will, or reject it.
What the Apostles recognized was the importance of removing themselves and their preferences from the conversations. Not their will...but God's will be done. It was Jesus' prayer of agony in the garden of Gethsemane. A prayer of unity with God's own will.
We all need to adopt this prayer and make it our own. Jesus showed us how to do it. The Apostles followed suit as they sought to complete the Twelve (to replace Judas)...God's will, not theirs, be done.
We have to recognize that every moment is an opportunity for grace; every moment we can offer for sanctification, simply by asking God what HIS choice is, and then abandoning ourselves to His providence.
As we make big life decisions, it is critical that we take a step back, spend time in prayer, and ask not, "What should I choose," but rather, "What have YOU chosen for me?"
All of life is a revelation of God's Divine Love for us; but are we willing to accept that? Are we willing to allow God to reveal His will..and are we willing to follow where He is leading?