There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing.- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stop. Read. Think.

Imagine tomorrow's your birthday.You walk into your house to find it brightly decorated. There's a pile of presents in the corner. The table is set out with all of your favorite foods and drinks.

But, you begin to notice, no one acknowledges you, as they prepare the food, look at the decorations and wrap presents. Very few of the people there are your friends... most are possibly your parents' friends? They express dismay at the end of the birthday party, but you wonder why because the party hasn't begun... At midnight, everyone begins to hug, but they still ignore you. They give the presents to each other, but there is no present for you. Everyone begins to eat the food, but there is no place at the table for you. Before the day is over, the decorations are thrown out. The remaining food is thrown away.

I know I've treated Jesus this way during Christmas. It's his birthday, but none of the presents under the tree are for him! But, what do I give a man who has everything? One who literally owns the whole world (because he made it)?

One very important thing: My Heart.

I look at the nativity scene, and I look at the presents under the tree. I look at the cookies I haven't baked yet, and the gifts for my family that probably won't arrive until next week. Is my heart really with Jesus, or does it lie in love for presents, and worry over things not being perfect?

What if, this Christmas, I took my heart and my will, wrapped it up and tied it with a bow; placed it under the tree with a label that said:

 To: Jesus
From: Me         Could you imagine Jesus's face when he opens the gift?

What if you had a birthday cake for Jesus?
Actually, first you'd have to find 2011 candles...that's a lot of fire!
But I bet Jesus could blow them all out on the first try!

Is there room at the table for Jesus?
Could I let the Christmas season end, before it even begins?

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Month in 3 Days 1

So far, I have fallen very far behind in reading the Bible each day, so by the weekend I hope to be caught up. Yesterday, I finished the 3 days worth of readings that finished May. Today, tomorrow, and Saturday catch me up with all of June. To keep some of the information in my head, I will blog each of the three days.

So far...
  • 2 Samuel is now finished. King David doesn't actually die until the first verses of the First Book of Kings. Until Chapter 12, 1 Kings talks about King Solomon. 
  • I have found another engineer in the Bible! 1K 7:13f. "King Solomon had Hiram brought from Tyre. He was a bronze worker, the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali; his father had been from Tyre. He was endowed with skill, understanding, and knowledge of how to produce any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his metal work"
  • After Solomon is the split of Israel from Judah and Benjamin (which is sometimes referred to as "only one tribe left"... I guess the Benjaminites are still not built up enough to count as you remember that they were practically wiped out?) 1 Kings then tries to follow the royal lines of both simultaneously. Judah: Solomon>> Rehoboam>> Abijam (not to be confused with the prophet Ahijah or Jeroboam's son Abijah)>>and lastly Asa (so far). Asa was a really good king. He banished all the idols and he gets the compliment of "[his] heart was entirely with the LORD as long as he lived" (15:14). Israel's line: Jeroboam>> Nadab>> Baasha>> Elah>> Zimri (7 whole days!)>> Omri>> and lastly Ahab, who everybody knows, because everybody knows his wife, Jezebel. Enter Elijah.
  • Really good passage: Chapter 18. "Call louder... perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened"
  • Really good passage: 19:11-13. "After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound"
  • There are a lot of lions sitting around waiting to eat people who disobey God. 
  • Finishing Psalms, beginning Proverbs. "Let everything that has breath give praise to the LORD!" (Ps 150)
  • Finishing Mark, beginning 1st Corinthians. There's so much in Paul's writings that to treat them fairly would mean analyzing each word. However, I must catch up,so I will try to glean what I can.
  • 1 Cor 1:20 "Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?" 25 "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength" 
  • Purgatory IS in the Bible, and don't you let anyone tell you otherwise! 1 Cor 3:10-15 "But if someone's work is burnt up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire."
  • Hard words to live: 4:12f "When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently"
  • 10:6 "[The events of the Old Testament] happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things as they did." Having the letter of Paul describing events of the Old Testament would not make sense if it was not included in the Bible. But, this means taking the Bible as a whole to be followed to the letter would be contradictory. But, everything in the Bible is not meant to be a self-help book. It is all meant to point to Christ, the Word of the Father. 
  • There's a lot of the Catechism to catch up on too. Currently, it's discussing death and the last things. I don't know why but thinking about Heaven has always given me shivers. So I usually try not to think about it and just trust that Jesus will sort it out. Quote from (my patron) St Therese of Lisieux: " I am not dying; I am entering life"
  • My reading for tonight ends with discussing liturgy, or, the work of the Church. Christian liturgy is to be "a response of faith and love to the spiritual blessings of the Father" and "to beg [the Father] to send the Holy that these divine blessings will bring forth the fruits of life" (CCC 1083)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Real Problem, The Wrong Solution.

Apparently, if I promote chastity and human dignity, then that means that I support rape.

I hope that sounds as ridiculous as it is, but that is the position of a new "march for us" type movement called "SlutWalk." I was first made aware of it through the wonderful facebook feature called "Friends' Events," otherwise known as things I was not invited to, but for some reason facebook thinks I should attend. So, this is the page for the "SlutWalk" nearest to me: Washington DC.

On one hand, they appear to want to help end rape. To quote them, they want to not "blame the victim in sexual assault cases." Their rallying cry is the patently obvious "No one asks to be sexually assaulted."

On the other hand, "blaming the victim" is new code for asking women to wear chaste clothes. This blew up from the Toronto Police simply "advising young women not to 'dress like a slut' in order to be safe." I will not link to the official website, as their sponsor has placed a pornographic picture on it. They plan to "take back" the term "slut" but it is unclear what they want to turn it into (other than use it as a provocative title for their movement). To quote "We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault." So, this movement is also a cover for supporting prostitution, homosexual activity, and "free love." And, if you bring up opposition to these to a person who was raped, then you are "blaming the victim."

Their solution: to DEMAND respect for an unchaste lifestyle. They want "meaningful dialogue." Their idea of doing something about it is simply "coming together." In other words, they want the Thought Police to punish rapists.

Are they right? If a person walks up to you naked, should you treat them the same as if they had on long parkas and snow pants?

Are they wrong? Does what a person wears send a message? Would wearing less provocative clothes decrease the occurrence of rape? 

I think it's a selective surgery of both. You can tell someone that they're sending a message with their clothes, while being respectful of them. If you wear provocative clothing and get raped, there is a sin on both sides. The solution is not societal acceptance of self-proclaimed "sluts." The solution is an increase for respect of human dignity occurring in the form of both chaste clothing and prevention of rape.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Holy Trinity

Yesterday was the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, and also Father's day. 

So what is the Trinity? To quote from Frank Sheed's Theology for Beginners:
"The notion of one God who is three persons must be profoundly mysterious. We could not know it at all if God had not drawn aside the veil that we might see...Since he wants to be known by us, we must respond by making the effort to know him. In its barest outline the doctrine contains four truths:
1. In the one divine nature there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
2. No one of the persons is either of the others, each is wholly himself. 
3. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God
4. They are not three Gods, but one God. 
...Even Catholics sometimes appear to think that we have here a mathematical contradiction, as if we were saying, 'Three equals one.' We are not, of course. We are saying: 'Three persons in one nature'. The trouble is that, if we attach no meaning to the words person and nature, they tend to drop out; so we are left with the two numbers...We can say that there is but one divine nature, one answer to the question 'What is God?', one source of the divine operations. But there are three who totally possess that one nature. To the question 'Who are you?' each of the three could give his own answer, Father or Son or Spirit. But to the question 'What are you?' each could but answer 'God', because each totally possesses the one same divine nature, and nature decides what a being is. Because each possesses the divine nature, each can do all that goes with being God. Because each is God, there is no inequality, either in being or operation... the three persons do not share the divine nature... it can be possessed only in its totality... the three persons are distinct, but not separate... they do in fact what three men could not do--they know with the same intellect, love with the same will." 

A review of the readings from Sunday:
First Reading:
Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9
Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai
as the LORD had commanded him,
taking along the two stone tablets.
Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there
and proclaimed his name, "LORD."
Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,
"The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity."
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said,  "If I find favor with you, O Lord,
do come along in our company.
This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins,
and receive us as your own."
A good passage for if someone tries to say that God in the Old Testament was wrathful in contrast to Jesus in the New Testament. God does not change!
Second Reading:
Brothers and sisters, rejoice.
Mend your ways, encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the holy ones greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
The final prayer here is a Trinitarian formula. If you were to just say it to me, randomly, I would recognize it as being a prayer of the Mass, I wouldn't immediately point you towards 2nd Corinthians. But here it is. Also, the verse "the God of love and peace" stuck out to me, as "love and peace" seems to be borrowed by the culture (e.g. hippies, and the anime Trigun) sadly without reference to the fact that without God, there can be neither love nor peace. 

Jn 3:16-18
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

During Mass, my Dad leaned over to my Mom and jokingly said "But that's a Protestant verse!"
It made me wonder, to what extent has today's Protestantism scrapped 34Sola Scriptura in favor of Sola John 3:16? Would it surprise an Evangelical to know that Catholics not only accept this verse but proclaim it as the Gospel at Mass all around the world? It is unarguably a really good passage, but like any part of the Bible, it does not do to take it out of context or interpret it contrary to Sacred Tradition or the Magisterium. I feel it has been overused to the point of being a slogan, people have become tired of hearing it, and so it has lost its meaning. Which is sad. Catholics should bring it back. Y'know, a "Take back John 3:16" campaign. No, not really. It's funny to think about, but Catholicism doesn't work that way.

Lastly, as Father's Day was yesterday, and I do thank my father, my grandfathers, and all priests and bishops and other men who are good fathers. Being a good father is a reflection of the love of God the Father. Unfortunately, due to the moral decline of our culture and the prevalence of contraception and abortion, fatherhood is not appreciated in our culture. Half of all marriages end in divorce. This article says a lot (it's a bit old)  but things haven't changed much. With so many families with only a single parent of a mother, of what importance is Father's Day? I find that really sad.

1 Year!!!

It's (a little after) my blog's birthday! It's a silly thing to celebrate, but it's a good time for reflection. It's not like any of my little thoughts here went viral or anything, but I did appreciate the space for putting thoughts down. I have one follower (a family member). If there's anything I would do differently, it's to try to write about the liturgical seasons more often. So, my next post will be about Trinity Sunday!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

If Animals Do It, It Must Be Ok 2

I have need of this title again:
Oakland School's Lessons in Gender Diversity
Before I get to substance, may I ask where was the editor who allowed this title to get through without some capital letters? Oh, well, people who read news online probably write like that and wouldn't even notice. Actually, I didn't even notice until I wrote the title here. Anyway, on to something that actually matters...

Yes, fish can change gender (but not by will, there has to be a lack of the other sex before one changes).
I've never heard of  geckos before, but there are apparently some species that are asexual. I guess to be a hermaphrodite (like an earthworm) you still have to find a mate, unlike aforesaid gecko. I'm an engineer, not a biologist. But I am a human and can definitely say that a human is not a bird, or a fish, or a fly, or a spider, or a gecko. A human is not of the same level of creation as the animals. And I'll believe that until a family of ducks moves to a new county to put their ducklings in a better school, or until an elephant writes to a publishing company to get printed the latest in his bestselling mystery novel series. Or until some reptiles get together hammers and brushes to dig up the bones of their ancestors. As human as we treat our dogs and cats (and though they've picked up human actions from us), no dog or cat is going to discuss with you their views on religion or politics. You can try to say that animals have souls, but it has just as much real world evidence as the Flat Earth Society.

What is a human, then? Why has marriage between one man and one woman been held up as the norm, and why has it been the only type of relationship that has survived for millenia? A human is made in God's image, and "God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility of love and communion" (CCC 2331). It is the norm because that's how God made us. "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female; for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'"? (Mt 19:4f). CCC Article 6 (or 2331-2400) is a very complete explanation of human sexuality. I will end with 2393: "By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

If Animals Do It, It Must Be Ok

Last post from today, I promise...

Just that on the news, there was a story I couldn't help wanting to comment on. Here are some links:
The Caligula Effect: Why Poweful Men Compulsively Cheat
Sex and Politics: Are Men Really More Likely To Cheat?
The Case for Letting Your Partner's Eye Wander

Sensational titles, but with some pretty sad content. Maybe I'm naive, or just have wishful thinking, but I think it's a big generalization to say that all men who have powerful positions are bad. And just because some people fail at being moral doesn't mean we should just throw out morals. I'm sure I can make a list of men who are good role models that's a longer list than the Caligula one...
St Joseph
St Peter
Sts James and John
Sts Phillip and Andrew
St. Stephen
St. Francis of Assisi

St Francis de Sales
St Maximilian Kolbe
St Thomas More
St Stephen, King of Hungary
St Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor
St Edward the Confessor, King of England
And, you probably know, the list of saints goes on and on.

Our culture is breaking us apart, but the Catholic Church is still on the rock where it was before, while everything on sand is being more and more obviously washed away.
They Say Marriage is a Dying Institution: What's Really Dying is Love
Does Marriage Even Work Anymore?
Marriage can't work without God... heck, any attempt at a moral life is impossible without God. We shouldn't look to animals for what is "natural" because they don't have souls. They can't tell us what is "natural" for a soul. They can't give us morality. We have to look up for that.