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

Friday, December 31, 2010

It's our book... we should probably read it at some point.

The beginning of this story is I've been listening to EWTN radio... and pretty much nothing else. So, of course I learned about Marcus Grodi and the work he is doing to "bring people home" to the Catholic Church. One of the things suggested was reading the Bible and the Catechism in a year. And that sounded like a good idea. A new year's resolution idea. They even split everything up into 365 days. And I like to share it with everyone I know... to form a support group... to discuss the passages... and to keep each other actually continuing with it.

The link for the pdf is here .

As I will probably read these at night, I will begin tonight, and think over the passages (and maybe blog about them... is blog even a verb?) tomorrow. Because it's hard to spend a day thinking on passages that you are going to read at the end of the day. Please join me!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If You Don't Think Our Culture is Prejudiced Against Catholics, Read This.

So my roommate put these quotes (in a sea of other more innocuous witty quotes) on our whiteboard and I was silently offended. I found a lot more offensive quotes in searching for them again.

The first one was "If I had been the Virgin Mary, I would have said "No."  ~Margaret "Stevie" Smith." First off, I didn't have any idea who this person is... she is a British poet who has sunk into historical obscurity. This really is an arrogant position... it is not her decision to make. Jesus didn't pick you, Jesus, when He picked Mary knew of all the women that wouldn't accept Him. Jesus picked His mother and gave her gifts before she picked him. This doesn't deny her free choice, it just shows that God is not bound by time. Also, we should all imitate the servitude of Mary and the acceptance of Jesus into our lives... even if not in the same way Mary did. It is an insult to the Catholic Church (and all Christians) to say that Jesus's conception was undesirable! 

The other quote is by Annie Dillard, who I had to read in High School:
"Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?" Priest: "No, not if you did not know." Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?""
I don't know in what context this is, but it has a disordered view of Christian evangelization. Because the priest's answer is wrong: the correct answer is "I don't know". And that bothered me enough to share. If we all can be saved and go to Heaven (perpetual connection with God) by not knowing anything about God (see where this doesn't make much sense, yet?) then we should all do our best to forget about God and sin. Which our culture is currently doing. And look where it has gotten us: Communism, abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell and vaccine research... I would begin to agree with Flannery O'Connor who said In the absence of faith, we govern by tenderness, and tenderness leads to the gas chamber."

Also my entire response to this website is "The Catholic novelist in the South will see many distorted images of Christ, but he will certainly feel that a distorted image of Christ is better than no image at all. I think he will feel a good deal more kinship with backwoods prophets and shouting fundamentalists than he will with those politer elements for whom the supernatural is an embarrassment and for whom religion has become a department of sociology or culture or personality development."
— Flannery O'Connor

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh, no, the butterflies are back.

Continuing the metaphor of lots of random topics without much connection other than I've run across them and need to release thoughts somewhere (they each should properly be their own posts):
So, I'm currently an irresponsible student for writing on here now, but a lot of things currently in my head would like to be said (ooh, that rhymes). This will try to be in chronological order... emphasis on try...

Ok, reverse chronological order is easier to remember.
1. An amazing chastity website that I would like to share:
In it is the quote "Mary wasn't 'full of grace' because she was beautiful. She was beautiful because she was 'full of grace'.

2. "It's becoming more clear to the American public that one of the greatest threats to the supposed "right" to abortion is science." I don't know if it's becoming "more clear to the American public" but I don't want a doctor who denies science to prescribe medicine for me. But it is so true that there is NO scientific support for abortion. There is a hard truth about abortion...that it is unethical on the level of murder... that it is hard to say because so many women who have had abortions (and men who have been brainwashed into thinking it's good for a woman to have an abortion, and sexist to argue otherwise) are defensive to the point of insanity.

3. Happy New Year!!! As we hear about the calendar new year, the Jewish new year, the Chinese new year... don't forget that the Catholic Church has a new year too! November, from All Saint's day to Christ the King is the theme of death and the end times, placed strategically at the end of the Church's year. But we are now in the new year, looking ahead to the beginning of our savior: Jesus's birth. Thoughts from the readings: Advent is a time of quieting...not a time of busyness as the culture makes it. "He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again." (Isaiah 2:1-5) Advent is a time for thinking about the future... what are we working towards? Are we practicing spiritual procrastination? Not to say "remember how many minutes are left in your life" but "remember that at the end of your life, heaven wants you." Also "Throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,not in orgies and drunkenness,not in promiscuity and lust,not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh." (Romans 13: 11-14). Our culture struggles with all of these "desires of the flesh." Lastly, I don't know how many Protestants would believe that Catholics accept this passage from the Bible: "Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left." This is pretty much the entire basis for the idea of "the rapture." For Catholics, having good Christians not go through hard times doesn't make much sense...Yes, Catholics believe that "one will be taken, and one will be left" but in a totally different context. At the end of time, all the dead will rise, and Jesus will judge, separating the sheep from the goats. And those that are "left behind" go to hell. Not really romantic enough to write a book series about, really.  

4. Please, please pray with me. When I came across this website, the voting was still going on and even now the votes for this lady to have an abortion are more than double the votes for her to not. Abortion allowing (which is more accurate than "pro-choice" and I would guess is more accepting by them than the accurate "pro-abortion") groups and news media have insensitively called this website a hoax, but I think that claim is best responded to here. My one other comment is in response to the lady saying: "I’m the one that lost my job because of the media attention that this website has received and yet my opinions and statements seem to be discounted in favor of my husband’s. Since I’m the one carrying the baby it seems to me that this is a terrible oversight on the part of responsible media professionals... But when it comes to abortion I am the one that wears the pants in the decision because in the end it would be me going through the procedure.  Even though my husband’s opinion and beliefs matter to me, I, as the one carrying the baby have the final say about my body and our unborn child." First, the "responsible media professionals" don't want anyone coming out in public and saying "I'm proud that I could've had an abortion, and didn't." Second, it splits marriage. If the child is born, he or she will be raised by two parents and decisions about school, food, and activities will be made by two parents. Why is the prevailing view that it is the "woman's choice?" Why does this lady feel she has the final say about their child? Her husband gave just as much DNA to the child as she did. It promotes a mentality of single-motherhood and pushes the decision on a woman when it is not hers alone to make. Whose child is it? The mother's, of course. But the father's and God's as well, and it does the father and God (and the child) a disservice to forget that.

5. Oh, it is a dangerous thing for two people I barely know and have to sit with for hours to start discussing politics. I don't know how my boyfriend can sit and just let people believe wrong things! And I wish I didn't have such a desire to correct people. Especially in person, when I can't think straight due to my heart running at 100 miles an hour. This is why I like facebook and blogs. I can somewhat control what I say. It doesn't help that my boyfriend's friend was talking a mile a minute bashing another friend's girlfriend about her republican/conservative beliefs. What first got on my nerves was his "What else do you believe so that I can explain to you that it is wrong." I got pulled into discussing abortion, which ended with him saying stuff like "I'm not pro-abortion, I'm pro-choice... Abortions only ever happen in cases of rape..." and going off into talking about societies in Africa where it's ethical to kill people "for the good of society" and how ethics and religion are unrelated (that got my boyfriend to speak up, interestingly) and that ethics can differ. Do you ever mentally continue conversations in your head? I've been continuing this conversation in my head ever since. That is why I started a blog.

6. Just what I didn't need to shake my world after the tragedy (reverse chronological order, so it will be #7). I have benefited from abortion. Chances are you have too, if you have been born since about the 70s... or earlier... and have had the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Or the chicken pox vaccine. To have lived my life just accepting vaccines as useful, I am sickened of the process that "babies die so that other babies might live." It has got to be the second biggest human rights violation in America, after abortion itself. It is probably the most widespread violation, as it is a requirement for all children in order to be enrolled in school. I first heard about this on EWTN, but it was so outrageous I've been looking it up since. (I leave aside the issue of whether or not the vaccines are effective or harmful... I find it outrageous that we all hold in ourselves cells and DNA that rightfully belongs to and should be used by someone else, not me.)
 This one is what convinced me:
Is it horrible that human tissue is under "animal tissue?"
This informed me of the ethical, "one baby dies for another" issue.
And, from the source of all knowledge:

7. This tragedy hit our school and it caused everyone, even me and my friends who didn't know who died, to stop and think and pray. I know for Catholics, we have some small hope, but for these students, we just don't know the state of their soul, and that is part of the pain. We had several memorial Masses for them. Wonderfully, our school's usual apathy was put aside and many people wore black and came to the candlelight vigil. Our hearts went out to the mother who lost two sons and a probable future daughter-in-law in the crash. And Thanksgiving and Christmas were coming, too. Our Catholic Campus minister and priest on campus said one of the most comforting things, which I haven't heard better expressed: "Many people say 'How could God allow such tragedy', but it was God's heart that was the first to break when the tragedy happened. God doesn't want our society to contain death." But my biggest struggle was with how to pray for people who you don't know the religion of. People I don't know whether to offer Masses for, or pray generally for them... or pray for people in Purgatory... I just don't know.

8. What I first wanted to post on here, a long, long time ago, but seems hardly worth the effort now, is my response to our school's production of "The Drowsy Chaperone." As always, I think our students perform very well. My complaints are against the material of the play itself which had a narrator who, to put it bluntly, was a very unloving (to the point of mocking love as 'resulting in divorce lawyers') human being. 

As an end note (as I have to go to class now), go on and tell HurricaneTeen to change name to HurricaneHam in honor of his Ham radio interests.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Be soft hearted; don't be soft headed" -Fr John Corapi

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The more faith you have, the more you examine that faith for what it is and see that it is logical to believe. The less faith you have, the more you will try to find anything that could possibly refute your faith and so lose the ability to see your faith rationally and go further into thinking that you cannot reconcile faith and reason.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why is Jesus the ONLY way?

Again, borrowing a friend's question. This was my response. I quite like it though my friend likes a noncommittal all-religions-are-the-same answer better. *shakes head in sadness at such illogicalness*
So here goes:
I will attempt the question... and most of my answer will be "stolen" from Frank Sheed's book "theology for beginners" because I like it a lot.

To understand why Jesus is the only way to heaven, we have to understand
0. What happens after we die
1. What Heaven is
2. How to get there
3. Why God didn't just make us able to go there in the first place.
4. How God fixed stuff.
5. Theology is fun, but what does this all mean for why Jesus is the O. N. L. Y way???
I'll add numbers as I think of things hence the odd numbering.

So, it would be a long explanation of what spirit is and is not, so I will suffice to say that Humans are unique creations of God. Humans are the only creatures made of both spirit and matter. When we die, our spirit is unable to control our body anymore and the common terminology is it "goes to Heaven (maybe by way of Purgatory) or Hell."

on to what heaven is: (quoting) "' Eye has not seen nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him.' So St. Paul tells the Corinthians, quoting Isaiah. Until we reach heaven, we shall not know what heaven is. But, in the inspired word of God, we are given glimpses. In heaven, we shall know God in a new way, and love him according to the new knowledge... St John says (1 Jn 3:2) " We shall see him as he is" And we remember our Lord saying of the angels (Mt. 18:10) 'They see the face of my heavenly Father continually." Seeing is the key to life in heaven... The Church has worked out for us a first beginning of the meaning of this. Here below we know God by the idea we have formed of Him. But in heaven, our seeing will be direct. The nearest we can think of this is to think of the idea we now have of God; then try to conceive of God himself taking the place of the idea."

(still quoting, on question 3... no, 2) "But observe that all this is based on doing something which by nature we cannot do. The natural powers of man's intellect fall short of seeing God direct by a double limitation: our natural way of knowing things is by ideas, and God, being infinite, can never be within the hold of our natural strength to love. Life in heaven requires powers which by nature we do not possess. We need supernatural life. This is sanctifying grace, which we can only get by God's gift to us, which we accept into our hearts. If we do not have it, then to heaven we cannot go because simply our spirit lacks the powers that living in heaven calls for."

(3 ish) The beginning of what is called Salvation History (or the answer to "why did Jesus have to come to save us?") is the fall of Adam. What's most important in Genesis is the metaphor of Everyman, Everywoman, Everysin. God created us originally with sanctifying grace, but man sinned disobeying a command of God. There is something in the solidarity of the whole human race clear to God but not to us, that he could so treat the race as one thing. Some involvement in the fate of others we take for granted, like a father making decisions for his family. We do not see a solidarity for all men whatsoever-- foreigners, the dead, the unborn. But no one of them is remote to the eye of God. God sees the whole race, every member of which he created, as one thing-- somewhat as we see a family as one thing. The number and variety of people of all time does not impede the vision of the eternal and omniscient God. We all have sinned individually, but we are involved as a race too. Because Adam broke the unity, his children were born members of a fallen race. A given man might be virtuous and gain sanctifying grace, but he was a virtuous member of a fallen race: a race to which heaven was closed. Only if the breach between his race and God could be healed could he attain his own destiny. "

I'll put this sentence in because i find it funny: "The race had been at one with God; the central problem was at-one-ment, a word whose meaning we disguise by pronouncing it atonement." :)

Why did God do what he did to save us, instead of something else? I don't know... long discussion. not really a good answer. it's easier to focus on what God did than what God might have done.

(4) If this were a history book, chronologically time where the human race lived without much knowledge of God would come. Satan was the prince the world obeyed. The next chapter, the beginning of redemption, came when God revealed himself to Abraham, and created the Chosen People who were told that the Messiah would come to them. With mixed success: by the time the Messiah was due to come, the Jews were unshakably monotheistic, but only rare ones grasped the essential nature of the kingdom the Savior was to found. The supreme truth about the Savior, for which the chosen people were wholly unprepared, was that he was God. God chose that the sin committed in human nature should be expiated in human nature. In Jesus, humanity gave its all: a total obedience as against the total disobedience of man's sin. But he who performed the act was God. Because he was truly man, his sacrifice was truly human, so that it could be set against the sin of the race. But because he was God, his act had an infinite value, by which it compensated, outweighed, not only all the sin men had ever committed, but all they ever could. That is why it is redemptive. Also, the resurrection and ascension have there place in redemption. Unless God approves and accepts the offering, all is in vain. In restoring Jesus to life, God gives the visible sign that the priest who offered his own body and blood in sacrifice was wholly pleasing to him. In the ascension, God shows visibly that he is taking to himself that which has been offered to him."

"The bible says its true" is vague. Here's a concrete answer:

(oh dear, quoting again... but I do love this book) "At the Last Supper Our Lord uttered the words which are at once the formula of our redemption, and the charter of his Church. 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by me'.

By asking if Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven, we wonder about other possibilities. Is it possible to gain sanctifying grace and go to heaven without ever hearing the name Jesus? Theoretically, yes. Is it very likely? hm... don't really think so. Has it happened? I don't know. The only way we are given to determine whether someone is in heaven or not is through the process of canonization. So its theoretically possible that some people in heaven aren't Catholic/Christian. We have no way to tell. They didn't get there from the original channels set up by Jesus and we have no way to tell from normal channels.

But even if they do get to heaven, never knowing the name of Jesus, it is still the same true God who gives sanctifying grace and it was still Jesus who redeemed the race to open heaven for them to get in. "It is in union with [Jesus], and only so, that men come to the everlasting union with God which is their destiny"

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. It is possible to follow a path that you don't know, but the way is still the way whether you know it or not.

However, the question of whether Jesus is the way is rather shallow. To steal from what i'm about to quote "The way is not the goal."
"Salvation is not handed to us on a dish; in no sense is it a laborsaving device. What Christ does for men is what men cannot do for themselves, not what they can; what they can, they should. To have found the way is not the end; it is the beginning. They way is not the goal. Only the goal is, for us, permanence; the way may be lost.
We might lose the way as we might lose any way, either by wandering from it through error, or by lacking the strength for the effort. Against the danger of losing the way we need truth. Against the danger of falling by the wayside we need life--the life of sanctifying grace.

Salvation then involves truth, life, and union with Jesus. Jesus says to the Apostles "Go and teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever that I have commanded. And behold I am with you all days even to the end of the world." (Mt 28:19-20). Observe how closely this follows the great formula of the Last Supper- truth , life, union.
Truth: The Apostles are to teach. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth by bringing to their minds all that Our Lord had told them. And they were to teach the great mass of truth to all nations.
Life: They were to baptize. To be born means being born into the life of this world. To be born again means to be born into a higher life. And these were the men to whom he had given other powers for the dispensing of life. They were to forgive sins (Jn 20:23); that is, to give back the life of grace to those who had lost it by sin. And they were to change bread and wine into his body and blood--the very food of our life (Jn 6:54).
Union: Jesus says it! "Behold I am with you all days even to the end of the world" Through the Apostles--and since it was to be until the world should end, through their successors--we were to find the truth, the life, the union by which we shall be saved. "

It is logical that Jesus is the way to Heaven
1: God Exists (which I hope you believe)
2: God is Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
3: In some way, humanity broke from God
4: God wants us to be with him
5: the Son, Jesus, came to reunite humanity with God.
6: Jesus is the way to unity with God (heaven).

From a non-Christian standpoint, if you do not want to believe that Jesus is God or want to believe different things about the fundamental nature of God (solitary God, seeing yourself as God, or pantheistic). Go for it... but there can only be one truth. There is some pretty good evidence for Christianity. But if you search for the truth, you cannot blind yourself to thinking "oh, i already understand christianity." you could blind yourself to other religions i guess. but i think that most people blind themselves to christianity.

What's wrong with Jesus being the way to heaven? Do you personally want to turn from Jesus to something else and still want to be saved? Or do you have other people that you want in heaven with you who are not Christian? What harm is there in accepting Jesus? (other than the G. K. Chesterton quote: "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult, and not tried"

There is a truth. There is a moral law, just like there is a physical law. If you jump off a cliff because you are trying to show you don't believe in gravity, people will laugh. A certain amount of religion must be applied to science: it certainly is so for scientific atheists and atheist evolutionists. Also, a certain amount of rational, scientific rigour must be applied to your religion. Just because a religion says "All humans should be one and should love each other" is nice... but is not religion, it's philosophy. Religion is our relationship with God. If it is not rooted in truth, it is in vain and will begin to hurt our ability to be one with each other and will begin to hurt each other.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus

Responding to a friend's question:
I also have a question about the fact that people can be saved without being catholic as long as they don't know of the Church's Truth. What exactly does this mean? Is it simply people who have never heard of the church or is it people who are uncertain?  

For the "no salvation outside the Church" thing, there's a lot of leeway in the phrase "not knowing." In general, its easiest to say, yeah, if a person's in the depths of a rainforest their whole lives & they've never heard of the Christianity, let alone the Catholic Church, then yeah, the Church accepts its not fair to say they can't be saved. For people who have heard about the Catholic Church, but don't know anything about it is another situation where they "don't know", in my opinion. But for a person who has grown up in Sunday school or in a Catholic school, or has researched the Church themselves & understands the Church's teachings correctly and rejects them, then they're "outside the church" but they can't be under the category of "not knowing". 
It really gets summed up well by Clement of Alexandria: "From whathas been said, I think it is clear that there is one true Church, which is really ancient, into which those who are just according to design are enrolled." From this quote, the definition of what "the Church" is changes a little, for how can there be a "Church" before Jesus came and before the first Christians formed the Catholic Church. 
"Those who follow the Spirit of Christ, who writes the law on their hearts, are Christians, are members of Christ, are members of His Church. They may lack indeed external adherence; they may never have heard of the Church. But yet, in the substantial sense, without formal adherence, they do belong to Christ, to His Church...we insist that even these people who belong without formal adherence have the objective obligation to formally enter the Church. It is only their ignorance that excuses them. Vatican II similarly: "They who without their own fault . . . can attain eternal salvation."
Really, I can't even go into what this means for dissenting Catholics, Christians that came out of the Protestant Rebellion, or people who know that Christianity exists. 1 Samuel 16:7 "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart." If you follow the Catholic faith in your heart while being ignorant of the Catholic Church, you are de facto (if not de jour) a member of the Church. 
 So... what if you've been living the Catholic Faith in your heart all your life, but never heard about the Catholic Church. If you are "without fault and can attain eternal salvation" then should a missionary come to you and tell you about the Catholic Church? The answer is, if you are really that good, then you will gladly join the Catholic Church, because it's what you believe and have followed all your life already.

If the missionary does a good job. It doesn't make sense to follow the Catholic Church if it doesn't make sense to you because it has been poorly (or even wrongly in some cases) explained. This is the reason why Pope (Venerable) John Paul II called for a new evangelization, to re-teach areas that were historically Catholic Christian, but had lost the faith through misunderstanding. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen captured this need in his quote "Not 100 in the United States hate the Roman Catholic Church, but millions hate what they mistakenly think the Roman Catholic Church is."
Why through the Church? Because it is Christ's Church. If you belong to Christ, you are in His Church. If you do not belong to Christ, you reject eternal salvation and so you are not saved. 
Other than an "everyone goes to heaven" mentality, I don't know if any other religion tries to be fair to people who have never heard of their religion.

On the Nature of Jesus

Every explanation of Jesus that is possible has been proposed. To borrow from C S Lewis (Mere Christianity):

the first dimension is a line. the 2nd dimension is made out of lines, and makes a square, which is more than a line. the 3rd dimension is made out of squares..., but is a cube... and so on with the 4th dimension, which is made out of cubes, but we can't really imagine it. you just kinda get told it follows the same pattern, and accept it because it's logical to. To understand how Jesus is God is to try to see the fourth dimension. To begin the analogy the same way, imagine a spider, ant, or a goldfish. It exists, it has being & is one being but has no personality. It isn't a person. A human is a human being and is a human person. One person per being, and only one being per person, that's what we're used to, that's 3D for us. Now it gets complicated & really there is no good terminology for beyond one person & one being together. God is three persons in one being. If you think of the analogy of how squares make a cube, it helps a little, but not very much. There is only one God, but God has/is made of three separate "persons" (in quotes because that's the closest word we have to describe it... it's like trying to describe a cube by saying its sides are squares). The Father is a divine person. the Holy Spirit is a divine person. Jesus is a divine person as much as the other two are. Jesus didn't at any point stop being a divine person. To be safe & use Bible language, Jesus "emptied himself, taking the form of a (human)". He was a human being in every way, but He was not a "human person", he remained a divine "person".

On our level, it would be like giving up your personality, becoming a ant to save the ants from ant traps and Raid and to show the ants how to get into the fridge.

Another interesting, picky, terminology thing is the whole create-beget question. God is the creator of the universe. But the universe is not of the same substance of God: it is not one with God, like you are not a scarf you knit. I can tell the scarf was made by you, but the scarf is not you. Creation is then used mainly to talk about the coming of existence of things that are not of the same type, as yourself... i can't think of a better word, but begetting is the coming of existence of things that are like yourself. People don't create children, they beget children... which isn't very commonly used now that we say people "have" children, when "have" is also a term of ownership rather than the coming of existence of someone. But in the Creed of Nicea (look it up, not just Catholics accept it) Jesus is said to be "begotten, not made, one in being with the Father."... Jesus himself said "The Father and I are one" and showed his power as God by forgiving sins (which freaked out the religious leaders of the day to no end). The Father beget the Son... the Son is like the Father... only more one than a human father and son, due to the ability for more than one "person" to be in one "being." Jesus isn't a human who God went into... Jesus wasn't just pretending to be human... He was unexplanably both, and needs to be in order for His sacrifice on the cross to work in the Pandorica (just that a human takes the consequences for a human mistake)-Tardis (only God can possibly make the sacrifice be for everyone's sins) sense.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

 Some conversations with friends and family sparked some thoughts worth sharing. 

With my non-Catholic best friend I was discussing the nature of religions. And, really, picking a religion is picking your reality. For Catholics, God has revealed whether or not a spiritual realm is real & how it works. This is why we know we can go to Heaven. Can. One of her understandable concerns was how do good people go to heaven if they get some things in their religion wrong. I don't know if other religions have an answer to that question, but for the Catholic Church, the Church can save people who are not members of the Church. I found this originally on a friend's facebook note & took the original source:
"There Is No Salvation Outside Of The Catholic Church – Originally stated by St. Cyprian, the Latin axiom “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” reminds us that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church.  This dogma was declared at the Fourth Lateran Council and is a source of confusion for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  According to the Catechism, all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is His Body.  It does not mean that non-Catholics cannot achieve salvation.  Individuals who are unaware that the Catholic Church is the one, true Church may still achieve salvation through the merits of the Church, despite their lack of knowledge." from

The other conversation, with my aunt, turned to belief. For her, she had wondered how God could allow innocent people to die. And her eventual response was that belief in God is not based on emotions. I would say that you can't believe in God just on emotions, but emotion can be a component of why I would believe in God. But having a belief just because you feel God there... that feeling will go away, and so the belief will go away. God is bigger than a person's belief. God's existence is not dependent on a person's belief. Even if we can't emotionally or physically feel God, He is there. He is close to us. As it says in Dt 30:10-14...
Moses said to the people:
"If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God,
and keep his commandments and statutes
that are written in this book of the law,
when you return to the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul.
"For this command that I enjoin on you today
is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky, that you should say,
'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,
'Who will cross the sea to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'
No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out.

Which was the first reading last Sunday, if you were paying attention :).

"The best judge of Christianity is a Christian, the next best judge would be something more like a Confucian. The worst judge of all is the man now most ready with his judgments; the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill-tempered agnostic... he does not judge Christianity calmly as a Confucian would; he... does not judge it as he would judge Confucianism."  

-G. K. Chesterton The Everlasting Man

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Night Thoughts 3

So, a couple nights ago, I was thinking about Jesus being both God and Man, and what His sacrifice on the cross meant. It's a contradiction in terms, to be both fully God and fully Man. Man is a creation, not worthy to be worshiped. God is the creator, a being outside of space and time, and not only is worthy of honor, but requires it by His nature. Man is finite. God is infinite.

It's kind of like in Doctor Who, "The Big Bang" where the 11th Doctor "restarts" the universe. The Pandorica can fix the problem, but is finite, and an infinite amount has to be fixed. For some as yet unknown reason, the TARDIS is exploding and destroying infinitely. The solution is to combine the Pandorica's solution, to the TARDIS's infiniteness, so the universe is fixed at every point in space and time. Now, Doctor Who isn't really Catholic at all, and sometimes could be interpreted as rather misunderstanding Catholics, or at worst subtily anti-Catholic.

But it is an analogy. The first humans God made, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and caused an infinite rift in relations between God and Man. It was Man's fault, and only a human can make retribution to God, but God is infinite, and so no human God made could possibly ever make retribution. Jesus is a divine person (not a human person, but fully human) and so Jesus could provide the ability to do things infinitely. He became fully human to make retribution, and could do so infinitely because He was God.

How did Jesus make reparation? Through Adam and Eve, everyone is born with original sin: a separation from God and a proclivity toward separation from God. Thus, even after baptism which removes original sin, the proclivity still exists, and causes everyone to fall at some point. Every action has its consequence, and the just consequence of sin is death. God is life, sin is turning away from God, and thus, is turning away from life. In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites a finite reparation of their sins, which was the sacrifice of pure animals. Jesus sacrificed himself, taking upon himself all the infinite sins of everyone that would keep them from heaven if they wanted to go.

Why did Jesus die on the cross? Because we are all made in the image and likeness of God, and God doesn't make junk. He loves us more than anything else He created because He knows we can be like Him and He wants us to be like Him. We are imperfect now, but we can become perfect. God wants everyone to go to heaven!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Your Love is Better Than Life (by the Newsboys)

I was listening to this and it is not only a fun song musically (it's the closest to rap I'll get) but it's so deep. Isn't it interesting as well how close love songs and Christian songs are?

"I dunno nothing that I haven't been taught,
I dunno why I was born into the family I’ve got,
I dunno if I ever had an original thought,
maybe not, maybe so, maybe later, I dunno
I dunno how I can end a prayer, then turn on a friend,
I dunno what I was thinking when I just pressed send,
I dunno why I still criticize the things I dunno
I dunno, I dunno, I dunno, but this one thing I know

Without your love, I’m just a broken machine R.
Without your love, it’s all a mindless routine R.
Without your love, I’m in another free fall R.
Without your love, I’ve got nothing at all

I dunno what goes down the moment we die
Do we get halos and harps? Do we sleep? Do we fly? I dunno
how, when and why this world will finally end,
Speculation’s gonna grow, who knows best, I dunno
I dunno if I should push ahead or stop and grieve,
I lie awake and wonder how to make a city believe,
I dunno when it’s a ministry and when it’s a show
maybe neither, maybe both, I dunno, but this one thing I know

Without your love, I’m just a broken machine R.
Without your touch I’m not a full human being R.
If I should ever leave, where would I go? R.
I look to you ‘cause you’re the lover of my soul


I dunno when to walk away or stand and fight
just when I’ve got it wrong, I’m sure I heard you right
and when my arguments are watertight you expose every hole with a flash and a flood and I know
I hear you call in the eye of the storm and I know you’ve had my back since the day I was born still
stoking my heart
still stirring my head
you’re my pillar of fire
you’re the wine, you’re the bread, and

Without your love, I’m just a broken machine R.
Without your love, it’s all a mindless routine R.
Without your love, I’m in another free fall R.
Without your love, I’ve got nothing at all

I dunno nothing that I haven't been taught, I dunno why I was born into the family I’ve got, R.
I dunno if I ever had an original thought, maybe not, maybe so, maybe soon, maybe later, I dunno R.
I dunno when I’ve got it right or wrong, I dunno how I can rap it in a four minute song, but I know
My grip is better when I’m not hanging on, your love is making us strong (all along)
Your love is better than life"

The bits in italic really capture how I feel :)  (The all caps parts came in the lyrics that way)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Take my word for it, it's not there"

"Take my word for it, it's not there" That was the end of the part of my conversation with an Evangelical Christian about if Purgatory is in the Bible. A nice lady, but I can't agree with her.

Purgatory, to Catholics, is a place/"condition of existence" (there isn't really a sense of "place" once you're spirit) of final purification after death for people going to Heaven. Note #1 after death, your soul is outside of time... we have no idea how Purgatory fits into that. Note #2 Purgatory is portrayed in art as a place of fire, like Hell. But after death, your soul has no concept of place... we don't really have any words to describe it. Unlike Hell, the people in Purgatory don't want to be there. Unlike Hell, people in Purgatory know that they will eventually get out. Unlike Hell, the fire is a purifying fire (Zech 13:9, or, the Bible says people can be purified in fire). Is the fire symbolic or real? I really don't know. When I die, I'll tell you.

But I really had no response to "it's not there" other than "it is there"... my word against hers. Given more time (and space) here I will try to educate myself.

The New American Bible has a lot of resources in the back... and one of them is a Doctrinal Bible Index. It names Purgatory as "a middle state of souls, suffering for a time on account of their sins, is shown by those many texts of Scripture which affirm that God will render to every man according to his works, so that suck as die in lesser sins shall not escape without punishment" The verses cited are 2 Mc 12: 43-46; Mt 5: 25f, 12, 32; Lk 12: 58f; 1 Cor 3: 15; 1 Pt 3: 18-20; 1 Jn 5: 16; Rv 5: 3, 13

The first one, 2 Maccabees 12: 42-46 (the complete passage is 38-46...I will start from 42) "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed (of the dead men) might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas (Maccabeus) warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin"

If you do not have the book of Maccabees in your Bible, you have a defective Bible and should ask for a replacement :). Seriously, though, the reason this book is not in Protestant Bibles is because the desire to not see Purgatory in the Bible led to the Bible being rewritten. See #4 here about how Evangelicals desire a "consistent view" in their canon... the basis of their Christianity is personal interpretation of the Bible... and the basis of their Bible is what they see as "accepted" theology... which turns into only accepting what they want to. Also, note that Evangelical Christians do not accept the Septuagint, their translations of the Bible more closely follow the Jewish canon, which, by the time it was settled, had also taken cutting and pasting measures in order to try to separate Judaism from the "fulfilled Judaism" of the early Christianity. This is probably a big reason why, for Evangelical Christians, "it's not there." Another interesting note, this passage not only implies a Purgatory (or, purification after death) but it promotes indulgences as well!

Next: Matthew 5: 25(22 & footnote talk about Purgatory, for 25 see Lk 12: 59), 12: 32 "But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother 'Raqa' (imbecile/blockhead) will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You Fool' will be liable to fiery Gehenna" Footnote: "Gehenna, in Hebrew ge-hinnom, "Valley of Hinnom" or ge ben-hinnom "Valley of the Son of Hinnom," southwest of Jerusalem, the center of an idolatrous cult during the monarchy in which children were offered in sacrifice. The Hebrew is transliterated into Greek as gaienna, which appears in the New Testament as geenna. The concept of punishment of sinners by fire either after death or after the final judgment is found in Jewish apocalyptic literature but the name geenna is first given to the place of punishment in the New Testament" So... as I see it, there are two ways to interpret this passage, and it hinges on what "Gehenna" is. Is Gehenna a place of eternal punishment (Hell) or is it a place of temporary punishment (Purgatory). Insults like "you fool" aren't a very serious sin. If God is Just, any insult, however small, needs repentance, forgiveness, and retribution. If God is Merciful, why would God send you to Hell as retribution for something so minor? Purgatory, (interpretation of a temporary Gehenna) is the middle ground of these two.

(from above) 12:32 "And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
So... If Jesus has to say something will not be forgiven in the "age to come," then doesn't that mean they believe that some things can be forgiven after death?

Ok... what now... (this stuff is coming out of my ears by this point) Luke 12:58 & 59... This story has pretty much the same idea as Matthew 5:25: "You will not be released until you have paid the last penny" If God is Just, then the correct retribution must be made, even if after death, but not at the expense of Mercy.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 "But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire." A passage that is used a lot to point to a purgatory. A good person, who has done some bad things can still be saved.

1 Peter 3: 18-20 "For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water." In the footnote, it says "It is not clear just who these spirits are. They may be the spirits of the sinners who died in the flood, or angelic powers, hostile to God, who have been overcome by Christ." What this passage does indicate is that there is a place of "prison" after death... so saying Everyone is "going to either Heaven or Hell" is Biblically inaccurate. So the argument is, if Jesus suffered for sins once and for all, why do people have to suffer more in purgatory? Jesus forgave all sins, completely, for everyone. However, that does not make us perfect people. Going to Purgatory does not mean that you have another chance at Heaven, you are going to Heaven. Jesus forgave you, you are going to Heaven. But we are imperfect, creatures. There needs to be some way for Jesus to "remove the remnants of imperfection." What is a remnant of imperfection? Ugh, big topic I don't want to go into now. If I do a post on sin, I'll go into it then. Sin is strange... it affects Everybody. Somehow. I don't know how, but... yeah. Strange stuff.

1 John 5:16 "If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and He will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly".. I may have included verse 17 too... but it sounds more finished with it. In modern terminology, venial sins are the lesser sins and mortal sins are the deadly sins. Deadly sins reject God, so it doesn't make sense to turn to God in prayer on your own. Venial sins do not cut all ties with God, so it is still possible to pray on your own. And John says that one should pray to God. Relation to purgatory? Sin is complex. It is still possible to go to heaven while holding venial sins, because purgatory will get rid of them for you. Deadly=Mortal=Going to Hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. So, go to confession for all your sins, especially mortal sins.

Revelation 5: 3,13 "But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to examine it...Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe cry out: "To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever." :) It actually took me two readings through to see how this is relevant. But, I'd heard the phrase "under the earth" before, and didn't ever have it brought to my attention or ever knew what it meant. By interpretation, it could mean purgatory. Where else do you have people not in heaven, not on earth, and praising Jesus?

In further research, Revelation 21:27: "but nothing unclean will enter it (Heaven), nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." So, How do you get into the book? Ask for it? And... become clean! Accepting Jesus is one half of what you need to do. Becoming clean, through suffering on Earth or in Purgatory, is the other half.

And I found many, many more verses here and more explanation, that, actually, puts mine to shame :). QED.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Saint (disambiguation)

So... what does a kid get told is a fun job to grow up to be? Doctor? Teacher? How about a saint?

Do YOU want to be a saint when you grow up? Why not?

Part of the Apostle's Creed says we believe in the communion of saints. That's not just the Saints that the Catholic Church has canonized. Anyone with sanctifying grace on Earth, everyone in Purgatory, and everyone in Heaven is part of the communion of saints. All of us on Earth have the name "the Church Militant" because we are the ones directly able to choose good over evil. Everyone in Purgatory has the name "the Church Suffering" because of the suffering those souls endure for purification before entering Heaven. Everyone in Heaven is part of "the Church Triumphant" because good has completely triumphed over evil there.

The Catholic Church, at the time of a person's death, teaches that no one can know where that person's soul has gone. If a Christian, we do not know whether the person has gone to Purgatory or to Heaven. We believe everyone who gets to heaven is a saint (little s) A person is declared (or canonized, which literally means "put into the calendar") a Saint (capital S) if he has lived an extremely virtuous life, has all his writings in communion with the Faith of the Church, and has had God show us that he is in Heaven, due to miracles done by requests to him.

Everything here is done for a reason. All research into a future Saint's life is done with the greatest skepticism. It was common practice for most Saints, that the investigation was not started until most everyone who had known the person had died, so that there would be no emotional attachment in the investigation. As for proof that the person Was Really in Heaven, the only "proof" possible is through miracles attributed to them. If someone asks for the prayers of the future Saint, and they are answered, then that means the future Saint is in a position to ask things of God, ie in Heaven.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Better Thing to Imagine

Imagine there's a Heaven
You can get there if you try
The hell I shy from
Above us God made sky
Imagine all the people
Living His sacrifice

Imagine there's no hatred
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to steal or kill for
All share a religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in truth

You may say that I'm a Catholic
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no attachment to possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a Catholic
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Original Lyrics by John Lennon. Parody by

Thursday, June 17, 2010

..and ooh look there goes a butterfly *easily distracted*

In the beginning, I only wanted to find out the origin of 'nom' (as in om, nom, nom for eating) and got distracted by use of NOM to mean "New Order Mormons." I was curious, and discovered a website for Mormons who had nowhere to go when they questioned their faith. I really don't know anything about Mormons (officially the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). I tried to learn more today though because it seemed like the questions the NOMs were raising could be easily asked by a Catholic as well. What is the original source of our faith and is it trustworthy? Is my church the One, True church? What do I do with people in my church who don't act Christian? How do I deal with a difference in religiousness between me and my husband/wife? If I am disillusioned by this church, is there truth anywhere?

So I went to go look for the Mormon answers... and I found the answers jumbled, contradictory, and evolving. Do the Mormons know what the Mormons believe and used to believe? Overall, from looking at the history of the church, Mormons believe that after the 12 Apostles died, no one had the authentic teachings of Jesus anymore, called the Great Apostasy. Joseph Smith Jr. wrote (upon inspiration from visions) the Book of Mormon in 1830 and founded the church to be the restoration of Jesus Christ's teachings. He is considered a prophet and created his own translation of the Bible which is considered to be the correct version, with all other translations holding errors. The Book of Mormon is sacred scripture as well, and holds no errors. From what I was able to find, The Book of Mormon talks about a history of peoples on the American continent and how when Jesus ascended in front of the Apostles, He descended again on the American continent and formed new apostles and gave more teachings to the inhabitants of America. This is interesting history, but it really doesn't explain LDS belief. Most of what I could find was either from LDS sites general ideas like that Mormons believe in strong families and that the Holy Spirit gives you love, joy, and peace if you accept their beliefs as true (without intending to limit the Holy Spirit's gifts, I personally appreciate the Catholic Church trying to say there is a way to know truth without emotions getting involved). So to be fair for stuff I am nowhere near educated enough on:

My side (that I grew up learning) is what the Catholic Church says to these questions. The original source of our faith and church is Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit has guided the church from the beginning so nothing has been lost or corrupted. Is it the one true church? Well, it is the completely true church, but it is not the only church that has truth. I would recommend this site: (the 'answering your questions tab is very nice)

In a search of similarities between Catholicism and Mormonism, i came up with a site that compared the relative similarity of beliefs... until it became clear that they were being compared in order to criticize both of them as being non-Christian cults. I was curious what they thought of the Catholic Church. It was sad to read. The entire beginning of the article was spurning any discussion between Catholicism and Fundamental Protestantism. They accuse the Church of completely being overtaken by Satan, and say that all of the doctrines defined later in history were invented at that time rather than being perpetual beliefs of the Church that had been challenged (and so, defined) at that time. Interestingly, the site describes its belief that Apostolic Tradition existed, but all tradition went into the Bible, so you can't claim anything as tradition but not in the Bible. Since that belief is not in the Bible (they didn't have any Bible quotes to back it up) it is changing the truth to what they want it to be. And I can't rationally argue them out of the emotional attachment to what they want. But I was sad that some Christians don't want to pursue a Christian unity. Yes, maybe that means coming back under the Catholic church... but if that's the truth, isn't that what's best? You bring what you hold as fundamental truth, and we bring what's ours, and it's mostly the same. But if you believe, like this site, that the Catholic Church is out to deceive you... what is the deception? And being insulting doesn't help make them Christians who love their enemies.

Saying that the Catholic Church will come to a compromise with other denominations in order to create a common church? Jesus wanted one Church, one Body... but isn't it also of most importance that it is the True Body, not a reformed or corrected or compromised Body?...and ooh look there goes a (metaphorical) butterfly, let's go chase it! *stream of consciousness/train of thought organization continues*

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Night Thoughts 2

I grew up thinking I was a failure because I never dated. It was a status thing. I thought that once someone started loving me, I would then feel like I was loveable. I could say in words that I was fine with just having amazing friendships... but my heart didn't feel that way.

Now that I'm in a relationship, I appreciate singleness more. And last night I just wanted to share that insight with other people i know that may not be able to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The difference between a really close friendship and a relationship is the increased inordinate amount of worrying you do over them. In dating, the physical side of the relationship (kissing/hugging/...) only drives you apart. The rest of the relationship is hours and hours spent talking to them & spending as much time as possible together. It's just, for someone you're dating, you worry & miss them when they're gone & doing other stuff.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catholic Social Teaching != large government; social justice == ending abortion

I was listening to Catholic radio today, and was surprised to hear the host and guest discussing how the communist movement has become less revolutionary and now takes a tactic of infiltrating a country’s culture and education systems. The conversation then went into how incompatible the communist/socialist worldview is with Catholocism… which impressed me more. I do agree with this view…my surprise came at it being openly espoused on the radio other than on the Rush Limbaugh program.

I would like all Catholic Social Justice talks (it’s not called Service or Serving the Community now, it’s “Social Justice”) to mention the role of government in Social Justice, just to be clear that “assisting” is not the same as “doing it for you.” The first lets people keep their dignity & the second makes people lose their dignity. And, human dignity is the basis of Catholic Social Teaching, and the basis for human equality (not economics, like communism says).

The last social justice talk I heard also ignored the biggest social justice issue today: abortion. If there ever was a group that has no voice in their fate, it’s the unborn. If there’s a group that is ill educated in their choices if pregnant, it’s women. I fail to see how making a choice for abortion is a real choice if it is an ill informed choice. How many women really go into an abortion because they hate children and wish there were less of them in the world? A few, of course, but I doubt it’s anywhere near a majority. To quickly deal with abortion in the case of rape or incest, I don’t see why one trauma deserves another. The post abortion health problems: depression, guilt, sometimes inability to have future children, and an increased risk of cancer, are sometimes not even admitted to by promoters of abortion.

Abortion is hard on doctors as well. Doctors must either deny science, lie, and say that it’s not a baby, which is difficult because doctors deal in science in order to give the best medical advice based on facts. If the doctor does admit it’s a baby, he (which I will use until a neutral pronoun is created) must begin to not care about life & harden his heart. Also, it's a business. It is hard to think that Americans have an entire industry making lots of money off of killing millions of humans, but here we are. It's hard to be surprised that America (and many places in the world) are struggling to be above the population replacement level?

And from a Catholic Christian perspective that is bad. Very bad. The bible verse that was originally told to me as “They choose to blind themselves to the truth, and God lets them!”Since it’s always better to find the actual quote (and between different translations, it’s pretty much the same)

Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools… Therefore, God handed them over to …for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie… Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions.” NAB Romans 1:20-26

All humans have dignity. And humanity begins when you have 46 chromosomes. To be compassionate, it’s best to educate women on the depression after abortion, the guilt, and the long term health risks of cancer. And a woman can’t make a real choice on abortion if she does not know that there are places that facilitate adoption, the different types of adoption, or places that help woman with money and supplies if they want to keep their baby. Finally, it is overlooked how much women are pressured into getting abortions by family members, school officials, or by the father of the baby. If abortion is a violent procedure, isn’t advising a woman to have one tantamount to advocating, in this case, violence against women? By women's liberation movement, they have enslaved themselves. True freedom, true choice, true wisdom: all of these result from accepting the dignity of all humans.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Definition of a Catholic

Catholic (noun): a person who tries to understand and follow Catholic beliefs in their daily life. Is it really fair to call yourself Catholic otherwise?

The Bible describes how God purifies us through suffering, like gold is purified in fire. We all have a weak point or an imperfection.To some, this evokes the question "How can God (if he exists and is good) allow this?

But, the desire to please God is itself a gift from God. God wants to give you the gift of His grace, and only in grace is there strength to live another day imperfect, but perfecting.

Praise Jesus, true source of Hope! Praise the Spirit, giver of the best gifts! Praise the Father for... being a father!

Night Thoughts 1

How could we ever choose God if we never had a choice put in front of us? How could we ever learn to trust God if we never had to suffer?

If God is good, how can He allow suffering? How can He allow cancer? How can He allow people to lose everything and live poor? How can he allow people to be born with mental illness, sexual illness, or physical disability?

From the Bible itself, how could God throw Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden? How could God allow Job to lose everything, and not only lose everything but have his best friends come and lecture him? How could God allow Joseph son of Jacob to be sold into slavery, taken to a foreign land, and unjustly thrown into prison there? How could God ask Mary to be the mother of a child that would be seen as illegitimate, in a culture that would stone her to death? How could Jesus let himself and most all of his closest friends and followers be killed and martyred?

Didn't God love them?

To quote Star Wars: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view"

Where suffering comes from is a complex question, that I don't even understand. In simplest terms, suffering is the result of a turning away from God. It's not only your turning away but you are also affected by Adam and Eve's turning away, other people's turning away and by Satan's turning away.

What you do with suffering depends greatly on our point of view. To ask God why He allows suffering is one response to suffering. It rejects the suffering and does not get anything in the end except resentment toward God and a lack of trust in Him.

The other point of view is that suffering is a blessing. For me, I tend to forget to talk to God in good times and more remember to talk to God when I'm not feeling well. How can you ask God for grace to get through something if getting through it is easy for you? God takes us where we are and as we are. There is hope in this point of view because there is trust in God. Trust that God will use the suffering to help us become His people and suffering to help others. In this point of view, it is a great blessing to be poor, to be martyred, to be given a desire to do evil, or to be sick. The only place to turn is God.

Suffering is not fun & I don't want to say suffering is a good thing in itself. But changes cause suffering, and if you want to change then you must get through the suffering to get there. The Marines have a saying "Pain is Weakness leaving the Body." Well... suffering is leaving your self-centeredness and becoming God-centered. Suffering is self-centeredness leaving the body. If I have the right attitude about it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Faith not Works?

My opinion is like C. S. Lewis's in Mere Christianity : arguing whether faith or works is more important is like arguing which side of a pair of scissors is more important.

But the second reading at Mass today was Galatians 2:16,19-21 (11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C)

"Brothers and Sisters:
We who know that a person is not justified by works of the law
but through faith in Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Christ Jesus
that we may be justified by faith in Christ
and not by works of the law,
because by works of the law no one will be justified.
For through the law I died to the law,
that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ;
yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me;
insofar as I now live in the flesh,
I live by faith in the Son of God
who has loved me and given himself up for me.
I do not nullify the grace of God;
for if justification comes through the law,
then Christ died for nothing. "

One stereotype is that Catholic Christians think that if they follow "the law" then they will be saved. The other stereotype is that Protestant Christians think that all they have to do in life is think they believe in Jesus and that's all they need to do to go to heaven.

I know the first one isn't true, as evidenced by this passage, and I hope the second one isn't either.

Today's context for this passage was a first reading from Samuel 2 and a Gospel from Luke. In Samuel, King David repented and God forgave him his adultery and murder. In the Gospel, Jesus is eating at the house of Simon the Pharisee, where a sinful woman comes and cleans, kisses and perfumes Jesus's feet. I don't know whether Jesus was mind reading or had really good ears, but he hears Simon's rejection of the woman. Jesus then proposes that the woman, though a sinner, is more welcoming to him than Simon was, and tells a parable: two men were forgiven of their debt, and the one who was forgiven more loves more.

All three passages have the same theme: God's forgiveness.
When King David repents, "The Lord on his part had forgiven (his) sin: (he) shall not die"
Paul says "I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me."
Jesus says "Her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little"

This is nice to say, but what does it mean? What does Paul mean?
The passage's context was Paul writing to the Galatians, a community that had many converts from Judaism. Understandably, they wanted to continue following Jewish/Mosaic Law, and wanted the Gentile converts to follow it as well. This is the "works of the law" that Paul means. Paul wants to make it very clear that salvation is through Jesus rather than through following Jewish practices (especially circumcision).

Maybe defining some words would help:
works of the law: the old Jewish law, circumcision, dietary restrictions, etc...
justification: becoming just, being saved
love: actions that put others before yourself
Christ lives in me/live for God: following Jesus's teachings/imitating Jesus

If Paul is living for God, then he is following what Jesus taught, which, as shown in the Gospels was a new commandment: that they should love one another. To follow this you must die to the old law of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." In the end, Paul makes sense when he says that if this old law justified you/if it "saved" you, then there was no need for Jesus to bring the new law, and there was no need for Him to die on the cross for forgiveness of sins. Paul both has faith in forgiveness of sins from Jesus's death and imitates being "crucified with Christ." Is it too much of a stretch to say Paul sees these as the same thing?

Jesus says in the Gospel "her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love" and "your faith has saved you; go in peace". To Jesus, showing great love and faith are synonymous. I would say these are the same things as works and faith. If you are forgiven by God, then you are justified; you are saved.

Math! if great love (or works)=forgiven and forgiven=saved then works=saved
and Jesus said faith=saved, so faith=works.

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to Ancient Doors. The title comes from Psalm 24: "O gates, lift high your heads; grow higher ancient doors. Let him enter, the king of glory!" For me, the Catholic Church and the Faith is the "ancient door" to the truth of how God set the world to run. "Liturgical junkie" is a phrase I got from a homily that fit me so well I adopted it. I plan use this blog as a release for my thoughts and insights on Catholicism that are getting kinda crowded in my head. :) Enjoy!