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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus 2

I had an idea for an interesting analogy for how we can  only be saved through Jesus. Imagine you're in a race, but before it starts, you get blindfolded. This is like original sin... you didn't choose it, but it will affect how you act. But it keeps you from seeing how to get to the finish line. The finish line is heaven, and the racetrack was laid out by Jesus (Jesus is "the way"). But you're blindfolded! A friend can come up to you and say, hey! you've got a blindfold on! If you see the way (Jesus) you'll be able to get to the finish line (heaven). Or you could stubbornly say that you don't see a racetrack, and unless you can provide proof of a racetrack or a finish line, you're not going to take your blindfold off. In fact, you could convince yourself that having a blindfold on is the way you're supposed to be! The other possibility is that you never take your blindfold off, but you do your best to follow the racetrack anyway. It is physically possible to finish the race with the blindfold on, but isn't it kinder to be a missionary and help take people's blindfolds off?

Luke 24:13-35

 This passage was the Gospel reading on Mother's Day this year, so it got kinda pushed aside, but I think it's a really important passage both for the Eucharist and for the idea of Sola Scriptura.
Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?"
And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"
Jesus knows. But He doesn't want them to know He knows. The fact that Jesus doesn't immediately say "Hey, it's me!" makes the circumstances of the later self-revelation significant. In fact, all through the Gospels, Jesus tells people to keep His miracles secret, and does not allow the demons removed from people to spread the knowledge that Jesus is God. This seems like the opposite of a good marketing strategy. How will anyone know you've just risen from the dead if you wait forever to tell them?
They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see."  I think this is the most succinct description of Jesus. It's only missing the fact that Jesus was more than just another prophet. Maybe the "we were hoping" means that they had all given up on Jesus being the Messiah. Maybe that's why they couldn't recognize him when he walked with them; they were not mentally able to. Are we always able to see Jesus when He walks with us?
And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. What the Bible refers to as "the scriptures" is what we as Christians hold as the Old Testament. The old writings that testify to Jesus. The Gospels and New Testament letters are the new writings that testify to Jesus. I don't think there's any other religion that tries so hard to provide evidence/testimony/witness to its truth. There's no other religion where God lowered Himself to become human and know what it's like. There's no other religion where God is loving enough to sacrifice Himself. If you have to make Pascal's wager, wouldn't you want to be in a religion with a God who is as loving and merciful as our God is? So many people ask for proof, for reason. But they don't realize that God revealed Himself over and over and even came to live with us. And that's not enough. Jesus takes the time to interpret everything too! We don't even have to interpret the scriptures ourselves! In fact, we probably shouldn't, so that we don't come up with something contradictory to what Jesus said. Just one problem: this doesn't say what God's interpretation is.
As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. I think it is significant that Jesus spent all day finding Jesus in the scriptures, but their eyes were not opened. Cleopas wasn't with Jesus at the Last Supper, and his unnamed companion was probably not an Apostle either as he's not named. Jesus could have opened their eyes any time during the explanation of the scriptures. Is it a coincidence that Jesus wanted them to recognize Him in the bread? Do we always recognize Jesus in the Eucharist as if "our eyes were opened"? How can we lessen the importance of the Eucharist to "only a symbol" when it is the primary way to recognize Jesus?
Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" They realize that they found Jesus in the scriptures after they found Jesus in the meal. That is the order Jesus wants us to find Him. If Jesus intended us to have Sola Scriptura, wouldn't He have their eyes opened during the opening of the scriptures? The scriptures are important (it make their hearts burn within them) but it is has secondary importance to the breaking of the bread, in this passage.
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. As as addition to whether or not we see Jesus when He walks with us, do we see Jesus when He walks with others? Are we willing to put our own interpretation of the Bible aside if we are told Jesus gave us God's interpretation? Do we recognize Jesus in the "breaking of the bread" today?

Catching Up

When I first made this blog I promised myself I wouldn't waste words apologizing for not posting in a while.

      So, I caught up on reading from a while ago. I'm now in Samuel, still in the Psalms, reading the Gospel of Mark, and am in the middle of the Nicene Creed in the Catechism.
      It's interesting to note the stories of Joshua, Gideon, and Samson in the Bible are not kid-friendly stories. It's around this time that there are a lot of statements attributed to God that involve mass killing of the people who lived in the Promised Land. Stories of Joshua usually end at around the fall of Jericho. That was only the beginning. The land is split up between the different tribes who are told "go and conquer it" (except for the tribe of Levi, which by God's command gets none as it is set apart for service to God, and except for the tribe of Joseph which is never called the tribe of Joseph, it is really the two tribes of his sons, the Ephraimites and Manessahites).
      The Benjaminites are all but wiped out by the other tribes due to a rather...sexually corrupt... town. In fact the other tribes went "oops we killed all the Benjaminite women... and we swore a curse on anyone who willingly gives a wife to the remaining men... what do we do now?" FYI their solution was daughter-stealing. But it makes the rise of Saul the Benjaminite to king significant. Saul is of the least important family of the least important clan, of the smallest tribe (because it got all but wiped out). And Samuel is telling him that he will be king. The pattern follows when David, the youngest and least important of his brothers, is anointed king. Neither Saul nor David make the best kings, though David is the one who gets God's promise that his family will have the kingship forever (as Jesus is of the line of David). As Jesus said, "the first shall be last, and the last shall be first."
     Gideon is not really called Gideon in the Bible. Well, he is, but he gets renamed Jerubabaal, because he was told by God's angel to take down his family's (and town's) stuff they used to worship Baal. BTW he did it in the dead of night when no one would see him. On the topic of Baal, (skipping ahead to when Saul is king) the ark of the covenant gets brought to the battlefield because Saul left God's way and has gone mad. The battle is lost and the ark of the covenant is captured. They think it's a good idea to put it in their temple next to their statue (Baal or and equivalent). In the morning the statue has fallen on its face in front of the ark. They think, hey, coincidence, and prop the thing back up. The next morning, not only is the statue fallen over, it's head and hands are cut off. And everyone in the town is getting horribly sick. They think, hey, let's give this over to our neighbor kingdom. But they all get sick, so they have no solution left than "give it back!!! please!!!" And so it gets sent back. But, yeah, the book of Judges is full of idolatry. There's even a point where they make an image of God, and the Bible calls it an "idol"...though God forbade them to make images of Him (remember the golden calf made while Moses was up getting the commandments? At least the New American Bible says that they were trying to worship God through the calf... I guess at that point they didn't really have any concept of using images to think of God vs worshiping the image instead of God.) Oh, back to Gideon. Yeah, apparently before an angel got to him, his family worshiped Baal... not really part of his popular image. (oh and he's also the least significant in family and tribe... ) I didn't even go into the fact that the book of Judges is a cycle of idolatry, being conquered, crying to God for help, a Judge being raised up to fight back, then idolatry again repeated over and over.
     And you'll just have to go read about Samson yourself... I'll just say Delilah was just the most famous of a line of Philistine women in his life...

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Not apologetics this post, but an apology that I missed my monthly post. When I began this month, I began a new "month" in the daily Bible readings. I was delayed due to excessive schoolwork (which I still have so this will be a short, update, post!) And due to a relationship that I've been frantically trying to repair. I did get behind two days due to schoolwork keeping me up late... if I am up til somewhere between 2 and 5 am, then I feel justified in just getting as much sleep as I can before 9am the next morning. So, last night I caught up and did three days worth in one night! So I should be on track now! I've finished the whole Pentateuch now, and am in Joshua. Still in the psalms (hit day 100 of the year with psalm 101). Finished Acts, finished 1st Thessalonians last night and started in on 2nd Thessalonians. Which is only three chapters, so I'm on to Galatians after that. I can't believe the Pentateuch went by so quickly! Also, come to think of it, this is broken into "Hobbit months"... 30 days in each month! Hope to write more once school has stopped throwing programming projects at us aerospace engineers!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"The World's Toughest Catholic Quiz"

Would that everyone could know all 20 of the answers. I knew about 17 of them, but then again EWTN Radio is all I've listened to for a year and a half now and I've read stuff from Frank Sheed and Patrick Madrid.
So here it is:
How will you do?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

You Have No Idea How Long I Tried To Think Of A Good Title For This Post

So, after all retreats I've been to, they have people who have prepared to give their "witness," or the story of their faith life. After retreats, people who feel that retreat really affected them give the story of the way the retreat changed their ideas about their faith. After all such stories, I have the great fear if I was to give a witness, what the heck would I say? Even the format of casually telling your own life like a story was new to me on my first retreat, and I wanted to be able to do it myself. And the more witnesses I listened to, the more I felt able to imitate them. And the more I felt the insignificance of my own story.
        Martyr means "witness" in Greek before it took on its current meaning. In the Church, red martyr has come into usage for Catholics who die for their faith and white martyr is used to refer to "dying to self" through sacrifices. Everyone is called to be a white martyr, it takes a special call from God (and special graces) to be a red martyr.
       In Acts 1:8 Jesus says "you will be my the ends of the earth."
       Through EWTN Radio, I became aware of  Seth DeMoor's website and mission to film the story of every Catholic in the world.
So how am I a witness to Jesus?

Have You Been Sufficiently Censered?

I got the idea for the title from Retreat. Censor/Censer get it? Ok, it was a bad pun. And, on second thought, it's Jesus who gets censered...

Like over the retreat. UCF puts on amazing retreats: they are really blessed in their campus ministry. They're all such wonderful people. The theme of the retreat was "Holiness Today." The patron saint of the retreat was St. Augustine (not pronounced like the city in Florida!!!). It would be incomplete to talk about St. Augustine without talking about St. Monica, his mother who prayed for her son's conversion for 17 years. That's like if I had been praying since I was four years old until now! I was definitely praying for different things when I was a four year old than I am now.

Some of the important points presented, I would like to share:
  • God must teach us how to love Him back
  • Is it amazing that Jesus lowered Himself to be human? How much more amazing is it then that Jesus lowered Himself to take the appearance of bread, of food?
  • Have you been through this cycle? I know I have: isolation->numb pain->self loathing->shame, discouragement->hiding-> back to feelings of isolation. To know you are a whole, complete person (holiness, whole-y, get it?) is to break this evil cycle.
  • Jesus is the light. We cannot be holy until we bring to light all that you hide, all that would embarrass you.
  • Holiness is analog. Holiness is not something that you "arrive at" and can say "I'm here! Journey over" (this side of death, at least). In fact, everyone baptized, everyone consecrated to God has a "base level" of holiness; are a holy people. 
  • We each have our own journey to holiness. Everyone has their own individual struggles. 
  • We can't get "lulled to sleep" by the routine struggles. We can't become lulled to sleep by the world that says "what you felt at retreat wasn't real." For Catholics, what the world considers reality, we consider fantasy. There is no reality without God. You're walking in a dream if you spend any time unaware that God is present, walking next to you. We fall into spiritual slumber without even realizing it.
  • The Bible doesn't follow the careers of politicians or the life of businesses: it follows families. And not many families, but one family: the line of Adam, the line of David, which ends with Jesus. 
  • (technically not from retreat, but I was reminded of it during retreat) Hurt people hurt people and healed people heal people
  • retreat should be more than a "spiritual energy drink." It should be a re-calibration to focus of Jesus.
  • Jesus has conquered the world. What have we to fear?
  • We are supposed to be right where we are-on a journey
  • God calls you to be yourself, but "be who you are" is different from "I can do whatever I want"
  • A little angel doesn't tap you on the head and say "you've been made holy, go out and play." God gives us opportunities for holiness. 
  • Who were the kids in Mk 10 13-16? They got hugged by Jesus! Did they know they were being hugged by God? 
  • I stand in grace. My heart is open. All is gift.
Lastly, one of the fun activities they had us do I will reprint here:
Look over the following descriptions and take a minute or so to pick out which one best describes you.
  1. You are a good honest person that works hard but you don't really understand how God operates in your life. You show up more because someone else wants you to be there.
  2. You are someone whose decisions in life are not always the best. You struggle with self-esteem issues and you have felt the scorn of others.
  3. You are someone who has spent time mocking those who proclaim to be Christian. Your head and knowledge over-rules your heart and you make decisions according to what you can prove.
  4. You are a person of great compassion, but you're skeptical and cynical. Your heart still wants to believe in miracles, but you find it difficult and draining.
  5. You are someone whose mind gets the Gospel message, but your actions do not always compliment what you believe. You want to be a leader but you fall short and make mistakes.
  6. You have lived a blessed life and due to your parents' wealth you have been well taken care of. You struggle when things get uncomfortable and rationalize sin. 
  7. You are a faith-filled person that worries about others and tends to want God to work on your time and not His time.
  8. You are someone who wants to spend more time with God and the Church but your family would rather you not get too involved. 
The number you chose refers to a saint who felt the same way: 1) St Joseph 2) St Mary Magdalene 3) St Paul 4) St. Elizabeth Ann Seton 5) St Peter 6) St Francis of Assisi 7) St. Monica 8) St Claire of Assisi

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

60 Days!

I've gotten through 60 days of reading the Bible and CCC in a year! I've kept going for two months!
I have learned:
  • Genesis ends with the death of Joseph
  • Exodus ends with the making of the Ark of the Covenant
  • "Ark" means "box" so Noah literally had a box of animals
  • I've started compiling a list of Engineers of the Bible: so far I have Noah (Ocean Engineering) and Bezalel and his assistant Oholiab (ok maybe they were more artisans, but I think it takes some engineering to be "experts who the Lord had endowed with skill and understanding in knowing how to execute all the work for the service of the sanctuary, just as the Lord had commanded (Ex 36:1)" 
  • I haven't been bored in Leviticus yet. Yeah, it's law, but I don't mind reading about holocausts because it involves burning stuff and now that I'm on the uncleanliness laws, I'm finding parallels with the New Testament. And I didn't know your house could catch leprosy. It would be kinda hard to have acne or eczema back then... all of their medicine is "wait and see if it goes away on its own" so you get stuck in isolation until it goes away. But Jesus's words to the ten lepers are to go and show themselves to the priests. I'm not quite sure what declaring women 'unclean' after childbirth does to help anything. Unclean animals lists remind me of Acts where Peter was told to eat unclean animals in a vision, in preparation for his being sent to Cornelius. What did he see? What was listed in Leviticus: pigs, badgers, camels, rabbits (did you know Jews couldn't eat rabbit? I didn't), and non-scaly fish. It makes sense: they wouldn't know how to cook the pork & they wouldn't know when it was safe to eat shellfish. They didn't have months with Rs yet. 
  • Finished the Gospel of Matthew, now reading Acts... how can anyone doubt Peter's leadership in Acts? Until it starts following Paul's journeys, and except for Stephen's martyrdom, Peter is the only one saying anything!
  • There is a psalm for anything. I found Psalm 51 for before Confession and Psalm 32 for after Confession. The psalms also make me feel like I knew more of the Bible than I thought I did.
  • Nothing really stands out to me as learned from the CCC other than last night in 475 where at the 6th ecumenical council, they declared that Jesus had two wills, with the human will submitting to the divine will. The passages before it didn't really clarify for me how Jesus could have both human knowledge and divine knowledge at the same time. I wonder how having two will works, as well...
ugh off to class... maybe I'll blog about retreat later

Monday, February 28, 2011

From Palestine With Love

Have you ever heard of "The Naked Archaeologist?" It's a TV show on the History Channel that tries to "expose" the truth of scripture through (guess what!) archaeology. It's not from a Catholic perspective (by a long shot) but I think if done well and honestly, no Catholic could oppose what archaeology says.

However, in the episode I saw latest (it was at our campus's Protestant Campus Ministry Bible study: my attempt at ecumenism... if all the episodes are like this one, the effort will fail), "Spies and Apostles," the show made the claims that
  1. James the Just was appointed by Jesus to be the leader of the early Christians, and that Paul and Peter were plotting to try to wrest control of the early Church from him. 
  2. Paul was a spy for the Roman Empire and only joined the Christians to try to subvert whatever "anti-Roman" tendencies there were
  3. Peter was a spy for...the Jewish Rabbis! Yep, the denials of Jesus on Good Friday are now not out of fear of the Jewish leaders, but a proof that he was chummy with them.
Their response to there being not much in Acts about James is that "it was inter-Christian politics. Paul won and so his version of history is what was recorded."
Their only Bible verses cited were that Jesus declared Peter the rock on which He will build His church (Mt. 16:18) and that Paul was obsessed with "winning" and would give up all morals to win when he said "Run so as to win" (1 Cor 9:19-27).  I don't know what this does to prove the "spies" thing, though.

My response to all of this was a very big "This is ridiculous. What the heck are you thinking? Where in the world would you think you could get this from? How does any of this make sense to you?" For people who believe Sola Scriptura, they've definitely walked off the plantation of what the Bible says.

To discuss them in order:
  1. Who was James? Is he the literal brother of Jesus? Outside of the few mentions of him in Scripture (Acts 12:17, ch 15 and 21 as well) (Gal 1:19, 2:9), most of what we know about him comes from Eusebius.In tradition, James, called the Just due to his righteousness, is the first Bishop of Jerusalem. I guess the TV show takes that to mean he was the leader of the whole early Church. But Acts gives James no leading role until chapter 12! Before that, everything clearly centered on Peter, with the help of John. When Herod kills James (brother of John, son of Zebedee), he doesn't go after James (the brother of the Lord, son of Alphaeus, son of Mary wife of Clephas) next, he arrests Peter. When Peter is released by the angel, he specifically mentions telling James specifically before Peter leaves. It is only after this that James is mentioned a lot, so this is Peter giving the authority of Jerusalem over to James. There was no competition. 
  2. Their entire body of evidence for Paul's spy-ness is a) Paul was a Roman citizen, b) Paul acts differently before and after his conversion and c) Paul mostly hangs out with Gentiles. Does this seem shaky to you? It seems shaky to me. Do I really need to go through all of these? a) Yes Paul was a Roman citizen, but he was a citizen due to where he was born, not through any work of allegiance to the Roman Empire. He was a trained Pharisee!b) well, duh, he acts differently after his conversion! That's what a conversion is! Paul was a very passionate person, Jesus just hit him between the eyes with the knowledge that he was just going 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction. Paul changes course and we should be grateful because otherwise we wouldn't have half of the (non-Gospel) New Testament!  Besides, it wouldn't be worth having in the New Testament if Paul had ulterior motives for being a Christian. There are a lot of worthy books from that time that didn't make it into the Bible, because the Bible is centered around Christ's words, not Paul's or anyone else's. c) (oops I forgot and posted before I got to c... must edit!) Paul mostly hangs out with Gentiles after he is sent to go preach to them. Say this slowly with me. Paul. Got Sent. By God. To The Gentiles. If he isn't the Apostle to the Gentiles, he is nothing! That is his calling. God told Peter to send him (Gal 2:9)! Interestingly, while reading a little bit above this verse, Paul does mention "false brothers" who "slipped in to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus" in order to influence the early Church's teaching on observing the Mosaic Law. Could Paul justly accuse others of being "false brothers" if he was one himself? Why would you accept a hypocrite as a saint? And why would you accept what he wrote as the Word of God?
  3. Do I really have to say anything to refute Peter being a spy for the Jewish leaders? Even if you don't believe all of the countless passages where Peter was mentioned first or given primacy in speaking mean that he was the first Pope, you should be able to figure out that saying one of the 12 Apostles (other than Judas who is roundly condemned every time his name is mentioned) is in league with the Jewish leaders is ridiculous. Acts 4:5-22, Peter very clearly says he will do what God tells him, not what the Sanhedrin tells him. Acts 12 (again):2-4 "(King Herod) had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. If Peter had ulterior motives, would he really be able to do all of the miracles in the name of Jesus? Acts 5:15, there were so many miracles happening around him, that people hoped that even his shadow might be a cause for God to see their faith and heal them. In fact, in 5:27-32, Peter and the Apostles get chewed out by the Sanhedrin, and they have to repeat again that they will serve God first. And the Apostles "left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.(Acts 5:41)"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Truth or Tolerance?

After a quick google search of the title, this seems like a question that is predominantly asked by Catholics about religion and by Christians in general about homosexuality. I would like to discuss the former.

So, this began with curiosity over whether there was any... historical... logical... proof that Buddha reached Nirvana. The point of Nirvana is that you never come back. This is on top of the fact that reincarnation through "karmic energy" at con. I wonder how abortion works in karma? If you die before you're born, then get reincarnated in someone else's womb, get aborted again...

Anyway, just searching for 'Buddhism' led me to an interesting site:
So naturally, it would be fair to see what they believe truth to be:
"Absolute Truth"
"One True Religion?"

The main points being:
  • Unless God were to take the initiative, it appears that there is no way for humans to determine which religion is "true."
  • If one set of theological beliefs is absolutely, objectively, universally true, then its corresponding set of moral truths would also be absolute. But there is no way in which we can currently know which set, if any, is true...Until we can all reach a consensus on a common set of theological beliefs, we will never achieve agreement on moral questions.
It then goes on into a  discussion over how if people lessened their grip on truth, they could increase their tolerance of other religions.

I personally don't want truth and tolerance to be mutually exclusive like this. We need to hold to the absolute truth, otherwise we are living in a fantasy we created, not the world as it is, or I could say, not the world God created. But it is impractical to completely reject other faiths because they only agree with the truth for X%, and not 100%. Catholics are not either-or people, we are both-and people.

There's also the problems of imperfect people and demonic influence. People grow up in a particular religion and just accept the practices without much questioning of the doctrine, sometimes. Thus, even if their religion held the truth, they are not able to defend it. For the second, should Satanism and Voodoo really be tolerated, even if its proponents aren't killing people en masse? Religions come from three sources: worship of God, worship of Satan or demons, or worship of yourself. Only God is worthy of worship. Does it jeopardize tolerance to tell someone they're worshiping a creature rather than the creator? If you force them to accept God, then you hurt their dignity and free will, then that is the real intolerance. 

Should tolerance be viewed from and Enlightenment perspective (which is the foundation of most of the secular, atheist culture we live in). Is democracy really the way to solve religious law, and thus, moral issues? What about "gender equality" or "sexual orientation equality?" To the Enlightenment, (after reading a lot of Buddhist explanations, the name 'enlightenment' now sounds anti-Christian to me, interestingly) the physical differences between women and men are superficial and do not indicate an underlying complementarity. Sadly, I believe feminism in this country has stopped being about doing what's best for women, as God made them, and has become more about promoting abortions and making men feel bad.

Is being tolerant really tolerant? In our country we've had a epidemic of vocal "tolerant" people who do nothing other than attack the "intolerant" people. Nobody can be "tolerant" of everything: no human society could hold together if we were (along the same line, if atheism really practiced what it preached, no moral law would hold and thus no human society could hold together). Thus to be tolerant, you must be tolerant of intolerance. If you tell both a Buddhist and a Catholic "you're right" then both will be insulted  at your misuse of tolerance and truth. If you stand on the ground of a Catholic and say to a Buddhist "you have some things right", then the neither is insulted, and the truth is not jeopardized, it is applauded. 

Besides, who controls truth? God. To try to deny truth in the name of tolerance is a injustice to tolerance, and it holds the arrogance and pride of saying you know better than God.

2104  "All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it."26 This duty derives from "the very dignity of the human person."27 It does not contradict a "sincere respect" for different religions which frequently "reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men,"28 nor the requirement of charity, which urges Christians "to treat with love, prudence and patience those who are in error or ignorance with regard to the faith."29
2105 The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is "the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ."30 By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them "to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live."31 The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church.32 Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.33
2106 "Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits."34 This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it "continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it."35
2107 "If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well."36
2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error,37 but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.38
2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a "public order" conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner.39 The "due limits" which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with "legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order."40 
(Emphasis is mine: if the CCC had emphasized parts it would ALL be bolded... each word and sentence were selected with that much care and meaning)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lies We'd Best Unlearn

So, on the way to and from confession, I was listening to shuffled CCM (contemporary christian music, in this sense... not Catholic campus ministry, of course) and a couple of Newsboys songs came up and the first one I just enjoy... and the second one really hit me, especially the "lies we'd best unlearn" that I need to unlearn.

Joy -- Newsboys
If life is water, I was dry as Tuscon dirt
If it's a gamble, I'd already lost my shirt
If it's a journey, I was dazed without a clue
I flipped a 'U' back to the first love I ever knew

If life's a battle, the invasion is complete
If it's a rhythm, I have found the perfect beat
If it's a renaissance, I've got a new birthday
The world don't give it
And the world can't take it away

The Full Song 

Truth and Consequences -- Newsboys

I would just pull excerpts from this one too... but the chorus is vague and depends on the scenario in the verses for the correct meaning.

Poster child for the Christian single.
Dumped on more than a birdhouse shingle.
Tired of the same old crowd, she starts to
Mingle where she don't belong.
All God's bachelors hanging in a bunch.
Wolves in Wool-ite beat 'em to the punch.
Score another knockout, barely bought her lunch.
What went wrong?

Let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

I am the voice of the male agenda.
Sensitive, strong, or shy, I tend to
Act anyway that would possibly send you
Somewhere we can be alone.

You're so sure I'm a would-be Christian.
Suckered by the "Untamed Heart" condition.
Love that feminine intuition.
Seen that movie, too

Let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

Okay, okay, okay - you've got me figured out. I'm a sham.
I never actually studied for the priesthood.
I've had lost of destructive relationships,
and I know I don't deserve someone like you anyway.
It's just, there's this strange purity about you...almost a radiance.
Maybe it comes from your religious beliefs. I don't know.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, you're unlike any woman I've ever met...
Is it getting hot in here? Can I help you with that jacket?

Oh, let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

Real love, let's talk about real love,
Let's talk about real love,
Let's talk about real love.
Let's talk about real life,
Let's talk about real life,
Let's talk about real life,
Let's talk about real, real, real

Let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

Let's talk about real life,
Truth and consequences,
And coming to our senses,
And lies we'd best unlearn.

Let's talk about real love,
Truth and propaganda.
Are you really gonna stand for
Love that waits its turn?

No, no. I know you've got to go...oh oh! No, it's nothing.
I've just got this really back pain in my neck
You don't suppose you could just massage it a little, could you?

By Steve Taylor

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Saint Mary Magdalene,
Saint Agatha,
Saint Lucy,
Saint Agnes,
Saint Cecilia,
Saint Catherine,
Saint Anastasia,
Saint Clare,
All ye holy virgins and widows, pray for us.
All ye holy men and women, saints of God, make intercession for us. (Excerpt from "Litany of the Saints")

And this has nothing to do with the topic of this post but I love it:
In the Belly of the Whale--Veggietales Jonah/Newsboys.... some parts are a little... not-Jonah-ish... but the synchronization between lyrics and video is done well

Happy the Sinner Whose Fault is Removed

How do you tell your Lutheran friend that you are delaying doing homework together in order to go to confession? It probably felt more awkward for me than for him. Oh well.

What I wished I had:
Prayer before examination of conscience:

"Come Holy Spirit into my soul. Enlighten my mind that I may know the sins I ought to confess, and grant me Your grace to confess them fully, humbly and with contrite heart. Help me to firmly resolve not to commit them again.O Blessed Virgin, Mother of my Redeemer, mirror of innocence and sanctity, and refuge of penitent sinners, intercede for me through the Passion of Your Son, that I may obtain the grace to make a good confession.
All you blessed Angels and Saints of God, pray for me, a most miserable sinner, that I may repent from my evil ways, that my heart may henceforth be forever united with yours in eternal love.

Psalm for after Confession (which I would only have known about because of my goal to read the Bible and CCC in a year):
Psalm 32

Happy the sinner whose fault is removed,
whose sin is forgiven.
Happy those to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no deceit.
As long as I kept silent, my bones wasted away;
I groaned all the day.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength withered as in dry summer heat.
Then I declared my sin to you;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said, "I confess my faults to the LORD,"
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
Thus should all your faithful pray in time of distress.
Though flood waters threaten,
they will never reach them.
You are my shelter;
from distress you keep me;
with safety you ring me round.
I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk,
give you counsel and watch over you.
Do not be senseless like horses or mules;
with bit and bridle their temper is curbed,
else they will not come to you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 30

I've hit the end of the first month! Day 30 was Genesis chapters 46-47, Psalm 29, Matthew 16 and CCC 238-248. I didn't end up having anyone (that I know of) doing this everyday with me... which is kinda sad, I was hoping to have someone else with me so that we can keep each other accountable for it.

So far I've skipped one night: I was up til 5am writing an essay and wanted to get a modicum of hours of sleep. I was able to make it up the next day and have been on track since so far. I'm still pumped about doing this every night... I'm amazed at the number of verses I recognize.

My biggest downside so far is that I am not remembering what I've read so far. Especially for the Catechism passages.

I also intended to share my thoughts on the readings here... but schoolwork should come first! Keeping up with monthly milestones on here should be a good way to keep accountable to myself (I hope).

Monday, January 24, 2011

Was Martin Luther crucified for you? How about your nondenominational pastor?

So one of my friends invited me to see the former lead singer of a Contemporary Christian Music band at her church… what I didn’t originally realize was that 1) he would be talking rather than singing and 2) it would be at her weekly Sunday church service. And, honestly, I feel awkward at other denominations’ church services. So once this misunderstanding was corrected, I did decide not to go. I wouldn’t feel as awkward going to another Catholic rite’s church because… well… we’re all Catholic. But the separation with other denominations is actually significant. This probably isn’t an interesting topic for a blog post, except that this is what this Sunday’s second reading was about.

 I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree in what you say,
and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters,
by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.
I mean that each of you is saying,
“I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,”
or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”
Is Christ divided?
Was Paul crucified for you?
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,
so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.” (1 Cor 1:10-13,17) (NAB)

I couldn’t help thinking… Is Christ divided? Was Martin Luther crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of John Calvin? Or whoever the creator of your denomination is. I feel awkward around other denominations because Christ should not be divided! All Christians should be “in the same mind and in the same purpose… to preach the gospel”! It’s a scary thought to say that splitting from the Catholic Church (the Church founded by no one but Christ) empties the meaning of the cross of Christ! And we have thousands upon thousands of not only denominations, but independent non-denominational churches, set up by one pastor and based on the interpretation of the Bible of that one pastor. I don’t know whether Martin Luther actually said it, or whether it’s been paraphrased to death but he essentially said “I sought to take down one pope, and in the end I had hundreds.” Instead of getting rid of the papacy, the reformation told people “you can be your own pope.” People set themselves up in competition to the Pope as the source of truth. Kinda reminds me of when Adam and Eve set themselves up in competition to God as the source of good and evil. Even today, people try to say that there is good-for-me/true-for me and good-for-you. In retrospect, the one good thing Adolf Hitler has done for the world is he has become a perfect refutation of this argument. Besides, we still have a criminal justice system… anyone who believes the good-for-you argument and believes in making sure murderers end up in jail is contradicting themselves. It’s not a livable ideology: to use scientific terms, the evidence does not support the conclusion.

Other thoughts on this weeks readings are:
The first reading and Gospel are generally designed to go together. If the Epiphany readings didn’t convince you of that, then this week’s readings will. Jesus quotes the old testament! “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.” I would propose that if you’re a Catholic who has sat in church weekly, you would probably recognize a lot of Bible verses if you heard them… you just wouldn’t be able to find them or remember them easily. We know them, we just can’t quote them. Maybe that’s just me because I’m a lector and am beginning to see the same readings for a particular Sunday over and over (Pentecost… Christmas… I wouldn’t remember where to find the readings (other than Acts) but I recognize them when I see them again). Like psalms. We go through so many psalms… Last night, when I was reading the parts of the Bible and Catechism for today, I had psalm 22, which Jesus referred to when on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Psalm 23 is “The Lord is my shepherd.” Psalm 27 is “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”

You should recognize that one at least. It was the responsorial psalm for this week. The point is, Catholics who go to Mass would probably recognize more of the Bible than they think they do (and more than some Protestants think they do).
This is probably my favorite version of Psalm 27:

The main point, I would say, of this Sunday’s gospel was the call of the Apostles. And the question proceeding from it is “What is God calling you to?” And I would say, that is the Catholic way of saying “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” Only not selfish sounding.

CCC 97 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God”
        95 “Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others”

Will the real Catholic please stand up?

I don’t usually end up on the Washington Post, but I got directed there for news about the falsified autism study (which is a separate rant of mine on bad science… both in the study and how it’s being reported… a false study doesn’t prove or debunk anything!!! Anyway…)

When I learned that our current (2011) majority leader, John Boehner, was a Catholic, I was amused that we have had two Catholic majority leaders in a row. I wonder if that’s a first… doesn’t matter. But, as this article shows, there are some major issues on which these two politicians’ views couldn’t be more different. The most obvious one being abortion.

The journalist then goes on to try to create a debate where there is none. There is a head to the Catholic Church, and the “who decides?” paragraph does not even mention the Pope as an option. Heaven forbid the Pope influencing Catholics who are in political office. If the journalist had done her research, she would have known, and it would have fit very well to say, that there is an objective definition for “being a Catholic.”

People are not Catholic because they choose to call themselves Catholic. It is more than a label.

People are not Catholic because of the culture they grew up in, though that can be a factor leading to “being a Catholic.”

People are not even Catholic based on what they do. Though what Catholics do should reflect what makes them Catholic.

People are Catholic because they hold as true all that the Catholic Church, the repository of all Truth, puts forth as doctrine. Any Catholic who rejects a doctrine excommunicates themselves, though the term has fallen out of fashion.

The Church will not stop any Catholic from rejecting its teaching, but it still waits with open arms for whenever they want to come home. Any Catholic can choose whatever they want to be truth, but they need to realize they are putting down their Catholicism, and again, the Church is still there, waiting with God’s reality. If they continue to feel that they are Catholic, then they give scandal to the Church, and provide a false image of what Catholicism is. Which leads to the confusion of people like this journalist.

Originally written/meant to be posted Friday January 7, 2011

The Mirror Image

How can there be a loving God if there is so much meaningless suffering in the world?
Well, a loving God would not be the source of suffering. So, the source must be from us.

Then what do we do that causes suffering?
Everyone suffers. Some unjustly. All suffering is a consequence of sin.
In what is called original sin, humanity lost sanctifying grace. It is not committed, it is a condition transmitted like a disease through the whole human race. At the same time, humanity became internally divided: excessive physical “good” does spiritual harm, and what is good for the spirit comes through a physical suffering.
Other sin causes suffering due to moral wrongdoing. This affects both the person who commits the act and others who are affected as a consequence of the action. The objective morality that holds the truth, holds the code by which humanity functions well. A machine cannot work to its full potential if the owner ignores the instructions of proper use and care. A human cannot live well, if they do not follow rules. Some are obvious, like “wash your hands”, “eat a reasonable amount of balanced food types”, “exercise regularly”, or even “don’t do drugs.” We don’t always do these things, but we don’t object to them as a code to live by. Similarly, our spiritual life has a code to live by as well. But at this point, some people illogically want to only “believe” in only what they can see, experiment on, and so forth. Experimentation is a good process to find knowledge about what can be experimented on. It sheds no light on the possibilities that cannot be experimented on. Through history, religion has created spiritual codes to live by. Many codes. So what is the objective truth?
Depends on what is important. If we are part spirit, and spirit cannot die, then determining what happens to us then is most important, as that will be taking up the most time of our lives: we can get through suffering now because we know it is only temporary. It is important to make sure it is only temporary.
Well, how do we know which religion has the truth?
Because God told us. What religion has roots that stretch back to the beginning of humanity? What religion has lasted? What religion collects prophecy that comes true? What religion has been so irrefutable? What religion puts up people from history, who have followed the moral code, as examples of success? Think about the number of saints. Think about how many scientifically and humanly unexplainable events have taken place as a testament to sainthood. 

Suffering. It’s the mirror image of “there is no right or wrong.” I think people feel like victims or feel compassion for victims when they claim a suffering world is a Godless world. But they forget that suffering has a cause. Maybe they are that cause, maybe someone unknown. Not only are we all victims of suffering, but we all cause suffering in the world as well. We live in a perfect-human-less world. God doesn't necessarily like it, but He will permit it, so that we can become like Him. Yes, God can do everything, knows everything, and sees all time, but no where have I found anything that says God makes people give Him what He wants. Jesus suffered. Imagine the suffering that comes from, not only knowing that people are misusing the gift of free will, but that God also supplied them with the life and breath and energy, that people go and do evil with.

All I’ve said means nothing without God. God set the moral code to be like our “operating manual” but we rejected God and God’s ideas of how we should work. We tried to take into our hands determining good and evil. And every time we try, it fails. Every human who attempts to make themselves God fails, and suffering is the result.

I feel I must say I'm only still learning, and will probably look back on this post as needing editing and clarification. But I've procrastinated posting it at least in its current state long enough.

Originally intended to be posted Wednesday January 5 2011