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

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