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Monday, March 29, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI

My heart is heavy and broken when I read the many articles calling for Pope Benedict XVI's resignation. Oh silly and foolish people.

The Church is not a democracy, nor a political system for that matter. Certainly, any institution has its share of "politics," but the Roman Catholic Church is unique and cannot be confused with the common institutions of our day. This is an institution that has its Founder as Christ Jesus, God-Man, the second person of the Trinity. The Church's birthday is the feast of Pentacost, when the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, came down upon the Apostles who were in prayer. Throughout the past 2,000 years, the Church has professed belief in her establishment on ongoing guidance and protection within God himself. This is no ordinary situation then, where men can dictate the leadership and movement of the people of faith. This is why so many seem confused and foolish - if you do not believe in the Catholic Church's principles of faith, such as the infallibility of the Pope on matters of doctrine because of the grace of the Holy Spirit who protects the Church at all times and leads her ever more to the service of God, then of course you will not understand how ridiculous it is to bombast the Holy Father through the mainstream media as if Catholics are going to be swayed to vote for a new leader. WE DON'T VOTE for him! The Holy Spirit leads the Cardinals and Bishops to know who has been called forth to lead at the given time when it is necessary for a new Pope to be elected. This is a principle of FAITH, not of politics. Once again, attacking the Pope now is attempting to speak a language you do not understand if you think you can influence the Church. You are dealing with God, not with man. Certainly, do not mistake me, the Pope is a man and most certainly sins, as many Popes have openly shared their frequencing the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but the man who serves as the head of the Church cannot fail to lead the Church in matters of faith by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here is a link to a site that details the teachings of the Church on Papal Infallibility: To hightlight a piece, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states in 891: "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed," and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith." This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself."
Consider St. Paul's words to the Corinthians: "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:21-25). We may not always understand the moving and working of the Holy Spirit in the whole Body of the Church but we can and must trust that the same loving God who brought us into being, giving us the gift of Life and the gift of Baptism, the Sacraments and the Church, that we might have new and true life with Him even after this life ends...that same merciful and perfect God is the one who unfailingly leads his servants to his will and his wisdom. To men, this may indeed seem foolish at times, but it is rather the foolish men who are mocking God's ways that are humbled by God's wisdom in the end. Do not forget those who stood outside Noah's ark, mocking him for obeying God when it seemed so ridiculous. Yet, when the flood came, it was those same people who were begging to be saved.
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, formerly Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has been instituted as the Vicar of Christ by the Holy Spirit and the College of Cardinals. Faith calls us to believe that God will has and will continue to lead this man in humble service of the Church to bring her to greater holiness and love of God and neighbor. At the end of the Baptismal promises, the celebrant proclaims these words: "This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord." Let us not be mislead but stand by the gift that Christ has given us and in prayerful support stand by our Holy Father in these challenging times.

Monday, March 22, 2010

O Man, Thou Art Dust

"You are dust, and to dust you shall return."

"Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel."

For Catholics, these phrases may be familiar. These are the two statements that are made during the Ash Wednesday services around the world as Catholics receive ashes on their foreheads as a sign of repentence and sacrifice as they enter the 40 days of fasting, prayer and alms giving that make up the season of Lent.

Last night I was almost sick as our nation voted to make health care a federally funded initiative at the expense of human life. My own tax dollars could kill a baby at any time. This is wrong in every way. The necessary good of making health care affordable and available to the many who suffer without it will not and cannot be outweighed by the absolute truth of LIFE being a fundamental and intrinsic good that must always be first! It is prior in the order of nature and it must be prior in the order of law. You cannot kill children as a part of caring for those already alive. This is totally illogical, and it is what our government decided was best "for the people" last night.

I don't have much to say about this other than I have been unable to breath or eat much since. My hands are shaking and my stomache turning. How can they be so blind? How can we allow a genocide to continue, and not only continue, but advance?! We should be taking out laws that make it legal to KILL anyone, much less fund for more of those murders! I just can't handle it.

However, we are dust. In the end, Jesus Christ has already defeated death itself. He became death and by it triumphed for all eternity as he rose from death to life. For the Eternal Life could not be in death, and so death was destroyed forever. So no matter what evils are surfacing and whatever battles are for us to fight, we know in the end who the victor is. "My Immaculate Heart will triumph." The Blessed Mother is the only place for me to find refuge and peace in a world that not only rejects all these "little ones" as good, but refuses to acknowledge their existence at all.

Let's end with a prayer by St. Aloysius Gonzaga, patron of youth, to Our Lady:

O Holy Mary, my mother,
into your blessed trust and custody,
and into the care of your mercy
I this day, every day,
and in the hour of my death,
commend my soul and my body.
To you I commit all my anxieties and miseries,
my life and the end of my life,
that by your most holy intercession
and by your merits
all my actions may be directed
and disposed
according to your will
and that of your Son.

O Blood and Water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Have Mercy

Ever since I can remember, the phrase "Be merciful, as your Father is merciful" has been a part of my store-of-knowledge-to-be-applied-to-life. You could say it has a place in the stack of Scripture verses that have compiled in my mind and heart over the years, from which I draw the laws by which I live.

Yet, to be earnestly frank, that is one of the hardest statements by Christ to actually practice. I remember being little and hearing, "Be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect" and thinking, "Ok, Jesus, you got it!" As if that wasn't impossible. As I grew older, I came to a better understanding of God's perfection and my own imperfection. With the ever-widening gap visible before me, I understood the need for the "bridge" of grace and mercy to assist me in crossing to the side of holiness. To be "perfect" was something I would muse over, pondering exactly what Jesus meant here. He knew our sin - he was Incarnate Word for the sake of saving us from it! So how were we to "be perfect" when he knew how very impossible that was for us? Of course he meant grace, he meant answering the call to holiness that each receives in his life, that we all receive every day. He meant being open to the Holy Spirit and responding to his promptings and striving every day to live the Gospel in our lives.

To bring it full circle, especially during this time of Lent, I think it is fair to say he also meant these two passages to be mirrors of one another, revealing the deeper meaning in each. God's perfection is his very Being, and this Being we have come to know is Love, and this Love means his Mercy on us all. To be perfect as He is perfect is for us to strive to be merciful as he is merciful. This is no easy task when we come to understand his mercy! The Catechism from 1422-1470 discusses the truths of the faith concerning the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. Here we find that the forgiveness God offers each of us as sinners does not contain only a cleansing effect - rather, it also is one of regeneration, and new life. We are not only forgiven, but restored to a proper place of unity and love. If this is how God deals with us, in the cliche phrase of "forgiving and forgetting," certainly our forgiveness and mercy towards others must be the same. Yet, how easy it is to "forgive" someone without making any reparation or reunification attempts! I recently heard Fr. Michael Scanlan on this topic of mercy, and to paraphrase him, he said, "If He has been wounded and persecuted though innocent, and forgiven us from the cross, how can we refuse mercy to those who ask? Have we been through worse that we could judge more harshly?" God's love manifests itself as extreme mercy, the most extreme form of reconciliation of mankind, one that destroyed the original sin and death itself! So our own mercy must imitate this perfection. It must be a mercy that forgets the offense, coniders it justly received because of our sinful lowliness, that loves the other still more for having offended, for it is now an opportunity for us to show our love. That seems almost illogical. In fact, it is illogical... for the logic of sin. Fortunately, Christ brings us the logic of the Word, himself, the Logos, and healing our wounded understanding he teaches us what is perfect, and what true mercy means.

So let us pray that today we can look into the hearts of one another with true mercy, forgetting any moments of offense in the past and reviving the love for our brothers and sisters that the Holy Spirit brings so that we may witness to the peace that is the gift of Christ in our lives.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hungry Babies Need to Eat!

I have so much on my mind and no time to say a word of it.

Leave it at this (and by this point you ought to know that I can say nothing in short form, even when pressed for time):

A "call to holiness" is not simply an "option" for a way of living. That much it is, but fundamentally it is so much more. It is the only.. yes, let's repeat, ONLY, fulfillment for a human existence.

There is simply nothing else that can ever satisfy a human person.

Many would argue, many would say "maybe if you're religious." The many (or I should say, the majority) are not the law. In this case they are also wrong.

It is actually as simple as a logical deduction, which is delightful seeing as how I don't understand a lick of math and logic supposedly works hand-in-hand with mathematics. Here it is:
1. God is
2. God's being is timeless, limitless, in perfect act, perfect intelligence, perfect gift, perfect love, a trinitarian perfection of unlimited self-emptying and fulfillment between Father, Son and Spirit
3. God, out of sheer goodness and to let his glory be known and his love be shared, for his perfect-in-act-love is always shared-love, creates the universe, and within it, mankind
4. Mankind comes to know God through various pathways of intellect and reason, both through natural law and science and through divine revelation, beginning (credit to von Balthasar) with his recognition of goodness and love coming from his mother as a newborn. Completely helpless and fully dependent, his being is something that is real (meaning, he does exist), but he did not call himself into being nor does he know where he came from. At that stage, he is, and he is told he is good by the goodness of the one who cares for him.
5. As Mankind develops his knowledge and reason, he comes to recognize the universe before him as something concrete and measurable, and begins to learn through quantifiable scientific study
6. (you may sense where this is going, so I'll cut to the chase) Mankind reaches a point where he no longer acknowledges the initial dependence of his very being, his being-in-existence, on any "other." Somehow, man is self-sufficient, and where he comes up short he is more ready to supplant the possible truth that could bring clarity to life with other self-created answers, because he is determined to maintain his autonomy.
7. Modern Man becomes directly dissatisfied with life as he experiences it. There are no more adventures left to be had, no more discoveries to be made. Every continent has been walked on, space is explained, we all know where we came from and how we evolved... and all that is left to do is find ways to be entertained via media and technology until we are freed from this false goodness we did not ask to come into and don't seem to ever really control. (sound familiar?)
8. Some of Mankind has clung to a moment in history (ie, a REAL event, historical and literal) of Divine Revelation that enabled man to know his true cause and thus, his true end. Jesus Christ, God made Man, comes to reveal where man is really from, where the world and the universe get their being and are maintained in existence, and what their ultimate purpose is, Who is their end. These "religious" people adapted a new order to their logic, their reason. For them, first premises and universal truths are the foundation that all other reason is built on. They accept that they are good, because they have been brought into being by the Good. They work towards a transformation of self and the world into more-of-that-Good because it is within the Good that they find all the truths they seek. For them, Scripture is the manual, the handbook for life. To every problem they face there is a way in which God leads us to handle it, and they discover that when they live as God invites them to, the problems are curable.
9. So we reach that argument that says God is the fulfillment of all man only for Christians and those who want to be "religious." That would only hold true if he had created a sect of people to reveal truth to, to reveal himself to, and not for the rest of the world. Yet, even that is not reasonable. Mankind is ontologically the same. We all are this amazing mesh of spirit and body, able to go far beyond the material world and yet completely and utterly within it. We are not dualistic, or animalistic, or angelistic, or any form of dichotomy that makes for a fragmented humanity. We are a dual unity, a unique being. This being the case, if any one of mens soul's were to be ultimately fulfilled in God, it would only be if that soul had also come from God, for the end is directly related to the cause. If this is the case, and the cause is the end and the end the cause, and one man came from God initially and will eventually be at rest in him again, it would only follow that all those sharing rational spiritual being like this man would also have this God for their originator and also this God for their end.
10. Ergo, on the ontological, spiritual, teleological, rational, and you name it level of humanity, God truly is the only fulfillment.

Not sure if that made any sense and I refute myself if at any point I'm a heretic. That goes as a disclaimer for all of this blog. My heart is in the right place but I can be dumb, so let me know I'm "anathema" and I'll correct my errors!

On the far less philosophical/metaphysical/theological level, let me know when you can prove that anything else truly fulfills humanity. I'm certainly open for discussion, I don't like the idea of basing my entire life (staking all that I am and all that I do) on something that isn't true. That's exactly why I'm convicted that you can't prove it otherwise, because I'm striving with everything I have to let this possibility of God fulfilling me wholly and totally be alive in my life. It's not easy and I certainly don't always allow God the power he should and could have, but I know this much: I go before the Eucharist and echoing in my soul are the words "I am satisfied." I don't really like bread, so this is not some basal need being met (although actually it is, but that's what I just said above). My point is that it takes realistic and actual experience to enable the heart and mind to be made whole and to find their reason for being. We live in the world that we might come to know who we are, why we are, where we come from, where we are going, and what it takes to get there. If we that become convicted of God's fulfillment as the only option for life do not live as if we've been convicted, it seems the world has a sorry chance for realizing that the Gospel is real.

So to summarize what I said would be short but honestly interjected with "it never is" - God is all that is going to open your heart to what your true desires are, and to the full potential of all that you can be (sorry Army). Once we know his love, his mercy, his forgiveness and healing, his strength and might, his courage and valor, his beauty and glory, his zeal for our love... we must live as people in love. We must live recklessly and foolishly for Him, so that the world will at least have the chance to see and hear that there is a Love that fulfills all holes, that breaks all bonds, that melts all walls and that leaves us overwhelmed by joy.