August 6, 2008 § 2 Comments
For Francis (St Francis of Assisi) religion was not a thing like a theory but a thing like a love affair.
– G.K. Chesterton
Love God, know God, obey God, serve God and one another. This is the sum of Christian theology. It seems most common that those coming into the faith rarely do so because they were first intellectually convinced. It is most commonly that they had some experience that led them to love God and then they found themselves desiring to know God. Something draws the soul to God and the the relationship must be built from there.
Our relationship with God is in many ways like any other relationship. It takes time, effort and understanding to develop the deep and satisfying relationship with God that we desire. There will be times, as there are in any relationship, where you are more or less on autopilot. And there may even be times where you are separated from God or where communication is difficult but the relationship goes on and reunion is perfect and beautiful.
Here are a few of the ways in which we met God allow us to more fully know Him.
Nature, Art, Music and Beauty The beauty of the creator is reflected in creation. Music and Art that stirs the soul and lifts our thoughts to God. God whispers His love to us in the beauty of every face around us. Each little flower, each blade of grass act in a symphony of life that hums constantly with the joy of being. If we take the time to savor life we see God in the world around us.
Prayer There are so many kinds of prayer. Each person has their own favored ways of praying. Communal prayer, meditative prayer, Rosaries, Chaplets, Psalms the list could go on and on and I would undoubtedly miss something. Speak to God and spend some prayer time listening.
Scriptures The scriptures are God’s gift to us in them we learn about God’s teaching and commandments, His nature and His earthly life. We see the example of those who served God before us. I always find it rather funny when someone has the impression that Catholics do not use the Bible. We do, every single mass has multiple readings from scripture. We use Scripture to learn about and to draw closer to God.
Catechism Whenever there is a question about what the Church teaches I go to the catechism. Our Catechism is a rich resource containing the wisdom and teachings of 2000 years distilled into a rather manageable text. By learning the catechism we learn about God, his lover for us and the commandments He would have us live.
The Sacraments Any of the sacraments bring us closer to God. Our Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, Confession – they all draw us closer to God and allow us to know him more fully. There is such love an peace contained in the Eucharist. The reception of the Eucharist, Eucharistic adoration and confession bring us close to God in very special ways. They heal us from our self-inflicted wounds and allow us to glimpse the reality that love is sacrifice.
Writings of the Saints and others Reading the writings of Christians who have come before us and reading about their lives bring us closer to God in a special way. Sort of like family get togethers where we all share stories about our love ones. We learn more about God by learning how others have experienced His love.
The Lives of Others We all shine like the sun to God. By recognising the beauty and humanity in the lives of others we learn a great deal about the nature of God and what it means to be Christian. We are not supposed to start out perfect, we are perfected in Christ.
Our Service to Others “It is in giving that we receive”. When we act on Christ’s behalf for others we see Christ more clearly and allow His glory to shine through us into the lives of others.
July 31, 2008 § 1 Comment
40 years and a couple weeks since Humanae Vitae was written and so much of society, secular and not, just seems to not “get it”. One of the “better” pieces is here – at least John L. Allen isn’t actively condemning the church, but the comments that follow it are close to rabid. If you do a Google search on the news for “Humanae Vitae” you will find a slew of folks opining about how out of step, out of touch or just down right evil Rome is to hang on to this out modded teaching. Yes, the blinders are firmly on. What they miss is how much of the heart of the Catholic Church, the young families and the college aged Catholics are pretty firmly behind the Church on this. The assumption seems to be if you don’t buy into the cultural norm of what sex is and means then you must be nuts (or brain washed, or have a really awful sex life). But I do not see that as the case.
From where I sit there isn’t a lot to be said FOR the pill. So you can have sex anytime you want. But do you want to? Sure you can put off child bearing or artificially space your children, but is that really a good thing? If marriages were stronger, children were happier, rape was less frequent, motherhood was respected, young women were judged on their minds and character instead of their beauty I might think that the “pro-birth-control” people at least had a point. But this isn’t the case. All of these things have become worse since the pill was introduced not better. The media doesn’t even seem to think about this all as related and society doesn’t seem to question the conventional “wisdom” at all, they tighten up the blinders and tut tut the Pope and talk about the backward Catholics that follow the teachings of Rome as being out of step with reality. Personally I sort of like being counter cultural.
July 15, 2008 § 1 Comment
“Always remember, my dear young friend, that Almighty God loves you very much: for love of you He created the world, the sun, the stars, and everything else that exists. He made your parents; He made you; He gave you your soul and your body.
Therefore, your most important duty is to know God, to serve God, and to love God with all your heart.”
Bishop Morrow — My Friend, published 1949
I have always noted that in the dystopia literary works (Brave New World, 1984 and the like) that human relationship, human love is suppressed or redirected in some way. A people comfortable and confident in their love for one another and their love of God and of God’s love for them are not easily led away from what is good. We are made to love God and to love one another. The catechism itself begins with the exhortation to love and serve God. It is in this act that we find the expression of who we are, who we are meant to be, why we are here. All those pressing questions are answered so succinctly we are here, made, born, fashioned and formed to love and serve God. The life of every Saint points to this inevitable conclusion: nothing is more worth living or dieing for than the love of God and service to Him.
This is the most elemental, the most basic tenant of Catholic life. I don’t say that to exclude non-Catholic Christians or even non-Christians. The Church teaches that God has written the natural law in all human hearts, it is our natural state to long for what is good. But the Catholic expression has a fullness that exists no where else. We have the Sacraments instituted by Christ. We have the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a miracle. It exists outside of time and space. It exists wholly and completely in the supernatural realm. It is a tangible expression for us to be able to partake in the divine love of God’s self-sacrifice over and over, it reconciles the beautiful impossibility of Christ being anointed the priest who sacrifices and the lamb that is sacrificed and the fruit of the earth feeding our body and the fruit of the spirit feeding our souls. All this bathed in love. For God so loved the world.
God became one of us, lives in all of us, we serve Him when we serve one another and when we fail to serve each other we fail to serve Him. He takes upon us each of our sins when we let Him. And it is this that makes it impossible for us not to be willing to forgive others when they harm us. How can I not forgive my fellow man when Christ has paid for those wrongs with His own blood? It is one of the mysteries of the Passion. When Christ paid for all my sins He paid for all my enemy’s sins as well. To hold those hurts against me against my fellow man is to hold them against Jesus Himself. Thus Christ redeems us not only for ourselves, but heals the hurts we have between one another allowing us to love without limit.
June 25, 2008 § Leave a comment
Carol Race had a hearing to determine if the pairsh of The Parish of St. Joseph In Bertha, Minn was justified in obtaining a restraining order aginst her for bring her son, Adam, who is 13 and autistic to mass.
You can read more about this story and the other items I have written on autism here.
June 20, 2008 § Leave a comment
This question interests me in that it is so very difficult to answer. Being Catholic can mean living in any country, any culture and anywhere in the world. The answer could take a lifetime to explain and your personal answer would still be unique. So I think I might start answering it one aspect at a time. Today’s answer: Living a Catholic life means following the precepts of the Church.
The precepts of the Church:
While the Church doesn’t lay down a firm “one-size-fits-all” mentality for being Catholic but the catechism has distill the most important elements into a short list called the Precepts of the Church:
3. You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
5. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
Now of course this isn’t an all encompassing list of what Catholic should do. It is just the short list, the absolute minimum that one should doing.
June 10, 2008 § 2 Comments
Every once in a while I like to go through the search terms people use to find this site to see what questions are being asked to lead people here. Funny enough sometimes I know that they won’t find the answer they are looking for in what I have written, even more humorous is when I actually know the answers anyhow. Here are some of the latest.
What is a child receiving communion called? Anyone who is entitled to receive communion can be called a communicant. For first communion it would be “first communicant”.
Where can I learn the catholic rosary? Not here, but The Rosary Center or Catholic Online both have the prayers. And you can use the same Rosary beads for a chaplet as well. My favorite is the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
What is the most important moment in my life? You are in it. Right now is the most important moment in your life. It is the only moment you have any control over. All choices are made in the now. All plans, all dreams depend on how we live the little moments of our lives. Who and what you are living this moment for makes all the difference.
What does it mean to be living a Catholic life? For me it means you are working on forming yourself, your conscience, your habits and practices in the image God wants for you, that you are striving to be like Him within the structure, the tradition and the support of Catholic teaching. In short following the precepts of the Church.
As always the Catechism of the Church has a better answer than I could ever hope to form:
2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the Mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic Celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.82The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year.”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.83
The third precept (“You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.84
2043 The fourth precept (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.NT1The fifth precept (“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.NT2
III. MORAL LIFE AND MISSIONARY WITNESS
2044 The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. “The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God.”88
2045 Because they are members of the Body whose Head is Christ,89 Christians contribute to building up the Church by the constancy of their convictions and their moral lives. The Church increases, grows, and develops through the holiness of her faithful, until “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”90
2046 By living with the mind of Christ, Christians hasten the coming of the Reign of God, “a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.”91 They do not, for all that, abandon their earthly tasks; faithful to their master, they fulfill them with uprightness, patience, and love.
How do I prepare my autistic son for 1st Communion? A lot of that will depend on where on the autism spectrum your son is. I have written about First Communion and autism here. In the US the most important document on the topic is: Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities. Most pastors I have known have been very open to working with families dealing with disability issues. There are some out there who aren’t and that is very sad but we are all human and struggle with our own fears, discomforts and prejudices and I would hope that we always keep in mind the Proverb: A mild answer calms wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
As far as practical advice goes the two most helpful things in general I can say are: Practice with a few unconsecrated breads and wine before the actual sacrament so you can see if there are any taste or texture issues that might cause problems, and social stories are very helpful. Your child’s school probably has software to help create one or you can find images online and put one together yourself. One of these days I might get around to putting mine online.
Being a good wife means what? You might be looking for the “1950’s home economic textbook’s 10 step guide to being a good wife” here is it at snopes or you might want Aristotle’s work “On a good wife“. You might be looking for the Proverb 31 description or Titus 2 and in the end, even thoug one is a ‘joke’ they all have similar themes. If you were to condense them all down you get something like this:
A good wife is woman of worth in her own right. She is someone who is thoughtful, just, kind, modest, graceful, respectable, honorable and faithful. She takes good care of her home and household. She is wise with her family’s assets. She avoids any scandal. She takes excellent care of her children and her family and shows consideration and charity to her community, the poor and the needy. She loves her husband, showing him respect, support, devotion and affection. Above all she serves God.
I have written a little more on the topic of being a Good Wife here.