Friday, August 26, 2016

Not That We Loved God

I read this in St. John's first letter. You might know someone that wants to be holy, but the vast majority of the shame they feel is when they fail themselves. The fact of God's loving primacy tells them that the gift of their faith is real. The whole matter then becomes a conversation about what they are afraid of, and that's what needs to happen.

The appeal of Calvinism for some people is a cover for mediocrity and self-hatred.

If God loves us, we haven't the right to deny it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I Can Do Simple Math

A small town in Ohio had a steel mill that once employed twelve thousand people. Now the company employs 900. Meanwhile, the makers of epi-pens jacked up the price from about 5 bucks to over 600, because they can. Don't talk to me about socialism; if you don't have an ethics that says these things aren't right, your opinions about the excesses of totalitarianism don't matter much to me.

People wonder why Bernie Sanders is so popular.

We can argue about the prudence or not of particular actions after we recognize and establish the dignity of every human person. I can recall a young Senator who spoke eloquently of two Americas, one for the rich, and one for the poor, lamenting this reality. He also warned of the dangers of state socialism. His ethics may have been faulty in other areas, but he was right on both counts.

If there is anything good in a new nationalism, it must begin with the dignity of the person, and the dignity of work. Though peaceful global relations are a high priority, the only people for whom American politicians are directly responsible are Americans. The lot of them would do well to think about what makes for a healthy community, and then do that, instead of chasing an economic indicator.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Grace Builds On Nature

Not all of us get to be heroes of a certain sort. We could probably easily find a story of a soldier who sacrificed his life for his brothers-in-arms. That's real virtue and heroism, but absent any other information, it would be natural virtue. To say that it does not merit salvation before God is not to say it is worthless. That is one error. Another error is to say that a person by his or her natural power can please God. That is called "Pelagianism." The Church has always taught rather that salvation consists in friendship with God, and that friendship happens by grace. We can say that grace is the presence and power of God that elevates man above his natural powers, into friendship and likeness with God. The wise people of old say that friends have to share something to be friends. Grace allows us to traverse an infinite distance to be friends with God.

This is no small thing, actually. It could be a mercy of God that we Catholics, even of the faithful sort, are as ignorant as children about this. Most days, the sacraments seem rather ordinary. It's a bit like the day I met Stan Musial. I was 12, but still a bit too young to understand. This was perhaps one of the 10 best baseball players on Earth ever at any time, and I had no idea. Stan didn't care that I had no idea; his magnanimity was greater than my ignorance, as many others surely can attest.

To an infinitely greater degree, Christ's magnanimity is greater than our ignorance. This is why we are always "giving thanks that You have held us worthy to be in Your presence, and minister to You." Christ lovingly brings us to the Father, so that each day, we understand better the greatness of Him who calls us.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Know Your Place

I was conversing with a friend in a religious order last night, and I suppose it's all very well to talk about mystical union with Christ, but in fact, if we find ourselves grappling with basic obedience for the balance of our lives, we are like most people.

The truth is that I am small. I'm double-minded, and I'm weak. There are moments when the evil looks like the good, and the good like the evil. I do not have a knowledge problem, I have a desire problem. If I had a knowledge problem, I'd be considerably less guilty. Maybe you know someone like that.

This is today's great consolation: that in the moments where he makes our sins as though they had never occurred, he pours His love into our hearts, by which our desire for Him also increases. May this love increase more than we ask or imagine. Amen.

Friday, August 19, 2016

There You Go Again

We were invaded by nuns today. Old ones. God love one nun in a wheelchair; she moved over so I could sit in my normal spot. Not that she knew that. This other nun told me her birthday was Sunday, and that she'd be 99. She was so happy to tell me that, as if she'd won the lottery.

I found the perfect love. It was right there all the time.

Father Details clearly knew the nuns, so he glad-handed the high-rollers for a few minutes. And then the caretakers asked if anyone had to use the bathroom, which of course, everyone did. I did, too. But this train wasn't moving very fast. It was hilarious. If you don't have the patience to be inconvenienced by an army of old nuns, start over.

I hope they come back.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'm Just Here

I don't feel up, I don't feel down, I'm just here. On the one hand, I feel this great desire to get closer to God. I heard this tour guide at the Cathedral asking for quiet, because we wouldn't to interrupt people while they were talking with their best friend, Jesus. Is Jesus my best friend? It's probably more right to say that he's done the most for me. I've had moments. Anything else I say is a half-truth.

And yet, I could not hold back the desire for what the celebrant called, "joy without end." And the desire not to be left without a wedding garment. Indeed, it seems my life is marked by failure, or at least the fear of it. Yes, I know fear.

Where is the perfect love that drives out fear?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I Guess I Believe Nonsense

Someone on my social media feed said that the alleged evidence for the Catholic Church being the Church Christ founded was "nonsense." I guess I can say in reply that if one refuses to admit the possibility, it's hardly news that one denies it.

It got me thinking, though: What were the highlights of considering that possibility? I think the moment I realized that an invisible Church could only exist as a mental abstraction. And further that one wouldn't be able to hold any kind of center, if any person could define the universal Church and its dogmas any way they liked. Realizing that the New Covenant is supposed to be bigger and greater than the Old, so you're not going to get rid of sacrifice without calling the God of Abraham crazy. Realizing it's safer to be in the same Church with Augustine, instead of calling him a papist toadie.

In the end, realizing that Jesus won't leave me, or lead me astray. Realizing this is still true, even if I or my brothers and sisters become a stumbling block to others. Realizing that people who refuse to enter may be afraid of things they don't understand. Realizing that I was afraid. Realizing I should do it anyway, because God loves me.

Realizing that the God of the Bible is the God of hesed, faithfulness, steadfast love, and has been so to His Church, though variously, we are not so to Him.


It's a movie I just saw, about an aspiring singer in Dublin who befriends a girl, and they make a record together. [You were going to say, "make music together," beautiful music, but then people would think you meant sex.--ed.] They don't actually have sex, which is part of the intrigue.

On the other hand, I don't want to laud this as some wonderful example of friendship, because he sure wanted to. [Then you've never have been a friend to any woman.--ed.] You know, you're a real pal. [I learn from the best.--ed.] On the one hand, I was glad she didn't betray her marriage vows to do what they both wanted to do. On the other, I could understand the guy's tension, and what he thinks is pure luck of the bad variety. The writer messes with you a little, because he puts in the woman's mouth some fairly unflattering statements about the husband, and whether her family would survive.

It seems like what we might call an "emotional affair," though I find that phrase evangelical and weird, but I repeat myself. It stars Glen Hansard, and Marketa Irglova as the main characters, who are oddly not given names.

It's oddly compelling, as I might say, and I really like the music. I wonder what Greydanus thinks? [You know if you like it, he'll vomit all over it.--ed.] True. He doesn't know me, though. I can't take it personally. Maybe when he conceded that Interstellar had "genuinely affective character development" or whatever he said, that's Dutch heritage-speak for, "I adore this movie, but I cannot say that, as a Dutch person." I want him to admit that he was on the edge of sobbing in the movie theater, but he wouldn't say that, even if it were true. I digress.

Good film, good music.