Thursday, April 20, 2017

Let The Little Children Come To Me

There were a ton of kids at Mass today. We had a guest priest, although he's a common guest. There was also a concelebrant from Oklahoma City. It seems we are reaping a harvest of joy, as though in payment for some sacrifice made, but long forgotten.

We often have the correct sense that, "we are unworthy servants; we have done what we were obligated to do." But we forget, "And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace," and "I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

To live the abundant life is to walk in the light of the Father's unchanging love. I suppose there is a time to be stern with children. But the abiding reality of our lives in Christ is that we are beloved children of the Father.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stay With Us

I think we all have stereotypes about "church people." If I'm too holy, I'll be like that one freak-show. I'll bet he's never even seen a movie in the theater. I never thought I'd be one of those daily Mass freaks. [You definitely are one of those daily Mass freaks.--ed.]

Contrary to popular belief, you can't "get religion" like millennials "catch feelings" in the hook-up culture. It's not a disease. But what if life seems at once familiar and drab? You walk and talk with a friend to sort it out. You say, "I hoped for so much, and yet, here we are." He listens, and in such a way that it has felt good to get it out. He tells you that you're looking at it all wrong. As he offers a new way of seeing the exact same thing, you marvel that he speaks with passion and conviction. You feel inspired. It seems as though he's going away, like so many people who drop in for a spell, and are gone with the wind. "No, man! You can't leave just as you've changed my whole perspective! Stay, and share everything you have." He agrees, and just as he's giving thanks for the food and drink, you realize the friend is Jesus Christ. You're not sure exactly what happened or when, but the truth is plain. Nothing will be the same.

Some people might think you're weird. But another friend once said, "Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'," and you're pretty sure status quo had something to do with the dying. No turning back.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

And There Was Much Rejoicing

Father said he could hear the joy in our voices; I don't know. It seemed like many other days. On the other hand, it's a perfect day here in town, a fitting tribute and picture of Lent's end. The part of the liturgy that always gets me in these days is, "Overcome with paschal joy,..." I think all Catholics get this. There is a way of remembering that makes the things past present without denying that they have occurred. Surely that sanctified knowing is a fruit of the Eucharist, the ultimate example of the past made present.

I remember the start of Lent vividly. Try as we might to feel as though this Wednesday is no different than the Tuesday just concluded, we know. Even if you have nothing big planned for penance, even if you are bad at Lent, you will get the cross. Oddly enough, this is the surest sign of God's love for us.

But now, the weight is lifted. It's time to dance like David before the Ark.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

This Is The Night

There is nothing like the Easter Vigil. You must do it once in your life. Better yet, come into full communion with the Church, and you can do it every year. Last night and today marks 6 years for me.

When we ran through a practice, I felt all the excitement again, as though I would be received. I had walked alone to the Cathedral for the practice, knowing that my mom and sister would be received that night. I couldn't speak to pray, so I was simply thankful. Everyone has to grow into who they will be, but this is the place to be. This is the fount of mercy.

The students from the RCIA class expressed their thanks to me in particular, and it was very humbling. At the same time, I think back to when I was taught the faith; I only did what others did for me.

I'm a pretty emotional and passionate guy, so I have to be the one to say this: Love is not sentiment. To love another is to actively will what is best for him or her. Don't let people try to tell you that something less than the Truth is enough; it isn't, and it will never be.

The thing is, though, when you meet people at this part of the journey, they have had their fill of lies and wrong roads. They know. And so, we were just people talking about what we know. We're friends talking about a friend and a brother we know.

There is no program to fix the so-called, "crisis of catechesis." I met Jesus, and I walk with Him. I don't remember saying that many words to my family. But grace speaks a word that those with ears to hear can recognize. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Conserving America? Essays On Present Discontents, Patrick J. Deneen (XII)

One of the most important questions we might ask, given the dire situation Deneen has been presenting regarding the West as we know it, is whether there is any reason for optimism. Deneen believes there is. As he talks about a "post-liberal" future, he cautions us not to think he disdains representative government as such; rather, we ought to be on guard against liberalism as an all-embracing ideology that excludes anything not compatible with itself.

It seems for Deneen that virtue is and has been the answer. Virtue moderates the tendency for dominance by democratic means. Virtue keeps the common good in view, even as we engage with politics to secure personal good.

The remaining questions reduce down to one: is it possible to have a political and philosophical revolution without notice, and without massive upheaval?

To be sure, I have been positively impacted by the professor's presentation, and I eagerly await more from Dr. Deneen.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Conserving America? Essays On Present Discontents, Patrick J. Deneen (XI)

This penultimate essay is called, "The Future Of Democracy In America". Deneen reminds us that according to Aristotle, liberty entailed the art of ruling, and being ruled in turn. We recall from earlier essays that Aristotle thought politics could and should be a sphere for the practice of virtues. A functional polis never denies individual needs, but neither does it elevate them above the common good.

Deneen says that this definition of liberty, and the temperance it requires and engenders, might easily be set aside, in favor of a radical autonomy, "liberty" as the freedom to do as one likes. The liberal State, he says, exists to maximize this second type of liberty, and functionally to limit the damage that  this permission implies. Problems arise because both definitions coexist as acceptable in our American discourse. A philosopher might say that an entire nation teeters on the edge of a cliff, formed by an equivocation. [A philosopher wouldn't be so poetic, getting to the point.--ed.]

Deneen says that each major American political party allows Locke to triumph over Aristotle, in terms of the definition of "liberty." The Democrats admit no binding moral limitations in the area of personal morality and sexual conduct, while the Republicans admit no moral dimension to economic matters, broadly speaking. Each one is right about the other, but inconsistent in applying its moral principles to itself.

Deneen believes that exercising virtue at lower levels can be the prelude to re-building the polis.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Conserving America? Essays On Present Discontents, Patrick J. Deneen (X)

The essential point of this essay is that classical liberalism and statism are mutually reinforcing, not contradictory. Liberalism conceives of the individual as the fundamental unit of society. Contrast that view with the Catholic view that the family is the fundamental unit of society. In addition, liberalism's goal is maximum personal autonomy. If family, church, or other organization would limit this autonomy, the State regards them with hostility, and brings its power against them.

Deneen believes that classical liberalism tends toward statism because the State fills the roles vacated by intermediate organizations. Man needs belonging and community, but the individualism inherent in democratic liberalism means that he has no right to expect any of his fellows to address his needs.

It does appear to be quite compelling, the notion that the toxicity of the present political environment is due to the quasi-religious need the political process (and the State) is attempting to meet. Virtue, reflected personally and in families, says Deneen, is the way to re-build the political culture. [Rumor has it Dreher said the same thing.--ed.] I guess we'll see.