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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Probably Doing It Wrong

I have practiced Eucharistic Adoration since about 3 months before I was received into the Catholic Church. I wasn't even really sure what I believed about transubstantiation and all that, but let's say, with no disrespect intended, that I'd make the worst Baptist or Zwinglian ever.

But there I was, with Confirmation Sponsor Guy, daring Jesus to tell me something. That's the great thing about Jesus: There's only one Jesus. You either know Him, or you don't. If you knock, He answers.

I asked Jesus a question. It was more like a worry or a fear. In truth, it was several times later. All I knew after that first time was that I had to come back. I described it as "falling into eternity." I lose all sense of time. Time goes fast; it goes slow; it's just different. In short, I had evidence that the Catholic Church wasn't crazy, alongside the historical and theological.

I asked, and He answered, saying, "Seek ye first the Kingdom, and all these things will be added unto you." I was humorously annoyed, of course. "Should have known you were gonna say that. Thanks a bunch." Actually, it's 3 years later, and He hasn't answered my question. The best part is, I don't care. Maybe that was the point.

Here I was tonight, all this time later, in the Lord's Eucharistic presence, and I'm pretty sure I've not improved at this whole adoring thing. Where was my mind? I have no idea. It wasn't even an entire Holy Hour. I told a seminarian maybe a year ago that maybe the Lord lets us grow old to practice sitting in His presence without thinking about bacon, women, or Greg Maddux's cut fastball.

Lord, if you don't mind, I'll come back again.

Friday, August 22, 2014

5 Thoughts For Today

5. There's a...frankness about Mayer Hawthorne that could tend toward fornication, but this is my favorite new artist.

4. Thank you, Daryl Hall.

3. Go Cards! We're chasing Milwaukee. What year is this, 1982?

2. Did anyone notice that Michael Brantley of the Cleveland Indians is having an incredible year? [You called that one.--ed.] I did. Dude drove in 75 runs give or take last year, and he's turning 27. If they're gonna have a monster season, that's when they do it.

1. Mary, Queen Of All Saints, pray for us!

God Doesn't Do Guilt-Trips

We fall sometimes. In ways and degrees we'd rather not, I'll bet. In our pride, we'd like to make a big to-do, a big fuss, about the whole matter, as though we have anything He needs. But it is precisely the power of His mercy at the Cross that shocks us once more.

It is not to say we do not confess, that we don't amend our ways. But we go forth in the knowledge and the power that we are powerless. "Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" Who, indeed.

We say, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son." He laughs, and throws a party.

That's change I can believe in.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Let's Make People Uncomfortable

Read this, if you want. I'm not interested in the topic itself; I'm going in another direction. Do you notice how malleable the terms "orthodox Christianity" and "Church" are? He just assumes that everyone reading this will understand what he means. He also just assumes that any differences between him and anyone else are not consequential. No one making his same assumptions, huge as they already are, sees any problem with Derek Rishmawy or themselves making these determinations.

Or maybe you do. Don't lose that gnawing sense that something is wrong.

Welcome to RCIA, and the Catholic Church.

You know, Arius believed in an invisible Church, too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"No Creed But The Christ" Equals No Dogma

So-called "Churches of Christ" lose their dogmatic commitments faster than other Protestant communities because there are fewer people to persuade in order to effect major theological change, due to the congregational polity.

The fact is, inertia is all that keeps the less-independent communities from breaking apart faster. But then again, it only takes one enterprising Leithart-type to prove that "derivative authority" is a sham.

What is Sola Scriptura, really, as a principle? It is the rejection of ecclesiastical authority based on an individual interpretation of Scripture, which, in theory and in fact, can be done at any time by anyone.

That's why the "Reformation" will never be over, and why reunion with the Catholic Church is the only hope for the preservation of Christian truth.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I was at the bank for no apparent reason.

4. Go Blue Jays! We need some help over here.

3. No, really. Someone needs to beat Milwaukee.

2. SweetTarts.  Again.

1. [That song's a lot darker than the cheap humor for which it was used.--ed.] Sorry.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CCC, 2779

Indeed, God is not encapsulated by our thoughts about Him. Many of us do have false images of God and fatherhood because of our experiences. Yet right in the middle of the third chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he reminds us that there is an analogy there, and it is by design.

Our tendency is to get the analogy backwards, and then to chase an idol, and possibly to despair of calling God our Father. It's wise counsel here to enter into the mystery of it in prayer.

I have been led to pray, "Father, I have no idea what it means to call you Father. On my own, I would run from you. Your laws feel like stern shackles to me at times. I believe I am mistaken; help my unbelief! Let me stay here with you, and speak to me of your promises. Amen."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Missing The Point On Ferguson

The death of Michael Brown isn't just about the life lost; it's much bigger. This story is the epitome of what we mean when we lament that "everything is political." This young man is now a symbol, a rallying point for causes on all sides, whether for police brutality, racism, media bias, the lack of black assimilation to someone's definition of "mainstream" American culture, whatever. And as important as any or all these discussions may be or may become, we're missing the point: Whether the killing of Michael Brown in the given circumstances was legally and morally justified. The first point I want to make is that almost no one commenting on it--myself included--can actually answer this question, nor are we tasked with doing so. That may seem obvious, but more than a few people need to really think about that, and encourage others to do it, too. That is not to say that wider sociopolitical trends, problems, and impacts should not be discussed, but it is to say that, at the end of the day, it still comes down to Michael Brown and Darrell Wilson, and what each is owed in justice, followed by whatever is owed to communities, and to the common good.

Secondly, I appreciated reading this today, because his fears are legitimate, and worthy of discussion quite apart from the facts or final result of this case. The fact that some of us read this almost automatically through our pre-conceived notions of what he hopes to gain from this is very sad. My bottom line here: Let's hear what this man says, even if what we think we know is wrong (or right).

Personally, Michael Brown could have been the worst person on the street that day, and it's still not directly pertinent to his death, if the shooting was not justified. If it was, he could have been a choir-boy until then; it wouldn't change the heart of the question.

I do know that the other crimes are stupid, counterproductive, and not at all justified. Why hurt others in anger? It won't bring justice at all.

Star Trek: TNG: "The Enemy" (Plot Holes Edition)

5. Is anyone else chagrined by how much stuff doesn't work in the allegedly advanced year of 2367?

4. Why did the away team split up to search for anything on a planet where communication was out, and visibility was 2 meters in any direction?

3. If normal humanoids can't survive there, who put the terrible rotting wood over the hole that Geordi fell into? Bonus: It's a perfectly circular hole, too. What is it?

2. Transporter locks and Soong-type androids are just about useless, but neutrinos are magical.

1. Why doesn't Picard order Worf to donate his cells to the injured Romulan? This was the dumbest possible time to get concerned about individual desires. [Fascist.--ed.] Yeah, whatever. What happened to, "The good of the many outweighs the good of the few (or the one)"?

I Believe In The God Who Talks To People

As this culture drifts further and further away from reason, we are seeing secularism on the rise, the centralization of political power, and the return of paganism. Let the secularists be aware: People will not become "irreligious"; they will simply become more irrational. If you're an atheist right now, know that it only subsists with a certain coherence in a culture that had once been Christian. Sooner or later, those Christian values and the momentum for civilization they provide will be lost. "Human rights" have to be anchored in something, and if the Judge and Creator of us all does not anchor them, or sanction and limit the power of political societies in their exercise of authority, power is the only currency that remains. I doubt even the most fervent secularist is ready to live in that nightmare.

I digress. Evangelicals are a curious bunch. A few that I know seem content to fracture into smaller and smaller groups, or to hope that they won't, against all reason (or entropy). Anyway, fracture (with skepticism and atheism as the end-points of Sola Scriptura) or reunion with the Catholic Church seem to be the only choices.

When the individual is the arbiter of what God has said or didn't say, you can end up with pretty wild stuff. The Holy Spirit seems to get the "credit" for much of this stuff, and many evangelicals take a super-cessationist tack to try to forestall the worst parts. I sympathize; Montanism is no good.

But if we are truly biblical, we must confess that we have read or heard the story of a God who moves and speaks. There is no new public revelation, (DV, 4*, citing 1 Tim 6:14 and Titus 2:13) for God has spoken fully and finally in Jesus Christ. Yet what of the private? One wonders why St. John instructs us to test every spirit to see if it is from God, if there is nothing to be heard. How would I have received Him, if He had not spoken to me directly and personally, as I've shared with some of you?

We must keep in mind the Church and the rule of faith as we seek to be responsive to the Holy Spirit. Let us also be ready guides for those asking about both. To seek truly is almost to be as blessed as he who finds. In any case, I believe in the God who talks to people.

St. Faustina, pray for us!

*Numbers always refer to articles, not chapters, within Church documents. In this case, I'm referring to Dei Verbum, article 4.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. The first season of Columbo in 1968 was directed by some guy named Spielberg.

4. Since Columbo spends most of the episodes politely messing with the killer, you have to conclude that he figures the whole thing out inside 2 minutes.

3. Has anyone watched a bunch of these and thought, "Mrs. Columbo must be an amazing woman"?

2. Why do these killers often kill another person? Do they think a dude like this is going to be fooled by the lame, panicked version of their murderous fury?

1. Nimoy was the most creepy, believable killer I ever saw. So much for, "Live long and prosper"!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I Put My Foot Down

When people say this, they usually mean that they have initiated some kind of conversation to end some intolerable set of circumstances, or asserted the authority to do it. It's bold, and it can be liberating. (And sometimes quite necessary.)

Yet we are who and what we are, and we cannot be anyone else. Some days, we are given crosses, not of our choosing or making, and we must carry them. Or I suppose we could not; we could rage and scream; we could indulge in pleasures of many kinds; we could check out of the world. But in that case, we would not be Christians, if I may say it so directly.

Today, I put my foot down. I rose out of my bed, I sat in my chair, and I went on living, as God would have it. We either have the power to control a thing, or we don't. We always have the opportunity to seek holiness and communion with God.