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Saturday, May 23, 2015

More Than Words

It's not only the band Extreme's 1991 anthem to fornication, it's also a reality of the spiritual life. If you and I don't go to Mass, pray, confess our sins, and do works of charity, then a Catholic dude from New Jersey becomes an associate pastor among the Reformed, consigned to wearing Santorum sweater-vests for the next 30 years. Not that there's anything wrong with the sweater-vests.

You can hardly blame him. There's no real intent to schism there. He might have concluded that Catholics wouldn't know Jesus from a hole in the ground. Isn't that true?

I am not putting myself forward as some kind of paragon or example, but I believe the Catechism. I believe that if I were to skip Mass on a Sunday or another Holy Day of Obligation, that's a grave sin, and I'd be fortunate to avoid Hell, if I died with that on my soul. There are other things that I am much more inclined to actually doing, and so I stay close to the Church, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I thought everyone did that. That's what Confirmation Sponsor Guy and Lady both do. And Hebrew Catholic Woody Allen, and Bob, and almost everyone else I know. That isn't weird; that's just normal. Or, put it this way: That's what people who believe in supernaturally-revealed truth and judgment would do.

Why practice religion without taking its claims seriously? I can't even begin to understand this.

The Pew survey tells me that I, and nearly everyone else I know, with our basic, Christian sensibility, make up about 4 percent of American Catholics. Sheesh. No wonder I feel so weird all the time.

Keep that in mind, Catholic apologist. The unassailable truth of your arguments are being blocked by Screw these Catholics! At least we take God seriously. You'll pardon the language; it needs to be visceral like that, because that's how it is.

Dear God, we pray that you pour many graces on us this day to be worthy members of Christ's Body, the Church. May we be the irresistible aroma of Christ to those near and far, so that we all may attain true holiness and full communion with You, through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Room For Squares

This was the debut album 14 years ago from John Mayer. Some might say he is for frat-boys and basic fools, but I have always felt he told the story of being 20-something at the beginning of this century better than anyone else.

We grew with him, and he with us. He's branched out stylistically and instrumentally, but I believe he is, as much as anything else, a songwriter. If a personal lack of virtue makes him less able today to give words and music to our experiences, that doesn't diminish what he's already done.

The next two discs were even better, many say. Well and good. In all cases, I'm thankful for his gift.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

LOL: "Entering The Catholic Church Will Solve All Your Problems!"

Buahaha. Buahaha. Seriously, that's hilarious. Has anyone ever actually said this? If you enter the Catholic Church, you're going to be crucified. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." If you don't know this, now you do. Is it worth it?

YES.

I love some of these Reformed guys; they sit around telling themselves that we converts have some deep-seated primal need for, well, anything that can be used to ignore the important questions that naturally arise. You want to know what's deep-seated? Our obligation to find the truth. Obligation. It's not like a desire for chicken wings, or sex, or Coca-Cola; reality demands that we live in accord with it, as the "is" that God created, whether it's morality, or dogma, or social ethics.

If Jesus Christ came into the world, then He is the Truth to which creation must conform. He has instructed, he has taught, and we must believe only that.

The trouble is, a great many Christians think that a new way of knowing what Christ taught us could be introduced, whilst leaving carefully selected bits in place. To those of us who find all that a tad arbitrary, well, we're just asking the wrong questions. Or so they say.

It'd be more than slightly odd for God to change what he has revealed in response to human moral failings, especially because God has been contending with human moral failings from the start. Here's the upshot, friends: If Luther was right, Augustine is in Hell. And Cyprian? He's good for a slogan, but he's in Hell, too. Not what you're intending to say? That's what your principles do say. There was only one deluge, and that was the Flood. The gospel cannot be lost, hidden, or otherwise corrupted. Why? Because Jesus gave it as the message and mission of His Church, and he promised us the Church wasn't going anywhere.

Reality does not care that I find Catholics creepy, provincial, or impious. I either live in accord with it, or face the consequences of not doing so. Some of those can be eternal. I do my best not to deny reality. I was never on a quest to find the pristine Church. We all know the pristine Church exists only in Peter Leithart's head.

We find as sinners that we do not love the truth that we know, but somewhere along the line, someone decided that we can't know the truth that God revealed completely. That dead Anglican leader sure wrote a lot of books, for a guy saying we can't be certain of these things.

Anyway.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Straight Talk

You know, I don't need to ponder the depths of contemplation versus social engagement, because I know that holiness, true holiness, is forged in battle, not bubbles. If you don't recognize that you are the sort of person who is drawn to whatever the wretched evil of the day is, you'll never succeed. Not ever.

This is why I don't hector sinners, because I get them. We are the same tribe.

But all the side-hugs and Bible time cannot obscure the fact that the enemy of our souls will find us, and test us. There is no "them"; we are them. Romans 5:8 is for us, or it is for no one.

Social pressure will never fabricate the obedience that comes from supernatural love. I'm hoping the Duggar kid wasn't mixed up in some bad business, but I'll bet he was. One can only pretend to hate evil for so long.

Father, grant us grace, that the pull of lesser loves grows ever weaker, and love of You may grow without measure, through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You Satisfy The Hungry Heart

One of those advocates of the Extraordinary Form said to me, "Actually, you're choking on "Gift Of Finest Wheat" and those other hippie hymns you sing." You hold your tongue, son. That is a great hymn. Why? Because it's true. If a dog had an immortal soul, he'd convert upon hearing it. It's weird that I'm the one saying this, because we shouldn't be singing hymns at all. That's right, at all.

If I had two dogs, two puppies with whom I could guide on their life's journey, they'd be named Gregorian, and Chant. And seriously, who stole the antiphons? And yes, I'd be totally happy if all the priests faced ad orientem, because a priest making a sacrifice would be/is doing exactly that. I don't even look at him.

But once more, do not say we are complicit in turning the Eucharist into "meal-time," just because you and Michael Voris haven't gotten your way today. I actually believe this gospel we are hearing about. When I said I believed what the Church taught, I meant it. I mean it even more now. I am willing to go pretty far with the argument that liturgy can shape us, maybe even more than anything else. Yet I hear, "I am lazy" when someone says, "We need liturgical reform [Only the EF]." I don't care if you're 22, buddy. You can still be nostalgic. The worst part is, many people are nostalgic for a past that never existed.

Which is not to say that a massive outbreak of The Latin Mass would be anything other than a good thing. It probably would. I just would rather leave "The Remnant" and the, "We're the Church in exile!" nonsense behind.

If you are my friend, or you are the loyal reader of the blog, you know that I have seen "Field of Dreams" at least 65 times. There's a part where Annie Kinsella is at a PTA meeting, and there's a woman ranting about the evils being perpetrated by a book in the assigned reading. She's a moonbat, though a Right-leaning one, and after assuring Annie that she too experienced the '60s, Annie replied, "No, I think you had two '50s, and went right on into the '70s." (I'm deeply conflicted about many aspects of the worldview on offer from Annie, but that line is about to make my point.)

I think a lot of people are trying to have the '50s, or at least a popular perception of them, forever. This is not the '50s; even the '50s were not the '50s. There are no good 'ol days. We have everything that we could need or want right here. Even if we have to sing "Gift Of Finest Wheat."

Dear Ministry Leader Person

I am sure there is someone out there who has actually been hurt by a church's (some would say inordinate) focus on families. But you know what this sounds like? Whining. The apology sounds like whining, the stuff that prompted it sounds like whining, and all these people should get doctorates in whining.

You know what? You're about to get a heavy dose of the truth.

If you take away celibacy as a special gift to God that is actually greater than marriage, this is what you get. You get a whole bunch of people who are defined by the fact that they aren't having sex with someone. Thanks, Luther. Thanks, Calvin. I blame you.

Look, I'm a screw-up of the highest order, and the only thing funnier/worse than me giving a talk on chastity is...I don't even know. But chastity is what we really need. Here's a working definition of chastity, OK? It is the self-mastery of being defined by something other than sexual desire. You need this in any case, OK? Just trust me. I read another article on a blog in reply to a post by someone anonymous. The anonymous person wrote a fundie-tastic article about how a husband should get sex-on-demand. That is unchastity. And that's not loving. Either this guy isn't married, or his wife is in a terrible situation.

I'm single. It's not me. It fits ill. Marriage brings unique challenges, many of which I'll be absurdly unprepared for. What else is new? Do you see this? I may make it look good, but this is chaos over here. Mercy-filled chaos. But it's not anybody else's main job to bear my cross for me. It's not anyone's fault that I'm bearing the suffering of seemingly being out of place. I don't need a special mention. I'm already in a wheelchair, for pete's sake. I'm either completely ignored, or treated like a puppy. I have a Master's degree. If you want to apologize, apologize for that. For not seeing me as a person. Granted, I'm kinda weird. But the fact that I don't have a wife is pretty far down the list of wounds. I digress.

The point of all this life is God. You realize that, yes? Through the wounds and hurts, and not in spite of them, we learn to love God above all things. I don't know what the plan is for any of us being single right now. I won't say you'll get that blessing when...and all the horrible, trite nonsense you've heard, because I don't know. I only know there is a crucifix to my right, and the Lord pictured on it wants me to know how much He loves me. Even now, I am tempted to forget.

Lord, I offer You the sufferings of this life for others as You see fit. The rocks are crying out, and we cry out with them! May you be praised for ever and ever!