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Friday, November 18, 2016

The Late Mass

Father was late. After we pray the Angelus, we have five minutes before Mass actually starts. The silence grew. I thought back to last year, when we had a priest who didn't come at all. We ended up having a Communion service that day. If you believe that they're the same, you are mistaken.

When we heard that it was an emergency call at the hospital, well, that's the life of a Catholic priest. Could have been Last Rites; could've been anything. No one seemed to mind.

When he said, "Francis, our Pope" during the prayers, I was overcome with a great affection for the Holy Father. It's not the first time. I doubt it'll be the last. It is an affection deeper than the news cycle; I have never felt such an affection for the President of the United States, for example. Unless and until you live within the household of the Catholic Church, you can't understand.

It's the feast day of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. She must pray for me a lot, because I feel inspired by her life every time I hear the story. Well, I am from St. Louis, and along with the King of France, she is our patroness. (And I'm also a bit French.)

St. Rose and St. Louis, pray for us!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Early Genesis, Continued

Why does the story of the creation of humanity happen twice? Well, I mentioned that one of the purposes in these early chapters is to distinguish God from His creation. The language of chapter 1 has been called, "elevated prose." It's not poetry, but it isn't historical narrative, either. Moses uses "elohim" as the word for God early on, a singular object with a plural ending. To add to the intrigue, 1:26 says, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." You can bet the Church fathers didn't miss that one! They said it was our first hints of the Blessed Trinity. After we read about the creation of Adam and Eve in chapter 2, the word for God changes, from "elohim" to "YHWH". We'll just call this "the Name." When Moses asks God what His name is, God says the Name. Why the change? I think one excellent reason is that "elohim" emphasizes God as the Lord of all creation, while "YHWH" emphasizes Him as the God who keeps His promises. The Lord of all creation is also He who protects one family that will become a people.

Some scholars believe that different schools of scribes copied and collected the Scriptures, leading to some interesting debates when particular words or phrases are unclear. For our purposes, though, we concentrate on the Scriptures as we have them, trusting that the teaching office of the Church is able to handle any real problems. (CCC, 100)

To this day, Jewish people do not say the Name; they substitute "adoni" (lord) for it. It was believed that to speak the name of a god is to call forth its power.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I Like Stephen Colbert

I've got a good friend who watches The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. You may recall that he took over for David Letterman as the host. Colbert (pronounced like 'cole-BEAR') got his way to fame as a "correspondent" on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. All these people are liberals. Fair enough.

I still think Jimmy Fallon (The Tonight Show) is the best late-night host. Jimmy doesn't need famous people to make his show work. He's funny, he's got musical talent, and he has this gift for nurturing nostalgia without sacrificing "cool" that people my age and slightly older (he's 40) seem to want. Actually, I think he makes famous people feel normal, and normal people feel famous. I digress.

But I've watched a lot of Colbert lately, and I must admit that his monologue the night after the election was great. I understand how liberals feel this time. I don't share this disdain conservatives have right now for ordinary liberals who are just bummed. I don't necessarily sympathize with people burning things down in protest. But actually, I don't want to "get over it," because to consent to that is to tacitly say that I'm OK with how things were done. I'm not bothered by the insults, the lies, the vulgarity, the general coarsening of the entire process, is what I'd be saying. And I can't say that with a clear conscience.

We've entered a new place, and it will not do to pretend that the liberals/Democrats/progressives are just going on emotionally like always. Perhaps there is some intellectually and morally stifling political correctness that has been defeated, but at what cost? To me, the cost has been too high.

If we can't see the world through the eyes of your neighbors even a little bit--it was hard not to be inspired by a Bernie tribute video at the Democratic National Convention, as "America" by Simon and Garfunkel played--maybe it really is over, this grand experiment.

I still think that the slavish devotion of the firmest Trump supporters, followed by a claim that the rest of us should remember, "Put not your trust in princes" is richer than a fudge cake. Frankly, I'm going to laugh hysterically the next time "cult of personality" and "Obama" are mentioned together.

Anyway, I needed to laugh with my liberal friends. If we can laugh, we don't need to always cry. Mourn with those who mourn.

Happy Birthday, Mom

61 years ago today, Darla Dee Thompson was born. Because of this, you are reading this post, and this blog in general. I won't belabor things with details I don't remember, but I don't know a tougher, more sacrificial person, besides Our Lord. (And Our Lady)

That's pretty good company.

You become aware that nothing lasts forever on this side of Heaven, and tragedy will teach you even faster to say what needs saying, so here it is: I love you, Mom. Anything good in me is a gift that is partly yours. Thanks for teaching me that serving others and sharing life with them is how to truly live. Here's hoping we get a little break from tough times, so we can appreciate everything.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thoughts On The Early Chapters Of Genesis

As I read Genesis 1-3, there are 3 main things that stick out: Firstly, God alone is Creator, and He is distinct from that which he has created. It was a point of emphasis for Moses, (and the Lord God) because he knew that the surrounding cultures worshiped "gods" in such a way that creation and deity weren't so distinct. Secondly, that mankind and creation were both created good, and in some sense, both remain good. Thirdly, it is proper to worship God, and now, living with the reality of sin, both original and personal, we know that forgiveness must be part of the story, our journey back to life with God.

Let me talk about these in reverse order. Adam and Eve both worshiped God before the Fall. It will always be right to do so, and we know this because our pictures of Heaven from later in the Scriptures tell us this. After our first parents sinned, the Scriptures here say they heard the Lord walking in the garden and hid themselves! We have to be careful here, because God doesn't actually have feelings, but I feel a deep sadness when I hear the Lord's question in 3:9: "Where are you?"

They were friends. They walked and talked with Almighty God a lot. That's how they knew what it sounded like.

We give God what he's due, but we're being offered more, and that's friendship. In this context, grace is God's own presence and power indwelling us as a special gift. A finite being couldn't be friends with the infinite God Himself, even if we were innocent, unless God elevated mankind. So He did.

We have a qualified goodness now, because we know that we are sinners, but also that we naturally gravitate toward sin, and away from God. God didn't make us this way, though, and we're not intended to stay here. We call the tendency toward sin "concupiscence," and we call the gift that was lost "integrity," which means that our passions are subject to reason. They had an original righteousness or justice on account of grace, also. As well as infused knowledge and immortality. Thanks, Dr. Marshall!

We know that later, plagues befell the enemies of God's people in the book of Exodus. Many commentators suggest that the specific plagues corresponded to false gods worshiped by the Egyptians. It is also probable that Moses (and others) wrote Genesis and the other books of the Law while he led the Israelites out of Egypt, and into the wilderness.

You'll notice that God created everything in chapter 1, including the sun and moon, stars and planets. You can bet that other people worshipped those things, and that's why the people are told not to.

Did you notice that the account of the days always starts with evening? The descendants of Abraham and Moses still count days this way! We do it, too, in the Church. This is why you can fulfill your Mass obligation on a holy day, or on the evening of the previous day. And yes, eight human days of the Easter and Christmas octaves count as one day to the Church! God is reminding us always that He is Lord of time, and everything else.

Books and books could be written, but I need to go, and dear reader falls asleep when I go on and on!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Not So Usual

I want to move on from politics. I really do. We'll see if it happens. I still hold the same views about Trump, Trumpism, and the GOP. (I hold none in high esteem, in case you hadn't noticed.) Perhaps I should have joined the Democrats the night of the Ohio primary; I would love to hear how I'm actually responsible for the deaths of little children, simply because I want nothing to do with the president-elect.

The whole matter does prove one thing: A sizable chunk of the American people don't care what the Left thinks about anything. I'm in this weird place where I agree with pretty much every criticism of Trump from Clinton and the Democrats, but I don't want to live in the world that they imagine.

I don't want to live in the world that they imagine.

So we'll be living in it anyway, since Trump is pretty much them. He's a product of the culture the libertines created. You didn't actually believe anything he said, did you?

That's nice.