Saturday, December 12, 2015


I have heard it said, "I am glad I'm not Catholic, because the leaders say x," or failed to say whatever else. That will not do. What is true, and how do you know? Dogmatically, that is. It doesn't matter that you think John Piper is as rock-ribbed and courageous as anyone you have heard. We're not voting for president, we're trying to determine what God said, and what to do about it.

The funny thing about being open to learning from the early Church is that there is a Church. I'm not really in union with them, if I pick and choose when they were right, and when they were wrong. I'm simply refining my own judgments, so I can get in on that cultural influence, and have large bookshelves. I could even write for First Things.

Those Fathers, man. They'll mess you up. In a good way.

Friday, December 11, 2015


God doesn't force people to do things. If one wants to hold on to a vice, or a sinful attitude, freedom is freedom. "It's a big one," I said, but not for God. I could see that I'm being called to intercede in a believing way, not simply because there is nothing else to do.

I can certainly say that I have prayed out of habit or duty. But what if I actually believed God could change a heart?

What if I did the works of mercy because I believed in the mission of Christ, and not for the merit?

Thursday, December 10, 2015


What is peace? I think practically, it's when you no longer feel beholden to forces beyond your control. You know that you belong to God, and nothing in the world can change that. There's a part of my favorite baseball movie, Field of Dreams, where Ray realizes he's being called to Boston, but they are broke. His wife Annie lays it all out there, and sighs, "We could lose this farm." It always sounded half-hearted to me, as if we're supposed to know that he should go to Boston.

Obedience is going to Boston, when it seems like a really bad idea. Holiness is knowing that the farm counts for nothing. Whatever it symbolizes in our lives, we surrender in loving trust to God.

What if the saints are simply those who trusted in God's sovereign love despite all apparent reasons not to? It's not beyond us, if we simply believe that God is God, and there is no other.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Read It Like This: Laudato Si, And Pacem In Terris

If you see a pope referencing an encyclical from a predecessor, you should read that document. Right away, (article 4) Pope Francis mentions Pacem In Terris, the 1963 encyclical from Pope St. John XXIII. This is the part of the saint's encyclical that really caught my attention:

"From this it is clear that no State can fittingly pursue its own interests in isolation from the rest, nor, under such circumstances, can it develop itself as it should. The prosperity and progress of any State is in part consequence, and in part cause, of the prosperity and progress of all other States." (Pacem In Terris, 131)

I think this is the interpretive key for Laudato Si. Earlier, Pope St. John wrote, quoting a predecessor himself,

"The wealthier States, therefore, while providing various forms of assistance to the poorer, must have the highest possible respect for the latter's national characteristics and time-honored civil institutions. They must also repudiate any policy of domination. If this can be achieved, then "a precious contribution will have been made to the formation of a world community, in which each individual nation, conscious of its rights and duties, can work on terms of equality with the rest for the attainment of universal prosperity." (Pacem In Terris, 125)

Pope John had already reminded us that wages sufficient for the dignity of families pertains to justice, not mercy. In echoing this, Pope Francis is not offering a pious opinion in Laudato Si; he is repeating the social doctrine of the Church.

It is this interconnectedness in solidarity that forms the basis of the urgency to care for our common home. Indeed, the common good both natural and supernatural, points toward our destiny with God. Those who deny that the common good exists will naturally reject any spiritual aspects to their economic and social lives, but the children of the Church make no such assumption.

Evolution Notes

As far as I know, a Catholic may hold to a theory of evolution provided that he:

1. Profess God as Creator and sustainer of all things;

2. That Adam and Eve really existed as our first parents;

3. That the soul is infused directly by God.

Some folks want to be so "with it" that they forget that some conceptions move from scientific theory to unjustified philosophical speculation.

(I'm happy to be uncommitted on the question of creation versus evolution.)

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Immaculate Conception

Today, we honor the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the Ark of the New Covenant, the Temple where the Lord dwells within. Uzziah died when he touched the old Ark, foolish to believe that the Lord needed his help.

As it was then, the Lord does not need us, but by a singular gift of grace, invited Mary to participate in the plan of salvation. As we do so, we echo her "yes" to God, and to ponder more deeply the mysteries of His mercy.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Rise And Walk

Did you catch the Gospel today, from Luke 5:17-26? The paralytic's friends lower him through the roof to meet Jesus. The Lord was deeply moved at that sight. I think of all the people who lowered me through the roof, so to speak, so I could meet Jesus. How many times was the Lord moved with love?

The best way to repay them is a holy life. I don't want their prayers, works, and sufferings to be wasted.

I heard in the first reading that I will leap for joy. I don't understand. I couldn't possibly. Yet perhaps Heaven is the place where we will revel in things we didn't know we missed.