Friday, January 22, 2016

Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity

I haven't really thought about it, or frankly, prayed about it consciously. I know that it is deeper in my heart than even that. I carry my Reformed brethren especially with me especially as I attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As we say, "In your compassion, O merciful Father, gather to yourself all your children, scattered throughout the world."

I'm especially thankful for those of you who, out of deep conviction, believe you cannot be Catholic. That is, you believe us to be wrong. We do not long for Christian unity from pure sentiment, and I would not encourage anyone to seek full communion with the Catholic Church on that basis.

Rather, I believe it is an authentic work of the Holy Spirit when He convinces people of strong conviction to re-examine the frameworks for those beliefs, out of fidelity to Him, and to Christ. The converts I know are not flakes; they did not suddenly tire of caring about revealed truth. Quite the opposite.

People who understand and sympathize with non-Catholic beliefs make the best converts, because that difference, which the Church classifies as error, is to them a familiar path. Imperfect, but faithful.

That's why the popular Catholic teachers tend to be converts. It's also why our theology of salvation is necessarily nuanced. A pagan who sees his errors and comes to Christ doesn't have the same journey as a Lutheran; not even close. Other Catholics who fail to note this don't necessarily help the cause. Into Your hands, O Christ, do we commit this cause, for it was first your prayer to the Father.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

You could pick bones with the statement, "It's not a religion, it's a relationship." In fact, evangelicalism gets hammered for being like an overwrought Manilow record all the time. On the other hand, Christianity is a relationship with a divine Person, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who took on flesh.

I won't hector you with thoughts about sacred music and goodness of form; you can find others to do that for you. But one thing missing (other than empathy) in the discussion of much-maligned "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs is that we don't have better analogies for just how much God loves us in Christ. You can hardly blame folks for trying. They say analogies break down. No kidding. I hope so.

The first thing you feel when you realize Jesus loves you personally is complete unworthiness. Well, yes. Have you ever been truly thankful for something you were owed? It's completely absurd in its goodness, the whole story. We read that Jesus turned His enemies into friends and brethren. This would be like two sides signing an armistice to end a war, and then the losing side joins up with its former adversary to fight someone else entirely, and as if the first war never happened. Take a moment to reflect on that. We have become too familiar with things that are jarring, shocking, and otherwise inexplicable.

May our joyful surprise at God's mercy not overwhelm us, but may we overflow with love for others.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Truth Time

I have an almost visceral disgust for the rhetoric and policies, such as they are, of the alleged GOP front runner. Is this where we are now, where insults directed at women, ethnic minorities, the disabled, and really anyone who fails to tell him how great he is gets you to the top of the polls? If it really goes this way, you have no right to ever complain about the unseriousness of the Democrats again. I don't want to hear it.

Here's some real talk about terrorism and security: if you want to live in a free country, your safety cannot be guaranteed. That's the truth. The government can try its best, but we've seen worldwide that people dedicated to causing harm will find a way. But it's not likely. You are more likely to die from your chicken salad today than a terrorist attack. Not to say we aren't vigilant; we are. But for the FBI to say, "We cannot properly vet these immigrants," that's what law enforcement in a free country should say. Better to die on our feet, than live on our knees. I am ashamed that I have to say this to Americans. By the way, the gun in your house is more likely to kill you or a loved one than an Islamic terrorist. If you accept the greater risk as the possible price of freedom, why not this lesser one? I don't recall that Columbine took any fewer lives than the terror attack in San Bernadino. In fact, we have shootings like this all the time, and the only people who may actually call for the incarceration of young white men are a few cranks on MSNBC.

If this sounds a bit liberal to you, good. Any American thinking straight should sound like a bleeding-heart next to an authoritarian. I'm sorry, but not.

I can recall a Coke commercial during the Super Bowl; you may remember it. It was the one where all those immigrants sang "America The Beautiful" in their native language. That's America to me. We don't build walls; we say "Tear down this wall!" Remember? We say that the longing for freedom and dignity is universal. I don't think 2016 is any more tense than 1987, or 1979, or 1865. I'd rather be free than great, I know for sure. Or it's better to say we are great because we are free.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

JK's Political Update

My top 3 are Rubio, Bush, and Kasich. I will only vote for Ted Cruz as a last resort. I've gotten older, and hopefully, a little wiser. I'm all for principles, and pretty conservative ones, at that. But you don't damage the United States for personal ambition, and any patriot would rather lose than inflame destructive passions for personal gain. Ted Cruz didn't and hasn't denounced this demagogue, until it benefited him. He's also fed a mostly exaggerated evangelical persecution complex (as if the HHS mandate isn't bad enough). No Christian anywhere ought to advocate the indiscriminate bombing of any people, but he has. He seems reasonable, next to bigotry and xenophobia. Well, my friends, we have to do better. If we don't, we don't deserve what's been handed down to us.

Bread Of The Presence

I was a bit distracted today at Mass, but He was there. God is Love, and Jesus is God. Therefore, Love is the answer. And the question is, "What is the purpose of my life?" Love. Get caught up in His love. Evangelism isn't some great mystery: Tell people that the One who loves you and forgives you loves and forgives them, also.

I got served a hanging curveball the other day: "Why do you go to Mass every day?"

"The One who loved me and died for me is there. Least I could do is say 'thank you.'"

"That's it?" he asked, sort of shocked. "That's it," I replied. "That's kinda old school, isn't it?"

I answered, "Well, you know what they say. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."