Shakespeare & the Apostles

Agincourt, Imagination and the Bible

Agincourt

Then he took the twelve apostles aside, and warned them, Now we are going up to Jerusalem, and all that has been written by the prophets about the Son of Man is to be accomplished.  He will be given up to the Gentiles, and mocked, and beaten, and spat upon; they will scourge him, and then they will kill him; but on the third day he will rise again. They could make nothing of all this; his meaning was hidden from them, so that they could not understand what he said.
Luke 18:31-34

King of France
With pennons painted in the blood of Harfleur: 
Rush on his host, as doth the melted snow 
Upon the valleys, whose low vassal seat 
The Alps doth spit and void his rheum upon: 
Go down upon him, you have power enough, 
And in a captive chariot into Rouen 
Bring him our prisoner.
Constable of France.
 This becomes the great. 
Sorry am I his numbers are so few, 
His soldiers sick and famish’d in their march, 
For I am sure, when he shall see our army, 
He’ll drop his heart into the sink of fear 
And for achievement offer us his ransom
Henry V, Act III, Scene 5

The Apostles do not come well out of the Gospels. They seem to have a near perfect ability to misunderstand or not comprehend Jesus. It is tempting to dismiss them as unusually dense or at least woefully ignorant. It does not help much if we remember that we know the end of the story and they didn’t, that we have the benefit of the reflections on Jesus and His mission in the Epistles and two thousand years of Christian thought and they had to make do with very much less. The reason this is not helpful is because it is a purely intellectual exercise on our part. Most readers of the Gospels, Christian or not, are emotionally invested in Jesus, often to a great degree, and it hurts us when we see Him desperately trying and usually failing to make those closest to Him understand who He is and what He is doing. That emotional wound, that empathy which we feel, cannot really be touched simply by engaging in the mental exercise of adding up the things which the Apostles could have known and could have understood and comparing it with what our Lord was asking them to know and understand. Emotional wounds need to be treated with emotional medicines.

(enter Shakespeare)
One way of reading Scripture is to immerse oneself in it imaginatively. If we try to see the events unfolding before us not through the eyes and with the feelings of a 21st century person but as near as we can manage it with the feelings of the historical participants then our perspective will change. For most of us it will not be possible really to enter into the thought processes of the Apostles, the holy women or the Pharisees because their thinking was dominated by a framework of assumptions and experiences that only professional historians could really reproduce. Their feelings, however, would be akin to ones that we ourselves are familiar with because the lapse of two thousand years has effected no change in the human emotional range whatever it may have done to the world of ideas. In this context Act III, scene 5 of Henry V becomes a useful tool. Why? to read more click here

 

God, Sin, Mercy, and Justice

Jesus has some interesting things to say about His relationship with the world and what it means to follow Him… [Clipped from Sample for space requirements]

These passages are interesting because they testify to the fact that Jesus came to save people from their sins, calling them to turn away from the evil they did. Jesus, out of love for us died so that we might be saved. But the fact that Jesus came to save us from our sins demonstrates that we have sins we need to be saved from, and love of Him requires us to act in a way that is in keeping with how God has called us to live. The Greek word μετανοια (metanoia) means having a change of mind and heart, and metanoia is what Jesus is calling every one of us to have—to turn away from sin and to turn back to God. He also chose His Church built on Peter and the Apostles to go forth with the mission of preaching the Gospel and forgiving sins, saying that rejection of the Church was rejection of Him (Luke 10:16).

To Continue, Click HERE

Thoughts on Cheap Grace and Presumption

Modern Christianity seems to have many problems that boil down to one fact—that we have convinced ourselves we don’t personally need to change. Others may need to change—if their behaviors go against what we dislike—but not us and not those who think like we do. All we have to do is convince ourselves that we’re not as bad as those people who we deem worse than us and convince ourselves that because God loves us He won’t send us to Hell, and we can just rest comfortably with no need to change ourselves. Anybody who says we must change, or that there are things that are always wrong, are obviously judgmental bigots who can be safely ignored. Any Scriptures that tell us that God condemns the things we do as evil are labeled the products of an “unenlightened time” and can also be safely ignored.

The problem with this view is it has nothing to do with what God the Father has taught, and nothing to do what His Son has taught. What has been taught is the call to repent and turn back to God. We are called to take up our cross and follow Him. We are told to obey His commandments. We are not told that we can go back to behaving like we did before we were called.

(Continued HERE)

Evangelium Vitae and a Prolife Novena

On March 25th, 1995 Pope John Paul II gave us the beautifully rich and prolife encyclical, Evangelium Vitae. This year we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary on the Feast of the Annunciation. What a fitting feast day to celebrate life, as we call the mind Mary’s ‘yes’ to becoming the Mother of God!

A special Novena has begun – with nine individual petitions, the Prayer to our Lady written by Pope John Paul II (now Saint John Paul II), and a relevant excerpt from Evangelium Vitae.

Won’t you join this worldwide effort and pray these simple Novena prayers with us? Participants range from the United States all the way to our friends ‘down under’ in Australia! For more information you can read a bit of history at Evangelium Vitae: 20th Anniversary Novena – Catholic Stand.

EV all petitions

A daily post explaining the petition and including all of the relevant prayers can be found on Designs by Birgit. There is also a Facebook group for the Evangelium Vitae Anniversary Novena. I hope you’ll join us and invite your friends and family to pray for an increase in the respect for all life – from fertilization until natural death.

Sentinel… You Shall Warn Them For Me

17 Son of man, I have appointed you a sentinel for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them for me.

18 If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. 19 If, however, you warn the wicked and they still do not turn from their wickedness and evil conduct, they shall die for their sin, but you shall save your life.

20 But if the just turn away from their right conduct and do evil when I place a stumbling block before them, then they shall die. Even if you warned them about their sin, they shall still die, and the just deeds that they performed will not be remembered on their behalf. I will, however, hold you responsible for their blood. 21 If, on the other hand, you warn the just to avoid sin, and they do not sin, they will surely live because of the warning, and you in turn shall save your own life. (Ezekiel 3:17-21)

The Catholic Church tends to be viewed by certain influential factions the West today as a group which is hostile to everything which is perceived as desirable. If you look on Facebook, or in the comboxes of news sites and blogs, the odds are that you’ll see somebody lambasting the Church as being motivated by hatred when she takes a stand on issues of morality.

[Continued HERE]

Language barriers

I have become all things to all, to save at least some. — 1 Corinthians 9:22

Is there a more challenging place in America for sharing the word of God than the pro-life arena? There’s always that “gotcha” impulse, on both sides, with people waiting to jump on each others’ misstatements or awkward phrasings or just plain outrageous assertions. I know one activist who has dedicated his life to pro-life work because he thinks aborted babies go to hell. He may have saved some babies, but I’m skeptical that the dear man – and he is a dear man – has touched the hearts of any adults with his cockeyed theology.

I have a vocabulary with which I’m comfortable when I’m talking about the life issues. Pro-life, not anti-abortion. Pro-restorative justice, not anti-death penalty. Preborn, not unborn or “fetal,” however clinically accurate “fetus” may be.

And yet if I am to be all things to all people, my vocabulary has got to expand. How far can I take that and still deal in truth?

But there are St. Paul’s words: all things to all. He didn’t say be a word snob.

Today, I was challenged by someone who objected to my use of the term “preborn.” Not trolling, but a sincere objection. Why not “unborn”? Why not “fetus”?

While I’m edging out of my comfort zone, I’d like to hear from people who’ve learned more about the art of dialogue.

Read more here.

Freedom in Christ

Body-of-ChristMany Catholics believe church culture is the same as basic tenets of the faith. Challenging custom is then synonymous with challenging the faith. 

Every thinking, praying, honest person who seeks the Spirit of in their own heart, experiences conflict with those who are afraid of the inner spiritual life.  They fall back on fulfilling the letter of the law, even if that law is simply tradition.

Jesus called this sort of believer a Pharisee. This religious spirit chains many believers; they focus on outer conformity to tradition. If we understand the difference between cultural tradition and a relationship with God, our focus changes. All we want to do is allow God to love us and pass it on to those around us.

Don’t jump to conclusions. I Do believe that the Catholic Church is the fullest expression of revealed truth that is why I converted 38 years. continue reading

Missing the Point: Church Teaching or non-Teachings?

Today I ran across a claim on the internet that the Church could change Church teachings on moral issues, because she had made changes in the past. When pressed on the question, one individual pointed to the Church changing the rules on eating meat on Friday and the “extermination” of those who refused to convert to Catholicism as proof of changed teachings. The person went so far as to claim Papal bulls sanctioned this extermination—though when pressed was unwilling or unable to name any.

That wasn’t unexpected of course. When one does not understand how the teaching of the Church works or does not know of the doctrines and history of the Church, it’s easy to believe all sorts of claims about the Church without actually looking for evidence for the claim. Thus, there’s a lot of cases going around where there is common knowledge—where the response is “everybody knows THAT,” but when one tries to find evidence for what “everybody knows,” it turns out that nobody actually knows of any…

I find that people tend to make one or more of four errors when it comes to the Catholic Church and what she teaches. These are…

(Continue Reading HERE)

Ezekiel and ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’

altar

Have you ever heard a Protestant friend refer to the idea of ‘once saved, always saved’? Living in the Bible belt, I sure have! When I heard the recent Mass reading from Ezekiel last week, I found myself questioning how anyone can hold that view. I’ve invited charitable discussion in various social media outlets but have yet to understand…

Read more […]

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Birgit Jones is a 50-something cradle Catholic who is passionate about the Church and the prolife movement. She has been married to her Catholic convert husband, Rick, for 40 years. They have four children and eight living grandchildren (all age eleven and under). Their frequent visits eliminate any fear of an empty nest!

Birgit is Graphics Editor and Columnist at Catholic Stand. She can also be found on her personal blog Designs By Birgit and Facebook fan page Designs By Birgit, where she utilizes her Fine Arts training to promote Life through her prolife memes.

What is Truth?

Quod Est Veritas? Christ and Pilate, by Nikolai Ge.
Quod Est Veritas? Christ and Pilate, by Nikolai Ge.

Word Press has a daily post prompt. The most recent was “Plead The Fifth.” If we are to find God in all things, then we should be able to find Him and write about Him in these daily post prompts:


Is Jesus God?

I used to think this was a hard question, and I used to have a lot of different approaches to that question, depending on who I thought my target audience was.

Sometimes I would “Plead The Fifth”, but my motives for that had more to do with personal weakness and lack of conviction than whomever I was talking with.

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