Repentance-Why Bother?

mateo cerezo the penitent magdalene

In religion as in politics very often the one thing which makes you most popular also makes you most unpopular. Putting forward a demand or a slogan mobilises both support and opposition and, usually, the more extreme the demand the more extreme the response. A central plank in the programme proposed by Jesus was repentance; words change their meaning over time and for us that word calls up the idea ‘feeling sorry for being naughty.’ What it meant at the time was something like ‘turn your entire life upside down.’ Or, more theologically, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23) This won for Him, as it did for His forerunner St John the Baptist, an enthusiastic hearing among those who felt the need to change their lives. It also earned Him the enmity of those who were convinced that they were doing just the right thing already and didn’t need to be rebuked by an upstart carpenter’s son from an insignificant little town in a despised region.
Is the demand a sensible one? Did they need to revolutionise their lives, do we? Will we gain more than we lose if we do? The Christian proposition is that without repentance we will necessarily be, at our deepest level, unhappy and unsettled. With repentance united to faith in Christ we may experience deep sadnesses, traumas and sufferings but in the most interior level of ourselves we will be at rest. Against this is the idea that life is inevitably a blend of light and shade and that we should enjoy the light when we have it and endure the shade when we must and that anyway most of our lives, whatever we do, will be spent in a neutral zone between the two things. To abandon the living of normal life in pursuit of the chimera of happiness proposed by Christianity is a tremendous gamble undertaken on very slight evidence.
There are two arguments which, I think, bolster the Christian proposition….click here to read more

 

Troubling Trends in Catholic Blogging

Before I begin, I’d like to share two passages from the First Epistle of St. Peter:

19 For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. 20 But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. (1 Peter 2:19-20)

 

14 But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, 16 but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17)

I share these two passages because they show there is a difference between being mistreated on account of doing right and being mistreated on account of behaving badly. Unfortunately, it seems some Catholic blogs fail to make this distinction.

Catholic blogging, particularly that of the apologetics type, involves people offering their insights into the Catholic faith and the Church. However, we possess no authority ourselves. The best we can do is to point to what the teaching of the Church is and encouraging people to follow it. We can explain why we think that the Church authority properly applied should lead to a certain way of acting, but we have to recognize that there certainly is a difference between others disagreeing with us and others disagreeing with The Church. The former is no sin. The latter is—but it is the task of the Church, not the blogger, to determine how to handle such behavior.

Continued HERE

Out of Control and Missing the Point

The Pope’s visit to America confirms what I long knew—the media and the politicians don’t understand the meaning of religion, treating it as one more political viewpoint. It also confirmed what I long suspected but hoped was actually false—that a large portion of American Catholics view religion in the same sense as the media and politicians. The result of this mindset is that the average person praises or laments what the Pope says or does in light of his or her political convictions and not on the basis of the Christian faith.

St. Paul wrote about this way of thinking in his letter to the Philippians:

17 Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. 18 For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. (Philippians 3:17-21)

Continued HERE

Overlooking the Essentials: Reflections on the Negative Catholic Reaction to Pope Francis

With the Pope’s visit to the US, people—including Catholics—are scrutinizing his words to use them in order to justify their political positions. If the individual agrees with his words, he is a great Pope, while if they don’t, he is not. Unfortunately this mindset seeks to take the Pope’s words and cram them into a dualistic political mindset: “Either the Pope is conservative or liberal.”

On one hand, we get Nancy Pelosi’s reprehensible statement of “I actually agree with the pope on more issues than many Catholics who agree with him on one issue” where that “one issue” is abortion and St. John Paul II spoke of “Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.” [John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae #18]—a pretty big disconnect. On the other hand, we get the accusation that the Pope is a liberal-leftist-marxist-who-should-stick-to-religion-and-not-get-into-politics (whew!) whenever he speaks on a topic they dislike.

[Continued HERE]

Don’t Blame Hell on God. It was Satan’s Idea.

Devil GargoyleOne frequently asked question is: “Why would an all-loving God create Hell, let alone, send souls there?” God did not make us to suffer. True, in the Garden of Eden, there did exist temptation, represented by the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation, spurred on by Satan’s lies. Having the freedom to love means having the freedom to reject love and the source of love, God. But evil, sin and Hell are Satan’s doing not God’s

In answering the above question, we revisit an interview by the Italian blog Stanze Vaticane, with the Vatican’s Chief Exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, in which he discussed his soon to be beatified mentor, Father Candido Amantini C.P., a Master Exorcist. Fr. Amantini was Rome’s chief exorcist for thirty-six years — often seeing 60 to 80 people per day. As such, Fr. Amantini witnessed demonic possession and interacted with the devil thousands of times.  Read more …

Quick Quips: Thoughts on Synod Agendas and Annulment Concerns

God remains watching over His Church even in the worst of times—which this time certainly is not. Yes individual bishops and even the bishops of entire regions have gone astray in the past, but those events have not changed the official teaching of the Church. Instead, those bishops have simply exceeded their authority and done wrong. We need to remember that whatever the failings of individuals in the magisterium, that has never led to teaching error by the magisterium.

So when we pray for the Church, let us do so with faith that God looks out for her and will not let her lead us astray. (See HERE for full article)

Mary the Tabernacle of God

“One of the reasons why Catholic and Orthodox Christians on the one hand and Christians of the Reformation traditions (Protestants) on the other have such divergent approaches to the person of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is because they read the Old Testament in significantly different ways…It strikes me, however, that there is a possible way which allows us to synthesise our understanding to some extent. Even if we grant for the sake of argument that the allegorical method is generally inadmissible there should be no reason why we cannot agree that the use of analogy is perfectly acceptable. By which I mean that if the Old Testament shows God acting in certain ways or upholding certain principles we can assume that He acts in the same way and on the same principles in the New unless Scripture specifically informs us otherwise.

Which brings me to Mary and the Tabernacle of the Lord. The Tabernacle was that structure sitting at the heart of the nation of Israel where God dwelt among His people in a special manner. It first took shape as the Tent of Meeting at the time of Moses and later became the Temple of Solomon. There is no doubt that God dwelt in a special way too in Mary, the mother of the Son of God. I would suggest that the principles which underlay the construction of the first Tabernacle, made by human hands, also underlay the creation of Mary in the womb of her mother St Ann by the hand of God…click here to read more

Saint John Paul II’s Threefold Vision of the Human Person

BEST JP2pic IIISt. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body discusses three states of man. Man before the first sin (Original Man), man after the Fall (Historical Man), our current state, and our life with God in heaven following Christ’s Second Coming (Eschatological Man).

The state of original man concerns two human beings – Adam and Eve. They viewed each other with, “all the peace of the interior gaze.” God walked in their midst, suggesting an intimacy with the creator we can only imagine. Adam and Eve’s lives were untouched by sin. Vice, depravity, and despair were foreign to their existence.  Read more…

Avoiding the Error of the Pharisees

In my opinion, the Pharisees are important to consider in this day and age in the Church. I don’t say that to use the group as an epithet, nor to use an ad hominem to target bloggers I disagree with. I think we need to consider them because they did have an attitude towards religion that seemed right from a human perspective, but ultimately that attitude fell short in the eyes of God.

Briefly, the view of the Pharisee was (seeking to avoid pejorative terms) that one was faithful to God by keeping His laws. In doing so, they offered their interpretation of how the Law was best followed. People who did not follow that interpretation were considered sinners. In contrast, because they followed the Law in accordance with their interpretation, they believed they were holy. It strikes me as being an “either-or” fallacy. Either one followed their interpretation of the Law and were holy, or they did not follow their interpretation of the Law, and were corrupted. The problem is, the either-or fallacy overlooks the possibility of there being more than two options—in this case, the fact that it was not enough to follow the observance of the Law. Jesus did not fault the Pharisees for keeping the Law. He faulted them for failing to love God and neighbor while keeping the law (Matthew 23:23).

(Continued HERE)

Salvation: It’s Not All About Me

Moses Lorenzo Monaco

Formulae like ‘I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour‘ are very commonly used among Evangelical Christians. They can act as the gateway marking the point at which a person becomes a Christian. In that sense they resemble the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith. What they don’t resemble is the traditional Christian gateways which are baptism and the profession of the Nicene creed. There are many things which could be said about this but I propose to focus on what I see as the excessive individualism which this approach to the faith both reflects and encourages.

The formula is theologically sound so far as it goes, its main problem is the premature use of the full stop. It makes the Christian faith in its totality appear to consist of a personal relationship between the individual believer and one member of the Blessed Trinity. This is at best inadequate and at worst positively misleading...click here to read more