There is a rhetorical question out there, derived from the military, which goes: Is this the hill you want to die on? The meaning of the question was “Is this objective worth the cost?” (i.e. is this objective worth dying over?). The question has a wider usage now, but the basic meaning is the same: Is this fight worth the effort? It’s certainly a question we need to ask ourselves, keeping in mind the ultimate goals of our life on Earth. It’s especially worth asking ourselves as we seek to understand whether a task is a part of our life as a Christian or a distraction from it.
The world is full of disputes, and the Christian has to determine whether a dispute is one about his Christian values or about one’s preferences over how they would like things to be. When it comes to the former, the Christian of course needs to take a stand for his beliefs. But if it does not concern the Christian values dieectfy or actually reflects a worldly or aesthetic concern, then the Christian needs to consider well the importance—or lack thereof—when it comes to making a dispute over it. They especially need to consider this well when they are willing to indict those who disagree with their views.
When it comes to moral obligation members of the Church can suddenly become very pharisaical in the sense of setting aside God’s commandment and the teaching of His Church in favor of their own thoughts on how things should be done. We see people trotting out fragments of what Popes, Councils and Saints have said on a subject and using those fragments to justify their behavior against what the Church actually teaches. The result is that we see some people arguing that a Church teaching concerning rare circumstances like the Pauline Privilege justifies divorce and remarriage in the case of a Sacramental marriage, or that the Church teaching on Double Effect and hysterectomies and ectopic pregnancies justifies sterilization and abortion. When the Church responds to that argument with an emphatic “No,” people accuse the Church of hypocrisy, contradiction, and double standards.
Or (so people won’t think this error is only committed by people on the political “Left”), we can see people scandalized when it appears that the Church has said for the longest time that people must abstain from meat on Fridays and now they don’t, or that the Mass must be celebrated in Latin, but now it doesn’t. They accuse the Church of “changing” her teachings and falling into error.
Basically, people see the Church as “changing her teachings” in one area and either demand (or fear) that this means the Church can change her teaching in any other area.
But nowhere do we see people actually seek to understand why the Church offers X as a general teaching and then appears to say “not-X” when it comes to certain cases.
St Luke tells us about three significant forty-day periods in the life of our Lord. These are:
-the time between the Nativity and the Presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22)
-the time that Jesus spent in the desert after His baptism (Luke 4:1-2)
-the time between the Passion and the Ascension of our Lord (Acts 1:3)
It would seem to be the case that the period in the wilderness was a necessary final preparation before the Messiah began His mission and that the period after the resurrection was a necessary final preparation before the Apostles undertook their mission, to proclaim the Good News to the world. I would argue that the first period constituted a necessary preparation for Mary before she undertook her mission as the Mother of God present in the flesh, Emmanuel, God with us.
The forty-days had an explicitly Marian dimension in that they constituted the time required for Mary to purify herself, according to the Law of Moses, after the birth of a son. Of course strictly speaking she could have dispensed with the requirement (as her Son could have done with circumcision on the eighth day) because the Law was only the shadow of things to come (Colossians 2:16-17) and the reality had now come in the form of the infant Christ. However since He was born of a woman, born under the Law (Galatians 4:4) it was seemly that the provisions of the Law should be adhered to until our Lord completed His mission on the cross at Calvary.
These days, though, were much more than the formal keeping of an outward legal prescription. They were a time of great and never to be repeated joy for the Blessed Virgin…. click here to read more
It’s that time of year once again, when we assess how we are doing; when we make resolutions to do things we have yet to do, or to do things differently. We want to see positive change! Yet, we are all creatures of habit, and sometimes our habits are not good. That is why every January we make resolutions to eat healthier, to stop smoking/drinking/taking drugs, etc. only to fall off the wagon as soon as the first temptation crosses our paths.
Have you ever stopped to think about why you are tempted; not what tempts you, but why you are tempted? Read more…
On one of the Catholic news sites out there, I was involved in a debate with another reader about the issue of divorce and remarriage. This individual argued that the Church, in confirming that remarriage after divorce (as opposed to receiving an annulment first) is morally wrong, was ignoring the words of Our Lord concerning the parable of the lost sheep. In other words, this individual was asserting that to show mercy to the divorced and remarried, the Church had to stop teaching their actions were sinful and needed to admit them to Communion.
This kind of thinking confuses mercy with tolerating a lack of restraint, and misses the point of what mercy is. It seeks to assuage the conscience of the sinner by telling him or her that their actions are not even sins at all. The Church is accused of being merciless because she will not change herself when people demand that she stop saying things are sins. The reason she will not is because she cannot contradict God’s commands without being faithless to God. When God commands that we do X or avoid Y, the Church cannot permit us to avoid doing X or permit us to do Y. As Our Lord said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Oxymoron is defined as “a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in ‘cruel kindness’ or ‘to make haste slowly’” (dictionary.com). Here’s another one: jumbo shrimp (my favorite oxymoron).
Well, given today’s politics and discourse that we hear from the politicians, I believe that I am about to coin a new oxymoron: virtuous politician. There must be some, somewhere, don’t you think? I can be hopeful. However, where are they? Has anyone seen one? If so, please let me know, because I would like to shake that person’s hand. I cringe to think that… Read more…
Dance with joy!
Joy is different from happiness. Many people equate the two incorrectly. Happiness is fleeting; joy is lasting. Where joy has no “conditions,” happiness does have “conditions.” I’ll be happy if…where we place conditions on what makes us happy. Do you hear those words, “we” and “us” in that last sentence? We define happiness in this life, and we easily can disappoint ourselves; especially when the criterion for happiness is left up to us to decide upon. Many think that riches and fame will bring happiness; but that is not necessarily true. We search for happiness in vain, … Read more…
Does it elude you? It seems that during this time of year, everyone wishes each other “Peace on earth” (Luke 2:14). Do you view this sentiment with hope, or do you think it falls flat?
If you have Christ’s Peace within your own heart, I think you view this sentiment with great aspirations of hope, because you wish for others what you possess for yourself. If it falls flat, then perhaps you don not have the amount of Christ’s Peace within your own heart that you desire.
How would you know if you actually had Christ’s Peace within your own heart? Well, for starters, you… Read more…
At times everyone fears what the truth might require…that accepting the truth might ask us to give up more than we want to give. This is especially the case when we have staked our claim on a position that is being challenged. If we follow the truth, and truth tells us that something we held important is actually not true, then we have to admit that we were in error. That is hard to do. Nobody wants to admit they were wrong—especially when they have to admit that their opponent might have been in the right all the time. That’s a hard situation to reconcile, and probably why many find it difficult to go from non-Christian to Christian, and from non-Catholic to Catholic. (Read some of the conversion stories out there and see how hard it was for some of them to come across to our Faith. Some of us who were already here as a part of the Catholic Christian faith either forget or never knew the difficulty of the conversion from error to truth and to admit that what they defended as truth was actually falsehood.
So why is it, when it comes to the Catholic faith which we profess to be the true Church, do we fear when the Church teaching challenges us? Why do Catholics get angry when the Pope speaks in a way which challenges our comfortable behaviors? When we’re reminded about teachings that challenge our political preferences? If we profess to believe in God, and that the Church binds and looses with the authority given to her by Our Lord, why do we fear to have our flawed understanding changed? Is it because we fear that the Church is falling into error? Or is it because we fear the consequences of having to admit we followed the faith incorrectly at times?
In other words, it’s a question of whether we are trusting in God or trusting in ourselves.
Before the swinging sixties, before Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, and even before Bill Haley and the Comets had set these Isles throbbing with the sound of Rock ‘n’ Roll, I fell in love for the first time. I was only sixteen, but it was the real thing. My Juliet, who was so beautiful, so pure, so perfect in every way seemed utterly beyond me. How could she possibly feel even so much as a spark, to match the flame that set me alight with love for her? I simply couldn’t believe it possible. How could such a beautiful creature even want to look at a gauche beanpole like me, who hadn’t even grown out of pimples and into poetry? read on …..