Monday, September 04, 2006

Thoughts on the Body of Christ

A Peter Kreeft book got me thinking. (Disclaimer: If these thoughts are off, I'm willing to be corrected by the proper Magisterial authorities. But they seem right to me.)....

Through faith and baptism, we are incorporated into the Body of Christ. The members of the Church form Christ's Body. Christ lives now and He lives forever. Therefore if we, God willing, persevere until the end and die as members of His body, we will live forever.

Why?

Because it seems our salvation is not something like a label on our shirts saying "Heaven: Admit One". Rather, its something more intrinsic.

Some have said that God condemns no person to hell. A person may, through his actions, choose to become one with Christ or choose to cut himself off from Christ's body.

If choosing to cut oneself off, he dies. Just like an amputated leg. Or a severed vine.

John 15:4-6 (NAB)
"4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.

6 Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. "

But if we remain one with Him, we live forever.

John 11:25-26 (NAB):
"25 Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "

"even if he dies" ... "will never die"

Awesome.

"Do you believe this?"

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Obedience

Though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God, something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied himself taking the form of a slave. He was known to be of human estate and it was thus that He humbled Himself obediently accepting death, death on a cross. Because of this God highly exalted Him and bestowed upon Him the name above every other name, that at Jesus' name every knee must bend in the Heavens, on the Earth, and under the Earth and every tounge proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
-Kinosis hymn from Phillipians
Obedience is one of the three Evangelical Counsels, the other two being poverty and chastity. Poverty requires renouncing material goods, chastity involves sacrificing sexual intimacy, but I think obedience is one of the hardest to live because it involves renouncing our own will. We aren't professed religious, but we still have to live a life obedient to the Church.

Is obedience burdensome? It depends on how you look at it. For some, obedience is as chore, something they would rather not do. For others, obedience can be seen as freeing and allows them to trust in God more. As humans we have the choice to see rules, commandments, etc... as externally imposed limits to our freedom. We also have the ability to see them as reminders from our loving Father who only seeks the best for His children.

All lawful authority comes from God. This is true for Churches, governments, and even families. Just as Jesus was obedient to the Father, we have a responsibility to be obedient to the truths of the faith and our superiors in the faith (insofar as we aren't being asked to sin).

Let us be obedient to the will of the Father that we might be with Him forever in Heaven. Amen.

Friday, September 01, 2006

"It is Jesus whom you seek"

It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness, he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fulness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.
- John Paul II

I love that quote from our late Holy Father. There's so much truth in that statement that I really don't know where to start. Happiness is a word that is misused by a lot of people. True happiness can only come from Christ. Happiness can only come from embracing the Truth and fighting for it even when it is unpopular. Young people are idealistic (I'm one of them) and this quote really makes me remember that as much as I might want to "change the world" I can't do it. Only by seeking, Jesus, becoming the person I was created to be, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through me can anything good happen. Any good I do comes from God and I'm probably at fault for a good chunk of the evil in the world because of my sins. I need to realize this more to learn humility.

In any case, I think this is why the truth is so attractive. Nobody wants to die for a mediocre ideal. The "I love you you love me we're a happy family"-God-as-an-omniscient-Barney version of Christianity isn't necessarily all that attractive. Love cannot exist without at least a willingness to suffer for the one being loved. I think that is why more and more people are starting to embrace the call of their confirmation to become a "soldier for Christ," marching into battle, showing the world His face and spreading His love. The truth can be harsh, but who would die for a lie?

I know these are kind of jumbled thoughts, but I thought I'd post something since I haven't posted in awhile. In closing here's another gem from JP2 during WYD 2002.


Do not let that hope die, stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father's love and our real capacity to become the likeness of His Son.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Fr. Will Prospero

Hey, just kinda wondering. If you read this and have met the man (I've decided Fr. Will is the man), respond with your thoughts. If you haven't, please respond with why you haven't and your action plan for doing so.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Huge Announcement!

Hi everyone!

Let's just say that I am very excited to be making this post. Yesterday, (Saturday the 19th of August), My boyfriend Tyler and I were driving up to Marquette to help our best friend move into his new apartment as he is going to NMU. We made a few pit-stops along the way. First we stopped at the Cross in the Woods, walked around, said a prayer at the statue of the holy family, and attended mass. We then made a stop in Mackinaw, where he pulled off to a little park with a view of the Mackinaw Bridge at sunset. We sat down at a picnic table there, and he got down on one knee and proposed to me! I said Yes! I'm engaged! We're going to get married! YAY! (I'm very, very happy!). When we got to Marquette we went to mass again at the St. Peter Cathedral. It was very beautiful, the stained glass windows were amazing! Also, my ring looked gorgeous under the light coming through them. I am just so excited, and I wanted to let you guys know. I'm posting this even before I've told my parents. We were too tired when we got back from the trip to go through that just yet, (his parents knew before he took me), we'll tell them tomorrow. I'm just so happy I've got tell someone! Of course we told our friend when we got there. He is going to be our best man and he's very happy for us. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! See you all soon! :)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Reflections on Deus Caritas Est: A Declaration of War

"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him". In these opening words of the encyclical Pope Benedict identifies the starting point of the life of the Christian. The "fundamental decision" of a Christian's life is not found amoung the lofty philosophies from Plato and Socrates down to the present, but that life with God is an encounter, and experience in the life of the Christian that affirms the deepest longings of their very being. This experience, on the basis of the very definition of God, His very existence, that is, Love, is thereby an encounter with Love: an encounter with the Love of God that has been manifested through His creative act of Love, that is, something of creation itself, whether that be through nature, another person, or any other means.

The Pope identifies three types of love, eros, agape, and philia. Philia is love of friendship, which takes on a depth of meaning that could be the fruits of a meditation: philia is used "in order the express the relationship between Jesus and his disciples". Eros is ascending love, it gives the partaker a taste of the divine, a chance at something bigger and more beautiful than he could ever experience on his own. Within this is God's most gracious gift and thereby humanity's greatest perversion. The sex cults of ancient Graeco culture were elucidated in the encyclical in order to show this greatest perversion. God's greatest gift of eros came in the Incarnation. In radically uniting His very being with the physical body of a man, Jesus gave humanity the ability to personally and radically unite themselves to the Divine, the ascend to not just the foretaste of some greater power but to God Himself in all His glory and splendor. The Incarnation was therefore eros in that it allows humanity to ascend for the first time to the throne of God.

Agape is descending love, oblative love. It involves not just sacrifice but the total giving of self to the other. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta shows this clearly. She cannot be identified apart from her work with the poor. Her self had become so integrated into her love for the other that she lost herself, but, as Luke the Evangelist explains, "Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it".

Agape and eros were perfected in the Cross and Resurrection. Jesus' body was able to ascend to the heavenly throne as a sweet-smelling oblation to God. In the same way, He descended to hell in perfect sacrifice for the lives of the humanity that He, the Logos, created. The Pope explains this beautifully: "His death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form. By contemplating the pierced side of Christ (cf. John 19:37), we can understand the starting point of this Encyclical Letter... In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move."

The Last Supper gives an enduring presence to the sacrifice on the Cross. Here we are given the Body and Blood of Christ. Pope Benedict explains that more than just receiving the Eucharist, we "enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving". The Eucharist, thereby, is sharing in the love of God, and the Pope thereby finds that "A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented".

The second half of the Encyclical, which I will now briefly cover, deals with that concrete practice of love, that is, Charity. Charity is to be the gift of the Christian to the other of himself in the dynamic of the love of God that extends beyond the Old Testament commandment found in Deuteronomy to the reality of the decision of the Christian life. Love transcends this requirement because, in the Incarnation, we now have first been loved by God. This leads us to Caritas-Charity. "Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man's sufferings and his needs, including material needs". Emphasis was added to show that charity is not to become social work. God must come first and in putting God first we attend most consciously to spiritual needs and to the glory of God.

One point to make before moving on the title given to the post. Throughout the Encyclical Letter the Pope shows the power of prayer in the life of a Christian and the necessary role it plays in the life of the Church. Everything must be brought to prayer to God.

Carefully crafted into the feel-goody title of "God is Love", the Pope sets the tone for his papacy, drawing from his extensive work with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He declares war on those Catholics who are wishy-washy, who don't proclaim the faith with the zeal we find at the foot of the Cross. Those who try to make the work of the Church into social work, who try to take from the Apostolic office the primacy in the work of Charity in the world. He declares war on those who transform the liturgies based on the democracy of the locality, forgetting the democracy of the dead, that is, tradition, and forgetting also that Jesus gave the keys to Peter and only Peter. He declares war on those who doubt the truth of the Incarnation, who wonder if Buddha could have been correct as well. He declares war, however, first and foremost on those Catholics who claim for all the world to see and hear their membership in the Catholic Church only to, in the next minute, undermine the work of the Church and further separate the Love of God from humanity.

How powerful a message to say that God does not just love us, but that He is Love. He is Love! Nothing in the infinite existence of God fails to be completely consumed with Love. His creative act was an act of love. His sacrifice and death on the Cross was an act of love. How amazingly powerful is that. The call of the Christian is to let themselves be consumed by God's love, to burn with it so powerfully that we lose ourselves in it. Looking always heavenward, the call of the Christian is to evangelize the world with love. Nothing else is enough, but nor do we need anything else. The pierced side of Christ gives us the starting point for understanding God. Becoming more human by becoming closer to God, we find that in our growing love for God we love our neighbor with increasing intensity, such that we desire to sacrifice ourselves, agape, for him.

What the Pope declared war on, then, is a lack of fire, of passion. The Christian should set the world on fire, but how many do we see that go about the faith half-heartedly, barely able to start a fire by rubbing their two figurative sticks together. The life of a Christian is an uncomprimising passion for the love God pours on us.

Monday, August 14, 2006

St. Maximilian Kolbe and Vigil of the Assumption

Today is the memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe, founder of the Militia Imaculata and a martyr at a concentration camp during WWII. He's relatively new so those of you who pray the office may not have the propers for the feast. Here's the collect:

Gracious God, you filled your priest and martyr, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, with zeal for souls and love for his neighbor. Through the prayer of this devoted servant of Mary Immaculate, grant that in our efforts to serve others for your glory we too may become like Christ your Son, who loved his own in the world even to the end, and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Also, don't forget tomorrow is a Holy Day.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

There's nothing like...

...a really good confession. I really don't know how I'd make it without this sacrament. If I were Protestant and didn't have this sacrament I think I'd be tortured with thoughts about whether or not I was sincerely sorry enough to receive the pardon of God. Having a confessor assure us that our sins are forgiven through the ministry of the Church is quite liberating.

I'm so thankful for this sacrament. The devil wants us to keep our sins hidden so he can torture us with them. He hates it when things are brought to the light. Admitting we are wrong requires humility. He can't use our secret sins to torture us anymore since they have been brought to the priest and they have been forgiven.

God's mercy endures forever!


Also, just a reminder that August 15 is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. It's a Holy Day of Obligation and a very important feast.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My response to the crazy person.

There is a difference between justice and mercy, but they are not enemies, they go hand in hand. Justice is a rightful punishment to a crime, mercy involves forgiveness. Whether one believes in the death penalty or not, the point of the sentence, whether it is jail time or death, is to take that person out of a situation where they can hurt innocent people, the point is not revenge or retribution. The actions you have suggested sound like medieval torture, and are only implemented out of spite, and hate. Hate does not solve anything, hate does not bring back someone from the dead. When resorting to these acts of hate, you are stooping down to the criminals level, the criminal has won. You have committed an unjust act out of hate just like the murderer did. Now you are no better than the criminal. In addition, the methods that you are suggesting would be unconstitutional as they are considered cruel and unusual punishment. Though many murderers obviously have some huge mental issues, it is not impossible for murderers to regret what they did and want to become better people. Case in point, around 1902, an 18 year old named Alessandro raped and killed a 12 year old girl names Maria. On her deathbed, she forgave him. Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The first thing he did when he got out was go beg her mother for forgiveness. Maria was canonized in 1950, and a 66 year old Alessandro came to witness it, and wept. Just remember, hate will never solve anything and will only bring about more crime and murder. Murder is wrong, there is no doubt about that and it must be punished. That is justice. But promoting a culture of hate and vengeance will only lead to more hate and vengeance. That is where mercy needs to come in.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

There's a crazy person in my online class! help!

Right now I am taking an online government class and we are having a disscussion about crime and punishment. There is one person who is absolutley insane. She thinks that the death penalty should be implemented in every state, and that injections are too easy on murderers. She thinks that the murderers should have to suffer when executed, aka, chopping them into little pieces, "at least" bringing back the electric chair. She also uses "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" as an argument saying that "why shouldn't we do it if it's in the Bible?" I need some help! How do I respond to this person! I have to have everything in by 11:59 friday, so I need responses pretty soon. Thanks so much for helping, I was simply in shock reading her sick and twisted posts! (of course I can't call her sick and twisted on the disscussion board or I'll get in trouble with the teacher.)

St. Lawrence, Feast

Today is the Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr of the early Church. Most saints who aren't apostles get memorials or optional memorials, but today we get a full feast to celebrate this saint. St. Lawrence was a deacon responsible for giving alms to the poor in Rome and the authorities asked him to give them the "treasures of the Church." Lawrence did just that...he gathered the poor to whom he ministered and presented them to the Roman official declaring these were the "real treasures of the Church." For this act of defiance, Lawrence died a martyr's death.

St. Lawrence, pray for us!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

To Quell the Terror...

I don't know if you remember my July 17 post about the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne, but I just finished reading a book To Quell the Terror that relates the story of their martyrdom. I'll be honest and say that it read kind of like a history textbook in some places, but it was very good nonetheless. If anyone wants to borrow it when we get back to school, feel free and let me know.

I think there's a tendency within the Church today to look at cloistered carmelites (or other cloistered orders) and wonder what good they're doing for the Church and the world. In active orders you see the religious out running hospitals, teaching, or ministering to the poor. In contemplative orders, their work is harder to see, but it's profoundly important. The biblical story of Martha and Mary illustrates this tension.

I was also impressed by how "countercultural" these sisters were. The revolutionary government in France stormed their convent and asked each nun individually if she wanted to leave (in an attempt to "liberate" them from their "oppressive" way of life). One nun replied she would rather die than give up her habit. The community was unanamous in its refusal. Asking permission to die prior to being executed as enemies of liberty shows how much true freedom is found in obedience to God's will and how man's shallow concept of freedom leads to intense destruction.

Also, before I forget today is the memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (also known as St. Edith Stein). She was also a Carmelite, but her feast day is on the general calendar as well. If you pray the office, you probably don't have her in your proper of saints since she's relatively new (but she can be found in the red "supplement" if you have that). Otherwise, if you want to use the propers from the Carmelite proper you can find them here.

St. Teresa Benedicta was born jewish and declared herself an atheist at age 14. Later, she earned a doctorate in philosophy and after reading the life of St. Teresa of Avila, she said "This is truth." She was baptised, entered the Church, and decided to become a Carmelite nun, but her director said she would be more effective teaching in the world. She did that for awhile, but later did become a Carmelite. Once Hitler came to power in Germany, not even Jews that had converted were safe from his reign of terror. St. Teresa Benedicta was arrested, taken to Auschwitz and martyred one week later.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

St. Dominic

Today is the Memorial of St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (or Dominicans). This is another great order that produced such saints as St. Thomas Aquinas...they were known for their preaching and learnedness.

St. Dominic fought tirelessly to defeat the Albigensian heresy that was spreading accross France and Italy. Albigensianism taught that matter was bad and encouraged suicide, abortion, and euthanasia. It was a heresy that really attacked the dignity of the human person. Dominic preached against it, but didn't have a ton of success until he had a vision of the Blessed Mother who told Dominic to preach "her psalter." Mary's psalter, consisting of 15 Our Fathers and 150 Hail Mary's developed into what we call the rosary today. I think it's important to note that if the rosary destroyed Albigensianism, a heresy that attacked the dignity of the human person, how much more valuable should it be to us today in our fight against abortion and other offenses against human life.

...and some inspiration I found at the Priests for Life website:

"When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I've often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God -- and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there'll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world -- and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, 'Spare him, because he loved us!'"

Congressman Henry Hyde


St. Dominic, pray for us!

Monday, August 07, 2006

You know your a Catholic nerd when...

This and little known facts like it are far more interesting to you than they should be.

I mean, who knew the titular feast of the Lateran Basilica came right after the feast of the dedication of St Mary Major? Also, until reading that I almost forgot that each of the patriarchal basilicas actually represents an ancient patriarchate (St. Peter's Basilica is actually representative of the patriarchate of Constantinople where the pope's proper church is really the Lateran Basilica which is the cathedral for the Diocese of Rome...this is why the dedication (different from titular feast) of St. John Lateran is actually a solemnity)

A little more Stephen Colbert

Here is a clip of the Colbert Report where he recites the Nicine Creed. He gets into some other stuff at the end, but it's still pretty sweet.

Poetry of St. Teresa of Avila, volume two

1.

Let mine eyes see thee, sweet Jesus of Nazereth
Let mine eyes see thee, and then see death.
Let them see that can, Roses and Jessamine,
Seeing thy face more fair, all blossom are theirin.
Flower of seraphin, sweet Jesus of Nazereth.
Let mine eyes see thee, and then see death.
Nothing I require, where my Jesus is;
Anguish all desire, saving only this;
All my help is his, He only succoureth.
Let mine eyes see thee, and then see death.



2.

For you I live and come to be -
What would you like done with me?

Sovereign, awful majesty,
Knowing all eternity -
Goodness, gracious to my soul,
Highness, godhead, one and whole,
Look at this nonentity
Singing of hre love for thee -
What would you like done with me?

I am yours, because you made me,
Yours, because you then redeemed me,
Yours, because you suffered for me,
Yours, because you clamored for me,
Yours, because you did not lose me,
What would you like done with me?

What commands then, good my lord,
By such a creature should be done?
Or what office have I won,
Being but a slave abhorred?
Can't you see me, my sweet one?
Me, my sweet one, can't you see
What would you like done with me?

Right here is my heart, you see,
Lo, I put it in your hand,
My body, soul, all I command,
My entrails and my loving thee.
Redeemer sweet who married me,
Since I gave my all for thee,
What would you like done with me?

Give me life or give me death.
Give me honor, give me shame.
War or peace, it's all the same.
Give me sickness, give me health
Weakness, strength, I won't complain.
Come what may, I'll let it be.
What would you like done with me?

Give me wealth or poverty,
Give me rest or anguish fell,
Give me sadness, give me glee,
Give me heaven, give me hell.
Light of life, pray hear me tell
How I surrendered all for thee.
What would you like done with me?

If you will, teach me to pray.
If not, give me aridity.
From all good things your praise I'll say -
Or else give me sterility.
O thou sovereign majesty,
Peace I find alone in thee.
What would you like done with me?

Wisdom give me if you will,
Or if you choose, give igonorance.
Give me wealthy circumstance,
Or give me thirst and hunger still.
Give me Shade or light until
I'm tossed about unceasingly.
What would you like done with me?

If you command, at rest I lie,
For your love's sake I'll idle be.
Or if my my labor's your decree
Working hard I want to die.
Tell me, "Where I and how and why?"
Sweetest love, I ask of thee.
What would you like done with me?

Give Tabor or Calvary,
Desert or the fruitful earth.
Be I Job in his sad dearth
Or John at bosom sucking free.
Perhaps I'll flourish gracefully,
Or sterile stay, if such must be -
What would you like done with me?

Be I Joseph, cast in jail,
Or Joseph, lord of Egypt's shore,
Be I David, punished sore,
Or David, king whom all men hail.
Be I Jonah in the whale,
Or Jonah safe, miraculously
Wht would you lie done with me?

Be I silent, be I speaking,
Bearing fruit or bearing naught,
Let the Law show forth my fault,
Or Gospel soothe, if such you're seeking.
Be I gay, or by pain caught,
I only live when I'm with thee!
What would you like done with me?

For I live and come to be -
What would you like done with me?

3. ok, This is the poem I wrote imitating Teresa of Avila's poetry. While I did use her as a starting point, I still think it has a very "sarah" voice. This poem is a little more personal than most I write, so be kind!
Lord, I know your love is great,
and your teachings are right .
I’ve heard the message of salvation
and yet I am scared of night.
That eternal night,
when we all must die,
Why can’t we know what happens,
Why can’t You tell us, why?
And yet I still kneel and pray,
asking for your light.
Your hand comes down and comforts me,
makes everything allright.
But the dark of the night
Is not my greatest fear.
It’s that my fear of night
will take You far from here.
But my God, You never leave,
You’re always in my soul.
My light in dark,
My strength when weak
You never leave your goal.
So even in the darkest night,
I’ll look to You for light.
My light in dark,
My strength when weak,
In faith I’ll have no fright.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

We should definitely do this

Thanks to a link from the Shrine of the Holy Whapping (a fun blog run by some students from Notre Dame)

Our Lady of the Snows...no, she's not the patron saint of snow days

JMJ

Today (this morning to be more specific) is the memorial of the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major...also known as the Church of St. Mary of the Snows. According to tradition, the basilica is built on the Esquiline hill in Rome because of a miraculous snowfall on this date in the 300's.

Mass today was a good time (as always...I mean, it doesn't get better than Mass this side of Heaven, right?). Some thoughts from the homily:

Satan conforms his temptations to the person he's tempting. He tries to hit us where we're week, like he hit Eve in the garden of Eden. While the original sin was primarily an act of disobedience, gluttony was also a factor. The apple was "pleasing to the eyes." This is why it makes so much sense that gluttony is tied into so many other vices like lust and sloth (I thought that was interesting). Jesus (the new Adam) was our redeemer and He chose to come through us through Mary (the new Eve). We should approach Mary as the mediatrix of grace to gain strength to overcome our temptations that the head of the serpent might be finally crushed and the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph.