Free for All: The Myth of Catholic Support for Open Borders

Posted in Uncategorized on February 24, 2013 by frflux

Many of you may know that I have a passion for helping people understand the Catholic position on immigration rights, immigration enforcement, and immigration reform.  I place importance on this, not because I think it should overshadow our teaching on life, marriage and family, and the proper and necessary need to aid the poor in this life – nor does the Church at any level either local or international – but because it is a Church teaching that is under attack.  I stand up for Church teaching as should all Catholics.

The myth here is stated like this:  The Catholic Church (usually you can add some angry epithet about “corrupt” or “clueless” US Bishops) does not understand the real situation surrounding immigration.  The Church just wants to open the borders and let everyone in.  Additional statements tend to be along the lines of:  The Church wants to let in more Hispanics so that it can keep its numbers up in the US.

Now, I cannot possibly spell out all of Church teaching on this subject, because it is not as cut and dry and obvious as some other obvious truths of Church teaching (a human being has dignity and the right to life as soon as he/she comes into existence at conception, that marriage is between one man and one woman is written into the human body and the structure of the human race, it is an evil that anyone would starve in a world of so much abundance, etc.).  So, I’ll link you here:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/.  I particularly invite you to click on the “Frequently Asked Questions about Comprehensive Immigration Reform” to read up on what the Church is actually saying.  Again, while I cannot cover all the bases here, I’ll list a few of the most important points.

The Right to Migrate

That’s right, I said RIGHT to migrate.  Actually, I didn’t say it, Pope Pius XII did in his apostolic constitution Exsul Familia who drew from Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum which stated that people have the right to work to survive and support a family.  Subsequent popes took these ideas and expanded them as the situation of migration around the world continued to develop.  Now, this being said, the US Bishops follow the lead of our last 10 popes in asserting that all human beings have the right to find meaningful, life-sustaining, family-supporting work in their home countries.  Nations have a responsibility to work to assure this right.  However, when that right is not met, a person has the right to migrate to find opportunities (note this is opportunities to earn a living by work and contribution to the nation in which they find themselves).  The much beloved Blessed Pope John Paul II in his Post-Synodal document Ecclesia in America affirms the statement of the Synod Bishops of that gathering on the Church in the Americas in this bold statement:  “The Church in America must be a vigilant advocate, defending against any unjust restriction the natural right of individual persons to move freely within their own nation and from one nation to another. Attention must be called to the rights of migrants and their families and to respect for their human dignity, even in cases of non-legal immigration.”

The Right of Nations to Secure their Borders

Here again I (or rather the leaders of our Church) say RIGHT.  A nation necessarily has the right to secure its borders and regulate the traffic across those borders.  The truth of this is evident, and the Church does not deny it.  Neither do the US Bishops if you take the time to actually see what they are teaching.

The Balance Between Sovereignty and Solidarity

Lost in the political barrage of our current situation is the truth that there actually can be a way to balance the needs of the United States and the needs of those in the new immigration.  There are millions suffering a lack of ability to work and support their families. They come here to work (and I ask you to take an honest look at the statistics and facts on the US Bishop’s website on this point).  They do not leech our resources, because they do not have access to most of them.  Immigrants – those who followed the legal process and those in violation of US law alike – pay taxes on the money they make, or on the purchases they make, or on the property they own.  They support the economy and add to the richness of our communities.  We can find a way to honor their contribution, respect their rights, and have secure borders and the rule of law.  We CAN do it, and that is what the Bishops (and our Popes) have been preaching for a very long time.  Isn’t it time for all Catholics to listen?

Catholics behaving badly

This section is simple, don’t be one of those sowers of malcontent.  Our Bishops have a very balanced, rational, and honest view on this issue.  Do not let political bickering form your moral compass.  It will lead you down an unholy road.  The two major political parties are in disagreement with the Catholic Church on this topic, but my question to you is:  Who are you going to believe?  The Church guided by the Holy Spirit, or politicians looking for points among a bewildered constituency?  Read the issue, pray about it, and then be honest with yourself.  This is not a question of what is comfortable, this is a question of God-given rights.  Make the right choice.

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The Dark Ages: The Myth of Catholic Anti-Intellectualism

Posted in Catechetical on January 27, 2013 by frflux

The usual formulation of this myth is that the Church stands in the way of scientific discovery, or even free thought, because of her stubborn dogmatism and reliance on superstition and stale tradition.  Let’s ignore for right now the rather unscientific nature of these character statements against the Church and against such eminently human notions as belief and tradition which dismiss them as simple follies unworthy of thought or consideration.  We will turn to the overwhelming evidence that the Church, far from opposing learning and human progress, has been the most active agent of both in Western Civilization’s history.

Western Education is a gift of the Church

There is a horribly false conception of the Middle Ages that names them the “Dark Ages.”  The implication is that there was no learning, only darkness in the field of human knowledge during the Middle Ages.  There is some historical basis for this false claim.  The beginning of the Middle Ages saw the aftermath of the widespread “barbarian” invasions and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.  There was widespread overturn of political and social structures.  There was the rise of Islamic tribes causing wars on the borders of what used to be the old Empire.  In the late Middle Ages Europe was ravaged by war, famine, and of course plague.  All of these lead to the characterization of the times as the Dark Ages.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Through renewed medieval scholarship, we know that there was a great deal of learning in Europe, especially (though not remotely exclusively) in the so-called High Middle Ages.  The University System thrived as the Church worked with the governments of the continent to arrange centers of learning.  Advances in art and architecture did not just erupt into Europe during the Renaissance, but rather started during the Middle Ages.  Many of these caricatures of the Middle Ages actually stem from the Renaissance and the Enlightenment  when the scholars of those ages wanted to distinguish themselves from Middle Age scholarship.  The distrust of faith can find its roots here.

Learning, scholarship, writing systems, record taking, the recovery and proliferation of classic and new literature, are the gifts of the Church and the state working together to created a renewed atmosphere of thought and civilization.  Great works of ancient philosophy and literature were recovered in the Universities (thanks in large part to the Arabs who preserved the works in their scholarship, and the learned church scholars who studied their works).  The Scholastics used reason, empiricism, and study to study the human person, recognizing the wisdom of ancient empiricists that we can see the truth in the world around us.  Science, under the support of the Church, researched optics, astronomy, mathematics, aesthetics, biology, ethics, philosophy, and a host of other disciplines.  When the the horrors of the black plague halted the great scientific feats of the High and Late Middle Ages, the Renaissance  picked up the pieces using ancient, and Medieval scholarship.

Great Church Scholars

I would like to include a short list of great scholars who were also faithful Catholics who have contributed to the corpus of scientific learning.  Nicolaus Copernicus, a Catholic clergyman and, might I add, a man from what is now Poland, developed the first systematic heliocentric theory, meaning the first theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun.  Later, Galileo met with different reception, but the Church’s response to him has also been caricatured, and you can Google that to your hearts content.  Gregor Mendel was an Augustinian friar who is credited with being the father of the field of genetics.  Albert of Saxony was a philosopher and contributor to the study of physics who helped found the University of Vienna and was later named Bishop of Hildesheim.  Roger Bacon was a Franciscan friar of the Middle Ages who worked with optics and math and contributed to modern scientific method.  Pope Sylvester II promoted the rediscovery of the Arabic systems of mathematics and astronomy.  There are too many to list, but I’ll offer you this:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_Catholic_cleric%E2%80%93scientists.

The Current Myth

Every time you hear about how the Church is opposed to science, I want you to ask yourself what is the basis of the claim.  It is usually a faulty premise that causes the false accusation.  I read an article recently about how the Church is opposed to the “pro-life” procedure of in vitro fertilization.  The problem here is not that the Church is contradicting itself by not wanted new babies in the world from families that are having trouble conceiving, the problem is that the premise ignores the conceived humans that are put on ice or discarded as a result of the procedure that make it monstrously not pro-life.  When we are accused of not caring about AIDS patients because we oppose the use of condoms, this premise ignores all of the research being done for a cure to AIDS in Catholic scientific circles (and really ignores the fact that there are Catholic scientific circles) and ignores the data that condoms have not stemmed the tide of HIV/AIDS or all of the other STDs out there.

Natural Law

The Catholic Church believes in what we call Natural Law.  This is to say, that we believe that they way things are tell us about us and the world.  We believe in empirical reasoning, the basis of scientific enterprise.  What we see, touch, taste, hear, and feel matter.  Empiricism and Catholicism go hand-in-hand.  Therefore, we must be able to interact with science and reason because we explore our faith through this lens.

Faith Seeking Understanding

My last little word here is to quote a classical phrase attributed to St. Anselm and any number of saints and scholars:  “Fides quaerens intellectum.”  This idea of “faith seeking understanding” signifies that we start with faith, but then use the human tools at our disposal to deepen that faith.  We draw from reason, philosophy, science, literature, and culture.  We do not sit alone in a superstitious haze; at least, our Church does not.

Catholics behaving badly

I have come to believe that there is such a thing as a Catholic fundamentalist.  This is a person who is motivated by an artificial kind of certainty or a dogmatism without context.  This is the kind of person who will simply quote the Catechism to counter an argument without the sufficient connection to what was asked.  This is the person who will see every questioning, confused, or disagreeing person as an adversary.  This is not a small problem.  It is a horrible witness to the Christian life, to our faith, and to our Lord.  If we state that we believe in the truth of God, then why should we fear people who disagree?  Why should it irk us if people have opposing views.  My faith is based on God, not on others’ belief in God.  This position of Catholic fundamentalism is often touted as people staying “solid” or “undiluted” in their faith.  The pursuit becomes less about faith, and more about winning arguments or maintaining a false integrity of belief.

Another incarnation of this problem is the Catholic who has made up his/her mind about what it is to be Catholic, either by rejecting anything that smacks of “modernity” or by rejecting anything that smacks of “dogma”.  One rejects reasonable and holy developments in the Church’s expression of the faith we have received from Christ, the other rejects the truth that we are recipients of the faith and not its author.  The truth is in the tension of the two.  We have received the faith, it is a gift from God and it is not ours to mess with, but we have been given our reason as well and must use it to explore our faith.  Examples of this can be seen in Catholics who read the bible like evangelicals more than like Catholics, rejecting orthodox scriptural scholarship and ignoring even the most “solid” of sources – say the Popes and the Doctors of the Church; or in people who say we should scrap the liturgy and start over again to make it more “relevant” to today, forgetting that the Liturgy belongs to God and the Church, not to the individual.

May we thank God that our Church can pull from all sources of truth, including the incredible tools of the scientific disciplines, all the while keeping its soul and benefiting both the world of faith and the world of science in the process.  May we always be people of faith seeking understanding, for the good of God’s people and the whole human family.

The Word Became Flesh: The Myth of Catholic Biblical Illiteracy

Posted in Catechetical on October 17, 2012 by frflux

The myth is stated simply:  “You Catholics don’t read the bible.”  The myth is also prevalent in its extended form:  “Your religion and its practices are not scripturally based.”  Now, there is an obvious hint of truth, in part, to the first statement, but I will reserve that for the end of the post.  First, it would be best to show what the Catholic Church actually believes, and what it actually is.

Scripturally Based

This phrase is the most important to clarify, as it is the foundation of all misconceptions and of many conflicts among the Church and other Christian communities.  Is the Catholic Church based on scripture?  Many of you may have been asked these types of questions.  When you are asked about sacraments, or devotional practices, or even fundamental theology, the question usually becomes, “Where do you find that in the bible?”  At this point, these conversations usually degrade into bickering, because the Catholics have been taught where we find biblical “proof” of this sacrament or practice, and the others (usually Protestants, although it is sometimes agnostics or atheists who find it fun to read the bible to look for ammunition) have been taught their responses, and many are used to finding their own interpretation of the scriptures and locking in on it.  Not only are these conversations not fruitful, they are the wrong conversations.  Whenever I get one of those questions, I usually do give a quote or two to satisfy the chapter-and-verse-need of my brother or sister, but then I try and turn the conversation to where it will actually find some traction, “Where did the Bible come from?”

Now, while I did use a preposition at the end of a sentence, the question serves well.  Once we can get into a discussion of the history of Sacred Scripture, then we can get into an actual discussion of “why Catholics do that.”  This is because the history of Scripture and the history of the Church are the same thing.  The Church is scripturally based and the Scriptures are ecclesially based (meaning based on the church, the ecclesia).

Jesus, the Son of God, the Word of God, “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).  Jesus is the complete revelation of God.  All that God is, all that we are in God, all that God has planned for the world, all the knowledge and wisdom of God, in fact, God himself became incarnate as the man Jesus of Nazareth.  The divine was born into humanity, and the being that was and remains “true God,” became and remains “true man.”  This is the only reason that any Christian community would be able to declare some authority in the Word of God.  It is only because the Word of God chose to dwell among us.

But how do we get from there to a Bible?  This is the key point.  Jesus did not sit down and write all 27 books/letters/missives/sermons of the New Testament.  In fact, there is no extant writing of Jesus (despite what Dan Brown might say).  So where did this New Testament come from?  Let’s look at the Gospels first.  “What the Apostles preached in fulfillment of the commission of Christ, afterwards they themselves and apostolic men, under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, handed on to us in writing: the foundation of faith, namely, the fourfold Gospel, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John” (Dei Verbum, 18).  The majority of the works in the New Testament are letters of St. Paul, named Apostle by Jesus after his Resurrection.  There are other letters from Apostles as well.  The point here is that the New Testament is an apostolic record of the first century after the passion and resurrection of the Lord.  Why is this important?  It is because these works did not get written until after the Lord called his Apostles, gathered the people to himself, died for us on the Cross, rose from the dead, empowered his Apostles to lead his Church and bring in new members (Mt. 28:16-20), and ascended to His Father, thus sending the Holy Spirit.  In short, these works were written by a Church that was already founded on the Apostles and living in the Holy Spirit (who in fact inspired the works themselves).  Without a Church alive in the Holy Spirit, we would not have the story of the Church, we would not have the New Testament writings.  The Bible is ecclesially based.  The Church, the ecclesia, however must never forget her roots as she continues the Tradition passed down from the Apostles by forgetting the importance of the Scriptures.  Therefore, “She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles.”  So, because the Scriptures are the Apostolic record (the most ancient in written form to survive), and the Church declares herself Apostolic, then the Church is scripturally based.

Biblical Proofs

So, when you are asked for a biblical proof of something like, say, the sacrament of Reconciliation, you can indeed point people to such scriptural witness of the power of the Church to continue Jesus’ mission of forgiving sins (John 20:19-23) or to the scriptural exhortation to “confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16).  However, then, you should answer that before the Bible was put together in its current form (somewhere around the 4th and 5th Centuries – depending on which historian you believe), the practice of reconciliation was well underway.  It is not only attested in Scripture, but it is a teaching of Tradition.  “Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls” (Dei Verbum, 10).

This will not satisfy all people.  However, I for one cannot see an argument against Traditions that existed before the Bible, some before Paul wrote his first letter, or before Paul was even converted by Jesus to the Way.  If Scripture is true, Tradition is true, because they are inextricably linked.  If we trust that the Holy Spirit inspired the Scripture, then we must trust that the Holy Spirit inspired the Church, because faithful members of the Church wrote the New Testament.

The Church then cannot survive without Scripture.  This is why we read it at all our gatherings, every mass, baptism, wedding, funeral, praise and worship session, and prayer group.  It is present in our traditional prayers and in our novenas.  Scripture permeates the life of the Church just as the life of the Church permeates Scripture.  The Church is scripturally based and the Scripture is ecclesially based.

Catholics Behaving Badly

1.  Some make the myth a truth.  There are far too many Catholics who prove the first statement of this post correct.  Far too many Catholics don’t read the Bible on their own.  This is coupled sometimes with a lack of a prayer life in general, in which to incorporate a love of the Word of God.  If you are reading this, and this describes you in some part, don’t be embarrassed, but do be encouraged.  Just as the Church would never dream of trying to live without Scripture, we should never hope to have a true life with Christ without the inspired Word.  The quote attributed to St. Jerome I think speaks volumes here, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  Read the Scripture, do not fear, you will find joy there.  If you need a place to start, read the Gospel of Mark.  It is the shortest Gospel, the most to the point, and it will lead you through familiar happenings in Christ’s life.  This will let you get in the rhythm while staying encourged.  Pick a time to pray, and read chapter, read from bold section heading to bold section heading, just read some of it.  Pray first, and pray afterwards.  Just ask the Holy Spirit to be with you that you may be filled with the power of the Word.  And there you have it, you will be a reader of God’s Word.

2.  Catholic fundamentalism.  There are those, usually among the apologetics crowd that want to reduce all of Church history into a quote from the Bible or the Catechism.  This cannot be done.  We are not “proof-texters.”  Earlier when I quoted John and the letter of James in pointing to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I was not implying that those two texts are why we believe in the Sacrament.  I was offering a point of departure for a discussion on the Sacrament that has a huge and beautiful history.  To boil it down to a quote, is to do it injustice.  So, don’t be fundamentalists who live their lives between the pages.  Let the words from the Bible or Catechism or Vatican II document come alive for you, and for those to whom you speak.  Make the connections in history, pastoral practice, personal experience, and trust the Church.  We do not have to defend the dignity of the Church with anger and pettiness, we do it by loving her and trusting her, she who is built on Scripture and Tradition.

Hail Mary: The Myth of Catholic Saint-Worship

Posted in Catechetical on October 14, 2012 by frflux

I was not going to do a post on this topic, because I think most of the people reading this blog are Catholic or Catholic-friendly and really do understand what our devotions, statues, and novenas to saints, including our Blessed Mother, are all about.  However, then I saw this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrPrbdonJ68

which both disturbed me and made me laugh (mostly because that “Mary” statue he is breaking is actually a statue of St. Therese of Lisieux – http://eastersbooks.com/product.php?productid=17).  Because of my confusing feelings about the video, you all get to read this post!

The myth is usually stated through questions along the lines of:  “I don’t know why you Catholics all pray to saints?” or “Why can’t you just pray directly to Jesus who is the only mediator between God and man?” or “Why are you always worshiping idols?”   These are all myths because each of them asks us why we do something that we in fact do not do.

1.  Prayer and the problem of semantics

One big misunderstanding comes in the use of the world “pray.”  This word means to “ask earnestly, beg.”  Over time, in the west, the word has taken on a much narrower meaning and has become a world almost exclusively used with heavenly connotations.  However, in English literature, not that far removed from our contemporary times, phrases such as “I pray you” can be found.  This signified that one person was making a fervent request of another person.  It is a stronger word than casually asking for something, but it is on that same order.  Now, if one has decided to only use that word for asking something of God, then to say we pray to saints would definitely cause distress.  Saints are, of course, not God.  Mary herself would agree!  So, recently Catholics have taken to saying we ask for the prayers of the saints, who are at the feet of our God, to eliminate any semantic scares.  However, saying we pray to our saints, meaning we ask them earnestly for their intercession, is indeed true when the word is understood in its proper sense.  The myth is that we put the saints on the same level as the eternal and triune God.  We would never do that, as it would violate the dignity of God and of the saints.  As we shall see next.

2.  God is God, humans are humans, but both can exist in eternity

God is the eternal immutable, divine being.   He is the only one to whom worship may be given.  This is fundamental Catholic theology. It is clear from all our early documents (we’re talking 1st and 2nd Century here), and every major writing, teaching, and compilation of law, theology, and devotion since.  It is apparent when reading Catholic thought, that only God should or even can be worshiped.  Anything outside this principle is false, useless drivel.  I have free will and may try to worship Mary of Nazareth if I wish, but it will be in vain.  Why, because humans are humans.  We are God’s creations.  Beloved as we are by our Lord, we are only creatures.  We do however get to exist in God’s eternity.  We are not eternal, only immortal (by God’s grace).  We have a beginning in time, God does not.  However, we – if are graced with salvation in Christ – can join God in his eternity.  Each of God’s people who joins him in eternity is part of what Catholics call the Communion of Saints.  I can quote the bible until I’m blue in the fingers on scriptural “proofs” that this exists (Heb. 12:1; pretty much the entire book of Revelations; the Transfiguration appearance by those long dead; the intercession of angels in books like Tobit and Daniel; and some fun from Maccabees if you are into that sort of thing!), but honestly, I don’t have to.  The obsession with being angry at Catholics asking saints for intercessory prayer is a very recent phenomenon (at least in its current incarnation), recent in a 2000 year Christian history.  The proper practice of asking saints for their prayers is seen in the lives of the Apostles who asked others to pray for them and likewise prayer for others.  It is common sense to ask others to pray for us.  If the Christian Church has believed for most of its existence that the dead are still able to pray for us, then it is also common sense to ask them to do so.

3.  It’s a statue, not an idol.

Images of the Lord are not an issue.  We can attribute this fact to one simple truth.  God became man.  The immutable, ineffable God became incarnate in the flesh.  Jesus has (notice that is present tense) a face, hands and feet, hair, and (I’m assuming) a beard.  He is visible as one with a body.  The Second Person of the Trinity is forever God and man since the day of the Incarnation.  Therefore, physical connection to God is appropriate and can be holy.  The extension of this is images of saints and important moments in our faith-history.  Please know that I am glossing over so very many steps in this defense of these Catholic practices, mostly because I think this conversation has been beaten to death and it’s time to move on.  However, one thing must be clear.  Images are images, nothing more and nothing less.  They point to a reality beyond themselves, but are themselves not the reality to which they point.  So, when the good pastor in the video posted above starts striking poor Mary/Therese on the head, shattering it all over the meeting hall floor, Mary/Theresa felt nothing in heaven.  It did not damage their dignity.  It did however mistakenly assault the sensibilities of all of us who love Mary and the Little Flower, and don’t want to see their images disrespected.  If I took a picture of that pastor’s sister, and I started poking holes in the eyes of the image with pencil, started chopping off the arms and legs and then burned the thing, it would not hurt his sister physically or metaphysically at all.  The image is an image, but it would certainly, rightly, anger the good pastor.  Also, the pastor does not mistake the picture of his sister for his sister, but he probably would look at the picture and maybe say some nice things “to” his sister, make a prayer for her, or be reminded of some very deep feelings he has for/about/toward her.  So, long story way too short.  We don’t worship statues, period.  Anyone who says we do as a Church, has been listening to lies and propaganda held over from wars that tragically occurred nearly 500 years ago.  It is time to move on.

Catholics behaving badly:

In an attempt to move on however, we Catholics have to STOP certain practices that do indeed violate the dignity of our saintly brothers and sisters.  I am referring to the pseudo-magical practices that do sometimes creep into our devotional lives.  I shall name three to make my point.

a.  Choking St. Anthony.  The little statue of St. Anthony that you keep on your desk is to remind you of the saint and to give you a focus for when you ask him for intercession.  So, when you lose something, it is a violation of the dignity of St. Anthony of Padua – who is not his statue – to tie string around his neck and “choke” him into submission until you find what you’ve lost.  First, it’s not his fault you lost it.  Second, that’s just a statue.  Thirdly, how do we think it is okay to try and force the prayers of our saints?  They pray for us because they love us, not because of some abusive relationship.

b.  Burying St. Joseph.  I know I will be getting flack for this one, but my friends, please stop planting the foster father of Jesus in your front yards.  This is the practice of magic, not devotion.  Would it not be better to put the statue of the patron of families on a stand by your front door, or on your kitchen table, when you are trying to sell your house?  That way the statue reminds you to pray, and to ask St. Joseph for his prayers.  Planting a statue does nothing but maybe toxify your lawn with lead paint from China.  Devotion involves prayer, and often physical expression, but never coercion of a saint’s prayers.  Just like above, the saints are praying for us, there is no need to try and force their hand.

c.  Signal graces.  When we pray to God, do we expect him to answer us exactly as we want him to?  When we ask our family for their prayers, do we expect them to follow a specific schedule?  No, neither of these is rational.  So, when we ask St. Therese of Lisieux for her prayers, why do we expect to get a certain color rose on a certain day to signify that she is manning her post?  This is only one step away from choking or burying her image (anyone got a hammer?).

Please Catholics, we are incarnational people, so we connect physically to our God and to our loved ones in heaven, but do we have to go so far off kilter?  Think about the devotions that you come across.  Martin Luther was not wrong about opposing the selling of indulgences.  The bishops are not wrong in suppressing some devotions that seem more magical than mystical.  Don’t add to the confusion of our Protestant brothers and sisters by doing what we must never do.  God is God, humans are humans, and statues are statues.

You tell me!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 12, 2012 by frflux

I want to do a series for the Year of Faith where we can expound on “Catholic Myths” (meaning things that are mistakenly believed about the Catholic Faith).  I have a list I want to start with, but I also want to know what you all think would be good to talk about.  Leave your ideas in the comment section below.

How to change my headlights in 5 easy steps…

Posted in Whimsical on July 15, 2012 by frflux

Step one:  Purchase headlights

Step two:  Start removing most of the front end of my car (because the Chevy engineers no longer think giving a little space to maneuver in there is a good idea).

Step three:  Get almost done and find out that the blessed engineers decided to put a nut on the opposite side of the screw you are trying to take out, not mention the nut in the manual, and put the nut in a place that is impossible for mere mortals to get out with out a professional lift (like the ones in say the dealership’s repair shop).

Step four:  Get frustrated, start slamming back together all the front end you just took off, shower, and go pray before mass so you don’t go in angry to the Holy Sacrifice.

Step five:  Drive with high-beams on so you don’t get a ticket, making all other drivers angry, until you can find the time to take your car into the shop where they will spend 15 minutes and charge me $100.

Thanks Chevy!

P.S. – I normally don’t like the venting online, but the five-step idea popped into my head and I could not help myself!  🙂  Rant ended.

Communion in the 2nd Century

Posted in Theological on April 22, 2012 by frflux
This morning’s Office of Readings offers a beautiful reflection from a great saint, a picture of an early 2nd Century understanding of what communion means, and an image of Mass as it was developing very early on in our Church’s history.

 

From St. Justin Martyr’s First Apology:

 

No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.
  We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Saviour became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.
  The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
  On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.
  On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.
  The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.
  We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our saviour Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.