Monday, December 8, 2014

The Immaculate Conception

Have a great Advent.  Don't forget today is a Holy Day of Obligation--The Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  All practicing Catholics should be going to Mass today.  God bless.


Here is a copy of the article I wrote for the Cathapol blog for the series on what Catholics believe: The Immaculate Conception.  I thought it appropriate to publish today.

"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."   [Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (or Apostolic Constitution on the Immaculate Conception)]
While the Immaculate Conception is a Catholic Dogma, most people, Catholic and non-Catholic, have no idea what it means.  For someone who has studied Catholic theology, the above statement is a pretty good description of the dogma.  Mary was given special grace because of her Son.  I really like the way Bishop Venerable Fulton Sheen said:
“Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting....Would you have made her exteriorly and interiorly of such a character as to make you ashamed of her? Or would you have made her, so far as human beauty goes; the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you but even to your fellow men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood?

"Now if you who are an imperfect being and who have not the most delicate conception of all that is fine in life would have wished for the loveliest of mothers, do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother?... Do you think that the Son of God, who hates sin, would have made His own mother sinless and He who hates moral ugliness would have made her immaculately beautiful?"  [Quote from here.  Likely from Venerable Fulton Sheen's book Mary, the Woman the World Loves, the blog does not cite the source]
This is the special gift God gave to Mary.  He created her as the perfect specimen of a woman and mother.  Mary was created as the person He meant Adam and Eve to be, but they disappointed Him.  Mary would be the pride in contrast to His disappointment.

To hopefully make it a little easier to understand here are ten facts on the Immaculate Conception:

1)  The Immaculate Conception refers to the special grace given by God to Mary at her conception.  It does not refer to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.  However, this grace was given to her because of and for her Son, Jesus Christ.

2) The Church does not teach that Mary's Immaculate Conception was necessary to ensure that Original sin would not be passed on to Christ.  This was never a part of the teaching on the Immaculate Conception (despite what some sites on the internet purporting to explain the Immaculate Conception).  The Immaculate Conception was an unmerited gift given to Mary in anticipation of Jesus' redemption of man and God's knowledge of Mary's "yes" to His plan. 

In the Immaculate Conception, therefore, God made a fitting or suitable dwelling place for His Son, Jesus, not out of necessity but out of love.
For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin.  In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness. (Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus)

3) Gabriel addressed Mary: "Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee." (Luke 1:28).  She was filled with grace.  In Catholic parlance, this means that Mary was filled up with God's very life.  If she is filled with God's life or the Holy Spirit, there was no room for sin of any kind.

4) Mary's Immaculate Conception does not mean that she was divinely conceived.  St. Anna and St. Joachim are, traditionally, the names of Mary's parents; her conception was a human one.  She was, however, untouched by Original Sin.  Therefore, Mary remained sinless.

5) The Immaculate Conception is symbolic of the Immaculate bride of Christ (His Church) awaiting her Bridegroom.

"...the faithful, living in the liturgy the spirit of Advent, by thinking about the inexpressible love with which the Virgin Mother awaited her Son, are invited to take her as a model and to prepare themselves to meet the Savior who is to come. They must be "vigilant in prayer and joyful in...praise."(15) We would also remark that the Advent liturgy, by linking the awaiting of the Messiah and the awaiting of the glorious return of Christ with the admirable commemoration of His Mother, presents a happy balance in worship. This balance can be taken as a norm for preventing any tendency (as has happened at times in certain forms of popular piety) to separate devotion to the Blessed Virgin from its necessary point of reference-Christ."  [Marialus Cultus, 4]

6) The Immaculate Mary was prefigured by immaculate Eve.  Eve was created immaculate--without Original Sin.  Mary was conceived without sin.  Eve fell from grace and brought sin into the world.  Mary remained "Full of grace" and brought salvation, her Son Jesus Christ, to the world.
"As St. Irenaeus says, "Being obedient she became the cause of salvaton for herself and for the whole human race." Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert..."The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith." Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the Mother of the living" and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life through Mary."  (CCC 494)
So, Mary is called the new Eve and the mother of us all because her Son would be the new Adam and save the world from the sin of Adam.


7) Mary is the Immaculate Ark (and queen) seen in John's vision.  "Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant could be seen in the temple." (Revelation 11:19)



The Ark in the Old Testament
The New Ark -- Mary
Immaculate vessel made to God’s specifications (Ex. 25:10-22)
Immaculate vessel conceived to God’s  specifications (Luke 1:28)
Contained the Rod of Aaron (Num. 17:25; Heb. 9:4)
Bore the Rod of Jesse—Jesus (Isa 11:1;
Contained the manna from Heaven (Ex. 16: 32-33; Heb. 9:4)
Bore the manna from heaven (John 6:32, 48-51, 58)
Contained the Ten Commandments made of stone (Ex. 25: 21; Heb. 9:4)
Bore the Law made flesh (John 1:1-5)
Watched over by angels (Ex. 25:18-20)
Watched over by angels (Luke 1:26)
Covered by the Holy Spirit (Ex. 40:34-38;  Num. 9: 18-23)
Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35)
Used in the battle (Josh. 6:3,4)
Used in the heavenly battle (Rev. 11:19)


8) The original "Immaculate Conception", the Holy Spirit, is her heavenly Spouse.  Joseph became her worldly spouse and protector on earth.
 "Among creatures made in God's image, the union brought about by married love is the most intimate of all. In a much more precise, more interior, more essential manner, the Holy Spirit lives in the soul of the Immaculata, in the depths of her very being." (St. Maximilian Kolbe, Final Sketch, source)
"...the Holy Spirit manifests his share in the work of Redemption through the Immaculate Virgin who, although she is a person entirely distinct from him, is so intimately associated with him that our minds cannot understand it. So, while their union is not of the same order as the hypostatic union linking the human and divine natures in Christ, it remains true to say that Mary's action is the very action of the Holy Spirit. For Mary as the spouse of the Holy Spirit is raised to such a height of perfection above all other creatures that she accomplishes in everything the will of the Holy Spirit who dwelt in her from the first instant of her conception. " (St. Maximilian Kolbe, Final Sketch, source)

9) The most well known Protestant "reformer", Martin Luther, believed in Mary's Immaculate Conception.  Even after he split from the Church and many of her centuries old doctrines, he did not waiver on this one:
"... so that while the soul was being infused, she would at the same time be cleansed from original sin ... And thus, in the very moment in which she began to live, she was without all sin." (Martin Luther's Works, vol 4, pg 694)

"God has formed the soul and body of the Virgin Mary full of the Holy Spirit, so that she is without all sins, " (ibid. vol 52, pg 39)
". . . she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin. . . . God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. . . . God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her." (Ref: Luther's Works, American edition, vol. 43, p. 40, ed. H. Lehmann, Fortress, 1968)  [Source of quotes here]
10) The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8th.  It is a holy day of obligation.  This means that it is the duty of every Catholic to attend Mass on that day.  We remember what Christ did for His mother and how His mother was a willing participant in God's plan of salvation.  In this way, we honor Christ through Mary. 


“Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting. Furthermore, suppose that you had the infinite power to make your mother anything that you pleased, just as a great artist like Raphael has the power of realizing his artistic ideas. Suppose you had this double power, what kind of mother would you have made for yourself? Would you have made her of such a type that would make you blush because of her unwomanly and un-mother-like actions? Would you have made her exteriorly and interiorly of such a character as to make you ashamed of her? Or would you have made her, so far as human beauty goes; the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you but even to your fellow men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood?
Now if you who are an imperfect being and who have not the most delicate conception of all that is fine in life would have wished for the loveliest of mothers, do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother? If you who hate selfishness would have made her selfless and you who hate ugliness would have made her beautiful, do you not think that the Son of God, who hates sin, would have made His own mother sinless and He who hates moral ugliness would have made her immaculately beautiful?”
- See more at: http://fallibleblogma.com/index.php/quote-of-the-day-immaculate-conception-fulton-sheen/#sthash.137WfvUI.dpuf
“Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting. Furthermore, suppose that you had the infinite power to make your mother anything that you pleased, just as a great artist like Raphael has the power of realizing his artistic ideas. Suppose you had this double power, what kind of mother would you have made for yourself? Would you have made her of such a type that would make you blush because of her unwomanly and un-mother-like actions? Would you have made her exteriorly and interiorly of such a character as to make you ashamed of her? Or would you have made her, so far as human beauty goes; the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you but even to your fellow men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood?
Now if you who are an imperfect being and who have not the most delicate conception of all that is fine in life would have wished for the loveliest of mothers, do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother? If you who hate selfishness would have made her selfless and you who hate ugliness would have made her beautiful, do you not think that the Son of God, who hates sin, would have made His own mother sinless and He who hates moral ugliness would have made her immaculately beautiful?”
- See more at: http://fallibleblogma.com/index.php/quote-of-the-day-immaculate-conception-fulton-sheen/#sthash.137WfvUI.dpuf
More reading:
Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854.
Pope Saint John Paul II, Marialis Cultus, February 2, 1972.
Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent--Happy New Year to the Church

http://jesuitinstitute.org/Pictures/AdventAnimWreath1.gif




Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  This marks the first day of the Church's liturgical year.  It is both exciting and a little terrifying.  It is a wonderful, joyful time of the year in anticipation of Christ's coming (and coming again).  However, it means that once again I am way behind the eight ball in planning for Christmas.  But, I always have a good time this time of the year because of my five kids.  They are really the joys of my life.

We mark each Sunday before Christmas with a candle.  The color purple symbolizes prayer, penance, and doing good works in the time of preparation. Pink or Rose is for Gaudette (or joyful) Sunday.  Two weeks of Advent are already complete and Christ's arrival is imminent.  The evergreen wreath is a symbol of everlasting life (the evergreen boughs) and eternity (the circle).

This week's readings:

You, Lord, are our Father,
our redeemer You are named forever.
Why do You let us wander, O Lord, from Your ways
and harden our hearts so that we fear You not?
Return for the sake of Your servants,
the tribes of Your heritage.
Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before You,
while You wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but You
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that You might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of You in our ways!
Behold, You are angry, and we are sinful
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags,
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon Your Name,
who rouses himself to cling to You,
for You have hidden Your face from us
and have delivered us up in our guilt.
Yet, O Lord, You are our Father'
we are the clay and You the Potter:
we are all the work of Your hands.
(Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7)

Lord, make us turn to You; let us see Your face and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
From Your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse Your power, and come to save us.

Lord, make us turn to You; let us see Your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O Lord of Hosts,
look down from heaven and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what Your right hand has planted,
the son of man whom You Yourself made strong.

Lord, make us turn to You; let us see Your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of Your right hand,
with the son of man whom You Yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from You;
give us new life, and we will call upon Your Name.

Lord, make us turn to You; let us see Your face and we shall be saved.
(Psalm 80:2-3; 15-16, 18-19)

Brothers and Sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always on Your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in Him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, and by Him you were called to fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(I Corinthians 1:3-9)

Jesus said to His disciples:  "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.  It is like a man traveling abroad.  He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

"Watch, therefore, you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.  May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all:  Watch!"
(Mark 13:33-37)

May the Lord find us waiting and watching.  God bless you all at Advent.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween is a Catholic Holiday

All Hallow's Eve, now called Halloween, is the eve of All Saints' Day, a day formerly a holy day of obligation.  Like all holy days the eve or vigil Mass became a celebration in itself.  So, Halloween grew into parties and celebrations, and eventually trick or treating, bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving, and lots of punch and candy.  Halloween was never a pagan holiday.  Though the trappings are there, the costumes, the tricks, the candy, the haunted houses are just that--trappings.  They are mostly harmless and make fun of things we think we should be scared of.  However, it really is supposed to be a celebration of the lives of the saints.  Don't let any overly sensitive "Christian" or delusional pseudo-pagan talk you or your kids out of having fun.  Play with your kids, dress up like a kid, have fun like a kid--just for one night enjoy and celebrate.

Further reading and ideas:
http://catholicism.about.com/od/thecatholicfamily/p/Halloween.htm
http://www.americancatholic.org/features/default.aspx?id=23
http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/hallween.htm
http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/all-hallow-s-eve.html

Monday, October 27, 2014

Anti-Catholic Political Ads are Back in Style

In Washington state, the state I hesitate to say is where I was born and lived in until I was 24, the elections are being tainted by anti-Catholic bigotry.


I don't know anything about Mark Miloscia or his politics.  Obviously, from the above he must be Catholic.  But really, "he has best represented the people of The Vatican."  What is this the 17th century, when Catholics were not only not welcome in the Colonies but were actively blocked from participating in any type of politics and had few rights under the "law?."  Is this the 18th century, when the only state were there was actual freedom of religion-Maryland, which was founded by Catholics-was taken over by protestants and it became illegal to practice Catholicism in the open?  Is this the 19th, were Irish Catholic immigrants were indentured servants with no rights and no freedoms as citizens?  Is it the 20th century where the public was told a Catholic candidate (including John F. Kennedy) would mean the U.S.A. would become a vassal of the Vatican?  To think that our country had not evolved past such prejudices is almost unthinkable and bodes no good for the future of our country.

The website listed at the top of the cartoon goes to a webpage that lists all of Mr. Miloscia's "sins."  From what I can gather from this list, Mr. Miloscia voted his conscience.  For instance, he voted against forcing Catholic Charities to pay for voluntary abortions and forcing all insurance carriers to cover contraception.  He voted against same sex "marriage" and "domestic partner" "rights".  He voted for a tax on adult entertainment materials which the web page author calls a "sin tax" on "playboys and marital aids."  He voted against the "Death with Dignity Act" (which unfortunately passed) which gives terminally ill and elderly people the right to "choose their time of death" in other words, giving people the right to kill themselves if they are suffering.  All of these issues are morally repugnant and against Catholic teaching.  Instead of berating him for voting "Catholic" they should be applauding him for voting his conscience.  After all, that is what the other side says there doing.

The irony is that Mr. Miloscia was a Democrat but left the party over these very issues.   He became a Republican candidate to put forward a more conservative agenda than the Democrats are willing to hear.  Washington state has become a liberal bastion and an embarrassment to all moral thinking and acting voters.  If I still lived in Washington state, I'd feel very ashamed at this campaign.  Portraying a Catholic as a nut case and a vassal of the Vatican because he votes his conscience is barbaric and the epitome of the smear campaign.  None of the things listed in the anti-Catholic smear ad seem to be "sins" at all, let alone deal breakers as far as a politician should be concerned.  I pray that Mark Miloscia stands his ground and votes his conscience despite the smear campaign, despite pressure, and despite election.

Also ironic are all the inconsistencies on the website.  The website says that Miloscia voted against forcing pharmacies to provide emergency contraceptives, voted against forcing employers to carry insurance for contraception and abortions but then accuses him of lobbying for large pharmaceutical companies, because of campaign contributions.  Says he "lobbies for the Vatican" yet sets up a page pitting his alleged record against out-of-context quotes by the pope which appear to oppose Miloscia stand on the pet legislation.

Go here to read Miloscia's side of the campaign.

While Catholics are only about 7% of the population in the state in which I now reside, at least this type of campaign hasn't happened here--yet.  However, much of the nation saw the "Black Mass" debacle in Oklahoma City on the news.  At least only 42 people (reportedly) attended the performance (in an 80 seat auditorium)  that was pointedly done to ridicule a true Mass and the Catholic Church.  Our Archbishop stood up for Christ and got an legal injunction for the return of the supposedly blessed Host that was to be used that night.
 
One of the few prejudices that are still politically okay--Catholic bashing. But while I can understand why people who hold completely morally opposite views might attack a candidate like Mr. Miloscia, I don't understand why other Christians wouldn't speak out.   Catholic entities such as Catholic Charities and abbeys that refuse to pay for contraception and abortions on moral grounds are being attacked.  Many other Christian organizations don't believe that affects them.  How about the pastors in Texas?  Does the fact that the new, openly gay attorney general is ordering pastors, under threat of criminal prosecution, to turn over copies of all sermons that speak out against homosexuals in general or her in particular get anyone's attention?  Our country is slowly but surely turning into a country that no longer believes in freedom of religion or a right of any Christian to have his beliefs affect his public life and decisions.

[Note: The above cartoon, although it can be found elsewhere online, has been taken off the original website by the anonymous author at the request of the Democratic opposition]

Sources:
http://markmiloscia.info/?61c7072da23a83a1edcb624bae192ead
http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2014/10/27/anti-catholic-mockery-directed-at-miloscia-in-state-senate-race/


http://dailycaller.com/2014/10/25/republican-candidate-attacked-for-being-catholic/

This article is strictly the opinion of the post author--Cathmom5.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Syncretism and other nonsense.

We have a very interesting non-Catholic who has been commenting on Catholic Debate Forum accusing the Church of pagan roots. 

First, he said that the Church got its practice of eating fish on Friday from pagans who ate fish on Friday in honor of Freya.  Freya was a Scandinavian goddess that was never an influence on Christianity or its customs.  Beside the fact that the Scandinavian peoples ate fish on a regular basis, not just on Friday.  He also mentioned a couple of other gods who were supposedly honored by fish consumption.  Even if that were true, what has that to do with the Christian practice of eating fish on Fridays?  Nothing whatsoever.

The practice of the Catholic Church is to not eat meat on Fridays.  The Church observed this custom from early in its existence (its founding by Christ in the first century).  It is a custom in consideration of the poor.  The poor could rarely afford to eat meat.  European poor often ate bread, porridge, and vegetables on a regular basis.  If they were fortunate, they lived near rivers, the Mediterranean or other seas in which obtaining fish only cost time and ingenuity.

Fish became a customary alternative to meat not only because the poor usually ate fish, when they could afford it (usually much more often than they could afford meat), but fish was not considered to be meat.  Fish are cold blooded and that in itself made people think that their flesh was not the same as meat.

Another point about eating fish is that Jesus called His followers to be "fishers of men." Jesus chose Peter and Andrew, James and John to be apostles.  Both sets of brothers were fishermen by trade.  Thus, His call to be "fishers of men" was not lost on them.

And, the early church used the fish rather than the cross as a secret code that they were Christians.  The illustration above shows how the word fish in Greek can, ironically, be used as an acronym for Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior.  The early Christians saw this as an affirmation of their faith in Christ.

Colors of Mardi Gras
This silly person then tried again to link Catholicism with paganism by saying that "carnival/Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday" was another syncretism (which he erroneously considers the custom of eating fish on Friday to be) to make it "easier to join the Church."  It is quite obvious to anyone who actually knows anything about history that Mardi Gras comes from the Church's practice to rid their houses of any luxury food items such as meat, fats, sugar, eggs, milk, etc. the day before (thus fat Tuesday which is what mardi gras means in French, by the way) Ash Wednesday.  Thus, it was called Mardi Gras in French or Fat Tuesday in English, because they would consume all these items on that day.  It was the practice of many parts of the Church until modern times to not eat these items, including meat, for the entire 40 days of Lent.  They would then have a grand celebration on Easter Sunday with any of the items they could afford from which they had abstained during Lent.

Carnival actually comes from the Latin carne vale which is roughly translated "farewell to flesh" also has its roots in the Church celebration before Lent.  It is not a pagan custom adapted to Christian practice; it is quite the opposite.  The Christian practice was adapted and customized by the cultures (such as Rome) around the Church.  In Rio, carnivale has become a huge party with drinking and costumes.  Mardi Gras in New Orleans came there by the French and Spanish Catholics who settled there (also where the cajun language came from).  These customs has been taken too far in some places  and seriously misrepresent the Church's intent before the celebration of the holy days of Lent.  The roots of the celebration, wherever it is, came from the Church, not the other way around. The accusation that these customs have their roots in paganism or that the Church is pagan comes from ignorant anti-Catholics from the 19th century on that attempted and still attempt to discredit Christ's Church.

Even if this (mardi gras or eating fish) were syncretisms to "make it easier to join the Church" what would be the harm in that?  We should make it easy for those seeking the truth to embrace and love the Lord through the Church He Himself established.  We welcome one and all--the sinner as well as the saint.  Christ said that the physician is called to heal the sick.  What better nurse to the Great Physician than His Church?

By the way, the traditional colors of Mardi Gras represent justice (purple), faith (green), and power (gold).  Very Christian indeed.

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Son and The Music Man

Lately, life has been extremely busy and stressful.  I've had a few anxiety attacks in the last couple of weeks.  What with the doctor's appointments, the start of school, being buried under mounds of stuff, and trying to keep up with dance classes, boy and cub scouting, CAP, CWV, Kof C, etc., etc., etc., the stress is culminating in lack of sleep, stomach aches, forgetfulness, and higher blood pressure.

Tonight, however, I had a pleasant evening with my 15 year old son.  He wants to be an actor.  He is presently in competitive acting class at school, although he's already learned an adult lesson--sometimes even what you enjoy can become work.  He doesn't enjoy competitive drama as much as he loved his drama one class last year.  It was more like playing last year.  It is more like work this.  So, when my girlfriend couldn't go to the theater with me this evening, I took my son. 

Patrick Cassidy and Shirley Jones in The Music Man in Concert
What an enjoyable experience.  My son is a genuinely fun person to be around.  He is witty and fun, kind and good-natured.  We went to see The Music Man in Concert.  It stars Shirley Jones and her son, Patrick Cassidy.  If anyone reading this loves musical theater or movies and this comes to your town, go see it! 

My son had never been to the Oklahoma City Civic Center before.  He took in the experience like a true aspiring actor.  He studied the theater.  He enjoyed getting a treat (and sneaking it into the theater).  He enjoyed the wonderful seats we had.  Having grown up on musicals and being the same age as Patrick Cassidy, I had a whole different perspective on the concert.  But, my son's fresh eyes on The Music Man (he'd seen Matthew Broderick's movie version), enjoyed the songs very much.  His favorite song from the musical is Shapoopi.  What teenage boy's wouldn't be?  What teenage boy nowadays knows that song?  Sometimes having older parents can be an advantage.

Musical theater doesn't have the same impact it once had, but it sure can make for a nice break in a stressful world.  And, give a too-busy mom an opportunity to slow down and enjoy being with her son.  God has truly blessed me.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Unsure

Lately, I've been thinking about a friend of mine with whom I had a slight falling out.  I've known her since the fourth grade, but her family moved when we were in high school.  So, we've been in contact over the last 30 years or so through mail, phone calls, and the very rare visit.

Over the years she had not been interested in any particular church.  In fact, I had the feeling she did not go to any church or believe in any particular faith.  I, however, have always been open about my faith, but I have never pushed it on anyone else.  I try to live the Gospel and win others for Christ by example.

When my family and I moved to Oklahoma, it was the closest I have been to my friend, who lives in Kansas City, in many years.  I suspected that she was getting involved in some kind of church a few years ago when she called and asked me about a Catholic funeral she had gone to.  She asked about a prayer that many of the people in the church were praying.  After asking her a couple of questions, I understood the "prayer" in question was the Rosary.  The Rosary is actually a set of prayers for the meditation of the life of Christ and His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  There was no rudeness, no judgement--that would come later.


I invited her to a couple of my kids' First Communions--she made it to one.  It was a nice visit and I enjoyed answering any of her questions about it and the Church.  I wonder now if she was already involved in the "church" that has now turned her against her long time friend.  She seems to be convinced now that my soul is "in danger."  Supposedly the Holy Spirit came to her and told her to let me know I was in danger.

What I am unsure about is where to go from here.  I received several emails over the last several months with such ridiculousness like her asking about church authority and comparing Mormonism to Catholicism because Mormons use words such as bishop.  The fact that Mormonism isn't actually Christianity seems to be beyond the thought process of radically anti-Catholic "Christians."  Christianity is supposed to be about knowing, loving, and serving God.  The Church is the Body of Christ in which to do that.  We know God through Scripture and the Sacraments.  We love Him in receiving the Eucharist.  We serve Him by doing works of mercy, such as clothing the naked, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and the like.  We absolutely do these things for God, and not, as Mrs. Osteen so dramatically put her foot in her mouth about, for ourselves.  We do these things as offerings to God.

Now to have a long time friend sending me messages of condemnation and accusation was hurtful.  I did try to answer her questions as thoughtfully as possible.  I'd get back messages about how I was close minded.  Of course I'm close minded.  I made a long, thoughtful journey to the Church.  Why does a friend, who seems to have fallen in with a radically anti-Catholic "charismatic" church, think she knows better in a few months better than a 2,000 year old Church?  It is one thing about the Protestant "churches" I no longer understand.  The intolerance and lack of charity of these groups really floor me. 

When I did try to defend the Faith and answer her questions, I was told that I was being emotional and therefore deep down I must know I am wrong.  What?  Where did that come from?  Let me get this straight, if I am passionate about Christ, about His Church, and about my Faith, then I must be wrong?  I fail to see how that works.  It is circular reasoning to me.  On the one hand, protestant groups want one to be passionate and loud and outgoing about their faith and evangelizing others, including other Christians.  But on the other, if one IS actually passionate and loud and outgoing about their faith, if "they" don't understand it, then one must know deep down they're wrong.  How does that work again?

I am passionate.  I am sure.  I am knowledgeable.  I feel deeply. 

No, I don't believe I am wrong to be a Catholic.  I became a Catholic when I was 36, having been a Baptist of some flavor since I was very young.  I read, I studied, and I joined RCIA.  I prayed a lot and I do believe the Holy Spirit answered my questions and moved me in the direction I was supposed to go.  When one, friend though she may be, questions your integrity, your passion, a very important part of your self, it is not only hurtful but it makes it clear that she doesn't really know you at all.  It is hard to trust such a person and hard to carry on a friendship with her.

I am unsure where to go from here.  Charity and patience is what I need but can be hard to muster when ever word you say is judged in a negative light.