Monday, May 21, 2012

More Encouragement, Thank the Lord

I really appreciated our priest's homily yesterday.  Ever since joining the Church, I thought it a little odd that Ascension Thursday was no longer a Holy Day of Obligation and that they moved the celebration to Sunday.  Fr. F. gave a very good explanation for that.  After the number of Holy Days of Obligation were reduced in the American Church, Ascension Thursday tended to be forgotten in most parishes and dioceses.  So, the bishops decided to move it to Sunday.  Why?  Because it IS important.  We, as Catholics, are obligated to go to Mass EVERY Sunday.  Every Sunday is a Holy Day of Obligation. 

The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass."  [117 CIC, can. 1247.]  (CCC 2180)

Therefore the celebration of the Ascension of Our Lord and His permanent place at the right hand of the Father is extremely important.  He ascended back to the Father under His own power.

"So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God."532 Christ's body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.533 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.534 Jesus' final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God's right hand.535  (CCC 659)  [532 Mk 16:19.
533 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19,26.  534 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.
535 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.]

He became a real human being, but at the Ascension His human body was glorified and became fully a part of His divinity.  It truly is one of the most wonderful mysteries of our Faith.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Words of Discouragement

What does one do when one can't vent?  Blog.

Eugene Delacroix, 1840
Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople
This is the image of the Crusades most people picture.
I am presently taking a seminar on the Crusades.  The seminar itself is excellent.  However...unfortunately we have an anti-Catholic Orthodox chaplain and a anti-Jew bigot in the discussion.  Obviously the university cannot know about these prejudices before someone enrolls in a class or seminar, but it is frustrating to those of us who chose a Catholic university for a reason.  I don't want to have to defend my faith at a Catholic university.  I'm trying my best not to say anything personal.  I am virtually biting my tongue.  I have tried to gently explain to the bigot that we do not blame the Jews for Christ's "murder" (at least not normal people), that French Jews did not finance or found the Knights Templar, that the Jews are innocent in the Crusades (there were too few of them in Palestine to make a difference), and that the moon is not made of green cheese (just threw that one in for safe measure). 
I have been told by many, many friends that individual Orthodox Christians are just as sincere and just as nice Christians as most Catholics.  I wish this had been my experience.  Since my conversion to His Church 14 years ago, I've experienced lots of unpleasantness from Protestants--I'm not a Christian, I'm a bigot, I'm going to Hell, etc.  But I've experienced much, much worse from Orthodox "Christians".  (I use quotes because I don't consider what I've experienced from them very Christian).  One example:  We used to go to a local Orthodox churches annual heritage day.  After the last time we went, I don't plan to darken their doorway again.  We signed up for the church tour which is the only way you can see the nave and the outside of the sanctuary.  The so-called tour guide wasn't that interested in telling us about his church or his faith so much as wanting to make sure everyone understood they were not Catholics, the Catholic Church split the Church apart, the Catholic Church made up doctrines, the Pope was not the head of the Church nor infallible in anyway, and much more.  I walked out of the tour in disgust.  But, I'm told by a friend that not all Orthodox are like that.  I have terrible experience talking to Orthodox Christians on line; most of whom have spewed anti-Catholic propaganda (things that if we said would be considered "hate speech", but are okay to say to a Catholic.)  Now, there's an Orthodox clergy I have to put up with in a Catholic class.  Why?  What is God telling me?  Pope John Paul II went out of his way to reach out to the Orthodox in an attempt at unity.  He said they were the "other lung" of the Body of Christ.  Honestly, I don't understand why they don't see it that way.  I don't.  Should I hate English people because they tried to eradicate my Irish ancestors a couple of centuries ago?  Cultural hatred is something I cannot fathom.  I'm trying my best not to develop a prejudice for the Orthodox.
(Picture above right is an ancient illustration of the siege of Jerusalem during the First Crusade.)

I am trying my best not to be prejudiced, but some people are making it extremely, extremely hard.  Why can't I take classes without having to explain and defend His Church?  In the world, yes, but at a Catholic University?  Why? 
("Our Lady of the Streets" One of my favorite images of Our Lord's mother.  May she help all her children get along.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Words of Encouragement

I found this passage of the Catechism of the Catholic Church particularly encouraging.

St. Leo I, Pope
and Doctor of the Church,
ruled 440-461
"But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning?  St. Leo the Great responds, "Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away."  [St. Leo the Great, Sermo 73, 4: Patrologia Latina 54, 3396]  And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good.  Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exultet sings, 'O happy fault,...which gained for us so great a Redeemer!"  [St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica III, 1,3, ad 3; cf. Rom. 5:20]  (CCC 412)

Many people ask why, if there is a God, He permits evil to exist.  Here's your answer.  We have even more blessings, because of Christ's grace, than we would have had had the Fall not taken place.  God draws the greater good despite the existence of evil.  I found this answer profoundly timely.  I hope this answer is as encouraging to others as it is to me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Some thoughts

It's been awhile, again apologies.  I have had infrequent access to my account.  However, I thought I'd share some thoughts as I go through the Catechism for my most recent class.

"We do not believe in formulas, but in those realities they express, which Faith allows us to touch."  [CCC 170]

Despite what many outside the Church would have the public at large believe, the Church is not made up of mindless drones.  The Church is full of sincere Chrisians who want to share their faith with the world.  The reason we use "formulas," ie, creeds, is to express to others what exactly it is we believe.  Most, if not all, of the beliefs in the Apostles Creed could be accepted by the majority of real Christians today. 

The Apostle's Creed
God the Father
by Cima da Conegliano, 1505
Michelangelo's Pieta, circa 1500

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

We must see this as a way of expressing as succintly as possible to truths of our Faith.  More later...