26 July 2013

Running in Place

You've probably heard this song on the radio. It goes, "I'm in a hurry to get things done, I rush and rush until life's no fun, all I really gotta do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why."

I feel like that line describes my life pretty well right now. I'm running around to get all this stuff done, but I don't feel like anything is actually being accomplished. I don't feel like I'm going forward. Maybe it's because I don't keep a calendar like I used to. I go through the motions, get up go to work, come home, do whatever, go to bed. It's so boring. I like being at work, so I work a lot. I try to be good at my job. I won two awards for excellence this month. Plus the extra cash is nice to pay those student loans down. I have things I'm looking forward to.

I don't know.. I guess I just don't think this is what Jesus had in mind when he told the apostles that He came so that we could have life and have it abundantly. This is not abundant life. This is mediocrity. It's a special kind of Hell for an extrovert, I think.

Pray for me!

10 July 2013

Strangely Dim

So the past few days this song has been on repeat on my phone, radio, computer, etc.

I've been a huge Francesca Battistelli fan since I first heard "Free to be Me" when I was 20 (like the girl in the song).

When I listen to it I think of all the outrageous experiences Jesus has blessed me with sitting in that tiny chapel in Auburn at the old St. Mike's and then again at the Mitcham House in Adoration of our Lord. I used to just look at Him and He would tell me everything I needed to hear.

Have a listen:

St. Peter, pray for us.

03 July 2013

Costly Grace

Recently I've been reading excerpts from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer was a devout Lutheran who tried to stand up to Adolf Hitler's Nazis in WWII, and ultimately found himself condemned to death by hanging in Flossenburg Concentration Camp just two weeks before the camp was liberated by U.S. 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions. 

While reading Bonhoeffer, I am inspired and curious. Post-reformation Christians are subject to an extremely different point of view than the philosophers I am familiar with, and it is interesting how quickly the ideas of Protestantism took root in their world views. 

Bonhoeffer says, "Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church... Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate... Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock."

Valid points. Love it.

He goes on to discuss the victories of the Reformation: man's realization that he NEEDS God, that the call to follow Jesus is written on his heart. He also talks about a few ways that Luther was misinterpreted. He says, "The justification of the sinner in the world degenerated into the justification of the sin and the world. Costly grace was turned into cheap grace without discipleship... But do we also realize that this cheap grace has turned back on us like a boomerang? The price we are having to pay today in the shape of the collapse of the organized church is only the inevitable consequence of our policy of making grace available to all at too low a cost. We gave away the word and sacraments wholesale, we baptized, confirmed, and absolved a whole nation unasked and without condition... We poured forth unending streams of grace. But the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way was hardly ever heard... Was there ever a more terrible or disastrous instance of the Christianizing of the world than this?"

Reading this makes me proud to be a Catholic. The Reformation, from the outside, looked like a successful counter to the Industrial Revolution. But is Christianity today any better for it? It's hard to say. The Catholic Church takes a lot of scorn for being so slow to change. People inside and outside of the Church are constantly saying that She needs to "get with the times." But that's one of the things I love most about Her. She moves on God's time, according to His grace.

Part of me wonders if one of the central contributing factors to our society today is the idea that "at the bottom, man is seeking his own interests." Underlying the text in this sermon is the notion that at the core, man is bad.
Has this idea pervaded our society entirely without our being aware of it?  If you can't do anything to become holy, because Jesus will cover your sins (or He will choose not to anyways), what is the point of even trying? Let's all throw off the burden of pretending and go lie, cheat, and steal! Extra-marital sex for everyone!

Thankfully, we're made in the image and likeness of the Only Trinity. Who could look at a direct reflection of the living God and call it anything but good, true, and beautiful?

I sincerely wonder what Luther and Calvin hoped for when they first got started. I doubt they planned for nearly 50,000 sects of Christianity.

Pope John Paul II, pray for us and for the unity of all Christians. 

01 July 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air

Today at Mass, after I listened to the Gospel reading and the priest stood up to give his homily, I made a quick and desperate prayer, "Lord, I need to hear something TRUE."

He certainly is the God of answered prayers. I didn't hear anything that I hadn't heard before, but that's okay, right? The Christian life, particularly the Mass, isn't about hearing something new and exciting, it's about reliving an event that happened nearly 2000 years ago. The Church, her teachings, and the scriptures are ever ancient, ever new.

Father talked about the need for the New Evangelization; he said that in order to evangelize we have to first be evangelized. He talked about the importance of a relationship with Jesus being the number one priority, especially in the context of family life. He said that we necessarily are not Christ's disciples if our lives look exactly the same as they did before we met Him. We have to be changed.

Preface: I know that I'm overly critical. I couldn't help but think about how much more effective Father's homily (about keeping Jesus at the center of our lives) could have been, if only Jesus in the Tabernacle were at the center of his Church. Instead, Jesus is hidden away in some side chapel with less than ten seats.

Regardless, it was a joy to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, and an honest exhortation coming from a pulpit, which so recently seems to have fallen victim to the "I don't want to offend anyone" sect of relativism, err, I mean.... Christianity.

Jesus, teach us to walk on water.
St. Peter and my little doubting St. Thomas, pray for us.