Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tale of two tears

People are emotional and that is what makes us human.  Though studies have shown that animals can show emotions they generally rely on their instincts to get though day to day life.  humans do things different while we do things instinctual we generally rely on our emotions to express our feelings.  We get angry, we get sad and we can be happy.  All of these emotions are what make us who we are.  Jesus did all of these things as well or he wouldn't have been human.  He was angry when he kicked the money changers out of the temple, we was sad at hearing the death of Lazarus and we was happy at the wedding at Cana.

We can express our emotions in a variety of ways, one of them in is through tears.  The is one of primal ways that we release our emotions.  From birth we come out of the womb crying.  Baby's cry when they are hungry, when they are tired, when they are wet and sometimes they just cry to cry.  As we get older we cry at the loss of a loved one or when we are overwhelmed and frustrated.  We also can cry when we are overwhelmed with joy as well.  An emotional tribute or a reunification with a loved one will bring tears of joy.

In this advent season as we have just passed thought the feast of the Immaculate Conception I wanted to look at two stories that probably brought tears to the participants in different ways.  Thought not explicit in scripture, you can see how that situation may have brought about raw emotions.

Tears of Eve
 First we look at Eve, who was giving paradise with her husband Adam.  The only restriction was to not eat of the tree.  Through the cunning of the serpent she was tricked into a desire to be like God and know good and evil.  After doing this and disobeying God, Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden. 

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.” (Gen 3:16)

While God clothed them and still cared for them, getting booted from paradise probably was not a fun experience for Adam and Eve.  Genesis 3 states what God did but never mentions the reaction of Adam and Eve.  In my opinion I would believe this would be a time of sorrow and that Eve would probably have cried tears of great sadness for the downfall of mankind.

The tears of Eve would be that of disappointment in herself and resentment of the serpent.  Put yourself in a situation where you caused others great pain or loss.  There were probably tears of sorrow. 

Tears of Mary
Second we look at Mary, chosen by God to bear Jesus into the world.  Upon hearing of this after an initial confusion she glorifies God.  Which we would assume she would be overjoyed with joy to the point of happy tears while praising God.

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

So we see that the fall and the redemption of mankind were likely expressed with tears.  Tears of sorrow for the fall and tears of joy and anticipation for the redemption of world. Though Mary's tears will change at the live of Jesus unfolds before her at this point we see he overwhelmed with joy at the coming of the savior.  

Throughout the remainder of Advent mediation of the tears of both Eve and Mary.  Eve's tears remind us of our sin and fallen nature and how we should strive to do better and get into right relation with God.  Mary's tears are of the joy that God would send his only sun in the fullness of time to redeem us from our fallen nature and open the gates of paradise to us once again.  Both of these will cause us to weep in different ways but for sorrow and for joy.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Put up or be quite

After my recent rant about 21st century evanglization, I started thinking about the using 21st century technology to reach a new audience.   It is easy to say to people "Go do something", without having to do something myself. So in that vein, I attempted to do something.

Today I am unveiling my first attempt at online theology.  On the Internet site Udemy, I have set up my first online religion course about catholic prayer.  This course is free.  I would like to do more course in the future (some free, some paid) depending on the depth of the course and the time it take to create a course.  For this first course I just tried to keep it simple with an introduction to prayer.  Future course planning may be more interactive and advanced as I grow more familiar with the technology and actually recording content.  I am hoping to be able to hit many theological aspects such as church history, systematic theology, moral theology and apologetics in the future.

I thought it wouldn't be fair for me to tell you go and evangelize.  Without me trying it first.

So without further talking  I offer my prayer course.  If you take the course please leave feed back and ratings.  (5 stars always appreciated.)  That way I can improve this course and future courses.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

21st century evangelisation (finding God in our Facebook)

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”(Mt. 28:18-20)

Jesus gave the Great Commission in the end of the Gospel to go out and preach his words.  But the bigger question is how do we do that in a world with noise and static.  How can the message of Jesus be spread when it is communication against more noise than it ever has.  Peter and the Apostels didn't have to compete against TV and the Internet.  They did have to fear being killed for their faith, which made their willingness to share the message all the more intriguing.  One might even listen more intently to them if they knew that these people were risking their life for a message.

Today in the United States we do not fear death or persecution for proclaiming the message of Christ.  But has this made us more complacent to spreading it or society more deaf to hearing it?  Sure we go to Church on Sunday, we may even do other ministries at the Church, we pray before meals but are we evangelizing in our lives by the means that we have.  I do not mean an in your face bible beating fire and brimstone off putting message in the streets.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35)

The simple question is: Do people know that we are Christian by our love?  This is particularly true in our age of technology.  The modern day question could be rephrased: Do people know we are a follower of Christ by our Facebook posts?  Would someone know you are a Christian by your Twitter feed?  Is your faith represented in your Instagram?  Are you using Snap Chat for wholesome purposes or to do harm to others?   These are the questions that modern day Catholics have to ask themselves.

Finding God in our Facebook can be done in a Christian way.  No need to be condescending or judgmental but one needs to be firm in their beliefs in what is the truth.  I picture getting to heaven and St. Peter is at the door and he has your Internet history on his screen.  Some people would bow there head in shame.  It not just the dark side of the Internet but also the times that we look for celebrities to fall or just put too much credence in there opinions that send us the wrong direction.

The Internet can do a lot of good.  21st century evangelisation needs the Internet to reach all people so we can continue to follow the Great Commission of Christ 2000 years after it was given using the technology of our time to make the greatest difference in our world. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Individual vs Communial Prayer

Recently I was talking to someone that said "I can tell if a person is Catholic or Protestant by the way they talk about  Jesus." She went on to explain that the Protestants generally speak of Jesus as a "personal" savior and speak of having Jesus in their heart.  Catholic on the other had talk about encountering Jesus in Mass and in the Eucharist. 

Both of these positions are true and both are legitimate and the distinction goes back hundreds of years. This division leads to much contentions and misunderstanding.  I need to wade into this carefully as not to misrepresent any understandings of this issue.

So why do many Christians place the emphasis on personal relationship over communal necessity? Where as Catholic place the emphasis on communal worship (ie the Mass) over personal relationship?

This could be a book but I'll make it one (two if necessary) blog posts.

I have heard protestants say to Catholics they they do not understand why Catholic go to Mass every week, and how could there be an element of sin attached to missing it.  They says things like "God would understand if you missed one time", "Some things are more important than Mass" and "Didn't you just go last week."

I don't want to go off on the 4/5 commandment (depending on your interpretation) about "Keep holy the Sabbath" tangent based on the semantics of the word "holy".  I want to steer us to personal relationship vs communal experience.

When I refer to protestant in these generalizations,  I want to say that I am mostly referring to evangelical groups that place a heavy emphasis on personal relationships and individual salvation.  Their understanding is that salvation is a personal matter between you and Jesus Christ.  Once you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior you are saved.  Going to church is a time to have this personal encounter with Jesus through song and opening the scripture.  The pastor preaches what Jesus has reviled to him or her through prayer so that the congregation can also take that message and prayerful discern it to grow on their faith journey as well.  While the communal aspect is welcomed, it is not a necessity  to salvation.  One could miss a week and pray at home and still be about to maintain the relationship.  It is recommend attending church and many people go weekly to receive the message it is not necessary to your salvation since you already accepted Jesus and are saved.    

The Catholic Church takes a different stance on this be placing a great emphasis on the communal aspect.  The Catholics place the Mass as the "source and summit" of the faith with all grace flowing out of the Eucharist.  So therefore the greatest place to encounter Jesus is in the Mass.  The greatest privilege is to receive Jesus in the body and blood through the Eucharist.

So is a vertical relationship between me and God all that is necessary?  or is there need for a horizontal relationship too?

This issue is more than just personal vs relational it goes to deeper theological divisions that manifest themselves in the language each group uses.    

These issues are transubstantiation vs consubstantiation, in that is Jesus truly present in the Eucharist or is it mealy a symbol to remember the passion of Christ.  

The issue of if Jesus died for you or if he died for all.  Both are true but which is emphasized. Is our responsibility to try and get to heaven through salvation (YES!) or to try and get the world to heaven through our witness.(YES!) 

When there is no Eucharistic theology their is no need to emphasis gathering as a community to celebrate and receive the Eucharist. 

Personal relationship with Christ is imperative for all.

In the end this issue is another one that continues to divide the Christian religion.  As a Catholic I fall on their side when talking about reformation.  But I am also interested in ecumenism and building relationships to discuss our differences so that we can be more similar than different.  We may never agree on everything but coming together to talk about our similarities and learn from each other will help the world more than fighting about our differences.    


Friday, August 22, 2014

Anchored vs Rutterless

Attribution: Oxyman From geograph.org.uk

 Ever wonder how some people are able to put there whole trust in God while other white knuckle there own route through life.  As we learn in the story of Peter walking on water, God can call us out into the choppy water.  While we are all willing to trust God while we are safely on the boat or on shore many time we have trouble when he invites us onto the water. 

Anchored life
An anchored life is one that trust that everything will work out(one way or another)  no matter what is happening at the time.  This is extremely difficult for humans.  But any situation can be prayed through.  There is even a "fake it till you make it" mentality.  You may thing that the situiaon is hopeless and that God can't help, but are just praying becasue you are out of options.  Keep doing it until you belive that God really can help.  Like the bible story of the persistent widow we need to put unending trust in God.  Know that God cares for us especially in our most vulnerable time, even if we are in a situation of our own making.  Not that it will be easy or that there won't be repercussions but God cares for us and hears our prayers.  

How can we trust in the turmoil?
 Sometimes we lay awake pleading with God "Aren't you going to do some thing about this situation I'm in?"  These are the trials of our life.  If God just came in miraculous and gave us the solution for what we needed we would just use him as a crutch every time we are in a pinch. God doesn't work that way and Gods ways are not our ways.

The rudderless life
Is your boat going towards God.  A rudderless boat just drifts around with no direction.  The boat with rudder goes the straight path towards a destination. There will be times in our life where we feel we are at a dead end that the world is about to collapse on us and God is letting it happen.  We will pull through this situation.  Let God lead you where you need to go.  Let him provide you earthy resources that seem to come your way in the nick of time.  Take advantage of the resources that God puts in your life to help you live life.  

There is a story of a lady who when a great flood was predicted went to the church and prayed God if you are real you will save me from the coming flood.  Just then a jeep pulled up telling her that a flood was coming and she should come with them.  She said "No thank you, God will save me."  Then the water started coming in and rising.  She started climbing us the steps of the church and praying for God to save her.  Then a boat came by and offered her a ride, She nervously said "No, God will save me." The water continued to rise and she ended up on the roof of the church praying for God to save her.  Then a helicopter came by and lowered a ladder, she She said "No,  God will save me." Finally the waters got too high and wiped her away.  Upon arriving in heaven she told God, "I prayed and you didn't save me".  God replied I sent you a jeep, a boat and a helicopter, what else did you want me to do.  

The point of the story is that God works through humans more often than he works through miracles.  St Augustine said "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."  By living our lives this way we can having an anchored life and not be drifting off waiting for God to come to miraculously rescue us.  God hears us and will help us but we need to trust in him to do it in his time and his way.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Spiritual Opportunity

As people of faith it is often easy to get caught up in our own self and fail to see the simplicity of the world around.  Looking around at other faiths and cultures can allow you to bring aspects of it to your own faith to grow deeper in your own walk with God.  I am not talking about doctrine level stuff or changing faith but incorporating ascetic practices to deepen your faith.  Do so with caution so you do not break any of the rules of your own faith. 

An example being that I recently took a vacation to Lancaster Pennsylvania .  It did the touristy stuff but one of the highlights of my trip was the Amish buggy ride.   For 45 minutes I was one of those tourists in the back of the buggy being driving around the countryside gawking at the farms.   My particular ride was guided by a remarkable Amish woman named Rachael.  During our ride she told of her life, family and the Amish community.  During my ride along the county side I realized that I was having a moment of “spiritual opportunity”.   Listening to Rachael talk about family, community and simplicity, God was inviting me to take concepts of the Amish life and apply it to my own life.  I was not being called to cut off my power and trade in my car for a buggy, or to even learn more about the tenants of the Amish religion.  God was inviting me to do and inventory of my live and see if I was living as simply as I could or if I could do better in little ways. 

These spiritual opportunities are all around us if we are aware enough to recognize them.  We have them in the Catholic tradition in the writings of the saints.  St. Therese invites to follow the “little way” and other saints invite us into their own spirituality.  But these spiritual opportunities can be found every day in nature and in life.   They may not be profound; they may be small nudges that help us redirect our spiritual compass back towards Jesus.  I encourage you to find spiritual opportunities in your everyday life that you can take to help you on your journey.          

Monday, July 21, 2014

Losing the labels of society and finding the self that God created you to be

Have you been caught up in the "world", "rat race" or "society" for so long that you have lost your sense of who you are?  Have you been too busy trying to keep up with what others think that you have lost the ability to think for yourself?  It is easy to get caught up and lose your true "self".  The key is being able to find yourself again without falling back into the pattern or confusing your true self with the image that society has made you believe you are.

Outside forces
We are all affected by outside forces from the moment we are born.  It comes from our parents, our peer group and our teachers.  They place on us labels that are used to separate us from others such as smart or pretty.  These are handy to separate groups into categories, but are bad if we embrace the label and let it define us.  When we identify with the label and let the label define us rather than us defining the label we fall victim to society.  For example, your first grade teacher labels you as "smart", you are smart for a first grader, but if you were placed in sixth grade you would not be considered smart.  But if you are holding on to your first grade label of "smart" for the rest of your life you are stagnating your growth not matter how smart you are. 

By not identifying with any label placed upon you from outside, both good and bad, you cannot be affected by the label.  You are neither smart nor dumb, which are relative terms, you are you.  Once you accept you are not your label outside factors will have no effect on you.  All you need to do to find yourself is to get below the labels. 

Getting beyond the labels 
As we have been labeled since birth, it is hard to get through the labels to find your true self, because labels are constantly flying on to you.  If you take off work do get away from the pressure to find yourself, you are labeled as a "runner", "hippy" or a "seeker" all of which are labels.  If you keep working to find yourself they will say you are a "day dreamer" or a "slacker".  These are just the labels you get merely trying to find yourself.   The key to finding yourself is to stop identifying with the labels.  You are not your label.  When you don't identify with any label you are able to get to your true self. 

But are you your label?  No, it is not possible.  For example, they say you are clumsy.  You are not clumsy, your actions at times may be clumsy but your actions are not you.  You may trip once in a while but a majority of the time you are walking just fine.  So you can't be labeled clumsy any more than you can be labeled one who walks.  Though you do both of these actions neither can define you as a person.   

Finding Yourself
So you realize that outside forces are constantly putting labels on you and that you need to not identify with the labels, but how do you find yourself?  The answer is to do nothing at all.  When a wood carver does his work, he does not carve the object out of the wood.  He carefully removes the wood from around the object until the object appears.  So he is not carving an object he is just removing the parts that don't fit to the object.  The same is true with you, once you remove the labels that are encasing you, your true self will appear and shine not never before. You are no longer "smart", "pretty" or "studious" or any label that has been put on you.  You may do actions that are intelligent and you may have features that other find attractive but your actions and features are not you they are merely outside things you do or characteristics you posse.  The real you is indescribable and unable to be labels is a culminations of your experience and of all of your actions.  To label the self is to limit the self. 

The "world" will continue to put labels on you that is all they know how to do.  They cannot fathom something without a label but you will be able to walk through the label which only purpose is to limit you and place you in a box.  When you walk through the label and are not defined it your true self will come shining through with infinite possibly.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Encouringe without Pushing

Having a child come home and state they have a vocation to religious life can be a blessing.  It can also be terrifying depending on your perspective.  While every good Catholic family feels that it is a blessing to have a priest or sister in the family, having your 'baby' be the one in the family may take some getting used to.

Every parent wants their child to be happy.  We all know that following your called vocation will make you happy.  Though sometime it takes time to find the vocation you are called to.

Throughout your child's life you should preach openness to vocation without pushing it.  As parents we should always be open to the call of God in our life and our children's life.  Pushing a vocation whether marriage or consecrated life is counterproductive, but encouraging discernment of the will of God is the best road to take.

Tips for encouraging without pushing

  • Attend Mass and have your child understand what is going on from a young age.  
  •  Have regular interactions with priests and nuns so the child knows they are normal down to earth people
  •  Talking about aspects of religious life, not just Sunday Mass.
  •  Encouraging volunteer work and serving others in a everyday life.  
  •  Don't overly state that the child should be a priest/nun, but make it an option among many.
  •  God calls not you, so don't get in His way.  Let the child figure it out on his/her own and come to you rather than the other way around

What to do if your child thinks they have a calling    

  • Attend mass and pray about the calling of God.
  •  Attend Adoration. 
  • Have them speak with or visit a religious community. 
  • Make sure they know the requirements to join.
  • Have them be open to all options of religious life. 

Having a child open to the will of God no matter the direction they choose is blessing.  It means they know and trust God to work in their life and want to blossom to do His will as best they can.  Encourage them to listen for the whisper of God, without pushing your own desires for them will result in happy fruitful children who live out their vocation. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Prayer drought : When faith seems dry

There are times in our lives when our faith life seems dry.  We may still be doing our ordinary prayer life but seemingly only going thorough the motions.  We may seem in a rut or be going thought a particular trail where we cannot feel the presence of God in our life.  There a few things we can do to jump start our spiritual lives.  They may not all work for everyone an they may take time an effort, so expect results on Gods time rather than the schedule that we put Him on.  There may be a reason that we are going through this that can be turned into a greater good.  If you have been though a prayer drought before you may have found that God used that experience at a later time for you to help someone else. But there are some things you can do to use this prayer drought to grow closer to God.

Talk to God
If you are feeling in a rut the first thing upon realizing the rut is to bring it to God.  Put it all on the table, tell God about what you are feeling.  Because you are in a rut the answer and feeling that you may have previously felt when you were close to God may not happen.  You may feel that you are just talking to yourself but be assured that you are not.  No need to sugar coat with God.  Though we treat God with respect and awe  don't hide things from him.  If you angry tell God your angry, getting out the anger can help walk through it. 

Don't give up
As we know from the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) that we have to be persistent in our prayer even if we think that nothing is happening.  Things may not change, there is no guarantee that you will get the results that you are looking for. 

There are certain TV preachers that will tell you that you are not getting what you want because you are not praying hard enough.  The Catholic Church doesn't teach that.  God loves you and wants to bless you but if you pray to win the lottery and don't it is not because you didn't have enough faith.  Jesus does say that if we had the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains.  Persistent prayer will change your interior life which can lead to an external change.  

Take a step back and try something new
Perhaps a step back form your current prayer ritual could give a new perspective.  If you have become too comfortable or bored with your routine then changing it up could spark you emptiness.
Adding a new prayer or routine to your life could spark a new way to come to good.  Perhaps daily mass once a week or a rosary on Wednesday night could add to what you are doing and make you feel less like you are not pulling your weigh in your relationship with God.  Often it is us who get complacent and feel empty because we have gone so far away from god and need to come back. 

Entering the nothingness to find God
Our relationship with God is a two way street.  Sometimes we feel he has left us and other time we feel we have left him by putting him on a shelf every Sunday till we return to him.  Both of these feeling are natural and will happen at different points in our lives.  Sometime we have to enter into the despair and let go of our conceived notions of who God is and find him in the nothing. 

This entering into the nothing is something that will be elaborated in future posts but finding God in the silence is a theme that goes back to the Old Testament and has taken many different nuances and perspectives, some bordering on heretical.

Spiritual dryness is something that can happen at anytime, whether letting everyday life distract us from God or just feeling like He is not there even though we are praying diligently.  Shaking up our prayer life is a start and truly seeking God and telling him our desires rather than just falling into the trap of just reading prayers.  God knows where we are in our struggle and is working to help us through it, we just need to continue to trust in our heavenly father.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A good thing vs a God thing

There are certain situations that cause us to doubt God.  When things don't seem to work out our way or when we make choices that seemed good on the onset, don't pan out like we had hoped.  It is easy to blame God for these things.  But as we point our finger at Him we must keep in mind that all good things are not God things.  This is a hard concept to grasp, especially if you came from a line of thinking that all good things come from God and all bad things come from the devil.

 All good things are not God things
God has a plan for us and invites us to share in that plan.  God wants to bless us and gave us free will to chose him or not to.  This is not to say if God plan was for you to turn left on Main street and you when right, you are doomed because you didn't follow God plan.  But if you intentally when right to sin then that's a different story.  

But we can be presented with many good things that are wonderful things.   But we do not need to choose them all and if we were to put them all on our plate we might stumble under the weight of all of the good things.  God gives us lot of good things to do and choose from but we have to discern which ones are merely good things and which ones are God things which will bring us closer to him and increase our holiness.  

This is difficult and part of being human.  We may also have some regret about the choices we make and which good things we choose but if we are working with God in prayer and activly discerning which will bring us closer to him, God will bless our choices more than we can see from the results we calculated will happen at that moment when we made the choice.

This "good" thing "God" thing is in every decision we make on where we work, where we live or how we spend our money.   We have to make the decision on how we feel God is calling us with the information we have at hand.  We cannot predict the future nor can be change the past.  We have do what we feel God is asking us to do then, "Let go and Let God."  He will handle the details and bless us in ways we may never have imagined were possible. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Church Hierarchy

© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY 2.5

Many people know about the hierarchy of the Catholic church but they are confused on the intricacy of it.  We know who the Pope is, we see the bishop at confirmations and hear his name weekly in the Eucharistic prayer and we see a priest and deacon at mass.  That is really all we see in our everyday Catholic life but then what is a cardinal, a monseigneur or a brother and how do all these roles fit together?

This is a very short intro to the Church hierarchy to clear up some confusion about who does what.  This topic could a whole book and there are books written about it.  But for a blog post this covers the basics.  

There are details about each role and nuances that the average person may not know about the powers of the bishop and authority of bishop and what he can and can’t do.  I may cover that in a future post but I wanted to get the basics of the titles out to start.

Lets take the it from the bottom up

Deacon is a holy order that primary role during the mass is to proclaim the gospel and outside of mass to be involved in service to the Church.  The deacon was established in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 6:1-7).  

There are two types of deacons transitional and permanent.  The transitional deacon is on his way to becoming a priest and must first be ordained and deacon.  This period usually last about a year(or two), until the deacon is ordained a priest. The second type is a permanent deacon who is ordained to be a deacon permanently with no aspiration to the priesthood.  The permanent deacon can be married before ordination but after ordination he cannot marry or remarry if his wife dies.    

The primary role of the priest is to administer the sacraments to the people.  In the early church the bishop was the primary dispenser of the sacraments but as the church grew it became logistically impossible for the bishop to say mass for the entire diocese.  The priest is the ordinary minister of the Eucharist.  Hence the proper name of Eucharistic ministers in extraordinary ministers of communion since they are help the priest because it would be difficult for one priest to distribute to the whole congregation.  The priest cannot confer the sacrament of holy orders and generally does not administer confirmation (except on Easter Vigil), because these are usually left to the bishop.

The bishop is usually in charge of a specified geographic region of the church called a diocese (or archdiocese if there are suffrage diocese beneath it).  The bishop is responsible for teaching doctrine, governing Catholics in his jurisdiction, and sanctifying the world and representing the Church.  The bishop is the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders and has an unbroken succession to the apostles.  

The Pope is the bishop of Rome but with the title of bishop Rome comes the a multitude of other  titles (Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the servants of God).  The power of the papacy comes from being the successor of Peter the first vicar of Christ.  The Pope speaks for the church in union with college of bishops.  

side note on papal infallibility
The Pope has the authority make infallible statements on faith and morals but rarely uses this authority.  Detractors try to use this authority to undermine the Church but if understood in proper context they really do not have a case.  Usually the doctrine is already widely held and the Pope makes it “official”.  The last time the pope made an infallible statement was 1950 in regard to the assumption of Mary into heaven.


A member of a religious order with no holy order but has taken the vows of the order to live by the chrism of the order.  

An honorific title given to a priest by the Pope.  There are three levels of monseigneur and the diocese are limited to have less than 20% of the clergy in a diocese with the title.  But in regards to duties and function a priest and monseigneur are the same except of the title.

A cardinal is a prince of the church in ecclesiastic terms and a cardinal is usually a bishop(although not always).  The major role of the cardinal is to elect the next Pope upon the death of the current one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Changed by the Resurrection

Note: Thank you to everyone who inquired about my new baby. Mommy and Baby are doing great. 

Growing from Lent

So its the Tuesday after Easter, your Peeps are eaten you have drank sodas that you gave up for forty days, but are you changed?   Yes, it is okay to go back to the things you gave up (unless is was a sinful habit, if you gave up smoking for 40 days don't go back), but are you changed by your lent and Holy week?

If you are not changed then what was the point for you.  Jesus gave himself for us and we should be changed by it.  If we go back to our selves of that we were on the day before ash Wednesday then our external lenten sacrifices did not change our internal spiritual self.    The purpose of the external sacrifice is to lead to internal changes.  We should be different people than we were before we started our lenten journey.  Not dramatically different but more inclined to the direction of Christ.  We may not notice this at first but if we look at ourselves introspectively we may see small changes.  Suppose I gave up television.  After Lent I may go back to watching TV but I may recall fondly the time I had playing board games during my time away from TV during lent and my watch less TV after Lent.  Not at dramatic change but a change none the less.

Lent is a time for new experience through sacrifices and alms giving.  Maybe I helped out at a soup kitchen for the first time maybe I would like to do that again every so often.  Not at dramatic change but a change none the less.

Whatever buds your lenten journey produced need to be cultivated and grown to be incorporated into your spiritual journey.  Lent is a time for planting and Easter is a time to continue process to maturity.

There is still time.  

Easter didn't end on Sunday.  The resurrection may have happened but Easter is just beginning, we still have 40 more days of Easter.

This is the time to see what you want to keep from Lent and what didn't work for you.  Some things no matter how hard we try just don't work.  Once for Lent i decided that for lunch everyday I was only going to have soup.  So for 40 days every day at lunch I had soup.  It was a great lent I lost 15 pounds.  But by the end of it I was done with soup.  Some of the things I did that lent brought me closer to God but the soup was a form of fasting I felt afterwards that I might have gotten closer to God other ways.  I still eat soup but everyday soup is not a way for me personally to connect with God.  I was noble in my aspirations behind the soup but the practice just didn't work.  Also during that lent I made a practice of says more of a variety of prayers.  That worked for me and afterwards I had more prayers to my prayer inventory.  But you have 40 days of Easter to work it out to get it goig all year round.

We can be like the Apostles and encounter the risen Christ.         

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bundle of Joy

Posts will be sparse in the the upcoming weeks because my wife and I are expecting our new baby.  So I will not have time to blog much.  I will post when I can.  Please pray for my family as we welcome our new addition to the family.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Christian Manliness

The concept of manliness his vast meanings, there are whole websites devoted to the topics which will show men how to use a plunger or shave with a straight razor.  Society says men should be macho or strong and to some extent emotionless (unless it’s anger).  Any hint of attributes to the opposite are considered weakness.  Even the phase “metrosexual” which was popular a few years ago was trying to get over this notion that men have to be neanderthals to be a “real” man.

Think of a movie with a man in it.  What qualities does he have? Depending on the genre that you thought of, your man has certain qualities.  Action movie, you have your Liam, your Arnold, your Sylvester with their muscles and disregard for authority cocky attitude. You went romantic comedy? You had your rugged attractive bad boy with a sensitive streak that he don’t show.   You went Disney? You have your gallant prince who uses his might to destroy the evil forces.  All of these guys are distant and use brawn over brains and usually cause conflict because of this (it would be a movie if there wasn’t conflict).  The sensitive guys are relished to the sidelines or side kick or quirky neighbor roles.    

This blog post is not just a critique of hollywood actors, I want to look at society view of manliness very the Christian understanding of it.

Lets start with the manliest guy of all time, Jesus.  Jesus did get angry, but Jesus also showed other emotions too.  He wept openly (John 11:35).  Just listened to people, he healed them and he taught them.  Jesus didn’t abuse his masculinity to lord it over people, he used to to connect to them.  The perfect example of is when dealing with the woman caught in adultery, he had every right to stand up for the law and lead the charge to stone her, but he did not.  He could have told the crowd, “listen to me, I know best”, but he did not.  What did he do? He made one statement then squatted down on the dirt and wrote in the sand.  That is a true man that leads by example and not by power.  

Another example about Jesus was his fearless approach to the crucifiction.  His defense of himself before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate.  Both of which had “manly” men that wanted to uses their power and authority to persecute the weak.  Though Jesus was fraile from the ordeal that he was going through we was anything but weak. He boldly told Pilate that authority comes from above and did not back down when questioned.      

Look at the saints.  Very few of them are warriors.  They didn’t get to be saints by winning battles.  They got to be saints by allowing himself to be weak and let God work through them.  Society manliness is wearing the most trendy clothes, St. Frances shunned his fancy clothes in the town square.   Society manliness is doing everything necessary to get the most money. The saints tried to live in poverty.  All notions of hollywood manliness are put out by the saints.  Real men don’t rely on their power to get people to listen to them through intimidation, real men meet people where they are and help them with the problem at hand.

Jesus manliness didn’t come from outside but from inside.  He had a self determination that he exuded through his actions.  Jesus didn’t need muscles or guns to show his authority he had all of his manliness inside of him.  Christian men are called to live out this internal manliness.  Manliness doesn’t come from outside.  Designer jeans, bench pressing or growing a mustache will not make you more of a man.  Standing up for your principles in the face of adversity when all of your friends have left you will.   Standing up for the marginalized and following the example of the Jesus will.  

I could write a whole book on this and many have been written about it so I will wrap up this topic for now, in pointing out that original man Adam was swayed from his convictions by the devil and lost all God had given him.  Jesus was not swayed and took on the devil and won for all of mankind.  That is true manliness.