Friday, November 30, 2007
Every year, but it seems particularly this year, there is confusion about “what would Jesus want?” People, correctly, decry the commercialization of Christmas, and also the unmet needs of the poor. This does not mean, however, that Jesus would “want” people to forgo generosity and gift giving on the occasion of Christmas.
When Jesus drove the money changers from the Temple he was not cleansing the Temple of “shopping” or “commercialization.” He was objecting to the high price that the corrupt Jewish priesthood at that time was charging for the obligatory sacrifice performed by the people. People were forced to purchase animals for sacrifice and an entire money changing and exploitive financial operation had grown up around this, right in the sacred space of the Temple. It was as if you were forced to go to Church and then forced to pay a certain exorbitant amount of money depending on the occasion or the sin, just to see the animal slain, “offered to God,” and the priests and money changers profit. Incidentally this is very carefully regulated in Islam. During the Hajj, which is this month, pilgrims make sacrifice to God, but they purchase low price coupons, the animals are slain in approved areas, and the meat from the animals is given to poor Muslims around the world, many of whom cannot afford to have meat at all except for this time of year. This was why Jesus was horrified and scandalized, because far from the practices of Moses, Isaac, David and the other prophets and kings of the Bible, contemporary corruption had made sacrifice to God a Temple money making venture, and the poor were exploited. So to cite this cleansing by Jesus of the Temple as a reason not to give gifts at Christmas, as some have done, is entirely wrong. This is actually part of the symbolism and the pragmatic reason that Jesus initiated at the Last Supper the sacrifice of Holy Eucharist within the New Covenant. Rather than take money from the poor, Jesus became the Lamb of the Sacrifice to God, in the form of bread and wine. There is a special sensitivity in the choice of Jesus to institute this sacrament using bread and wine because in the Old Testament we read that the poor were able to sacrifice a measure of grain, lacking the funds for expensive sacrifice of livestock. Jesus chose humble bread and wine to be the continuing form of sacrifice to God, what everyone can afford, and what is symbolic of the poor and humble’s food.
When speaking of taxes, Jesus made the well known admonition to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Like all that Jesus said and taught one can compare the situation Jesus was directly addressing with similar questions. It is possible to be a citizen of the world, but also to render to God what is God’s.
We know that Christmas on December 25 is not the literal time of the birth of Jesus, because Jesus was born during the time when there is lambing. Since people did not know the date of his birth they decided to celebrate it by imposing it directly upon a pagan festival date. This was a common practice, to impose a Christian date upon a defeated or diminished pagan date if there was no information about a more correct timing. People who think that a Christian date occurring on a pagan date is evidence that “Christianity came from paganism” are ignorant and wrong, and have it in reverse order. As people converted from paganism to Christianity, it was a stamp on the past to impose a Christian date, lacking evidence of the actual date, on a pagan festival. In addition to worshipping pagan gods and idols, which is wrong, festivals also provided a human contact social need, for example celebrating harvests, and as a mid-winter festivity. Therefore there is nothing wrong with combining and co-celebrating the purposes of celebrating the Nativity of Jesus with a gift oriented and celebratory holiday of Christmas.
Jesus said that the poor will always be with us, but that he (physically) would not be. I cannot believe people who claim that Christmas should not be celebrated except in service to the poor. What about the rest of the year? Service and care of the poor should be such a complete and total concern of truly pious people that Christmas should be no different in levels of concern than the rest of the year. Are not the poor alone and suffering on every day of the year? Yet it is only once a year that families come together to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus. While charity should of course be part of the celebration (such as programs like Toys for Tots, provision of food baskets, the wonderful Salvation Army programs, etc) Jesus would be hurt to believe that celebrating with gift giving in one’s family and social circle must be eliminated in order to be dour on behalf of the poor once a year. That makes no sense.
The only problem, of course, is when the Nativity of Jesus disappears as the meaning of Christmas. Christmas as a word and as the arrival of the Holy Babe Jesus has been purged from the commercial and public square. And gift giving has, to some degree, been mechanized to less of a joyous “gifting” of loved ones with obligatory consumerism. But these are not reasons to dismantle the gift giving of Christmas. Rather these are reasons for renewal in attitude to the way things were meant to be. Christmas was meant to be a day that the entire faithful look forward to in hope as the day the Savior was born. Christmas was also meant to be the generous celebration and sharing of gifts, food, recreation, and appreciation of the goodness of the material world with friends, family, community, and in global communion.
Think about the lead up to Christmas. On the actual day over two thousand years ago, of course no one knew the day the Messiah would be born. So Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, was the recognition by the Church that these should be the four most joyous weeks of the year, second only to the day of the Resurrection of Christ. Advent is the time when as Christians we contemplate with growing joy the arrival of the Savior… an anticipation that the people living at the time of Jesus would never know! The Church recognized that people need to feel the joy of the “good news, the great tidings” that Jesus brought to humanity. This is why the entire month of Advent is dedicated to the joyous anticipation and the celebration.
Christmas Day is the day that the Holy Family became a family, when Joseph and Mary welcomed their son into the world. How could Christmas not be a time of gift giving when the greatest gift that ever arrived was born on this day of God? There were Joseph and Mary, and then “baby made three.” Not only was Jesus born on Christmas Day but it is the prototype for the birth of the loving family of parents and child. Why would Jesus disapprove of celebrating the family on his “birthday,” when it was the same day that the Holy Family was born? And the angels heralded his arrival and brought “the neighbors,” the humble shepherds to receive the honor and gift of being the first to visit Jesus. Christmas Day in even the most religious interpretation is the very model of celebrating family, friends, community and the sharing of gifts!
Jesus would love Christmas trees with the lights and the ornaments. He would love seeing the crèche with statues of his earthly parents, of himself as a babe, and of the animals that kept them warm in the stable, and the shepherds who were the first to visit him. He would love that people who work so hard all year (and he would disapprove of the modern stress of the workplace) have time to eat real home cooking (for those who remember how to do it), sleep late (unless little children are very eager to unwrap their gifts!), engage in sports, gather together to reacquaint themselves with each other and yes, to go to Church and praise God. How anyone can think that Jesus would not love and bless the generosity of genuine gift giving and celebration on Christmas is the most absurd pretention of misunderstanding of his entire message and being. What Jesus would disapprove of is the forgetting of honor for God, who is after all, the one who sent him. When people take the “Christ” out of Christmas, what they are really doing is ignoring God’s gift of salvation to humanity. He would correctly suspect, shrewd in human behavior that he is, that secularism strives to push God out of the public square wrapped in dirty rags of pretended concern for the poor. It is not as if Jesus sought praise and worship for his own sake even when he was alive and walking the earth, but rather, he brought the Kingdom of God to those who could see and hear (curing those who could not physically see and hear by the way!)
The Roman Catholic Church has, since Pentecost, been under the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The four weeks of Advent, the celebration of Christmas Day, and the role model of St. Nicholas exist for a reason just as they have for all these centuries. The Catholic Church holds its spine firm to the bedrock apostolic faith as given by Jesus to the Apostles and disciples, while at the same time it wraps its arms around the human faces of the faith and the celebration of it. Traditions of celebration of this religious holiday evolved in an appropriate way under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There is no reason that Advent and Christmas Day not be a time of religious study, joy and renewal combined with celebration and gifting of one’s reality of family, friends and community. It would actually be false to have one without the other. What we increasingly have today is horrifying because both are diminished, where not only is Christ banished from Christmas but family oriented generosity is sneered at as somehow being disrespectful toward the poor. As I said, I hasten to remind people that Christmas Day is also the birthday of the Holy Family and love of children. And remember the reality of life intruded very rapidly on the Holy Family too. It was mere days later that the Holy Family had to flee the slaughter of the Innocents, as Herod sought to kill the baby Savior. So there is no one who lived who can tell the Holy Family about “reality” and what is “relevant.” On December 28 we all remember the unnamed thousands of children who were slain on Herod’s orders, hoping that Jesus, whose identity he did not know, would be one of those. Does that not make the need for the joy of celebrating the birth of the Savior, the Holy Family, and their coming together with the first believers all the more important, holy and pertinent? Of course it does.
See, I feel sad even mentioning that dreadful day because Advent and Christmas Day should be a time of pure joy. But I am tired and angry with those who think they know what Jesus would “want” and “not want” who then put it in such petty and mean spirited tones. So I am forced to remind people that no one knew “reality” and its necessary counterbalance, the need for joy and celebration of God’s goodness and of the core family, more than Jesus and the Holy Family. It is outrageous to suggest otherwise.
My suggestion, which is probably like spitting into the wind, is to try to retrain the children (and adults) within your sphere of influence toward more wholesome gift giving at Christmas, not to eliminate it. Think about gifts that will not only give your loved ones joy, but are also rich in growth and goodness. That does not mean that I’m against computers and IPODs as gifts, but I need to remind you that children are being robbed of their childhood by being given the things of adults far too soon. If they do not have their years of innocence and simplicity of confidence and joy they are placed under too much pressure and rather than receiving a gift, they are having a deficit. For example, rather than give a pre-school child a computer, even one designed for them, why not give them a daily 30 minutes of time on mom or dad’s lap, playing a children’s game together on video or computer? There is no better gift you can give children but your time with them playing. Why not make an effort this year to get gifts for your children that are not mechanized babysitters, but are games and activities that you can do together? Children love things they can build, for example, if they can do it with mom or dad. If you are getting your child four gifts, for example, I’d ask that one of those gifts be one that you plan to enjoy together with your child, investing your time and attention.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Advent with all the shopping, cooking, decorating, and safe travel joys of preparation for Christmas!
Bible Reading: Sirach 15
He who fears the Lord will do this; he who is practiced in the Law will come to wisdom.
Mother like she will meet him, like a young bride she will embrace him,
Nourish him with the bread of understanding, and give him the water of learning to drink.
He will lean upon her and not fall, he will trust in her and not be put to shame.
She will exalt him above his fellows; in the assembly she will make him eloquent.
Joy and gladness he will find, an everlasting name inherit.
Worthless men will not attain to her, haughty men will not behold her.
Far from the impious is she, not to be spoken of by liars.
Unseemly is praise on a sinner’s lips, for it is not accorded to him by God.
But praise is offered by the wise man’s tongue; its rightful steward will proclaim it.
[Man’s Free Will]
Say not: “It was God’s doing that I fell away”; for what he hates he does not do.
Say not: “It was he who set me astray”; for he has no need of wicked man.
Abominable wickedness the Lord hates, he does not let it befall those who fear him.
When God, in the beginning, created man, he made him subject to his own free choice.
If you choose you can keep the commandments; it is loyalty to do his will.
There are set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power, and all seeing.
The eyes of God see all he has made; he understands man’s every deed.
No man does he command to sin, to none does he give strength for lies.
Rocco has the full text of the letter here in his blog:
You have to read the entire letter to get the proper tone, which is warm and respectful.
This is great news! As I expected *wink*
God bless these initiatives and make them fruitful.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The fourth link in particular reminisces about Pope John Paul II's plea for peace during the worst of "the troubles." Remember that Cardinal Sean Brady is cardinal for all of Ireland, the Republic and Northern. He celebrated on both sides of the border upon his return. Now that there is peace he is the first Cardinal of Ireland who will be able to celebrate in this promising beginning. With scandal and weakening of the faith, Ireland is a challenge for renewal, as is most of the Western world. I think Cardinal Sean Brady will do great. He's hopeful that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Ireland in person soon too, and that would also be a wonderful development.
Here is from the fourth link, the Independent Catholic News, a reminder of the troubles and of the heart and passion of Pope John Paul II nearly 30 years ago:
The conversations and informal meetings held by the political leaders in Rome were a fulfilment of a dream articulated 28 years ago by the late great Pope John Paul II when he made a heart-felt plea for an end to violence in Northern Ireland during the first day of his historic Pastoral Visit to Ireland, 29 September to 1 October 1979.
"On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace, the Polish Pontiff pleaded during his homily at Drogheda, situated not far from the border with Northern Ireland.
This correspondent covered the Papal Visit to Ireland and heard first-hand the dramatic appeal made by Pope John Paul II, the first Pope from a Communist country.
Pope John Paul said: "To all men and women engaged in violence. I appeal to you, in language of passionate pleading. On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace.
"You may claim to seek justice. I, too, believe in justice and seek justice. But violence only delays the day of justice. Violence destroys the work of justice.
"Further violence in Ireland will only drag down to ruin the land you claim to love and the values you claim to cherish.
"In the name of God I beg you: return to Christ, who died so that men might live in forgiveness and peace. He is waiting for you, longing for each one of you to come to him so that he may say to each of you: your sins are forgiven; go in peace."
I was just reading in the local paper about a public works director who was fired for accepting a trip from a company that markets devices that would be under his purvey. As a probationary employee he has no due process protection from the firing and therefore is suing. It is especially interesting because he claims he told his superior about the trip before it took place, and the vendor is someone with no ties to the county (they do not market their devices as yet, so there was no tit for tat in this incident).
I am totally against bribery, graft and cronies (and in fact I believe it is one of the key downfalls of the United States as a whole) but come on, let’s keep it real. This guy went on a trip two states over (here in the South), had a hotel, a meal and a football game (it’s the football game they are particularly mad about). Meanwhile the “Superbowl “is entirely a corporate event for the high rolling connections, Iraq contractors are 100 percent connected via political and business figures, and payola is everywhere throughout this country. You cannot get even the lowest level job without being connected to someone with secret influence and money/power is the ways and means. Yet this guy is front page news in our paper for taking a “getting to know a company” trip and going to a football game on their dime, so to speak, and has to sue (clog the courts) to get his side of the story heard and evaluated.
It reminded me of an incident in my life that is well worth sharing for consideration by people who might wrap their personal meanness in “being honest and virtuous.” Twenty five years ago I worked for what was the largest oil company at the time. It was my first time working for a major corporation. I liked it even though they made a lot of bad decisions. In those days I believed that good people should work from within corporations and not abandon the ship. For example there were many personal environmentalists in this company even though at the time this company was notoriously anti-environmental in deed. And it did make a difference over the years, though I was gone before I could see the change personally, and they had to go pretty far down before they reformed their morals.
There was an interesting assembly of people who worked there, as this was a diverse and global company. I was responsible for a small part of the computer center in the communications area, and managed several programmers, and had responsibility for two vendors of equipment. I had colleagues who were peers, who likewise controlled small groups of programmers responsible for sections of equipment or applications. We worked for Section Heads and were generally Senior Project Analysts.
Anyway, one of my peers, I’ll call him Dave E., was somewhat iconoclastic. He was prickly, territorial, and a mister knows it all with a big mustache, if you know what I mean. That was kind of a type of the early 1980’s. I think he had a wife and children, and wondered how he was at home. Sometimes people are jerks at work and wonderful parents and spouses at home, though that is less common now, much less common, than that possibility was back then.
One day, soon in my taking over responsibility for my group, I was called to the lobby in order to meet my vendor visitor and escort him to my office. That was the security arrangement then, where you had to walk to the lobby and actually bring your visitor to your office. This guy had just taken over the account for his company. Anyway, I was stunned to walk in the lobby and see that he had a dozen classic red roses in a bouquet for me. Turns out he knew it was my birthday around that time. I’ll never forget how great that felt because truth-be-known, I’d never received a dozen classic long stem red roses before (and I have not since then). Now in the 1980’s this was not exactly a fortune and it was really the thought that counted.
Within a day or so Dave E expressed his outrage to me. He frostily informed me that there is a $25 gift limit and that I either should not have accepted the roses, or should report them. I told him that I was fully aware of it and good grief, how much did he think a bouquet of roses cost? (I may not have received them before but I sure bought them for people so I knew well the prices). He was unmollified and tried to make a big stink about it, but obviously this was not a concern of the world’s largest oil company at the time LOL, especially since I was within the rules anyway. And it was hardly a state secret because everyone else got a kind chuckle out of the look on my face when I got those roses in the lobby.
Well. Not so long after that Dave E came down with a terminal illness and died.
People were shocked and saddened, though few people, especially me who was a newcomer, knew much about his family or had a personal connection to him.
Now, this was a young guy with a family. What did his personal meanness toward me merit him?
How does anyone know when they will be called, and to an accounting of how they spent their time and generosity? Will the Lord thank people for being spiteful about flowers, or a football game? Don’t bet on it.
Remember that Anna Nicole Smith AND the son of her ex-husband both died before either gained a dime of the enormous money they both fought so bitterly over, and this spite and lack of generosity was the punctuation to both of their lives. And perhaps this spite contributed to their mutual demises.
Spite, jealousy, pettiness and hubris are not only ungodly, but they should not be counted on as life extending traits. Nor can they be disguised, like perfuming the pig, as being steadfast and honest.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
When it was on I not only did not watch it but changed channels when even the adverts were on.
The only time I watched an episode was to see the great boxing champ Ali when he guest starred. I wanted to puke and drive the tines of a fork into my arm the entire time.
And trust me, I was not fooled for a moment. I knew it was pantomime for people who actually think they are reincarnated angels (whatever that would be) or "step in" angelic creatures (that's code word for New Age alien worshipping idiots who think that they are justified to mess with people's minds because they are on some "angelic" mission, they call that "stepping in.") God calls it witchcraft BTW.
People think it was "harmless," and "spiritual." Well, it was not. It helped the disgusting trivialization of not only angels but of the entire view of God. Angels are clearly described in the Bible as being of light and completely of God's will. I'd have to be a moron (and I'm not) to have not recognized when that show was on that people were puffing themselves up with visions of grandeur. And while they puff themselves up they make God and his true works look like buffoons. Trust me, if you ever heard from a real angel you would be on your face like Ezechiel or St. John (both of whom would have greater right to stand up than anyone living today).
*Flashback of that TV show* *retch* *barf* *zap*
Jesus explained that angels constantly face God. Therefore angels are active and creative only in the sense that they fully attend to God's will. By constantly facing God they are always fully "plugged into" and totally responsive to God's will. On their "other side" (the side that faces temporal human life) they interface with humans as God wills it. This was what Ezechiel strived to describe, that angels have "sides" and the arrangement of those sides was the same on all four angels. The "sides" that angels have are the manifestation of God's will and purpose in the direction that it is being directed.
I would not call it angel creativity as much as I would call it an individualized application interface! Each angel has a "personality," an "individuality," but there is no portion of them that is separate in any time or space from God's will and purpose. For example you can see that angels can be conversational (when they dined with Abraham, when Raphael accompanied the family of Tobias) so there is individuality in their appearance and response, but it is not creativity per se because each angel is entirely illuminated in their intention by God's will. Their chitchat might vary per their unique individuality but the purpose and outcome of the chitchat is entirely manifested by God through them. Angels take pleasure in the same things that God do. This is why there are guardian angels, because angels love babies by applying and feeling their portion of God's love total love for humans as children of God, and like God angels are genuinely interested in the well being of each and every person, regardless how far they have strayed. However they never ad lib or improvise. They are fully illuminated by God's overall will and purpose at all times. As Jesus described to the Apostles that he treats them as friends and not slaves (and therefore they know the ways and means of what he does) likewise angels are entirely privy to God's overall purpose and intention, so they are not creative in an ad hoc, ad lib, or improvisational way.
About the choice. Angels chose once for all time. No angels reside in heaven that are not, as I described above, completely of God's will. That is the meaning of the fall. An angelic being that has fallen is not only shut out of heaven, but by not serving God they remove themselves from the life spring of God's will that is the only thing that allows a being to even exist in heaven. When St. John described being in "heaven" and the end of times battles he observed, this was heaven in the sense of not being bound to earth materially and temporally (these are spiritual events) but he was not witnessing conflict in heaven proper, where there can be no battle, nor is there any deviation from God's will. Not because it is an autocracy but because heaven as a place does not exist at all except as it is vitalized by God's will and purity of purpose and intention. Nothing that is not entirely of God's will can take form, reside in, or endure in the purity of the truth of God's totality that is heaven.
People short change themselves when they think that moments of great inspiration come from angels! Angels are not motivated to be creative, but they love, as God does, the vitality of life when it is completely in harmony with the will and love of God. Angels aren't cubists or impressionists, nor do they suggest good plot twists! *wink* In the lives of the saints you will see that the only places angels "inspire" is at the behest of the Holy Spirit when writing the word of God. In Revelation the angel gives St. John the scroll, but the angel was not the author of the scroll, to give an example in the scriptures. Angels strive to be protective of a woman's pregnancy, for example, but do not give decorating advice for the nursery. Angels comfort so that no one is ever really alone (notice that one specific "average" angel comforted Jesus in the garden, not a glorious angelic event, but rather, just as one would have one's own guardian angel present during the worst of suffering). So the beauty of angels is exactly that, not their imaginary garb or creative bent, but their very consistency that each of them constantly faces God and are constantly available to guard and strengthen humans. Jesus himself did not get comfort from an "extra special super sized angel" in his time of need, but the very same angelic type that everyone has available to them in the form of their guardian angel.
Sorry I've gone on a bit here but I do love talking about angels! Real angels, not the feather boa types heh.
I am so, so, so, so, so, so, SICK of the garbage going on within the diocese of Cardinal Mahoney.
Trust me, it has not been unnoticed.
I'm not blind. Even the "art work" of Jesus receiving baptism is homoerotic. If I'm not as stupid as I look, how much do you think God notices? God is not appreciative of Jesus being painted with cute tight buns in the stone temple of Los Angeles. Posters for church fairs should encourage attendance by families as a respite from hooker sized boobs, not as "typical of the Hollywood atmosphere."
Here's a weather report and some decorating advice regarding atmosphere. Where there is smoke there is fire. Wise up and clean up before God does it for you.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.
You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.
the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
from of old I was poured forth,
at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains or springs of water;
before the mountains were settled into place,
before the hills; I was brought forth;
while as yet the earth and the fields
were not made,
nor the first clods of the world.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Read John 4: 1 - 42 "The Samaritan Woman"
This is the episode where Jesus requests water from a Samaritan woman at a well. She wonders that Jesus, a Jew, would ask for water from her, a Samaritan (they were hostile groups at the time). Jesus assures her that he will give her even greater water in return, which is the "living water" of the word of God. She recognizes that he is like one of the fathers of the faith like Jacob, but perhaps greater. Jesus asks her to call her husband to hear his message with her, as a way of getting her to admit that she has "no husband" but "has had five husbands." She recognizes Jesus as a prophet. Jesus teaches her and she recognizes that he is the Messiah. She returns to the town and "Now many of the Samaritans of that town believed in him because of the word of the woman who bore witness" (John 4: 39). As a result of her witness to Jesus the Samaritans of the town asked Jesus to stay with them, and he did so for two days. At the end of the two days "they said to the woman, 'We no longer believe because of what thou hast said, for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this is in truth the Savior of the world'" (John 4: 41). (Notice that the townspeople believed her witness even before they heard from Jesus himself. She clearly was converted and spoke with authority immediately upon her return to the town from the well.)
And that is the heart of my point in asking you to revisit this very important episode. Notice that Jesus did not give her a speech about adultery and in truth, he didn't even say anything at all about "you sinned" or "sin no more." He did not say anything about her sins or offering forgiveness. Why? Because the whole point of "meeting Jesus" is that one is converted and one's sins are forgiven if they are confessed (and she admits to Jesus the truth when he gives her the conversational opening).
Jesus did not follow her into the town and yell, "Listen to this woman! Even though she sleeps around she knows what she's talking about!"
Jesus did not follow her into town and rat her out to the wives of the men she had been with, as an opportunity to "come clean." He certainly did not make sketches of her with the men and post them on the spiritual Internet.
Jesus did not say, "But didn't you know that you are reincarnated Esther? Gosh you ought to know better than sleep around. The real reincarnated Esther would not sleep around. God must have made a boo boo, or the scriptures must be wrong. I mean, how can a reincarnated Esther be an adulterer?"
Jesus did not cross examine her about each man. You know, as a way to "find out what her sex life is like" and also as a "cleansing" or "confessional" tool to help her find out her true "inner self."
Don't those scenarios sound gross? Well, they sound all too familiar to me.
This episode if read with clean hands with clean minds is one of the most illustrative of the events in the life of Jesus. Here you can see that none of the third degree and sin angst is needed ONCE ONE HAS ENCOUNTERED THE TRUE JESUS. When one is personally instructed by Jesus as this woman was, in the blink of an eye she is cleaned, forgiven, and becomes a personal witness to Jesus as Messiah.
This is, incidentally, one of the events included in the Gospel for the express reason of providing the model and precedence for the Sacrament of Confession (now called Penance, Reconciliation). Remember that Jesus is the first Christian priest and personally instituted the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. He is at the "confessional" (the well), and he gives her opportunity to speak. He teaches her and she leaves, without him saying a word, forgiven, reconciled with God and an active witness who within hours has brought more souls to the Lord for teaching and saving. When one appeals to Jesus in person, not only is the slate wiped clean, but you come away with more than you asked, or even imagined. You give him a clean drink of water and your respectful attention and you leave converted and with the water of life.
Remember, God is great and beyond human understanding. Do not second guess God and heaven forbid, do not test him. Instead, listen to Jesus and trust in the institutions he has established so that each person can have this "conversation" with him in the fullness of how he intended. Do not ruin encounters with Jesus by being your own smarty pants and thinking that Jesus was saying and thinking things that he never did. Like Jesus explained to the Apostles and disciples, they became his "friends" and therefore were not treated as slaves. This woman simply came to Jesus, served him water, listened to him, became his friend, recognized his authority, and proclaimed it. I really wonder at the hard heartedness of these generations living today, where they cannot even read an event that is so clear as this in John, understand it, and apply it with kindness, wisdom and discretion.
After he dies (and I'm not pushing for that, may God give him a long life) he is reincarnated in Tibet. The Chinese push for their own candidate, and the story is about the "real" reincarnated DL trying to restore Tibet against the false candidate DL. (Possible plot twists: they grow up together, they are in the same family, or they hook up in common cause after being opposed for decades).
Second plot idea: Better yet, after the DL dies, he is reincarnated in Tibet and the Chinese actually sponsor choosing him, not realizing it is really him, and so the false candidate DL is actually the "real" DL. (Possible plot twists: they wait until he is married and has children before identifying him as the real DL. Hollywood likes to "modernize" religions so that would be way cool, a married father who finds out he's the "real" DL in Tibet, and it's the Chinese who figure it out! Maybe called the Tibetan Code?)
Just a thought.
“If my death comes when we are still in a refugee status then logically my reincarnation will come outside Tibet,” the Dalai Lama said in an interview restricted to three journalists.
Why would he assume that? Would not a perfectly ordered universe that has operated reincarnation eternally be the best decider of where he would be reincarnated? Might not the universe think that the lesson to be taught is to have him "reincarnated" back in Tibet "again?"
Listen, I've admired him as a person and as someone with a good heart and principles, and have enjoyed reading his books. However, I'm not shy about criticizing someone who is supposed to be a model of the faith. It sounds like he does not trust in his own doctrine of reincarnation. He would reply that he's saying this because the Chinese would meddle and appoint their own. So what? If the Dalia Lama believes in his own karma and faith, would not the universe "reincarnate" the "real" him in Tibet regardless of who the Chinese appoint? This is the religion of Tibet Buddhism, not Refugee Buddhism, no? So would not the "universe" reincarnate the leader of "Tibetan" Buddhism in Tibet, as it "has" (according to their belief) throughout its history?
More example of reincarnation as false doctrine, leftover from when certain cultures in seeking God imposed morality through fear of retribution in "future lives."
"Amateur" atheists who wrestle on their own with their disbelief, but otherwise lead worthy lives, have a reasonable chance. The Lord is aware of pressures that may result in individual lack of faith.
However "professional" atheists have virtually no chance of heaven. These are people who do not keep their lack of belief private but actually advocate for others to lose their faith. Their lack of generosity toward another person's well being and salvation, unrepentant, face a "needle with no eye at all," rather than the surprise of just popping into a heaven that they did not believe in and attempted to drag others away from.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Interesting tidbit... where I live the rain for the past two days is in sync with the rain that fell during the Consistory in Rome. I love the sharing!
The horrible movie "Unbreakable" by the regrettable actor Bruce Willis is a hint as to how events are thought up, staged, and manipulated (often with dire consequences). In the movie it's about one freak. Let me tell you in reality it's a lot of freaks running the show. They do it for economics and also an obsessive compulsive belief in cultist and false theologies (so they "have to do it" to "avoid worse things from happening.")
Think about this for a moment. When you read some material that is really "edgy," don't you wonder sometimes what kind of thoughts and mental process even come up with this idea?
I had a very middle class English friend and we'd often view films together, which was one of her favorite activities. She would select them from the local rental place and I must admit, I was appalled at the depressive, morbid and, frankly, anti-sacred mentality in them. I'll talk about a few of them here. The reason I am bringing this up is that people need to realize that it is not a "requirement" of "authentic art" to come up with the most depressive and depraved scenarios and pass them off as "edgy" writing and film making. Fiction writers bear a large blame for the demise of Western culture where depressive and depraved are "the new norm."
The worst picture I ever saw was one, I forget its name, thankfully, where a rather dim English girl has visions from God (to the backdrop of Uriah Heep music). She marries an oil rig worker and gets really attached to their hot sex. He has to go to the rig to work and she misses him and prays to God to see him soon. Well, God's way of "granting her wish" was to cause an accident on the rig and he is brought home to her paralyzed and near death. Since sex is all they think about he urges her to go find someone to stuff her regularly. She does (and we are shown the crude scenes) and we soon learn that's what God wants because the more pigs who stuff her the more her husband becomes cured. So she realizes she must sail out to the tanker ship docked nearby as a whore to be abused by the brutes there because her dear hubby will be cured. She chickens out the first time and is insolent, leading those poor guys on and then pulling a gun on them to escape. Dear hubby begs her to keep up the cheap fucking. So she gets herself rowed back to the tanker so that they can rape her to death to get even with her "pulling out" the first time. Glory Be! It goes as planned. She is raped, beaten to death (but not before a sniffling scene as she's wheeled into the hospital, as unattractive as ever) and sure 'nuf, as soon as she dies hubby has a miraculous recovery.
Well, my middle class middle aged mother of two friend thought this was quite the thing. I wanted to puke. But I had pity thinking of what kind of mind could think of such a plot line, believe enough in it to write, and what losers produce it and view it?
Then there was the film, something about an Oak Tree, I tried to research it once on the web but did not find it. This was about a woman who is raped by three men because she was mute (in a kind of metaphysical way) and could not say "no." I mean, give me a freaking break.
Then there was the film where an Italian woman was so ugly that when she is condemned of a crime her sentence is to be raped to death by a line up of 100 men (who I guess were provided with bags to put over her head... I'm joking because I did not view that movie). Wild horses' asses could not have gotten me to that film, rental or not.
Then there was the more mundane but every bit as awful in effect and mind set as the awful Tom Hanks movie "Pacific Heights." I would not mind if it was advertised as a B grade horror film but again, it's Tom Hanks and it's supposed to be art. My friend (who was a landlady by the way) dragged this piece of crap home for us to view and it showed psychotic renter who sabotages the house with the idea of driving the owner land lady and land lord out. We are treated to all sorts of awful views including swarming cock roaches, a hidden partner who lives with the Stank-Hanks character, and bloody fight scene with dead husband and gory killing of the bad Stank-Hanks by the intrepid land lady. (I've had to rent two apartments since viewing that film and it has made me, well, more aware of the dynamics in the apartment renting business. I'm sure you know what I mean, some of you).
What kind of sick people think this is art and entertainment? It's not Citizen Kane folks. And can't people figure out that this is part of the skewing of what should be 95% normal human relationships into a dark picture of life that seeps into people's brains and makes them numb to imagined, and then eventually real, depravity?
I have to add the book "The Sheltering Sky" to my rant list, by the way. A cultist (see previous blogs) recommended it to me so I could learn about those "snap" moments. Well, I learned that I was right to avoid most fiction works of the past forty years or so. Again, some woman gets it up the crotch because she does not remember who she is (this time because of "malaria.") Arab men don't come off very good in it either (no surprise there, when you are going with depraved stereotypes, wee hee, let's go all the way!)
The entertainment media empire of the West is controlled by people with serious mental issues. I hope this changes. Simply put, I hope this changes. They have made enough money, "more than God" by now, and have ruined enough people in the name of "entertainment" and "art." Is it not enough on the resume? And enough to answer for when God wants to know why? Sick, sick, sick. And I've known this and pondered it (wondering how conscious an effort this is by the perpetrators) for decades now. Gosh, guess I'm not as dumb as I look. Land O Goshin!
The power of America's "Jewish lobby" is said to be legendary.
Commentators the world over refer to it, as though it were a well-established fact that US Jews wield far more influence than their numbers (2% of the population) would suggest.
But this presumed influence is also a delicate issue in the US, and is rarely analysed.
How does the lobby work? Is its power truly legendary, or just a legend?
Two US academics, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, have set out to answer those questions, and triggered a firestorm of controversy as a result.
Their book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, which builds on a 2006 article in the London Review of Books, says the reasons for US support for Israel need to be explained...
Ha ha, I applaud them in their courage and look forward to reading their book. Trust me, I know what is said behind the scenes and it was not long before the certain folks in the Israeli lobby were saying "They better not need a Jewish doctor in their future!"
I've also worked for Israeli lobby zealots and been kicked in the teeth (on a good day, I won't tell you about the bad days) just for being "little old Christian me."
However, if today's societies and cultures turned back to see the great values defended by the great religions: the Torah, Bible and Quran, and the great propagation forecast by Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), they would definitely draw strong common factors among them and few that could distance them from each other.
I am so appreciative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques proactive role in bringing the children and heirs of Abraham (Ibrahim) into greater harmony and understanding so that together they can bring God's will and peace to the world.
Jesus described the Kingdom of God as being like a mansion with many rooms, where rooms are prepared by God for the faithful.
Think of a beautiful mansion with a peaceful garden in the interior courtyard (as the Qur'an also correctly sees heaven as a garden).
In my sketch of Jesus, Jesus is like the most beautiful window through which you can look into the promised mansion of God. Jesus is the actual glass, beautiful of its own but entirely transparent so that one can see into what one could not otherwise understand: the being and the house of God.
Using this image one can also think of one for Muslims. In that sketch the devout do not lose their way to the very same mansion of God because their footsteps in life are bounded by and guided by the five pillars of the Islamic Faith. The Prophet (PBUH) is inside the mansion, resting after having placed the five pillars in place along the pathway, like white marble, to guide those who follow what he learned from Allah.
Many enter the house of God through the door near this window, and Christians can think of the Jesus window as being set within the door itself. The important point is that God has placed this window there, of his own substance, so that people can better know and serve God through the focus on Jesus. Christians who focus on Jesus, who always gaze on his window and who serve and believe in what is shown, do not lose their way as they walk through troubled life toward the house of God.
Saudi Arabia is harsh toward robbers and thieves. In the United States many municipalities are unable to even plant flowers and trees because usually that very night the actual plants and trees will be stolen. Attempts to replant barren landscapes have resulted in even the cheapest and smallest of flowers being stolen.
People are stealing metal for money obtained by selling to recylers. They have stolen metal everywhere they can lay their hands on it. Houses under construction are sacked. Religious and government objects of metal are stolen. Traffic safety devices are stolen. It is a part of everyday society now that it is assumed that anything metal and not guarded day and night will be stolen.
Which is the more compassionate and civilized society?
Every day I see many examples, too many to count, and too painful to contemplate. With pathos I offer one example from my reading the news today. In Florida a gang of teenagers beat a pregnant swan to death. Her mate is heartbroken and as is their tendency will probably die. The neighborhood people are traumatized as they enjoyed the swans who trusted them to live and nest in the nearby pond.
This is Florida. This is the United States. Animals and human babies are killed and tortured with no thought of love or God. The United States used to have a heart, but when they lost God, they lost their heart. Now all they have are heads, wallets, credit cards, and a high proportion of a cruel ravening generation addicted to rage, violence, alcohol and drugs. Do not compromise on your principles or you will see this in your society too.
Today is the Feast of Christ the King. In my previous post I include part of Pope Benedict XVI's words, where he refers to Jesus as King of the Universe.
We know that the word King is a temporal word. It refers to a human concept of rulership, and just kings only reign at the behest of God. So it is not inconsistent to believe in One God, Allah, and to believe that God has appointed Jesus to be King of the Universe. Because Jesus was the Messiah and the human linkage between humans who cannot understand God without assistance, and God who is beyond titles such as "King," there is no disrespect to the One God to affirm that God has the power to appoint Jesus King of the Universe. It is consistent with both Biblical and Qur'an scripture that Jesus fulfilled this role on behalf of humanity. As a true "king" he "served the people" at the appointment of God. This role is to the glory of Allah, of God, rather than a disrespect or taking away from acknowledgement that only God is the All Mighty.
I hope this helps in mutual peace and understanding. God bless all the faithful.
Moving and inspired words by the Pope from the above link:
...the Pontiff said that “this text of the Apostle expresses a synthesis of truth and faith that is so powerful that we cannot but admire it deeply. The Church is the repository of Christ’s mystery. It is so with humility and no trace of pride or arrogance because it is the highest gift that it was given, with no merit in getting it, but which it is called to offer freely to humanity in every age as a horizon of meaning and salvation. It is not philosophy, nor gnosis, even though it includes wisdom and knowledge. It is the mystery of Christ, Christ Himself, Logos incarnate, who died and has risen, becoming the King of the universe. How not to feel a wave of enthusiasm filled with gratitude to be allowed to contemplate the splendour of this revelation? How at the same time can we not feel the joy and sense of responsibility to serve this King, bear witness with one’s life and words to His Lordship? This, in particular, is our task, my venerated Brother Cardinals, namely to announce to the world Christ’s truth, hope for every man and for the entire human family.”
Obviously I did not share this knowledge because I was not to have a public ministry. So I used the excuse (which was not a lie) that I had an unhappy childhood experience as my reason when asked. I satisfied my love for children by being involved in a Native American child sponsoring program and delighted, while it lasted, in being a "second mom," an "auntie," and even a adopted "grandma" for my first generation of sponsored children and their families. Because the threat to me and a potential child was so acute I actually looked into being sterilized before the age of 30. The doctor would not do it as she felt I might change my mind. That is great policy for people in general, since I do urge all good hearted people to have babies and not close themselves down to life, but I could not share my reason for needing to protect myself and not have a child to be a persecuted pawn, as I already was, by cultists.
My concerns were fulfilled when my body was profaned in so called "necessary surgery."
Allah will curse those, especially women who should know better, who have harmed me with no cause or justification.
Here is a small excerpt from St. Augustine: Christ King and Priest:
V.1. Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: let him praise be in the church of the saints.
1. Let us praise the Lord in voice and mind; let us praise him in doing good; and as this pslam bids us, let us sing Him a new song.
For it is so the psalm begins: Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle. For the old man an old son; for the new man a new song.
The Old Testament is an old canticle; the New Testament a new canticle.
In the Old Testament the promises are temporal and terrestrial. He who loves earthly things will sing the old song.
He that would sing the new song, let him love eternal things. Love itself is both new and eternal: It never grows old, therefore is it ever new.
I LOVE that Pope Benedict XVI is bringing back Gregorian Chant and the other classic religious music. Remember that Gregorian Chant and the other classics are not "the old" but they are what the Church intended to be "the new." The great and reverent music, such as Gregorian Chant, was developed over a thousand years after St. Augustine wrote these words. While he was speaking metaphorically of the song of worship it is so very timely and apt to remember this as the great Pope Benedict XVI is so rightly and refreshingly restoring exactly what was new, the new canticle, all along, which should not have been replaced with such irreverent sub par popularized musical material, inappropriate for the liturgy of the Mass.
I remember buying Gregorian Chant back in the days when it was modern to have cassette tape players. Even some college radio stations would occasionally play chant! At last to have it back where it belongs!
JEDDAH, 25 November 2007 — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah yesterday called upon the followers of different faiths to uphold their shared values to promote world peace and understanding.
"If different communities and cultures would turn to their great principles (taught by their religions) then they would find many things that bring them closer, keep them away from conflicts and improve their human qualities," the king said.
(read rest of article at above link)
May Allah bless him and all his works thrive.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I am a lifelong Catholic and have a special relationship with God from the moment of my first thoughts as a baby. I can affirm the truth of the Roman Catholic teaching from this knowledge. However, because my mission is not to modify anything that has been written in the Bible or the Qur'an, I had been silent and tried to lead a normal life as a youngster. I had planned to help people to understand their Abrahamic faiths and return to orthodoxy in belief and practice much later in life. I also knew that I would have a partner in this teaching.
However I did not realize that cultists had identified me even as a small child as someone who might have special knowledge. These people have a gypsy mentality with belief in astrology to gain power over people and also believe in reincarnation. They believe the profanity that they are even reincarnated versions of saints. My Muslim brothers and sisters, you can imagine how I feel about this, if you imagine if people ran around claiming to be one of the Imams (peace be upon them) reincarnated and yet be heretics to Islam! These people consider themselves participants in past Christian religious history, but are hostile to the Roman Catholic Church, the Church to whom I attest and avow.
When I was only about 13 years of age and living in a small town I was "befriended" by a girl my age who lived in the city and who met me at a science fair, saying she liked astronomy like I did. I enjoy math and science and had observed the stars, for science, using astronomy. Her family invited me to go with them to Washington DC for an astronomy conference. I was very excited, living as I was in a small town and being oppressed in the family who are not gracious to God, although they did at least attend Church.
I was immediately alarmed though I did not show it because on the drive to Washington they "decided" to stay at the home of some sort of married Christian pastor. They did not say much about him but I was extremely uncomfortable with this surprise decision, and especially as this was not a Roman Catholic. So even though I never let on, which is easy because I was reserved beyond my years even as a child, I was on guard and worried. On the surface nothing untoward happened but I was aware of being "checked out" by this so called minister and his family. We listened to a new Beatles record (this is how long ago it was, as the Beatles were still recording) and I was very uncomfortable because I strongly disapproved of even the most talented artists who had lyrics praising drug use. In fact I did not buy such artists for decades after their fame because of my disapproval of drug messages. I wondered what minister brings a Catholic girl into his house while his family "checks her out" and plays such music without checking with the parents if this is appropriate.
They were also oddly insistent that I eat certain foods. I did not know waffles but they insisted I eat them until I practically burst and I hated them for many years as a result.
At the astrology conference I had a good time with my friend and tried to joke around, but noticed that even my jokes were taken in some strange ways. At one point I had to chastise the mother of my friend for addressing me in a way that was not appropriate to my age. She was, and this is hard to explain, but you could say that she was keenly interested in the one year difference in age between my friend and me and the implications of it. What implications I wondered? I knew something was wrong and was alert. It was later that I realized these were not "astronomy" people but "astrology reincarnation believing cult Christian exploiters." Upon my return home we did not pursue the friendship and at first I was puzzled, but it was exactly then that I realized they had probably "gotten the information they wanted" (which would be faulty because it was based on faulty assumptions, about reincarnation and so forth.)
Here is what makes me so angry I could use a flamethrower. If they wanted to know something they could have asked me two questions that would have changed the course of the past forty years. They could have asked me:
o Do you believe in reincarnation? They would have seen my genuine amazement as I would have laughed and scoffed and said, I attest, there is no reincarnation. I know this from both the Bible and from personal knowledge. I would have set them straight right at that moment.
o Do you believe in the Jesus story as it is in the Bible and why are you Catholic? I would have told them of course the Bible is accurate (and I would have explained the Qur'an also attests to the reality of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah). I also would have affirmed that the Roman Catholic Church is the true unbroken lineage from Jesus Christ and the Apostles through the Chair of St. Peter, the Popes, to today.
A great deal of pain and torment would have been avoided, to say nothing of the unbelievable error that these thinking people have perpetrated in the world at large. Instead of asking the questions that any simpleton would have asked, they assumed they "knew" the secret knowledge and did their stupid things of trying to identify "past lives" by observing a person's preferences for objects, activities, what they eat, what they say, and by their stupid profane astrology charts. (I had a "special" birthday and my father had a "special" date of death, so this is how they glommed onto my family and forced us into some ridiculous and painful relationship based on witchcraft and meanness of spirit). Yet they consider themselves Christians and the Roman Catholics were considered the "bad guys."
If I had known that I had been consciously targeted (I thought throughout my youth that people were accidentally stumbling upon my "specialness") I would have corrected them immediately. And they would perhaps not hurt as many people as they have, as they have manipulated thousands through the years. And further, I could have saved them from the severe chastisement they will receive from Allah, as God the Father.
First you must understand that it was not uneducated people who decided that the Church needs to require them to go to Mass once a week, and now we are all so much more educated, busy, have other priorities and understand that "God is in the heart" and we really don't need to go. It was God who specifically said the Mass must be attended.
How do we know? It is in the Bible. Virtually one of the first things God taught humans, directly after they were expelled from Eden, is that they must take a portion of their goods and sacrifice them to God. This became the weekly Jewish ritual.
God requires sacrifice because he knows human nature better than anyone, obviously. He knows that if people are not forced to take something they value and sacrifice it (literally it was called holocaust, because it is not the giving away of the animal, grain or treasure, but the destroying of it on God's altar) that they will start to assume they are in control and that they do not know God or owe him anything at all. And how true that has become. Now people whine about being forced to give up their time on Sunday. In the past when people had to labor constantly to eek out a living for themselves and their family, they glorified in going to Mass and giving their time to God on their "day off."
When Jesus gave the New Covenant to humanity he did not eliminate the need for weekly sacrifice to God. He became the sacrifice, thereby substituting the need for actual livestock, food (like grain or oil) or coin to be taken from the poor and destroyed as the sacrifice. Jesus explicitly attended Temple and made clear that the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist was the New foundation of the New Sacrifice, which is the Sacrifice of the Mass.
God knows that if people are not disciplined enough to render unto God in a sacrificial manner every week that they start to change their mindsets into deciding that God is a secondary priority. I understand that society has conspired to make people exhausted with too long hours of work during the week and I deplore that. I blame employers for much of the lack of attendance in Mass. However, people must be adult and responsible and understand that the Mass is not a praise and worship service to be blown off or attended whenever or "done in the heart." It is still the sacrifice that God instructed humans to do for a reason. He knows human nature and that nothing is prized by humans unless they put it before themselves, and also sacrifice something of substance. It's not like he "needs" the attention. It is part of being a good parent, and that he is. He knows better than people do what they need to be healthy and righteous.
(And by the way, I am not at all against praise and worship service. I think they are great actually. But they are not switchable or substitutable for the sacrifice of the Mass).
Friday, November 23, 2007
Because there is not a written activity report for St. Peter's time in Rome as the first Pope, before he was martyred, people have to use their imagination a little bit to fully appreciate what Peter has wrought for the world. Before I help in this exercise I want to also remind people of another important point. When the apostles were called by Jesus, they really were "average Joes." They had great character, but proximity to Jesus did not make them the sanctified holy power houses that they would become after Jesus resurrected and ascended to heaven. People sometimes think that being around Jesus "rubbed off" on the Apostles, but it did not. Of course it would not, but that is the blurry thinking many have today. So Peter was a man of great character and strength, as were the other Apostles and disciples, but he was "just a man" until he received the Holy Spirit in Pentecost. Therefore it is not surprising and Jesus was not wounded to the heart by Peter's denial. Peter and the others had already shown much bravery as the Apostles to Jesus, often going where the hierarchy was planning their harm and downfall. This was what I corrected the priest about.
Once the Holy Spirit descended, however, the Apostles, disciples, and Mary were no longer "average Joes." Mary of course was never an average Joe, being full of grace and the Mother of Jesus. I mention her to remind people that she was there at Pentecost and received the Holy Spirit in the same way as the others (and remember, she received the Holy Spirit when she conceived Jesus). Once the Holy Spirit descended on Peter and the others, they were literally infused with the grace, fortitude and knowledge of the Holy Spirit. It was then that they were able to not just speak in tongues on that day, which fascinates so many people, but more importantly, they performed MIRACLES of physical and mental healing, just as Jesus had done. They had not performed miracles just by virtue of hanging around with Jesus and it rubbing off on them. The Holy Spirit from God alone is the only way to receive such ability. From Pentecost onward the receivers of the Holy Spirit were able to perform miracles and had the fortitude and strength to become tireless orators and evangelizers and eventually, as many did, become martyrs for the faith.
So you must remember that it was a different Peter who went to Rome and became the first Pope at the instruction of Jesus Christ. This was a Peter who not only witnessed to Jesus during his life, after his death and resurrection, but one who had received first hand at the behest of Jesus the Holy Spirit from God himself.
Now think of Rome at the time. Peter goes to Rome, the pagan heartland that had authorized the very arrest and killing of Jesus. Does that sound like someone who should be remembered for doing what pretty much any person alive today would do, despite what folks like to think? Peter denied Jesus, but he followed closely and did not abandon him in his faith. Most people today abandon Jesus in their heads and hearts, and don't even need to be worried for their very lives. So the character of the Apostles and especially Peter should not be impugned in the course of discussing the legitimate weakness of his denial.
More so people should recall that he was the first Pope in the heartland of the pagan empire that went along with the killing of Jesus, and which was ruled by madmen. (Too much lead in the water plus of course a pagan worshipping mentality). He parked himself there in Rome, became the Bishop of Rome, the first Pope, and was the Pope for decades, from the time that the resurrected Jesus "gave him the keys" until his death. Throughout Catholic Church history he became known as the longest reigned Pope no less. While there are no written records of his day to day activity it does not take a lot of brains to understand that he was, along with St. Paul, one of the greatest men of the world. Another cool thing to remember is that Peter decided on his own where to place the Papacy. Jesus did not tell him to go to Rome, to go the the "center of the world" at that time, the very pagan heartland. The Papacy traveled with Peter it was Peter in total. When Peter was in Antioch, that was where the Papacy was. It was Peter's decision, guided by the Holy Spirit, that took him to Rome and where he laid the first step in Christianizing the very place that seemed the least likely and the most dangerous of all. How remarkable a man he was! And there his bones still lie in rest where Pope Benedict XVI is sanctifying cardinals, even as we speak.
What I don't understand is why this is not more realized by Catholics as part of their God given heritage to be proud of, in the most positive sense of the word. Part of this is the falling away and poor formation of young Catholics. And the other part is that Protestant and non-denominational churches, by their splitting away from their root true Church have also thrown away much of what they should be most proud of in the first place. St. Peter is THE model of the man who was chosen by Jesus, followed him, learned from him, never left his belief even as he denied, even during the three days when Jesus had died, and then when Jesus returned, followed every word and instruction that Jesus gave him to the end of his life as a martyr... and, incidentally, the first Pope.
When you touch your forehead saying, "In the name of the Father," think of how the head represents God as the parent. When you touch your abdomen and say "and of the Son" think of how that is the position where one might be cradling a child, such as the Holy Child Jesus, and then as you touch each shoulder saying "and of the Holy Spirit, Amen," think of how the Holy Spirit often appears as a white dove, and each shoulder is a wing.
This adds a simple profundity to the sign of the cross, slows it down and makes it less automatic and for children it makes the sign of the cross and the Trinity much easier to understand.
Hope you find this exercise useful.
Here is an analogy you will understand. When humans became "modern," they started establishing universally agreed standards of measurement. Every country now has a Bureau of Standards. There is worldwide understanding of how long a meter is, for example, or how many grams in a kilogram, and so forth. There are physical original specimens of each measurement so that countries can ensure that they all conform. Everyone agrees how long a centimeter is, and how many go into a meter.
Likewise the One God has given clear instructions for the conduct of humans and how they should worship and obey God.
Imagine the world if any country decided according to political party or whim of special interest to change how long a centimeter is for their country. Or if they changed it day to day, letting each special interest group have the honor of deciding how long a centimeter is for the day. Liberals who think people do not get enough goods for their money could make the centimeter in their country longer than anyone else's for that day. Women might think they should pick an outrageous length for the centimeter, just so they can show they "can't be pushed around." In no time at all the world would be in chaos if everyone disagreed on basic measurements. Transportation would halt and commerce would fall back to primitive levels (a "handful" or "the length between one's wrist and one's elbow," or "the length of a person's stride"). Would you want your physician to give you a good "squirt" of life saving medicine?
Likewise God will not permit the Churches and Mosques that hold the fundamental truth of human's relationship with God to "reform" to be "progressive" with the times, as that is not progression but deviation from the precious truth. Even if they are the last places on earth to contain the standard measure of truth, like Noah's Ark they will be necessary if humans continue in their degeneration and forget what proper behavior and accurate worship canon and liturgy should be. Just because people do not feel like believing the truth does not mean the standard measures that are God given should or ever will be "reformed."
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Mankind needs God in order to discover its vocation to be a united human family, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the inauguration of the dicastery's plenary assembly. The council opened its assembly Tuesday, dedicated to the study of Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Populorum Progressio" 40 years after the document was written.
Cardinal Renato Martino opened the assembly, saying, “There is not true development without vocation and there is no vocation without God."
“Without God,” concluded the cardinal, “it is difficult for men to read in his own nature a vocation; without God, people require much effort to detect a vocation in their history and in their culture; without God, all of humanity finds it difficult to discover the vocation of being one united family.”
I often used the word vocation (or I use the word avocation when I mean the process) when I have performed counseling or spiritual direction. Vocation is a great word to distinguish between the process of having a job, a career, or a work/chore responsibility as opposed to having a yearning and striving toward one's overall purpose in life. It is that second meaning that I refer to when I use the word "vocation." Here is the Encarta dictionary entry for "vocation," where you can see the second definition is the one I apply to the word. Notice it comes from vocare, the Latin word that includes the meaning "the call."
I think people all wonder what their "calling" is in life. One may have a talent to be an Internet web designer, and one may have a promising career as a web designer, and a great job as a web designer, but is that the totality of one's vocation in life, one's calling? No it's not. An obvious example is that web designer as a career does not include being a parent in one's life. Or having a home garden, a knack for counseling children, a prayer life, an artistic streak.... all of whom together constitutes one's life long "vocation."
Cardinal Martino is making the wonderful point (gosh, I could not have written it better myself, but am delighted to explain it, and suggest how to apply what he is saying). He is saying that without a relationship with God one cannot discover one's true vocation, either individually, as part of a local community, or on a global basis. Cardinal Martino is correct that it is difficult to read one's own vocation within oneself without God. Here's the analogy I would use. Without God is it like trying to select one's career based on an incomplete set of pamphlets about specific jobs. Suppose there are hundreds of jobs you would enjoy doing but someone only handed you a few pamphlets to choose from?
Likewise, without God one does not even think of the very things that one might be yearning for in order to satisfy one's self completely throughout one's life. The Cardinal does not mean a religious vocation, as in a calling to priesthood. Instead he is referring to the satisfaction in life of the everyday man or woman, boy or girl who "wants it all" in order to feel authentic and complete. If one does not have God in one's life, one does not even think of activities and routes through life that bring that total satisfaction of achieving the vocation one truly yearns for. In fact I would say many people who lack God in their lives feel a chronic dissatisfaction as they know they are not meeting a calling that is vital to their own happiness. Often a calling is less ambitious and achievement oriented than a career alone. Knowing one's vocation means knowing all of the activities and routes in life beyond the place where you get the paycheck and climb the corporate ladder, such as it is. A job or a career being the totality of one's life is like saying a village is made up of one building. Vocation discernment through relationship with God allows one to understand the entire dimensions of one's own internal structure and also, very importantly, provides much of the positive family, community, cultural, ethnic or global identity for groups of people.
vo·ca·tion [ vō káysh'n ] (plural vo·ca·tions)
1. somebody's job: somebody's work, job, or profession, especially a type of work demanding special commitment
2. urge to follow specific career: a strong feeling of being destined or called to undertake a specific type of work, especially a sense of being chosen by God for religious work or a religious life
[15th century. <>Latin vocation-<>
The Latin word vocare "to call, name," from which vocation is derived, is also the source of the English words advocate, convoke, evoke, invoke, provoke, revoke, vocable, vocabulary, vocative, and vouch.
Now think about this. The United States is currently on President number 43. Now imagine if the Presidency was subordinate to an Emperor who had the power to torture and murder him and all US citizens. During the first 400 years of the Church there were active periods of persecution and martyrdom. So I think this mental exercise gives some valuable perspective that during the first 400 years of its life, the Roman Catholic church had a system of continuity and consistency of faith that yielded 39 legitimate Popes in a row, even as many of them were pursued and martyred... roughly the same number as the US has had of Presidents during this country's entire span of existence thus far.
And if you read the writings of the Popes, bishops or any theologians during that time, (also known as "the Early Church Fathers") what they write is completely recognizable to anyone versed in the faith today, throughout the Church's 2000 year old life as it stands today.