He Is Risen!

Happy Easter! Yes I know that I am a bit late. But it is Easter until Pentecost, and this is Resurrection Raphaelmy hectic time of year.

Easter Vigil at our parish was just beautiful this year. The best ever. I think that it is because our new Deacon intoned the Easter Proclamation this year. I still have goosebumps.

It was also, as always, wonderful to witness adults and older children being baptized and confirmed into the Church. It is such a privilege to walk with people on their spiritual journey.

That said most people don’t realize what goes into preparing for the Easter Vigil.  But it is worth it. I am exhausted but in a good way.

It is a bit weird though. I really thought that I had flunked Lent. Didn’t feel transformed. But  then Easter came, and I am almost overwhelmed with a sense of peace .  God must have been working on me anyway.

O death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?  Christ is risen and life is freed, Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep.  To Him be glory and power for ever and ever.  Amen (St. John Chrysostom)

Posted in Catholic Church, Easter, Liturgical Year | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Belief-less Christianity

John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister,  thinks that is perfectly reasonable to not believe in jesus_facepalmGod and remain in ministry.  (H/T Real Clear Religion)

How can you call yourself a Christian, let alone a minister?!”

I get asked that question frequently and the questioner is hostile more often than not. Still, I like to answer it if I believe the questioner is sincere.

Though I self-identify as a Christian and I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I raised eyebrows a few years ago when I posted an article on my website about how my personal beliefs don’t align with those of most Presbyterians.

For example, I believe that:

  • Religion is a human construct
  • The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
  • Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
  • God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
  • The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
  • Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife

In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister. But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian. Read more…

He thinks that Christianity is a culture, and not a belief system. We are people of the enlightenment–not the dark ages.  Twenty-first century culture, dontcha know, transcends 2000 years of Christian witness. And scholarship.

Well I certainly agree that Christianity is not a mere belief system. To be a Christian is to profess Jesus as Lord and Him crucified. It is to know that Jesus is Truth incarnate.

I really can’t understand his reasoning. I mean why bother. If you truly believe that God is just a symbol (what does that even mean), and that the Jesus presented in the Gospels is just a legend why remain in ministry?  You don’t have to belong to a church to be involved in social justice issues.  You can sleep in on Sunday morning!

I guess he wants the trappings and rituals, without the cross.

Related: This UCC minister says he believes in God–but not really.

Posted in Anti Christian, Christianity, God, Heresey and Dissent, Jesus Christ, Protestant | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I’d Rather be in Italy

Sorry for not  blogging. But. This is my busy, stress filled time of year. It is timePainting white wall with green paint to wind down the preparations for those who decide to come into the Church at Easter Vigil. 1st Communion is just around the corner.

And my favorite deacon decided that this would be the perfect time to get our house painted. Never mind that we could have gone on a first class trip to Italy for what it is costing us. Never mind that my house is turned upside down. We have to refinance our mortgage right this minute. Trust me when himself decides that now is the time…Well now is the time. No argument. Hey I have learned a thing or two after almost 42 years of marriage.

Any way we have a lot of work–especially painting and wall repair– to do.  We have to hire professionals; we just don’t have the time. Besides if you think that I am going to let my husband  anywhere near our very high ceilings at his age, no matter how spry he is, you and he are nuts.

Hey we usually move when it it is time to paint and do maintenance–usually after 5 years. We have been in this house nearly 18. So. I guess it is time to paint.

I am supposed to avoid stress. Yeah. Right

I would rather go to Italy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Tragedy of Moral Relativism

“Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is moral-relativismoften labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be “tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine”, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”  Pope Benedict

David Brooks has an opinion piece in (of all places the New York Times), where he points out the grave consequences of the moral relativism of our culture. (H/T Rod Dreher)

Roughly 10 percent of the children born to college grads grow up in single-parent households. Nearly 70 percent of children born to high school grads do. There are a bunch of charts that look like open scissors. In the 1960s or 1970s, college-educated and noncollege-educated families behaved roughly the same. But since then, behavior patterns have ever more sharply diverged. High-school-educated parents dine with their children less than college-educated parents, read to them less, talk to them less, take them to church less, encourage them less and spend less time engaging in developmental activity.

Interspersed with these statistics, Putnam and his research team profile some of the representative figures from each social class. The profiles from high-school-educated America are familiar but horrific.

David Brooks, sounding like Pope Benedict,  calls for a return to a common moral order:

But it’s increasingly clear that sympathy is not enough. It’s not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles; it’s norms. The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens. In many parts of America there are no minimally agreed upon standards for what it means to be a father. There are no basic codes and rules woven into daily life, which people can absorb unconsciously and follow automatically.

Reintroducing norms will require, first, a moral vocabulary. These norms weren’t destroyed because of people with bad values. They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another. People got out of the habit of setting standards or understanding how they were set.

Next it will require holding people responsible. People born into the most chaotic situations can still be asked the same questions: Are you living for short-term pleasure or long-term good? Are you living for yourself or for your children? Do you have the freedom of self-control or are you in bondage to your desires? Read more…

Returning to a common moral order is not going to be easy. But it is good that the consequences of diversity and radical individualism are being discussed outside of the church.

Perhaps, in the long term, the culture will turn away from the chaos and real harm that relativism has created.

Posted in Moral Theology, Pope Benedict XVI, Truth, Virtue | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost in the Desert of Lent

I think that I am lost in the desert. Hope that I find my way out by Easter.  My desire to
lent desert
pray more, fast more, give more, and blog more has not translated into action.  Yes I know that there is still time to get my act together.

Lent is about turning back to God. It is about accepting God’s mercy and forgiveness for sin and transforming ourselves. It is about growing in holiness. Why is it so hard?

Just looking upon the cross and realizing what Jesus has done for us should be enough to motivate us.

If I want to become a saint, I have to get off the couch and get on my knees.

Posted in Lent, Prayer, Sin | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Oh My. The End Must be NIgh

Just when I have been thinking that Americans have become so polarized that agreementIsaiah 11 6 on anything is impossible, I see this headline (H/T New Advent)

National Catholic Journals Unite: ‘Capital Punishment Must End’ 

Joint Editorial of America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor:

We, the editors of four Catholic journals — America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor — urge the readers of our diverse publications and the whole U.S. Catholic community and all people of faith to stand with us and say, “Capital punishment must end.”
The Catholic Church in this country has fought against the death penalty for decades. Pope St. John Paul II amended the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church to include a de facto prohibition against capital punishment (CCC 2263-2267). Last year, Pope Francis called on all Catholics “to fight … for the abolition of the death penalty.” The practice is abhorrent and unnecessary. It is also insanely expensive as court battles soak up resources better deployed in preventing crime in the first place and working toward restorative justice for those who commit less heinous crimes.
Admirably, Florida has halted executions until the Supreme Court rules, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has postponed all seven executions in the state scheduled for 2015 pending further study. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the death penalty until he has received and reviewed a task force’s report on capital punishment, which he called “a flawed system … ineffective, unjust, and expensive.” Both governors also cited the growing number of death row inmates who have been exonerated nationwide in recent years.
In a statement thanking Wolf, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said: “Turning away from capital punishment does not diminish our support for the families of murder victims. … But killing the guilty does not honor the dead nor does it ennoble the living. When we take a guilty person’s life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture and we demean our own dignity in the process.”
Archbishop Chaput reminds us that when considering the death penalty, we cannot forget that it is we, acting through our government, who are the moral agents in an execution. The prisoner has committed his crime and has answered for it in this life just as he shall answer for it before God. But, it is the government, acting in our name, that orders and perpetrates lethal injection. It is we who add to, instead of heal, the violence. (Read more….)

Reminds me of a joke; so a progressive journalist, a very orthodox journalist, a very progressive journalist, and an orthodox journalist walk into a bar…..

Now if we could get them to unite on pro life issues including abortion, torture, care for the poor etc. etc . Well all things are possible through and in Christ.

And this is a start.

Posted in Abortion, Catholic Moral Teaching, Culture of Death, Pro life, Social Justice, Social Teachings | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Keep Holy the Sabbath

The third commandment tell us: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days youSabbathshall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work.” This commandment is often ignored in our hectic contemporary lives. We have forgotten that “the Sabbath was made for man” (Mk.2:27). Keeping holy the Sabbath is much more than an obligation. It is a gift from God.

In the creation account of Genesis (1-2), God finished his work of creation in six days. On the seventh day God rested. God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it (Gn 2:3).  At first glance this does not seem connected to the third commandment as there is no mention of Adam and Eve giving worship to God.

The Ten Commandments were given to Moses and the Israelite s as part of the covenant between God and his chosen people. The covenants that God makes with his people are not contracts. Nor are they just a set of promises between God and man. Covenants are how God enters into relationship with human beings. God gives himself to man as a free and undeserved gift.

Covenants are an exchange of hearts between God and and his people.

“The goal of creation is the covenant, the love story of God and Man…If then everything is directed to the covenant, it is important to see that the covenant is a relationship: God’s gift of himself to man, but also man’s response to God.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope (emeritus) Benedict).

The way that human beings respond to God, who is love, is by worshiping him in gratitude and thanksgiving.  It is in worship that we love God who loved us first.

When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, he fulfilled the old covenant. The day of resurrection, the first day of the week became the new Sabbath. This is because His resurrection recalls the first creation. “Because it is the eighth day following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection.” Sunday is the feast of feasts, the day of days. Sunday is the Lord ’s Day. (CCC 2174)

The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist and the Lord’s day is at the heart of the life of the Church. This is more than participating in Mass every Sunday. Sunday is also a day to give to God. It is a time to rest in the Lord. When we keep holy the Lord’s day we participate in God’s rest. We participate in God’s freedom. It is only by putting God first that we can truly be free.

Lent is a conversion of turning back to the Lord. It is a time to ask ourselves hard questions. Are we serving God alone?  Do we participate in the Sunday Liturgy with our whole heart, mind, and soul?  Are we resting in the Lord by refraining from unnecessary work or activities that keep us from true worship?  Or are we slaves to work and activities that keep God at a distance?

Posted in Holiness, Lent, Liturgy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I Love being Catholic

Even a Satanist can become a Saint:BLongo91

.- Later this month Pope Francis will head to Pompeii: a city which lays claim to the curious story of a former Satanist priest – now on the way to sainthood – and his miracle-working Marian devotion.

Blessed Bartolo Longo is considered the founder of modern Pompeii, which was established in 1891 after he commissioned the building of the city’s sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary.

The sanctuary is home to a miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was given to Longo by his confessor, Father Alberto Radente, in 1875.  Continue reading…

I guess there is hope for me 🙂

Posted in Catholic Church, Saints | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Rest in Peace Mr. Spock

From the New York Times:Spock_performing_Vulcan_salute

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83. Continue Reading

I was 13 when the original series first aired on TV. Watching with my Dad, an aerospace engineer, was a weekly ritual.  I loved that show and Mr. Spock was my favorite character.

The NYT article (click on link above) interesting video on how he came up with the Vulcan Greeting (see picture above). It is based on a Jewish priestly blessing.

For an indepth explanation check out The Jewish Origin of the Vulcan Salute by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom

I sometimes learn interesting things while going down rabbit holes.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Holy Silence in the Desert of Lent

Lent is hard for me. It is my busy time in the Church. I am more Martha than Mary. But Istill small voiceknow that I will fail in my ministry, and fail as a disciple, if I don’t cultivate a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus. Of course this means that I have to do more than say prayers or petition God or tell Him that I will do his will.

Christians are called to journey through the desert of Lent so that we are ready to meet the risen Christ on Easter Sunday.

But if we don’t cultivate silence, we won’t get very far. We will just wander aimlessly lost and thirsty.  But holy silence is more than the absence of noise. In our 24/7 plugged in yada yada world that is hard enough to handle for many people.

Sitting without the noise of the world blaring in my ears is not hard for me. But that doesn’t mean that I find it easy to put myself in the presence of God.  So many prayers to say and books about God to read.

Listening for the still small voice of God is hard. There is so much going on. There are so many things that need to get done and so little time.

Then there is the scary part. God might lead me where I do not want to go. I will have to change. I will have to let God transform me. But it just so nice and comfy right where I am.

Yes God meets us in the dessert no matter how dusty and dirty we are. But he doesn’t want to leave us there. He wants so much more for His children.

We are not meant for this world; we are all aliens. We are all immigrants temporarily separated from our true home, the Kingdom of God.

The Christian martyrs of the early Church. That is why they went to their deaths joyfully proclaiming the risen Christ.

That is what the 21 Coptic Christians did when they were martyred by ISIS on February 15th. The Coptic Orthodox Church has declared them Saints. They now wear their heavenly crowns of victory. Here is the lovely icon.

coptic maryers icon

Posted in Christianity, Discipleship, Lent, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment