“I certainly don’t think that the death required that ‘ye be born again,’ is the death of reason. If what the Church teaches is not true, then the security and emotional release and sense of purpose it gives you are of no value and you are right to reject it. One of the effects of modern liberal Protestantism has been gradually to turn religion into poetry and therapy, to make truth vaguer and vaguer and more and more relative, to banish intellectual distinctions, to depend on feeling instead of thought, and gradually to come to believe that God has no power, that he cannot communicate with us, cannot reveal himself to us, indeed has not done so, and that religion is our own sweet invention. This seems to be about where you find yourself right now."
Of course, I am a Catholic and I believe the opposite of all this. I believe what the Church teaches – that God has given us reason to use and that it can lead us toward a knowledge of him, through analogy; that he has revealed himself in history and continues to do so through the Church, and that he is present (not just symbolically) in the Eucharist on our altars. To believe all this I don’t take any leap into the absurd. I find it reasonable to believe, even though these beliefs are beyond reason…
Satisfy your demand for reason always, but remember that charity is beyond reason and, and that God can be known through charity.”
Fascinating to me.
God reveals Himself chiefly to the Catholic by way of the Eucharist and through our charitable acts. Think on that a second.
Want to know God? Receive Him in the Eucharist... give Him away by being charitable.
As a freshman in college you are bombarded with new ideas, or rather pieces of ideas, new frames or reference, an activation of the intellectual life which is only beginning, but which is already running ahead of your lived experience. After a year of this, you think you cannot believe. You are just beginning to realize how difficult it is to have faith and the measure of a commitment to it, but you are too young to decide you don’t have faith just because you feel you can’t believe. About the only way we know whether we believe or not is by what we do, and I think from your letter that you will not take the path of least resistance in this matter and simply decide that you have lost your faith and that there is nothing you can do about it.
One result of the stimulation of your intellectual life that takes place in college is usually a shrinking of the imaginative life. This sounds like a paradox, but I have often found it to be true. Students get so bound up with difficulties such as reconciling the clashing of so many different faiths such as Buddhism, Mohammedanism, etc., that they cease to look for God in other ways. Bridges once wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins and asked him to tell him how he, Bridges, could believe. He must have expected from Hopkins a long philosophical answer. Hopkins wrote back, “Give alms.” He was trying to say to Bridges that God is to be experienced in Charity (in the sense of love for the divine image in human beings).Don’t get so entangled with intellectual difficulties that you fail to look for God in this way.
The intellectual difficulties have to be met, however, and you will be meeting them for the rest of your life. When you get a reasonable hold on one, another will come to take its place. At one time, the clash of the different world religions was a difficulty for me. Where you have absolute solutions, however, you have no need of faith. Faith is what you have in the absence of knowledge. The reason this clash doesn’t bother me any longer is because I have got, over the years, a sense of the immense sweep of creation, of the evolutionary process in everything, of how incomprehensible God must necessarily be to be the God of heaven and earth. You can’t fit the Almighty into your intellectual categories. I might suggest that you look into some of the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man et al.). He was a paleontologist–helped to discover Peking man–and also a man of God. I don’t suggest that you go to him for answers but for different questions, for that stretching of the imagination that you need to make you a skeptic in the face of much that you are learning, much of which is new and shocking but which when boiled down becomes less so and takes place in the general scheme of things. What kept me a skeptic in college was precisely my Christian faith. It always said: wait, don’t bite on this, get a wider picture, continue to read.
If you want your faith, you have to work for it. It is a gift, but for very few is it a gift given without any demand for equal time devoted to its cultivation. For every book you read that is anti-Christian, make it your business to read one that presents the other side of the picture; if one isn’t satisfactory read others. Don’t think that you have to abandon reason to be a Christian.
I've learned that faith, Catholic faith in particular, is not Hallmark card based, it's not something that would make good fodder for a Lifetime movie. I find in fact that it's a struggle more times than it isn't. O'Connor's recounting of this notion that faith is something you have to work for, still a gift but one demanding devoted time, rings so true.
“But I would say, you know, if you’re getting married -- why are you getting married?" Pelosi asked. "Why would you get married? Why would anybody get married? In that the person that they love so much, that was irresistible, that they had to get married?”
Pelosi then articulated her theory. “I’m not a big one for rushing people into marriage as wonderful and happy as mine was,” she said, giving a shout-out to her husband of 50 years, Paul.
The Democratic leader did say that children were a good reason to get hitched. “But just make sure that the person that you’re madly in love with is with the program,” Pelosi said.
Do you notice anything interesting? Do you see how that red line (number of cases) and that blue line (number of priests committing abuse) both begin a REALLY rapid descent? Well, if you look closely at the year when that rapid fall begins, that year would be 1981 - two years after John Paul II is elected Pope and the same year Ratzinger is picked to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Even though the CDF won't streamline the process and gain sole jurisdiction over abuse cases until 2001, the chart shows that the minute Ratzinger became the head of CDF, someone, somewhere started shutting these abusive priests down. By 1995, most of the rat holes had been closed.
The press didn't pick up on what was going on until AFTER Ratzinger or one of his confreres had already finished most of the work.
Awfully strange behavior for a fellow who was so devoted to hiding and protecting pedophiles. Did the Church hang back until the press held its feet to the fire? Clearly not. As soon as he had the authroity, Benedict worked strenuously to rid the Church of the horrible scourge of sexual abuse; and the parishes who were guilty of shuffling offenders around were working in contradiction of his policies.
It's hard to argue with numbers. It's much easier to say, "Boo, Catholics! Priests, yuck! Ratzinger, guity!" But folks who do that are lazy or ignorant at best, or at worst, something far worse: they are telling children who are exploited and abused by imams, protestant ministers, rabbis, librarians, pediatricians, swimming coaches, and Starbucks supervisors, "Your suffering isn't useful to me. Get back to me when you've been molested by a priest. Now that's a story."
Watching a preview from Sochi, I heard an Olympic competitor say "Suffering is a skill." The phrase embedded itself in my ear, then my mind. I'm a pretty forgetful gal, especially after forty, so the fact that I woke up still pondering those words told me that I had to interpret what they meant in my life, and in the life of every Catholic. Suffering means something to Catholics. It's not a puzzlement or a punishment like it is for certain ecclesial communities or other belief systems. And while my sufferings, when compared to those I observe far and wide, look pretty tiny, some of them have brought me quite literally to the ground. So I think about why I've come out the other side of these events and time periods closer to Jesus, and why now, at 44, the suffering of others hurts me more than my OWN suffering, and I realize there indeed is, as that young skier said, a skill to suffering, or at least a skill in dealing with suffering. It begins with recognizing what suffering is, how temporary its nature is, and how powerful it can be when we don't attempt to compete against our suffering alone.
We all know the basics of suffering if we are Catholics: join our sufferings with those of Christ, with the sorrows and sufferings of His Mother, and of course, offer our sufferings up for those in Purgatory, or for the pains and battles of others. These should be automatic and constant practices for us. The skill of suffering, what will make me an Olympic level Catholic, is this: to focus not on myself even at the exact apex of my suffering. That is the moment, the climax, when union with Jesus is most possible and most profitable. We can't waste that time on self-pity or panic. In my sufferings, I need to ask Him what to do, whom to think of, where to put my pain. Where does this pain go today, Lord? Picture Jesus' face and ask Him: what do we do now? How do I cross the finish line? How do I push past the wall of pain that I've hit? What is my next turn, my next jump, my next move?
An answer will come. And not just for that moment, but for your whole existence from that point in time onward. You will find that you are thinking of life in different ways. It's not a race or a contest that you want to win to lord over others, but it is a team sport. We are all working together, just so many of us don't know it. What a cold thing my suffering used to be. I would hold it inside like a hard diamond, like a little treasure. How could I think about anyone else when I was suffering so? But there is such liberation and such hidden reward in thinking not of oneself in suffering but of others -- and of Jesus.
Emptying myself out is not a one time, singular practice. After the suffering has passed and the seas are calm, some remnant, some gift, is there, something left by Jesus. I've earned a medal, and it's a sense of acceptance. It's a liberty from selfishness. It's waking up and thinking of ten different people before I think of myself. It's processing each and every moment of time in a new way. Not "What's in this for me?" But "Why am I here in this moment? FOR WHOM am I here in this moment and in this place?" I learn, exquisitely, to wait. To wait for my coaching, my orders, my strategy. How am I to be a blessing? A lesson? A pair of arms? An ear? A Catechism? Tell me, Lord. I am empty now; the suffering has emptied me . . . so refill me. The Olympic event, pushing myself to the limit has emptied me . . . so give me some of You, Lord, so I can get back in there, back in the pool, back on the track, back on the mountain. I live to fight again, fight for someone's rights, or someone's peace. Or even someone's life.
You should read the whole thing... and more importantly, make Ms. DeMille a regular part of your blogospheric reading.
Have you seen the new Walmart ad with a voice over by Mike Rowe?
It's not just good however... it's... well... Catholic:
2427 Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another.210 Hence work is a duty: "If any one will not work, let him not eat."211 Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work212 in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish.213 Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.
2428 In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work.214
Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.
It is not the courtesy which prevents a gentleman from discussion divisive matters at family gatherings (remember how Mr Obama wanted the Progressives to ruin Thanksgiving and Christmas by having them proselytize his health care scheme to their ungood thoughtcriming kinfolk?); it is not a admission of one’s own lack of qualifications to have an opinion in the matter, for the Progressive does not shut up when he is ignorant of the facts, he gains confidence and talks louder; it is not frustration that their enemies will not listen to reason, for reason IS the enemy; nor is it because the matter is a highly technical topic reserved to experts, nor an ineffable topic reserved to mystics, nor matters of dogma reserved to the faithful, since the topics involve matters of common knowledge and common experience known to the common man.
The unwillingness of the Progressives to discuss their beliefs is because one of their beliefs (the most outrageously false of all, and most easy to prove false) is that they are superior beings, superior by virtue of their greater intelligence, open-mindedness, higher education, finer sentiments, and greater compassion, surrounded by yowling and filthy yahoos. These Progressives, who have never read a word of Aristotle, much less read him in Greek, boast that they cannot discuss philosophy honestly with a psychotic yet retarded Neanderthal like me, due to my inferior nature. Well, I cannot argue with their assessment of my education, except to say ἀντικεῖσθαι δ᾽ ὁ ἀλαζὼν φαίνεται τῷ ἀληθευτικῷ· χείρων γάρ. (And it is the boaster that seems to be opposed to the truthful man; for he is the worse character. Aristotle’s Ethica Nicomachea IV, 7.)
And yet this propensity, which naturally leads us to anger at the hypocrisy, self-flattery, and incivility of the Progressives, instead ought to lead us to pity: for this is also an upwelling not of narcissism but of despair. It is not that they think they can reason and that we cannot; they think reason is vain, and philosophy is useless.
It is not as if they talk to each other in a rational fashion in the faculty lounge or news bullpen, and then only assume a demeanor of barking moonbat lunacy when they talk to us. They talk to each other in the same way, like loyal party members in George Orwell’s NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR, exchanging meaningless and soothing slogans and nonsense words, lulled to sleep by the perfect agreement in the perfectly empty word-noises, unless someone jars the serenity by disagreeing on some small point. Immediately the barking moonbats close in, screeching and caterwauling, until the deviant offers servile apologies and self-flagellation. The power of speech is not entirely removed from them, as it is removed from the disloyal animals at the end of THE LAST BATTLE by C.S. Lewis; but it is removed from them on certain topics, wherever the Correct Speech and Correct Goodthink vetoes individual thought.
It is a trap, like an iron snare that closes on the leg of a wild animal. Once they have entered into the delirious realm of non-thought and non-language, only a radical change, only a miracle, can pull them back into the realm of light.
We look but don't realize for what it is we're looking.
Too often we find substitutes and think we've found what we're looking for only to figure out as time passes that the longing remains, the yearning actually grows because the absence of what we're looking for makes that yearning even stronger and so... we search again, and again we settle for a substitute, the circle begining anew, a circle that can lead to a spiral, a spiral that can lead to despair.
What we seek however is not a thing, it's not something we can grasp in our hands, it's not material or necessarily physically tangible.
What we seek, and again, many of us unknowingly, is really a deep love and acceptance that is beyond our ability to describe, much more comprehend.
What we seek is really a Who, a Person, the Person, through whom all persons come to be.
What we seek, too many of us blindly, is Christ.
I've come to believe this with every frail fiber of my being.
A belief that falters more times than it ought but that remains because of the joy and the peace the belief brings, because of the mystery that keeps me coming back in spite of my faltering, because I've learned over the years that He fills this deep longing like nothing else can, because I experience time and again that filling, because I particularly am filled these days, as I attempt to be a faithful Catholic, in and through the beauty and the sustenance of His Real Presence in the Eucharist.
What follows is a glimpse of what Christ can do to and for a seeking person.
Lacey Sturm is a singer with a story, one I think to be a powerful testimony to a seeking and a longing fulfilled, this one in the nick of time.