“I heard once from a learned man, that the motions of the sun, moon, and stars, constituted time, and I assented not. For why should not the motions of all bodies rather be times? Or, if the lights of heaven should cease, and a potter’s wheel run round, should there be no time by which we might measure those whirlings, and say, that either it moved with equal pauses, or if it turned sometimes slower, otherwhiles quicker, that some rounds were longer, other shorter? Or, while we were saying this, should we not also be speaking in time? Or, should there in our words be some syllables short, others long, but because those sounded in a shorter time, these in a longer? God, grant to men to see in a small thing notices common to things great and small. The stars and lights of heaven, are also for signs, and for seasons, and for years, and for days; they are; yet neither should I say, that the going round of that wooden wheel was a day, nor yet he, that it was therefore no time.” – Saint Augustine, Confessions (397-398 AD.)
When I was a Baptist, I believed all the typical misconceptions about the Catholic Church that are rampant to this day. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for me was the Communion of Saints, specifically concerning Mary the so-called Mother of God. I thought those “pesky papists” were crypto-polytheists who didn’t personally know Jesus so they had to go to Him through His sinful old mother. Whom, I might add, they have elevated to a goddess reflecting the pagan mother-son deities of antiquity.
The greatest gift anyone can give is the gift of Self. And since the Father of all Creation has given us Himself, it becomes the only true gift from which all others proceed. And yet, they had rejected the very thing they were made for. Regressing back into that archaic mentality of the Middle Ages (dark due to the Church’s monopoly on ignorance), they had traded this priceless treasure once hidden beneath the deepest crevice of the human heart for a bunch of useless man-made rituals. I felt pity for them (who wouldn’t?) as I suspect many of our separated brethren feel sorry for me. You can not simply tell a naysayers that you have a relationship with Him despite their preconceived notions. Not even as I have found, if you tell them you were once a serious Baptist.
Oh how painfully mistaken I was. As Pope St. John XXIII noted, we Christians can not truly bless God as Father while cursing His mother with the same tongue.
Note: Mary is the mother of God the Son who is God nonetheless (see the heresy of Arianism).
Jesus alone is the Way.
He is the Truth. He is the Life. Not Mary. We know that. But we also know that she still intercedes for His disciples just as she did at Cana when they were out of wine. All Christians are intercessors through the baptismal vocation as priest, prophet and king. And yes, Mary was and is a Christian, and a blessed one at that. And if you believe the Scriptures, then it would serve you well to call her such. (Luke 1:48). Truth is, intercessory love that serves the better good of the Other is as close to the divine as it gets.
Simply because it’s human.
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“They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech.” – Jeremiah 32:35 (NIV)
As my wife and I stood outside Planned Parenthood praying with a newly gained friend in faith, I meditated on the mystery of the Feast of the Transfiguration which the Church celebrates on the 2nd Sunday of Lent.
I had purchased a copy of Matisyahu’s latest album ‘Akeda’ the day before (wanted it for a while but rarely buy CDs – timing is everything) and we listened to it on the drive to the mill. For those who do not know, Matisyahu is a Hasidic Jew whose ‘apostolate’ is creating a unique style of mystical Hip Hop/Reggae in a fight against weapons of war and the diabolical powers that influence the world.
The word ‘Akeda’ also happened to be in Father Robert Baron’s Lenten reflections which arrive in my inbox daily. Knowing that this was no coincidence, I looked it up and found that it refers to the “binding of Isaac” on Mt. Tabor by his father Abraham.
I will be writing on this subject often during Lent this year, but today I will set aside any heavy theology or typology and just point out a most obvious comparison here.
The women who come to Planned Parenthood are not looking to murder human beings, and they certainly not their own unborn children. Contrary to popular belief, we all know everything isn’t black and white. But it cannot be denied that these women, regardless of fault or circumstance, are coming to these places in order to obtain what they think is freedom and are willing to eliminate what they see as an undesirable burden (ignoring that this yet to be formed ‘prenatal mammal’ is essentially a human life).
Out of sight, out of mind. Seems logical enough, right? Hence, we are called to walk by faith.
It makes no difference whether an abortion is performed for selfish reasons or out of fear and a lack of resources thought necessary to provide for a new life worthy of dignity. The truth remains: when a woman chooses to end a life before it can even begin, she is claiming authority that belongs to God alone. It’s not her decision to make past conception. There are other options of which she does have the right to choose, such as adoption or real planned parenthood: Chastity or abstinence.
Each abortion is a human sacrifice in which an innocent dies for the many, similar to the case with Jesus’ death on the Cross. Abortion, like the continuous sacrifices in the Old Testament, will simply never suffice. Christ fulfilled the Law, attaining for us true freedom in grace within it’s walls which are aligned with the heart of one who loves God.
Legal abortion serves as a gospel to those who wish to be saved from what they view as unnecessary or impossible responsibilities (or in the darker realm of the bigger picture, undesirable races or classes of people) thus out of the hardness of our hearts, we have built altars to the bleak god of Self.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And one man’s God is another man’s mythology.
Silence truly is golden, speaking volumes while the Word grows strong uninhibited by the tongue.
There is no better role model for fidelity than the stepfather of Our Lord Jesus who was chosen over all who have ever lived to protect God’s most precious possessions. Throughout his life, Joseph lives a virtuous life. Scripture tells us that God deemed Joseph a “just man” and we cannot expect anything less from the guardian of the person of Jesus Christ and his mother and ours, Mary full of grace.
“The Church is like Noah’s ark that was full of both clean and unclean animals. It must have had an unholy smell, and yet it was carrying eight persons to salvation. The world today is tearing up the photographs of a good society, a good family, a happy, individual personal life. But the Church is keeping the negatives. And when the moment comes when the world wants a reprint, we will have them.” – Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
Some of the most powerful symbols in history have been adopted through the abandonment of the truths for which they formerly stood in exchange for flawed perceptions of the populace conceived through abuses of power and the monopolization of ignorance.
Predating Hitler by about 5,000 years, the swastica (meaning “good fortune” or “well being”) also known as the gammadion cross is a hooked cross which held deep poetic religious and philosophical wisdom long before it ever adorned the vestments of Nazi property or flag. Even to this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism.
You know that creepy eye on the top of the pyramid? Well, back when everyone believed in things higher than man, it symbolized God watching over His people. The All-Seeing Eye provided comfort and confidence in Divine Providence prior to the propagation of paranoia as the Great Seal of America (AKA Big Brother). Jesus is watching you.
Contrary to what small minds may say, the Confederate flag once portrayed the faith of a people torn by both international and civil war. As a native Mississippian and Ole Miss Rebel fan, I’m just going to give this one a big ol’ “Hotty Toddy!” and move along.
And the rainbow? Well, everyone should know what that one means. It served as the sacramental sign of God’s unbreakable Word after the Deluge – when the wickedness, moral perversion and overall evil of man had gone too far and the Big Guy had to open a can. Placing the bow in the sky after the rain had washed away the sin (type of baptism), the Creator promised that He would never again destroy the world with a flood as in the days of Noah. So remember, don’t shake your fist at the sky if we ever start having another great flood like that again. It’s either manmade or insidiously crafted by satanic forces (OK, actually it’s both).
(Side note: Hitler loved rainbows! I personally blame him for the modern deception.)
And then we have the Cross, that most brutal instrument of humiliation and torture through which God ultimately brought the salvation of mankind. Take that, sin and death. Turned upside down, the cross represents humility as portrayed in the martyrdom of St. Peter who refused to be executed in the same manner as Jesus and chose rather to be crucified toes up.
The inverted cross is not a symbol of Satan as the anti-papal propagandists would have you believe (BTW the devil does not wear Prada. He has hooves). I nearly LOL every time I see horror movies depicting it as “the mark of the beast” and silly antitheists using it as mockery, but then I frown because I remember that improperly catechized Christians cringe at it though they should rejoice. Humility is a good thing, and our Lord and savior perfected it thus sanctifying even death. #winning
It should be quite telling that in our very own generation the cross has been publicly burned to incite fear just as the hooked version of its image (swastica) had done with the Jews and other enemies of Germany before (Check out the tau and others); yet it’s true meaning has already been restored as the symbol of the new law of Grace. Think about that for a moment! Isn’t it amazing? Burning but not consumed, the Cross still stands. My fellow Catholics should note that we still elevate the Corpus representing the Body of Christ, His Church – not to sybolically subvert the power of Christ – but to lift Him up so that all those who look upon him will be saved (salve; heal).
In other words, The Faith will rise again.
I find it odd that two of the most viral news stories circulated today are not presented according to their relevance.
On one hand, we have the tragic shooting at a historic southern church. On the other is revelation of Pope Francis’ latest Encyclical LAUDATO SI’ AKA ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME which has been proffered primarily as an exclusively “ecological and political” piece of work (and wrongfully so).
Look closely and you will see that these two headlines shed light on each other quite nicely.
“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.” – St. Francis of Asissi
This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.
Nothing in this world is indifferent to us
“Ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization”… “the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity”… “the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man.” – Pope Paul VI
“The deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence”. – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI