Imagine, for a moment, a beautiful sunset. In the distance, you see three men approaching another man seated under an oak tree. A short while later, a woman brings out bread and cheese curds and milk, as well as some freshly roasted beef, and you see her begin to laugh. What might be going on, you wonder. Perhaps one of the three men is a comedian. Scripture says plainly what happened:
The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way." "Very well," they replied, "do as you have said." Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, "Quick, three seahs of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls." He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then he got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before them; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate. "Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him. "There in the tent," he replied. One of them said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son." Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods. So Sarah laughed to herself and said, "Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?" But the LORD said to Abraham: "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?' Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son." Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, "I didn't laugh." But he said, "Yes you did."
A little further reading will show that she did, indeed, bear a son and name him Isaac. A similar story is told in the Gospel of St. Luke:
In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. Once when he was serving as priest in his division's turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of (the) Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord." Then Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel said to him in reply, "I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time."
What do these two passages have in common, besides the fact that potential parents scoff in the face of messengers from God when told that they would be parents? Both revelations were to men. The Blessed Virgin Mary, however, does not scoff. Indeed, she asks faithfully how something will happen, not how she will know that the revelation is true. Perhaps it is the Blessed Virgin's sinlessness which allows her to receive a revelation from God. Perhaps it is that no one had more of an ability to see an angel and live. What we do know is that the Blessed Virgin, not Joseph (as great as he was), received the revelation of her coming pregnancy. Interesting? I think so. Does it reveal much? Perhaps not, but I do wonder what explanations non-Catholics would attempt.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Imagine, for a moment, a beautiful sunset. In the distance, you see three men approaching another man seated under an oak tree. A short while later, a woman brings out bread and cheese curds and milk, as well as some freshly roasted beef, and you see her begin to laugh. What might be going on, you wonder. Perhaps one of the three men is a comedian. Scripture says plainly what happened:
Monday, June 11, 2007
My friend Travis and I like to make fun of commercials. Not in the sense of laughing at beer-advertising frogs or car-insuring geckos. No, that would be too normal, and theology students are far from normal.
We sat around one day and thought of all the stupid slogans we had seen.
Wendy's - "Do what tastes right."
Seriously, could Wendy's be to blame for the downfall of American morality? I mean, we know from good Catholic moral theology the common phrase agere sequitur esse ("action follows being") meaning that who we are should determine what we do. What if our tastes determined what we did? Let's use the broad definition here: taste can mean any general inclination toward something. It makes sense. That perhaps explains why some women will murder other women in department stores because the tasteful dress one woman desires permits her morally (so she may think) to beat to death anyone else looking at it. Perhaps this explains why so many people steal cars because they look good. Heck, even taking the narrow definition of taste, perhaps this is the reason Eve ate the apple.
Nike - "Just do it."
Really, though, this one is far worse. Don't think about it. Don't decide. Just do it. If there was ever a more animalistic approach to morality, I don't know what it is. To tell someone to "just do it" seems to imply that natural inclinations - instincts - are entirely capable in themselves of creating a civilized soceity. This coming in a world where everyone is told to follow their animal instincts: fornicate, rape, steal, murder, whatever keeps you alive, whatever keeps you "pleasured."
Now before people start shooting off at me, I realize that these companies aren't meaning to set moral standards with their slogans. I just find it amusing because, hey, I'm a nerd like that.
What's far more upsetting is ABC Family Channel's slogan: "a new kind of family." This new kind of family, which they perhaps are trying to reconstruct in the image of their television line-up, is something only the media could dream up. I was watching Kyle XY yesterday during their marathon. I'd never seen the show before, but it looked intriguing, so I thought I'd give it a shot. In the first episode, within a very short period of time, there was a situation which was clearly meant to indicate teenage fornication, a co-ed sleepover of two, and lying to parents to get the once naked boy out of the house through a window. Shortly after, a young teenager (possibly a pre-teen) was shown running in to the bathroom, pulling down his pants, taking out a pornographic magazine, and sitting down on the toilet. The implication was clear and disturbing. A few of the other episodes indicated that the real purpose for going to the pool should be "babe scoping," that lying was sometimes okay if it was for a good reason, and that part of the goal of summer vacation is to lose your virginity. In short, the series was disturbing. Kids do not need to be exposed to this "new kind of family" on ABC Family Channel. The show had a TV-14 rating, but the fact is that nobody should be led to think that trying to lose your virginity is a step to adulthood. Adulthood should come before losing virginity. No one should be led to believe that masturbation is normal or morally permitted. It's an abuse of God's gift of sexuality, which is only fulfilled in being a gift to another.
The whole situation is startling. Whether this is their goal or not, I do not know, but one thing is certain: there is a new kind of family emerging, and it is no family at all.
Posted by Micah at 10:46 AM
Sunday, June 03, 2007
At the beginning of my college experience, when I was engaged in my seminary studies, I had the pleasure of taking liturgy classes from Fr. Marcel Rooney, OSB, former abbot primate of the Benedictine Order. On the first day of class, he entered and said he had something to show us. Drawing a diagram on the board, he told us to remember it, promising that it would be very helpful in all our studies of the liturgy. I believe he was wrong; it is very helpful in all theological study.
The diagram was simple enough. The word "Father" was written above the word "Son" with an arrow going down from the first to the second and another going from the second to the first. The arrows were the Holy Spirit.
I have found this diagram to be extraordinary helpful in theology. Take, for instance, the theology of the Trinity itself. As we know, the Father expresses His Being in His Word (the Son). The Holy Spirit comes forth from the Father (St. Thomas Aquinas used the word "procedes") as that love by which the Father expresses Himself to the Son, who is eternally born (St. Thomas used the term "generated," which is a technical term for "born") through that love. The Son also pours Himself back to the Father, thus making the love a mutual expression, and the Holy Spirit procedes from the Son to the Father.
Very well, it sounds simple enough (the dynamic, not the Trinity), but how does it relate to the rest of theology. I believe that every aspect of theology is either involved itself in this dynamic or reflects it.
Take creation, for instance. God, through His Word (the Son), pours out the Holy Spirit to create the world. It is this Trinitarian dimension which is evident in the account of creation in Genesis. God spoke and the world came into being and the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters. Interesting. So the Word is fruitful--it creates. That's much like the Father is fruitful in generating the Son. The Holy Spirit, likewise, is poured out in that fruitfulness upon the earth. So God pours out His love on the earth. What does that mean creation is supposed to do in response? We're supposed to let that Love bring us to full maturity and offer ourselves back to God.
Okay then, but what about sin? Where does that fit into the picture?
Well, that's simple. Sin is when we refused to return the love. We got very proud of our being, of our growth and maturity, and we decided that we didn't want to give God back what He deserved.
Now, since the Son is the one in the Trinity who returns love, it only seems fitting that He would want to urge us to do so as well. The Son came and became man in order to take on creation, particularly human flesh, and offer it to the Father. The circle is completed by His salvific actions. This is, in fact, precisely what the Scriptures indicate was happening--Jesus Christ came to reclaim the world, the lost sheep, and offer them to the Father. I never understood when I was younger what the Bible meant when it said that all things would be placed under Christ's feet and that when this was complete, He would give it over to His Father. That didn't make much sense to me...did that mean Christ would, at some point, no longer be King or God? Of course not. It meant that Christ would do with creation the same thing He's done for all eternity with His Being: give it back to the Father out of love.
So then what about the Church? Where does that fit in? Well, we know that the Church was born when Christ poured out the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. What does that designate? If we look to the Trinitarian dynamic, whenever the Holy Spirit is flowing, something is either being born or being offered back to God. The Church was born at Pentecost and her entire purpose is to give herself to the Son, who made her by giving her the Spirit. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit moves from the Church into the world via the great work of evangelization and catechesis. He does this in order to draw in more people. As the Holy Spirit goes out from the Church, He gives His guidance (in a way, His very self) to those being evangelized, who then can either reject the grace He offers (that would stop the circle from being complete, which is always a sign of sin) or offer themselves to the Church and through the Church to Jesus and through Jesus to the Father by pouring out their whole being.
Okay, but what about the sacraments? Where do they fit in? Well, the sacraments are the work of Jesus Christ to initiate us, guide us, and support us. The sacraments are means of salvation. That makes them particularly the work of the Holy Spirit. It's no surprise, either. The sacraments bind us more and more closely to Christ. As we receive them, we receive them in Christ, so that the sacraments are a way for God's love to come to us, who are in a way, alteri Christi ("other Christs"). The sacraments, by renewing us in Christ, carry out the work of generation (or "regeneration"), thus giving us new birth. The Holy Spirit is the means of generation of the Son in the Holy Trinity and the sacraments, through which the Holy Spirit operates, are the means of regeneration of the Son in His people. Likewise, the sacraments are liturgical, so that when we, now more deeply bound to Christ, return that love, we do so in the liturgy.
Now it becomes especially clear how this relates to liturgical theology. In the liturgy, we receive love from God. That love regenerates us. We then return our renewed, regenerated selves to God in prayer, worship, and adoration. We also are obliged to return that love in service and works of love to other men, since by loving God's people, we love Him. The liturgy pours forth into the world around us, then, because by working in service and evangelism, the Holy Spirit runs through us as instruments of His love to help in the renewal and regeneration of others, so that they may come to the Church and offer themselves to God.
Last, but certainly not least, I have spoken of our being bound to Christ. This binding more and more greatly conforms us to Him. The end, when all creation is at last under Christ's feet, is when all the circles conjoin into one, which is only possible when all His people are conformed completely to Him in heaven.
I hope that this dynamic helps you to see theology in a new light. I'll try to point it out in future articles.
Posted by Micah at 10:47 PM
Friday, June 01, 2007
In case my readers have never noticed, we Americans thrive on controversy. You always can tell a free culture by that culture's media. In a world where the media is commercial and driven by economics, ratings, and sweeps, we can count on the media always to be seeking the attention of the public. I think what I notice most in the media is controversy.
It's everywhere. You can flip through all the news networks and you will immediately see controversy. If not, just watch the news ticker for a while. It's not just that, either. We can see controversy on the pseudo-news...you know what I mean...the "news" that's really not necessary for us to know...gossip, entertainment news, etc. You can see it on "informational" television. When was the last time a week went by on the History Channel or TLC or Discovery without some program on the DaVinci Code, Exorcisms, the secrets of the Vatican, the "bad popes," the malicious plans of some presidential administrations, etc.?
Okay, okay, it's fairly evident, I'm sure you'll agree. What, precisely, is my point?
Controversy has infiltrated the lifeblood of America. Case in point: in my several years' work on a popular Catholic youth forum, www.phatmass.com, which appears as one of the links on my blog, there has been an increasing number of members who think with a controversial mindset. We see the world through lenses, lenses which are imposed upon us and lenses which we choose and reaffirm for ourselves. Some people have put on lenses for controversy. They see in everything an ulterior motive. It is impossible in their mind that anything good could be honest. It is impossible that the Church's generosity in social welfare could be anything other than the "New World Order" extending it's great tentacled arms into the world to bring others toward it. It is impossible that the Church's insistence on a male priesthood could be anything other than a continuance of the oppression of women once carried on by the masculine hierarchy of a patriarchal society. It is impossible that Vatican II, the ecumenical movement, and all the popes since Blessed John XXIII could be involved in anything other than a unitarian plot for world domination or, alternatively, a complete lack of interest in control, domination, or certitude. The controversial lens thus becomes in its full form a sort of conspiratorial lens which becomes visible in the fact that the same set of circumstances and premises can lead to two completely contrary conclusions when two different people are opining. It seems to me that such inconsistency can only indicate that there is a bias, since if the premises and circumstances involved truly led to the conclusion arrived at, they would lead to the same conclusion regardless of the person observing, or, at the very least, the conclusions would be similar.
Okay...so what? Well, it's quite simple. Common sense. In then Chronicles of Narnia, the old professor likes to question why schools no longer seem to teach logic. Indeed, he has a point, and it has become increasingly worse since those days. Logic, in the professor's opinion, is simply common sense. I happen to agree. Maybe if we could all just let down our lenses, we'd be able to see the world as it truly is. Maybe if we did that, there'd be a lot less controversy and we'd all be a lot happier.
As for my own lenses, I have them, though they don't tend to have a prescription for controversy. Maybe if you read my blog a bit more, they'll become apparent. Let's hope that God will cure my sight.
Let the scales fall, Lord Jesus.
Posted by Micah at 2:31 PM
Saturday, May 26, 2007
For the last two or so years, my spiritual life has been a desert. An oasis here and there, for sure, but in itself, it has been a dry wasteland, watered only by the salty precipitation of the valley of tears (forgive my attempts at poetic metaphor, but I have always enjoyed imagery).
For the most part, I have kept quiet about this and only a few people have known: my former roommate, Travis, who I annoyed constantly with tales of my struggle, and my fiancee, Jennie, who has frequently come to tears for fear that she will never be able to fix me. The darkness has taken over much of my life. Once confident in my fervent love of the Lord, I began not to feel His presence anymore as I once had, and I have only started to realize how weak my nature is and how dependent I have been on consolations.
When I was in the seminary, I was filled with joy. Peace dwelt in my soul and every moment seemed saturated with divine grace. I was in a garden, lush with life, the life of Christ, the green wood Himself (cf. Luke 23:31). When I left that place, I took that peace with me, and my family and friends noticed a marked change from how I had been in high school. While studying at Lincoln, I became one of a few men who were admired for knowledge and service of the faith, and I was proud of it, although I thought myself quite humble (that should have been the first sign). It was there that I found myself becoming increasingly distracted. I was rarely praying the Liturgy of the Hours, even though I had abundant time, and it became a burden to my spiritual life because I no longer felt peace in praying it and became distraught, fearing that I was doing something wrong or had fallen from God's favor.
As I struggled with these fears, I became scrupulous, examining every detail of my daily life, looking out for sin. After a long time doing this, even the most minor imperfections appear as if they are mortal sins. When told by others that they were not sins, my mind would immediately say, "but what if...?"
My prayer life became more and more scattered. I went frequently to daily Mass, I went to adoration often, and I tried to pray throughout the day. I arrived at Franciscan University with an attitude which I recognize in retrospect as a false interpretation of St. John of the Cross (a friend of mine recently remarked that no one under 40 should read his works because they will often fall into scrupulosity, abandonment of prayer, and despair). The first two, I reluctantly struggled with, the last I feared for two years, but refused with a stubborn act of my will. As I came to Franciscan, I had such a negative attitude toward "spiritual emotionalism" that, plunged into a charismatic environment, I became a material (but not formal) quietist.
Avoiding praise and worship music and preferring Mass off campus, I became more and more discouraged as I grew to distrust my emotions in spirituality. Distrusting my emotions, however, led to other dangers, as I later realized. After a while, I missed a few days of Mass (not Sunday Mass, mind you, but daily Mass). After that, I missed more and more days, going in a very scattered pattern as I tried to balance prayer and study. Nothing kills piety quite as effectively as a combination of desolation and excuse. Still, I refused to give up. Easing my spiritual life a bit and removing some of the burden, I told myself again and again that it was okay not to go to daily Mass. It was not a sin, let alone a damnable offense.
I realize now that this dry spell, as long as it has been, is a test. Reading a passage from "The Furrow" by St. Josemaria Escriva, I read a passage which told me that hope is not the practice of trying to see the light, but of believing that the light is in God, and that as long as I am with Him, I have reasong to hope.
It is a test of hope, because God wants to know that I trust in Him. Along with that comes the destruction of my petty legalisms and my material semi-pelagian tendencies which tell me that if I do not pray a certain way, I will not be saved.
It is a test of holiness, because God wants me to desire holiness more than anything else. Along with that comes the abandonment of things which keep me from Him, including myself.
It is a test of love, because my willingness to fight this fight, as much as it saddens me, is a testimony to my love of God.
This test is the fire of which the Church speaks. I am being purified. In went a man who, feeling secure in himself and his holiness, in his pious prayer and his litigious liturgy, viewed God as one who ought to be pleased that at least he is mindful of His word and asked for God's gifts as a spoiled son; out, I hope, will come a man humbled, secure in the Lord's mercy and resting in His holiness, living in faithful prayer and daily life, who views God as one who is pleased to love His creatures and dwell in them not because of their greatness, but because of His.
To be made into this man, I see that I need to ask God first for humility, the humility to appreciate myself, to take myself lightly, and to recognize my desires and emotions as good, then for wisdom, the wisdom to approach Him as a person, not as a drone for His service, nor as a servant prideful of His place in the Kingdom, but as a person, invited into a relationship with the Living God.
This is all very fresh in my mind. Perhaps I will revise it at a later date when God grants me more understanding of the situation.
Posted by Micah at 12:09 PM
Monday, May 14, 2007
It's been a hectic semester, but it is my intention to continue the work I once began on this blog. There have been a few changes in my life. The first is that I graduated (cum laude) with my degree in Theology and Catechetics (with a Latin minor) last Saturday. The second is that I have just been hired as the youth minister at a parish in my fiancee's home diocese, allowing me to live near her family. She, of course, will join me there when we are married on December 28, 2007.
Anyway, those are the changes in my life.
Posted by Micah at 8:08 PM
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
So, I realized today that I had never posted the story of my proposal to Jennie, my beloved fiancee. Here it is for your enjoyment. This was originally posted on September 9th.
I had originally planned to propose on December 8th, but seeing as 1) we decided we wanted to be engaged soon, and 2) Jennie guessed my date (though I didn't confirm it), I decided to move it to the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. So after the long debate which took place here over a ring, I went home for a week before coming back out to Franciscan. Having informed my mother of the situation, she insisted on real jewelry and went to get hers. Within a few days, I had at my disposal 2 diamond earrings, a white gold wedding band, a yellow gold wedding band, her 5th anniversary ring, and a yellow gold setting with two diamond chips and a missing center stone, as well as any of the diamonds surrounding the 3/4 kt oval diamond (but not that diamond itself) my mother has in a ring she won in a contest as a teenager. We went to Borsheim's Jewelers, a very well-known jewelry shop. I selected the ring described above.
So anyway, fast forward to earlier this week. I'm a rather elaborate fellow, so I threw out misinformation on Facebook for any of her friends who took it on themselves to find out information for her. As it turns out, the misinformation was unneeded. Then I asked a friend of mine, Heidi, to call Jennie at 2:30 yesterday (half an hour before she got off work) and ask to talk to her before going on a retreat at 5. Heidi agreed. The plan was this: if I tried to take Jen where I needed her to be, she would get suspicious. If Heidi got her there and I showed up, though, she would be less likely to grow suspicious.
So I was in the tower room of the JC Williams Center on campus, proving my stalkerishness by watching for Jennie out the windows (one window looks toward Kolbe-Clare, where she lives, and one toward the Portiuncula-area entrance). I waited...and waited...and waited...Jennie didn't show up. Then I saw a figure that looked like Jennie, complete with characteristic red capris, walk behind a tree...and disappear. I'm not kidding...I could see all other sides of the tree...I never saw the pair of pants afterward. Naturally, I thought I'd missed Jen and lost track of her. I called Heidi.
Heidi, being a good double agent, informed me that she had a text message prepared in case Jennie found her first, so she could just reach to the phone and hit send and I would be informed. By this point, it's nearly 4 pm, an hour late. Heidi had to drive the shuttle for the retreat she had to leave for at 5, so she walked to Lower Campus to pick it up and called Jennie to tell her to come back in a minute. Then Heidi found out that they didn't have a shuttle for her or the retreat and was therefore stranded on Lower Campus at the bottom of the hill. Then she and Jennie were talking over the phone (it's unclear to me who called whom) and Jen said she would go change her clothes and then go get her from Lower Campus. This is about 4:15. Heidi convinced Jen to get her first and then got her to the Portiuncula-area. Then at about 4:20, Heidi text messaged me to tell me that she had Jen where I needed her (the Stations of the Cross on campus). So then the next phase of the plan began. I called Heidi on the phone and she pretended not to have good reception, so that she would have an excuse to come up out of the Stations area and leave Jennie to me. So I waited for her to come up...and waited...and waited...then a group went down to do the Stations, which of course would mean I was getting in their way. So I called Heidi again.
Heidi told me to come down and I could hear Jen on the other side saying, "Heidi, I really need to get going. I need to change clothes before Mass and I need to pick up Marie (her roommate)." Heidi said, "no, just another minute." So then I walk down the steps to the lowest part of the Stations of the Cross. Jen had her back to me, but turned and saw me coming when I was almost there. Apparently, the look on my face made her suspicious, but she couldn't quite tell yet. Jen was still concerned with getting out of there to get ready for Mass and was pleading with Heidi to let her go. Then I hugged Jennie and Jen made this half-betrayed, half-mockingly angry face at Heidi for tricking her and Heidi just giggled and patted Jen on the shoulder and walked away.
Jen then looked at me and started telling me that she needed to go get ready for Mass and I was like, "okay, but why don't we walk over here for a minute?" We walked to the Third Station (I would have gone halfway between third and fourth, but the group that had gone down was on the fourth). I said, "Jennie, do you know what today is?"
"The Feast of the Birth of Mary."
"So you might say that it was when the Immaculate Conception came to birth?"
"Yes," she replied in a sort of mesmerized tone, perhaps missing my point that this was the date that Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, whom we took as a patroness, had come to a certain level of fruitfulness.
I said, "do you know where we are?"
"The Stations of the Cross."
"The Third Station," I said, "where Jesus falls on His knees, and the Fourth Station, where Jesus meets His Mother, the perfect model of the Church, His bride."
During the next minute, she covered her face with her hands, shook her head with her hands covering it, opened up cracks between her fingers, closed them again, started tossing her whole head from one side to the other, etc. Halfway through the first sentence of my little speech, she interrupted me in a shocked voice and cried, "today?!"
Then I went on a minute longer, suggesting that I should likewise fall on my knee before my bride, in imitation of Christ. Then I got down on my knee (at which point she just gazed into my eyes with this joyful, disbelieving look) and said, opening the ring box, "I love you. Jennie B_______, will you marry me?" Then she, unable to speak, just nodded her head a lot. I took the ring and tried to put it on her finger, but she and I were both shaking too much, so I grabbed her ring finger with my left hand and put the ring on with my right hand (having nearly dropped it). Then she bent down and kissed me and I got up and held her and kissed her and held her some more for a while. Then we shared a moment to tease each other about it and walked off, finally letting her change her clothing and get her roommate.
There, that's all I should say. The rest (including the funny stories of the reactions different people had) is hers to tell.
Posted by Micah at 8:52 AM
Monday, October 09, 2006
Catechetical Synthesis Series
This entry is meant as a meditation and should be read aloud slowly and reflectively. It contains paraphrases of Scriptural passages, but will not cite them, in order to avoid distraction.
In the beginning, before all else existed, there was God, and in Him was a community, a family, a Trinity of Persons. The Father loved the Son and so poured Himself out entirely to Him and likewise, the Son loved the Father and poured out Himself, and the pouring forth was Himself a Person, the Holy Spirit. The Father, in expressing His great love, spoke the Son, His Word, and the Son was one in being with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but they three were in eternal bonds of love, without beginning or end.
In the beginning of time, God created the heavens and the earth. He divided the lands from the waters and placed the sun in the sky to give light to all the world, and the moon at night as a lesser light to reflect the rays of the sun. And God made man and loved Him, and called His him by name: Adam. And God sought to make a wife for Adam, one like him who could love him and whom he could love, and so God put Adam into a deep sleep and formed one of his ribs into a woman, and Adam called her woman and named her Eve, and she became the mother of all the living. And Adam walked in the Garden of Eden and was constantly in the presence of God in a natural covenant with him.
But this did not continue. A great war had been brewing in heaven and Lucifer, the deceiver, the murderer, began to lust after himself, fascinated by his own beauty, and his greatest beauty, which had been his love, became his greatest ugliness, lust, and he chose to rebel against God, and he was cast out of heaven, and fell like lightning from the sky.
And falling to earth, Lucifer tempted Eve and Eve tempted Adam, and they chose against God and fell from His grace. Casting them out into the wilderness, God nevertheless refused to abandon them. They, in sorrow, repented, but the damage was already done. Eve conceived and bore a son and then another, Cain and Abel, and Cain killed Abel, jealous of his greater sacrifice. And God came to Cain and said, "your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil!" And Cain was banished to wander all the earth, yet God would not abandon him.
And time passed, and generations rose and fell, and the whole world became wicked, and God came to Noah, the last righteous man, and told him to build an Ark, and Noah did as God commanded, and built the Ark and filled it with two of every creature, male and female, and God flooded the world and Noah and his family floated on the waters for forty days and forty nights. Finally the storm grew weak and the waters recessed, and Noah left the Ark and life began anew and Noah made a covenant with God, but humanity again fell, yet God would not abandon it.
And generations were born and died and God came to Abraham and promised to make of him a great nation. And God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, but spared Lot in His great mercy. And Abraham's wife bore him Isaac and God told Abraham to offer Isaac, his only beloved son, and Abraham went to do it and God saved Isaac and saw the great faith of Abraham and made a covenant with him.
And Isaac married and his wife bore Jacob and Jacob married and his wife bore many children, one of whom was Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery to Egypt. And Joseph interpreted dreams with the help of God and came to the attention of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him the master of his household. And there was a great famine in Palestine and Joseph's brothers were sent to get grain in Egypt and Joseph forgave them and the whole family moved there. God had not abandoned Joseph or his brothers.
Over time, the pharaohs began to oppress the Hebrews and make them their slaves. And God raised up Moses the infant who, though Hebrew, was raised in the home of Pharaoh, and Moses went out into the wilderness and God spoke to him out of the burning bush, hearing God speak His Name for the first time, YHWH, telling him to go and lead His people to freedom. And Moses went and the Lord sent plagues upon the land of Egypt and Pharaoh was obstinate and would not let the slaves go. So the Lord sent one final plague upon Egypt and had killed the first born son of every Egyptian family, but the families of the Hebrews were saved because they dined on the Passover meal behind doors marked with the blood of the lamb. And Pharaoh let Moses and the Hebrews go, but changed his mind again and rushed after them, and the Lord protected them and the whole Hebrew nation walked across the Red Sea dry-shod, and the waters came in again after Pharaoh and his entire army and destroyed them all. God still did not forget His people.
And Moses commanded the Lord's people and God sent a pillar of fire to lead them into the promised land, which He had promised to Abraham and His descendants forever, and Aaron became a priest of the Lord. And God provided food for them in the desert, His manna which He sent them. And God gave Moses the Ten Commandments for the people to live by and made a covenant with him and Moses placed the commandments in the Ark of the Covenant, but because of the sins of the Hebrew people, they wandered in the desert for forty years and had to face stricter rules than before.
And when all the people of the previous generation had died, God raised up Joshua, son of Nun, to lead the people of Israel across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land, and Israel fought many battles and won many lands. And the people made their home in the land and were led by judges appointed by God.
Yet the people wanted a king and so God chose for them Saul, who grew corrupt, and so the Lord disinherited Saul and chose David, the son of Jesse, Saul's lowly servant, who had conquered the giant, Goliath. And Saul fought David, but David prevailed, yet would not kill Saul, because he was the Lord's anointed. And David became king and wrote the psalms and was a good king, wishing to build a great temple for the Lord, but he fell into lust and sin and grew corrupt, yet repented. And his son Soloman grew up to become king in Israel and built the temple his father had desired to build and the Ark of the Covenant was brought into it, uniting the Mosaic and Davidic covenants.
And Soloman grew corrupt and fell, and the Lord raised up prophets to testify against Israel and call for a new covenant, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others. And the Lord raised up foreign kings to conquer them, and Israel fell again and again, splitting into parts and dividing in the diaspora after their exile. And the Lord called them out of the foreign lands and they revived the law, but continued to fall again and again. And the Lord raised up Judas Maccabeus, who cleansed the temple and drove out the pagans.
And the Lord allowed the Romans to conquer Israel and "in the 5199th year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth; the 2957th year after the flood; the 2015th year from the birth of Abraham; the 1510th year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt; the 1032nd year from David's being anointed king; in the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the 194th Olympiad; the 752nd year from the foundation of the city of Rome; the 42nd year of the reign of Octavian Augustus; the whole world being at peace, in the 6th age of the world, Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and 9 months having passed since His conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh."
For the angel of the Lord, Gabriel, had come unto the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, and announced to her the coming of God and His will to become man in her womb, and she consented, giving herself entirely to the Lord. And she was overshadowed by the power of the Holy Spirit and He who from the beginning was the Word became flesh and dwelt among us in the fullness of time for the forgiveness of sins. And Mary became the Ark of the New Covenant. And the Blessed Virgin Mary went to visit her elderly pregnant cousin in the hill country and cried out, "my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for He has looked with favor on the lowliness of His handmaid," and Elizabeth bore John the Baptist, who leapt in her womb at the greeting of the Virgin Mother, and Mary returned to her own land and Joseph, her husband, seeing that she was with child, but being a righteous man and not willing to see her put to shame, prepared to divorce her quietly when, lo, and angel of the Lord came to him and said, "do not be afraid to take Mary for your wife, for the child she bears is of the Holy Spirit, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save men from their sins." And Joseph took Mary into his home, but never had relations with her, and hearing a decree from the emperor, he took her to his ancestral home in Bethlehem, the City of David, and the Child was born in a manger because there was no room at the inn. And Jesus was presented in the temple, where Mary heard that a sword would pierce her heart. And the wise men came from afar to adore Jesus and offered Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And Joseph, having been warned in a dream, fled with the Mother and Child to Egypt, for the king of Israel was slaughtering all the baby boys for fear of losing His power.
And the child grew in wisdom and strength and was lost and found again by His parents in the temple, teaching the Scribes about the Scriptures and the ways of the Most High. And He was obedient to them.
And one day there was a wedding in the town of Cana, and the Mother of Jesus was there, and she asked Him to perform a miracle and produce more wine for the wedding feast, and the chefs said that it was greater than the first wine, and this was His first public miracle. And Jesus was Baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, who said, "behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!" And He went out into the wilderness and was tempted by Lucifer, but resisted, and returned to begin His ministry, and He preached the Gospel, the Good News of salvation, and He healed the sick and raised the dead, He forgave sins and He consoled the sorrowing, He ordained followers and selected Apostles, teaching Simon Peter how to lead the rest, and at last, after three years of ministering to the people, He offered Himself, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Eucharistic Feast, the first Mass, in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, celebrating anew the Passover Meal of the Hebrews.
And Jesus went with His apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed so hard that He sweat blood, but His apostles could not stay awake, and He was handed over to the Pharisees, who beat Him and submitted Him to torment, and He was condemned by the Jews and the Romans and scourged mercilessly and crowned with thorns. And Jesus was made to carry a cross with only the help of one man, Simon of Cyrene. And Jesus met His Mother on the road to Calvary, where He was crucified with two criminals, one whom He forgave and another who was obstinate in his sins. And His side was pierced by a lance and blood and water flowed out. And His body was removed from the cross and laid in a tomb.
And on the third day, He rose from the dead and astounded many. And that same evening, He met two disciples on the road who were walking away in despair and He spoke to them, explaining the Scriptures, but they did not recognize Him. And, dining with them, He took bread, said the blessing, and broke it, giving it to them, and their eyes were opened and they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread, for it was His Body and Blood, the second Mass. And they returned to Jerusalem to tell everyone.
And Jesus appeared to many and taught them many more things and sent out the apostles to preach and to baptize, and He ascended into heaven. They waited and prayed in the Upper Room until the Holy Spirit came upon them and they were filled with the courage to preach the Gospel. And the Apostles went out and did just that. Then Saul, the persecutor of the Church, who had witnessed and consented of the martyrdom of St. Stephen the First Martyr, was struck down by a vision of Christ, who asked why Saul persecuted Him, and Saul was blinded, but healed and received into the Church and made an Apostle. And the Apostles continued to preach and were arrested, beaten, and martyred, but they left successors, the bishops, who also preached the Gospel. And the Church began to spread and overtake the world, and the Gospel was preached to all the corners of the Roman Empire and its voice grew in the persecutions of Christians, and it continued to grow despite all the powers of the world against it. And kingdoms rose and fell, but Christianity remained, and the successors of St. Peter, the popes, remained an unbroken lineage. And here you are today, reading this. The question is, where do you fit into the story?
I hope we can answer that together.
Posted by Micah at 4:25 PM
I've decided that I'd like to approach a little apologetic. I'm going to be posting over the coming weeks, as much as I am able, a series of short essays on Catholicism. They will be simple to understand, so I hope that I will gain some readers. My hope is to place the teachings of the Church into a cohesive and organic unity, since this is the one thing that helps dissolve the issues of most who do not understand the Church.
My preliminary outline (subject to change) is this:
- The Narratio (The Story of Salvation)
- The Holy Trinity
- The Incarnation
- The Passion
- The Church
- Redemption (Objectively)
- Redemption (Subjectively)
- The Mother of God
Posted by Micah at 4:07 PM
Friday, June 30, 2006
Sunday, June 04, 2006
So I went without the internet for three weeks (oh, the humanity!) and just recently got a high speed connection at the place I'm staying for the summer. However, that's quite irrelevant, because I'm back at home in Nebraska at the moment.
I got home at about 2:30 a.m. the other night and stayed up talking with my mother until about 5. She was asking about Jennie. She knows I love her and asked me about a week ago what our "plans" were. I gulped. Slowly, though, I let her know that I'd like to ask Jen the question...then I let her know that I'd already talked about it with Jen...then I let her know that Jen and I were already planning on marriage. Mom took it excedingly better than I thought she would. She was supportive, in fact. Someone help me hunt down the aliens that took my mother and left a doppleganger.
Jennie and I will probably be getting married in December '07 or January '08, so it'll be a long engagement. Now to buy a ring...
In the meantime, I have added a new blog to my list of "blogs we like." Please visit it. A friend of mine, my former choir director, runs it. She's earning her doctorate in music at the moment and knows her stuff. If you want any liturgical edification, she's the way to go.
Posted by Micah at 6:46 PM
Monday, May 08, 2006
The eschatological fulfillment of the sevenfold covenantal prediction is proximate to the manually-euphemistic chronological present!
In non-technical language, "the end is near!"
The end of the semester, that is. That's right, boys and girls, I have one final left and then I'm outta here...or I would be, if not for the RA training I need to do for a while longer.
I'm sorry that I haven't updated in a while. I just forget about this place. Laura, if you send me an email everyday, I'll try to update just as often.
What shall I discuss today? Perhaps the Scriptures again? Perhaps Church history? Perhaps you would all like to read my commentary on the philosophy of friendship in the ancient world and how it relates to and is addressed in epistolary Latin? No?
I'll tell you what I'm going to write about. Jennie is leaving in less than a week and won't be back for three months and, while I don't want her to leave, I'm not all that upset. I suppose it's a form of pride to condemn myself for my lack of due emotions, though, so I'll stay clear of that. It's not that I don't love her. You all know that I do...it's just that...I've known it was coming...and I'm now finally confident in her love for me...the thought of her leaving doesn't scare me (even though I know I'll miss her) because I know she'll be back and I know she'll be faithful.
That's just one issue, though...my spiritual thought for the day is this: God, give me a thirst for souls...let me no longer be driven to food and drink by my passions, but driven to souls for love of you! How much I wish to burn with zeal for Christ, and how little I am barely smoldering.
"Dearest Lord Jesus, I love you, make me a saint!" -Fr. McMahon, Archdiocese of Omaha
Posted by Micah at 9:57 PM
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
What's a meme?
I don't know.
This comes all the way from Daughter of St. John who sent me something called a "Holy Week Meme."
Lent is almost over and this Sunday is Palm Sunday already! I thought it would be fun to share what we do special to commemorate the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord.
1. What do you do with your new blessed palm from Palm Sunday?
I used to just store it somewhere or put it behind a crucifix. This year, I went online and tried to make a cross out of it. The palm sorta split in the middle, but that's okay.
2. What do you do with your old one from last year?
I...uhh...don't know what happened to it. Come to think of it, I don't think I got one.
3. What do you do during Holy Week in preparation for Good Friday?
I'd like to say that I do lots of extra things, but I don't. I went to Confession yesterday morning, but then it was a normal day of classes and R.A. training. My vocation has to come first. However, as Sr. M. Johanna taught my catechetics class, Holy Thursday celebrates the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and should be celebratory...so I'll eat some dessert and drink some chocolate milk (two things I gave up).
4. How do you commemorate Christ's Passion on Good Friday?
I will, as per the same sister's instructions, do a bread and water fast...and of course go to the service. I love the Reproaches.
5. When do you color Easter eggs?
Haven't done that for a long time...
6. When do you buy Easter candy?
I don't, usually.
7. What is the first thing you plan to do Easter morning?
Well, I'll be at the vigil and then at midnight, I'll go to the Resurrection Party where there will be great joy and feasting and music and liveliness.
Posted by Micah at 10:34 PM
Saturday, March 11, 2006
I've been taking a little break from my blog while I finished up on midterms and took care of a few things I needed to get done.
I'm staying on campus for Spring break because I need to work. What a bummer. At least Jennie is here.
I finally stopped being sick, although now the seasonal allergies are starting to kick in.
I didn't get the job as an RA. Instead, I get to be an "alternate," which means they don't want me, but they'll take me if they're stuck with me (in the unlikelihood that someone will reject the position).
Anyway, that's the short summary of my life since two weeks ago.
Posted by Micah at 9:47 AM
Saturday, February 25, 2006
I've been getting progressively more ill since Thursday and last night I couldn't do anything with Jennie because it was obvious that I was too sick. She called me up last night to talk after she got off work. "Babe, I'm at Walmart. Do you need anything?"
"Wow," I thought to myself, "boy am I lucky...she really loves me...she wants to take care of me when I'm sick." I couldn't help but smile.
"My dad told me to get Zicam," I said, "in the pill form."
"Okay, I'll look for it."
She called back a few minutes later to tell me that they only had it in spray form, which my father told me to avoid, so I thanked her anyway and let her go on her way. About half an hour later, she called back to tell me that she went to the Kroger's Supermarket in town and had found some for me and was waiting in the lobby of my dorm to give it to me. Sure enough, when I went down the stairs, there she was, waiting and looking at me with those loving eyes, the car outside with the blinkers on.
I'm so blessed to have my Jennie. She went out of her way and spent a bit of time just to improve my conditions and make me a little happier. Thank you, God.
Posted by Micah at 1:31 PM
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Sr. M. Iohanna Paruch was speaking to our catechetics class about Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, OSB.
While a Benedictine monk, Fr. Buechlein, he was asked to become a bishop and humbly said that he would not take on such a duty. Some time later, while staying at a hotel while on a trip, he answered the phone, "Fr. Buechlein, how may I help you?"
"Hello Fr. Buechlein, this is the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. I'm calling to inform you that your vow of obedience has been transferred to the Holy Father, your vow of poverty has been dissolved so that you may serve the poor, and your vow of chastity...well, you can keep that. You're the new Bishop of Memphis."
Undoubtedly the good bishop was stunned. God had just completely overrided his humble will. When we are humble, it is easier for God to override our wills and place our lives along His own path. When we are proud, we resist.
Just because a man is humble doesn't mean he won't have his will corrected; in fact, the humble man will find himself far more often vetoed than the arrogant man.
Posted by Micah at 10:01 PM
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Last night and this morning, I've poored through half of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters and rapidly discovered that a great many of these demonic bits of advice apply to my life and my actions. Traps and snares abound in my life, yet I tend not to be mindful of their abundance...reading a book like that convicts the soul and humiliates a man in his own eyes.
I am borrowing it from my roommate and turned to him to ask for a different book, not because I dislike this, but because I was looking for one more spiritual, "this one is making me feel guilty," I said, "and I'd rather read something more spiritually uplifting."
"If it's convicting your heart and humbling you, then I think that's the book you need to read." He said.
Can't beat that advice.
Posted by Micah at 7:37 PM
Monday, February 20, 2006
Metanoia is a fancy Greek word for "change of heart" or "conversion." Silly theologians and their Greek.
I've had a lot of moments in my metanoia, my own personal conversion story, and today I had another. Even though I was about to hit 20,000 posts on Phatmass (Yeah, I know, what a dork, right?), I just quit cold-turkey. Perhaps it was because I was about to hit 20,000 posts, actually. I'm not sure.
A friend of mine pointed out how Catholics on the internet tend to attack one another. We aren't often unified. While I hope this specific problem is one I have not recently shown (I was working on it a long time ago), I know of other problems I had. I've been addicted to the internet.
It's hard not to be. It's like entering our own little dream world. We can ignore people, tell other people what we think without any inhibitions, show off our knowledge (and occasionally reveal our idiocy), and whine, complain, and rant until we're blue in the...fingers.
Ah, internet addiction...what a disasterous thing! I'm reminded of the words of Psalm 115 (I had to look up which one it was):
"They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have nostrils, but they cannot smell.
With their hands they cannot feel;
With their feet they cannot walk.
No sound comes from their throats.
Their makers will come to be like them
and so will all who trust in them." (Breviary Translation)
We so often post what absolutely no one cares about...why? Because we want to say what's on our mind! We want to fashion a little virtual world in our image. I know very well that I myself have gone there and reloaded a page 20 or 30 times in a row. Why? Because I couldn't wait to see what someone else had to say! It was fascinating! Best of all, they were replying to me!
We get so caught up in ourselves on the internet and we rarely realize that there are others involved. We wait for replies with the time we should spend praying, we speak with sarcasm, we try to beat people in arguments...and for what? To impress a bunch of people we very likely will never meet.
Yet we hopefully will someday meet Christ...and what will He have to say about it all?
I don't know about you, but I need time to recollect myself, to pray, and to center my life once again around God and not about my talking about God. It's time for a little metanoia.
May God bless us and keep us and conform us evermore to Himself.
Posted by Micah at 6:01 PM
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Stereotypes. We all have them, especially young people. They're full of stereotypes.
I really hope someone caught that.
I was at the mall a while ago with my beloved Jennie and as we walked hand-in-hand, we were approached by a few young guys, high school seniors perhaps, who looked at me and said in a very frank voice, "dude, how did you get her?!"
I didn't know whether to be complimented or insulted. On the one hand, he had just told me in no uncertain terms that the woman who loves me is beautiful. On the other, he had just single-handedly judged me unworthy of her by our exterior looks.
Jen took it as an insult and a personal one at that. What the comment had meant to her was that she was too beautiful to be with someone like me and that beautiful girls like her are shallow and selfish. He had judged her soul by the appearance of her body.
I'm not a fan of political correctness. I think too many people whine about stereotypes. However, every once and a while, some very wrong judgment is made. How rude can you get? We must be careful not to make stereotypical judgments and insult people based on what we mistakenly think of them. Judgment is a double-edged sword...swordplay should only be undertaken by those who have training and experience.
For the record, if that boy had taken a moment to look past her body and into her soul, he would have seen something far more beautiful and precious. I'm blessed to have had the chance to see her soul before her body.
Posted by Micah at 3:29 PM
Saturday, February 18, 2006
We are told that where our heart is, there our treasure lies. This is something which proves to be a more and more certain truism.
I have found that my heart is not in God. If it were, I would not sin, but would seek to guard my treasure.
Nor is my heart in heaven. If it were, I would strive first and foremost for the Kingdom of Heaven.
My heart is in the world. My heart is in myself. I am a selfish person with selfish interests. I snapped at someone close to me the other day, a sort of adopted little sister, because she stole a cookie from my plate. It wasn't really the loss of a cookie that bugged me; I'm gladly not that attached to food, although a good cookie is always a wonderful thing to have. What upset me was that she stole it. She was trying to be playful, of course, and I knew it. I'd often played around, but only because I knew it wasn't right to be upset. When she stole it this time, I snapped and said, "here, have them all!" And I tossed the plate in front of her. This is not what Jesus meant when He said, "if a man asks for your tunic, give him your cloak as well."
Within a few seconds, she was crying. She had no idea that she should have expected that and I don't know where it came from.
Why had it gotten on my nerves? Because people trample over me a lot. People take and take. I was the lonely kid who walked up and down the blacktop every recess as a child. I was the reject. I was the kid who got picked on. Some of that still haunts me. I insult myself a lot. I beat myself up when I'm not good enough. Why? Because I always assumed the best of others...I always just thought something was wrong with me. I never just told myself, "those kids are jerks" and left it at that...so I'd make excuses for them, "I really am a loser. I deserve this kind of treatment."
I don't like it when people don't ask and just take. I don't like it when people are rude to me. I don't like it when people do things to get on my nerves...but most of all, I don't like it when I do those things to others.
So I beat myself up...I tell myself I'm worthless and then I wonder why I am. The fact is, that's pride. It is pride because it's completely focused on myself and not at all on Christ.
Sure, I want to make God happy, but it's more about my being worthy of His happiness than His being pleased. My heart is in myself, not in God. The difference between these two dispositions seems entirely impossible to overcome. I must become humble. I must place my heart in God. Up to now, I have made very little progress, and perhaps only a few cells of heartflesh are conformed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. God help me, piece by piece, bit by bit, to become an honest, humble man...a man after His own heart.
Lord Jesus, I ask your most blessed and Immaculate Mother Mary to accept my heart and give it to you. May I become yours by her intercession. May my heart, my treasure, be in you, not for my own glory, but for love of the Triune Godhead who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Posted by Micah at 11:17 PM
Friday, February 17, 2006
There are many in the Church today who would prefer to see simple architecture and minimalist art in even the cathedrals of Christendom. Preferring the spiritual to the corporeal, they would make short, squatty churches with plain walls and bare crosses. The important thing, they say, is that we are united to the love of Christ. Indeed they are right, but could that be all? God created man as a composite creature, body and soul. The body expresses the inward beauty of the soul and the soul brings life to the body. He made us body and soul; should we not expect Him to save our bodies and souls? Yet if the way of salvation is communion with Christ, and we expect and anticipate the salvation of body and soul, doesn't this mean that both must be in communion with Christ?
Christ came among men to save them and He, the Eternal Word of the Father, took on our flesh. The Lord Himself has taken on the body and soul of man to redeem the body and soul of man. Does it make sense then that we should ignore the fact that He took on our flesh?
Yet this is exactly what the iconoclasts do! The Lord, the God of all creation, gave us the sacraments and they testify to this very fact. Not a single sacrament is without the physical aspect. We need only look to the Eucharist. Jesus Christ gives us to eat His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. The word in the Greek means "to chew" and the word St. Thomas Aquinas uses, manducat, means the same. We chew our Lord who comes sacramentally and substantially to us in the humble form of bread. This is what George Weigel calls the "grittiness" of Catholicism.
The scandal lies in the fact that God became man. It is such a profound fact and so sublime that hardly anyone could think such a thing possible. Indeed, it seems completely impossible. The Incarnation is central to the faith. By it, our bodies and souls may be saved.
Those who deny that we come to know God in this way deny that in order to come to know God, we must be conformed to Him. To know God is not merely intellectual. The wording "to know" is used in Scripture to mean union, particularly the marital union. How can we know God without becoming one flesh with Him? It is an entirely Lutheran idea that salvation can come to us merely by our intellectual and volative assent. The gritty Catholic knows that to be justified, one must be sanctified, and to be sanctified, one must be conformed to Christ, and to be conformed to Christ, one must know Him, body and soul, and grow into deeper and deeper communion with Him.
Those who claim that we have no place for sacred art, music, or incense simply don't understand that we are embodied souls. We need to experience with our senses so that our minds can comprehend the data. Those who would have us live in their iconoclasm forget that Christ came to save our bodies and souls and meant, most surely, to conform them to Himself. The iconoclasts wish to do away with the scandal of the Incarnation.
As for me, I will revere the icons, the chant, and the incense of my faith. By these means is the Word of God Incarnate communicated to me. Let the iconoclasts have only their souls redeemed. At least we'll be able to beat them at football when we get to heaven.
Posted by Micah at 1:15 PM
Have you ever loved a stranger? I mean, have you ever walked by someone on the street, a total stranger, and just loved them?
The Gospels tell us that Jesus loved those who came to Him. In Mark 10:21, we are told of one occasion on which Jesus loved someone who came to him. Jesus loved him. It comes across as a complete action. Jesus love for him was complete and it was also active.
The Greek of the passage records that Jesus' love was agape love--the pure, Christian love of God. By Baptism, we become capable of sharing in this love, although our share may be imperfect in this life.
Sometimes I like to sit somewhere, on a parkbench, for instance, and just see those who walk by and love them. I may never know their names or their stories, but I know that they are images of God, His children, and that loving Christ in the stranger is part of what it means to be Christian.
Let us love our neighbors, whoever they are, be they known to us or not. Let us love our strangers.
Posted by Micah at 12:38 PM
Thursday, February 16, 2006
No one can doubt that liturgical abuses exist. The sons of Aaron show the earliest form of this by offering "unholy fire" (Leviticus 10) and are likewise consumed in holy fire for their disobedience. Consequently, the document Quo Primum sets a certain standard for the liturgy in the Roman Rite and this standard changed (not in a bad way) with Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Missae. Since then, the west has been struggling with priests (and the occasional nun or layperson) who try to celebrate Mass to the beat of their own drum (sometimes quite literally) and the Church seems split. It's not hard to enter a parish community and find factions on the liturgy.
Certainly, we should all be conscious and aware of liturgical abuse. It is something we must fight. However, we must also be aware that when the Mass is celebrated validly (there are times that it is not), Jesus is present there. If God is there, then we must quiet our hearts and accept Him humbly, praying that He will care for His Sacred Liturgy. Approaching the altar with anger in one's heart and one's eyes turned inward in the conceit of disapproval only further detracts from the Mass.
One of the advantages to living in Steubenville is that I get to see Dr. Scott Hahn fairly often. While giving a series of talks on the Mass and the Scriptures, he was asked what he thought of liturgical abuses. Always humble of heart, the good professor replied, "the only abuse I ever notice is that I am allowed to receive."
May God bless us all.
Posted by Micah at 8:45 PM
Jennie was sick today...just sinus problems and a sore throat, don't worry. She was very tired though, after a night of tossing and turning in her bed. Poor girl. She was a little cranky today, but that's okay.
I wanted to give her a kiss, but I knew I couldn't. I wanted to keep her close and hold her awhile, but I knew I shouldn't.
Instead of caring about myself, I only wanted to see her get better. I held her for a few moments and looked in her eyes, I rubbed her arm and told her to get some rest. Love must be a patient servant, even in the face of crankiness. There's always tomorrow for kisses.
Posted by Micah at 7:39 PM
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Any ideas, anyone?
Posted by Micah at 8:34 PM
Yesterday I went out to dinner with Jennie, my wonderful, smart, kind, beautiful, loving girlfriend. Then we went to the mall and I let her lead me by the hand while she looked at shoes and boots in a whole bunch of stores. She apologized and I told the silly girl that I like shopping. Then we went to see a movie and she leaned on me and held my arm through the whole thing. Finally, we got back and did some eye-gazing before I left her and she went back home. Her roommates told her that she was glowing when she got in the door!
I love her so much!
Posted by Micah at 7:52 PM
"The good Lord has always been good to me."
My grandfather often said this pious little prayer of thanks in gratitude for all that God had done for him. He was a somewhat wealthy construction company owner, lace-curtain Irish, raised with servants, who eloped to marry the family nurse. Not a bad lifestyle. He had very much to be grateful for and he certainly was.
It's not uncommon that we despair when bad news comes to us. Not grandpa. When his father (and provider) died, he was on his way to study at the University of Notre Dame. He turned around and went back home. He had to help provide for the family. Many of us would have cursed the moment and grown angry and bitter with God. How could He do that to us? Yet grandpa knew that the Lord would provide.
Even though things looked gloomy, the Lord provided for my grandfather. He gave him the means to start a company with my great-uncle and the two helped finish the work they had started when working for their father's company. The old brick Lincoln Highway still stands as a testament in Nebraska to the determination of my grandfather to go about his work with joy and thanks, never allowing the storms to disturb him.
When grandpa grew old, he got Alzheimer's Disease. He could no longer remember how good the Lord had been to him. He couldn't remember his own children. Yet he displayed a simple faith. He found the time and the opportunity to smile in the nursing home. If there wasn't something happening to make people laugh, he'd do it himself. A good laugh is a prayer of gratitude for joy.
We need to be grateful for the good things God gives us, but also for the bad. He means only to test us, to strengthen us, and to help us to endure the consequences we bring on ourselves. Sometimes things go badly. Sometimes life hurts. But let's not get confused, it's we who cause the evil and God who provides the solution which leads to good.
Lastly, in gratitude, let us keep our eyes on Jesus, Our Light, and we will walk on water and not be shaken by the storm all around us.
Posted by Micah at 3:39 PM
The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed confesses faith in Jesus Christ who is Lumen de Lumine (Light from Light). God is truly Light. With God as the light for our steps, we progress in faith on this life's pilgrimage. The purpose of this blog is to learn, know, teach, and live the faith so that the author and all his readers may grow into deeper communion with the God who is both teacher and taught.
Posted by Micah at 1:27 PM