Category: The Catholic Church

Posts about the Church as an institution, structure, and entity.

Thoughts on Justice & Mercy

Divine Mercy
Divine Mercy

St. Thomas Aquinas says this of MERCY:

…mercy is heartfelt sympathy for another’s distress, impelling us to succor him if we can.

Aquinas explains that MERCY is a virtue, and that it is a desire to avoid evil, and to move away from evil. Yet, I have always wondered if MERCY is required. For mercy can’t come without an understanding of JUSTICE.

Justice is a virtue as well.

So when I read about two situations of what I would call MERCY, I wonder if they are required by JUSTICE, or if they are acts of MERCY that are such because they extend beyond the JUSTICE that could be administered.

Deacon Greg Kandra wrote about both, the first being a teacher at a Catholic school who was fired for her pregnancy out of wedlock, a violation of her contract allegedly. The second, the Catholic funeral of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

ladyjusticesquareI believe both situations he describes are acts of MERCY, but if I argue that, does that mean that neither are acts of JUSTICE, but instead are MERCIFUL because they ascend JUSTICE only to transcend it?

Maybe that is how we should all seek to act. To seek out justice in our lives, and find opportunities, and the strength and mental vitality to ACT MERCIFULLY. In some cases think mercifully.

The Importance of Sacrament Remembrance

The Baptism of the Lord (Theophanylcon)
The Baptism of the Lord (Theophanylcon)

This is a small idea, but one that was reinforced at Mass today during the Homily.

The priest said that he often has as least one person during his Marriage prep discussions call their mother1 to ask the when/where details about their Baptism. His point was that for such and important day in our lives, we know so little about it, and do so little to commemorate it.

This is another thing that PROTESTANTS do, that we as Catholics don’t. Now, before there are a million reasons thrown at me as to why it isn’t necessarily necessary2 let me just say that even conceding the unknown arguments in this vein against my premise, it still is something that we could do, and that might have some good spiritual gravity in our lives.

My wife and I for example said that we always wanted to make a “big deal” over Sacrament days, and name feast days. We have some friends that do it right, and just name their children after the “Saint of the Day” but we chickened out with our first, and with our second we chose not to go with “Saturnius.” That being said, we do celebrate the other days, and minimize overall birthdays. It isn’t so much that we don’t celebrate birthdays, we do make a “Big deal” of them to the extent we believe they should be, but we also don’t meet the standards to have our birthday celebrations meet the criteria for any reality shows.

The point I am so horribly trying to make is this: if our faith is important to us, and like the priest said today “What is better than the gift of faith, the gift of CHRIST?”, then why wouldn’t we want to focus on and emphasize those days that have spiritual importance in our lives?

So in a few days when our son’s baptism day is upon us, we will do SOMETHING, and even though our daughter’s baptism day is on another Sacrament day in our family, we will do something. We want to pass on the faith, and pass it on in a way that isn’t separate and distinct from who we are, but as an integral and everyday part of who we are.

  1. He stressed that it is ALWAYS the mother. []
  2. A little philosophical modal logic there. []

The Fight Over the Pope

Pope Francis Street

I did two things tonight I rarely do.

  1. I posted an article that I had skepticism over but thought it would be interesting to discuss, but that I knew was more “trolling” than anything.
  2. I took down a post.

Right now, there is a battle waging over the Pope, and Catholics all over the world are fighting to make him stand for their view of Catholicism. Unfortunately, what more of us should be doing is finding ways to listen to what he says, and figure out how he can lead us to fit our lives to the views and heart of Christ.

There is a bigger post lingering in my head here, but I can’t quite figure out what is happening. I think there is a lot of fear involved in the hearts of Catholics, whether they want to admit it or not, and we forget who the real enemy is.

Let us pray for the Church and for the Pope.

Prayer Request for a Dear Friend

I know my readership isn’t what it used to be, but I know that there are many devoted companions in this spiritual journey we call life. That is why I want to ask all of you to pray especially for a dear friend.

St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

St. Michael, Defend us in battle...
St. Michael, Defend us in battle…

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Suspended

Duck Dynasty family: The Robertsons
Duck Dynasty family: The Robertsons

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson has been suspened by TV network A&E for his recent comments in a GQ interview.

A&E says the following to industry-mag Entertainment Weekly:

 “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the seriesDuck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

Legal analysis aside, what is interesting is that A&E is suspending a man from a show about him and his family for – being himself.

Here is what he said that is being quoted everywhere as the “hateful” and “anti-gay” comments:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

People can interpret things in many ways, so I leave you the reader to interpret that how you will. Phil said it and really he believes it.

The question is: is it “anti-gay” or “hateful”?

But the big quote that is getting Phil in all the turmoil here is this one:

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

The accusation is that Phil is being hateful for believing, and then stating, that homosexuality is a sin.

So at what point does belief and expression of those beliefs turn to “hate”? I do believe there is a line somewhere that this happens, but what is it exactly?

Here is a quote from the same article that not as many folks are quoting:

“You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

 

 UPDATE: 

Rod Dreher has a take that makes some decent points.

 

A trial run

Since I re-booted the blog over a year ago, my intention was to go to a much more minimal style blog look.

The change to the Dominican (i.e. Black & White) theme was a first step, I still have felt like TOO much was going on with the blog design still.

So I am going to try this for a while. I know that my readership is down but I would love feedback if you still visit.1

  1. I know that I may need to add some features, especially my social media links, but this is a start and I can always ADD. []

Pope Francis: TIME’s ‘Person of the Year’

Pope Francis, Time's 'Person of the Year'
Pope Francis, Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

From Time:

When, on March 13, Bergoglio inherited the throne of St. Peter—keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven—he made the same request of the world. Pray for me. His letter of retirement, a requirement of all bishops 75 and older, was already on file in a Vatican office, awaiting approval. Friends in Argentina had perceived him to be slowing down, like a spent force. In an instant, he was a new man, calling himself Francis after the humble saint from Assisi. As Pope, he was suddenly the sovereign of Vatican City and head of an institution so ­sprawling—with about enough followers to populate China—so steeped in order, so snarled by bureaucracy, so vast in its charity, so weighted by its scandals, so polarizing to those who study its teachings, so mysterious to those who don’t, that the gap between him and the daily miseries of the world’s poor might finally have seemed unbridgeable. Until the 266th Supreme Pontiff walked off in those clunky shoes to pay his hotel bill.

Read more: TIME’s Person of the Year 2013 Pope Francis, The People’s Pope | TIME.com http://poy.time.com/2013/12/11/person-of-the-year-pope-francis-the-peoples-pope/#ixzz2nBKUSPCu

 

There is a lot that can be said about this selection. I wanted to write a, “Why I believe Pope Francis will be the POY” post yesterday, but I have had a horrible stomach thing. Regardless, this places even more media attention on the Vatican. I will save the, “What does this mean…” commentary to those better suited for it.

 

Pray for the Nuns of the St. Thecla Orthodox Monastery in Syria

Saint Thecla
Saint Thecla

The news coming out of Syria continues to be frustrating and grim. News broke today that 12 nuns from the St. Thecla Orthodox Monastery outside of Damascus.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – Islamist rebels have kidnapped a group of nuns from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Thecla (Mar Taqla) in Maaloula (north of Damascus). Mgr Mario Zenari, the Vatican nuncio in Damascus, confirmed the information after speaking with the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate. Through the Vatican diplomat, the latter “calls on all Catholics to pray for the women religious.”

Please pray for them.

Ross Douthat, Conservative Catholics, and Pope Francis

Ross Douthat, conservative and Catholic columnist for the New York Times, labeled his Sunday

Ross Douthat, NYTimes
Ross Douthat, NYTimes

piece this week: “The Pope and the Right.” Now before you go off, read it, and come back either elated or steaming mad, let’s remember one important thing: columnists get paid to make people read them. The more novel, inflamatory, aggressive, or shocking something is – often the better.1

Douthat though isn’t being too much of anything, instead he is simply stating the obvious. He is addressing the elephant in the room, or in some cases, the uncomfortable conversation that many Catholics are having.2 The topic he addresses is one that strikes close to home – how do conservatives (either politically or theological ones, if that is possible) reconcile the pontificate – so far – of Pope Francis?

His most interesting points though, in my opinion, are made when he attempts to give three arguments for why a seemingly “liberal” Pope can actually be reconciled with American conservative principles. His three premises are (in my own summarized form):

  1. Capitalism, or free market ideals, has a better track record than socialist societies at lifting the poor and marginalized out of poverty and maintaining free society.
  2. Solidarity and Subsidiarity are key components to Catholic social teaching – a la the philosophical pillars of such teaching.
  3. Welfare states (i.e. socialist and liberal states) have produced rather toxic social and cultural policies that fly in the face of Catholic doctrine and social teaching. (e.g. low birth rates, charitable roadblocks, and religious persecution.)

The money paragraph though isn’t one where Douthat doubles-down on American conservative principles, or attempts to contort the Pope’s actions and most recent Exhortation to fit the GOP platform. Instead he challenges “conservative” Catholics, such as myself, to reexamine how we interact with the world – socially and politically – and find a way to fit our politics to our faith, and not the other way around. 

As Douthat puts it:

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Flannery O'Connor on Ayn Rand.
Flannery O’Connor on Ayn Rand.

Now, I dont want to spend a lot of time in this post on it, but the link talking about ‘compassionate conservatism’ is interesting and ultimately goes to the larger issue I plan to discuss. Yet, I intend to set that discussion up with this post. So for now, I will leave it at this: Douthat seems to say that what is important for Catholics -specifically American conservative Catholics, in light of Pope Francis, is that we find a way to push for policies that cling to Catholic teaching, but hold fast to conservative principles. The latter not for their own sake, but because our faith animates those principles in our culture.

Pope Francis, love manifested in action.
Pope Francis, love manifested in action.

We should not spend the time of Pope Francis hidden away in Mass3 praying for patience and that God’s will be done. While we want those things, of course, it is that there is so much more we can do – and should do.

While many liberal Catholics4 made plenty of fuss during the Pontificate of Benedict XVI about the direction of the Church, the cry for conservatives to “do what they did” or “follow our own advice” is a false premise. Douthat calls this the “Loyal Opposition” argument. He rejects it, and so do I. It is instead our time to continue with vigilance and fortitude. We spent formative years solidifying our faith, now it is time to solidify the world around us – to animate the social teachings and political policies with our hearts grounded in the teachings of the Church.

  1. Case in point, a recent NYT shocking front picture. []
  2. Some of these conversations are private and dare not reach the narthexes and church basements of our parishes. []
  3. in the usus antiquior of course… []
  4. For the record, I am not a fan of using political terminology to explain theological philosophy, it makes sense in this post. []

Advent 2013 – “Prepare”

adventpurpWhile at Mass last evening the idea of preparation really came over me. I know that blogging can be a good and bad thing, for both bloggers and readers, but I know that sometimes being completely immersed in the faith is a helpful thing.

As an Advent preparation, I am going to attempt to blog once a day. Sometimes they will be short, and other times they will be a bit longer, but my hope is to once again have my faith in Christ be central to my family, and my own, journey through life.

Here is to a hopeful and fruitful ADVENT.

The @CatholicVote #DeoGratias Project

CV-DeoGratias-E-A-300x350The swell folks over at CatholicVote.org have once again created a nifty little social media campaign to put some Catholicity into the internet. Their email today suggests to people to include the hashtag #DEOGRATIAS on tweets and facebook updates about the things for which we are thankful.

The point is to remind ourselves, and one another, that ultimately our thanks should be directed to GOD. Deo Gratias, or give thanks to God / God is good! is really the ultimate praise for all that we are blessed with in life.

So, this weekend, remember to give thanks, where thanks is due! #DEOGRATIAS