Friday, December 17, 2004

Life in Christ 

After covering the Nicene Creed and the Seven Sacraments in our RCIA class, we are now moving on to Part 3 of Michael Pennock's book, "This is our Faith." Part 3 is "Life in Christ" and concerns Morality, the 10 commandments, social justice and the like.

I was very interested to read Father C. John McCloskey's article in the National Catholic Register this week. "Europe Revisited -- and America Reconsidered" concerns the failure, after 2000 years, of Christianity in Europe. It's a very good read if you ask me, which you didn't.
The spiritual illness of Europe may be terminal -- but death is not the end. This would not be the first time a great swath of Christendom came to ruin. After all, the Middle East, Asia Minor and Northern Africa were once flourishing centers of Christianity. Indeed, with the increasing hemorrhage of Christians from an intolerant and war-stricken Middle East, soon there may be virtually no Christians at all in the Holy Land where Christianity was founded.
Actually, this week's "National Catholic Register" had many good articles, from concerns over the death penalty and Scott Peterson to the banning of Christmas in the Denver's annual Parade of Lights to the new National Council of Churches' effort to strangle Catholics with their own ecumenical rope, "Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A."

I like the Register & think I'll renew it for Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A response to Rev'd Canon Lesley A. Northup  

I imagine you may have seen this article already since Amy Welborn linked to it on her wonderful site today. But it's a really fine response to those who use the words of Jesus as a club with which to beat conservatives about the head.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

'House' Catholics 

I was very interested last night to watch the Fox series "House." Which is about a brilliant diagnostician (Dr. House) who appears to hate people and be angry at most everything in life. His patient last night was a nun who presented with a rash on her hands and every cure made her worse until her immune system totally shut down. What was interesting (as I've stated before) is that this episode contained discussions, grown-up discussions, about religion and even Catholicism. One of Dr. House's interns, it turns out, had studied to be a priest. He shared his favorite bible passage with the sick nun (1 Peter 1:6)
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I thought, early on in this episode, that the show would do nothing but bash Catholics (and there was some of that). But later, the religious folks seemed to push back and I was glad to see it. Dr. House, when asked if he doesn't have any faith, said he has faith in what he can see, what logic tells him. But later, as Dr. House is notable for his anger at life, someone told him he can't both be an atheist and angry with God. This discussion of the characters' religious beliefs fleshed them out as so few TV characters are these days.

In other words, as George Lopez would say, Ricky was speaking Spanish last night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

RCIA Class 

We had about a dozen people in our RCIA class last night, which is about normal. There were a couple absent. We discussed Holy Orders and the differences between what Bishops, Priests and Deacons can do. What can Priests do that Bishops can't? Marry people. Who knew? What can Deacons do that Priests can't? Be married. Deacons cannot preside over the Eurcharist and they cannot perform Reconciliation. Who chooses Bishops? It's kind of a mystery, the Pope sends someone to interview others in the area and then someone is chosen.

We had discussions about annulment and divorce, always lively. I like our group, we're getting to know each other pretty well and I look forward to joining the church with them on Easter.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Holy Orders and Matrimony 

RCIA tomorrow night is Chapter 16: Sacraments at the Service of Communion:  Holy Orders and Matrimony.  Our book is doing a decent job of walking us through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.  We learn here how Bishops and Priests and Deacons are made.  And we learn:
God uses marriage to help men and women "to overcome self-absorbtion, egoism, pursuit of one's own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving."
Our text quotes the Jimmy Carter passage of Matthew, "looking at a woman lustfully is the equivalent of comitting adultery."  (Matthew 5:27-28).  And also quotes St. Francis Assisi's "Prayer for Peace:"
   Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
   Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
   where there is injury, pardon;
   where there is doubt, faith;
   where there is despair, hope;
   where there is darkness, light;
   where there is sadness, joy.
   O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek so much
   to be consoled as to console;
   to be understood, as to understand,
   to be loved, as to love.
   For it is in giving that we receive,
   it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
   and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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