Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Woman at the Well 

Woman at the Well

I don't know who Wayne Forte, the artist, is, but he created the picture above of Jesus with the Samaritan Woman at the Well. There are many other pictures I could have used from a long past of artists, but I like this one. I like the two faces of the woman. Our first Scrutiny is today and our reading will be Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well.

I've said before that this is probably my favorite New Testament story. Jesus teaches us how to accept others for who they are and love them for their humanity (which is something I need to work on, just look at the rant I posted over Tom Cruise and Scientology this week -- that's hardly how Christ would handle Tom Cruise, is it). At the same instant, Jesus teaches us that no matter what our own story, no matter what we've done or how we've sinned, he knows and he loves us despite it all. Don't we all really have those same two faces as the woman in the picture? The one face the world sees as we're about our work, about our daily life . . . and the other face of who we really are that God sees. If God can love me just like everyone else, why do I struggle so to love others who hold different views from me. I am that woman, full of sin, loved by Christ; but the face I let others see isn't the "me" that Jesus sees and I fail so often to see the face of Christ in others.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Another Journey 

There's been quite a few of these types of articles recently, covering the stories of those converting to Catholicism. I find them inspiring. Here's another from the National Catholic Register:

Dozens of Episcopalians Follow Leader into Catholic Church
In a Dec. 31 letter to Bishop Paul Marshall of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, Pa., he renounced his orders as a priest. Bergman cited contraception and the 2003 ordination of V. Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, as two major reasons for his dissatisfaction.

Robinson’s ordination was the "logical outcome" of the 1930 Lambeth decision, he said. Some dioceses in the Episcopal Church allow a blessing of same-sex couples, and Bergman wrote: "When an ecclesial community pronounces intentional sterility among married couples to be blessed by God, that church all but formally invites into her midst the advocacy of blessings upon relationships that in the absence of sexual complementarity are of their very essence sterile. Those conservatives within Anglicanism who attempt to refute the sterile agenda of the homosexual lobby have engaged in a self-contradictory and thus futile quest."

He also pointed out that a contraceptive mentality that views children as "a burden instead of a blessing" only encourages abortion. He said the Episcopal Church has pushed for the legalization of abortion since 1967. "By His great grace and kindness our Lord has cured me of my former spiritual blindness and thus has compelled me to seek entry into, and full communion with, that part of Christ’s Body the Church that continues to engage the moral issues of our day at their most foundational level," Bergman wrote.
Read the whole thing, it's a good story.

Update: And here's another conversion story I saw over on Poncer.

The Nicene Creed 

So we're to learn the Nicene Creed. Below are some of the proposed changes to the current creed, which I posted about before. I also notice that the changes bring the Roman Catholic Creed a bit closer in wording to the Orthodox wording. Interesting.
Profession of Faith: The Profession of Faith (The Creed):
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:

by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only-begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before time began.
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, one in being with the Father:
through whom all things were made.
Who for us and for our salvation
came down from heaven,

and by the Holy Spirit became incarnate
of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

Crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life:
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who together with the Father and the Son
is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church,
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins,
and I await the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
I must say, I prefer "seen and unseen" to "visible and unvisible" -- the first puts the burden on us: God made things and if we can't see them, tough luck; the second (visible and invisible) puts the onus on God: God made things invisible -- ah, so why even bother to look if we already know we can't see.

Update: Alicia, over at Fructus Ventris, provides some of the history and meaning of the Nicene Creed I lack. (Thanks, Alicia!)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Interview with J. Budziszewski 

Thanks to Amy over at Openbook for posting this article: Interview with J. Budziszewski concerning his conversion to Catholicism:
After several years of wrestling, becoming convinced on one point after another, I finally found myself able to say with respect to the remaining issues, "I am ready to obey." That turned out to be crucial. As Augustine said, we believe in order to know. There are some things you have to understand before you can accept them–but there are others you have to accept before you can understand them.

Pope John Paul II has Returned to the Hospital 

Here's the article from CNN: Pope Back in Hospital with Flu

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


I wrote early on, back in April, asking why serious people don't just laugh in Tom Cruise's face when he talks about Scientology. In this case, Cruise set up a tent on the set of "War of the Worlds" to help introduce people to Scientology:
The world contains three types of people:
I guess this makes me an "SP."

Note: In 1990 Cruise renounced his devout Catholic beliefs (Cruise attended a Franciscan seminary before becoming an actor) and embraced The Church Of Scientology claiming that Scientology teachings had cured him of the dyslexia that had plagued him all of his life.

Perhaps what sets Catholicism apart is that, unlike Scientology, the Catholic Church lets her members go... it's that Free Will thing. And here.

Update: And read about Scientology versus the story of Simon Magus.

A Roll for Public Pressure 

The Methodist Reporter Interactive has an interesting article on paying apportionments vs. agreeing with Church Administrators out of a church in North Carolina:
We believe that the General Board of Church and Society and the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries — by co-sponsoring the March for Women's Lives on April 25, 2004 in Washington, D.C. — blatantly acted against the Discipline [The rule book of the Methodist Church]. The March for Women's Lives was a pro-choice (actually a pro-abortion) political rally that promoted all abortions in all circumstances, no questions asked. The United Methodist Church, on the other hand, states in its Social Principles (Paragraph 161J) that while we recognize "tragic conflicts of life with life" that can result in abortion, abortion is not acceptable in all cases.
So, in protest against such liberal decisions like the March for Abortion (which are growing rampant under the Global Ministries) this church started funneling money away from church administration (apportionments) and into areas of ministry opposed to abortion. Now, though, they have decided to take a new tack:
For three years, St. Peter's UMC paid apportionments in part and protested in private. In 2005, we will pay apportionments in full and protest in public. We choose this alternative as a way to be obedient to the baptismal covenant and to remain subject to the Discipline, by which all United Methodists are bound by God's grace.
Catholic parishes, of course, are filled with the same humans that fill the Methodist pews. Even though I've only been in our parish for a year or so, I have heard many people disagree with the Church or with a decision of the priest and say, "Well, they won't get another dime of my money." This is a hard decision and it's one I've made myself in the past: if you believe the church is on the wrong path and nobody will listen, what power does one person have but the power of the dollar.

Well, there is prayer. And there is the path of public pressure, which is the path St. Peter's United Methodist is taking. Religious blogs seem, to me, to be overwhelmingly Catholic. I sought long and hard for places on the Internet to share Methodist discussions (I have a couple on my link table to the left), and was surprised and pleased to find the Catholic world of blogging so full and diverse and lively. As the Pope said the other day (in "The Rapid Development" of technology in the media),
“A great many wonderful things are to be hoped for from this familiar dialogue between the laity and their spiritual leaders: in the laity a strengthened sense of personal responsibility; a renewed enthusiasm; a more ready application of their talents to the projects of their spiritual leaders. The latter, on the other hand, aided by the experience of the laity, can more clearly and more incisively come to decisions regarding both spiritual and temporal matters. In this way, the whole Church, strengthened by each one of its members, may more effectively fulfill its mission for the life of the world”
The spiritual leaders of the church can take strength in the fight against the cultural revolution from the new media feedback (blogs) of the great (no longer) silent majority. At least that's my take on it.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Instead of RCIA tonight, we had church-wide Rite of Reconciliation. Several priests came in from other parishes. I didn't attend because I had snuck in Saturday before our Rite of Sending service and took care of my first confession. I was both more nervous than I needed to be, and less eloquent than I could have been. I had gone through several guides (here and here, for example) and chosen the top things I thought were in my path, blocking me and also mentioned the less important, nagging sinfulness of my common life. I wrote everything down, from the opening "Forgive me Father for I have sinned" to the closing act of contrition. I chose to sit face to face, rather than kneel behind the curtain.

Since I see Confession as similar to going to the Doctor, I thought sure our priest would start poking and prodding my sins, digging for deeper causes and bringing painful things from my past to bright light . . . but he didn't. He asked if I had missed anything, perhaps in the lying, cheating or stealing categories, and I confessed that I'm sure I had done my share of all of those, but not so much.

And he forgave it all.

I didn't feel any great weight lifted, as some say they have. Of course, I've sought forgiveness through prayer for all these things before, but only between myself and God. This was different. Father was gentle. I went immediately to pay my penance in the chapel, kneeling before the Tabernacle to say my Hail Marys, Our Fathers and Glory Be's. I was sin free for my Rite of Sending and all the way until this evening when I swore at a bench I was trying to put together (the manufacturer had not drilled one of the holes they were supposed to have pre-drilled & I had to do it myself... which is no reason to swear).

Next time (our priest recommends going at least four times a year) I will be sure to add impatience along with my other sins.

While we're talking about Reconciliation, Danielle Bean has a post on Confession as well.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Rite of Election 

The day opened cold and full of heavy snow, a sign of how early this process comes this year. My sponsor and I drove to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception early because we'd been warned the church would be full. Here is a picture from the Cathedral, you can click on it to enlarge it:
Fort Wayne Cathedral

The Cathedral is beautiful. The stain glass windows have deep hues to which pictures just won't do justice. Very large carvings of the Stations of the Cross adorn the walls on both sides of the Cathedral, and a fantastic pipe organ takes over the whole balcony.

The Bishop came in all on his own, without any entourage, just walking down the side aisle and up to the alter where all the area priests were gathering to read our names. Here's a picture of Bishop D'Arcy I took after we were done. Again, you can click on it to enlarge:

Bishop John D'Arcy

The Bishop wore his tall red hat (a miter) and he walked with a long stick, like a shepherd's crook (a crozier). Under his miter, the bishop wore another, smaller red hat (a zucchetto), like a jewish kippah. He was quite a sight. The bishop sat in a chair that reached to the top of one of the pillars of the cathedral (you can see it to the left of the alter in the first picture). The songs were beautifully sung and we had first, second and third readings, just like at Mass. Our first reading was Ezekiel 36:23-28, our second reading was 1 Peter 3:18-22, and the gospel was John 15:9-17. Some of the readings were done in Spanish and some in English. The pew behind us had Vietnamese candidates and, indeed, some of the announcements were in Vietnamese, as well.

After the readings, Bishop D'Arcy addressed us. He talked about God's calling us being a thing of "Interiority." Perhaps it was our family or our friends or our priest or our parish who drew us to this day of Election, but they were all God who was working through them and within us. God draws us, but our free will remains to accept or reject Him. After the Crucifixion, the Apostles were craven, driven apart, afraid -- but after the Holy Spirit was breathed out on them, they were brave, they preached all over the world under pain of death. Bishop D'Arcy said this is all about an intimacy between us and God, and we'll get even closer after we share the Eucharist. God's intimacy is a gift won, given to us at great cost -- the crucifixion of the Lord, suffered for us that we might live. Going on, the Bishop said that our past religious experience in other churches is not being thrown away, our past is what brought us here, our past religious experience was God working in our lives. He talked about how the Ezekiel reading shows God's grace giving us a new heart, an unselfish, giving heart.

Even though the Bishop is quite old, his voice was very strong. Next, the Catechumens' names were all called, one by one, and they and their sponsors walked up to shake the Bishop's hand and stand at the alter. Here's a picture of when they were all up there:


We all said prayers over them and then it was our turn to rise at our name and meet the Bishop, which was a wonderful experience. It was nice to hear the voice of our own priest calling out our name among the hundreds present. My sponsor followed me up, his hand on my shoulder, and I shook the Bishop's hand. We all stood around the alter as name after name was read, each name came up with sponsor in tow, to stand with us. Bishop D'Arcy questioned our sponsors about whether we were ready, then he asked the whole church to pray for us and for all the Elect as we go through the Scrutinies and prepare for Easter.

It was a long day, and cold and crowded, but well worth it. Next stop: The Scrutinies.

Rite of Sending 

We had our Rite of Sending at Saturday service. After the homily, Father called up the catechumens (those who want to be both baptized and join the Church at Easter) and their sponsors and godparents. One by one, they signed their name into a leatherbound book. Next, Father called up the Candidates (those of us who want to join the Church who have already been baptized) and we signed our name at a different place on the same page. Prayers were said over us and our Parish "sent" us to be approved by the Bishop.

Some of the folks had not been in our RCIA class, so either they are taking classes elsewhere or perhaps there are other ways to get to the same place I don't know about. It was a good service, regardless, and we all trooped out before Mass to study the Gospel readings.

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