Monday, May 30, 2011

Just Curious: Practical advice


I am going to be away from the computer for a while (if I have the willpower!), so I need to be non-controversial until next week.

To that end, how about a fluffy, innocuous Just Curious?


Since I can use all the productive suggestions I can get, I am just curious if you all have any practical advice... on any subject at all!

I personally can't think of much to offer in this department, but I will throw out two quick thoughts:

1) Don't buy a two-story house. (Oh, how I long for my one-story days!)

2) If you are over 40, do yourself a favor and use pink lipgloss. Trust me, you will look instantly fresher and younger, without looking like you are trying to be 25 again.

Okay, go ahead and give us your quick, practical tips for better living!

(Wouldn't it be ironic if this turned into the most controversial post yet?)



-

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Motherhood: It ain't all wine and roses!

You know me, I like to keep it real.

Here's how it went down yesterday….

I told my six-year-old that he could not attend a lengthy middle school/high school awards ceremony last evening. He really wanted to go (for the potential desserts at the end), so he began to beg. I told him again that he could not come with us.

He soon presented me with this:

"That is why my mom is evil."

FYI: My son told me later that this is a picture of me (Leila), as an evil wizard (note the hat and magic wand). Our house is being hit by lightning strikes. At least I am smiling!


When informed that he still could not attend, he soon handed me this:

"Well, I don't like you."

And then, this:

"Then I don't like you at all."

Next, in case I missed his point:

"I said, 'I don't like you.'"

When the answer was still "no", he brought out the big guns:

"If you don't let me go, I will never let you tuck me in,
and you do not get to spend time with me."

Alas, the answer remained "no", and he followed-up with my personal favorite:

"Wow. You are a horrible mother."

But never fear. There are moments of great joy, which sweeten the stings of parenting. For eventually, his final note to me was this:



And best of all, even though he was not allowed to go yesterday, he does get to attend the long high school graduation of his brother, tonight. I hear there will be desserts!

_

Friday, May 27, 2011

My first real Quick Takes!

I can't believe it. It's my first official Quick Takes!


In no particular order:

1.  I want to take "Gender Spectrum Diversity Training" and punch it in the nose. Oh, and if it comes near my kindergartner, I will kick it in its genderless area.

2.  I had something else written here for #2, but I thought better of it. Instead, I offer this: Whenever I get down about the state of the world and the blurry, relativistic road this culture is sliding down, I smile at Jesus. Literally, I look at my crucifix, and I smile at Him. His words are unambiguous: 

"In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." 
Yes, Lord, You have.


And when I have a particularly difficult time with some of the ideas that come across this blog or in the news, I look up ever so slightly to see the lovely figure of my Blessed Mother Mary, smiling down at me. And the peace comes. And I smile back and thank her.

My view when I blog.
(When I remember to look up!)
We are so blessed. How can we help but be joyful?

3.  Yesterday I had a kindergarten graduate!

4.  Tomorrow I have a high school graduate!

5.  Unanswered questions. Miss Gwen, I would sincerely appreciate a response to my comment. I truly don't get it. Also, still looking for someone who can walk me through an alternate scenario (if Jesus didn't die and rise). For example, "After the wild dogs came and ate Jesus' body, the Apostles did such and such because of this and that…." Just something specific and plausible. Anyone?

6.  I seriously wish I could make my home pretty like so many of my fellow bloggers do. Or, I wish I had a budget which would allow for a decorator to help my sorry self in that area!

7.  I did something soooooo stupid. During my attempt to get (even better) photos of my crucifix and Mary statue on this blog post, I accidentally put the camera's memory card in the slot where a DVD/CD is supposed to go (which, on my Mac, is slightly above where the memory card slot is located). With one ill-advised push of my finger, the memory card was almost completely swallowed up! So, I quickly found some thin sharp objects and a flashlight and began to extricate the memory card from the wrong slot. My efforts resulted in pushing the memory card further in and completely out of sight! I guess I have to take my computer to the Apple store now to get the stinkin' thing out?? It could be worse: I could still have all the photos of Kindergarten graduation on that lost memory card, but I had uploaded them minutes earlier. Whew!  **Update! My wonderful husband found an online tutorial for how to get a memory card out of that CD slot! He got it out! Yay!


I'm not sure this first Quick Takes was very interesting. Will it be my last?? In any event, thanks to Jen for hosting! Have a great weekend!

_

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Race, class and gender…less

_

When Complicated Life alerted me to the following story, I first felt sick to my stomach:


Then, I just felt profoundly sad for the children. It is heartbreaking, and I can barely write about it.

However, it did not surprise me that the father of these "genderless" children teaches in a small school "whose lessons are framed by social-justice issues around race, class and gender" (emphasis mine). I've talked extensively about my disdain for the "race, class and gender" paradigm which is the lens through which the secular Left sees the world. I have also heard from readers who do not see any essential difference between men and women, or between motherhood and fatherhood.

Lately, I sometimes feel like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Then, sweet relief! Balm for the soul in the form of a post by Sarah at Sarah's Journal. She takes on the issue of the "genderless" baby better than I ever could. Run, don't walk, to her latest offering, which includes truthful gems like this:
From a Catholic perspective, the body isn't just a shell in which our "true selves" are trapped. Our bodies don't conceal our identities but are in fact an integral part of our unique selves. 
And this:
When a person asks if a baby is a boy or girl, they aren't really asking about details of their genitalia. Instead, they are hinting at a deeper truth: the reality that our bodies, including our sex, are an integral part of our identities as whole, complete human beings and that a person's femininity or masculinity will be expressed in a myriad of ways.
Sarah reminds us that the antidote to the confused, misguided, and even tragic push for a "genderless" society can be found in Blessed John Paul II's seminal work, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. (Or, for beginners, an easier treatment of TOB, here).

I've spoken before about the need to frame things in terms of ordered vs. disordered. There is nothing ordered about a "genderless child". Please Lord, open our eyes and our hearts to see the truth, goodness, and beauty of Your design for our bodies. 
___ 





Monday, May 23, 2011

What I Never Learned, Part II



Years ago, I sent out some "catechesis emails" to interested friends and family. They, like me, never really learned much in Catholic religious education and CCD classes (I was catechized in the 1970s and '80s). What I wrote was pretty basic stuff, and I thought some of the Bubble readers might like the overview. Part one of this salvation history overview can be found here.



Welcome back!

So, what happened to humanity after Adam and Eve’s fall from grace and banishment from the Garden of Eden?

Well, life got pretty rough (it always does when humans are separated from God). When sin entered the world, so did toil, suffering, disorder and death. Everything that was easy in the Garden was now difficult and required great effort. Adam now had to work the land, laboring and sweating, in order to bring forth food (whereas in the Garden, food was abundant and available). Eve would have to bear children in pain and suffering (whereas in the Garden, childbirth would have been painless and effortless).

The things that bring forth life (tending the fields; giving birth) became works of great suffering and sacrifice. It is significant that when Jesus Christ came later to clean up our mess, He gave us the gift of eternal life through His great suffering and perfect sacrifice.

Please keep that in mind: In our fallen world, the things that are truly life-giving require suffering and sacrifice. It doesn’t sound pleasant, does it? In our fallen state, we humans have a disordered inclination to seek pleasure and comfort above all else, and we are uneasy when we think of suffering and sacrifice. And yet, we are called to endure suffering patiently and offer ourselves sacrificially.

Yep, there's a reason Jesus calls His way the “narrow road” that is not often willingly traveled! But that narrow road leads to abundant and eternal life. It is our suffering and sacrifice (offered to God in union with Christ's suffering and sacrifice) that sanctifies us, and it is in our sanctification (i.e., holiness) that we attain the perfection of Heaven.

But, I digress!

Adam and Eve went about their lives outside the Garden, they were “fruitful and multiplied,” and they taught their children about God. But because of sin and its effects (concupiscence), human thoughts became confused, consciences dulled and hearts hardened. It wasn't long before the first human blood was spilled: Adam and Eve's son Cain murdered his brother Abel, out of envy. And things spiraled down from there.

Essentially, what happened back then still happens today: People get caught up in their lives and do not think of God, Who becomes less and less important. As His memory fades from their minds and hearts, sin increases (sin darkens the intellect and weakens the will, so this downward spiral happens quite easily). Some deny His existence completely, while others acknowledge Him but keep Him far enough away so that He doesn’t interfere with their lives. Others resent and defy God when life is difficult and full of pain. However it happens, God is rejected, and we put ourselves in His place.

He doesn’t abandon us, we abandon Him.

So, way back then, as the generations marched on, most folks eventually abandoned God. However, then – as now – there was a handful of people who remained faithful and obedient to the Lord. God worked closely with those faithful ones throughout the generations, planning an opportunity for all of mankind to be saved. (It's been said that God’s mercy is His most beautiful attribute, and I tend to agree!)

Within every soul -- even the souls who do not love God or who do not believe in Him -- God has left His “echo” or his “thumbprint.” Deep down, every soul knows of God, every soul is hurting because of separation from God, and every soul is trying to find its way back to God. God alone knows what each of these souls needs, and He alone can provide it. Like a loving Father, He patiently waits for His children to reach for Him.

He waits now, He waited then.

Back in the ancient centuries, those who still remembered the God of the Garden tried to work their way back to Him….


Part III here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Christians: The ACLU is not your friend


When I read this beyond-the-pale story yesterday*, which (yet again) exposes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for the anti-Christian organization that it is, I remembered a conversation I had a while back with an atheist reader of the Bubble, MaiZeke.

MaiZeke made the following claim:
The ACLU fights for the rights of Christians, Muslims, and the non-religious to practice their religious beliefs (or lack of religious beliefs in the case of the non-religious).
I took issue with the statement, and MaiZeke responded with links to a few cases or letters of Christians being defended by the ACLU.

I subsequently contacted family friend Alan Sears, who happens to be the head of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). The ADF and its attorneys boldly take on the ACLU every day, and are intimately familiar with the organization's history, philosophy and tactics. In addition to running ADF, Alan literally co-wrote the book on the ACLU's attacks on our nation's Judeo-Christian roots, The ACLU vs. America:

The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values


I told Alan of my exchange with MaiZeke and sent him her link. He promptly responded with the following:

The ACLU has a long history of providing token defense to Christians in carefully selected cases in order to advance its radical agenda. ACLU founder Roger Baldwin laid out this strategy in 1934 when he said, “If I aid the reactionaries {i.e. Christians and conservatives} to get free speech now and then, if I go outside the class struggle to fight against censorship, it is only because those liberties help to create a more hospitable atmosphere for working class liberties.”

The bottom line: The ACLU generally only defends Christians when it serves their greater agenda, and often the cases they take on are “easy” ones that will not set any lasting legal precedent that will benefit Christians. However, there are numerous examples where the ACLU has been on the forefront of silencing, or attempting to silence, Christians.

In 2006, Jeremy Gunn, the ACLU’s “Director of Religion and Belief,” said that military chaplains who share their faith with soldiers, “should find another career.”

In 2003, the ACLU of Iowa tried to intimidate the small Iowa town of Tipton, to stop its yearly tradition of a nativity scene on a courthouse lawn. In the letter, the ACLU “kindly” agreed to assist the city on how it could “choose a constitutionally appropriate way to celebrate the Solstice Season.”

The ACLU has waged a systematic “war on the cross”, demanding that cross memorials to fallen military veterans -- such as Mt. Soledad in San Diego and the Mojave Desert Cross -- be taken down.

The ACLU has time and time again filed lawsuits against Christians who are simply trying to live out their faith:

In New Jersey, the ACLU is backing same-sex couples in a civil rights complaint against the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the United Methodist Church -- in order to force the ministry to open up its worship pavilion for same-sex “civil union” ceremonies in direct opposition to the association’s stated beliefs. 

In Kentucky, the ACLU took on a Baptist adoption ministry that works with the commonwealth to place children in loving two-parent homes, and backed a former ministry employee who had "come out” as a lesbian. The Baptist ministry's offense? Requiring its employees to adhere to Baptist beliefs regarding human sexuality. In its lawsuit, which has been unsuccessful thus far, the ACLU has tried to force the adoption ministry to either compromise its core beliefs or lose the funding it has received from the government to assist with adoptions.

It was the ACLU, in a friend-of-the-court Supreme Court brief filed in Everson v. Board of Education (1947) that came up with the distortion that the words “separation of church and state” appear in the U.S. Constitution. (They don’t.) Associate Justice Hugo Black picked up that phrase in the minority opinion, and the ACLU was off and running ever since, to use what the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit has called a “non-Constitutional construct” to engage in a war of fear, intimidation, and disinformation meant to bully public officials into silencing any religious expression in the public square – and in particular Christian religious expression. As a result, the ACLU participated in case after case at the United States Supreme Court that eventually outlawed school prayer, moments of silence, and eventually non-sectarian prayers by ministers and rabbis before public high school graduation ceremonies.

When school officials in Louisiana allowed a prayer before an awards banquet, the then-head of the ACLU of Louisiana compared praying Christians to Islamic terrorists, and demanded they be put in jail so they could be “removed from society.”

With regard to peaceful pro-life advocates at abortion clinics, the ACLU has not only attempted to strip them of the constitutionally-protected right to free speech, but some ACLU members have advocated using RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) laws – which were intended to financially cripple organized crime by tripling court awards – to bankrupt those who simply want exercise their freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

The ACLU’s assaults on Christianity in the public square go on and on, and are too countless to post in a forum such as this. One thing does become clear: The ACLU is the number one religious censor in America today.


One need only go back to the news article linked in my first line to have firm evidence of that.

The ACLU is a friend of Christians? You know what they say: "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"

Christians, don't be fooled.




*Unfortunate resolution to the story, here.
___

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Did Jesus really die and rise?



{Okay, it looks like my post from May 12 is gone forever, so I am reposting it today, but without the comments. I'd love for some secularists to chime in with their thoughts!}




Christian belief boils down to one thing: The literal, bodily resurrection of a man named Jesus, who lived in first century Palestine.

If Jesus of Nazareth did not die on a Roman cross, if he was not buried, and if he did not rise again on the third day, alive, then you have no reason to give him or Christianity another thought. But if he did, then he deserves your full attention. As C.S. Lewis said, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”


To keep it short(ish), this post assumes that Jesus actually existed. There is a fringe group of atheists and others who argue that he never lived at all, but the "Jesus is myth" theory
 is rejected even by reputable secular historians and scholars.

Some theories claim that Jesus never actually
 died on the cross but merely fainted (the "swoon" theory) or was drugged and later revived. I believe these and the "mass hallucination" argument to be quite a stretch. However, we can address them in the comments section, if you'd like.

But for this post, let's assume that Jesus did truly die on that cross (a pretty safe assumption). If he truly died on that cross, then there are two possibilities:

1) He stayed dead, but his disciples pretended he rose.
2) He rose from the dead.

Let's go with the first option. It seems okay until you think it through and consider human nature. Remember, the disciples' hero and leader had been very publicly, brutally executed, and they knew they could be next. They were understandably fearful in the aftermath of the crucifixion. Their hopes were crushed, and their dreams had died with Jesus. They hid. They locked themselves away. They sat in mourning and defeat, hoping to stay unnoticed. They were not brave. They did not want to die.

So far so good, and in keeping with what we all know of human nature. Any reasonable person would have done the same. 
Human nature.

But now here's where Option #1 goes a little wonky:

On the third day after Jesus' gruesome death, one of the fearful, cowering disciples suddenly has an idea: "Let's pretend Jesus didn't stay dead! Let's pretend he rose from the dead!"

Can you see the problem? What are the odds that someone would say that or even think that? Oh, probably… 
zero.

But let's say that for some inexplicable reason, it happened that way. The next thing we would have to believe with Option #1
is that everyone else thinks that is a great idea! Yep, even though everyone saw Jesus die a public death, and even though his body is decomposing in a heavily guarded tomb, all these frightened, demoralized folk think that a (literally unbelievable) hoax would be a fine idea right about now!

The followers of the dead man, somehow excited about perpetrating this lie, suddenly shed their fears, come out of hiding and boldly begin to tell people, with straight faces, that their friend's corpse has just risen from the dead!

Are you still with me?

Okay, so even though the disciples 
know they are deceiving everyone, they go all over the place acting like Jesus really did rise from the dead despite all evidence to the contrary, and thousands of folks just naturally believe them! Can you imagine that such a thing could happen in real life? (Correct answer: No. It would never happen.)

But let's keep going. That original group is actually starting to make people mad again. In fact, people want to kill them now for spreading this obvious lie and triggering mass conversions among the people (who are apparently not too bright).

So, the imprisonment and executions of the liars begin. Beatings, stonings, beheadings, crucifixions (upside down, even), and all sorts of ugliness awaits the perpetrators of the hoax. You can think of lots of folks who would keep up a hoax when facing those conditions, right?

Wrong. You can't think of any. Because it's illogical and unreasonable that any 
one person would consent to be tortured and killed for a known lie, and impossible that an entire group would agree to it, with not a single defector shouting, "Wait, we were just kidding! It's a lie and I don't want to die a brutal death for a crazy lie!" (Which is what a reasonable person would do.)

Again, it's what we know of human nature. We might be willing to suffer, bleed and die for a loved one, or a nation, or a great cause. But no one would willingly die for, or convince their friends to die for, or get hundreds more to die for --
a lie.

It's unreasonable. It's illogical. It doesn't happen. Option #1 is impossible.

Turns out, Option #2 is the only option that reasonably explains the actions of the disciples. It's the only option that doesn't fly in the face of human nature.


Jesus Christ truly rose from the dead. And they saw him. 


The only reason that they were changed in an instant is because Jesus did rise. They were not lying when they proclaimed this good news to the people. There was no hoax. Jesus Christ had truly risen.

He is risen.

There is no other reasonable explanation.


I am ready for the many objections that are sure to come, and I look forward to a thoughtful debate. But in the meantime, I will leave you with a funny video about this very subject. Brought to you by the Lutherans….








Best. Conspiracy. Ever.


_____

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Frustration station

I guess I'm one of the only bloggers still waiting for restoration of her last post, so in the meantime, I will move along to some news and PSAs, hoping against hope that today will be the day that my blog is rendered intact!

+++++++

First, an "I'm-not-surprised-at-the-hypocrisy-but-it-still-makes-me-crazy" note: Remember the good professor with whom I had a regrettable exchange a few months back? Well, I had a strange hunch that he was a signer of the recent chastisement letter sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner. Speaker Boehner, a Catholic Republican, is due to speak at Catholic University's commencement today.

Sure enough, there was the professor's signature attached to the letter!

He and the others are upset that Boehner's budget does not support the Democrats' agenda for social programs.

Here's the part that really gets me: The dozens of signatories sternly urge that Boehner obey the Church's Magisterium (yes, they actually invoke the Magisterium!) on what amounts to an issue of prudential judgement. The Church gives us freedom to disagree on policy issues and how best to help the poor, and yet the signatories (purposely?) mislead Catholics into thinking that supporting liberal social programs at the federal level is mandated by the Pope!

To assert that Boehner or anyone must support leftist fiscal policy or else be in defiance of Church teaching is all kinds of crazy. Not to mention that most of these professors (I would be willing to bet money) have never invoked the Church's Magisterium to demand obedience on any of the non-negotiable life issues, nor have they openly chastised leftist Catholic darlings Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden, who openly defy their Faith on those non-negotiables.

The professors (and all Catholics) are certainly free to disagree with Speaker Boehner's policy and budget votes, but they have no right to fraudulently elevate issues of prudential judgment to the level of Church doctrine!

Normally it would be a joy to see these august Catholic academics finally demanding obedience to the Magisterium of the Church -- if that demand were not in the service of distorting what the Church actually teaches, while ignoring or defying the truly binding teachings of our Church. As it stands, the whole thing smacks of hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty.

Fr. Robert Sirico has a good analysis of the problem here.

+++++++

On a lighter note, wonderful Bubble reader and contributor Becky has a most amazing etsy shop called Roses for Mary. The rosaries she makes are some of the loveliest I have ever seen, and if you do nothing else, please click the link now and see what I mean! You won't be disappointed!

+++++++

Last year, I told you about a book that changed my life. After the post ran, the author of that book, R. Richard Thomas, contacted me and told me about a second book he had written. I was thrilled! Recently he contacted me again, to tell me that those books, The Ordinary Path to Holiness and The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father are now available for the Kindle and the Nook. I am happy to recommend them!

+++++++

I know I had something else to say. I can't remember. Sigh. That is how it goes with me lately. 

Enjoy a wonderful weekend!



____

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Catholic freedom of choice is freedom from anxiety



As I spend some time with my newly-returned-from-abroad daughter, I thought I would repost something from April 15, 2010 (with slight modifications). This post ran before I had a lot of readers, and yet it's had steady, positive feedback. 


Knowing God's Will, and Catholic Freedom

Among my real life friends and my blogger friends, I've noticed that many devout Catholics get extremely stressed when trying to discern God's will: Should I adopt this particular baby, should I marry this particular man, should I quit my job, should I move, should I (fill in the blank)? How do I make sure that this choice is God's will and not my own? Ack!! Help!

It's a very great thing to want to do God's will in all things, and it's nothing short of inspiring to hear and feel the sincerity of these pure-hearted women (and men, but it's mostly women who worry like this). My friends are my spiritual mentors in so many ways. I have learned and grown so much from them! Hugs and kisses to you all!!

However, I started to notice that many faithful, Magisterium-loving Catholics are so afraid they might somehow step outside of God's will that they become anxiety-ridden. The angst they feel in not wanting to offend God by making the "wrong" choice is severe, and it can be debilitating.

But we are Catholics, and that kind of burden is unnecessary! Here is what is so freeing about our Catholic Faith: When our intentions are good and the choices before us are moral, we are free!

Let me restate it another way: As long as we are not choosing something evil, we are free to embrace any path that God opens before us. So, you are free to choose to adopt that baby, to marry that man, to take (or quit) that job, to move to that city, to buy that house, or any other morally licit option. You are also free to choose not to adopt that baby, marry that man, etc.

This is the beauty of Catholicism. Our free will is the greatest gift God gives us, allowing us the dignity to choose our own path, as long as we do not choose sin. Sin is the only thing that offends God, the only thing that he will not bless, and the only thing that is not within His will for us. If we are not choosing sin, then we remain in a state of grace. This is a beautiful, liberating truth, which leaves little room for fear and anxiety!

But then, of course, the question becomes: How do we choose between two moral options?

Well, remember, we are talking about two moral and licit options (immoral choices are never acceptable). If God places two or more moral choices before us, then we should go with the choice which brings us the most interior peace. If we feel more tranquility at the thought of choosing Option A, then we go with Option A. Option A may actually cause us more external suffering or hardship, but that is of no consequence. It's about the peace we feel in our soul.

But wait! This is important! Even if a soul should "miss" whatever path God may have originally laid out for him (i.e., some people do miss their calling as a priest or religious), that person still has not committed a sin if his intentions were good! This is so important for people to know, especially the scrupulous. God will work with whatever path we have put ourselves on. He is pleased to honor our choices. He is not a puppet master pulling our strings. He is a loving Father who delights in seeing His children choose freely.

Think about it in earthly terms: If I am a healthy parent, I will be happy to support my child whether he chooses to be a doctor or an artist or a carpenter. Those are all honorable goals, and though I might prefer he pick one career over another, it's not my choice to make. (Of course, I will not support my child's decision to be an abortionist, or a prostitute, or a loan shark.)

So, instead of agonizing over every movement and decision, enjoy the authentic freedom of being a Catholic! We are so blessed! We are not shackled slaves whose every move is orchestrated and monitored (as so many people think of Catholics...ugh!). We know that the only slavery is slavery to sin. If you are not choosing sin as an option, then put aside your anxiety, and enjoy your God-given freedom!


"The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted; precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden."  G.K. Chesterton






____

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Unconventional Mother's Day post...



Today the Elliot Institute reminds us to remember those mothers who have lost their children through abortion. There is help and healing….

Friday, May 6, 2011

What I Never Learned, Part I



Years ago, I sent out some "catechesis emails" to interested friends and family. They, like me, never really learned much in Catholic religious education and CCD classes. What I wrote was pretty basic stuff, and I thought some of the Bubble readers might like the overview. So, here is the first installment:





Hello everyone!  First, I want to say that as I write this first overview, I am assuming that you are all convinced of the truth of Christianity. If you’re not yet convinced, you still might get a lot out of this, but it's not technically directed at you.

What I'm attempting is a very brief outline of salvation history (God’s relationship with man since the beginning of creation). There is, of course, so much more to it than what I am going to write today, and the way I say things may seem almost childlike. But this is sort of the “skeleton” and we can add the flesh later.

I want to also mention that if there is any error in what I say, it is not the error of the Catholic Church, but my own error. In all things concerning faith and morals, I defer to the Church. I do not ever want to present my own subjective opinion (Christianity is a revealed religion, based in objective truth, not a religion of what any person thinks or decides it should be). I only wish to pass on the unbroken teaching of Christ, through His Church; so, I always stand open to being corrected if I am misrepresenting the Church in any way.

******

We all know instinctively that there is something very wrong with this world. All the suffering and ugliness that goes on daily (just watch the nightly news) makes that pretty clear. We all see that there is incredible injustice, immense pain and suffering, and endless examples of man’s inhumanity to man. This “broken” world is the result of a separation of man from God, which happened with our first parents, Adam and Eve.

But let's back up.

God, Who is infinite, and Who has existed always, decided to create the world and all of us. He created purely out of love. Everything He created was good, and out of all creation, His masterpiece was man. We were created to be in friendship with God. I love how the Cathechism of the Catholic Church puts it:
Of all visible creatures only man is "able to know and love his creator". He is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake", and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God's own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity. (CCC, 356)
God is absolutely faithful, but unfortunately, we humans are not. Adam and Eve (our first parents) became prideful, deciding they could name what was good and what was evil for themselves. They committed an act of disobedience against God that broke their friendship with Him. Sin had entered the world, and with sin came death – remember, there was no death and no suffering up until that point.

(By the way, people often wonder why God would allow Adam and Eve to sin, when everything was perfect in the Garden of Eden. Later, I will discuss why God gave us the free will to choose sin. It is very powerful and beautiful, and you will see why it was absolutely necessary.)

After their sin, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden. They had “fallen from grace”, which means they killed the life of God (sanctifying grace) within them. Without this gift of sanctifying grace, they were no longer fit to live in the presence of God. Through their own free will choice, they had separated themselves from the friendship of God, and their lives became lives of suffering and, ultimately, death.

Though Adam and Eve’s actions showed their lack of love for God, God never stopped loving them. Even as He banished them, He promised, waaaaaaaay back then, to send a Savior one day to make things right again between God and man. (Genesis 3:15 is one of the most important and exciting passages in the Bible, but more on that later.)

The heaviest consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin? Essentially it was that the gates of Heaven were now closed to all mankind. Men had become sinners, and sin cannot exist in the perfection of Heaven (if it could, it wouldn’t be Heaven, right? It would be what we have here on earth, which is definitely no picnic!).  So, through Adam’s sin, mankind lost the ability to get to Heaven.

I think I’ll end now, and let you chew on that for awhile. As I said, what I’m presenting is very basic stuff and the actual depth and breadth of it is infinitely deeper than this... but that is why God gives us a lifetime to delve deeper into His Truths. His Truth are accessible to the most humble peasant who cannot read or write, while also being inexhaustible to the greatest minds in the world, to such as a St. Augustine or a St. Thomas Aquinas, etc. Trust me, this stuff gets deeper and deeper and better and better, and God will take you as far as you are willing to go.

Told you it would be simple! Next, go to Part II: After the Fall








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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"...and the Papacy remains."

I.love.this.

I love this.

I love this.

Did I mention that I love this?

I found it excerpted in one of the best books I've ever read, The Spirit of Catholicism, by Karl Adam. It has stayed in my head for well over a decade. It's a description of the Catholic Church, written by 19th century English historian Thomas Macaulay. I thrill to his words. Read them slowly, savor them:
There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. 
The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. 
The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. 
The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. 
The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila…. 
Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. 
She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. 
And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.
There is no earthly explanation for the fact that the Catholic Church, grounded in the office of the papacy, survives and thrives after 20 centuries.

And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
-- Matthew 16:18

Jesus Christ is a Man of His word.




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Monday, May 2, 2011

Matchmaking post!! Anthony is a catch, ladies!


Okay, this is way too fun! 

Some of you may remember that I fancy myself a Catholic matchmaker. Well, today is a great day for me, and perhaps for some lucky Catholic lady out there. 

You all know our good friend and commenter, "Giuseppe", who is not only a trained philosopher, but also a fellow blogger and a United States Marine currently serving our country in Afghanistan, far away from his beautiful wife and baby son. 

Well, dear Giuseppe has been telling me a little bit about his buddy, Anthony, a fellow Catholic and Marine, who is looking for a wife. Always hoping for a way to help and honor our incredible servicemen, I begged for permission to put out a bit of a personal ad, right here on the Bubble!! Permission was granted!!

Without further ado, here is handsome, valiant Anthony:

Who doesn't love a man in uniform?! Am I right ladies?

Anthony is 25 years old, 5'10", and a graduate of St. Anselm's College. He did FOCUS for a year (great group!!), before becoming a Marine Officer. He has been serving in Afghanistan for the past seven months, leading a platoon of Marines as a Combat Engineer (which means he is quite brave).

He loves to sing (was tenor in a barbershop quartet in college!), and he loves to run (3 miles in 16 minutes -- blazing fast!). He has a great sense of humor, a good head on his shoulders, and an energetic, outgoing personality. He is a devout and faithful Catholic, and balanced in his orthodoxy. He does not compromise on virtue (i.e., he's a real man!!), and he does not smoke or dip.

*UPDATE: And he cooks!! Also, he's from Boston, but is currently stationed at a Marine base in CA. I have been informed by Giuseppe that Anthony does not have a Boston accent and does not say "wicked"! (Though he will talk in the accent of his youth if you prod him. Ha ha!)

Anthony is looking for a Catholic woman who is devout, pretty, and somewhat athletic.

If you are this woman, or if you know this woman, please email me at littlecatholicbubble@gmail.com, and let's start building Catholic families for the Kingdom!!

St. Joseph, patron of families, pray for us!