Wednesday, September 29, 2004

IntolerantElle wants you

to go over to her place for the Christian Carnival XXXVII.

Thanks to this latest dry spell, I had nothing to offer her this week. However, not all of Christian Bloggsville has been so afflicted, and there's plenty of bloggy goodness this week, like always.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Where do the Eucharist's six movements go?

A while ago I wrote a tract, Six Movements of the Eucharist, which spelled out the six movements which have been indispensible in Christian worship since the beginning. [They are hinted at in the Didache in the first century and spelled out by St. Justin for the Emperor in one of his "apologies" in the second century.] But, I didn't have an introduction for them in my text, and no conclusion either, since I wasn't sure where to go with the teaching from there. Still thought it was important enough to post in the New Tracts for the Times anyhow.

Now I've found where the teaching on the six movements proceeds to, and it is courtesy of that wise and holy man, my archbishop-emeritus. His September 13th posting [sorry, he has no permalinks, doesn't appear to have blogging software.....] takes the six movements and shows how they are actually to be scored, and then made tangible in performance, to continue the musical metaphors. Maybe, with a little digesting, this can lead to a real introduction and conclusion for the "Six Movements" text? Maybe?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

I am still alive

for those of you, like my sibs, who use this blog to chack up on me. I just have been very busy and not very inspired --- ranting took a lot out of me! Yesterday I attended the annual conference held by Catholic Charities' Older Adult Ministries, for the first time. Attended two especially good breakout sessions, one on choosing nursing homes and assisted living situations, one on end-of-life issues. I also started prowling among the exhibitors for new medical coverage; I just got notified by the city, my former employer, that they are raising my insurance premium by over $100.00 every month starting at the first of the year --- that on top of the 15% Medicare premium increase! Trying to find a less expensive alternative that will still cover the things I need. Tomorrow is church, of course, and Monday is mammography day .....

Maybe tonight or maybe tomorrow at church I'll get an inspiration what to write about.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Christian Carnival XXXVI is up

Christian Carnival XXXVI is ready for patrons at Neophyte Pundit. Messy Christian has her trials and tribulations with "the CEO Pastor" in it --- the mirror image of my recent rant and probably why Mother Church makes us spend two weeks reading "On Pastors"! Lots of other good things also......

Monday, September 20, 2004

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Just because it isn't rational

doesn't mean that it's "just a feeling". There's a whole universe of ways of knowing between rationality and emotions on the loose. Frederica Mathewes-Green writes about some of this in her new essay, More than a Feeling, on beliefnet.com.

More ranting about the Putative Faithful

This was originally posted here on December 15, 2002 and it was lost from the archives during one of Blogger's transformations. Fortunately I had emailed it to somebody, so I can post it again......

Sunday, December 15, 2002
( 11:29 AM ) Karen Marie Knapp
Our duties and responsibilities toward our bishops

We are very aware of what our bishops are supposed to do for us, and in these latter days we have a gloomy chorus to keep us from ever seeing beyond every failure and error on our bishops' parts. Yet, how many of us are even aware of our responsibilities and our duties toward them? Let alone actually do anything?

When the newly-named bishop arrives, and the chancellor, the college of consultors, the papal nuncio, et alia sit him down in the big chair with the crozier in his hand, he takes on responsibilities and duties toward us --- and we take on reciprocal responsibilities and duties toward him.

Our bishop is to nurture and care for us.
We are to nurture and care for our bishop.

Our bishop is to teach us and to give us guidance in the way of the Lord.
We are to pay attention to the bishop's teachings and to be amenable to being guided.

Our bishop is to treat us with honor and care and respect, even when he has to correct us or rebuke us.
We are to treat the bishop with honor and care and respect, even when we have to respectfully disagree with him or even correct him.

Our bishop prays for us. We pray for our bishop.

I could continue, but I think the picture's pretty well-drawn already.

I believe that our problems in these days stem in some part, maybe large part, from our own past failures at fulfilling our parts in our relationships with our bishops.

We failed to pray for him, and picked at him instead. We expected to be deferred to, rather than to be taught; so we wouldn't pay attention to any teaching that we didn't like or that made us feel uncomfortable. When we disagreed with one or another prudential judgment of our bishop, we tantrummed and made public shameful scenes, even when what was decided was well within the applicable norms and reasonable common-sense. When we were supposed to be gathered around our bishop as one holy people we insisted on dividing into factions and fighting internecine warfare in and over the Lord's Church.

And our bishops, though holy and diligent and devoted, are only men. Their armor of faith is only so strong, and when it develops cracks, the fears wiggle in like so many of those wormy parasitical sci-fi aliens, and dumb things get done out of the fears. Some start deferring and stop teaching. Some get reclusive, or autocratic. Some start making really poor prudential decisions, out of a misplaced perceived need to protect us from bad news or difficult times.

We must nurture our bishops, so that their armor of faith stays strong, and so that the fears have no way of entering in. It is our duty to nurture him as much as it is his duty to nurture us. I've already told this to my new bishop (I did get that appropriate chance).

So, pray for the bishop. Attend to his teaching. Treat him with honor and care and respect. Refrain from public tantrums and all other aspects of faction-fighting. And bear up the bishop as the bishop bears us up, so we all attain to the heavenly vision on that coming Day.

On Parishioners, or, On the Putative Faithful

It's time for me to rant a little.

This week and next, Holy Mother Church in the Office of Readings sets before us St. Augustine's "On Pastors" (nicely paralleled by the prophet Ezekiel), which might as well be titled "All the Ways Your Bishop Can Screw Up" or "Fifty Ways to Condemn Your Pastor".

But we already know all the ways bishops can screw up. Those of us who did not know it before had a crash course in that subject in 2002 with Boston's long Lent, Palm Beach's repeated bereavement, and all the rest of it.

Where, might I ask, is the document we really need? Where is "On Parishioners", or, maybe, "On the Putative Faithful? We screw up as followers, students, and sheep just as much, if not more, than the pastors and the bishops flub being leaders, teachers, and shepherds. And, plenty of the ways they fail are directly related to our refusals and misdoing and sheer stubbornness.

If I cultivate a teachable spirit, and hold out my hand to be taken and led, it is no surprise when I am taught and sheltered and led. If, on the other hand, I sit like a bump on a log and fight when anyone tries to pick me up, should I be very surprised when my caretaker succumbs to discouragement and gives up?

We have a duty to honor and care for our pastors, just as they have a duty to honor and care for us. We have a duty to actually pay attention when they try to teach us, and to work hard to understand their teaching and conform our lives to it; just like their duty to listen to us and to teach us the ways of God. We have a duty to pray for them, and not just in the Eucharistic Prayer on Sundays; just like it is their duty to pray for us. And on and on....

As we continue praying "On Pastors" for the rest of this week, let us not gloat. Let us remember that we have duties and responsibilities to match every one of the duties that St Augustine is taking them to task for, and in many ways we've been equal screw-ups with, or ever greater screw-ups than, our pastors and our bishops.

It was never intended that all the holiness of the Church come from the priest, and maybe the sisters. The holiness of the Church is to come from all of us --- or more correctly, from our Lord through every single one of us. We cannot get away with or be satisfied with anything less than sanctity of life. Not only St Augustine's targets this fortnight, but me and you and all of us! Lord, have mercy; all saints of God, pray for us.

End of rant.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Christian Carnival XXXV

It's Carnival time again at Rebecca Writes. Many excellent contributions this time, including two different perspectives on original sin, Mark of CowPi Journal on conditional love, Elena of My Domestic Church on mourning, and tons of other great posts.

By the way, my next turn to host will come late in October, but you do not have to wait for my next turn in order to join the fun!

Concerning our own crosses

I wrote in somebody's comment box a while ago:
"We accept and embrace our crosses
and offer up our sufferings as a gift,
as a sacrificial offering.
Elsewise we are bound to them
resisting and unwilling,
and we are crushed and broken by them.
Not having a cross is not one of the options."

In holy baptism we are anointed,
as Christ was anointed,
prophet, and king, and priest.

In the same way that the sons of Aaron were priests,
offering the sacrifices in the Lord's Temple;
yet the people Israel
(all of them, not only Aaron's sons)
were a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart;

there are the presbyters and the bishops,
priests forever,
at their hands offering our Eucharist;
yet all the baptized are truly priests,
offering gifts in sacrifice to God.

Set beside that one great Offering
that the Eucharist makes always present for us,
our offerings are so small, so imperfect;
but they are ours to give, nonetheless.

The Lord Jesus, when He took up His cross,
was totally and perfectly innocent.
We are not.
In fact, our crosses are in part constructed
from our own sins and stupidities and rotten choices.
And yet,
our Lord permits us to bear our burdens beside Him.
Actually, He commands us to do so.
"Take up your cross, and follow me."

We are allowed, actually invited,
to join our offering with His own:
it is what we are baptized to do,
to make our offering to God
along with that of His Son.

St. Paul said in one of his letters
that our own offerings
would make up what was lacking in the suffering of Christ.
How can the suffering of Christ be lacking?
Yet, we are invited; Christ knows Christ's business.

We embrace our crosses every day
and make of our suffering and our dying
(that's what crosses are for: for dying on)
a sacrificial offering to God,
and we become more and more conformed to Jesus,
and more and more empty of the trivia we collect,
then we can be filled with the Lord, Himself;
the One we claim for our prize, our pearl.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Remember the Ember Days!

Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday are this autumn's Ember Days.

The Ember Days are an ancient observance and devotion --- already in the fifth century they were well-known and described as being of apostolic origin.

The Ember Days are observed on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following St. Lucy's day (December 13), following Ash Wednesday, following Pentecost Sunday, and following the feast of the Triumph of the Cross (today, September 14th). Roughly at the turning of each season, we fast and abstain, and give alms, and pray, to thank God for sustaining us with the gifts of nature through the cycle of the seasons, to help us learn to use those gifts wisely and moderately, and to assist the needy.

We don't have to give up the Ember Days. We need them in some ways more than ever in our times, to remind us that our daily food doesn't really come from the supermarket --- it comes from our earth, from the hard work of farming people, from rain and sun and snow cover at the proper times, and from proper stewardship of the earth's goods by the proper use of the land and the water and the air.

So we pray, we fast, we do works of reparation and mercy. We remind ourselves that we depend on God --- not on Kraft, Nabisco, and General Mills; not on Sentry, Jewel, or Pick n Save --- to sustain us always.

The seraph serpents and the Cross

Remember a few days ago, on St. Gregory's Day, when I wrote of the symptoms of the Fall?

The very first symptom of the Fall was the desire to hide from God. And from each other. And, even, from ourselves. Hiding from God is just futile and frustrating. Hiding from others and from ourselves, however, is death-dealing. Secrets bind and kill. Delusions make one stupid. Both are what makes up the wide and downhill superhighway to despair.

Today's Mass readings show to us the antidote to this mess.

We have to face, straight-on, exactly what we've done, precisely what our besetting problem is.

In the journey out of Egypt to the Land of Promise, the people suffered an invasion of poisonous seraph serpents, and many were bitten and died. The way of healing prescribed by the Lord was to look upon the image of a seraph serpent. Those who would look upon the bronze serpent, who could admit, "I have been bitten by the serpent", would be healed. Those who would not look, those who feared or panicked or denied that the serpent was their problem, would die.

In the same way, we must look at the cross of Jesus. We _must_ look. In fact, the cross of Jesus must be our only glory. But, what do we see when we raise our eyes to the crucifix above the altar, or finger the cross that dangles from the rosary? Our Lord and Messiah, Our true King and only true Love, is put to a torturous death, and submits to it freely, that we may be redeemed. And that death, the death of a true Innocent, is at my hands, is at our hands. I am a betrayer, an abandoner, a coward and denier, a crucifier. And the Crucified forgives me, and redeems me, and raises me up. All that is required is to gaze upon His cross, and to know and say, "This is what I have done to my Lord of Glory. He deserves all my love and I have given Him this." At that, the Lord will conquer death in me, and tear down the gates of the netherworld in me, and heal me, and, on that Day, call me to Himself. But if I refuse to look upon the cross, and deny that I had anything to do with that, and try to say that it's all Pontius Pilate's problem, then I will die, as surely as my fathers and mothers died in that desert when the seraph serpents came, and as sure as, before that, Adam and Eve took death for their inheritance.

Look upon the Cross, on which is hung Salvation Himself, and we will be healed and live!

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

the corona and crucifix above the altar of my parish, Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

It requires great self-denial and resignation of ourselves to God to attain that state wherein we freely cease from fighting. ....Whoever rightly attains to it, does in some degree feel that Spirit in which our Redeemer gave His life for us. (John Woolman)

Behold, behold, the wood of the cross,
on which is hung our Salvation;
O come, let us adore!
(Liturgy of Good Friday)

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You,
for by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

O my Lord, Messiah and (truly!) King,
You have been lifted up, and have triumphed.
You Yourself mend our lives, and draw us to Yourself,
and make Yourself our greatest yearning, greatest gift.

We who lifted You up from the earth ---
not far, not nearly to the sky, let alone the heavens ---
intending only evil; or not intending at all, "just following orders,"
just another execution in a busy day

It was for us that You took everything we gave,
that You offered Yourself, unresisting,
(and You, our Messiah and Lord, are God;
You had the power to save Yourself)
so that when we had done our very worst
Your forgiveness and Your triumph would rescue us,
very thankful and truly humble.

We know what we have done.
We know of what we are capable.
We look upon Your cross
and our sin remains before us,
we cannot ignore the truth of ourselves.

We deny You.
We are cowards and run away from You.
We drag You all over the city, from courtroom to courtroom.
For You, our King, we weave a crown of thornbush to force upon Your head.
We beat You. We mock You. We parade You through the streets.
We disdignify You, stripping You of everything.
And, clothed only in welts and bruises and Your own blood,
we nail You to a cross to torture You to death.

Our sin is always before us,
and yet,
and yet,
so also is Your mercy,
so also Your forgiveness,
so also Your great offering.

And, in time's fullness,
the sign of Jonah ---
even Death itself is conquered, vanquished;
so we might proceed from life to Life true and eternal,
Life that knows no end.

Are we certain he was fourth century?

Yes, I know, the historians can prove that St. John Chrysostom lived in the fourth century, whupping the Patriarchate of Constantinople into shape. But he sure does sound like day-before-yesterday! This, from one of his homilies on the Gospel of Matthew (number 50, to be exact....):

Christ of the Breadline, by Fritz Eichenberg

Would you do honor to Christ's body? Neglect Him not when naked; do not while here you honor Him with silken garments, neglect Him perishing without of cold and nakedness. For He who said, "This is my body," and by His word confirmed the fact, He also said, "You saw me hungry, and fed me not;" and, "Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me." For that which we do in the Church indeed needs not special garments, but a pure soul; but that which we do outside requires much attention.

Let us learn therefore to be strict in life, and to honor Christ as He Himself desires. For to Him who is honored that honor is most pleasing, which it is His own will to have, not that which we account best. Since Peter too thought to honor Him by forbidding Him to wash his feet, but his doing so was not an honor, but the contrary.

Even so, honor Him with this honor, which He ordained, spending your wealth on poor people. Since God has no need at all of golden vessels, but of golden souls.
And these things I say, not forbidding such offerings to be provided; but requiring you, together with them, and before them, to give alms. For He accepts indeed the former, but much more the latter. For in the one the offerer alone is profited, but in the other the receiver also. Here the act seems to be a ground even of ostentation; but there all is mercifulness, and love to man.

For what is the profit, when His table indeed is full of golden cups, but He perishes with hunger? First fill Him, being hungry, and then abundantly deck out His table also. Do you make Him a cup of gold, while you give Him not a cup of cold water? And what is the profit? Do you furnish His table with cloths bespangled with gold, while to Himself you afford not even the necessary covering? And what good comes of it? For tell me, should you see one at a loss for necessary food, and omit appeasing his hunger, while you first overlaid his table with silver; would he indeed thank thee, and not rather be indignant? What, again, if seeing one wrapped in rags, and stiff with cold, you should neglect giving him a garment, and build golden columns, saying, "you were doing it to his honor," would he not say that you were mocking, and account it an insult, and that the most extreme?

Let this then be your thought with regard to Christ also, when He is going about a wanderer, and a stranger, needing a roof to cover Him; and you, neglecting to receive Him, decks out a pavement, and walls, and capitals of columns, and hangs up the lamps with silver chains, but Himself bound in prison you will not even look upon.

And these things I say, not forbidding munificence in these matters, but admonishing you to do those other works together with these, or rather even before these. Because for not having done these no one was ever blamed, but for those, hell is threatened, and unquenchable fire, and the punishment with evil spirits. Do not therefore while adorning His house overlook thy brother in distress, for he is more properly a temple than the other.

Last Supper, by Eichenberg

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Dratted Typos!

Julie of Happy Catholic just emailed me, that my VatII-Doc link below didn't work. Turns out I typed a comma instead of a dot in the link; no wonder it didn't work! I've fixed it, I think ?

This is the real link to the best Vatican II Documents study group in the listworld, cut and pasted straight from the site so there cannot be typos. The new cycle begins on Monday, come on in.

Also, if you go to the Catholic Herald site on the sidebar, to today's "Herald of Hope" column, Bishop Sklba has an excellent reflection on the Council. He was there as a very young priest. I'll link it here next week, after it gets a permanent URL, right now it is just "current."


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Study the documents of Vatican II with us!

When I saw this postings at Father Dowd's Waiting in Joyful Hope I was reminded to remind you all that the new cycle of studies of the complete documents of our latest Ecumenical Council on the list known as VatII-doc will begin again this coming Monday, September 13th. Follow the link for the page to sign up, there are files sections avalable to members also, with last round's study questions and lots of interesting documentation.

We'll be beginning with Blessed John XXIII's opening address to the Council. Roberta, the Bosse of the list, promises she will sent links to that text to all of you who join us --- it's not printed in many of the volumes of the Documents. Then we'll study our way through every single document, one by one. Right now there's lots of getting-to-know-where-you're-coming-from talk happening, but come the 13th, we will be all business!

The Spirit of Vatican II is in the Documents of Vatican II --- Join us, join us, share in the adventure!

Monday, September 06, 2004

teaching on just wages

from the encyclical "Rerum novarum":

44. To this kind of argument a fair-minded man will not easily or entirely assent; it is not complete, for there are important considerations which it leaves out of account altogether. To labor is to exert oneself for the sake of procuring what is necessary for the various purposes of life, and chief of all for self-preservation. "In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread." Hence, a man's labor necessarily bears two notes or characters. First of all, it is personal, inasmuch as the force which acts is bound up with the personality and is the exclusive property of him who acts, and, further, was given to him for his advantage. Secondly, man's labor is necessary; for without the result of labor a man cannot live, and self-preservation is a law of nature, which it is wrong to disobey. Now, were we to consider labor merely in so far as it is personal, doubtless it would be within the workman's right to accept any rate of wages whatsoever; for in the same way as he is free to work or not, so is he free to accept a small wage or even none at all. But our conclusion must be very different if, together with the personal element in a man's work, we consider the fact that work is also necessary for him to live: these two aspects of his work are separable in thought, but not in reality. The preservation of life is the bounden duty of one and all, and to be wanting therein is a crime. It necessarily follows that each one has a natural right to procure what is required in order to live, and the poor can procure that in no other way than by what they can earn through their work.

45. Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.


Magisterial teaching on labor unions

from the encyclical letter "Laborem excercens":

20. Importance of Unions

All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the
right of association, that is to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labour or trade unions. The vital interests of the workers are to a certain extent common for all of them; at the same time however each type of work, each profession, has its own specific character which should find a particular reflection in these organizations.

In a sense, unions go back to the mediaeval guilds of artisans, insofar as those organizations brought together people belonging to the same craft and thus
on the basis of their work. However, unions differ from the guilds on this essential point: the modern unions grew up from the struggle of the workers --- workers in general but especially the industrial workers --- to protect their just rights vis-a-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production. Their task is to defend the existential interests of workers in all sectors in which their rights are concerned. The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies. Obviously, this does not mean that only industrial workers can set up associations of this type. Representatives of every profession can use them to ensure their own rights. Thus there are unions of agricultural workers and of white-collar workers; there are also employers' associations. All, as has been said above, are further divided into groups or subgroups according to particular professional specializations.

Catholic social teaching does not hold that unions are no more than a reflection of the "class" structure of society and that they are a mouthpiece for a class struggle which inevitably governs social life. They are indeed
a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for the just rights of working people in accordance with their individual professions. However, this struggle should be seen as a normal endeavour "for" the just good: in the present case, for the good which corresponds to the needs and merits of working people associated by profession; but it is not a struggle "against" others. Even if in controversial questions the struggle takes on a character of opposition towards others, this is because it aims at the good of social justice, not for the sake of "struggle" or in order to eliminate the opponent. It is characteristic of work that it first and foremost unites people. In this consists its social power: the power to build a community. In the final analysis, both those who work and those who manage the means of production or who own them must in some way be united in this community. In the light of this fundamental structure of all work --- in the light of the fact that, in the final analysis, labour and capital are indispensable components of the process of production in any social system --- it is clear that, even if it is because of their work needs that people unite to secure their rights, their union remains a constructive factor of social order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.

Just efforts to secure the rights of workers who are united by the same profession should always take into account the limitations imposed by the general economic situation of the country. Union demands cannot be turned into a kind of
group or class "egoism", although they can and should also aim at correcting --- with a view to the common good of the whole of society --- everything defective in the system of ownership of the means of production or in the way these are managed. Social and socioeconomic life is certainly like a system of "connected vessels", and every social activity directed towards safeguarding the rights of particular groups should adapt itself to this system.

In this sense, union activity undoubtedly enters the field of
politics, understood as prudent concern for the common good. However, the role of unions is not to "play politics" in the sense that the expression is commonly understood today. Unions do not have the character of political parties struggling for power; they should not be subjected to the decision of political parties or have too close links with them. In fact, in such a situation they easily lose contact with their specific role, which is to secure the just rights of workers within the £ramework of the common good of the whole of society; instead they become an instrument used for other purposes.

Speaking of the protection of the just rights of workers according to their individual professions, we must of course always keep in mind that which determines the subjective character of work in each profession, but at the same time, indeed before all else, we must keep in mind that which conditions the specific dignity of the subject of the work. The activity of union organizations opens up many possibilities in this respect, including their
efforts to instruct and educate the workers and to foster their selfeducation. Praise is due to the work of the schools, what are known as workers' or people's universities and the training programmes and courses which have developed and are still developing this field of activity. It is always to be hoped that, thanks to the work of their unions, workers will not only have more, but above all be more: in other words, that they will realize their humanity more fully in every respect.

One method used by unions in pursuing the just rights of their members is the strike or work stoppage, as a kind of ultimatum to the competent bodies, especially the employers. This method is recognized by Catholic social teaching as legitimate in the proper conditions and within just limits. In this connection workers should be assured the right to strike, without being subjected to personal penal sanctions for taking part in a strike. While admitting that it is a legitimate means, we must at the same time emphasize that a strike remains, in a sense, an extreme means. It must not be abused; it must not be abused especially for "political" purposes. Furthermore it must never be forgotten that, when essential community services are in question, they must in every case be ensured, if necessary by means of appropriate legislation. Abuse of the strike weapon can lead to the paralysis of the whole of socioeconomic life, and this is contrary to the requirements of the common good of society, which also corresponds to the properly understood nature of work itself.

One Labor Day Meditation

Courtesy of the Access to Catholic Social Justice Teachings website, Why boycotting sweat shop merchandise does not hurt the poor. Remember today all those who work very hard for very little return.

Friday, September 03, 2004

St. Gregory the Great ---- on not living up to one's own standards

In today's Office of Readings, today's saint, from the most illustrious pulpit in all Christendom, states exactly where he stands:

How hard it is for me to say this, for by these very words I denounce myself. I cannot preach with any competence, and yet insofar as I do succeed, still I myself do not live my life according to my own preaching. I do not deny my responsibility; I recognize that I am slothful and negligent, but perhaps the acknowledgement of my fault will win me pardon from my just judge.

but yet he has hope:

Truly the all-powerful Creator and Redeemer of mankind can give me in spite of my weaknesses a higher life and effective speech; because I love him, I do not spare myself in speaking of him.

Another wise and holy bishop (who's in my blogroll) wrote, in words meant to be seen by only one other person in the whole world, but now belonging to us all:

During the last months I have come to know how strained I was, tense, pensive, without much joy. I couldn't pray at all. I just did not seem to be honest with God. I felt I was fleeing from Him, from facing Him. I know what the trouble was: I was letting your conscience take over for me and I couldn't live with it. I felt like the world's worst hypocrite. .....I was at a crossroads -- and I knew I had to get the courage to decide. There is no other way for me to live....... I failed you, I failed myself. I failed as a friend, I failed as priest. .....I did nothing but cry and try to pray....... I begged for forgiveness for having failed you and for the grace of standing up again and trying to be -- not a bishop -- just a Christian.

And we do not have to be holy and wise bishops to know that we do not always live up to our own standards. I definitely know that in my own life. One of my fellow Catholic bloggers has even named his blog "I see the right way and approve of it, then do the opposite".

And yet, there is hope for us. And it begins with conviction and contrition. I name myself hypocrite, so Jesus doesn't have to. I, the shy and timid, and highly embarrassed, do my best to be bold and confident as I place all my failures in Jesus' all-loving and all-merciful heart.

What were the first symptoms that the fall had happened? First, Adam and Eve tried to hide from God, then they blamed someone else. But I am redeemed, born into a new life, and should have nothing to do with either one of these. [The hiding from God part just plain isn't possible, in any case!]

So every time I find myself a failure in following my own standards, I have to not hide from God, and not hide from myself, and say with honesty and humility and confidence: I have sinned through my own fault. For:

Ultimately I understand that the humanity God so loved and sought to redeem, including my own humanity, will be transformed by His loving embrace and grace.

as that wise and holy bishop said to the Church he gave up that friendship to serve with a single heart. It is as true of me as it is of him, and it is true for every one of us.

So let us not refuse to say: I, supposed Christian, hypocrite! And may I never flee the grace of God that answers, Welcome home!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The primary election is only a week and a half away,

and being that I already have my ballot (I'm permanent absentee ballot, my polling place in not accessible), it's time to remind all my readers to consult and pray with our bishops' statement on Faithful Citizenship.

If you are as fortunate as I, your pastor will give you the Readers' Digest Condensed Version of this statement with your church bulletin someday soon.

Vote. Vote intelligently. and, Vote as a Catholic.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

It's Wednesday, so it must be the Christian Carnival

The 33rd Christian Carnival is now posted at the New Trommetter Times. Do follow the multiple pages, five of them, for very much bloggy goodness. My post about consecrated wackos is among them, as are many other good things.