Thursday, September 28, 2006

Christian Carnival 141

A day late but extra good, the Christian Carnival is now available at A Penitent Blogger.


Banned Books Week

Bego at A Cup of Coffee and a Random Thought reminded me that it's Banned Books Week.

Free people:
write books
publish books
sell books
buy books
read books
lend books
borrow books
don't ban books.

I remember when Mom sat my oldest younger brother and me down for The Talk. No, not the sex talk, the book talk. I was in fourth or fifth grade and he was one year back, and we were both reading well beyond our ages, including novels written for adults. Mom had been valiently reading trying to read everything we did before we did, and had come to the conclusion that she wasn't going to be able to keep up, we were both so voracious. Therefore, The Talk.

1) Just because it's printed doesn't mean it's true or accurate. Lies can be told in books and magazines too.

2) Not every book is for everybody. Books one of you likes the other might not, and that's ok. And there are books you might enjoy that aren't good for reading out loud to younger siblings.

3) Just because you start reading a book doesn't mean you have to finish it. If you don't like it, or it's gross or too scary or just seems wierd, it's ok and really good to stop reading that one, no matter how many other people seem to like it. [I followed through on this one once, when a friend lent me The Boston Strangler in 7th grade, and I gave it back having only read to page three.... too strange.]

4) Any questions about what you're reading, come and ask! Anything!

Granted, the 1960's were somewhat more innocent, but not so much more so that the same guidance isn't sufficient for the reading of all the treasures of the public library and the full-service bookstore. More books, more reading, not less!


More Penance, More Prayer! (and another polite missive to the congresspeople)

Here's an update from the New York Times on that ghastly "anti-terrorism" bill in Congress. The part about explicitly redefining the Geneva Conventions out of existence has been removed from the bill since the administration believes it has found other ways around its inconvenient provisions, but the rest of the bill is as awful as it ever was. So, more penance, more prayer!


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

87th Catholic Carnival

is now available at Luminous Miseries.

Glad to see Luminous Miseries back in business again.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Matthew Levi and his coming-out party

Today is the feast of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist, one of Jesus' more unique characters.

For, you see, Matthew had really sunk low in the world. He calls himself Matthew, but the other gospel writers call him Levi. This meant he had a hereditary job, serving the Lord in the holy temple; or at least that was what he was supposed to be doing. What he actually was doing was collecting taxes.

Back then, tax collecting wasn't an upright or honorable profession, this was long, long before the IRS. Tax collecting was one of the least honorable trades to be had, socially on a par with prostitution as a way of life. The occupiers didn't collect their own taxes; they hired out that job to independent contractors, who were paid a percentage of the take. So the less honest and more vicious one was, the richer one got. Not only was the tax collector collaborating with those rotten Roman occupation forces, he was (almost universally) fleecing his own people besides! And this life of well-to-do outcast collaborator, public sinner, was Matthew Levi's.

Jesus came to get him at the tax collector's office. Jesus called to Matthew, and Matthew wasted no time leaving the office not only for the day but for keeps. [When tough times came later, the fisher folk occasionally went back to fishing for their support, which could be done honorably and without sinning; but Matthew never went back to the office, the temptation levels were just too high.]

But, before he left town and went out on the road with Jesus, he had Jesus over to his house and threw a rip-roaring good party with Jesus the guest of honor and the rest of the guest list being Matthew's friends, the only sort of friends a tax collector could have: other tax collectors, Roman collaborators of other occupations, and other public sinners. Not a single respectable upstanding citizen in the lot of them. Yet, these were Matthew's friends. Matthew had been found by Jesus and was getting out; he wasn't going to go before all his friends got to meet Jesus also.

Here's how St. Bede preached about this party, in the passage in today's Office of Readings: This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligations and thus grew in merit. ...

Matthew, apostle and evangelist, faithful friend, pray for us.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

[rant] What about On the Putative Faithful?

It's time for me to rant a little.

All this week and all next week, Holy Mother Church in the Office of Readings has us reading St. Augustine on pastors (from the sermon of that title) and the holy Prophet Ezechiel on (rotten) shepherds. These might as well be titled "All the Ways Your Bishop Can Screw Up" or "Fifty Ways to Condemn Your Pastor".

But, to listen to us in the Bloggsville comboxes, we don't need any help to condemn our pastors, we are already very efficient at that. And we already know all the ways that our 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 kicking and biting when anyone tries to pick me up, should I be very surprised when, after dozens of attempts to lure me or budge me, my caretaker succumbs to discouragement and gives up trying?

We have a duty to honor and care for our pastors, just as they have a duty to honor and care for us. 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(and not just in the Eucharistic Prayer on Sunday!).

I could continue....

As we continue praying "On Pastors" for the rest of this week, let us not gloat. Let us remember that we parishioners have duties and responsibilities to match every one of the duties that St Augustine is taking them pastors 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. Many of the problems of our pastors and our bishops in these days stem in some part, maybe large part, from our own failures at fulfilling our parts in our relationships with them.

We failed to pray for them, and picked at them 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 pastor or 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.

It was never intended that all the holiness of the Church come from the priests, 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 Prophet Ezechiel's and St Augustine's targets this fortnight, but me and you and all of us! Lord, have mercy; all saints of God, pray for us.


Christian Carnival CXL

This week's Carnival, chock full of good posts, is available at Lux Venit. Several commentaries about Pope Benedict's lecture at U of Regensberg are particularly interesting.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ember Days!

Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday are this season's Ember Days. Rather than create yet another Ember Day easy essay (I think you've seen enough of those for now), here's a prosier essay by Ron Talley of the CatholicCafe listserv:

The Ember Days

A devotional invitation to fasting and abstinence, encouraging moderation in our use of the goods of creation.

One of the ancient traditional devotions of the church that isn't observed much anymore are the "Ember Days." In the fifth century AD, this observance was well known and was described as being of "apostolic origin". Ember Days were observed with prayer and fasting, according to the online edition of the 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia, on "the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of these days of fasting and abstinence, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy."

As the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross falls on a Thursday this year (Sept. 14, 2006), the Ember days fall on the following Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, the 20th, 22nd, and 23rd of September.

Given the many complicated crises facing the world, we call upon Christians to observe the September Ember days of prayer and fasting for the traditional intentions.

The Ember Days are a devotion that should be revived. We need regular reminders of the importance of moderation in the use of material goods. We therefore encourage everybody to observe these days with fasting, abstinence, and works of reparation, mercy, justice, and peace.

There is an "anything goes" attitude these days, and that is as true in economics and business as it is in media and entertainment. We say we "need" something, when in reality we only "want" it, and we are disposed to think that our "wants" are mandates. Over consumption of material goods is a manifestation of the cardinal sins of greed and gluttony. It indicates a problem with disordered priorities. It is also fundamental to our economy, and that is one of our big problems. "In (this) God (money) We Trust."

We don't want to think about the costs, so we don't, often we try to ignore them until we are forced by our circumstances to do so. Even then, we will still try to stand apart from our own actions, denying our responsibility, and attempting to evade the consequences (or shift them over on someone else).

There is an ever present and very noisy propaganda crusade preaching that we should "spend, consume, waste", but God is not the author of that confusion, that comes from the demonic spirits that prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. If you buy that agenda, you're not building the Kingdom of God here on Earth "as it is in heaven."

Perhaps this is one reason why Mother Teresa advised the rich to "Live simply, so that others may simply live." Maybe that's also a clue as to what the Ember days can mean for us in these early days of the 21st century. The more abundance of "stuff" we have, the more we need reminders of the importance of moderation in the use of material things.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

A New Blessed

This is Sister Sara Salkahazi [the link goes to the memorial site of her religious order], who is being beatified today.

Quite the down-to-earth lady, yes?

A Sister of Social Service, she ran hostels for working women, and was summarily executed on December 27, 1944 when she was discovered hiding Jewish women in her hostel in Budapest.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Contrition and being out and owning up to one's own self

A couple weeks ago was the memorial of St. Gregory the Great. In the passage the Church offers us for his Office of Readings, he, 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, this one still among us, wrote many many years ago, 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.

As I mentioned in the last post, 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 just as 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!


"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up..."

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, since it's not possible. 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 [Numbers 21:4-9; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17] show to us the antidote to this mess.

We have to own our true selves.

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!

the Triumph of the Holy Cross

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.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Carnivals Time

The 139th Christian Carnival is open at Thoughts of a Gyrovague, and the 85th Catholic Carnival is also open at Deo Omnis Gloria. I offered the story of Constance and her companions to both Carnivals this week.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Martyrs? Memphis, Tennessee?

[The Orthodox-minded among us holler out, "Them is Passion-Bearers!", but more on that a little later....]

Today we have an interesting little passel of saints, who share one thing: they stayed where the Lord had put them, at the risk of their own lives, for the sake of the Lord's beloved people. In the West, we sometimes have trouble with the words. From the ancient times, there were martyrs, who proclaimed the truths of the faith and were killed for it; and there were saints who spent their lives in the service of the Lord's people, who were patted on the head, ignored, and condescended to unto a ripe old age. Now, the new-martyr Father Alexander Men might fit into group one, even though his Jewish heritage and his denunciations of the Mob were as aggravating to the powers as his preaching was. I'll let the Orthodox bloggers do him due honors today. And St. Peter Claver sj, who was the humble servant and catechist of the slaves in the Cartagena slave market, is a definite fit in group two. I might get to him later in the day, but if I don't, Narwen or Penitens or the Jesuit bloggers will definitely write his praises.

I'll take today a mixed group of 38 people, Catholics and Episcopalians, who gave themselves unto death in 1878, remembered in the very useful Episcopalian Book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, as "Constance and her companions, the Martyrs of Memphis". Some of the ones who just don't fit well into the Western saint schema --- who spent their lives in the service of the Lord's beloved poor, and died, or were killed, because of it. But, in the East, they have a title for these, whether it was the microbe or the militia..... and that title is "Passion Bearer".

Memphis, in 1878, was a thriving city of approximately 46,000 souls. That summer, there was an onslaught of yellow fever making its way up the Mississippi River, starting early in the summer in New Orleans, and proceeding north, decimating cities as it went, but the population hoped that the illness would burn itself out before getting as far north as them. That hope (wishful thought?) was futile; in mid-August, it was apparent that the yellow fever had arrived.

Now in that time very little was known about yellow fever, but it was known that inland and high and dry places were safe places, and about 25,000 of the more well-to-do residents of the city fled to other high and dry places, seeking to outrun the disease (not all were successful), leaving behind about 21,000 people who were too infirm or too poor to leave, or already ill. Most of the Protestant clergy went with the refugees. But the Episcopalian and the Catholic parish priests, and the sisters of the three religious communities then in Memphis, though they had the ability to leave also, chose to stay and serve, knowing the danger. At the height of the epidemic, over 90% of the population was ill and mortality rates were extreme. The three communities of sisters were the Episcopalian Society of St. Mary, and the Catholic communities the Sisters of Charity of Bethlehem Academy and the Nashville Dominicans. Not only did the sisters stay, but they sent for help from their houses in other places, and reinforcements came to Memphis, the city of death.

On this day, September 9th, the first of the sisters died, Constance, the sister superior of the Society of St. Mary. By the time the epidemic ended, 38 sisters and parochial clergy, both Episcopalian and Catholic, had died nursing the ill and comforting the dying, and the surviving population of Memphis, from 46,000, was 800.

The collect for Constance and her companions, passion bearers, the "Martyrs of Memphis", from the Book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts:

We give thee thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and the dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death. Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Penance and Prayer, Prayer and Penance.....

In our persistent trod into the depths of the anti-human ways of death, our country is passing another milestone on the way to hell.

According to this article in the New York Times, legislation has been introduced in Congress, with the support of the President, to legalize interrogation techniques indistinguishable from torture, which our country has denounced as torture when Other People and Other Nations [such as China, Germany under Hitler, former Soviet Union....] have used them, and which even our own military repudiates and wants no part of. In addition, the legislation would define in law that the protections of the Geneva Convention have no application to any actual individual human being.

Penance and prayer [and a well-thought-out, polite letter to one's Members of Congress] are most definitely in order!


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Christian Carnival CXXXVIII: The Kingdom Beacon Herald

(click on masthead to enlarge)
masthead: The Kingdom Beacon Herald

Rubbing the sleepiness from your eyes, you fetch the morning paper from the porch. Opening it, there are many sections and feature departments for your information and entertainment.

First, there is the main section, where the international and national news have their place. Part of the main section is the front page, the home of the immediate and the occasionally sensational. As the journalists say sometimes, "If it bleeds, it leads."

Two hostages in Iraq were released last week, following a coerced religious conversion. Adam's Blog discusses it at Say Anything to Live, as does Josh Miller at Fiat: Responding to God's Call

Vita ab Alto brings us a discussion of war as an inevitable part of man’s fallen nature, along with a conversation with a skeptic concerning how a Christian reconciles fighting wars with the peaceful message of the New Testament, in Sad but True

Then, there is the metro section, the home of local news and of human interest stories.

NerdMom presents What are you first? at Nerd Family, asking about primary identity --- Christian or Citizen?

Laurie Blurdorn of Trivium Pursuit offers Echoes, by Chris Alexion, a meditation beginning in an old church building in the local historical district.

What's up with the Christian blogosphere anyways? In Our Testimony in the Christian Blogosphere, Barbara from Tidbits and Treasures proposes that our testimony should show that we are grounded in the Word, and separated from the world so we can be effective witnesses.

Next, sports has its section. [Since no one has entered a post about the only truly Orthodox baseball club or about prayers at public school football games, I just have to view apologetics as a competitive sport!]

Diane of Crossroads writes about Calvinists, Calvinians, Arvinianists and Armenians (And No, It's Not a Typo) , comparing and contrasting the theological views, a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Hammertime of Team Hammer's Musings continues his series defining Biblical Inerrancy by exposing the 'straw man' arguments against it, in Biblical Inerrancy II: Straw Men.

Witnessing - Proselytizing - Defending the Faith. Ever feel like somebody just dumped a trash can full of litter on your mission field? Laura at Pursuing Holiness reminds us that we have to keep it in perspective.

And, of course, there has to be a section for business. This is a Christian paper, so we don't neglect labor when we write about business.

At Touring with Virgil, we find Enron in One Lesson, a Christian business lawyer's overview of what exactly happened at Enron and what we can learn from one of the biggest frauds in human history.

At the Faith at Work Blog, Mike McLoughlin asks, Why are Churches So Silent When It Comes to Labour Day?

The teachings of the Church about work are the topic of Mickey at News from Headquarters, Rosary Army in his Saturday Morning Catechesis: Labor Day.

There's arts and entertainment, for the arts and music, architecture and book reviews:

Under Stacy L. Harp's byline at The Right View, Kim Hill Talks About Her New CD Broken Things. Grammy nominated and Dove Award Winner Kim Hill talks to Stacy about her newest CD Broken Things. Kim also talks about her divorce, recovery, motherhood and a lot more.

This Side of Glory offers Advertising and the State of Art. In part one of this four-part series, Grace takes a look at how the culture clash that happened between art and advertising highlighted a growing crisis brewing for secular humanists. Christians on culture watch haven’t been spending a lot of time in modern art galleries (with good reason!), but what’s been going on there may have applications that affect us all.

Jeremy Pierce at Parableman presents Commentaries on the Gospel of John, reviewing some of the best and most important commentaries on that gospel.

At the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, Matthew offers a few remarks on classical architecture today.


What are the house rules of Christianity? Are there any? Can they be enforced? John who goes barefoot in the wilderness, in his post Setting boundaries, claims that too often, we try to define Christianity --- to produce the definitive statement of faith / creed / doctrinal basis that well contain the essentials of the faith, and to which all "true" Christians must assent. He says, however, that this misses the point of Christianity, which is that it's about Christ first and last.

We're all guilty of wasting time, but is most of our life on a par with underwater ironing? At Attention Span, Rev. Ed may be a little mixed up figuring out his schedule, but he is making a point about how we spend our time in Wind Chasing.

Jen, the Daughter of the King is decluttering and coming to terms with all her Stuff.


Richard discusses a possible source of inspiration for Luke in creating his gospel of prayer, in Maccabees as a Source for the Prayer Theme at dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos.

Why is it important to know who Jesus is, what Jesus' role in the heavens is, and why Jesus is so great? Because if we don't realize how great Jesus is, greater than anything we could possibly know, something else might look better. Thus expounds Chasing the Wind in the post Pay Attention.

Mick of the Romans 15:4 Project offers us Offering and Communion Meditation based on 1 Peter 3:11.

Ouestioning God? Sure, says the blogger at Fides et Veritas.

David Ker wonders, What is a horn of salvation?, at Lingamish.

At the Participatory Bible Study Blog, Henry proposes that the questions we use in approaching Bible study, and the attitude of submission, looking for what God has to say to each of us personally will have a major impact on how much we get out of Bible study, in Goals in Bible Study.

lifestyle and travel:

Vons Takes offers 'She Can' vs 'she should'. Von would come running in to his house and ask his mother a simple question, “Mother, can I go play at Jimmy’s house?” and whammo, it was time for a grammar lesson!

Martin at Sun and Shield offers Commandments in the Sermon on the Mount. He went through Matthew 5-7, looking for commandments of Jesus, and found 14 of them. They are radical, and require a supernaturally assisted heart and attitude to keep.

Should the Great Commission be interpreted as a call to all believers for full-time missionary work, or is that an additional special calling? Karl of Noneya studies the question in The Great Commission and the Holy Spirit.

A Penitent Blogger writes about folk who are on a different wavelength, seeing all that religion stuff as nonsense, or worse.

the advice columnist:

When do you stay and persevere, when do you shake the dust off and go? In growing or quitting, Jan at the view from her explores the question.

Apathy and indifference are the topic of the day for Polly of Life Is a Buffet in Why should I care?.

One deals with the clods and jerks and clueless of life by undergoing a Revolution of the Heart, advises Ruth the Wheelie Catholic.

science and technology:

If you're interested in a Christian perspective on evolution and genetics, the Evangelical Ecologist has a post up on Christian geneticist and author Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Human Genome Research Institute. Collins was recently the keynote speaker at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation. Don transcribed the first half of his talk in a post entitled A Believer Looks at the Human Genome - Part I, and has links to the audio and Part II (as soon as it's posted).

In More on the Age of the Earth, Imago Dei realized that in the general scheme of things, whether or not you believe in an old earth or a young earth, it doesn't matter. These beliefs are not central to the Christian faith and they do not determine whether or not you are a follower of Christ.

The healthy integration of technology into life is the theme of Sr. Susan Rose in community phones, at her Musings of a Discerning Woman.


Looking at the increasing use of online confession sites, like the one hosted by LifeChurch, Left of Calvary writes that online confessions may not be good for the soul.

How did an evil rotten passion become a overriding secular virtue? Pseudo-Polymath studies the issue in Pagans in the Mist Our Midst or An Exercise in K-12 Instructional Folly.

At Domine, da mihi hanc aquam!, starting with all sorts of eating patterns and diet tips, Fr. Philip teaches on Mark chapter 7 in What Comes Out Matters.....

food (What's a Wednesday local paper without a food section?):

Leslie of Lux Venit writes about There's a First Time for Everything, the adventures of her second son when he discovered that, although he and his big brother have lots of food alergies, that he wasn't allergic to milk.

Of course, we can all be thankful for sweet corn!

the comics

and, last but not least, at the very back of the paper, the classified ads:

Jack Yoest posts Help Wanted at the Family Research Council. They are looking for an executive assistant, in Washington DC.

Thanks to all the Contributing Editors of this fine paper --- it could not happen without you and your fine posts. When you're done, do remember to recycle your pixels, and don't worry, next week there will be a volume cxxxix!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

So, ya wanna honor the Lord's Body, eh?

St. John Chrysostom in today's Office of Readings:

Do you want to honour Christ’s body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honour him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. For he who said: This is my body, and made it so by his words, also said: You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me. What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication.

Let us learn, therefore, to be men of wisdom and to honour Christ as he desires. For a person being honoured finds greatest pleasure in the honour he desires, not in the honour we think best. Peter thought he was honouring Christ when he refused to let him wash his feet; but what Peter wanted was not truly an honour, quite the opposite! Give him the honour prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.

Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts; I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them you give alms. He accepts the former, but he is much more pleased with the latter. In the former, only the giver profits; in the latter, the recipient does too. A gift to the church may be taken as a form of ostentation, but an alms is pure kindness. Of what use is it to weigh down Christ’s table with golden cups, when he himself is dying of hunger? First, fill him when he is hungry; then use the means you have left to adorn his table. Will you have a golden cup made but not give a cup of water? What is the use of providing the table with cloths woven of gold thread, and not providing Christ himself with the clothes he needs? What profit is there in that? Tell me: If you were to see him lacking the necessary food but were to leave him in that state and merely surround his table with gold would he be grateful to you or rather would he not be angry? What if you were to see him clad in worn-out rags and stiff from the cold, and were to forget about clothing him and instead were to set up golden columns for him, saying that you were doing it in his honour? Would he not think he was being mocked and greatly insulted?

Apply this also to Christ when he comes along the roads as a pilgrim, looking for shelter. You do not take him in as your guest, but you decorate floor and walls and the capitals of the pillars. You provide silver chains for the lamps, but you cannot bear even to look at him as he lies chained in prison. Once again, I am not forbidding you to supply these adornments; I am urging you to provide these other things as well, and indeed to provide them first. No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who neglect their neighbour a hell awaits with an inextinguishable fire and torment in the company of the demons. Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.