Let’s say you were good friends with your neighbor. She has a young son, and she invites you to his birthday party. You decide to go because you care about your neighbor, but you don’t really want to be there because he’s just a little kid, and a noisy one at that. So you go, but you don’t have a good time. The kids are laughing and having a good time, but you’re not. You notice, however, that other adults are having a good time. They’re smiling and laughing at the kids’ antics. Finally, as soon as you think you can get away, you make an excuse to leave.
Birthday celebrations are rituals. We might say that you experienced an empty birthday party, an empty ritual. What made it empty?
Did the son make it empty? Was it the other kids? The neighbor? The kids’ laughter? The fact that it was a birthday party? Why was it an empty ritual for you but apparently not for the other adults?
It might be that you didn’t fill the ritual with anything. Rituals require faith, hope, and love to see into them, to their meaning. It is possible that bringing faith, hope, and love to the neighbor’s son’s birthday party would have changed the event for you.
If the ritual seems empty, that might not be your fault. It could be that nobody taught you how to fill it, or that you even needed to fill it. I’ve seen that a lot. If you don’t know how to fill the ritual, then look around and see if you know anybody who does. I bet they can help you.
Generally speaking, it’s not correct to refer to the Catholic Church as the Roman Catholic Church. People do it all the time, but that isn’t how the universal Church refers to herself. It is too narrow of a name, and a bit contradictory if applied to the entire Church. Catholic means “universal,” or, “pertaining to the whole.” You will see some Catholic Churches use the phrase “Roman Catholic,” in their title, but this just means that they are Latin Rite. There are 23 rites in the Catholic Church. For example, there is a Chaldean rite, a Melkite rite, a Maronite rite, and so on. It would be completely improper to refer to a Chaldean Catholic as a Roman Catholic. Such a person is in full communion with the Catholic Church and the successor of St. Peter, but is not Roman Catholic.
So I recommend referring to anybody in full communion with the Catholic Church and successor of St. Peter as a Catholic, and the Church led by him as the Catholic Church. If you must use the term Roman Catholic, only use it with those Catholics who worship under the Latin rite, like I do. Don’t use it to refer to the entire Church–it’s just not correct to do so.
Even though it this church is not Roman Catholic, I could go to mass here to fulfill my Sunday obligation. They don’t call it mass though. They call it Divine Liturgy. Check out their bulletin. It’s partially written in Arabic, even though it is located in Los Angeles. There is so much diversity in the Catholic Church!
Even though I worship under the Latin rite, you can call me Catholic instead of Roman Catholic. That works best for me.
I recently had an online disagreement with somebody, a Protestant. I asked her to cite Bible verses to support her position. So she did. I replied I disagreed with her interpretation of those verses. Then I asked her if I had an obligation to accept her interpretation. I also said that if her answer was yes, that I DID have an obligation to accept her interpretation, then to tell me where or from whom she received her authority to impose her interpretation upon me (and presumably upon every other Christian). Then I asked her what we should do if I disagreed with her claim about the source of her authority. Her response was that I was using an ad hominem. I responded by saying that I was not criticising her, but I was criticising her presupposition. So it wasn’t an ad hominem.
Here is the syllogism:
Since God is one, He does not change, and He only teaches one truth, there can only be one objectively correct interpretation of Scripture.
There is disagreement of what Scripture means between two or more Christians of good will. They all can see this.
No parties to the dispute have authority to enforce the correct interpretation, but one or more do not realize this. One or more believes that making better arguments or citing more or better Scripture verses is the way to resolve the dispute. Yet the dispute is never resolved.
No agreement is made. Visible fractures develop between Christians, since the parties to the dispute all believe themselves to understand the correct interpretation of Scripture (which is a tacit reinforcement of the first point above).
By what authority may somebody enforce the one and only correct interpretation of Sacred Scripture when there is a disagreement between Christians of good will?
In case you have not heard yet, there is a new statement from prominent Evangelical Christians that got released recently. It is called the Nashville Statement, and it is their attempt to combat certain aspects of the Sexual Revolution by upholding sexual morality from a Biblical perspective. It is not long, and you can read it here.
It is my own personal belief that contraception has been a foundation stone of the Sexual Revolution. Evangelicals as a group have not repudiated contraception, which means that they have accepted a foundational aspect of the Sexual Revolution within their ranks and on an institutional basis. Since the statement neglects contraception, I don’t want to endorse these Evangelical’s neglect of their implicit reliance on an important aspect of the Sexual Revolution. I don’t want to give the impression that this reliance is no big deal and not logically problematic to everything else they oppose about the Sexual Revolution.
The statement does say that marriage is procreative, but that seems ad hoc to me. Why is marriage procreative if contraception is OK? I will continue to say it: a right to pregnancy-free coitus among opposite-sex couples (aka “the contraceptive mentality”) created the “need” for abortion and same-sex marriage, and contributed to the “need” to de-gender our legal code.
The sex with of a “guarantee” of no children is seductive, obviously. This is one aspect of the Sexual Revolution that many otherwise orthodox Christians like. They have participated in redefining the Sixth Commandment, and this is a spiritual and logical obstacle to combating the other sinful and heretical aspects of the Sexual Revolution.
Having said all that, I might change my mind and sign it. We’ll see. I’ll have to work it out in my mind and that might take some time. If I think the benefit of showing support outweighs my reluctance to sign something that I think is logically problematic, I’ll sign it. If I do, I’ll update this post.
Strictly speaking, the Bible doesn’t teach us anything. Teaching requires a teacher, a person. You can do a little experiment to see what I mean. Set your Bible in front of you, closed. Say to it, “Bible, teach me about Christ.” Then wait. What happens? Nothing happens, of course. The Bible did not suddenly open and begin to speak. Opening a Bible, reading it, then teaching what is written in it requires a person. The Bible itself is not super clear about a number of important things, and this one reason why there are so many factions within Christianity, all claiming the Bible as their infallible authority. It is also why we must be careful about who we listen to about the Bible.
The Bible is the Word of God. It is good for us to read it and meditate on it. Jesus said, “It is written…” He did not say, “It teaches…”
I think this happened last summer (2016) but am not really sure of the date.
It was a cloudy day. I went to my parish in the evening to pray in front of the Tabernacle as I like to do from time to time. I was there alone, and brought my earphones so that I could listen to worship songs on my phone while meditating on the Lord. I have a list of such songs on my Youtube account. I was kneeling before the Tabernacle, and pulled up one of my favorite songs, Agnus Dei by Michael W. Smith:
I was praying while listening to this song, and I don’t really remember the specifics of my petitions. It was probably something about my children and family, as those are the most common prayers I make.
The song slowly builds, layer upon layer, of new instruments and voices added at each layer. There is a point at about the 2:47 mark, when the drums really kick in and the song is crescendoing (I think that is the correct word). RIGHT at the beginning of the crescendo, the clouds parted and sunlight POURED into the entire church! The greyness of the walls caused by the cloudy day vanished and was replaced by a brilliant yellow light! The timing was pretty cool, and I was amazed and in awe, and just sat there and enjoyed it.
Then, at about the 4:12 mark, a decrescendo begins and the music takes a dramatically mellow turn (again, not certain of the terminology but if you listen, you’ll get the idea). RIGHT at that moment, the clouds closed over the sun. The direct sunlight in the church was gone, the brilliant yellow light was gone, and the greyness from the clouds returned.
I was really blown away the timing. It was just too perfect to be coincidence. I really believe God was letting me know that he is with me and hears my prayers.
There is a time when I would have doubted something such as this, to the point of outright disbelief. But I am learning to be more open to these sorts of occurences. And I am learning to share them when they happen. 🙂
Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.
R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ”
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”