Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Words to live by

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fr. Corapi, judge not, least ye be judged

With the breaking news of the Fr. Corapi story this weekend and the Gospel readings for today Luke 6; 36-38 I had to write a blog.

Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful.

Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."

To have a reading that is so relevant to Fr. Corapi’s situation, and for all of us to apply what Christ Jesus is teaching us in this reading to this and all situations like this. Our Lord is saying to stop judging. He is not saying to stop judging and imputing guilt, he is not saying stop judging and imputing innocents, our Lord is saying stop judging altogether. We do not know if Fr. Corapi is innocent or guilty, least we should not judge either way. We can plainly see that Satan has his hand in this mess, whether our brother Fr. John is lying and has succumbed to temptations from the evil one, or our sister, his former employee is lying and has a vendetta against him. We can not and do not know which one it is, but either way the devil has spread his wings over this and is laughing as he watches the lie he has instigated take shape. In this most Holy time of Lent, we should pray to our Lord that all involved should seek repentance, forgiveness, and the truth that resides in there heart to be known

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Guess Who

Just a quote off another blog that struck accord with me can anyone guess who it might be

A measure of your insanity is the size of the gap between what you think you are and what you really are. If I think I am the greatest philosopher in America, I am only an arrogant fool; if I think I am Napoleon, I am probably over the edge; if I think I am a butterfly, I am fully embarked from the sunny shores of sanity. But if I think I am God, I am even more insane because the gap between anything finite and the infinite God is even greater than the gap between any two finite things, even a man and a butterfly.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This would be a Mall I would shop at.. Just wonderful

Is the Abbreviation “Xmas” Really a Secular Slight of Christmas? Or is it Something Else? By: Msgr. Charles Pope

A interesting post by Msgr. Charles Pope. Have been reading Msgr. Pope for a while, he is very, thoughtful, insightful, knowledgeable,and charitable in his writings here is a link to his archive

Forty years ago, when I was in grammar School, the militant secularism of today was almost unknown. The war on Christmas so common today was lampooned in those days by cartoonish figures like the “Grinch who stole Christmas,” or “Scrooge” in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Back in those days there were laments that Christmas was too focused on toys and Santa and not enough on Jesus. That, however, was an internal Church and family matter. But in the secular world, Christmas was still the common term used everywhere: Christmas trees, Christmas sales, Christmas holiday, Christmas break. It’s Christmastime in the city!

In the public schools I attended we sang Christmas Carols at the annual Christmas concert. And I don’t just mean the secular “Jingle Bells…Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer” variety, but even strongly Christian and religious songs: Joy to the Lord the Lord is is come!…..O Come All Ye Faithful….Come let us Adore him, Christ the Lord!….What Child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping. In High School (in the 1970s) the Choir even sang O Magnum Mysterium by Victoria. Very high church…and all very religious. It was Christmas after all!

The rampant and militant secularism of today which banishes the word “Christmas,” banishes Christmas trees, Santa, and even the word ”holiday” (since it is rooted in Holy day) becomes: Happy Winter Festival to you too! That sort of militant secularism, and triumphalist atheism was unknown forty years ago except in some very limited circles.

And yet during those times there was a common usage of the abbreviation “Xmas” It was common to get a Christmas Card and someone wrote, “Merry Xmas.” I don’t recall any of us thought of it as a secular thing in those days. I remember, as a child, asking my mother where the expression came from. She explained that “X” was the first letter in Greek for “Christ” and she promised to show me the symbol next Sunday in Church. Sure enough the next Sunday she showed it to me on the Church wall. It was really what looked to me like a P and and X. It was the “Chi – Rho” symbol you see at the top right of this post. Chi (X) and Rho (R) being the first two letters for Christ (x= ch in English and what looked like a P to me was really an “r” in Greek).

From Sacred to Secular – So Xmas WAS a Christian abbreviation for Christmas. It hasn’t been until more recent years that I have heard some claim that Xmas is an attempt to “keep Christ out of Christmas.” It is understandable that some would think in this was since, to the uninitiated, it looks like Christ has literally been “X’d out.” It takes a little explaining to recognize Christ in that “X” and, as world becomes more secular, and many Catholics are not taught the meaning of ancient symbols any longer, it certainly does look like Christ is missing from “Xmas.” Historically he is not really missing at all. But this not well understood.

Historical Roots of the “X” – The use of “X” for Christ comes from a time prior to the printing press when books were literally “manuscripts,” that is, “written by hand.” Abbreviations in those times were common. In the ancient manuscripts of Gregorian Chant there are many abbreviations like sclorum = In saecula saeculorum, Dne = Domine, ala = alleluia. In many manuscripts “X” or the “chi rho” symbol were used for Christ. Ink, paper and time were precious and Abbreviations. To some extent these have returned in the text world: LOL, IMHO, CUL8r, etc.

So “Xmas” does not really have secular roots or imply some intentional omission of Christ. It is an ancient abbreviation.

However, many today do take exception to its use and it CAN in fact be an attempt to “X” Christ out of Christmas by some. In virulently secular times where it is considered acceptable to exhibit outright hostility to Christmas and Jesus, it would seem Xmas is problematic. Other things being equal, we want to be as explicit as possible that it is Jesus Christ to whom we refer. We should also be sensitive to the fact that many are bothered by the term Xmas even if we are not.

Advice – Generally speaking I avoid the term today even though, due to my training, it does not bother me. Tactically speaking I also avoid it due to the fact that we need to unambiguously announce Jesus and “X” just doesn’t do that anymore. However, we should also avoid being too easily offended in a matter such as this where usage has recently shifted. We may take offense where none is intended. Thin-skinned Christians are not helpful to turning the tide of anti-Christian fervor today.

So, in the end, perhaps a middle ground regarding the term “Xmas.” Avoid its use for the reasons stated but do not easily take offense regarding it either. There are bigger battles.

This video is from the Merriam Webster site. They have many videos and interesting words studies here: http://www.merriam-webster.com/video/index.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

From Bishop Kevin Farrell

The Bishop who became Santa Claus
In many parts of the world Christmas celebrations begin with the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6, when children place their shoes on window sills the evening before in hopes of finding coins in them the next morning. Our custom of Christmas stockings probably dates to the shoes put out on St. Nicholas Eve in hopes of a visit from the saintly bishop.

In parts of Europe St. Nicholas is still the bringer of Christmas gifts, but in our country and others he has evolved into Father Christmas or Santa Claus but the name Santa Claus is really a derivation of St. Nicholas.

How did a Greek bishop from the third century become Santa Claus? It all began in the city of Myra, a seaport on the southern coast of Anatolia, which is now Turkey. Bishop Nicholas was from a wealthy family and was famous for his anonymous gifts of gold coins to poor people in need. The coins were left secretly at night to be found by the surprised recipients in the morning. In addition to his generosity, St. Nicholas is said to have performed many miracles. Among Eastern Christians he is known as St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.

St. Nicholas was a very real person. He was among the bishops who participated in the Council of Nicea, the first Ecumenical Council. He also was known for his defense of orthodoxy against the heretic Arius who questioned the divinity of Jesus and was condemned at Nicea.

In the eleventh century the saint’s bones were taken from his tomb in Myra and moved to the Italian city of Bari where they remain today. They may not be there long however as the Turkish government last year requested that they be returned to Myra (now called Demre) claiming that they had been taken illegally by crusaders. Demre is a popular place of pilgrimage for Eastern Christians who have great devotion to St. Nicholas.

You may not want to put your shoes out, but a good way to celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day is to imitate him by giving an anonymous gift to someone in need.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What a great Post on St. Paul

What St. Paul Can Teach Us About Respect for Church Authority
By: Msgr. Charles Pope

In the readings for daily Mass the past few days we have been reviewing the faith journey of St. Paul who describes his personal history and also his authority in the second chapter of the Letter to the Galatians. The story is interesting for three reasons.

1. It can help correct notions that some have of Paul’s rapid assent to the office of apostle (Bishop) and affirm that he was not a lone-ranger apostle. He was a man who was formed in the community of the Church for some length of time, and did not go on Mission until he was sent.
2. It spells out Paul’s relationship to authority within the Church.
3. It shows forth an important aspect of being under authority and the prevailing need for fraternal correction in hierarchal structures.

Let’s take a look at each of these matters in turn.

1. On Paul’s conversion, formation and ascent to the office of Apostle (Bishop). Many have oversimplified notions of Paul’s conversion, and subsequent missionary activity. Many who have not carefully studied the texts of Acts, Galatians, and other references assume that Paul went right to work after his conversion as a missionary. But this was not the case.

At the time near his conversion Paul was described as “a young man” (neanias). Sometime after the death of Stephen he had his conversion, encountering the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. Immediately following his encounter with Christ he was blinded for three days and eventually healed by a Christian named Ananias who also baptized him (Acts 9:9-19). Hereafter, according to Galatians, Paul went into the Desert of Arabia (Gal 1:17). Why he went, and for how long is not known. It is probably not wrong to presume that he went there to reflect and possibly be further formed in the Christian faith to which he had come so suddenly and unexpectedly. Was he there for several years as some scholars propose or just a brief time as others do? It is not possible to say with certainty but it would seem that some amount of time would be necessary to pray, reflect and experience formation in the Christian way, possibly with other Christians. A period of at least a year seems tenable and perhaps as many as three years. We can only speculate.

Paul then returned to Damascus and joined the Christian community there for a period of almost three years (Gal 1:18). While there he took to debating in the synagogues and was so effective in demonstrating that Jesus was the hoped for messiah that some of the Jews there conspired to kill him. He fled the city and went to Jerusalem (Acts 9:20-25). Paul states that he went there to confer with Cephas (Peter) (Gal 1:18). Paul seems to imply that he thought it was time to confer with Peter since he had begun to teach and even now was gaining disciples. Later he would describe the purpose of another visit to Peter and the other leaders: to present the Gospel that I preach to the Gentiles…so that I might not be running, or have run in vain (Gal 2:2). While there on this first visit he stayed for 15 days and also met James.

After this consultation he went home to Tarsus for a period of about three years. What he did during this time is unknown. Barnabas then arrived and asked him to come to Antioch and help him evangelize there (Acts 11:25-26). He stayed there about a year. He made another brief visit to Jerusalem to deliver a collection for the poor and upon his return to Antioch we finally see his ordination as a Bishop. The leaders of the Church at Antioch were praying and received instruction from the Holy Spirit to Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them (Acts 13:3). Thus, the leaders of the Church there laid hands on Barnabas and Saul and send them forth on Mission. Here we have an ordination and the source of Paul’s status as Apostle (bishop).

Notice however, this sending happens years after Paul’s conversion. Depending on how long we account his time in the desert we are talking about 7-10 years wherein Paul lived in community with other members of the Church and also conferred with Peter. He was not a self appointed missionary and his conversion required completion before the Church sent him forth. This going-forth he undertook only after being sent.

2. On Paul’s submission to authority – We can see therefore, that Paul was not a lone ranger. He did submit what he taught to Peter and later to others apostles and leaders (Acts 11 & 15). He states that to have preached something other than what the Church proposed would be to run “in vain” (Gal 2:2). Here was a man who was formed by the community of the Church and who submitted his teachings to scrutiny by lawful authority. Here was man who went forth on his missions only after he was ordained and sent. Further, Paul and Barnabas, as they went through the towns and villages on their missionary journeys, also established authority in each church community they founded by appointing presbyters in each town (Acts 14:23). Upon completion of their first missionary journey they reported back to the leaders at Antioch who had sent them (Acts 14:27) and later to the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 15). Hence we have an accountability structure in the early Church and a line of authority. Paul was no. He both respected authority and established authority in the churches he established. He also makes it clear to the Galatians and others that he has authority and that he expects them to respect it.

3. But here is where we also see a fascinating and somewhat refreshing portrait of what true respect for authority includes. It is clear, from what we have seen, that Paul respected the authority of Peter and had both conferred with him early on and later set forth the gospel that he preached. However, there is also a description of Paul offering fraternal correction to Peter:

When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? (Gal 2:11-14)

There is something refreshing about this understanding of authority. It understands that having authority does not mean one is above reproof. Too many people shy away from speaking honestly to those in authority. There is an old saying about bishops: When a man becomes a bishop he will never again have a bad meal and he will never again hear the truth. Too many of us flatter those who have authority. In so doing we tend to isolate them. They do not have all the information and feedback they need to make good decisions. And then we they do make questionable decisions we criticize them. Of course we seldom do this to their face. Rather we speak ill of them behind their back and continue to remain largely silent and flattering to their face. The cycle continues, and everyone suffers.

But here Paul stands face to face (κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην) with Peter and accuses him of a moral fault. Peter had taught rightly of the equality of the Gentiles but drew back from keeping company with them. We as Catholics teach of the infallibility of the pope but we do not teach that he is impeccable (sinless). Even those who teach rightly (as Peter did) sometimes struggle to fully live the truth they preach (believe me, I know).

Accountability in the Church demands that we learn to speak the truth to one another in love, even if the one we must speak to has authority. People are often reticent to speak frankly to their Pastors. Bishops too are often isolated in this way. Even their priests often refrain from frank discussion of issues. In this Archdiocese I know that Archbishop Wuerl is very serious about consultation and he enjoys a vigorous airing of issues at the priest council, and other consultative bodies.

Clearly correction and/or frank discussion should be done charitably, but it should be done. Now Paul here is a little bolder than I would be but he also lived in a different culture than I. As we can see from the Gospels and other writings Jesus and the Apostles really “mixed it up” with others. The ancient Jewish setting was famous for frank and vivid discussion of issues that included a lot of hyperbole. Our own culture prefers a more gentle approach. Perhaps the modern rule is best stated: Clarity with Charity.

In the end, we show a far greater respect for authority by speaking clearly and directly to those in authority. False flattery is unhelpful, inappropriate silence does not serve, and speaking scornfully behind the backs of others is just plain sinful.

So Paul demonstrates a sort of refreshing honesty with Peter here. He acknowledges Peter’s authority as we have seen but also respects Peter enough as a man to speak with him directly and clearly, to his face, and not behind his back.

This video is a brief summary of St. Paul’s life. Most scholars don’t agree with the concluding remark that Paul made it out of Roman prison and went to Spain. But there are two traditions in this regard: