Monday, March 29, 2010
"Help Me Figure Out"
c) What is my reason here
How do I know
What are you calling me to do
I am so very lost
Show me the way
Lord please lead me back to you
Lead me to you
V1) Lord, sometimes I think
I can do it all myself
Lord I don't know
What my purpose is in life
V2) We go through this life
Wondering why You put us here
Lord sometimes I cry
Because I don't know what to do
B) Lord I feel my life's a waste
Lord I need to taste
The goodness, of, your love
I need to know my meaning Lord
I need to hear the living Word
So, Help me figure out
Thursday, March 25, 2010
A good portion of Chapter 10 and 11 focus on Christ's Sacrifice and our Eucharistic meal--THE CORE MOST CENTRAL DOGMA OF OUR FAITH! This is pretty much my reason for being Catholic, so I will enumerate on what this passage means for Catholics! In 10:16 Paul reminds us that we are indeed sharing in the "Body and Blood" of Christ. Here, sharing is from the greek "Koinonia", which literally means "to participate in". In 11:24-25 Paul again affirms, in the words of Christ, "This is my body... This is my blood... do this in remembrance of me". Here the greek for "remembrance" is "anamnesis", which literally means to "remember again". This does not mean that this is MERELY a memory, but that it should not be vainly done without remembering the sacrifice of Christ. While being support for the belief in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the ideas of Partaking and Remembering together hold support for what the Catholic Church holds the Eucharistic Celebration (the Mass) to be--an actual participation in the original crucifixion of our Lord! Whoah! By participating in the remembrance (re-presentation), and keeping in mind that God is outside of time and died for those in all times, we are actually making manifest Golgatha on the Altar. Additionally... why would Christ sacrifice himself, and then celebrate such a sacrifice if he did not want us to be there at Golgatha with him?
The second idea I want to touch on is the focus on chapter 11 and deals with "head coverings" which, for many modern day people, seems to be a point of contention with Paul. However, there is evidence that shows that, with respect to everything else the Corinthians sucked at, this was a relatively unimportant matter to Paul, and the Corinthians probably brought it up themselves. First let me say that Paul was not against women teaching in the Church, for he mentions women praying and prophesying (11:5). Rather, the point of this passage is two-fold: 1) to recognize proper authority within the Church and within relationships, and 2) to celebrate God-Given Differences in Sexuality! On point two: God created men and women different, and complimentary. Though we are equal, we are not the same. It is these very differences that make us compliment each other, and thus we have different gifts and roles (more on that in the next section). On point one: All genuine authority comes from God, therefore though in a traditional sense a man may be the head of the relationship as deemed by God, it does in no way demean the role of the woman. Both are mutually submissive (11:11-12) to each other and, though the man may be the head, the woman is definitely the heart of the relationship. A relationship cannot function without both.
Finally, let me speak on Spiritual gifts and the Body of Christ! This section of Chapter 12 has many implications for Catholic Doctrine. First, it forms the basis of Catholic Social Teaching and Solidarity--because we are all connected, we have an inherent duty to uphold the dignity, health, and well being of all our members. Secondly, I believe this aids in the support of Women not being priests. Paul reminds us that, not all are called be apostles, prophets, healers, etc. and yet it is that very difference that makes us beautiful. In reality, we don't choose our vocation, God does, and it is not our Right to be made holy by following God's will... it is our privilege. Therefore, though some women (and also some men) may have a desire to become a priest, it is not necessarily their calling. We are all called to minister in the way in which God can best use us, and even if that calling may be "lowly" we are assured that greater honor is given to the "inferior members" (12:23).
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
These are three beautiful chapters written by Paul which in return present three distinct ideas for living a Christian life.
Chapter 7 deals mostly with how to be married, but in a more general sense how to live out one's vocation. As I am yet unmarried, I will focus on the general aspect of relationship and vocation. In verse 4 Paul tells the Christian that both spouses do not have control over their own bodies, but rather a claim to the other's. What a beautiful statement that strikes at the heart of a Holy Marital Relationship--MUTUAL SUBMISSION AND SACRIFICE! When we enter into a relationship, especially one with the commitment such as marriage, we enter into a life lived exclusively for the betterment of the other person. Think of the weight of that responsibility! But in love all things are possible, for love builds up, and the Lord grants us an endless supply should we desire it! This commitment is final--under no circumstance should two married believers separate.
Chapter 8 deals with eating meat sacrificed to idols, however the deeper issue hear concerns acting out love. While those that say that other gods don't exist and thus eating such meat is OK are objectively right, they're arrogant knowledge overshadows their spirit of love. Their actions lead those who are weaker to scandal and sin, and thus it is not merely enough for the knowledgeable to profess their faith in "One God", they must ACT in a spirit of love as well.
Chapter 9 talks of the duties of those called to minister. This again focuses much on sacrifice and discipline. In v. 16 talks about the obligation that preaching the gospel gives him. This obligation means that in order to preach the Gospel, Paul must give his will to God and becomes free only in so much as he "becomes a slave to all" (v. 19). Next, in a beautiful passage, Paul describes how he has "become all things to all peoples" (v.22) in order that some might be saved. This speaks deeply to my heart as it is what i desire to be, and also what I think we all are called to be in some sense. We must use any moral means necessary to reach others, and often this includes making ourselves weak, vulnerable, and scared. I will end in the same way that Paul ends this section:
"Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it" (1 Cor 9:24).
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Trustworthiness--Paul says first (4:2) that stewards must be trustworthy. This is ever so important because people must be able to trust that the words we speak, and the actions that we do are in accordance with the Truth of Christ. Being trustworthy is also especially important in the second virtue:
Right Judgement--Paul states "do not pronounce judgment before the time", and that all judgment really comes from the Lord (4:5). However, being Christians there are times when we are called to exercise right judgment, especially when calling someone to greater holiness, or in preventing someone from hurting the Church as a whole. Paul deals with this in chapter 5 when he talks about the effects of Sexual Immorality on the Church. He states that these people MUST be judged and that such is a sin is even worse to associate with than robbers, greed, and idolaters. He states that even one speck can ruin the holiness of the whole (5:6). He even condones kicking such a person out! This seems radical and a last resort, for of course the purpose of the Church is to bring people to Christ, not keep them from Him. However, when the acts of one jeopardize the holiness of the whole, he must be let go. The Church has shown this in the past through the practice of excommunication in extreme circumstances. I recently had to ban a youth from the program for the rest of the year. I didn't want to, but I had to--and this gives biblical weight to the decision I had to make. All we can do for such people is pray for them. Finally, part of exercising right judgement is knowing when and where to do so. Like Paul says in Chapter 6--we don't bring matters between believers to be judged by unbelievers... that's just stupid.
Chastity--Obviously if sexual immorality stains the entire church, we should be chaste, living our lives according to the sexual guidelines of our current vocation.
Humility--The second half of Chapter 4 deals with the virtue of Humility, arguably the most important Christian and Contrary Virtue. Paul blatantly points out that all things we have are gifts, so why would we boast? Silly Corinthians. Verses 10-13 are beautiful as Paul outlines the dichometric qualities of the Apostles with those of "normal believers" in that all the Apostles do would seemingly be negative to most of society (foolish, weakness, disrepute, hunger, thirst, etc.) but because all are done in Christ, they are made righteous by them.
Freedom--Finally Paul talks a bit of freedom, which is again in conjunction with right judgment. The phrase "all things are lawful for me" at first threw me for a loop, for how can all things be lawful? However, after doing some research with some Biblical Commentaries, I realized that this statement is said by the Corinthians. In other words, it highlights the Corinthians' distorted view of freedom as being "able to do what one wants" rather than "able to do the good". Therefore, while freedom of will allows us to do what we will, the freedom allotted to us by Christ does not. Because our bodies are a temple and made to glorify God, we should actively engage that which glorifies God, and actively flee from that which does not. It sometimes takes right judgment to decide which is which.
Monday, March 22, 2010
In 1:10 Paul tells us that there should be "no division" among us and that we should be "united in the same mind and purpose". Paul today is probably sobbing up in heaven (not really) about how divisive our Church has become... not only do we have Catholics and Protestants, but we have over 5,000 denominations of Protestantism, various forms of Catholicism, and even in the Catholic Church we have "Liberal and Conservative, Orthodox and Progressive". Of course, this isn't all bad, varying opinions lead to the rich diversity of the Church. However, the problem arises when these different opinions turn into to divisions. We are not of the same mind... we may all claim to be centered on Christ, but our actions speak otherwise. I am positive that God does not think in terms of denominations... he doesn't want them, but does it really matter if there are differences as long as the center is the same?
The next section kind of threw me for a loop. In 1:17, Paul states that Christ did not send him to Baptize but to proclaim the Gospel. Isn't this contradictory to the great commission in Matthew? However, maybe Paul is responding to the problems he sees with people saying "I was baptized by N." In 18, Paul quotes Isaiah saying that God thwarts the discernment of the discerning. I still don't know what that means... why would God thwart something he wants us to actively engage in?
Next Paul talks about wisdom in relationship to proclaiming Christ Crucified. In 2:4-5 he talks about how he does not speak with words of wisdom but with demonstration of the Spirit. Beautiful! While wisdom is great, we sometimes forget that we are experiential beings, and thus much of our evangelization should be based on helping others EXPERIENCE God!
There is so much more in these first three chapters that I could talk about. But these are the main ideas, and I'm sick of writing.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
"The Eternal Flame"
Fiction: Sci Fi/Fantasy, Religious/Inspirational
In a world wrought with Human individualism and selfishness, the world has died and entered an ice age. A a small group of survivors hangs on to what they could salvage from the past, but death is closing in. Their one hope is the eternal flame, can they work together to find their only salvation?
Bill Foster looked lovingly into his wife Edith's eyes--the journey this far had been tough, wrought with death, and it had hardly yet started. At least he had her. He would never take her for granted. Their group of twelve travelers searching for salvation had been cut down to seven. One had frozen to death that first night, two had been lost in a white out, one killed by a polar bear, and then there was Sam. Sam's fate was what they all feared.
Without warning, the world shook beneath the small group of travelers. Panicking, they all dived into the snow, not able to keep their footing. A rift in the giant glacier opened up between them and snow started cascading down the seemingly endless crevice. It was swallowing Edith. What accursed fate was it that was taking his only purpose in life from him as he looked in her eyes?
He must save her--he must save himself. Without thinking he scrambled through the snow, frantically trying to get up enough speed to jump the gorge. He could make it, he knew he could. It was just like the old days. Someone had has waist, was holding him still. They pinned him down, but Bill fought back, punching him in the nose. Now there were two men on him, now three.
"You can't save her Bill, it's too wide, she's moving too fast."
Still struggling despite his exhaustion Bill looked up in time to see his beloved slip over the edge into oblivion. Frozen tears rolled down his cheeks as he wept. They were down to six...
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Hierarchy and Role
One of the things that has bugged me about this book is that Ron Luce keeps talking about Youth Pastors preparing weekly/monthly "sermons". Sermons in my mind are reserved for Sacramentally ordained ministers during the celebration of liturgy. While there are other (sacramental) issues here, the first thing that this brings to mind is the Catholic focus on hierarchy. I love this about the Church... there are defined boundaries and roles that, while at first may seem limiting, are really just expressions of varied divine-given authority.
God gives us different roles in the Church, and while some may be called to teach, not all those who are called to teach are to do so in the same capacity or with the same authority. I am a DRE, I teach youth and to some extent parents as family, as well as evangelize to my friends (which is not done in a formal and public manner). I am not called to to shepherd a parish, a diocese, or an entire Church... that is for people who have been ordained by God. I give talks and lead discussions, I do not give sermons, letters, or encyclicals.
I feel as though this is a difference from protestants, both in the obvious differences in dependency on hierarchy (one of the major schism points in history), but also on the adherence to implicit boundaries. In a Catholic Church, not just anyone can give a formal and public exposition on faith (sure... privately is fine), but must be found to have some qualification of doing so. Perhaps my perception that protestants don't adhere to such rules is incorrect, but this is the first difference I perceive.
One of the other things that defines Catholic Culture, and which I truly love, is the Sacramental Economy of the Church. The CCC (1076) defines the Sacramental Economy as "the communication of the fruits of Christ’s death and Resurrection through the sacraments". Basically its our participation in certain rituals that directly impart grace to us. The Sacraments are the life-blood of the Church and, all seven together, provide the necessary basis for living an authentic Christian life if practiced correctly. This is one area where my heart aches for protestants who don't have these, or don't recognize the depth and beauty inherent in every one of these. Sacraments are the primary way in which Catholics encounter God on earth, and thus formidably shape our culture by giving us an appreciation for ritual, liturgy, mediation, "mysticism", tradition, and the literal infusing of the Holy Spirit.
Depth of Emotion
This brings me to the first concern I have for my beloved Church. I'll begin with a Caveat though--this may just be a personal struggle that I am dealing with. It may not be characteristic of the Church as a whole, but it seems to be something I have noticed.
There seems to be a lack of depth in the Emotion of the Church. For some reason we are afraid to talk about how God makes us "feel", or how Jesus Christ is "moving in our lives", or how we have "received Jesus into our hearts". Many people would say we don't talk about it because they are "overly protestant terms". I disagree--I think there is a reason they are overly protestant. It seems to me that, in many cases, especially in certain populations in the Church, we become "surface Catholics"--focused on the intellectual and theoretical aspect of God, and not so much the Spiritual-relational aspect of Him. It's not that we don't have deep feelings of love for Christ, it's not that Spirit doesn't move us, it's that, for some reason, we seem to be afraid of talking about it (which will bring me to my next point).
This is one thing I think we need to learn from the protestants. They don't seem to fear expressing themselves... they can stand up and yell, "Amen". They talk about the intimate relationships they have with God... why don't we? I'm not saying we all need to be charismatic, I for one get a little uncomfortable with that and while a beautiful thing, is not for everyone... we just need to be open to expressing the Spirit more than we are.
This issue follows closely with the last one. We as a Church (in my perception) are afraid to be vulnerable. Sure, we talk about it, we preach it, we right about it, but when it comes down to the individual practice of it, most lay people (and probably many ordained as well) are scared to be vulnerable. This is a part of the human condition unfortunately, but not only are we afraid to be vulnerable to each other, but to God. Many people are afraid to let the Spirit move in them. This is probably just a way of looking at the Emotional depth in a different way, so I won't go into too much depth about it.
I love my Church and my God with the depths of my heart. I am convinced that it is the fullest truth available to humans, and the fastest way to union with him. The Church is alive, we are the largest single denomination in the world, we serve, we evangelize, we worship, we teach, and we love. I feel we need to go deeper, we always need to, as Christ said, "put out into the deep". We need to challenge society's notion of privatism, individualism, and ego-centrism. Catholicism at its core is communal, and while we do a good job at worshiping in public, of praying in public, and engaging in community--if we want our numbers to grow and if we want to truly change hearts, we must not be afraid to be vulnerable and to show emotions.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Chorus (F Bb, Gm C)
Lord give me eyes
That I might see like you
Lord give me a heart
That I might love like you
Lord give me hands
That I might serve like you
All these things I ask
That I might be as you
V1 (F C, Gm C)
Lord set me along your paths
That I might walk in your light
Have your Spirit move in me
So I may be upright
Lord help love
Despite what I receive
Help me love like Jesus did
Oh Lord that I may bleed (not sure I like this line yet)
Oh Lord that I may live (Bb C)
A life worthy of You (F C Dm)
Help me in my unbelief (Bb C)
To live a life that's true (E Gm C)
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me! Here we are praying to the one who embodies the virtues that we desire most by praying this prayer--not only humility but meekness (a beautiful but often overlooked virtue). Meekness is the combination of the virtues patience (bearing burdens joyfully) and gentility (right mediation of anger) and is equivalent to mercy. By praying this litany we are not only asking for humility, but also the patience to bear, and the gentility to deal with those who/that which make us humble.
The next three sections deal with the three aspects of humility--overcoming the desire to be loved, overcoming the fear of being rejected, and desiring the good of others in all things.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me Jesus!
Lord, help me not to seek fame or esteem, but to accept it when it comes, and let it glorify you.
From the desire of being loved...
Lord, help me not to seek love in unhealthy or unneeded ways. Help me be complete satisfied with your love. Help me to love purely in all things.
From the desire of being extolled...
From the desire of being honored...
From the desire of being praised...
Lord, help me do all things for the love of you alone. Help me to give all praise and honor to you and keep nothing for myself. Help me to lead hearts to you, and not to myself.
From the desire of preferred...
From the desire of being consulted...
From the desire of being approved...
Lord, help me to use my gifts for only those things you deem holy. Help me not to seek approval or to flaunt gifts you have given me. Help me to accept it when my friends go to other people for advice.
From the fear of being humiliated…
Lord, banish all fear from my heart. Help me to not be afraid of anything you have planned for me. Help me not to fear my cross or the purifying fires of your love. Help me live with reckless abandon, running towards the unknown things you have planned for me.
From the fear of being despised...
Lord, help me to care only about what you think. Let me not fear the the despisement of others, which is often based on fear and misunderstanding itself.
From the fear of being rebuked...
Lord, help me accept humbly the consequences for what I have done wrong. Help me Lord to even accept responsibility for that which I did not do wrong, in order to atone for that which I have gotten away with.
From the fear of being calumniated...
From the fear of being forgotten...
From the fear of being ridiculed...
From the fear of being wronged...
From the fear of being suspected...
Lord help me to live only with joy, without fear in my heart. Help to accept all things that lead me closer to your heart.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be esteemed more than I...
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease...
That others may be chosen and I set aside...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided I become as holy as I should...
Lord, help me desire that which is most difficult for me, the good of others over myself. Grant me the ability to accept the greatness of others. Lord, let me be satisfied for the life you have for me.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
In the book I'm reading Ron Luce strongly stresses the importance of focusing everything around a mission, vision, and goals. I completely agree with this, which is why one of the first things I did when I got here was to come with a mission statement:
We aim to provide a safe place for youth to come together in fellowship, to empower youth to live authentic lives of the Gospel, and to challenge them to become Saints according to their call to Holiness through the Sacraments of Initiation.
It's a little long for a mission statement, so perhaps it could be shortened to "Empowering youth to live like Christ". I haven't done a great job of focusing everything on this--I'll admit, I do some pointless programs, but it is a vision that fuels my desire to see a better future for our youth.
It bothers me when people stagnate because they are afraid of the hard work it takes to change. Why would I waste my time going to meetings where nothing is accomplished? Why do we allow ourselves to settle for mediocrity--no successful business would take such an attitude! We are in the most important business of all--the business of souls! And our competitor is the the most schrewd and unscrupulous CEO in the entire world... and by failing to have a battle plan to win the hearts of our "customers" we are LOSING! Get off your butts and fight for the change that you profess to believe in.
OK... maybe that was a little harsh. But we cannot be afraid to sacrifice for the good of the Church. We must have movement, change, and a our hearts set towards heaven. We must know where we're headed if we want to know how to get there.