Recently in faith in the desert Category
Will have to read this. I have liked the little Podles I have already read.
Today's class for year one diaconate program was moral theology. Very interesting class. Not much in didactic content that was new to me, but lots of different ways to look at the same old problems of sin and virtue. There were a few quotes that I want to share.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity" - from the movie "The Gladiator".
"We have a destiny of beatitude through a vocation of love" (I didn't catch the attribution).
Class started out with a pop quiz. Without referring to our books, list the 10 commandments, in order. I got them all, but not in order! And I learned them as a Protestant, so the numbers always confuse me. Later in the day we had a second pop quiz - name the 7 deadly sins. Try it sometimes! Honestly, I think that we would all do better with a little more rote memorization of some of this stuff.
A couple more notes from class, worth pondering.
Morality is the practice of the good or evil of human action.
Moral theology is the study of goodness or evil in human action, in the light of God's revelation.
Four things that limit freedom, and thus responsibility, are force, fear, passion, and ignorance.
Three things that form ones ethical foundation and help determine how one defines good and evil are ones view of God, ones view of the human person, and ones view of creation.
Truth always conforms with reality.
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
I've been undergoing some stresses lately and have been discouraged, sad, angry and a lot of other very uncomfortable feelings. I'm not ready to talk about the details of the underlying causes, suffice it to say that it is not a minor set of events that has triggered this. On top of it all, my asthma has been majorly flaring up and that means coughing spells and lost sleep, not that I normally get as much sleep as I would like to anyhow. I finally broke down today and went to the urgent care, I am now on a couple of medications that I know from experience will help me a lot but that I also know from experience will have other, unpleasant, side effects. But as I tell my patients, breathing is not optional.
In the midst of the stress, there have been many small events that have let me know that God has not forgotten me and that there is a meaning and purpose here. I am very thankful for these small blessings.
Friday is my half-day in the office. If I don't have a mom in labor to sit with, John and I try to have Friday lunch together. There is a Japanese restaurant in town that we go to quite frequently on Fridays, and there is a waitress there that knows us and will have our tea on the table pretty much the moment we show up. Yesterday, we were partway through our meal when she informed us that the restaurant owner would be buying us dessert - wonderful fresh pineapple.
Today was the diocesan Respect Life seminar for PRLCs and also the NFP community. There was a great speaker on perinatal hospice. We have attended this event every year since we moved to Rockford, and it is always a blessing. This evening was the annual support the military dinner in our parish, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. There was a USO style show as entertainment, and one of the skits featured 4 knights in hula skirts over shorts (very funny). And.....I won the 50/50 drawing! Just a small gift from God to remind me not to fret or worry about things. Remember the lilies of the field.
Which reminds me, that earlier in the week in a parish study group, we had been talking about that passage from Matthew 6:
25 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,* or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?* 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you--you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, "What will we eat?" or "What will we drink?" or "What will we wear?" 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God* and his* righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 'So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.
So thank you Lord for the little gifts and help me to put my concerns in their proper perspective.
John and I are part of RCIA team in our parish. Last year, we gave the talk on marriage, but this year we are a full part of the team. Monday we are giving a talk on the papacy and the magisterium. Writing the talk has been interesting because I am never quite sure where the Holy Spirit is going to send me. And it is also interesting because we tag team our talks, and I also need to write so that if I am unavailable John can still handle it. The main reason that I am doing the initial draft and most of the research and writing is that John has so much homework for the Ministry Formation program that this seems to be a fair division of labor.
I am feeling blessed that I will probably be able to be there Monday for the whole class. I had a string of births over the last 10 days, and now I don't have anyone due until the 16th - that doesn't mean that a baby couldn't happen, but just that it is less likely. I've had some tough births lately, too. And it isn't always predictable which ones will be tough! I've had an 11 pound baby be pushed out in less than ten minutes, and a mom push for 3 hours for an 8 pounder. In the last few months I've seen a couple of really scary post-partum hemorrhages, but also moms who barely lost a drop of blood. I don't really know how some folks do what I do without the prayer support I get.
I know that when I leave the house in the wee hours of the morning, John is praying for me, for the mom in labor, for her baby and for the rest of her family. I know that he is lifting up everyone involved. I know that when I am so busy doing what needs to be done that my prayers are no more than "God, help me get through this and help this mom and babe", there are others out there who are praying too.
I really do need to get my garden settled for the winter. We have had a few snow flurries. We had a nice crop of tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. I have jams and pickles canned and some veges in the freezer. The only thing left in the garden is the last couple of Brussel Sprouts plants and they will be eaten soon.
After I finish working on the Pope talk (or maybe inbetween revisions) I need to start working on the next talk we will be doing - on the Holy Spirit.
I am SO GLAD that so many resources are now available online! For example, the Bible, the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Catechism and the early Church Fathers (among many other public domain Christian writings). Of course, I am still surrounded by my other reference books from the Didache to the didache high school textbooks!
Any suggestions on the Holy Spirit?
Speaking of Faith Is a public radio show that every week spotlights various men and women and their religious beliefs. In my opinion, it tends to be slanted towards New Age and "spiritual, not religious" ponts of view, but that could also just be an artifact of being on public radio. I am glad that they are soliciting input from the greater public, and I encourage you all to add your input. Click on the link below to speak your piece. The text below the link is from the site and is their explanation of what they are seeking.
Speaking of Faithｮ from American Public Media
Share your personal reflections on the Catholic Church
Pope Benedict XVI will be making his first papal visit to the U.S. in April, to help revitalize and strengthen the U.S. church. He will be stopping in Washington D.C. and New York City to offer mass at Nationals Park and Yankee Stadium, visit the White House, and address the United Nations.
We're using the occasion as an opportunity to start a broad-ranging conversation about the rich tradition of Roman Catholicism -- its history, trajectory, and the contemporary issues Catholics are wrestling with. Although we often hear news stories about the Catholic Church, diverse practitioners of the faith have had little voice in telling their stories.
If you are or were Catholic, we'd like to hear your perspectives on what anchors and unsettles you in this vast tradition. We're also interested in the hopes and concerns you have for the church, now and into the future.
Have you ever considered just how brave we are to call God our Father? That we have the audacity to say "Our Father"?
Scott Hahn talks about an interview he had with a Muslim cleric,where this particular cleric became increasingly uncomfortable as Scott continually referred to God our Father. The Muslim gentleman asked Scott to "quit blaspheming". In the view of Islam, Allah is a master, not a father.
But we are told quite specifically to call our God, "father".
For those of us with problematic relationships with our earthly fathers, this can be a very difficult concept. On the other hand, having a relationship with our Heavenly Father can be a way to heal those difficulties with our earthly fathers.
Just a few random thoughts that fell out of my brain recently.
When I was a child, I was a little confused about the sequence of the events of Holy Week. For some reason, I did not understand that Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday are actually the same day. Maybe because in my Book of Common Prayer they aren't. For some reason, the BCP (at least the one I got from my parents in 1964) puts Passion Sunday on the 5th Sunday in Lent. And Palm Sunday, of course, is the Sunday before Easter. As a child, I didn't see how the Passion could precede the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but then what did I know?
And why is it that the Gospel readings for Palm Sunday make little or no mention of the Palms?
Don't get me wrong, I love Palm Sunday. I love it the most when there is actually a procession with the waving of the palms - but I will take even the low key liturgy where the palms are barely mentioned. I love that we are getting ready to enter into the most solemn and beautiful week of the liturgical year. And in just a few short days, the Easter Vigil. Light my hair on fire day!
I've been Catholic now for, what, 34 years? And I've attended Easter vigil service in parishes literally all across the country. My first was on campus, where we lit a bonfire on one end of the mall and walked the length of the campus carrying our candles. My last one, last year, was a very subdued one in a New England parish with not a single rite of initiation to be done, and hence was very short and some what sorrowful to my eyes. I am looking forward to seeing how it is done in my new parish. Given that we have been rehearsing the music for a few weeks now, I have a few ideas. But it will still be interesting.
I am curious as to what you all have been experiencing in your parishes and congregations this Lent. I would like to invite comments, especially about your Palm Sunday liturgy. What was the music? Was there a solemn procession? Did the congregation participate in the gospel readings? Were there any unusual events?
I will post the music from our Palm Sunday liturgy in the extended entry. Please realize that I have zero influence on the choices. It was a very mixed bag. Something to (dis)please everyone.
when we moved to oregon in 1997, we left behind a non-functioning washer and dryer. i did laundry for 6 at the laundromat for a while - we were not well off as we were making payments on our house in Los Angeles and my job had fallen through (long story, I'll tell it some day). One day when I was really depressed about the whole thing, John came home from choir rehearsal to tell me that a fellow parishioner was giving us their washer and dryer - free, gratis, for nothing. That washer /dryer set lasted us almost 9 more years.....
This morning, as John was reading the office of Lauds from the four volume set of The Liturgy of the Hours, I was taken aback. The opening hymn was "Praise my soul the King of Heaven" - a fine bit of hymnody, to be sure, but not one I would use during Lent. We don't do 'alleluia' during Lent. It just isn't done! I even get a bit queasy typing it in here, and during choir rehearsals I am also restless and uneasy rehearsing the Easter hymns and responses.....
Did something change while I wasn't looking, such that the old customs were no longer in force? Or was it that today is St Patrick's day, and maybe an exception?
Sometimes, while John is reading from the book, I will follow along on my Palm using the Universalis program. (I actually prefer the British translations!). Universalis does not prescribe the hymns, saying only that "a suitable hymn may be inserted at this point." So I still don't know. IS there an exception to the 'no alleluia during Lent" rule?
It did get me to thinking about lenten customs. And of course, I went surfing the Internet for more information. Lenten Customs, from an Anglican source describes much of what I practiced as an Anglican child. We didn't actually physically practice Burying the Alleluia, but we did many of the others. I am fairly sure that we practiced our Easter hymns well before Ash Wednesday, and we focused on the Holy Week liturgies after Lent began. It did help, a lot, that our hymnbook was hardbound and well-established, and so there were not a lot of 'new' things to learn. Year to year, we chose from among the same group of hymns and songs. Mayhap there would be some new music for the acclamations, or perhaps a choir anthem, but the majority of what we did was pretty much the same year to year. And this helped the congregation to participate, and hence be a congregation not an audience.
Digging deeper, I found that there were other traditions that I was only dimly aware of.
The fourth Sunday of Lent (tomorrow from when I am typing this) is traditionally 'mothering sunday' and is marked (as are so many other days) by a special food. Simnel cake, a baked and boiled cross between Christmas pudding and steak and kidney pie!
What I think I remember most from childhood are the foods of Lent. We began with pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday, to all the sweets on Easter Sunday itself. Strange, isn't it? For what is generally a fasting and penitential season?
I think that it may be that we are most tempted by various items when we have voluntarily given them up. For example, my family has for years given up meat for Lent, with exceptions for Sundays and St. Patrick's day. Much of the year, I don't think about meat. I'm not particularly bothered by the smell of the local steakhouses venting their animal sacrifices into the air as I drive past. Even on Fridays during the rest of the year, I don't particularly pay attention. But starting on Ash Wednesday, I am taunted and tempted even driving past McDonald's. "Meat", it calls to me. "Come and eat", it whispers in my ears.
Now, the temptation to eat meat may not seem to be a very large or important one as compared to, say, the temptations to the seven capitol sins - vainglory (pride), avarice, gluttony, lust, sloth, envy, anger. (It could be considered a variation on gluttony, I suppose). No, rather I think that the enemy of us all grabs us wherever he can find a weak point, and food is one of mine. (Now where is that quote on the difference between fasting and eating????) I mean, God gave us food, and lots of choices in eating, and He gave us taste buds to appreciate it. No less a personage than G.K.Chesterton was reputed to say "the Catholic Church is like a thick steak, a glass of red wine, and a good cigar". And even if he didn't actually say that, it is still true that God gave us things to enjoy but not to abuse.
Fasting and abstinence are ways of giving up the good that God has given us, so that we can appreciate it all the more. And so too the alleluia in Lent. After the weeks of restraining ourselves from this beautiful word, this heavenly sentiment, we can burst out in song and praise on Easter, celebrating the resurrection with the glorious hymnody that repeats that word over and over and over again.
Full text from the NEJM
The co-author of this report is one of the main movers behind cesarean on demand and no-VBAC policies. BTW.