Religion: February 2004 Archives

Contrast and Contradiction


Today's Epistle includes a promise of salvation - if we call on the name of the Lord, we will be saved.
This seems to contradict Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven".
How can we reconcile these seemingly contrary passages?
I think that we need to understand that we can call on the name of the Lord for salvation, but that he then also expects from us action and not just words. Jesus did not just preach, he acted, and ultimately "By His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24)
I have not seen The Passion of the Christ yet, but I am told that the scourging is rather graphic. Well is should be. In our sanitized world where we know that the violence prtrayed on TV and in movies is just fantasy, it is chilling to realoze just what Jesus the Christ suffered for us.
By those stripes we are healed. Thanks be to God.

Who needs to be healed?


Today's Gospel includes Jesus saying, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."
It is in the context of the scribes and Pharisees complaining to Jesus about the company He kept - tax collectors, bartenders, customs officers, and other sinners.
I for one am very glad that Jesus was willing to keep company with that kind of folk, because I am all too often one of that kind. I need to be healed. In the words of James, I am tempted when I am "lured and enticed by desire. Then desires conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death."
Lord, save me from dying the death fortold in Genesis!

On Lenten penances

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I really love the book of Isaiah. In today's Mass readings he really calls it like it is. "Your fast ends in quarrelling and fighting, striking with the wicked claw".
Various bloggers have commented that certain penitential acts (giving up caffeine, or rigidly fasting, or the like) have in the past been more penitential for the housemates of the penitent than for the penitent herself.
I remember as a children that we sometimes competed for the 'medal' of 'most rigorous penance', without much thought as to what the true purpose of this time in the wilderness should be.
Given that our culture celebrates the seasons before they happen (Christmas from 11-1 to 12/24, as an example) I should not be surprised that the Easter candy is already on full display, tempting me horribly. Take, for example, Cadbury's eggs. That is a confection that I dearly enjoy, and I know that by Easter it will no longer be available. For me to go to the grocery store has become a penitential act, as I walk past all the premature Easter displays and try to remember that Lent has just started.
Eating fish and seafood is not penance (for me), but eating beans and rice is. The penitential meals are the ones that take time to think out and prepare. Abstaining from the quick fix meal is a household penance - one that is perhaps more sacrificial than frozen fish and chips or boxed mac and cheese. Acts of penance demand time and not just stuff - maybe even more so in our culture that worships the fast fix and complains about 'wasted time'.

Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor


TSO really hits the spot with his roundup of Lenten themed posting. I really appreciate these 'reader's digest' of St. Blogs - it reminds me to check out some places that I miss on my rounds.

Ash Wednesday


"Rend your hearts, and not your garments". This is a command that has been given to us. Jesus had a lot to say about the nature of fasting and mourning, as well as about celebration. We are to avoid prideful displays of our mortifications.
I have come to realize that a lot of who I am as an adult Christian was formed by my 4 years in Episcopal day school (grades 2 - 5). Daily morning prayer, twice weekly communion services, and Sunday School weekly exposed me to a lot of Scripture. I opened up my 40 year old and yellowing Book of Common Prayer this morning, and turned to the readings for Ash Wednesday. There it is - Joel. The Gospel from Matthew 6:16-21 sets out ground rules - "Be not, as the hypocrites, of sad countenance".

Dennis Prager on


no intent to offend

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but I thought this was a hilarious take on the lightbulb joke. from my inbox this AM.
How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?

from my inbox

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The next time you feel like GOD can't use you, just remember...
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
Mary Magdalene had 7 demons
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer...AND
Lazarus was dead!
No more excuses now. God can use you to your full potential. Besides you aren't the message, you are just the messenger.

ponder this

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the church in this world is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints

A Question about Catholicism

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Bill has already blogged about this, and Lee Anne posted my reply at her site, but in case any of you haven't already chimed in, here is a request for loving and honest input. You can direct answers here, to Lee Anne, or to Bill.
-----Original Message-----
Anyway, someone asked whether Catholics do Bible study and the leader
replied that they don't, that they do catechism. Can you explain to me the
difference between the two? I get the distinct impression from reading
Catholic blogs that you indeed do Bible study (e.g., you guys, Mark Shea,
Amy Welborn).
My friend and I are concerned because sometimes these discussions turn into
Catholic-bashing sessions, and as former Catholics ourselves we don't like
to see our brothers and sisters unfairly beaten up for their differences.
She and I both feel hurt, but we don't know how to present a case against
it. I realize I am pretty ecumenical about many things, but I think we are
all going to be a little surprised when we look around us in heaven.

Many, many thanks for your answer.

Grace and peace,
Lee Anne
My answer follows:

A Memorable Quote


Q: Isn’t this just like making some Golden Calf because the wait for Christ’s return is so intolerable? I mean, what happened to patient endurance of suffering in exile?
A: Have you even been to a Catholic church lately?
(It makes real sense once you read the whole thing)


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ends the suspense. Prayers are in order.
Update: The above link no longer works. Try here for an update.

Tradition and Faith

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There is a great thread going on over at El Camino Real. I made the following comment, and then realized that I wanted to post it here as well. Do go over to Jeff's great blog and weigh in there, as well. His thoughtful post is well worth reading. My comment is below, exactly as I posted it there.

why god and sexuality need to stay connected


from Lilac Rose

This morning


I was listening to NPR on the way home from work. Montana is attempting to cut state funding for schools. (Actually, much of the item was about another attempt by interest groups to use the judiciary to bypass the legislature). At the end of the bit, a phrase struck me.
"Education is a very important duty of the state".
Is it? Or is education a very important duty of the parents?
Go read Brave New Family: Men and Women, Children, Sex, Divorce, Marriage and the Family a collection of essays byGilbert Keith Chesterton
(edited by Alvaro De Silva), for a perspective from several decades ago about the long term reasons for and consequences of leaving education to bureaucrats.

totally off topic


an homage to my favorite science fiction writer. Link via Don.
(you knew I was a little strange, didn't you?)
BTW, RAH did have respect for Catholicism in at least one respect. In Stranger in a Strange Land there is an interchange about miracles in religions. One character points out that all religions promise miracles, but that Catholics deliver. The other says something about Lourdes. The response was along the lines of. "Actually, I was thinking of Transubstantiation" to which the other character says something like "That is a little too subtle for me".

A prayer for Father Groeschel

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Gracious and Good Lord, You who pull the clouds across the summer sky, curl the waves white with foam, and carry tiny seeds and beautiful butterflies to faraway lands by the breath of Your lips; grant Father the wind of Your Spirit so he may breathe better and tell the world about God again. Amen.
Updates here.

Please drop by and comment

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Thomas the misplaced Protestant is hurting. "As I sit here considering where to worship this Sunday it hits me – I’ve had enough. I am sick of them all. "
Sounds like he's hitting bottom here. Please drop by and offer words of comfort and prayer, unlike Job's 'comforters'.

a while back

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I posted several links to articles about the Theology of the body. I am on a listserv at Catholicity which is dedicated to discussion of this topic, and I thought some of my readers might be interested.
Turns out that some were, indeed, quite interested.
Anyhow, you can pick up the conversation over at El Camino Real.
Maybe when I have the time again to do some real writing, I will put up some of my thoughts about this. But not tonight. I was up all night last night with a worrisome labor, and need to try to get to bed early tonight.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Religion category from February 2004.

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