Religion: August 2004 Archives

Dawn Eden throws down a gauntlet


addendum: Go here and here for some basics about what started the conversation.
Faith, the Final Frontier
first, go read the above. then come back and read my reply. I emailed this to her - I know that she had a 100 word limit and if she decides to post this it will be edited. That isn't the issue. I just wanted to weigh in on this. Dawn had earlier talked about how uncomfortable she had been on a GK Chesterton trip where she was the only non-Catholic, and I wonder how much of that experience has contributed to her current post. Anyhow, Dawn is a good person, an excellent blogger, and if you haven't read her yet you are missing a great read.

Dawn, I can only share a bit about what caused me to become Roman Catholic. It had to do with the historicity of the church and my reading of the early church fathers. I have no doubt that you, or anyone who believes that Jesus is Lord and who is trying to live a Godly life, has the means of salvation. I think that your commenter David Walker has the clearest description of the conundrum. Outside the church there is no salvation, yet it is possible for one who does not see himself to be a member of that church to be saved. Is this a paradox?
I think that there are some terms in use here that have not been clearly defined. For one, what it the church? It is pretty clear to me from my studies that Jesus the Christ set up an organization to carry on His ministry of salvation. The church predates the New Testament. The church determined which of the various letters and gospels floating around where actually inspired by the Holy Spirit, and which were good reading but not inspired (The letters of Clement, the Didache) and which were outright heretical (The Gospel of Thomas).
1 Timothy 3:15 (NIV)
(if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.) is often quoted to assert that the pillar and foundation of faith is the church, not scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)
(All Scripture is God­breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,)
shows that scripture is useful, but not complete.
So I think that we can assert that Scripture alone is not supported by Scripture - it isn't just "me and Jesus" (no matter how important that relationship is - and it is!) but Jesus wants us to be in a relationship with other believers, and that is the Church. Salvation begins with Baptism, but continues in relationship to other human beings.
Matthew 7:21 (NIV)
("Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.)See also Matt 25 31-46 about how 'works' enter into salvation.
So then one is left with the question - Is there a church (or churches) among the many contenders for the title, that is can show continuity from the days of the Apostles to the present time?
I spent the years between the ages of 13 and 16 studying this subject, because I did not particularly want to become Catholic. There were teachings of the Catholic church with which I had serious problems, and I recognized that if I 'swam the Tiber' it would mean that I could not pick and choose dogma and doctrine. But eventually I realized that for me, the only choices that made sense were either to be Orthodox Jewish or Catholic Christian - and since I had come to a profound belief that Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament scriptures, I had no choice. When I was reconciled with the Catholic church on my 18th birthday, my infant baptism (Anglican) was recognized as valid, but my Anglican Confirmation was not (no Apostolic succession).
Cardinal John Henry Newman said it more eloquently that I possibly could, about being deep in history is to cease to be Protestant. There is salvation outside the organized structure of the RCC - but once I recognized that this structure was truly the successor in an unbroken chain to what Christ intended for us, then I had to unite myself to her, or I put my personal salvation in danger. Once I learned and truly understood and believed that this was Christ's desire for me (indeed, for all) obedience delayed became obedience denied. Even at that, I was required to wait 2 full years after making the committment to be recieved into the fullness - another lesson in obedience.
I don't know if this even begins to answer your questions, but I felt compelled to give you the most honest answer and comments that I could.
Sincerely, in the love of Christ,

Whom shall I serve?

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Being on call does weird things to my brain, even when I am not busy. Being on a labor and delivery floor is a lot like being in the Emergency department - spells of boredom puncutated by moments of sheer panic. Even when I am just hanging around and don't have a patient of my own to watch, I am sure my adrenalin level is on the high side.
The up side is that I can get some really creative thoughts going in the hours when I should be asleep but am not. Wednesday night, I was in the excuse for a bed that the hospital furnishes to those of us who take call in-house, in the room that is not-so-jokingly called a 'pit'. No windows, of course. JCAHO requires patient rooms to have windows (with some exceptions) so we are in an area without them. My habit while on call is to sleep with EWTN on the TV in the room (mostly so that I can tune out the phones ringing in the rooms around me - I can still hear my own). So when I wake up to turn over, to answer the phone, to answer a page, I have that comforting drone in the background.
Sometime that night, I woke up midway through some program or another that I eventually realized was about St. Thomas More. It must have been near the end, because there was a bit about how his family tried to persuade him to sign the papers and live, but he refused. His famous words, "I am the King's good servant, but God's first" were ringing in my brain for the rest of the morning. (I'm not the only one with More on the mind)
When I was a kid, I was even more of a bibliophile than I am now. I would read anything, including ( to quote Heinlein in Have Space Suit, Will Travel), a newspaper that had been used to wrap fish. I used to get up at 2 in the morning and go into the bathroom to read. My mom didn't ground me, she took away my library card.
I had this habit in elementary school of going on reading jags. I would find something I liked, and I would then read my way through that section of the local public library. In the 3rd or 4th grade, I discovered the section of Image Books Lives of the Saints. (I think that TAN is currently republishing them). Now you have to remember that I was not Catholic, I was baptised Anglican and was in an Episcopal day school at that time. Anyhow, I loved the first one I read (I think it was St. Dominic and around that time the Singing Nun had a hit with the song Dominique) and therefore read my way through the entire section, more than once.
It was in the story of Dominic that I first encountered the word 'heretic'. It also enlarged the fascination I had begun with the rosary. I didn't quite get what a heretic was, but I sort of realized that they were people who had been misled somehow and who were in danger of Hell if they didn't get back on track. Made sense to me in my child's mind.
Eventually, I reached the story of St. Thomas More. I was fascinated. I had a hard time understanding what the issues were, being at that time an essentially apolitical child. Somewhere along the line, I came to the realization that the church in which I had been raised, that I had been told had an unbroken line reaching back to the apostles, was nothing like that. My beloved grandmother was and is a firm believer in the Branch theory propounded by the members of the Oxford movement and by C.S. Lewis, and I so wanted to believe her. But eventually I found that I had to seek the truth.
I have been Catholic for nearly 32 years now. I don't have the cultural background of a cradle Catholic, despite 30+ years of marriage to one. I probably missed out on some things both good and bad from spending the first 12 years of my life Anglican, the next 4 searching for truth, and from my 18th birthday on as an often rebellious and dissenting member of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. But where else could I go? As Peter said after Jesus gave His hardest teaching, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have words of eternal life." This is why I am Catholic. Big and little signposts along the way pointed me in this direction. I reached a point where nothing else made sense. I am a long way from sainthood. If I make it to purgatory, I will (in the words of Mother Angelica) shout "Hallelujah! I made it". I'm aiming for heaven, but I stumble and fall daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes minute by minute. But what else can I do?
A friend of mine has a scripture on her front door that I am frequently reminded of. "As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord." That is what it is all about.

very thoughtful and informed

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Wheat, Blogs, and Journalism
Thanks to Katharine in the comments box for the link info.

via ragemonkeys


Diary of a Suburban Priest
a neighbor(loosely speaking)

via ever new


Come visit the new and improved parish hall. byod (bring your own doughnuts).

bread and theology

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Go read the CRM about celiac for a theological perspective. I can give you the medical stuff but I am not a theologian, nor do I play on on the internet.

As I said below, Clueless

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I should probably not get drawn into responding to some one who is probably a troll, but I found one of the comments to my post below to be very distressing. I guess I am upset because the reader seemed to totally miss the point of what I was trying to say. which is that we are ALL sinners, we all need the graces of the Sacrament of Penance, and in our culture we all too infrequently avail ourselves of that sacrament. I don't need to sit in the pew with a clicker to know that the majority of those going to Communion were not at Confession the day before. Where your typical parish has only 1/2 hour of scheduled Penance weekly, and that is often not well-attended, yet there are at least 3 Masses meeting the Sunday obligation (and most of those attending those Masses go to communion), well it seems obvious to me that there is an imbalance. But what upset me the most was the final paragraph of the comment:
Sometimes I think people are way more eager to jump on the "brotherly admonishment" bandwagon than they are to actually do something proactive to feed the hungry or house the homeless. It's so much easier to post a blog entry in which you calculate the ratio of Communicants to Confessed and then speculate who among them is a sinner and what those sins might entail than to give away all your wordly goods and live among and attend to the poor, isn't it?

First off, all the works of mercy are important, both the physical and the spiritual. I have never said otherwise. I work in a Community Health Center where I make considerably less than I might in other settings, and I drive 1 hour each way to do this. I attend the poor, and I help them to meet their medical needs. But I have noticed that many of them also have a spiritual poverty, in that they are unhappy and do not even realize that part of their unhappiness comes from choosing to live in a sinful lifestyle. I work to meet their physical needs, I also challenge them to consider their spiritual needs and I have to do this in a way that is not proselytizing. I am not speculating on who is a sinner, I KNOW that I am a sinner, you are a sinner, we are all sinners. You spoke particularly of sexual sins. Alas, this is something that I know more than I would like to, given that I am a primary provider of women's health care. I diagnose and treat STDs on a daily basis, I care for pregnant women the majority of whom are not married, I hear the stories of these women and I hold the details deep within myself under the rule of confidentiality. I KNOW that those who call themselves Catholic contracept, abort, fornicate, divorce, commit adultery at the same rate as the rest of the USA. The data is out there. It is not hard to find. I would imagine that other sins and crimes are practiced at about the same rate, too. I just don't have data on these, and I am not generally confronted daily by a person who calls herself Catholic who is embezzling wealth or lying about her resume or so many other sins. But I do see daily women who are wearing a scapular and who go to church weekly - and have been sterilized. I see women who list their religion as Catholic who are asking for birth control pills. I see women wearing rosaries who are 'living in sin'. I pray for my patients, several times a day. I also provide their medical care. Where I can, I challenge them to consider the harm they are doing themselves through their lifestyle.
Dear commenter, please go back and re-read the whole post. Go back and read some of my other entries. Feel free to continue to challenge us all to live our faith, but please exercise the same charity that you seemed to find lacking in your first reading.

I was sitting listening to a really great homily today at Mass. Father chose to address the scriptures more peripherally than centrally, but he preached on a central tenet of our faith - the Eucharist. He spoke about the recurrent issue of those with celiac disease and the Church's uncompromising insistance that the host must be made of wheat. He turned it into a really great lesson on Transubstantiation, reading from (among other things) the documents of the Council of Trent that after Consecration, the full substance of Jesus, body, blood, soul, and divinity, are truly present in what was once simply bread and wine, and that a full communion is made by partaking of either of the species.
Other bloggers have pointed out the existence of the low-gluten hosts, and the wine-only option (which Father also mentioned) and that is not where I am going here.

Squelching dissent no way to aid the local Catholic Church
local Catholic church strikes me as an oxymoron, anyhow.

urgent prayers

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My 1st cousin once removed, Sophia, 14 y/o, is in a coma in critical condition. She was a passenger in a car that was broadsided. She is unbaptized and as far as I know has been raised as a neo-pagan. Please pray for her body and soul.

please pray

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The hurricanes seem to be heading towards Florida right now. Dear Lord, please protect those in their path. I especially pray for those I know personally, our blogging friends, but dear Lord please protect those I don't know by name, too.

sad but true

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About this Archive

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

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