04 July 2009

Two Revolutions

Independence Day: Genesis 27.1-5, 15-29; Matthew 9.14-17
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Sisters of St Mary of Namur, Fort Worth, TX

Jesus says to John's disciples, “No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth...People do not put new wine into old wineskins.” What does this bit of homespun wisdom have to do with weddings, fasting, the Pharisees, mourning the death of a bridegroom, and the price of camels in Jerusalem? Better yet: what do any of these have to do with the American Revolution and this country's declaration of independence from the tyranny Old King George? Is Jesus teaching us to party while we can b/c we won't be around forever? Is he arguing that we ought to be better stewards of our antiques—human and otherwise? Or maybe he's saying that the time will come when the older ways can no longer be patched up and something fundamentally new must replace what we have always had, always known. When “the way we have always done it” no longer takes us where we ought to go; when the wineskin, the camel, the cloak no longer holds its wine, hauls its load, or keep us warm, it's time to start thinking about a trip to the market to haggle for something new.

We celebrate two revolutions today: one temporal and one eternal, one local and the other cosmic. The political revolution freed a group of colonies in the New World from the corruption of an old and dying Empire. The spiritual revolution freed all of creation from the chains of sin and death. Today, we give God thanks and praise for the birth of the United States of America by celebrating our 4th of July freedoms. And we give God thanks and praise for the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ by celebrating this Eucharist, the daily revolution that overthrows the regime of sin and spiritual decay.

The revolution of 1776 not only toppled the imperial rule of George III in the American colonies, but it also founded a way of life that celebrates God-gifted, self-evident, and unalienable human rights as the foundation of all civil government and social progress. The revolution that Christ led and leads against the wiles and temptations of the world fulfills the promise of our Father to bring us once again into His Kingdom—not a civil kingdom ruled by laws and fallible hearts, but a heavenly kingdom where we will do His will perfectly and thereby live more freely than we ever could here on earth. In no way do we understand this kingdom as simply some sort of future reward for good behavior. This is no pie in the sky by and by. Though God's kingdom has come with the coming of Christ, we must live as bodies and souls here and now, perfecting that imperfect portion of the kingdom we know and love. No revolution succeeds immediately. No revolution fulfills every promise at the moment of its birth. The women and slaves of the newly minted United States can witness to this hard fact. That we continue to sin, continue to fail, continue to rebel against God's will for us is evidence enough that we do not yet live in fullest days of the Kingdom. But like any ideal, any program for perfecting the human heart and mind, we can live to the limits of our imperfect natures, falling and trying again, knowing that we are loved by Love Himself. With diligence. With trust. With hope. With one another in the bonds of Christ's love, we can do more than live lackluster lives of mediocre compliance. We can work out our salvation in the tough love of repentance and forgiveness, the hard truths of mercy and holiness.

Christ is with us. The Bridegroom has not abandoned us. His revolution continues so long as one of us is eager to preach his Word, teach his truth, do his good works. Today and everyday, we are free. And even as we celebrate our civil independence from tyranny, we must bow our heads to the Father and give Him thanks for creating us as creatures capable of living freely, wholly in the possibility of His perfection.

03 July 2009

Coffee Cup Browsing

Sigh. . .since returning to the New World I've been reduced to drinking my coffee from a cup. It's just not the same. . .

Disobedience is harming the Church (duh)

. . .and speaking of disobedience

That Bearded Menace, Mark Shea now has 163 followers. We can't let him shame us! Become a HancAquam Follower (see right side bar).

The joys of motherhood

I've changed my mind. . .those New Age self-help books are awesome!

The Communist party

A skeptical credo. . .I'd say it's more a cynic's credo

No question, no answer. . .so what?

Transcript of the famous debate btw Bertrand Russell and Fr. Copleston on the existence of God

Someone famous has died

02 July 2009

My prayer book's Table of Contents (Updated)

My prayer book is headed to the printers!

Introduction: A Theology of Prayer

Part One: The Novenas

Credo Novena

Novena for Faith

Novena for Hope

Novena for Love

Novena on the Lord’s Prayer

Psalm Novena for Growth in Holiness

Novena of the Four Dominican Pillars

Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Novena for Detachment and Holy Obedience

Novena for Discernment of a Priestly Vocation

Part Two: The Litanies

Litany of God the Father

Litany of Jesus, Priest and Sacrifice

Litany of the Most Holy Trinity

Litany to the Infant Jesus

Litany to Mary, Co-Redemptrix

Litany to the Unsayable God

Part Three: The Way-Truth-Life Rosary

Part Four: Prayers

Prayer for an Examination of Conscience

The ABC Prayer for Conversion

Prayer Before Reconciliation

Prayer After Reconciliation

For a Dark Night of the Soul

Daily Morning Prayer

Daily Evening Prayer

*Vol. 2 will contain the more "mystical" prayers, including three novenas: via Positiva, via Negativa, and via Sophia. Also, this volume will contain the Litany to Mary, Co-redemptrix.

01 July 2009

Catholic Charities Blog

One of my former U.D. students and current seminarian for the Diocese of Austin, Sean DeWitt is blogging for Catholic Charities.

Currently, he is writing about the ministry of C.C. in the context of Catholic social teaching.

Check him out! And be sure to leave him some comments.

30 June 2009

Back in TX

I have arrived back in Irving. . .

Many thanks for the prayers!

In a few days, I will be moving to Fort Worth for the month of July.

Regular blogging will resume once I am settled into my summer work.

Fr. Philip

P.S.: Thank you as well for all the activity on the WISH LIST! I was able to get a significant amount of reading done while in MS, including Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. If there are any scientists out there who have read this book I'd love to hear your thoughts. As a literary theorist, I am sympathetic to Kuhn's thesis, but I know that many working scientists take exception to it.