17 August 2013

Dominicans: engines of ecclesial renewal!

[. . .]

Today the institutional effort at genuine renewal is palpable. There are notorious holdouts—especially among women religious, the Jesuits and the universities they influence (along with others like them), wide swaths of academic theologians, and some sectors of Catholic health and social services. But most dioceses have better leadership now than then, the seminaries have been largely reformed, the priesthood substantially revitalized, and the push for both the recovery of lost territory and a new evangelization is both very real and very strong. [What's striking to me about seminary reform is the role of lay professors in restoring orthodoxy to the seminary curriculum. Once again, the Church is saved by the laity!]
Happily, this is no longer your father’s Church.

The Order of Preachers Sends a Message

I bring this up today because I am about to describe a very telling case in point in the Dominicans of the St. Joseph Province in the United States. I have always been drawn to St. Dominic and his wonderful Order of Preachers (their initials, O. P., come from Ordinis Praedicatorum). My doctoral dissertation way back in the dark age of 1973 was devoted to the connections of the Dominican observant reform in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries—a long struggle to return the Order to the observance of its original rule after a period of laxity—with the overwhelmingly Dominican defense of Papal primacy against Conciliarism and, later, Protestantism. Then as now, the most deeply committed Catholics were also the most devoted to the Holy See. [Alternating periods of laxity and observance are par for the course in every religious order, diocese, seminary, and parish. The cause of laxity is almost always the same: an initial relaxation of observance for the sake of ministry resets the highest standard of observance and further relaxation leads to laxity. The question is: when have we crossed the line btw observance and laxity?].

In the twentieth century, the Dominicans suffered from the rising tide of secularization just as others did, but not quite so much as many. I am reliably informed by those inside that the Order today is fairly healthy worldwide, though of course it varies from place to place. For years the Western province in the United States was more prone to Modernism (including the famous Fr. Matthew Fox and his sidekick, Starhawk the witch) than the Eastern province (the Province of St. Joseph) whose men are trained at the incomparable Dominican House of Studies at Catholic University. [Clarification: Fox was a member of the Central Province and he lived in CA after he was dismissed from the Order]. There is, for example, the famous story of men from the East sitting in on a lecture given by a professor from the West, and rising en masse to shake the dust from their feet when the lecture became heretical. Happily, the dichotomy is not so great now. [I've never heard this story!]

Similarly, the Dominicans in the Netherlands have proven spotty at best; some of them made news five years ago by circulating a pamphlet advocating priestless Masses. And yet is was characteristic of the Dominican Order as a whole, as it would not have been characteristic of many other groups, that these wayward Dominican priests were officially reprimanded by their more universal superiors (see Dominican leaders rebuke Dutch theologians, 1/24/2008). [A very mild rebuke that many friars read as tacit approval of the pamphlet. Though I think it was a repudiation, the rebuke should have been much stronger.]

[. . .]

Dominican provinces are like individuals.  Each has a dominant personality that's easily stereotyped. The West is monastic. The East is institutional. The South is missionary. The Central is pastoral. Like all stereotypes, there's some truth in there somewhere. But like individuals, provinces have personality traits that balance or complement the dominant one. You will find institutional friars in the South. Monastics in the East. Pastoral types in the West. And missionaries in the Central. Sometimes individual priories will be known as embodiments of the province's dominant personality and another priory will embody the complementary traits. 

If you really want to compare and contrast Dominican provinces and find the roots of difference, look at differences in resources: institutional commitments (universities, parishes, etc.); available funds for ministry; Catholic population and culture; number of friars; and historical presence in the region. Therein lies the real difference!

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16 August 2013

Gnostic Gibberish from the LCWR

Assuming the following quotes are accurate. . .this is why the LCWR is currently being "monitored" by the CDF:

“If we are to rethink in terms of religion, we have to think in terms of cosmology. . .” [I doubt very seriously that she means "cosmology" in the same sense that physicists understand the term. She's talking about Brian Swimme's pseudo-mystical/quasi-scientific blend of eastern bumpersticker philosophy and bad 70's head shop poetry, The New Universe Story. This book has been The Thing among the LCWR crowd since sometime in early 2000.] 

We have to understand the order of the whole. . .There is no cosmos without God, and no God without cosmos.” [We do have to understand the order of the whole. And there is no cosmos w/o God.  So far, so good. Then she loops into pantheism: no God w/o the cosmos?  This is a complete rejection of the Judeo-Christian understanding of the Creator, His creation, and our relationship to both. Pantheism is attractive to gnostic types b/c it allows them to claim authority/power through "specialized knowledge." In the 21st century, the most specialized knowledge out there is scientific.]

The reporter paraphrases: "A mixture of Scripture, philosophy from Plato and other Greek thinkers helped develop our theory of Jesus Christ — unchanging, static — a mechanical God." [This is the standard handful of ignorant mud thrown at the scholastic theological tradition. It's nonsense. Deus caritas est. How is that static, mechanical, etc.? God is pure act, according Thomas, and there can be no more perfect act. What she's worried about, of course, isn't an unmoving God, but an "unmoving church" that won't accommodate her personal theological preferences and those of her fellow-travelers.]

“We have an incredible, dynamic, expanding universe. Simply from the point of science, this is awesome,” Sister Ilia said, adding, “Literally, we are stardust." [True, we are stardust in the most literal sense. And this is awesome from more than just the point-of-view of science. In fact, we've pretty much known for a long time now that we're stardust. . .say, since Genesis, at least. But apparently she believes that cosmic forces somehow took stardust and randomly evolved human consciousness from the assembled particles. Remember: no cosmos, no God; therefore, God couldn't have assembled the particles or given them life. He had to wait until we randomly evolved before coming into existence, which means that in some sense, God's existence is contingent on us.]

“Does evolution continue through us? The physical structure of the universe is love. The way physical life works, it is not background to the human story. It is the human story.” [Is physical evolution the sort of process that "continues through" individuals?  I thought evolution happened at the level of species over billion of years. The physical structure of the universe is matter and energy. Love is not physical; it's relational. Of course, if you're a pantheist, God is identical to the universe and since God is love, then the universe is love.  Whoa. Dude. Pass the bong.]

No mas. I'm done. This is exhausting. St Irenaeus dispatched most of this nonsense back in the 2nd century.  

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15 August 2013

How contraception destroyed a parochial school

A pastor laments the decline of his parish and the demolition of the parochial school. He points to the contraceptive mentality of most Catholics as the cause. There's another reason too: the Protestantization of Catholics. When Fr. Bob preaches in a way we don't like, or says stuff in his homily that we don't like, we go to another parish. 

Parish-shopping is the quintessential Protestant reaction to a pastor who refuses to tickle our ears.

A stranger came into the sacristy after Sunday Mass. In an incriminating huff he said, “I have been away from the area for fifteen years; where are the people? And now you are tearing down the school? I went there as a kid.”

I put my hands up to quiet him from further talking and I calmly said, “Let me ask you a question: How many kids did you have?” He said, “Two.” Then I said, “So did everyone else. When you only have two kids per family there is no growth.” His demeanor changed, and then he dropped his head and said, “And they aren’t even going to Mass anymore.”

Sad. Read the whole thing.
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14 August 2013

Crowdsourcing: communication skills for priests

I'm working on the syllabus for my "Proclaiming the Word" course. Basically, the class is all about public speaking, oral communication/interpretation for the Catholic priest.  We cover how to proclaim the Gospel, conduct lectio divina, teach parish classes, etc.

Think about the priests you know. . .

If you could assign these priests to take a remedial class in public speaking, what would you tell the professor that these guys need help with? 

Think not only in terms of preaching (volume, tone, projection, etc.) but also in terms of how they communicate personally with parish staff, parishioners, etc.  

Think about how they communicate in oral presentations during pastoral council meetings, catechical events, groups meetings, etc.

What do we clergy-types need to improve?

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13 August 2013

“This is enough, O Lord! Take my life. . .”

NB.  here's another one on suffering from 2009.  This one got 27 comments when I first posted it.  Apparently, I struck a nerve!

19th Sunday OT: 1 Kings 19.4-8; Eph 4.30-5.2; John 6.41-51 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
Church of the Incarnation, Univ of Dallas 

Elijah, the prophet of God, prays for death: “This is enough, O Lord! Take my life. . .” How thick, how deep must your despair be to pray for death? How heavy must your desperation be before you can no longer lift it? When do you cry to God: this is enough! Here and now, I am exhausted, weary beyond living. Elijah killed 450 prophets of Baal. For this reason, he confesses to his Lord, “. . .I am no better than my fathers. Take my life.” Elijah challenges Baal's prophets to a contest of power. He pits the real power of the Lord against the demonic power of the Canaanite god. Baal loses. And so do his prophets. Elijah marches the demon's priests to the River Kishon and cuts their throats. Fleeing the wrath of Jezebel for killing her prophets, Elijah goes into the desert and there he discovers—among the stones and sage brush—that he no longer wants to live. “This is enough, O Lord. Take my life. . .” Elijah, prophet of God, touched by His hand to speak His Word, despairs because he has murdered 450 men. What weight do you lift and carry? How thick and deep is the mire you must wade through? At what point do you surrender to God in anguish, walk into the desert, and pray for death? When you balance on the sharp point of desperation, poised to ask God to take your life, remember this: “When the afflicted call out, the Lord hears, and from all their distress He saves them! Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!” 

To varying degrees and in different ways, all of us have discovered in one sort of desert or another that we are tired, exhausted beyond going another step. Overwhelmed by studies, financial stresses, marital strife, family feuds, personal sin, physical illness, we have all felt abandoned, stranded. We might say that it is nothing more than our lot in life to rejoice when our blessings are multiplied and cry when the well runs dry. These deserts look familiar. We've been here before and doubting not one whit, we know we will visit them again. We hope and keep on; we pray and trust in God. This is what we do, we who live near the cross. But there are those times when the desert seems endless and only death will bring rescue. We find hope in dying. And so, we cry out to God: “Take my life, O Lord!” Is this the prayer we should pray when we find ourselves broken and bleeding in the deserts of despair? It is. There is none better. 

 The witness of scripture pokes at us to remember that our God provides. Beaten down and hunted by Jezebel, exhausted by his prayer, Elijah falls asleep under the broom tree. An angel comes to him twice with food and drink, ordering him to wake up and eat: “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” Elijah obeys. Strengthened by the angelic supper, he walks for forty days and nights; he walks to God on Mt. Horeb. The Lord provides. Jesus reminds the Jews who are murmuring about his teaching that their ancestors wandered around in the desert for forty years, surviving on angelic food. Though they died as we all do, and despite their constant despairing, they survived as a people to arrive in the land promised to them by God. As always, the Lord provides. Paul reminds the Ephesians (and us) that Christ handed himself over “as a sacrificial offering to God” for us, thus giving us access to the Father's bounty, eternal access to only food and drink we will ever need to survive. Paul writes, “. . .you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Therefore, “. . .be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” We always have before us the feast of mercy. The Lord provides. So, wake up! And eat! 

What are we promised, and what is provided? Even the slightest glance at scripture, even the most cursory perusal of our Christian history will reveal that following Christ on pilgrimage to the cross is no picnic. To paraphrase Lynn Anderson, “He never promised us a rose garden.” Sure, Christ promised us a garden alright. But it's the Garden of Gethsemane. Betrayal, blood, and a sacrificial death. He also promised us persecution, trial, conviction, and exile. He promised us nothing more than what he himself received as the Messiah. A life of hardship as a witness and the authority of the Word. The burdens of preaching mercy and the rewards of telling the truth. An ignoble death on a cross and a glorious resurrection from the tomb. What he promises, he provides. All that he provides is given from His Father's treasury. Food and drink on the way. The peace of reconciliation. A Father's love for His children. And an eternal life lived in worship before the throne. 

All of this is given freely to us. But we must freely receive all that is given. Elijah flees into the desert, seeking his freedom from Jezebel's wrath. The former slaves of Egypt flee into the desert, seeking their freedom from Pharaoh's whip. The men and women of Ephesus flee into the desert of repentance and conversion, seeking their freedom from the slavery of sin. Each time we flee into a desert to despair, we are fleeing from the worries, the burdens of living day-to-day the promises we have made to follow Christ to the cross. Our lives are not made easier by baptism and the Eucharist. Our anxieties are not made simpler through prayer and fasting. Our pains, our sufferings are not relieved by the saints or the Blessed Mother. Our lives, anxieties, our pain and sufferings are made sacrificial by the promises of Christ and all that he provides. We are not made less human by striving to be Christ-like. We are not brought to physical and psychological bliss by walking the way of sorrows. We are not promised lives free of betrayal, blood, injury, and death. By striving to be Christ-like, by walking behind our Lord on the way of sorrows, we are all but guaranteeing that we will suffer for his sake. And so, the most fervent prayer we can pray along this Christian path is: “This is enough, O Lord! Take my life. . .!” Surrender and receive, give up and feast. Surrender your life and receive God's blessing. Give up your suffering and feast on the bread of heaven. 

What Christ promises, he provides. He says to those behind him, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Exhausted under a tree and running for your life; pitiful and despairing, wandering lost in a desert; chained to sin, wallowing in disobedience, yet seeking mercy. . .where do you find yourself? Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you exhausted? Spent? Do you need to be rescued? Cry out then, “Take my life, O Lord. . .” Pray for death. Pray for the death of Self. Pray for the death of “bitterness, fury, anger, reviling, and malice.” Pray for the death of whatever it is in you that obstructs your path to Christ; pray that it “be removed from you. . .So [you may] be [an] imitator of God, as [a] beloved child[], and live in love, as Christ loves us.” Remember and never forget: “When the afflicted call out, the Lord hears, and from all their distress He saves them! Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!” The bread come down from heaven, Christ himself, is our promised food and our provision for eternal life.
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Suffering and suffering well

By request. . .a repost on suffering from 2008:

Recently, I conducted a one-day retreat for the local lay Dominican chapter. I was asked to give three talks on the theme, “Preaching Truth in a Lying Age.” During one of the talks I mentioned the notion of suffering and gave a very brief ferverino on what suffering means for Christians. That little piece of the much bigger retreat is still sitting with me this morning. 

When I am asked to recount my vocation story, I often tell the story of how I came to a better understanding of humility. In 1998, I had injured my back at work. For about two months my doctor thought I had merely sprained a lower back muscle and he treated me as such—mild muscle relaxers, milder pain meds, and physical therapy. I was in excruciating pain, often fainting and completely unable to bathe or walk. Only after I had lost about 50lbs. and nearly lapsed into a coma with a 106 degree temperature did he finally decide to send me for an MRI.

After the MRI and during one of my physical therapy sessions I was called to the phone to hear my doctor’s nurse order me to cease therapy immediately and return to the office. Her voice was insistent and slightly frightened. Obviously, I was terrified. They had found something. Once in the office, the doctor informed me that I had a large mass growing between my two lower vertebrae. He showed me the MRI films and ordered me back to the clinic for another MRI. This time they shot me full of contrast fluid. The mass shone like a mountain. My doctor, nearly in tears because he had ignored my pleas for better pain meds, told me that he was pretty sure I had cancer. Only a biopsy could confirm this.
The biopsy indicated that the mass was a staph abscess. They rushed me to the hospital where I was told that my heart had likely been severely weakened by the infection. Tests showed that this was not the case. However, the staph had infected my blood, sending my sed rate to deadly levels. My infectious disease doc confided to me that he couldn’t explain that why after almost three months of an internal staph infection I wasn’t dead. He ordered a PIC line inserted into my heart and I was fed two IV anti-biotics for seven weeks. During those seven weeks I was at home with my parents recovering.*

I was unable to keep food down. Couldn’t bathe or sleep. And I was dependent on my parents for everything. I was 35 years old and once again a child. The day humility came to smack me around I had a doctor’s appointment. Since I could barely walk, my mom had to dress me. The absurdity of my situation hit me hard when it came time to put on my socks. Sitting on a low bench in my underwear with my mom kneeling in front of me, struggling through a stream of tears to get my socks on for me, I started crying in frustration, anger, gratitude, and a sense of helplessness. It was all so absurd, so surreal, and yet also weirdly peaceful.

My point? I had been in constant pain for almost four months, and I grieved my loss of independence. But I had yet to suffer. Pain is not suffering. Grief is not suffering. Since I was merely experiencing pain and not giving that pain purpose, I had refused to suffer. There was no grace for me in simply being in pain. Once I decided to allow the pain to have a purpose (i.e., “to suffer the pain”) as a gift of humility, my recovery quickened, and I was able to go back to work in month or so. Now, when my oh-so-ready pride pokes its head into my business, I remember the scene of my mom struggling to get my socks on without hurting me—the two of us crying like babies at the absurdity of the whole thing.

The question is not “do you suffer?” but “do you suffer well?” Or, rather “do you allow your pain/grief to have a purpose?”

So, suffer well.

* About three days after the staph infection was gone and the PIC line was removed, I contracted chicken pox.  Oy.

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Liberal Christianity is a clear failure. . .

An excerpt from the report:

Nothing in Schuller’s talk indicated that he would disagree with anything found in liberal Protestantism, and in Austria he has advocated freely giving Communion to Protestants.  Liberal Protestantism began, in Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous words, with the belief that “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”  Its logical culmination is found in the likes of Gary Hall, the Dean of Washington’s National Cathedral, who just told The Washington Post that “I describe myself as a non-theistic Christian.”  Since there is no sin in the world of liberal Protestantism, except maybe holding unfashionable political opinions, and no beliefs that are necessary for salvation, except maybe the current editorial position of The New York Times, denominations that embrace liberalism have a hard time convincing people to get up early on Sundays and go to church, even though they have done everything Helmut Schuller wants the Catholic Church to do.  The United Church of Christ has lost half its members since the early 1960s, even though the overall US population has doubled during the same period of time, the Episcopal Church has lost nearly a quarter of its Sunday communicants in the last decade, and the established Protestant churches in Europe have fared even worse.  As measured by demography, liberal Christianity is a clear failure.

It cannot be repeated often enough: there is no future for the Catholic Church in the U.S. if we become indistinguishable from the zeitgeist. The liberal Prot mainline has proven this over and over again.

Back in my Episcopagan days (1982-1996), I gleefully joined in every effort to undermine the apostolic tradition of the church.  Nothing was sacred. Nothing was off-limits. Nothing was to be untouched. I even rewrote the Nicene Creed (in my hubris) to better fit my own ideological views. 

Had I stayed in the Episcopal Church, I'd probably be a bishop by now!

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12 August 2013

Abortion fans invade Mass

Having spent many years among the abortion savages as one of their own, this isn't all that shocking to me. That they didn't assault the Mass goers is shocking. I mean, since these Great Pelvic Liberators are so morally superior to us poor religious bigots, I just figured that they would feel downright entitled to throw a punch or two.


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Priest no longer a mystery

Back in my atheist days I would've howled at the gullibility of religious folks for believing that the Great Fairy God Father in the Sky sent a ghost to rescue someone after the accident rather than just prevent the accident in the first place. 

I've grown up since then and have a much better (though still woefully imperfect) understanding of divine providence.

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11 August 2013

Faith: the disposition of the spirit that seeds eternal life

NB. This is an example of a didactic homily.  'Nuff said.

19th Sunday OT 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA 

We're rather aggressively challenged by our readings this evening to think hard about what it means to have faith. What is faith? How do we use it? How do we get it? What's its ultimate purpose? Being a sensible, practical sort of people, we generally think of faith in terms of amounts of faith, or degrees of faith. How often have you prayed for “more faith”? Or asked God to “increase your faith”? We also tend to think of faith in terms of “the faith,” as in “the Catholic faith,” or “the Protestant faith,” meaning something like “everything that Catholics and Protestants believe to be true about God, Jesus, Mary, etc.” So, you might say, “I'm a member of the Catholic faith.” If you were a student assigned to write an essay on faith by your religion teacher, you would probably do what every student in the universe does when asked to define a term: grab a dictionary. There we find that “faith” is defined as “confidence or trust in a person or thing; belief that is not based on proof; a system of religious belief.” And if your teacher is any good at all, he/she would write in the margin, “This isn't much help, is it?” No, it isn't b/c a dictionary isn't a human person who lives by the grace and mercy of God. Dictionaries are not asked to sacrifice their children. Dictionaries are not asked to surrender their lives and livelihoods to the providence of God. 

Fortunately, being Catholics, we have someone more reliable than a dictionary to turn to. In his 2007 encyclical, Spe salvi, our emeritus Pope, Benedict, tackles one of the more challenging passages of this evening's reading from Hebrews. That passages reads: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Benedict explains that this sentence has been the focus of theological controversies for centuries b/c one of its key terms is almost impossible to translate and interpret. In order to explain the sentence he leaves that Greek term untranslated: “Faith is the hypostasis of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” The Church's early theologians choose to translate hypostasis with the Latin term substantia, thus giving us the more familiar English sentence, “Faith is the substance of what is hoped for. . .” But let's be honest: using “substance” doesn't really clear up the problem. So, Benedict continues, “. . .faith is a habitus, that is, a stable disposition of the spirit, through which eternal life takes root in us and reason is led to consent to what it does not see” (7). In order to see how this definition helps us clear up some of the confusion, we'll need to break it down. 

First, faith is a kind of habit. And a habit is a stable disposition of the spirit. What is a disposition? A disposition describes the nature of a thing. Fish are disposed to swim b/c they are fish. Birds flies. Humans think. Fire burns. Our nature—what we are fundamentally—determines (more or less) how we behave. But notice that this particular habit is a stable disposition of the spirit. Why didn't he say that faith is a habit of the soul? Faith is not a native habit of the human person. Faith is a gift, an additional habit given by God to His human children and shared through His spirit. So, I can't say, “My faith tells me that X and Y are true.” The best I can say is: “Our faith tells me that X and Y are true.” This means that it's possible that I'm wrong about what our faith says is true or false. Faith is not a personal possession, an individualized gift handcrafted just for me. As a disposition of the spirit, faith is lived and shared across the human race and is called in technical theological language an “infused virtue,” a good habit infused into us by God. We do not earn, beg, borrow, steal, buy, or barter faith. Faith cannot be increased, decreased, lost, or found. As a good habit, faith can be either exercised or ignored. We can exercise faith and see it become more and more part of who we are; or, we can ignore it and let it become a wasted gift. 

OK. Faith is an infused disposition given by God to the human person, all persons. Why? Why does God give us this gift? This is the second thing we need to notice: faith is given to us so that eternal life might take root in us. Yes, this implies exactly what you think it does: w/o the gift of faith, eternal life cannot take root in us. When we are infused with faith at conception, we are implanted with the seed of eternal life and then it is up to us—using all of God's freely given gifts—to either nurture that seed, or—refusing all of God's freely given gifts—let it go dormant. The take-away here is that God makes the first move in our journey back to Him. He plants the seed of eternal life in us by giving us faith. But what that part of the sentence from Hebrews that says faith is “evidence of things not seen”? Benedict writes that it is through faith that “reason is led to consent to what it does not see.” In other words, the gift of faith not only plants in us the seed of eternal life, it also allows us to assent to truths that reason cannot deduce from our senses. Think about how you trust a friend, a spouse, or a parent. Do you need empirical evidence to trust someone you truly love? If you do, then we might say that you don't actually trust them at all! We might even say that w/o trust, you don't actually love them. So that we might return to God, He makes it possible for us to love Him here and now by giving us the ability to trust Him even when our senses tell us that we are crazy for doing so. 

Speaking of being crazy for trusting God, let's take a look at Abraham and his encounter with God. Hebrews tells us that “by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called. . .By faith he received power. . .By faith Abraham offered up Isaac, his son. . .” Why did he obey the call, receive power, and offer up his son? Because “he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.” Abraham exercises the good habit of trusting in God's loving-care and the results speak for themselves. He receives from God an inheritance: though he was “himself as good as dead,” from him and his sterile wife, Sarah, came “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky as countless as the sands on the seashore.” Because Abraham exercised the good habit of trusting in God's loving-care, he and his wife produced a holy family, a holy nation, a people dedicated to the love and service of the Lord. And some few thousand years later, we honor him still as “our father in faith.” Abraham believed and acted “by faith” and he received a bounty from the Lord. His faith was not measured in pounds or feet or volts. He didn't pray for “more faith,” or “extra trust.” He heard the Lord's call and he acted, knowing that his God would not fail him. 

Though your own faithful relationship with the Lord may not produce “descendants as numerous as the stars,” you are still poised to be the faithful servant who girds your loins and lights the lamps, waiting for your master’s return, “ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.” We could spend the rest of tonight, tomorrow, and all of next week dissecting the theology of faith and its implications for how we understand our relationship with God. However, in terms of real-life results nothing compares to the day-to-day exercise of trusting in God's love for you, trusting in his care for you, trusting completely that He has willed from all eternity that you spend your immortal life with Him, blessed and preserved as His child. I've spent so much time this evening teaching on the notion of faith so that we might go away from here with a better understanding of what it means to “have faith.” Not a pint of faith and hoping for more. Not seven out of ten degrees of faith and praying for eight. But understanding that we are always, already gifted with faith. God made the first move by giving it to us. We have it already. What we must do now is exercise it. Not as disconnected individuals given unique presents but as one Body blessed with a singular gift: the ability and need to serve the Gift Giver by serving one another. 

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Back in The Big Easy

Jusr got back to Nawlins' after 10 wonderful retreat day with the Dominican nuns at Mt Thabor Monastery

I have the 6pm Mass tonight at Our Lady of the Rosary, so if I we you an email, Facebook msg, or phone call. . .please, expect it tomorrow.

Thanks for your prayers!

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