Power of the Apostles

I cried this weekend.

I wasn’t bawling or anything, I just got really teary eyed, and couldn’t help myself.  I was just too affected.

This weekend, we had a Mass for a congregation of sisters. It was their 100th year Jubilee, and so was a very big deal. It was amazing to see so many women who have given up their lives to serve Christ, and Him alone. It was truly an awesome experience. To be honest though, I am a sensual being, and while I was intellectually touched by their service and commitment, their lack of habits did not pull at my heart strings.

I’m not saying I don’t honor and respect them, I do, and very much so. I’m just saying that fifty or sixty sisters in normal clothing honestly just look like the rest of the congregation, and so it did not have an emotional impact on me. In that way, it just felt normal. Had they been in habits that made their vows obvious to me, I might have felt differently, I’m not sure. I spent most of the time trying to figure out who was a sister, and who was not. I felt rather silly about it to be honest.

This was a big celebration however, and so our bishop took it upon himself to drive the five hours to our parish to preside.

Dangit, I cry every time the bishop comes. I’ve started remembering to bring a handkerchief.

It’s not so much that our bishop is a swell guy, though he is. It’s not because he holds a similar ideology to me either, which he does. I am the same way any time I get to go to an episcopal Mass, I just can’t help it. It’s not the man that so deeply effects me, it is his office.

The power of the apostles overwhelms me. When I stand in a Mass where the bishop is presiding, I feel so deeply connected that I cannot bear it. I cannot help but see the unbroken chain back to Christ Himself. As he proceeds into the sanctuary, crosier in hand, I can feel his shepherding power. As he blesses the altar, that connection is so tight in my mind, that it is simply overwhelming for me.

I know I should feel this way at every Eucharist, and I know that the fact that I don’t means I have work to do on my faith. But for now, I am content to stand next to my apostle. I admit it, I’m a cheesy guy. But I’m not alone.

“In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him” (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110])

Reverend Know-It-All

Oh Wow. I just read the best article on religious education that I have read in a long, long time. I’m not usually one to shamelessly plug someone else’s articles, but you seriously need to check this out now. Here is a short excerpt to wet your appetite.

“In order to commit a mortal sin, a sin that severs one’s relationship to God, one must have sufficient knowledge that what they are doing is mortally sinful. Our kids come to Catholic schools and religious education where, presumably, they learn that it is a mortal sin to skip Sunday Mass without a serious reason, such as illness or inability to travel. That means that by allowing children to come to religious education or to enroll in Catholic schools when their parents don’t come to Mass, we are enabling them to commit a mortal sin by giving them the sufficient knowledge to damn their eternal souls.That’s a plan.”

Right on Father Simon. The system we are using is flat out broken, it is doing nothing for our young faithful, in fact it puts them at great risk, and it needs to be fixed pronto.

Read the entire article on Reverend Know-It-All, “We Are Starting Over”

(HT Creative Minority Report)

Sola Scriptura

I am sorry. I spent my writing time today on Facebook, and am simply spent. So instead of writing something special for the blog, I decided to copy and paste my conversation. Wow, am I lazy. Without further ado, here you go.

“I so deeply appreciate your openness and sensibility in your discussion. I can see very clearly how deep your faith in Christ is, and I am edifiied by it. It is so easy to get caught in the “I’m right and you’re wrong” mentality, and I am impressed that you haven’t fallen into that trap. May God contiune to bless you.

The trouble is, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura does not do what you describe. It does not check our teaching against a solid norm. Let me explain.

Here are you and I, two intellegent people, who are in awe of God, and in love with Jesus Christ. We both have every desire to remain faithful to Him, and want to live our lives as closely to His directions as possible. And yet, when we look to the scriptures to guide our conversation, instead of whole hearted agreement, we find dissention. Instead of clasping each others palms, and calling each other to head out and spread the Gospel with the same acccord, we instead end up in petty squabbles.

This cannot be what Christ intended. Christ earnestly prayed that we would be one, undivided. And for 1500 years, that is exactly how it was, until Luther nailed his protest to the church door. For 1500 years, the Church preserved its tradition, and with that tradition, the scriptures that supported it and edified that belief.

Look again at your quote from Galatians 1:8-9. Paul calls us to not depart from the gospel he had preached to them. And yet, no Gospel had yet been written. That is because the gospel is not words on a page, but a living, breathing faith handed down from one man to another, kept in line by the living memory of its collective people, most especially in the apostles and their successors. The bible is more precious than gold, but only when held in tandem with the tradition of that people, the Church.

You see, this Church was and is the vehicle for the gospel to move throughout the world. It was so in the first centuries before the bible came to be, and it is so now. This “Church of the living God, the Pillar, and Foundation of Truth” (1 Tim 3:15) is where we must bring our questions about scripture, lest we fall away from that gospel into dissention.

Look at the history of the protestant church since this division, and what you see is divison and dissagreement spreading like wildfire. Thousands of churches have cropped up all around, each with their own take on just what the scriptures mean. This is not the “oneness” that Christ asked of us, and it is born of not having that sure norm that Galatians speaks of.

Notice that I am not saying that the Church is perfect, far from it. Jesus said the Kingdom would be like a field of wheat, with weeds sown into it in the night. Clearly, this is not heaven He is speaking of, as there can be no weeds in heaven. Yes, there have been bad leaders, and many of them have done bad things. There are weeds in the wheat, but that will be separted by Christ at the end, so we need not be too concerned with that now. What is important, is while many in the Church have been unfaithful, the teaching of the Church has never been. Now I’m not talking about a idioic pronouncment here, or a pope saying something stupid there, but the functional dogma of the Church has remained unchanged, clarified at times (Trinity doctrine for example), but unchanged.

Nowhere in all of the first 1500 years of our faith in Christ has there been the idea that the scripture has everything we need to know. This is frankly, a brand new idea in the larger scheme of things, and all I have to do is look at the results of that belief, to know the fruit it bears is the fruit of division.”

Phew, I clearly talk too much.

Father’s Day

So today I am going to do something entirely different.

I want to tell you about my Dad.

My mother was very young when I was born, and unfortunately, that marriage did not work very well for her. I have never really gone into it with her, to be honest it really isn’t any of my business. In my earliest years, I didn’t really have a father. Yes, there was mom’s second husband, but my only memories of him near the diabolical. What can I say, bad memories seem to stick better than good ones.

My real father never really wanted anything to do with me. While I did not really understand when I was young, now as a man I see things much clearer. I did a lot of stupid things when I was 18, and I’m not sure I would want a living reminder of my mistakes and heartaches walking around to bother me either. I’m not saying it is excusable, I’m just saying I understand.

In walks my father. He was my mom’s high school sweetheart, and he never stopped loving my mother. He kept conversation with her though all the stupid stuff I just talked about, seemingly waiting. I’m not sure he ever bothered with another girl, instead he contented himself to work hard on his photography, rode his bicycle across the country, and basically had every adventure he could come up with. I was going into kindergarten when I met him for the first time.

Papa is a red headed, fully bearded man. (Mom won’t let him shave, he looks too young!) He is well built, but not like a truck. He is the single funniest man I have ever met, and the only way to get him to stop making jokes is to get him talking about politics. He laughs all the time. He has never in my entire life yelled at me, not to say he hasn’t been angry, but he was always in control.

Papa is one of the best friends I have ever had. It’s not just that he is my father, or that he chose to be my father when my father left me. It’s not only because he took me to boy scout camp outs and made me eat the weird food my grandmother would cook. It is because he can listen.

Let me put it like this. When I was a kid, every morning we would wake up to NPR. Now NPR is a radio station with a rather liberal slant, and that makes sense, as he was liberal. But he really listened. In the listening, we was able to be open minded enough to see that the conservative view had some serious points, and over time has changed his views.

You see, he is not stuck in a mental rut. I’m not saying that it is better to be conservative than liberal. All I am saying is my father can think, and think very well. When I speak to him, he really tries to understand what I am saying, and what better friend is there than one who will listen to what you have to say with honest ears, and give you honest feedback?

He works hard, to the wee hours of the night. He is loyal to a fault. He makes farting jokes with my children, and they still love to sit in his lap even though they are moving into their teens. He takes care of his aging mother, going up to her house every morning to make sure she has breakfast. He plays a mean harmonica, and plays it in his band every weekend. His photography is some of the best I have ever seen, and if you want to see how amazing his graphic art skills are, just look at my header. I asked him for it one night, and he stayed up till 2:00 in the morning to make sure it looked great. And to this day, every time we talk on the phone, he never forgets to tell me he loves me.

I could spend five hours and fifty pages and not begin to tell you how much I love and respect Papa. So I will just say this. He may not be Catholic, but he is what a saint looks like. I pray that I grow to become more like him every day of my life.

Heck, we even wear the same hat. I love you Papa.