Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Familial Proposition

There is a shocking proposition in Amoris Laetitia which my friend brought to my attention in just about the most interesting way imaginable: a question.

Specifically, this question:

Is he saying we basically turn ourselves into whores!!??

And it's profoundly worse than that, which we will explore in a minute. First let's take a look at the question that spurred this reaction.

My friend was chewing on Chapter 2: The Experiences and Challenges of Families, specifically paragraphs 32-34. You should go and at least skim these paragraphs for better context. I'll wait.

Back already? Great. Let's go.

In this chapter the Holy Father addresses the good and the bad of modernizing our notions of relationships, especially those of the family. From a western perspective, that can be somewhat simplistically put as evolving out of our Victorian notions of marriage. This is not a bad thing in and of itself - for their were many faults with the Victorian interpretation of marriage - the concern is this: What is replacing that interpretation?

In the midst of paragraph 32 we find this, praising the rejection of the Victorian ethic:

Several decades ago, the Spanish bishops noted that families have come to enjoy greater freedom "through an equitable distribution of duties, responsibilities and tasks”; indeed, “a greater emphasis on personal communication between the spouses helps to make family life more humane", while "neither today’s society nor that to which we are progressing allow an uncritical survival of older forms and models".

And in 33:

We can also point to a praiseworthy concern for justice...

For example, we can see a proper concern for the rights of married women, especially in circumstances of domestic abuse, recognizing that marital rape is a thing, recognizing the independence of the wife to be a fully human person, and not merely property of the husband. This is a good thing: as Catholics, we must never accept society uncritically - that is without discernment. However, what happens if we do not properly discern what was good in the past, and uncritically accept the new?

The Holy Father continues in paragraph 33:

Equal consideration needs to be given to the growing danger represented by an extreme individualism which weakens family bonds and ends up considering each member of the family as an isolated unit, leading in some cases to the idea that one’s personality is shaped by his or her desires, which are considered absolute.

He continues:

Yet if this freedom lacks noble goals or personal discipline, it degenerates into an inability to give oneself generously to others. Indeed, in many countries where the number of marriages is decreasing, more and more people are choosing to live alone or simply to spend time together without cohabiting. We can also point to a praiseworthy concern for justice; but if misunderstood, this can turn citizens into clients interested solely in the provision of services. (Emphasis mine).

Clear, yes?

Let me reiterate.

We can also point to a praiseworthy concern for justice; but if misunderstood, this can turn citizens into clients interested solely in the provision of services.

So I ask again: Is he saying we basically turn ourselves into whores!!??

And I say again, it's profoundly worse than that.

So, yes, I think the Holy Father is concerned that we are whoring ourselves out, but not just in matters of sex. I think there is an element from the more Marxist (maybe? let's go with that) and extreme feminist elements that equate work with sex. All sex is simply a transaction, all work done for another is the prostitution of your labor. This is their narrative, and while it doesn't have to be true, I think in an extreme case it can be true.

So, if we think of merely sexual sin, the happily married man may have his home and family life, be a devoted husband and father, and yet engage a prostitute, or consume pornography. I do not mean to say that these activities are not detrimental to the family life, or to diminish their seriousness, but simply to offer contrast. There is in some sense (at least in the mind and practice of many people) room for both the contractual and the familial.

What the Holy Father is pointing to is a situation where the intimacy of family becomes contractual, a hyper-"girlfriend experience," if you will. That is, in the older ways you would see someone contracting a prostitute, and it was "just sex" (not that that's ever true, but that is the perception/interpretation). What is coming to be is a certain all-encompassing prostitution, where the marriage is not one of mutual love and support, but mutual gain and tit-for-tat. That is, I serve my family not because I love them, but because that is the price for receiving the acceptance of society (which is not so different than the Victorian mores in some regards).

As my friend surmises, "I want to live in the gated community: so I need a wife, a stable home, a BIG home, two kids who are quiet and congenial, a gigantic SUV, probably a dog, a vacation home, a 120" television screen, and a patio on which to grill while my wife serves everyone drinks and my kids look pretty as they sit 'pon yon granite staircase." We are after the form, and not the substance, and sometimes cannot see the substance of a solid and holy family, because it doesn't look the way we think it ought to look.

In the extreme case of those not even cohabitating, it would seem that not merely the intimacies of sex, but even the intimacies of family life, of shared experience, of shared lives, are up for sale. One could understand it when it comes to sex, because of the power of the drives and the passions, but we have become so wrapped up in our individualism that we cannot conceive of a true two-become-one wherein one person is not subsumed into the other (the fault of the past), and so we do not attempt it and rather become two-stay-two-and-act-like-one-in-certain-circumstances-as-long-as-is-mutually-beneficial.

The relationship now becomes an opposition of needs where sacrifice is not for the benefit of the beloved, but a down payment on future prizes on the auction block: "I'll trade you dinner with your parents for a night out with my friends" as opposed to, "Sure we can do dinner with your parents, also I'd like to go out with my friends." They have the same result - dinner with in laws and a night out with friends - but whereas the latter is focused on human flourishing (building family ties as well as the bonds of friendship, in harmony with the core relationship), the former cheapens both to a mere transaction.

Even the familial becomes contractual with no room for real intimacy - which is only possible with self sacrifice.

So yes, we are turning ourselves into whores, but not just in physical intimacy, but rather in all areas of intimacy.

The Holy Father is calling us to a renewal of our understanding of relationship according to the teachings of the Church, not the passing fads of Victorianism or the Sexual Revolution. To balance the necessary reforms against unnecessary and unhealthy radical individualism which prevents any true relationships.

In the old way, the woman becomes a part of the man completely, merely an appendage with no agency, while the man retains full agency. She is subsumed, and this is not a true partnership.

In the new way, she retains complete autonomy and agency, which the man also retains, so the old ill of her sublimation is avoided, but has gone too far and turned an intimate and familial relationship into a business one.

In the really old way, from the beginning, it's somewhere in the middle, where the man and woman's agencies are directed toward each other freely, not in contest.

Is there not in this a parallel to the reality of Mary: Mediatrix of All Graces? She has full agency and identity, AND her will is fully conformed to that of her spouse the Holy Spirit, who out of love does not obliterate Mary's identity, but rather upholds it. So there's a sort of image there of what our earthly marriages ought to be like. The two retain their individuality and uniqueness while still being of one mind, out of mutual love and respect rather than the subsuming of one into the other.

Is this not what is REALLY meant by the two shall become one?

Woman, submit to your husband; husband, lay down your life for your wife as Christ did the Church.

Mutual love and mutual self giving lead to strong families and human flourishing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Expecting Easter

It's hard to believe. Tuesday of Holy Week already. Where has all the time gone? Where has Lent gone?

This time of the year, I almost always feel like I've somehow "wasted" my Lent, not given it the attention it deserves. But perhaps that's not so bad - if I could fix my sinful nature in the span of 40 days, then I would be lying to myself. So perhaps Holy Week is a chance to acknowledge the good and the bad alike, to give thanks for the grace of conversion, and to beg for more grace as a sinner in need of Mercy.

But that's not the point of my thoughts today. One of the "Goods" this Lent was a thought I had a few weeks back regarding fasting, penances, and Sunday.

For those of you unaware, Sundays are not actually a part of Lent. They are Sundays in Lent, not Sundays of Lent. And I can prove it.

The Lenten season spans Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, inclusive. So Ash Wednesday through the Saturday before the First Sunday in Lent is 4 days, and we get another 7 days each for the following 6 weeks (Sundays 1-5 plus Palm Sunday). That makes 46 days, but Lent is the "Quadragesima" - the 40 days. We can play around with starting a little later or ending a little earlier, but really all we need to do is remove the 6 Sundays from our count, and we get 40.

But why does this matter?

Here's the thing. Catholicism is very much a "fake it till you make it" religion. She is a Church filled with imperfectly practicing, imperfectly faithful, imperfect people who are constantly disposing themselves to Grace. She is a Church which acknowledges the "dry spots" and "dark nights" that every faith life undergoes, and even rejoices in these times as a sign of the Love of God, calling us into deeper relationship with him beyond the "Lollipops" we so often run after, a relationship found at the foot of the Cross.

The Christian life is one of continual conversion, continual growth, developing the habits, habituses, and virtues of the Life of Christ. Along the way, the Church offers many tangible aids to this growth, one of which is Feasting in the midst of Fasting.

This is a thing.
A nerdy, delicious thing.

Let me put it this way. Suppose you really like waking up to a cup of Earl Grey Tea. This is a good thing, and would require ludicrous stretches to find a way to sin by waking up with a cup of Earl Grey Tea. Giving up your morning cuppa is a good penance, because sacrificing a good for the Glory of God is a way to unite yourself to the Cross.

Now here's the thing. Suppose that you know what I know, that Sunday is a Feast Day, and that it is worse to fast on a Feast than to feast on a Fast, and so - without breaking your communion fast - you wake up with your steaming cup of black tea suffused with bergamot oil. How much more will you look forward to Sunday because of this simple cup of tea? Upon reflection, will you not realize that as much as you long for this cup of tea, you should long for Our Lord, and that your desire for the tea can teach you how to desire Our Lord?

Suppose further you've maintained your penance throughout Lent, and you now are in Holy Week, staring down not merely the reprieve of one day, but indeed the relaxation of penance entirely, so that each day is begun with that cup of Earl Grey? Does this not train us to long for heaven, where "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away"? Does not the removal of our Lenten Penances engender in us a desire for the resurrection?

So this Sunday, this First Day, this Easter Sunday which is our Highest and Holiest celebration day, Feast. Feast for the Joy that is in your heart, Feast for the Glory of the Lord. Within every ephemeral good, see the image of the Summum Bonum, God Himself, who gives us all good things.

This, I think, is one of the many ways Lent is a season of preparation - it prepares us to see in every good thing which is immediate to our senses the one who surpasses our senses. We are trained through desire for sensible goods to desire the insensible Good which is veiled in the form of bread and wine, whose resurrection we celebrate, preparing ourselves in Joyful Hope for our own resurrection.

Have a blessed Holy Week, and a Glorious Easter!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Yes, but what is Mercy?

We make a mistake if we attempt to read Pope Francis as a philosopher in the manner of Pope Saint John Paul the Great, and likewise err if we attempt to read him as a theologian in the manner of Pope Benedict XVI. However, we similarly make a mistake if we consider our reigning Pontiff to be soft, weak, ignorant, or naive. He is, after all, a Jesuit.

Which is why I propose that we rename this year from the Jubilee Year of Mercy to the Jubilee Year of Jesuit Cunning.

The question was raised recently in discussion, "why not the year of Justice and Mercy?" Given the general assumption of a broad swath of both believers and non-believers that everyone goes to heaven and there is no need to be in union with the Church, does spending a year focusing on Mercy miss the point? Why are our hands being tied when we try to talk about right and wrong, and the consequences of persisting in sin? Is the Pope in fact doing further harm to the Body of Christ by watering down the Church's perennial message?

First, no. We are now living in an age in which most non-Christians - and many Christians - do not actually grasp what the Church teaches. Whether it be Evangelical Protestantism which abandons the roots of the Deposit of Faith in favor of sermon-centric worship services, or the unchurched who have never been exposed to any sort of catechesis, the Catholic sensibilities which used to permeate society have faded into obscurity in the public conscience. Even the Protestant notions which undergird much of the United States' self identification as a Christian nation have largely faded in the public sphere.

In their place, we have this vague notion of Jesus as a nice guy who re-iterated the Golden Rule, an even vaguer notion of Christianity taken as nice altruism, and a world so lost that even the Atheists are establishing their own "churches."

We've got a world out there who knows something's not right, but years and decades and centuries of perversion of thought and language have prevented them from expressing their dissatisfaction in a meaningful way, and prevented them from understanding the words of hope they so desperately want to hear.

And so Papa says: Mercy.

But what does that mean? What is Mercy?

Full disclaimer: I don't like this logo. I don't like the artistic style. Whatever. But no, it is not a three-eyed creature, but rather it seeks to combine imagery of the Good Shepherd, the parable of the Prodigal Son, and the parable of the Forgiven Debts. In one image, it expresses our reliance on God, how we are carried by Mercy, how we are the sheep cared for, the son forgiven, but also in the blending of the two persons we see the identity of the Son with the Father, and that if we would seek this Mercy we too must be merciful, lest we be condemned.

But what is Mercy?

Here is where the cunning of our Jesuit Pope is apparent. Our culture doesn't know what Mercy is, but wants it. Craves it. This creates an environment where these religiously-illiterate seekers are drawn in to dialogue, to encounter. Who doesn't like Mercy?

But what is Mercy?

There is commonly thought to be a tension between Justice and Mercy, as if you could not have one without the other. In fact in the second objection of Question 21: Article 3, Aquinas states the problem: Mercy is a relaxation of Justice, and so it is in mainstream perception.

"But no," Aquinas replies, "God acts mercifully, not indeed by going against His justice, but by doing something more than justice..." He goes on to elaborate that Mercy is a gift which respects the demands of Justice, but in which the one who is owed satisfaction instead accepts the penalty.

A phenomenal example of this can be found in Les Miserables, shortly after Jean Valjean is released on parole. He is found huddling on a doorstep in the cold, and is invited in by the Bishop, fed, and given a place to stay. In repayment, Valjean steals the Bishop's silver and runs, being apprehended quickly by the constabulary, all the way Valjean protesting that the silver was a gift, which brings us to this clip.

(If you don't want to watch the video, the transcription can be found here).

One might be tempted to see in the Bishop's actions here the relaxation of justice, but note that Justice demands there be consequences, the Bishop simply takes the consequences upon himself. Valjean claims the silver is a gift and so the Bishop agrees, giving "not only your cloak, but your tunic as well," per Christ's admonition. Justice simply means that the silver should be in the possession of its rightful owner - the Bishop in his mercy declares Valjean to be that owner, at his own expense.

But note that it is not simply silver which the Bishop gives, but an admonition:

You must use this precious silver to become an honest man ... I have bought your soul for God.

Mercy respects justice, indeed fulfills and goes beyond, meaning that it presupposes justice. For his malice, Valjean owes some recompense, and the Bishop tells him what that must be - acknowledge your sins and reform your life.

To receive Mercy, you must ask for Mercy.

To ask for Mercy, you must acknowledge that you are in need of Mercy.

To acknowledge my need for Mercy, I must acknowledged that I have sinned against my Heavenly Father whom I should love above all things.

This, I think, is the Jesuit genius of Pope Francis. The word mercy is attractive to our brokenness and our broken culture, but it also forces us to contemplate our sinfulness. Mercy requires that

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I Stand Alone?

"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."

Recently I was a little more blunt than usual with a friend. We were discussing religion and attending different churches, and he said that for him he'll go so long as they're "Sola Scriptura." We were in a group, so he turned to me and said, "You know what that means, right?"

I stand alone on the Word of God...?

"Sure," I said. "It's wrong, but I know what it means."

Even more extreme is the position I encountered recently in a Facebook discussion on morality and law (will I never learn?). If you must know, the topic was homosexuality. He dismissed the Old Testament for the simple reason that we Christians seem to do that today, but He also dismissed Paul (neither the thieves, drunkards, fornicators, homosexuals...). Because contextually speaking, Paul never met Jesus, and so while he wasn't necessarily wrong about everything, that doesn't mean he was right about everything either.


Well... Okay then... So I asked him what he does believe. What is scripture? What counts?

Well, to my friend, the Word of God is just that: The Word of God. If Jesus didn't say it, it's not absolute. Specifically, Jesus said love your neighbor and said nothing about homosexuality, and if homosexuality were such a big deal he would have said something, but he didn't, so it's not, and even if it is a deal, it's less important than love your neighbor, and you can't be loving if you don't let them call their relationships marriage.

That's a bit of a simplification, but you get the gist.

So the Bible... How did we get here? Awash in a sea of translations, interpretations, understandings, where are we to find the truth?

Let's start with the extreme case - What Jesus Said.

Unfortunately for my friend's hermeneutic, the limiting of the Word of God to things written down in the Gospels and Acts attributed to Jesus is problematic, and quickly fails when we try to use it to deny the validity of the morality given to the chosen people by God through Moses.

Let me put it this way. My parents used to have The Great American Bathroom Book Volume III, a bathroom reader filled with 2 page synopses of various literary and biographical works. Welcome to the Monkey House, The Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire, Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Now, suppose that after reading one of the synopses I went and read the full work. Would I expect the summary to contradict the full work, or to boil it down and try to hit on key points?

In fact, if the summary contradicted the full story (say if a synopsis of MiG Pilot claimed the book was about an American defecting to Russia, and not a Russian defecting to America), it would be a pretty poor summary, wouldn't it?

And yet we find this. Matthew 22.34-40:

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
Some translations use the term summary. In both senses, however, the Law and Prophets are not seen as opposed or overturned by, but rather found fully in these two commandments.

If that weren't enough, Jesus says explicitly in the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5.17-20:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

As if that weren't enough, my scientifically minded friend knows as well as I that it is impossible to prove a negative, especially when you find passages like John 20.25, the last verse in the Gospel according to John:

There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

But Our Lord promised not to abandon us, leave us as orphans. The whole discourse on the Advocate in during the last supper, found in John 14.15-31 is worth reading, but I wish to reflect on verse 26 in particular:

The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.

If we have accepted that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father, then we should trust Him when He promises us to be with us always, to send us shepherds, and an Advocate to guide His Church, founded on the Rock of Peter, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. The same Church which composed the New Testament and ratified the Old. The same Church which exercised authority over the disciplines inherited from Judaism (such as circumcision and dietary laws), but upheld the moral laws.

The same Church which today upholds a moral standard against which every nation, every political party, every individual falls short. A moral standard that challenges each and every one of us to dive deeper into a life of justice and mercy for our neighbors, and perhaps more difficultly for ourselves. And not just in regard to the "conservative" ones like opposing same-sex marriage and abortion, and not just the "liberal" ones like improving social services for the poor and ending the death penalty, all four of which are but the most obvious examples of efforts which fall under Catholic social teaching.

As St. Thomas wrote in Adoro Te Devote, "Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius, nil hoc verbo veritatis verius" - I believe all the Son of God has spoken; there is nothing truer than this word of truth. Sometimes put another way, "Truth Itself speaks truly, or there's nothing true." If Jesus is the Word of God, the Son of God, God Incarnate, then that needs to change our lives.

As St. Augustine said, "If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."

Do we believe the Gospel?

Or do we believe ourselves?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Perceiving the Essential

It seems that many people take umbrage with the phrase, "Happy Holidays." (You may take umbrage with me posting about Christmas after Christmas, but 'Tis the Season until the 12th day, so deal with it.) I don't know if that many people are really offended, or if a handful of offendees are magnified for the sake of The Narrative, but in any case it strikes me as silly.

Protestantism isolates Christmas, and the secular world expands it into a month-long avarice and gluttony fueled spendfest, but in reality there are many Holidays (Holy Days) celebrated in this season alongside Christmas. With Saint Nicholas, the Immaculate Conception (Patroness of the U.S.A.), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Patroness of the Americas), Gaudete Sunday, the Holy Innocents, the Holy Family, Mary Mother of God (Patroness of the Universal Church), we really should not take offense at the phrase "Happy Holidays," but rather be reminded of the vast array of Holidays and Holy Days to celebrate.

Which brings me to one of my favorite Holy Days: Epiphany. It's not just that I get to pedantically remind you that it is actually on January 6th and not the closest Sunday (though that is in fact true, and irksome). It's not just that I get to complain that the U.S. Bishops by and large seem to think that American Catholics are wimps who can't handle another Holy Day of Obligation (which I do). While I am in fact pointing these things out by virtue of posting on the 6th and not the 3rd, neither are anywhere near the point.

Epiphany. A "piphy"-what? A sublime vision. All the jagged parts of my life have come together to form a complete and mystical... whole. (I could give you the dictionary definition, but quotes from 25 year old movies are much more entertaining!)

The Feast of Epiphany is one that is often sublimated into Christmas, which for popular celebration is just fine and dandy, but Holy Mother Church in her wisdom has decreed that the contemplation of these travelers and their gifts deserve their own particular recollection. Why is that?

Let us take a moment to just look at the Wise Men, or Magi. Much is supposed about them, but little is known. It is clear that they are learned, probably astrologers, but it is less clear where they are from, and why they should care about a Jewish King. Perhaps they are Persians, schooled in the tradition of the Prophet Daniel? Perhaps from some other near-eastern kingdom, who came across the Torah from Jews in the diaspora? I would presume as Father did on Sunday that they were pagans, seeing in the stars the hands of the gods, not necessarily the One True God.

This is the first insight I take from this feast - God is immanent. He "presses" on His creation, never more-so than in the Incarnation. The wise men experience not simply "epiphany" - a perception of the essential reality of something. They are experiencing "theophany," the revelation of God Himself. These magi, these wise men, these foreign (pagan?) travelers, through their study of the natural world - that is of God's creation - come to an encounter with the God of the Universe.

In the perversion of Christmas that is our aforementioned avarice and gluttony fueled bank holiday, does it not behoove us to stop a minute to actually look at the real world? See the stars, and know that they were formed by His hand. Stand a minute as the snow falls and the whole world seems to sleep, yet to be poised in anticipation of the coming Spring?

But what else can we learn from these men? We already know that the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger is the King of the Universe. Can we still learn something from them? And what's with the gifts?

The hymn We Three Kings has become one of my favorite, but only when sung in completion. A great failing of many musical presentations is their lack of completeness. Caroling or on the radio, we may only hear one or two verses, at Mass we might be lucky to hear a third. The prolific publishing company OCP - who is responsible for the majority of missalettes and music books such as the Breaking Bread yearly hymnal - only prints 3 of the 4 verses to Joy to the World, omitting the third verse, "Far as the curse is found..."

Now, there may be very good reasons to omit or update verses, but at least once every season I encourage you to listen or read through all the verses of the classic hymns: they are classics for a reason. We Three Kings is a great gem because it unpacks the seemingly incoherent (and wildly inappropriate for a small child) gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

In case you're not intimately familiar with the whole song, you can find the lyrics here. Each of the gifts mentioned in chapter 2 verse 11 of Matthew's narrative has a deeper meaning. The 5th verse sums up with "King, and God, and Sacrifice," and indeed Gold announces Christ's Sovereignty, Frankincense His Divinity, and Myrrh foretells His death ("Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone cold tomb.")

That is, I was nowhere near originality in my post on The Scandal of Christmas. Some of the best Advent and Christmas hymns point us directly to the Cross. It is an unavoidable truth that Jesus came to die. Knowing that the World would not receive Him, knowing that His beloved children would turn on him, deny His sovereignty, call His claim to divinity blasphemous, and ultimately scourge Him, crown Him with thorns, and crucify Him.

Knowing all this, The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and reveled Himself not just to Mary, and to Joseph, not just to the outcast of Israel in the persons of the shepherds, but even to pagans and intellectuals such as the wise men, who could see what the chief priests and Pharisees could not - the King of the Universe, God Himself, the Lamb Who was Slain.

The Feast of Epiphany forces us to ask ourselves what we're not seeing. Where are we missing the signs of God's presence in our lives? In who are we failing to see the Imago Dei?

To what Epiphany is the Holy Spirit calling me this year?

May the splendor of your majesty,
O Lord, we pray,
shed its light upon our hearts,
that we may pass through the shadows of this world
and reach the brightness of our eternal home.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

In hoc signo...

Today's episode brought to you by Racism, and the letters "P" & "K".

I've seen this image come up several times on Facebook, but when I saw it today on /r/CatholicMemes, I just couldn't get past it. I despise Planned Parenthood as much as the next guy, but this is just... wrong.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This is a dog...

I have a guest post for you today, penned by my beloved. Enjoy!

This is our dog Katie. This morning like most mornings I woke up with her cuddled at my feet. We got Katie shortly after our son Gabriel died to keep the mice away from me so I could actually sleep a little bit. It turns out that not only was she fantastic at keeping the mice away she has also been an amazing emotional support; I have cried into her fur more often than I can count. Katie is a great cuddler and would love to spend all day on my lap. This is a GREAT dog!! She is patient with my kids, she protects me in my scary basement, and she literally helped me up when I tripped over my own feet while walking her.