A Catholic Responding to the WikiLeaks Emails

ebe353bef3122a95242093c30d2a26b2My facebook has been overwhelmed by political posts and stories.  The controversies of the election have truly taken over my feed (there are the handful of birthday wishes and cute dog, cat, and kid pictures to remind us that facebook was created to reunite old friends, not destroy present friendships).  Within this cacophony, I’ve seen some posts about ‘terrible’ things that Clinton staffers said about Catholics.  I’ve read them and I’m wondering why people are acting like this is a big deal.  Here they are if you have not read them: Conservative Catholicism and opening for a Catholic Spring? just musing.

First, I recognize that many people don’t speak ‘churchese’ and we need to admit that we are bad at turning it off.  We exclude people by using untranslated church terms and phrases.
Do most people know the difference between subsidiarity and solidarity?
Does Thomistic vs Augustinian mean anything to most people?
The Pope writes us a letter to encourage and challenge us and we call it an Apostolic Exhortation.  Heck, I work at a church and had to have someone tell me that the Parochial Vicar was otherwise known as the Associate Pastor.  We use uncommon language.  It is true.  Deal with it when we get called on it.

1592d69f5b3419cffd6b567c010ec68eSecond, there are the ‘controversial’ remarks about Catholic beliefs being backward.
Have you never heard that before?
Did you not realize some people think that?
Have you never been on facebook or scrolled down to the comments section, or as I like to call it, “the near occasion of sin? The stuff you read there is way more insulting than any of this!
Lots of people think we are a backward church stuck in the dark ages.  If that causes you outrage you might need to go back and read where Christ tells us to bless and pray for those who persecute us.  Actually, we would do well to remember that we are told “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me” (Matt 5:10-11).
Are the emails persecuting us for the sake of righteousness?
Are we being insulted falsely because of Jesus?
Sometimes that answer is yes and sometimes it is no.  We were never promised acceptance.

As for the emails regarding starting a revolution in the Catholic Church.
So what?
Don’t we say that the role of everyday Catholics (the laity) is to revolutionize the world by witnessing to their faith in Christ at home, in the workplace, in their communities, and everywhere else?
Aren’t we supposed to evangelize the world?
Those emails are nothing but evangelization strategies, just for a different gospel.

As a Catholic, I love my faith, and my Church.  I’m saddened by the view these individuals seem to have of my faith and in turn me.  That said, we follow a man who was accused of blasphemy, abandoned, and crucified, who literally had his skin torn off during the scourging.  I think we need some tougher skin people.

Additionally, I want to say, I forgive the people who sent those emails if they were meant maliciously.
I pray that they can better understand my reasons for holding to my faith (“Of course, this idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic church” – opening for a Catholic Spring? just musing).
I apologize for the times that I’ve confused others because I assumed they knew my Catholic words.
I repent of those times I’ve sought comfort, expediency, and acceptance over authentic discipleship.


Rhythm of Inconvenience

Scripture Readings (this is a day late)

Here we are.  We are nearing the first Sunday in Lent.  We have taken our Lenten fasts and devotions out for a test drive.  At this point, we might have been put in a situation by our Lenten practices where we say “Well this is inconvenient.”

Among the many purposes of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer during Lent, I find the moment of inconvenience so important.  It is a part of our training for the Christian life.  This rhythm of inconvenience is found throughout all the readings today.

The first movement of inconvenience is the call.  This is found in today’s gospel reading.  Luke records, “Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.  He said to him, ‘Follow me.’  And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.”  The inconvenience of our Lenten practices helps prepare us for the ever-deepening call from the Lord.  This is the Lord that shows up in the middle of Levi’s workday and just says ‘Come, follow me”.  When Christ, encounters us at inopportune times we hope to stand up and respond.  To do so, we need to be willing to do that which is inconvenient for our Faith.

The second movement is a hopeful effort to address injustice.  We see one approach to this in Luke today, “Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them.”  We also find this call articulated in the first reading, “If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.”  Anyone of us can see how the call to “remove from your midst oppression” seems like an inconveniently impossible demand.  Yet we are called to pursue it in Hope, trusting that the Lord can do far more through our meager efforts than we could ever dream.

The third movement is the surrender of our rest.  The entire end of the first reading speaks to this.  Here is what is found in Isaiah, “If you hold back your foot on the Sabbath from following your own pursuits on my holy day; If you call the Sabbath a delight, and the LORD’s holy day honorable; If you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice. Then you shall delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”  The quintessential day off, or Sabbath, is not ‘my time.’  It isn’t the day that I get to spend however I want; doing whatever pleases me.  Instead, Isaiah inconveniently tells us that true rest, “the heritage of Jacob”, comes from the Lord.  And so we are called to Love the Lord to the point of even trusting Him with our rest.

Lord, this Lent, as we partake in fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, help them to deepen faith, hope and love within us so that we may respond to your call, offer ourselves as a solution to injustice, and surrender our rest to you.

Lessons from the Past

Scripture Readings

Today is the feast of St. Paul Miki and companions.  They are 26 Japanese martyrs from 1597.  As Vatican II confirms, martyrdom is one of the highest witnesses to love and an unquestionably powerful testimony to the Gospel and its demand to forgive our persecutors.  Celebrating the feasts of martyrs from every age reminds us of the Council’s words that, “And while it [martyrdom] is given to few, all, however, must be prepared to confess Christ before humanity and to follow him along the way of the cross amid the persecutions which the Church never lacks” (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 42, Austin Flannery translation).  There is another lesson I draw from this feast day, the danger of political hijacking. Continue reading “Lessons from the Past”

Prayer in the Storm

Scripture Readings

It is striking how the same passage can speak into our lives in so many different ways.  I have read this gospel a number of times and always find encouragement or conviction in a new area.  This time it was conviction.  I read the passage and thought to myself, “This is my prayer life.” Continue reading “Prayer in the Storm”

Leaving the the Leaven

A Reflection on a Reading from Exodus from the Fifteenth Saturday in Ordinary Time

A few years ago I came across the line “Sometimes delayed obedience is disobedience.”  It always sounded like a nice phrase to me, a little catchy quote to offer when I don’t know what other advice to give, but it never had much teeth.  I casually assumed that delayed obedience becoming disobedience was someone else’s problem, much like the way we assume bad stuff happens to someone else until it finally happens to us. Continue reading “Leaving the the Leaven”

Centurion’s Faith

A reflection on readings from Genesis & Matthew from the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

I love the story of the Centurion and his servant.  I love the way that he identifies Christ as one who cares about the lowest people in society and also has great authority.  I love that in this scene Jesus is described as being amazed and then calls out his disciples on the fact that this Roman oppressor has greater faith than them — ouch!

That said, this might be the first time that I’ve seen the Centurion’s story placed alongside the story of Sarah laughing in denial of God’s promise of a child.  When these two passages are set side-by-side you get an interesting perspective on faith that I think is quite applicable for us as we approach the Eucharist.

For many of us, the Eucharist is a difficult teaching to accept.  It looks like bread and wine.  It smells like bread and wine.  It tastes like bread and wine.  In many ways we can be tempted to be Sarah in this moment and laugh at the prospect of believing that we are being presented with Jesus Christ.  So I find it telling that every Mass we repeat the words of someone in particular.  We don’t repeat an apostle, prophet, or church father.  Instead we repeat the words, or better yet, repeat the confession of faith of the Centurion.  This Centurion, a man of authority, looked at this itinerant rabbi from a region he helped control and a people incapable of throwing off Roman rule.  Somehow, despite the appearances, he saw a man with the authority to cure his servant with a mere word and even from a distance.  And this faith “amazed” Christ.

I’ve often wondered about this idea of “amazing” Christ.  How can I have the faith to amaze my Lord?  I think we access that faith at every Mass.  We look to the Eucharist and we might think, “He looks like bread and wine, He smells like bread and wine, and He’ll even taste like bread and wine.”  But, it is the Centurion’s faith that reminds us that Christ has all authority to approach us in whatever way wishes. Thus, seeing bread and wine, we confess that here is our Lord.  Because when we say the words, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed,” we aren’t talking to some abstract and distant Jesus sitting on a cloud somewhere.  We are speaking to the Eucharist.  In this moment we can be Sarah, looking at all the externals and denying; or the Centurion, looking at all the externals and believing.

Originally posted on Ite Missa Est