Saturday, 1 June 2013

Lawlessness


You've heard it said that we are no longer under the Law, meaning the Law given to Moses by God on Horeb. But the Law which God requires of all mankind is the Law of Righteousness. Therefore, St. Paul says that those who do what is in the Law (of Moses) fulfilling the requirements of righteousness (which is the Law which Abraham was under. Namely, to walk before the Lord perfectly), without being under the Law are a law unto themselves. Wicked and deceived people go around trying as they may to conflate the Mosaic Law and the Law of Righteousness which was given through Christ, so that by having been excused by God from the Law they might excuse themselves from righteousness. These people are lawless, and they never stop making excuses for their wickedness. They live without the natural restraint which comes from living righteously. They reject righteousness for what they call liberty, when it is liberty which is given by Christ to His people so that they can be righteous. This is the lawlessness I was speaking of.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Be Human


You don't need to become divine in order to be a saint. All you have to do is become human. Do you understand? Man is made in the image of God, which is a divine image. To be human is to bear divine similitude. That similitude is the source of human existence. Since the Fall, man's humanity is delimited. A delimited glory. Christ Theanthropos (Godman) is more human that we are. He was conceived without sin. God does not have a delimited glory. But in the Incarnation, He has united His divinity with our humanity, and our humanity with His divinity. Strive to be what God created you to be, and this is enough. You cannot be more than what you were created to be.

Think back to how it was before we inherited this delimited glory, Adam walking in the Garden with the Lord. He walked, walked, with the Lord of Glory who is an all consuming fire, in the cool of the day. He was in the Glory of God. This is theoria, and theosis... the way things ought to be. This is how man was created, this was his lot. People go around sinning and erring all the time, and they think they are humble when they excuse themselves, saying," Oh, I'm not perfect. I'm just human!" What is this? This is not being human. This is a statement which is referential of the fact that we are NOT fully human. Do you see the way things ought to be understood? Don't excuse yourself. Strive for perfection, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness. Be strong.

And we know we are strong when we admit we are weak, crying out for mercy," Kyrie Iesou Christi eleison me!" (Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!) Strive to be human. Fix your understanding of what it really means to be human. Wash your heart with prayer and the reading of scripture, by partaking of the sacraments. All the wonderful things you are capable of, called divine, these are what it means to be human. Become human and He will unite your humanity with His divinity. Do you require proof? Then, understand that this is why Mary was assumpted into heaven. This is why Enoch and Elijah and Moses were assumpted. Christ undermined the natural flow of time, and you see them transcending all, their humanity enraptured and united to His divinity. Strive to be human. Purify your understanding of what it means to be human.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

The Heart


How many of you have awoken to the sensation of falling? Where did that fear come from? Was it an image in your mind that frightened you? Or was it something in the pit of you?

How many of you have been wrongfully accused? Where did that glow of anger come from? Did it start within the mind and move to heart? Or did it pour out from the middle of you?

Or how many of you, when you were young saw a beautiful woman? Did that sensation start in your mind intellectually? Or did that flush feeling emanate through you starting at the center of your being? Hot faced and weak, swooning like a fool.

As Christ said, evil comes out of the heart of a man. Here we have fear, anger, lust. These things you feel automatically. You don't even have to try to feel them. But let you look upon a crucifix! and how hard it is for you to feel something genuine, not self-promoted. The only emotion you can work up is self-suggested maudlin.

Do you see how small the heart is? Do you see how full of evil it is? We ought not love God out of duty. No. We ought to strive for this automatic response which comes from the heart being filled with holiness. This is the prayer of the heart. Presently, the heart wants evil: vengeance, comforts, fornications. When we stop coming to God through images primarily, and our heart beats for him, apart from the images... then we are close. We are VERY close!

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

How My Pursuit for Holiness Almost Ruined My Life


It wasn't until I really, I mean really, let my sins go in the sacrament of confession that I began to make progress. I used to think somehow, subconsciously, that being 'afraid' of certain sins, worrying about committing them, being anxious about them (hyper-vigilance), and hating them would bring about metanoia (repentance) and metamorphosis (change). That by these means I would someday, if I kept at it, escape my sins, that I would stop sinning. This deluded me, and I thought to myself," You have only to be courageous and obedient! Do not do...!" I thought my virtue would save me, even understanding that it was God-given, to help me. He would give me His courage! He would help me abstain!

And other Christians led me to believe it, too. They said," Yes! Keep on!" Some directly, some indirectly. Others I misunderstood, because of my own delusion. It wasn't until I understood that fear, worry, anxiety, and hate only tend to evil... that I really began to leave them behind. Christ didn't come to stop me, to prevent me, to make me abstain. He came to set me free, not only from what I had done, but He had freed me to set me at perfect liberty. He did not come to recruit soldiers, dispensing courage, to have them fight a battle that He had already won. No. He came, giving His Spirit, heartening us with courage so that we would proclaim Christ crucified, in word and deed. I was in truth trying to fulfill the Law, and did not recognize it.
I was believing a lie. Namely, that though I was absolved, I was still full of sin. That I could save myself from sin, if only God would give me the tools, if only He would help me obey the rules!

I learned to love God in that miserable state of despair out of auto-suggested zeal and duty. I did not love God with my heart, that miserable, shriveled up, little raisin. I only intellectually comprehended who He is and that I owed him something. So, imagine how shallow my view of Christ was! I was so shallow! I was a faker! But I desperately wanted to be good. My pursuit for holiness had ruined me, because I was not seeking 'first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness'... which is that He is loving and merciful, and that through His loving mercy He establishes His kingdom with in me. Because He says," No one will say,' Lo, here it is... or... Lo, there it is. For the Kingdom of God is within you." Can you see how backward I was? And maybe this is you, right now! It can be over in an instant. Cry out for mercy!

Satan had deceived me, and I had deceived myself. I was so frantic, I could not see the mess I was in. I could not see that I was deceived! Moreover, I actually believed that if I persisted in this, I would obtain what my soul was crying out for. Can you imagine? I thought what was killing me was saving me. And the 'duty' to be holy made me seem holy to those around me, so no one could help me. No one knew I was drowning. Least of all myself! I thought I was treading water until I could reach God's far shore. As if God was standing off at a distance for my good. "Who can know God's ways?," I told my self with resignation, as I exhausted myself near to death. That is why I did not experience His grace. The truth was, I had no real faith, because I was putting it in my own false perceptions. I was like Peter, I had started well, got scared, and was about to drown to death.

I was under siege, like an animal being poked in a cage and tortured. I thought I was pleasing God, but I was offending Him! I thought I was offering service to God, but I was serving myself. Worse I was serving demons as their entertainment. I was walking in iniquity, believing I was doing the holy things He commanded me to do. I was rejecting His grace for the Law! And yet, ignorant as I was, I still marveled that Satan tormented me as often as He liked, and with impunity. Christ mercifully made me see that I would escape temptation through His mercy. Not that I would not be tempted, but that I would escape it by grace, through taking every thought captive for Christ and crying out for mercy! His mercy is my life. I knew that, but I did not understand. I had knowledge, but not understanding. And when His Spirit made me understand, I was able to be wise. I could then do what was good, taking no thought of evil. He made me to behave wisely, by enlightening me, and strengthening me to do whatever He had shown me.

I don't carry around those sins on my shoulders. They are not within me, necessitating me to contain them with my virtue, my strength, and my cunning. Not even with my faith, or my hope, or my love. I am not a 'Pandora's Box' of evil, whose lid must remain shut! I am the temple. I had been been closing the gates of my heart, but through Christ I now understand the Psalmist when he says to me," Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in!" Before, I knew; now, I understand, that though concupiscence is a voice within me, I will drown it out with cries for mercy, not by arguing with it. Not by what I know. Sin is stupid, brothers; it is no feat to win an argument against it! A child can do that. But it doesn't care if you win, because it is Evil. It will destroy you anyway. Thanks be to God that I understand, now!

Nothing is more simple! Accept the work of the Cross, banish condemnation from your heart by believing in and accepting the power of confession, and cry out for mercy. Don't waste any energy on worry, hate, anxiety, or fear. They only work to evil. Simply love what is good, understand that Christ's mercy is your victory over sin, pray incessantly, and do good. Therefore, stay with Him in the Eucharist, and in confession. And of course, forgive all people, especially before they seek forgiveness... this, too, is how you banish condemnation. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

If I am careful, and I take every thought captive for Christ, through Christ, and nullify the evil images, and cut them off by the name of Jesus Christ... then that poison will not make it's way into my heart. Where does Christ say evil comes from? "It is not what goes into a man which defiles him, but what comes out of him." Elsewhere He says," For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders." So, if I do that first thing, then evil does not come out of me. Then, I have only only not to do evil. Not that I have not to do evil, but that I have to do good. It is for me to do. You don't like all the evil in the world? Stop doing evil. You like the good? Then, do that. Please pray for me as I pray for you.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Worst Kind of People

I want to talk about the worst, most wretched, deplorable, and intolerable kind of person... the complainer. We've all heard the saying," There are some people who just want to watch the world burn." these are the complainers. I know that seems terribly ironic, given the fact that they would complain about it (the world burning), but in point of fact, it truly is the case, because they hate everything. Literally. Whether they admit it or not. Whether they admit it to themselves or others; the hate being alive and they hate creation. Coincidentally, the saintly person also wants to see the world burn. As Christ said," I came to set a fire in the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing!"

What's the difference? The difference is that Christ is talking about theosis. Christ came to become "the first of many", and it is written," God is an all consuming fire." And again, it is written," You shall be as gods to the Egyptians (the world)." Christ wanted to destroy "the world." Of course, we understand "the world" to be the flesh, the passions, the disorder. He also wanted to restore man to the appropriate state of being which God intended for Him, which for a human is theoria: actually, mystically, and in every way being in the presence of God. Think about how Moses, foreshadowing if you will, the state man was to be in from the beginning, by ascending Mt. Horeb into the fire of God. God calls us not only into the fire, but just as Moses came down from the Holy Mountain radiant as the sun because of the glory of God, necessitating the Jews to shroud him because of the residue of the Shekinnah... God also calls us to become the fire, and merely by being in His presence this happens.

This is theosis. Gods being overwhelms our own. When you are truly in unity and submission to God, you become a flame! It's as if you held a burning match to a candle flame, it becomes one flame. This is why He sent them out "two by two," to bring light to the world... BY BURNING IT with the Fire of the Holy Spirit! And this was prefigured when Samson destroyed the crops of the Philistines by tying the tails of two foxes together with torches, so he might send them through the wheat fields and destroy the harvest. God the Father and God the Son share the same Holy Spirit. This is how they are unified. This is how they are a Trinity of Persons. God has given us His Holy Spirit! Through the merits of Christ, and the ministry of His Holy Church, we have bestowed upon us the same Bond which the Father and the Son share! There is nothing higher than this. We have literally been incorporated into the Body of Christ, Who is God.

The complainer is different. They want to see the world burn because they hate it. They want vengeance on everything. They are set on fire by hell itself, and like a burning wheat stalk, the birds (the fallen angels) take this son or daughter of perdition and throw it into a field that is not burning, amongst people who are bearing fruit. This way the creatures that scatter ahead of the flame can be easily devoured by the crows (recall the parable of the Sower). The grains in the ear burst from the heat, shooting out spreading further fire. Understand. "Satan uses all the sons and daughters of disobedience." All of them! And he throws them into places where the Master intends to harvest a good yield. You know the person. The person who destroys the group dynamic, complains about everything, drains everyone with their carping negativity, and contaminates the weak with their disease. The ones who stymie the work, who demoralize the good resolve, who endlessly pity themselves, and seek out commiseration. The person with contagious negativity. Perpetually they cry out," Woe is me!" or,"Why can't anything go right?" or more contemporarily," Murphy! All the time, Murphy!" These are set on fire by hell, and they have come to destroy you. They have come to stop what Christ is doing. They haven't come of their own will. They are slaves to ungratefulness and unrighteousness. Unfortunately, sometimes that is us; but others are this way all the time, without remedy or respite.

They always have an excuse for their failure, or their complaining. They always feel misunderstood. They always answer back. They are always drained, and if they are not, they are prepared to drain others. Tell a tree by its fruit! These are the most unhappy people you have seen! They are lost in substitutes for right doing, adrift in psychoses to justify it. They are hopeless addicts to diversion. These people are worse off than even homeless drunkards. At least, the homeless drunkard pukes on himself and doesn't complain. The rain pours on him and he goes out of the rain under a bridge and troubles no one. He sleeps and wakes up. He thinks about things, walks around. He sleeps against a grave stone on the ground and is happy he has something to prop up against; he delights in a shading tree. He looks happily on his past. He may even be out of his mind, but he somehow knows who he is and what his life is, and he lives it. For better or worse, there it is. He meets his life one day at a time.

Nothing is ever good enough for the complainer, however. They complain about the most menial of tasks, no matter how blessed the thankless git is. While others take courage, and cover up the wounds gotten in the battle of daily life to hearten themselves and those around them, lest anyone should despair at the slightest sight of suffering... that fool stands by and bemoans everything. "The sun is too hot... I'm tired... I'm hungry... I'm sick of this... someone disrespected me... someone was inconsiderate... that was mean... I'm bored... I hate the cold... I wish I were somewhere else... can you believe this happened to me?... what will we do for such and such a need?... I want." And any time a plan of theirs fails, or anytime they chance to see a plan fail they start gnashing their teeth, mouths full of lamentation and wailing. "If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all! Why can't anything ever go right. I was going to do the right thing, but my plan was interrupted." And then the fool has the temerity to bemoan their loneliness. Who wants to be around someone like that? Someone who goes around ruining other people's lives with their stupidity and negativity, weighing others down with their imagined, inflated, and exaggerated burdens? As if no one else has struggles. Such a person is contemptible above a dog.

People wonder who the culprits are for why the world is such a horrible place. It's these godless people! It's these weeds who sap the strength of the soil from the wheat that ought to be yielding 30, 60, 100 fold. There isn't enough "grain" to go around, and yet people want to know why mankind is starving. These are the culprits, the ones who are destroying the yield. These are the locusts of hell sent up out of the abyss with human faces and tails like scorpions spoken of in Revelations, who destroy the crop. They captivate people with their negativity and inject them with their poison. These are exceedingly dangerous people who torment the human race, and provoke it to act irrationally and godlessly. They provoke the wrath of God, the same God who oft wanted to destroy Israel in the wilderness for the same sin. The same people who Moses interceded for so often that it wearied him and broke him.

You have to protect yourself from these people, and they are all around you. How can you protect yourself from these burning embers set on fire by hell? "But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Cleave to the Gospel, the Evangelion, the Good News! In so doing, by protecting yourself, you may yet extinguish one who comes into contact with you; obey the Lord assiduously, with alacrity and gladness! Dress all your works with holy zeal. For this reason St. Jude says,"And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." Their sins are so contemptible even what they have come in contact with is worthy of hatred. They must be separated from it. Hopefully, such as these have not been consumed by the flame. Hopefully, there is more than ash once they are extinguished. But even if they are consumed they have hope in Christ. Because it is written," I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me will live, even though they die."

So, don't engage this hellfire. Don't entertain it. Don't listen to it. If you have the power to, silence it. But above all else "make your call and election sure" through good works "as a good soldier of Christ." These things are acceptable. Take no not of such a deplorable person, and leave them to wallow in their self-pity like swine. Don't cast your pearls before these swine. Be something better, so that perchance you may entice them to something better. But don't go into the mire after them, and sully the "wedding garment." Don't let them destroy you and nullify God's promise to you, like they did to Moses, vexing him so much that he incidentally disobeyed God and disqualified himself from the "Promised Land." Be strong. Don't let them tempt you to wrath, because it is written," A fool's mouth calls for blows." Steady yourself and "do not sin in your anger." Trust in the Spirit of the Lord, and he will keep you from stumbling. The traps which these sons and daughters of disobedience have laid for you will ensnare and destroy them... if you hold fast in the faith and do no wrong. The Lord will deliver you from them shortly, whether by their conversion or their destruction (God forbid). Do not cease to pray to shield yourself from them. Merely avoid them and do well. 

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Evil Images


Nothing can be in the heart that is not first in the mind, unless God puts it there. For instance, God may harden a heart or soften it. The Lord may mercifully enlarge our hearts, and create within us a new and upright spirit. But these are proclivities, which the freewill cooperates with or not. In the hardening of the heart, the person is subjected to justice. As it is written:

"Your commandments we have not
heeded or observed,
nor have we done as You ordered
us for our good.
Therefore all You have brought upon
us,
all You have done to us,
You have done by a proper
judgment."

But the Evil One influences us with images. This is the way of Angels. Being as they are, that they are pure intellect. They influence the mind with images, by way of memory, by influencing the imagination, by sending evil images of vanity, violence, lust and every other evil. They "use all the sons and daughters of disobedience," having tripped them up this way, and have them trip up the saints. A woman scantly clothed, a man demanding respect through cruelty, another flaunting ill gotten gain so that you might covet. They seek in every way to fill the mind with evil images, so that in poisoning the mind they may poison the heart. In this way they defile the temple of the Heart, which is the Temple of the Most High. In this way they pull down the temple, and raise up the 'abomination of desolation' where it ought not be.

Your holy angel, which the Lord gives to each according to their need, also seeks to influence your thoughts. He is not there, as so many presume to say, to merely protect you from bodily harm. Do you think he ceases to sing spiritual hymns to your soul, or that he does not sing all the more loudly when you are tempted, and louder still once you have fallen? It is written," On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen who shall never hold their peace!" These Watchers cry out to you when dangers approach, because it is written:

" ...if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone's life, that person's life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.'

And we know that they always obey our Father in Heaven. Therefore, listen for the Watchman, and be vigilant. Build up the walls of Zion by "redeeming the time," by making your days upon the earth holy. Commit your memory to the Lord, and He will rescue you from it, and by it. Fight evil images with prayer, especially by crying out for mercy," Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!"

But do not think that by voiding out evil alone you can succeed. How can you void out evil, and not fill it with good? This too is evil, and will be filled with evil. It is not in your power to sustain voids, nor is it right, because you are to be filled with holy things. And how can you fight endlessly and not become weary? We enter into the Lord's rest not by merely hating evil, because even evil people hate evil things, but by loving the good!

"Clean the inside of the cup and behold, all things shall be clean unto you." Free your mind from evil images by fighting them with the name of Jesus, by washing the soul with prayer and the reading of scripture. But of these two, prayer is more important for you. For though it is written of scripture:

"...the Holy Scriptures... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

It is written of prayer in the scripture that you shall,"... pray without ceasing." and the psalmist says," I will extol the Lord at all times, His praise will be continually upon my lips." But what good is it for a man to put his house (his soul) in order when a demon leaves? Unless he fully arms himself and protects his goods, thereafter? Unless he does this, the demon will return with seven other demons more evil than himself, and inherit that place again. But how easy it is to overthrow an armed man in the dark! Will you stop at merely cleaning your house and arming yourself? Isn't your intent to keep the Evil One out, and not to make a trap for him, luring him into your house? Do you presume to overpower the Evil One by your strength? Don't be foolish.

What else, then, can a man do? What destroys darkness and will turn it away when it returns? The answer is so simple! What do you do in the world when darkness approaches? Don't you turn on a light? And how do you turn on light apart from prayer and the reading of scripture, even apart from good works? Is there another way? Yes! By making your eye good. As it is written:

" The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light." But someone will surely say," But what if all I see is evil and corrupt?" The important thing is that your gaze is pure; love all that you see. As it is written," All things are pure to the pure." Purify yourself therefore with prayer, the sacraments, and the reading of scripture, and determine to love all that you see. If you do this, the Evil One's images will lose their evil meaning.

All of us have seen someone pure in heart, often old or very young, saying things that would be inappropriate for the wicked to say. The imagination of the wicked is evil all the time, and they never stop looking for a way to taking innocent sayings and making them evil, so they may call good 'evil.' And so that you may see how evil the day is, how can a priest publicly say he loves children with out being scrutinized or mocked? This same evil is in us, and we must destroy it! Without it, the influences of Satan becomes unintelligible, and the truer meaning of things are known to us. Love becomes all the more possible. How can you have peace if you imagine that every time someone cuts in front of you on the highway, they are malicious? Isn't your eye bad if you aren't charitable? Perhaps, they are having an emergency. What do you really know about them? I do not say that you ought to be ignorant, only admit your own ignorance, and think better of people. This is just an example of what I mean to make your look good. Make your ear good, too!

These are the ways to fight the evil images and free our minds from the poisons which poison the heart. Do you seek higher forms of prayer? Do you really wish to see God? Is holiness something you really desire? Then, pray without ceasing, read the scriptures, frequent the sacraments (especially confession and the Eucharistic Feast), make your eye good and fill your body with light. Continually say with the Publican," Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!" and you will go up to your house justified before God. Free yourself from condemnation, forget the language of the world, which is reading perversity into everything, so that you may forget their conversation.

The Psalmist says," They bend the bow and draw the sword so as to slay those of upright conversation." Who does this mean more than those whose souls are perpetually in conversation with God? The Evil One has nothing but an argument. If you should stop listening to him, he has nothing else; he will desire to slay you. This is why Christ said," Do not fear him who can destroy the body and do no more." He has no other language apart from images with which to make his argument to your soul. Therefore, do not entertain evil thoughts," Do not set your mind on the things of the flesh, but set your mind on heavenly things." Do this and you will surely progress. And remember my family when you pray, if you will.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Sunday, 5 May 2013

When I Was A Protestant

I was thinking earlier," What did I think of the Catholic Church when I was a Protestant?" But when? When I was a boy? When I was a youth? Or just before I became a Catholic? I suppose the most important time is just before I became a Catholic. If I were to share the wonderful things before that time that prepared me, they would perhaps mean nothing to those who stand without. Let me do what's best then, and maybe I will tell those thing after.

So, what did I think of the Catholic Church as a Protestant? Well, I will not hesitate to tell you that. I was like a Muslim. My holy book and my God. I thought that I didn't need anything, because I knew what my bible said. I didn't need anyone to agree with me. And though I believed I needed the fellowship of fellow believers, because it is written," Do not forsake the brethren." I did not believe that I needed anyone to approve of my conclusions. I believed this because of the scripture," But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court... He who judges me is the Lord." I was a minimalist, just like the Muslim. "Let me have nothing beyond Christ and the scriptures." I do not say God, though I was not offended at the Father and the Holy Spirit. But what a liar I would be if I said that a hateful distaste and suspicion did not lurk, if anyone would say," In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

I did not realize then how susceptible I was to pretexting, viz. taking a text out of context, marrying it to my preconceived notions and conclusions, holding it in one hand with another scripture, or several others, imagining that I had made a coherent and true deduction that was authoritative (because it was scripture). I believed I needed nothing beyond this. And though I believed that I could certainly learn from spiritual leaders, and that I ought to have a pastor, whatever he said to me had to gain my approval. Not that he only had to say things that I liked, or that built me up, but that whatever he said had to agree with whatever I had determined the scriptures to say, or could be persuaded to believe they said. And if I did not agree, so much the less was my obligation to submit to him, to hear him, or to take his example earnestly. Such was my thinking. And if it became too much, I could go at will elsewhere, until I became discontent with my new pastor.

I did not need a book of prayers, I had my own prayers. I did not need confession, I confessed to God directly. And if I was having a hard time with a sin, I would help myself to a hand-picked "accountability partner," that I chose by no other standard than that he seemed to know something, was grave, and appeared upright. I didn't even have a concept of what a sacrament was, how could I know I needed them? Let alone the sacrament of confession!? How could I see, when the light that was in me was darkness? And how great was that darkness! If only I had known that the priest was declaring God's forgiveness to me, which was the ministry given to the Apostles by Christ! And that they priests were uniquely participating in their ministry?

How is it that I read scripture so much, but missed that the Apostles passed on the Holy Spirit by the laying on of their apostolic hands? How did I miss that they dispensed certain ministries, unique to persons according to their ability. What an idiot I was, to think that it was in the believer's hands to declare the "gift" they imagined themselves to have, which ever ministry they were most lustful for. " I lust to be a teacher... a prophet... an apostle... a preacher... an evangelist. Therefore, I am." I believed my own pride and my lust were the Holy Spirit. How is it that I did not see that it was by the imposition of apostolic hands that the Spirit was given, without which one may not participate in apostolic ministry?

As for saints, why would I have need of them? Why would I need to know about people who were no better off than myself. What did they have that I didn't? Surely, all anyone really has is the scripture and God. What could they add unto me? As St. Paul says," But of those who seemed to be something,(whatever they were makes no difference to me, for God is no respecter of persons) for they who seemed to be something added nothing to me." Foolish man! I did not know or perceive that St. Paul mean, they did not add to his Gospel which he received from Jesus Christ, not that he had no regard for the saints, or that he spurned the apostles. How corrupt my understanding was!

When I though of the saints, I thought," Who needs all that clutter, distracting me from Christ?" and of praying to saints," God forbid." How is it that I did not perceive that God is a God of the living and not of the dead? How did I not perceive that our priesthood in Christ is not a meaningless honorary title, that gives us authority in our private homes? Can you see how shallow my understanding was? But how did I fail to see? For if Christ is sacrificed, and no more sacrifice is to be made, how is it that we are priest's forever? A priest offers sacrifice; what then is offered, if He offered Himself once and for all as the High priest, and yet also as the sacrifice? My foolish mind indeed did see that we make offerings of our lives, and of prayer, but how could I have been so confused to think that it stopped at the grave? How did I have such temerity as to contradict the Holy Spirit? And how is it that I did not see the sacrifice of the Eucharist?

I did not see that it was the saints and the Church alone who could and would teach me to walk in the truth. It was them that could make me understand. It was they alone who could teach me to pray. Their lives were not clutter, they were examples available to me of how to please my Master, as often as I should resort to them. I was badly mistake, so eager was Satan to deprive me of their counsel and my heritage.

And what a hypocrite I was! Scoffing at the notion of genuflecting, bowing, and prostrating. And yet against whom did I bring an accusation for lifting hands, in their wild forms of praise and worship? I was well acquainted with the scripture,"... lift up holy hands unto the Lord." With the same text whereby I excused disorderly and wild gestures, even defending them and compelling myself to partake (so that through my discomfort and embarrassment I might make a sacrificial offering of praise), I foolishly condemned the more reverent, appropriate, and orderly sort of gestures.

Yes, I think it was the veneration of the saints that was the biggest stumbling block for this prideful fool. I did not know that St. Thomas could teach me theology, not corrupt me. That St. Francis could teach me to love poverty and charity, not confuse me. That St. Philomena could teach me to love purity, not contaminate me. That St. Josemaria Escriva could teach me to love the work of God, not to abandon it. I did not know that St. Pio could open the mysteries of heaven to me, thinking rather that such would lead me to demons. It was I was deceived by the demons. It was I, not them, who had forsaken the brethren. I did not know of Godly vision, and mystical consolations meant nothing to me, I did not know them. I thought Mary's apparitions were demonic, I wouldn't even listen or hear them. But when I did, they only pointed to Christ. Always her message about her Son, and the favors He bestowed through her supplication, just as He did at the wedding feast at Cana. It was then I realized that God had raised her up as a sign of hope to all Christians, as a typification of the Church, the Bride of Christ, and all the Glory He will bestow upon it in the end. Holy Theotokos forgive me for those days!

Yes, it was the heroes of the faith, the most godly of the human race, those who had truly become Christ... they were the stumbling block. I was perishing, and languishing. For it is written," I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone... and whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to dust." Christ came to be the first of many, and as many as became "christs" I stumbled at. These men and women from whom I could truly learn to please God and live a holy life, these Satan had taught me to hate. The heresy I was brought up in taught me to hate these beloved of God. The demons of that doctrine taught me that to venerate them, and to follow their example was demonic. But by the grace of God, I was overpowered by their love and their piety. Through their obedience to Christ, I was saved from the demonic doctrine that told me to go near them was to risk shipwreck. Their triumph through Christ's name was powerful to work in me, long after they had put off the flesh through mortification and through death. I had stumble upon the foundation upon which Christ had built His Church, St. Peter, and rested there like a stone. Finally, a good foundation! No more shifting sand. Thanks be to God!


"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Friday, 3 May 2013

What Would St. John the Baptist Say?


What would St. John the Baptist say to Christians if he were here now, with the same vim and verve? What do you imagine he would say? I doubt his message would be much different, but perhaps it would go something like this...

So many Christians: "Christ died for our sins, and we believe in him! What more do we need?!"

" To you who justify yourselves and say,' Christ has paid our debts and we believe.' I say to you that you must bear the fruits of repentance! Do not content yourselves, saying,' Christ is our savior and THAT is enough!' Foolish generation! Do you think that the Son inherits nothing apart from you? It is written," Many will come from East and West and recline at my Father's table." and again," I have other sheep, not of this fold." You were brought into the vineyard to labor at an agreed price, which is your salvation, and if you do not you will receive nothing and will be thrown out," Into outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth!"

"Christ and his disciples came saying,' Whosoever the Son sets free is free indeed." But against you are the words of the prophet, for you have returned to your sins like a dog to it's vomit! You were freed to do the will of your Redeemer, but you have broken the fence which is the law of righteousness, and like dumb oxen you have wandered into the fields in which others have labored and trampled down the harvest, and gore one another! You were liberated from the Law, and became lawless!"

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Meditation On Malachi


There are exceedingly wicked people amongst you, tares which the Evil One has sown. Those who say," Aha! Cast the first stone!" whenever they do evil. Full of evil they say," See to the log in your own eye!" so that no one interferes with their iniquity, as they pull down all decency. They say to those who obey God," The Lord loves all people, you self-righteous!" and mean that He delights in the evil doer. But you, you are to remember the words of scripture, and like Christ answer scripture with scripture, just as Christ answered their father Satan in the wilderness. Understand the words of His prophet!:

"You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say,' How have we wearied Him?' By saying,' Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them!' Or by asking,' Where is the God of justice?'

And speaking of what would come to pass, which has already come to pass, the Lord says through His prophet:

"Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before Me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold he is coming says the Lord of Hosts. But who can stand when he appears?' 

Those who say they are His and are full of lawlessness, He has seen them. The heart of a man is His holy temple. He has walked through their colonnades and on their porches. He has see the steps stained with bloodshed, and perversity scrawled upon every wall. He has seen the lewdness and vulgarity of their inner courts. He has marked the blood stained pillars, and all their abominations which they co-mingle with their sacrifices, and how they say," This is true religion! This is what God loves!" And He has set a day:

"For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of Hosts, so that it will leave them neither root or branch. But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise, with helping in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of Hosts."

The most dangerous person is a pagan pretending to be a Christian. People who put on Christ like a fashion, instead of letting a true righteousness transform them. Every chance they get, they swoop in to the tooth and nail defense of every heresy and evil... always saying," Take the log out of your own eye...," pleading God's mercy and hating God's justice with the very fire of hell. The first born of Satan is what they are. These are the children of Satan who mock the Gospel and its Lord, for the sake of their father Satan and their love of all his deeds. And if they could, they would beat you with Christ's as with a club, using the Gospel to justify and defend every evil, and to condemn every righteous tongue which agrees with God. Their condemnation is certainly just.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Fatherhood

I thought to humbly write my thoughts about my own vocation as a father. It's not something you hear much about as compared to other issues. There are plenty of blogs and articles out there on how to apologize for the faith, on the purity of liturgical form, or on why Atheists are wrong, or in defense of marriage, against abortion and contraception, et cetera. Even plenty on motherhood. Noble endeavors, let no one doubt it. However, on the vocation of fatherhood, there does not seem to be much. And if it is not so rare, it does at least seem as well hidden as St. Joseph himself. As if to say to us," Man up, and figure it out."

So, permit me to speak humbly about what I have learned from my own fatherhood, and indulge me if I speak confidently on the vocation of fatherhood. I am a father of four children. I speak to you not as someone who has seen his shoots bear fruit. Let me tell you that my children are young, aging from nine months old to seven years old. Three daughters, and one son. I myself am young, a mere 28 years old. Someone may rightly say," He hasn't been a father long enough to know what he is saying. His experiment is not complete." But if you will receive from Solomon, who had 750 wives and fell away into idolatry, instruction on how to avoid impurity, perhaps there is a possibility you may receive some things from me, and will allow me to call to remembrance in you what our Fathers have taught us, who are the Church, and the saints, even God Himself.

There is no point in me self-deprecating ad nauseum, or benumbing you with my testimony. Let it suffice to say that I am a man like you, and nothing that I have experienced in being a husband or father is uncommon to us. But I am confident in saying that I have experienced what is common, and do not lack in that respect. I think that this is probably what most of you believe, though it is not what we feel. We despair of our own faithfulness to the duties of our vocation. We can despair at the futility of our lives. Sometimes, the best thing to do is not despair, but build something new. And that, brothers, is precisely what I wish to speak to you about.

In the Holy Scriptures, in Genesis, we see that Father Isaac had a blessing he was to give his son. It was a special blessing. It was a blessing for a man, not a boy. See the scripture:

" Then his father Isaac said to him," Come near now and kiss me, my son." And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: " Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed. Therefore, may God give you of the dew of Heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and abundance of grain and new wine. Let the peoples serve you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you." 
Notice that he likens his son to a field which the Lord has blessed. It calls to mind the words of God to His son Adam," From dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." The rest of the blessing only makes sense if we understand this. And in communicating the blessing in this way there is also a haunting remembrance of the words," I shall curse the ground... you shall eat by the sweat of your brow all your days." Isaac implicitly reminds his son that he is but dust, instructing him to be humble and to remember his mortality so that he avoids vain pursuits. He also shows him that he is not like the other dust, the other ground that has been cursed; he is a field that has been blessed by the Lord. He therefore teaches him that apart from the Lord he is cursed, and like any other man.

Isaac continues his blessing by imploring God to give him the dew of Heaven, so that he may have the fatness of the earth, and abundance accordingly. This calls to mind the 127th Psalm, which is also about children and fatherhood:

"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." 

No doubt you see the importance of the "Dew of Heaven" which is favor and grace. But as we read further, we see an admonition to fathers and sons:

"It is a vain thing for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives his beloved sleep." 
You can work all you like, and give your wife and children a better quality of life. Truly, there is something to be said for providing diligently for one's family; it is a duty. But what gives one rest is goodness. As it is written by the Apostle John," I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the way of the Truth." If you have failed to spiritually steward your family, I mean... really steward them, and you do these other things, what good do you do for them?"What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" or worse still, perhaps, to lose the souls of his wives and his children?

 But you are a man of responsibility, and your family has basic needs, which brings to mind the words of Christ, lest anyone should try to justify serving mammon" Therefore take no thought saying,' What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For the pagans run after all these things, and your Father in Heaven knows you have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." And this is the lesson that Jacob teaches his son. Namely, that providence is an result of remaining in the favor of the Lord by means of righteousness.

Spiritual goodness predicates temporal goodness, temporal goodness does not predicate spiritual goodness. Otherwise, hedonism would be a path to God. The Psalmist isn't admonishing hard working fathers. It is an admonition against serving possession, and seeking it apart from righteousness; it is against an unhealthy reliance on and appetite for possessions. The greatest gift a man can give his family is himself, and by this means you give them to God.

The Psalm ends saying: " Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate." 
Is that how you look at your sons and daughters? I mean... really? You love them, but do you understand what the Psalmist says? Do you believe it? Are you like your Father Isaac? Do you have a blessing for your son that you bless him with? Have you taught him the 'Good Way' so that he can understand the blessing? So that he wants it, and believes in it? You should bless your children; they are the fruit of your own body. Blessing your children with such a blessing is like planting an olive grove. Your children's children will eat of the fruit, and their children will become rich through its yield. Don't waste a moment to bless your children.

Earlier, I said that the greatest gift you have the ability to give your children is yourself. That doesn't mean that you just lay down your life so that they can have bread. We know plenty of men who say of their own fathers," He always put food on the table." and they are men themselves of no particular value. The spoiled man is the epitome of that. How, then, can your gift be of any value?

We see the command in scripture," You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them to your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Make no mistake, if you do not teach your children the world will. If you do not remind them, if you do not create a culture in your home of piety, these things will be forgotten. If you are not consistent, what good is it? It is your duty to protect them from the stranger's ways, and to teach the way of their fathers.

And are you amazed that your children don't get along? That they fight? That they don't seem to love each other? I mean, love each other dearly. Don't look at your children, and comfort yourself saying," All children are this way!" Is that really enough? Is that good enough for them? Will you one day say," You were children, so I let you be evil, and did not require of you righteousness. Training you to love one another did not seem reasonable, because it was good enough that were like other people's children." Will you stop at merely being amazed? Will you one day say to them," I did not stop you from hating your siblings, because I thought my amazement would be enough to shame you into compliance. I thought it would work itself out." Require them to love each other. Require them to forgive. Require them to apologize. And do so with consistency.

You are not training your children up to be good at being children when they're grown. You ought to teach them to be good men and good women. It is written," Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." This does not mean that there is no time for them to be children, but understand the purpose of childhood. You cannot understand your purpose of being a father if you do not understand the purpose of childhood. And you can't accept it if you obstinately say to yourself," It's all too serious for a child." and thereby excuse yourself from your duty. If you reject this you will raise fools, and God will require it of you.

And how do you train them? Where can you start? Teach them morals, teach them piety, teach them to be implacable towards injustice, teach them to be merciful and compassionate. Have them do things that requires them to master their bodies with their souls. Make them do things they don't want to do with their own will. The earlier you start this practice, the easier it will be. This isn't something you can start when they are teenagers. This teaches them continence, so that when they are older, such as teenagers, they are in control of themselves. Teach them chastity so that they never look at people as objects. Teach them modesty, so that a holy sense of shame prevents them from being immodest and perverse. By the means of continence, chastity, and modesty they will keep themselves pure. You will have children in control of themselves, who will do what they ought and not whatever they please. You will have sons and daughters who will seek what is good for them, and not whatever might give them pleasure. Which one of you would speak immodestly about women with this son? Or approve if he does the same? Or which one of you will give your virgin daughter over to the socially approved insanities of fashion, so that she can become an object for people to lust over, so that all the young men say in their own words," Let us look upon her with our eyes!" 

Never let your sons or daughters stew in their anger against you if they don't like something. Don't send them away to stew. As St. Paul says," Fathers, do not provoke your sons to anger." If you do that, you send them away to build a wall of resentment. Bring the work of discipline to completion, diligently as a father, through love and reason, temperately. Never let your children doubt that you love them. Many people try to  practice this, but fail. They may disapprove of their child's actions, even punish them, but in the end they require no change of heart and mind, which is the object of the exercise. They don't take the extra step to actually correct the problem, as if to say," I'll beat it out of them, and that is enough!" In so doing, the parent acquiesces to the interior disposition of the child, and reduces the fruit of their own body to the status of a criminal. They treat the symptom, but fail to cure the disease. That is why so many parents look upon their parenthood with despair, they look at discipline as an act of futility that is pushing their child away from them. It's as futile as our penal system, whose supposed purpose is rehabilitation. One of the best ways to solve this is closeness. I do not mean trying to become your child's best friend, which is another grievous error of many parents. I mean in proximity. Keep them near you. Keep them close with their family, with their Church. Get them to understand the true meaning of love, that is painful, and difficult, and good. Don't ever let them think they have been cheated by allowing the weeds of modern filth grow in their minds which says that love is merely a synonym with kindness.

The ancient Persians believed that gratitude was a great means of guarding uprightness. They saw ingratitude as the source of every evil. Ingratitude towards God the source of impiety, ingratitude towards country the source of treason, ingratitude towards parents the source of treachery. Gratitude promotes closeness of proximity, and from this an interior disposition is engendered. But if you stop at proximity all you have is enablement and entitlement, and the child will hate you as soon as you stop providing. This, too, we see often these days. Perhaps, the easiest way of teaching gratitude is consistently insisting upon good manners in all things at all times.

Which brings us to the next, problem of idleness. The Persians believed that idleness bred ingratitude. Perhaps, two of the biggest challenges today to families, especially children, is excess and idleness. Excess leads to idleness. I'm not saying that you must impose a spartan austerity on your children, but cultivating contentment in your children will promote the virtue of moderation, and thus decrease a proclivity to excess, thereby eliminating a propensity to be idle. As Diogenes said," Contentment is the wealth of nature." and as another philosopher said," Whoever is content with the least has the most." If you do your fatherly duty to your children, you won't feel the need to make substitutes and spoil them by giving them too many things, or the kind of freedom that is perilous to their virtue. You will have created a noble and upright heart and mind within them that is itself austere and virtuous. But even aside from this, it is important for us to occupy our children with noble tasks that actually teach them virtues and build good habits. Such things as learning, working, cleaning, talking about things worth discussing, problem solving, etc.

Our fathers used to teach their sons. Public education is a relatively new novelty. It is certain that Jacob took his sons into the fields and unto the flocks and taught them animal husbandry. He taught them the different systems of measurement of the peoples around them. He taught them mathematics, how to build a straight wall, where to find a suitable place to dig a well. He taught them how to pray, which feasts to observe. He taught them how to watch the stars, the times to bring in the flocks and the herds, and which times to take them out. With his own hands he showed them how to trim the hooves of the sheep. He kept them close and taught them everything worth knowing. He told them which women to stay away from, how to deal with the foreigner. He taught them their lineage until they could recite it. He taught them how to read and write the languages of those around them, perhaps. And into them he lovingly and diligently poured all his knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

Is this the kind of relationship you have with your children? Are they learning in the context of family? Or are you letting strangers teach them these things, for the ends that they say are worthy? Are you letting other people teach your children morality? Are you letting them "find themselves" instead of telling them who they are as the man who helped create them? In our times, not everyone has the ability to home school, or lead such an interactive lifestyle with their children as Father Jacob did. However, it is no less incumbent upon you to not only augment what they are learning with good and godly things, but to rightly order what they have learned from others. It is your responsibility to teach them the truth about what others tell them. It's your responsibility to show them the right path. It is not their responsibility to find it. They may perish because they did not find it, and they will suffer, but do not doubt that God will require their blood of your hands. Just as it is written in the Book of Ezekiel:

"Son of man I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel, so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, 'You wicked person, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood." 

Pray with your sons and your daughters. Pray with them with your wife, too. Teach them to pray the prayers of your people. Teach them also to pray their own prayers, so that they learn to cry out to God for deliverance and for thanksgiving. Take them to Church so that they know they have a people, and so that they can receive the sacraments. Take them before the Blessed Sacrament, because it is written," Let the little children come unto Me, and do not prevent them. For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." 

What do you think? If anyone does not water their plants, and they die, who is at fault? The plant or the dresser? Or if any of you have a dog, and you turn it out to come and go as it pleases, and it becomes emaciated because it could not find what it needs, who is at fault? The dog or the master? Children aren't supposed to be good at raising themselves. It is written,"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child." What else do you enable apart from their foolishness, if you provide for them temporally, but do not provide for their souls? And what would you say about a man who goes around looking for his keys, when they are in his pocket? Or a man who looks for his hat while he is wearing it? Isn't he a fool? So it is with everyone who goes out looking for himself, because what else does he look with except himself? Teach your children to find themselves in God, Who is in them and Whom they ought to be in.

So, as fathers, don't permit your children to be sent on a fool's errand, "looking for themselves" as the fools tell us we must do... and neither send them on one yourself. They will stumble in their foolishness, and you will become guilty. Hear the words of Christ," If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Sin crouched at Cain's door. Don't be foolish and think that it doesn't crouch at the doors of your children. Its desire if for them, and it prowls back and forth seeking to devour them.

Finally, let me speak about one of the greatest traps of fathers: Thinking that you can do all by being a great and good man yourself. Adam had Cain. David had Absalom. Solomon had Rehoboam. Marcus Aurelius had Commodus. John Adams had Charles Adams. Your greatness and your goodness are not substitutes to your duties as a father. Don't be foolish and think that your piety or your devoutness, your virtues will just rub off on your children and accomplish all the duties of fatherhood.

Yes, pray with your children. Teach them. Build with them. Show them the truth. Expose them to sources of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that can be trusted. Take them with you when you minister to the poor. Observe the feasts of the Church, so that they might learn, and thereby build the framework of the orthodoxy up around them. Teach them charity, generosity, and compassion by involving them in your own works. Practice your righteousness with them. Read the bible to them. Above all, teach them to pray at all times, to pray without ceasing... and to never be ashamed of their faith. Impart unto them endurance, so that they never tire of doing good. This is what your children deserve from you, because this is what God has commanded us to do.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Reservations About the Pope and Liturgical Reform

The liturgy is MERELY an expression of our love. If the liturgy is dysfunctional, it is because we (the community of believers) are dysfunctional. Yes, the liturgy is what you say it is: "The meeting of earth and heaven, the normal means by which we encounter the source and summit of our faith, Jesus Christ Himself." But is it anything more than vanity to express what is not genuine? Yes, the liturgy is a means of catechesis, the most important means. But there was a time when the liturgy was without blemish, and it wasn't good enough. Why? Because it was vanity; it wasn't a true reflection of what was in us. Fix what is on the inside," Clean the inside of the cup and behold all things shall be clean unto you." By cleaning the inside, you accomplish the cleaning of the outside, which is our outward communal expression of love and cooperation.

We need to walk the path that JP II & B16 showed us. We need real metanoia. We need real conversion. When that happens, then people will not only want the kind of reverent, sincere liturgy you and I love... they won't be able to help but express that kind of reverence and sincerity, because it will flow naturally from the abundance of their love. That's not something that everyone will be able to participate in... that's why Benedict XVI made his remarks about the coming catharsis.

Fixing the liturgy isn't as little as putting a bandaid on the problem, but it isn't curing the problem either. If having perfect liturgy was the end all be all of what we have to do, Christ might have come before Vatican II and received his perfect Bride. What does it matter if we have the perfect liturgical form, but lack the perfection of liturgical essence? Nothing... it's vanity. You like good liturgical form because you are a devout and pious person. That's why. Having good liturgy requires getting everyone to that point... and that is so much more than just having good liturgy. I mean, this isn't 'Field of Dreams' where "if you build it, it will come."

Think about it like this: When Christ comes back, and he asks us what we did for the Church, what do we want to say? " I zealously defended the liturgy. I even held the Pope and all the bishops in suspicion over the matter. And I scolded anyone who deviated, Lord." What's he supposed to say to that," Good job, Phineas!" I suspect a lot of people who allow their bitterness to take the form of liturgical scrupulosity will much rather say," Shiiiiii..." when they realize that's all they have to say. No, we want to say that we were full of good works, charity, counsel, piety, faith. The liturgy is just an expression of those things. If they aren't there, how can the community express them? Those virtuous things predicate a good, sound, and holy liturgy. The liturgy is a sacrificial love offering, and it must be without spot or blemish... even the blemish of vanity and pretense.

Liturgy is extremely important. You know I believe that. But we need to fix the sickness that is destroying it, not just fix "it." So, it's ridiculous, and counter-intuitive for so many to be harboring all these negative reservations about the Pope, and to hold him in suspicion, to start the petulant whining and nagging about the liturgy... especially when we have every reason to hope in the selection of the Holy Spirit, who is the Pope. Because here is a man who might show us by his example how to clean out the inside of the cup, to live the life that predicates a good, clean, and wholesome liturgy which is the outside of the cup. If all we care about is the outside of the cup (the liturgy), then we are as the Pharisees.

And to close, let's look at that passage of holy scripture in Luke:
"As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn't God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things."

And to cross reference it with Matthew:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also."


"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Why Didn't They?

One of the common question you hear, and therefore presumably one of the questions which automatically comes to mind when we look at the Holocaust on the whole is," Why didn't anyone do anything about it?" Well, there are several answers. The first answer is really stupid," Because everyone in Germany was a Nazi! Duh!" The second is more practical, but still doesn't quite make the cut," Because everyone was too scared to do something about it." Which might be more or less true. It follows from the second answer that it was a minority of Germans who had the notion to do something about it. Which brings us to the question," What good would it have done for so few, who were so powerless, to do anything?" Which leads us into a whole different line of questioning having to do with morality," Was it incumbent upon them to do something, given the evident futility of the act?"

There are two kinds of moral actions, to my mind, which encompass all moral action, inaction, disposition, and thought. The first is those things which fall under moral obligation. We are morally obligated NOT to do certain things, hence," Don't sin." Don't do anything evil, immoral, et cetera, et cetera. We're also morally obligated to DO certain things, like paying those who work for an agreed wage, or worshiping God, or defending the defenseless. The second category is called 'supererogation.' Literally, a work above and beyond the normal work. The things which fall into supererogation are 'morally praiseworthy, but not morally obligatory.' For instance, finding a zit-faced teenager on the side of the road in a broken down vehicle, and then taking the time to fix his vehicle and then teaching him how to prevent it from ever happen again... that's supererogation. Or sending someone who could use it, a large sum of money, not expecting it back, anonymously. The philanthropist who can't really afford to be one is a 'supererogator.' I'm sure that's not a real word, so don't use it. Anyway, you get the idea. Christ talked about these two things in his sermon on the mount and said that, that which is morally obligatory is of no credit to us... "for even tax collectors and sinners do that." He stated in no uncertain terms that it is only supererogation that is a credit to us, " Love your enemies and pray for them."

So, why didn't a group of Catholics, why didn't hundreds of Catholics, stand up under the Third Reich, during the din of war and atrocity to at least blow up a single damn guard tower at Dachau or Auschwitz? Why didn't they knock a single damn hole in the wall? Forget that for the moment. Let's say they had. First of all, how would they be remembered today? It's safe to assume that everyone knows the answer to that. They'd be regarded as heroes by virtually the whole human race. They would all probably be canonized saints, right now... especially if they had all perished in the spray of machine gun fire.

Please don't assume that I am intending to undercut the real life heroics of hundreds, if not thousands of people in Europe who did risk everything to hide and save Jews. In no way! can the heroism and goodliness of those people's actions be delimited. And they ought not be forgotten. But having assumed this hypothetical alternate history, which category of moral action would their deeds fall into? Morally obligatory actions, or supererogation? Ruminate that.

Let's try to make a few analogies. If you saw a gang mugging an old woman, or beating an 80 year old vet to death for their wallet, do you think you would have a moral obligation to do something about it? Or do you think that your intervention would fall into the category of supererogation? Or lets say you saw a man kicking his toddler in the stomach repeatedly at a rest stop. Do you think you have a moral obligation to do something about it? Let me be more exact: To physically stop him? Or would your actions fall into the "morally praiseworthy, but not morally obligatory" category? Hmmm? Let's 'up the ante.' What if the guy stomping his toddler to death was openly armed with a pistol, and you didn't have one. Still morally obligatory? It goes back to that question," What good would it have done for so few, who were so powerless, to do anything?" Would you rather be the person who was shot trying to save that child, or would you rather live in immortal infamy as the person who stood by and watched?

"No-Brainer" questions, right? Okay, good. Congratulations on not being a completely worthless human being. Now, back to the hypothetical question about the our heroes from the alternate history... would their actions have fallen into the category of moral obligation or supererogation? Still hazy? No definitive line of demarcation? I understand. It's hard to grasp genocide, intellectually. How do you grasp a number like 12,000,000? Honestly? As Stalin said," One man is a tragedy. One million is a statistic." I could bring up things like putting people in xylon gas showers, pregnant mothers being injected with acid, people being shot in the back of the head, et cetera, et cetera. But... you've heard it all before. It will never be as shocking as 'the toddler' scenario. That doesn't make you a bastard. That makes you human. You can't fathom the gravity of it, because your mind isn't designed to. It's a thought terminating reality. It's too much. That's why the concentration camps were able to run. It's to much too grasp... Nazi soldiers included.

So, understanding, and accepting our handicap, let's just answer that question logically. Would their actions fall under moral obligation or supererogation? One answer sounds absurd, and it isn't moral obligation. So, if they, the people who knew and wanted to do something about it, were morally obligated... why didn't they do something? Hmmm? It's a good question. Which is why you can hardly think about the Holocaust without asking it, at least once.

Let's say, for the sake of argument that doing something about it would have fallen into the category of supererogation. It's unfathomable to me, but for the sake of argument. There are many situations where it is not better to live. There are many situations where life is subordinate to a goal, or the life of others. Many such situation happen in war. "Greater love hath no man, than to lay his life down for his friends." Do you believe that?.... Why didn't anyone do that violent act of supererogation? Why didn't hundreds do that violent act of supererogation? It's a good question. Which is why it naturally comes to mind.

Perhaps, they wanted to "honor the emperor." Or perhaps they didn't want to criminally damage government property by blowing up a guard tower, or knocking a hole in the camp wall. Or maybe they were worried that if they did, they would build a bigger, nicer, thicker wall in its place. Maybe, they were afraid that one of the soldiers might get burned if they threw a Molotov cocktail over the wall. Or perhaps, all that is complete bullshit. Maybe, they were just cowards. To be sure many were. Maybe, they just didn't have a single clue about what to do. Maybe, they were waiting for someone else to form an armed response that they could join. Maybe, it was too much to fathom what went on behind those walls. Or maybe, the Germans weren't lying when they told the Allies," We didn't know." Maybe...

So, let's talk about something else... killing babies. We've killed approximately 4.58 times the number of people the Nazis have, and they were all babies. And we killed them in the most grotesque place possible... inside of their mothers. People people at the incipient phase of existence. People in a practical sense, more innocent than most of the victims of the Holocaust. Not only, but we have enshrined abortion in law as a right. We have given it the full protection of our law... federal, state, and local. All our power defends and protects it in concert. 55,000,000 murdered babies. Fifty-five million. That's one of those numbers you can't really grasp. That's 6.67 times the population of New York City. That's almost 1 1/2 times the population of California. You could murder every single person living in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark twice, and still have five million more people to murder to match that number. Really, it's an act of futility. There's no figure I can give you that will make it comprehensible.

Don't feel like looking down your nose at those German cowards anymore... do you? Waiting for someone else to do something about it? Don't know what to do about it? Waiting for someone else's efforts to gain momentum that you can join? Too much to even fathom; never seems quite the atrocity that it is? One thing is for sure... there's no way for you to lie about it like the Germans did. You know. You know.

One day, maybe, people will ask about us," Why didn't anybody do anything about it? Oh they waved plenty of banners, sure. But why didn't they do something REAL about it? Why didn't the Church stand up and denounce their 'Hitlers' by name and by party?! Why didn't they do everything in their power? Why didn't they risk everything? Why didn't they risk all for the just and right cause?" Weeell... that sort of response to abortion might have fallen into the category of supererogation..." What a safe and terrible answer." May God spread his mercy upon us for our moral dereliction. Be sure to do something meaningful about this... like talking about it on facebook.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Why Do We Need Priests? We're All God's People!


I've seen so many Christians sneer and scoff at the institution of a priesthood, particularly of a Pope. It is an old complaint. Listen to what they sound like (Numbers 16):

"They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?"

I bet Moses would say something like we would say. Something like," The laity is no small thing. You are all priests, prophets, and kings. The Lord has called you near to himself to do His holy works. What more do you want?" Let's see what he says:

“Hear now, you sons of Levi: ?IS IT A SMALL THING? to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also? Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?”

I'm sure that would fall on deaf ears. They'd probably insolently retort:

"Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”

It would be so convenient if we knew what the Lord would say about such a protest, wouldn't it? Oh, yes... that's right. We do know:

"... the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up also!” And a fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense."

Then, of course the cry babies would come out and say that isn't nice and try to levy some moral argument against God's representative. I wonder what God would want to do to them? Let's take a look:

On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.”  Now it happened, when the congregation had gathered against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tabernacle of meeting; and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of meeting.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”

And they fell on their faces. So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the Lord. The plague has begun.” Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped. Now those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the Korah incident. So Aaron returned to Moses at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, for the plague had stopped."

Hmmm... imagine that. Moral of the story: "Know your role and shut your hole." Be grateful for your place in the Body of Christ. Give due honor and respect and deference to the priesthood, and to God's representatives. Lesson over.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

What Ought To Be Done

Si Deus pro nobis quis contra nos? If God is for us, who can be against us? In English that doesn't really make sense. Lots of people can be against us. We glance over the word 'be.' In this case, it has a profound operation. What it really means is, if God is for us, then what else is there? None can contend with the will of God and succeed.

It's so important to remember simple things, like the fact that we are to be doing His will, bringing about His kingdom. " No one will say,' Lo, here it is!' or ,' Lo, there it is!' for the Kingdom of God is within you..." When we say the 'Our Father,' we say," ... Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..." The kingdom of God comes through obedience, purity, and uprightness of heart. And when it does come, it brings with it all the benefits of a kingdom," But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." 

Before Christ said the latter, he had been talking about the cares of life. He wasn't talking about the wants of life, he was addressing basic human needs saying," Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." What would Christ say to the Catholic Church in America? What would he say about our fiscal dependency upon the federal government that makes us beholden to the point of moral dereliction? What would he say to a Church that values its tax exempt status over its sacred, God given mission to denounce evil and propagate righteousness?

When the clergy conscientiously fails to denounce politicians who support the institutionalization and protection of evils like abortion, homosexual marriage, pornography because it would imperil the finances, the rights, and the privileges of the Church, what do you imagine Christ ought to say? Is it too much to think about? Is it not your problem? Not your business? The same Church that does this is the same Church that teaches that you may not do evil to accomplish good. Is this a real case of the clergy saying, "Do as I say and not as I do and all will be well?" Or is it quite simply what it appears to be... cowardice?

"But we could lose our parishes, our schools, our hospitals, our cathedrals...," So? We should do evil, or fail to do good, then, so that we might obtain the privilege of existing from the wicked? I think not. All who offer this argument are like Peter when he took Christ aside and began to rebuke him, when He told them that He must go to Jerusalem and all the things that He would suffer. Peter had a worldly mind, in which the preservation of what was already was the highest goal. As St. Thomas Aquinas said," If the highest goal of a captain was the preservation of his ship, it would never leave port." In essence, that is the philosophy of the coward. It's very similar to the philosophy of hedonism, which is also the voice of the world, which says that pleasure and convenience are the chiefest goods. Christ rebuked him for it," But he turned and said to Peter," Get behind me Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

"But we could literally and radically cease to exist! We could find ourselves in a situation not unlike that of the 3rd and 4th century Church!" You don't say? You mean that bishops and priests and religious might have to work jobs like the early Christians did? You mean that the Catholic Church would have to pay its own way, as it once did? I'm reminded of the 'Fable of the Bees' whose hive through corruption grew to a size they would not have done had they not become corrupt, and how by God taking from them in a single hour that ill gotten gain and restoring to them that virtue lost, they found real happiness and true goodness, though they suffered greatly." Beware the leaven of the pharisees, which is hypocrisy!" That leaven which puffs up and expands, and makes things seem greater than they are. That leaven which has gotten into the Church, swollen it, bloated it, till it is distended and grotesque. 


Now is better than ever for the responsibility of the Church, of the bishops, priests, and the religious to be realized, for them to stand up and say to the flock," Gird your loins... for you are a stranger here." So that the whole Church may say with Christ," I must go to Jerusalem..." For as St. Paul says," If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him." And do you so quickly forget the words written to the Angel of the Church of Smyrna? " Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. be faithful unto death, and i will give you the crown of life. he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."

The Church has the responsibility of St. John the Baptist in this time. Its purpose is to be preparing the Church for the return of Christ. It's to be bearing fruit in season and out of season. Do not forget so easily the fig tree which the Lord cursed and upon which he found no fruit out of season. He spoke out against Herod, because of his marriage to his brother's sister. St. John spoke out against the same Herod from whom the pharisees received monies. Against that same Herod who gilded the temple in gold, and draped it in silk, and built up its colonnades. The same Herod who made the temple more glorious than it had been since the days of Solomon. And what did Christ say when the apostles marveled and pointed it out to him?" Truly I say unto you, there shall not be one stone left here upon another."

That is what the Church must do. At present, that is not what we are doing. At present it is we who are the pharisees. It's our religious institution taking the hush money." Take this and be quiet on politics. Take this money, and let society be the government's business. Take this money and provide the medical care we tell you to. Take this money and teach what we tell you to in your schools."
It is, it has become an adulterous relationship that the Church has with the government. That should make Catholics tremble in fear and with shame." I have seen thine adulteries... for I AM a jealous God."  On the one hand we can make a clean break and experience a liberation of conscience unprecedented. Can you imagine? True freedom! Not that other sort contrived by men that the government distributes arbitrarily at its leisure. The freedom that Christ gives! On the other hand, we can be like Judas Iscariot, the traitor, and take the thirty pieces of silver.

All the succor, all the benefit, all the amicability, influence, wealth, and power in the world can not justify the silence the Church is selling to the government. It cannot. The Church sold its voice, and now wonders why the sheep have scattered. Where is the shepherds voice? Where is his crook? At the risk of ruining the literary flow of this letter, I want to quote from Braveheart when he addresses the nobles who are a type of the clergy in this case, specifically the bishops," Why is that impossible? You're so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshank's table that you've missed your God given right to something better." This is precisely the situation we are in.

Make no mistake, if we were to ever be our true selves, it could only result in persecution. When you think of the dullness and banality of your own faith, do not wonder. When you wonder at the timidity of the Church, and you see how the government has us in a convenient little box with all other religions, hope shrinks away. When you wonder what happened, when you read the Book of Acts and you look at the Early Fathers, when you read the lives of saints and you wonder," What happened? Where is this Church? What changed? Why is the Catholic Church just another face in the crowd in the 21st Century?" You know in your heart the reason. It's because we asked for permission to exist. It's because we took their money. It's because we allowed ourselves to be subjugated, literally we became subjects, whereas our fathers would not tolerate such a yoke.

We have been called to suffer with Christ, who gave Himself for the life of the world. It is not always better that we should live. "Greater love hath no man, than to lay down his life for his friends." The Church must lay its life down for the sake of humanity... we were called to do this. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. Are you persecuted? Are you really persecuted? Or do people just disagree with you? Or do people intermittently just not like you? Is your Church really challenging society with its godliness? Or is your Church merely a carping annoyance whose moral opinions are little more than an occasional gadfly that can be shewed away? The answer means everything.

The Church is called to be Christs. What do you think it means? You know what it means! Friendship with Christ is enmity with the world. That is not just a reality for the individual Christian, it is the reality for the Church. Pray for your priests to have moral courage. Pray for your bishops to stand in the day of temptation. Pray for the courage they need to seek first the kingdom of Heaven. Pray for the resolve necessary to accept what will be lost. Pray for them to have a vision of what will be gained, for," Where there is no vision the people perish." Pray for hope, for," He who keeps the law, happy is he." the law of righteousness.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Evolution and the Theory of Evolution

I want to speak about the theory of evolution in the main, here, and the fact that it can be recognized as a viable creationist theory... mostly because people keep asking me to do so. The whole purpose for doing so is that in the land of fundamentalism, Protestantism, and Puritanical fearmongering, a.k.a. the United States of America, the word (evolution) has become anathema, even amongst Catholics and the Orthodox. Further, any benefit that Christians of every stripe might have gained from peering into the mysteries of evolution is corban (given to God), and if that is so, what benefit could possibly be gotten by taking up the query again since it has been laid at the foot of faith? They would take St. Thomas Aquinas out of context and use him as a buckler and say,"To one who has faith, no explanation (of creation) is necessary. To the one without faith, no explanation is possible (about how God did it)." Just let it roll. Stand your ground! Don't be ashamed to insist upon a literal translation of what the bible says in Genesis (because that is the same as taking the rest of it literally, right?)! It is the word of God! Well, I would suggest the exact opposite of that nonsense.

So, first things first. I want to give you a few quotes that are not out of context from dear St. Thomas Aquinas. Now, understand that I am not trying to prove evolution on St. Thomas' authority. I'm not making an ad verecundiam argument for, not by any means. But hear what he has to say," The truth of our faith becomes a matter of RIDICULE among the infidels (NON-BELIEVER) if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false." Well, what does that sound like? It's awfully familiar isn't it? That sounds exactly like the environment in America, doesn't it? And when the creationist gets ridiculed for his rejection of scientific fact, and for his hackneyed offerings he learned from one of the so-called 'Christian' pseudo-scientists, who is really often a sophist, he reckons himself a martyr. It truly is a cause for ridicule. It's sad, verging on pathetic.

Here's another quote from St. Thomas Aquinas," Beware the person of one book." That's rather ominous. Who does that sound like? It sounds precisely like the people who have fomented the divide between science and Christianity. It sounds like the children of the man who said," Reason is the enemy of faith." Martin Luther said that. In the recent years many Americans have given themselves to hating Islam, because Islam is unreasonable. Why is it unreasonable? Because they are a people of one book, a divine book, an eternal book: The Quran. When the Muslim looks at his life, or at the world, or the lives of others, and what he ought to do and believe his question is one," What does the Quran say?" or more exactly," What do I interpret the Quran to be telling me?" Do you know what the American Christian often says to himself, or herself, inflated with their individualism, intimidated by the authority of puritanical fundamentalism," What does the Bible say?" or more exactly," What do I interpret the Bible to be telling me?"

Understand this: Fundamentalism is the enemy of humanity. Man is a rational animal. Without reason he is merely an animal. His reason is part of the image of God in which he was created. His reason gives him dignity. Without it he cannot live. Man does not have claws, or fur, or a powerful sense of smell, nor does he have any peculiar strength, to survive by. It is reason by which man lives and thrives. Man literally could not survive without reason. So, isn't it a sign of the diabolical when the highest expression of man's dignity, his faith, excludes what makes him a man? Let me say that better: Isn't it evil if someone's religion destroys their humanity? And I'm not talking about holy mortification. I'm talking about a fundamental negation and ban on the exercise of what gives dignity to the hand-crafted creation, the only hand-crafted creation, which is man. When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child (Jesus), she replied back to him not in doubt, but in wonder (which is the desire for knowledge)," How can this be???" In a fundamentalist religion like Islam, that would be received a bit like this," How dare she! She is a woman! How dare she question the holy angel who is only permitted to speak by the will of Allah!" But in Christianity, true Christianity, her inquisitiveness is honored and recognized as an extension and expression of the dignity God gives humans, and the angel Gabriel gives her the reply she seeks. One is hateful to reason, the other embraces, encourages, and satisfies it. And I bring all this up because the general attitude is something like that there is an inherent impiety about evolutionary science. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So, I want to talk about what evolution is not. It is not a possibility. It is a fact. We know that evolution happened. There is no question. No matter what any creationist snake oil salesman says, no matter if Billy Graham himself objects, we know that evolution happened. We know this with the same degree of certitude that we know we live in a heliocentric universe. We know that evolution happened with the same degree of certitude that we know the moon travels around the earth and not visa versa. It is a scientific fact. And this must be clearly understood. There is positively no question, whatsoever, that evolution is a fact in the teleology of the present. It is as fiduciary as the sunshine.

 What is not scientific fact is exactly how, or why, and sometimes when, evolution occurred. This is the theory. And there is nothing Godless about the theory. Unless you think that a theory that lacks a 'Far Side' character God walking around with a loud speaker calling things into existence and making man out of play-dough  circa 7,000 b.c. The theory of evolution is a forensic effort to put together the pieces of a puzzle 4.5 billion years in the making (the span of life on earth). Sometimes we make mistakes concerning this step or that, and an amendment in the theory is required. The theory of evolution is evolving itself as more comes to light. We've a lot to learn, to discover. It's really not so different from archaeology. All it is, ALL IT IS, is bringing the past to light, and nothing more. It is not some global scientific conspiracy to push God and his followers out of society and off the reservation. And neither is saying that there is no ocean above our heads, or that the world doesn't stand on pillars, which is the opposite of the fundamentalist-creationist assertion which insists upon a literal translation of Genesis. You don't dishonor God or stop being a "real" Christian because you believe in evolution, any more than you would cease to be one for denying that we have oceans over our heads and pillars under our feet.

"So then, apart from the fundamentalist fearmongering, which everyone else does, but not me and my friends/church... what's the problem with evolution? What's the big deal? Because I don't know anyone like you've described." Yeah. Okay, so the big deal is when this otherwise neutral science gets used in a charged way. Because of their intransigently anti-intellectual posture, America Christians have pigeon-holed themselves as idiots. There, I said it. And for a minority like atheists, your opponent is going to be the majority. In America, that means Protestant-Evangelicals. The argument over evolution is the nut-shot, the sucker punch. "Hit'em hard, hit'em fast. Things will get better from there." There is no way to recover from this once employed. There is no way for the traditional creationist to come away from the argument without looking like an idiot when it comes to the empirical. It automatically lumps you into the category of people who believe the earth is flat, or moon landing deniers. That is why the next thing you see in such debates is the Creationist trying to take the moral high-ground. What follows then is the atheist presents the problem of evil, theodicy... which the creationist cannot answer satisfactorily by any means. This leads to equivocation, which gives way to absurd abstraction and analogies being hurled against each other. The creationist starts quoting from the bible, which is like quoting Santa Claus to an Atheist, and therefore an exercise in stupidity. The atheist, starts demanding empirical, quantitative, evidence of God, which is stupid because God is said to be immeasurable, because he is not a creation in space-time. And the lowest common denominator reveals itself... the disagreement over whether or not God really exists. The debate was never about the veracity of evolutionary theory. It turns into a feud between people, who quite frankly deserve each other, and it all gets out of hand really fast.

So, set that aside, because that isn't part of the big deal. All that is mere drama, between two groups of fundamentalists who hate each other. There is really only one thing for a Christian to be on guard about, one question, one assertion: Polygenesis. Poly meaning many, and genesis meaning beginning: Many beginnings. That is the only thing that a Christian cannot budge on, that the human race has one origin: the hand of God. And that man has one set of parents: Adam and Eve. All other things in evolutionary theory may pass, but if any theory arises about humanity having many origins, it cannot be accepted. Well, what luck! because the science states just what the Christian professes to believe. Evolutionary science has narrowed down our beginnings to a single family. How about that! The handiwork of God, which is the evidence evolutionary science looks at, and His word agree. Science and faith in harmony. Who would have guessed it? There is literally no good reason not to believe in evolutionary theory apart from that one person or another might posit that they think polygenesis is viable. But that assertion doesn't make or brake the theory. You can reject that part. But there is absolutely NO reason to reject evolution itself.

I want to go a step further and talk about the difference between form and essence. The essence of man is that he is a rational being with a spiritual soul. When we hear that man is made in the image of God what do we think that means? Do we imagine that God has need of food, or that he grows, or that he needs to relieve himself from time to time, or that he sleeps? By getting offended at the notion our physical forms come from some evolutionary process, because our design comes from God's own image... well it's a thoroughly pagan concept. We are making out God to be like us. On the other hand it is quite the opposite if we speak so about the essence of man. We are merely affirming that man is like God, and not that God is like man.

Interesting to note that God breathes life into the man after his form is made. God is Life, Itself. "I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life." He is Love, Itself. Now, you think about that. If we are willing to concede that  the sky isn't a separation between two oceans, or that the world was made in seven 24 hour days, or that the  dry land isn't standing on pillars, and adopt what science has proven concerning those things, perhaps we can  afford to not be so intransigent on man's origins. There seems no reason at all to not accept that the form of humankind is a kind given by evolution and therefore nature, and therefore by God... and that at a later time when that form had become what He intended it to be He vested it with a spiritual soul. Or where did Cain find his wife? How is it that he was able to found a city, when it was explicit in his curse that he would never settle amongst men (his own kind)? How is it that he was afraid that whomever he should meet would slay him (because he was without a people) unless there were other people? How do we account for the fossil record unless there were others? But the true fact of all of it is that we don't know precisely what happened. What we do know is that the genealogy which begins with Adam does not go back as far as the fossil record does. Further, we know that there is a distinction in evolution between homo sapiens and homo sapiens sapiens, viz. wise man, vs. wise wise man. It is not a genetic distinction, it is an artifact distinction. It is a distinction made between mans ability to use his problem solving and tool making at one point and another. It's the difference between cavemen, and modern man. It's the difference between man surviving, amongst the animals, and man thriving due to an actualization of his reason.

I want to point out again that it is all a mystery, an unfathomably big story, one that was being told 5,000 years ago. Remember the words of St. Thomas Aquinas," A thing (in this case a story) is received according to the nature of the recipient." How would they receive the literal account? It would be unintelligible. What sort of creation account would make sense to them? Perhaps one like we see in Genesis? It is the job of science to unpack the Genesis account as far as it can be unpacked. That does nothing against faith. For all that, remember the shame the whole Church got because a few anti-intellectual loud mouths denied the heliocentric universe because the bible says in a poetic psalm that the center of the universe is earth. Remember the shame the Church got because a few hotheads destroyed the library of Alexandria. And recall the glory the Church got itself by devising the 'Big-Bang Theory.' And keep in mind that Fideism is a heresy, before you let your proclivity to be loyal to the bible imprudently overpower the actualization of your reason which is your God given dignity. In learning as much as we can about creation, we can understand something about the Creator and His plan for us. And that is a pleasant thought.

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. ~Aristotle~