Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not Attached

I've really enjoyed the Catholicism DVDs I purchased with gift cards from Christmas.  I got the DVD, the book , and the associated workbook.  Let's be honest; normally our church does boring DVDs really, really well.  This has been surprisingly well done, fascinating, and beautiful.

The DVDs could possibly be perceived as somewhat slow if one does not take the time to enjoy the music and the scenes as Father Barron travels the world to show some of the most amazing places in Christendom.  The book seems to be mostly the same as the DVDs, with some more information and changes in wording.  It speaks well of the writing that I didn't notice this until the third week, and it doesn't detract from the experience at all.  The workbook is also well done, though perhaps not as good as the other two.  The questions are through provoking and reference the reading/DVD as well as the Bible and Catechism.

The second lesson/chapter has to do with the teachings of Jesus.  It was all very interesting and challenging, and highlighted some points I'd never considered.  For instance, the second son in the Prodigal Son parable expresses his relationship with his father in the same terms as a slave.  He doesn't talk about the mutual love or any sort of relationship.  Was he much closer to his father during that time than the son that ran away?  The father in the parable clearly desires a relationship with both sons.  I'd always focused on the son that left, so this was refreshing.

Another item that caught my attention was the idea of not being attached.  Fr. Barron goes through the Beatitudes and talks about detachment from worldly goods such as power, honor, and money.  What I loved though was how he brought up that by being detached, we can actually do much good with the goods of the world for God.  If one is attached to money, one probably isn't using it for God.  But someone with money can do a lot for God with that money if he or she isn't attached.  We can find joy by being attached to God instead of to the things and pleasures of this world, no matter how odd that may seem.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Mat 5:3-11)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sirach 9

Sir 9:14  Forsake not an old friend, for the new will not be like to him.
Sir 9:15  A new friend is as new wine: it shall grow old, and thou shalt drink it with pleasure.
Sir 9:16  Envy not the glory and riches of a sinner: for thou knowest not what his ruin shall be.
Sir 9:17  Be not pleased with the wrong done by the unjust, knowing that even to hell the wicked shall not please.
Sir 9:18  Keep thee far from the man that hath power to kill, so thou shalt not suspect the fear of death.
Sir 9:19  And if thou come to him, commit no fault, lest he take away thy life.
Sir 9:20  Know it to be a communication with death: for thou art going in the midst of snares, and walking upon the arms of them that are grieved.
Sir 9:21  According to thy power beware of thy neighbour, and treat with the wise and prudent.
Sir 9:22  Let just men be thy guests, and let thy glory be in the fear of God.
Sir 9:23  And let the thought of God be in thy mind, and all thy discourse on the commandments of the Highest.
Sir 9:24  Works shall be praised for the hand of the artificers, and the prince of the people for the wisdom of his speech, but the word of the ancients for the sense.
Sir 9:25  A man full of tongue is terrible in his city, and he that is rash in his word shall be hateful. 


We see some of the thoughts on friendship here, with the advice to keep old friends around and not just rely on new friends.  I have the opposite problem and would rather hang out with old friends than make new ones, thus making new friends harder.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fired Up

This week I've been rather fired up about a particular issue.
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules requiring non-profit employers and religious organizations to fully provide “contraception coverage” for their employees, “including all FDA-approved forms of contraception” which includes birth control pill and the “morning after” pill.
That's the summary of a page for 7 Things You Can do to Fight the Contraception Mandate.  Before we get to doing something about it though, it is very important to understand what this means and why it is so very wrong.  Any Christian school or university (or any religious school or university for that matter) will now have to offer full insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization, even if it believes such activity constitutes murder.  The government is mandating private organizations violate their consciences.

This has been open for comment for some time now, but the Department just made it official.  Previously, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops argued against the plan.
WASHINGTON—The general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to rescind its mandate forcing private insurance plans to cover contraception—including abortifacients—and sterilization, calling the mandate “unprecedented in federal law and more radical than any state contraceptive mandate.” The comments also criticize the narrow “religious employer” exception to the mandate, explaining that it provides “no protection at all for individuals or insurers with a moral or religious objection to contraceptives or sterilization,” instead covering only “a very small subset of religious employers.”
In their August 31 comment to HHS, Anthony Picarello, USCCB general counsel, and Michael Moses, associate general counsel, noted that the mandate to cover “all FDA-approved contraceptives” and “emergency contraceptives,” including at least one drug called Ella that can cause abortions, entails “nationwide government coercion of religious people and groups to sell, broker or purchases ‘services’ to which they have a moral or religious objection.” This represents “an unprecedented attack on religious liberty,” they wrote.

To say they are also now very fired up is an understatement.


With various schools and organizations lining up to sue the government over this immoral rule, I would encourage everyone to pray and also contact their elected officials to battle this terrible attack on our religious freedoms.

Facebook Group to support the Bishops against this HHS mandate

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time and Psalm 49

Readings are here. Jesus is the one promised through Moses in the first reading.

Psalm 49
To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world: Both low and high, rich and poor, together. My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.
Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption. For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.
Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah. 
Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself. He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Sirach 9

Sir 9:1  Be not jealous over the wife of thy bosom, lest she shew in thy regard the malice of a wicked lesson.
Sir 9:2  Give not the power of thy soul to a woman, lest she enter upon thy strength, and thou be confounded.
Sir 9:3  Look not upon a woman that hath a mind for many: lest thou fall into her snares.
Sir 9:4  Use not much the company of her that is a dancer, and hearken not to her, lest thou perish by the force of her charms.
Sir 9:5  Gaze not upon a maiden, lest her beauty be a stumblingblock to thee.
Sir 9:6  Give not thy soul to harlots in any point: lest thou destroy thyself and thy inheritance.
Sir 9:7  Look not round about thee in the ways of the city, nor wander up and down in the streets thereof.
Sir 9:8  Turn away thy face from a woman dressed up, and gaze not about upon another's beauty.
Sir 9:9  For many have perished by the beauty of a woman, and hereby lust is enkindled as a fire.
Sir 9:10  Every woman that is a harlot, shall be trodden upon as dung in the way.
Sir 9:11  Many by admiring the beauty of another man's wife, have become reprobate, for her conversation burneth as fire.
Sir 9:12  Sit not at all with another man's wife, nor repose upon the bed with her:
Sir 9:13  And strive not with her over wine, lest thy heart decline towards her and by thy blood thou fall into destruction.


Don't sleep with prostitutes or another man's wife; don't be looking at them either.  Warnings against sexual sin that are very practical.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Silence

I was reading in the book of Job the other day and caught something I had not previously noticed.  If you are unfamiliar, Job was a very good man and followed God.  Satan suggests that Job only follows God because God protects him, and God allows Satan to tempt Job by destroying everything he has.  Job loses all of his livestock and his ten children in the same day.  Later, he is afflicted by boils from head to toe.  In summary, his life sucks.  Friends hear of his distress and come to be with him.
Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:11-13)
Frequently, when we are confronted with the grief of another, we want to say the right thing.  Would there be a right thing to say to a man covered in boils who just lost his ten children?  Is there some sentence that would work to resolve his pain?  The answer is no, and his friends sit with him for seven days and nights.  Without talking.

I need to remember this the next time I encounter someone suffering.  If there isn't anything to say, sitting there is just fine.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sirach 8

Sir 8:13  Kindle not the coals of sinners by rebuking them, lest thou be burnt with the flame of the fire of their sins.
Sir 8:14  Stand not against the face of an injurious person, lest he sit as a spy to entrap thee in thy words.
Sir 8:15  Lend not to a man that is mightier than thyself: and if thou lendest, count it as lost.
Sir 8:16  Be not surety above thy power: and if thou be surety, think as if thou wert to pay it.
Sir 8:17  Judge not against a judge: for he judgeth according to that which is just.
Sir 8:18  Go not on the way with a bold man, lest he burden thee with his evils: for he goeth according to his own will, and thou shalt perish together with his folly.
Sir 8:19  Quarrel not with a passionate man, and go not into the desert with a bold man: for blood is as nothing in his sight, and where there is no help he will overthrow thee.
Sir 8:20  Advise not with fools, for they cannot love but such things as please them.
Sir 8:21  Before a stranger do no matter of counsel: for thou knowest not what he will bring forth.
Sir 8:22  Open not thy heart to every man: lest he repay thee with an evil turn, and speak reproachfully to thee.


Useless correction is a waste of time, and if we're correcting someone just to aggravate them we're doing it wrong.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Suffering

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  (Rom 8:18). 

I don't suffer much.  Oh sure, just like everybody else I have the normal range of emotions for a human, which can include pain or sadness.  But on the whole, I don't suffer much.  When I do though, I try my hardest to remember this verse.

Some people soldier on through their suffering with barely a glance.  Others may get depressed or angry or whine.  Some others may have a very healthy response.  When I suffer, I analyze.  That should come as no shock to anyone who can read the blog title, but I will research and evaluate and even graph, if possible, anything that is bugging me.  Ask the ENT who took out my tonsils - there was a graph involved.

I love this verse from Romans.  I can still graph my problem and research, but it does the best job of encouraging me.  When I'm done here, whatever I've gone through will be nothing next to the awesomeness of eternity with God.  No amount of human suffering can compare.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sirach 8

Sir 8:1  Strive not with a powerful man, lest thou fall into his hands.
Sir 8:2  Contend not with a rich man, lest he bring an action against thee.
Sir 8:3  For gold and silver hath destroyed many, and hath reached even to the heart of kings, and perverted them.
Sir 8:4  Strive not with a man that is full of tongue, and heap not wood upon his fire.
Sir 8:5  Communicate not with an ignorant man, lest he speak ill of thy family.
Sir 8:6  Despise not a man that turneth away from sin, nor reproach him therewith: remember that we are all worthy of reproof.
Sir 8:7  Despise not a man in his old age; for we also shall become old.
Sir 8:8  Rejoice not at the death of thy enemy; knowing that we all die, and are not willing that others should rejoice at our death.
Sir 8:9  Despise not the discourse of them that are ancient and wise, but acquaint thyself with their proverbs.
Sir 8:10  For of them thou shalt learn wisdom, and instruction of understanding, and to serve great men without blame.
Sir 8:11  Let not the discourse of the ancients escape thee, for they have learned of their fathers:
Sir 8:12  For of them thou shalt learn understanding, and to give an answer in time of need.


More informational wisdom from the book of Sirach.  This chapter starts off by telling us to avoid certain battles and conversations, as well as remembering our end when dealing with others.  We could die while reading this - are our anxieties all that important in comparison to eternity?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time and Psalm 48

Way to skip a week of blogging and not notice!  I wasn't even all that busy this week.

Today is the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Readings are here.  Today's readings appear to be about turning to God now and not delaying.  This really isn't something you should put on our task lists; this should be our task list. 

Psalm 48
A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away. Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail. Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah. 
 We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple. According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness. Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sirach 7

Sir 7:28  If thou hast a wife according to thy soul, cast her not off: and to her that is hateful, trust not thyself. With thy whole heart,
Sir 7:29  Honour thy father, and forget not the groanings of thy mother:
Sir 7:30  Remember that thou hadst not been born but through them: and make a return to them as they have done for thee.
Sir 7:31  With all thy soul fear the Lord, and reverence his priests.
Sir 7:32  With all thy strength love him that made thee: and forsake not his ministers.
Sir 7:33  Honour God with all thy soul and give honour to the priests, and purify thyself with thy arms.
Sir 7:34  Give them their portion, as it is commanded thee, of the firstfruits and of purifications: and for thy negligences purify thyself with a few.
Sir 7:35  Offer to the Lord the gift of thy shoulders, and the sacrifice of sanctification, and the firstfruits of the holy things:
Sir 7:36  And stretch out thy hand to the poor, that thy expiation and thy blessing may be perfected.
Sir 7:37  A gift hath grace in the sight of all the living, and restrain not grace from the dead.
Sir 7:38  Be not wanting in comforting them that weep, and walk with them that mourn.
Sir 7:39  Be not slow to visit the sick: for by these things thou shalt be confirmed in love.
Sir 7:40  In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.


I'm reading a book right now that deals with a variety of topics, but one chapter is dedicated to the idea we could die today.  You could die reading this entry.  I could die going to work.  We're all going to die sometime, and that sometime could be just moments from now.  As the author says, that isn't morbid, it is just the truth.  Remembering that can help us avoid sin, in a few different ways.

First, if we're thinking about God and seeing God and what God is going to have to say about our behavior, we're less likely to do things that won't be pleasing.  Sinning gets a lot harder when we connect it with eternity.

Second, it puts whatever we are doing into perspective.  If we are annoyed with someone we meet at the store but ask ourselves, "Will this really matter in eternity?" it looks a lot less important.  Most times, the answer to that question is no.

I gave someone some advice a few weeks ago and then realized I'd never once actually thought about it that way or even come close to doing it.  When angry or when correcting someone, we need to remember that the most important thing is Jesus.  Nothing else should match the enthusiasm or assertiveness we use in loving Jesus or telling others about Jesus or doing our work with Jesus.  If I get so angry I exceed the level of energy I put into talking about Jesus, doesn't that speak volumes about my priorities?  Thinking about the fact I'm going to die someday, and that they are going to die someday, really makes today's issues seem trivial.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Second Sunday In Ordinary Time and Psalm 47

Today is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Can someone tell me where the First Sunday in Ordinary Time went?  In any event, readings are here.  The Gospel is from John.  I'm learning about John through a study with a friend.  I'll post the book name and maybe a recommendation when we're done!

Psalm 47
To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah. God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness. The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It isn't all about Sex

We are surrounded by sex, and live in a culture that would lead us to believe everything is about sex.  The clothes we wear, the car we drive, and the relationships we form are all about sex.

I once explained to a class of girls I was teaching in church how nice it was another Christian lady came over and prayed with me.  The girls assured me that since the woman hugged me, she was hitting on me.  Because she initiated physical contact, the woman was clearly homosexual and interested in pursuing a relationship with me.  Or at least that's what a portion of the teenage girls in my class have been brainwashed to think.  It is all about sex.

There are few movies or tv shows where two characters can exist together without there being some sort of sexual tension.  Every movement or discussion or interaction can be analyzed to see what is going on in their relationship, and how quickly it will turn physical.  Because it is all about sex.

Frodo and Sam from Lord of the Rings are also homosexual, because men can't love each other without being gay.  This isn't just about that type of sex though - everybody knows that male and female leads should be having sex or talking about sex or thinking about sex, if not with each other than with someone else.  We just now get the added bonus of same sex sexual tension because we're all grown up.  It is all about sex.

"In a sample of programming from the 2001-2002 TV season, sexual content appeared in 64% of all TV programs. Those programs with sexually related material had an average of 4.4 scenes per hour. Talk of sex is more frequent (61%) vs. overt portrayals (32%). 1 out of every 7 programs includes a portrayal of sexual intercourse."  Parents Television Council.  Note the date - that's 10 years ago.  All about sex. 

Go stand in line at a grocery store or Wal Mart or some place that has magazines for you to look at.  Aren't you glad to know who is having sex?  How to have better sex?  How often you should be having sex?  Who you should want to have sex with?   Life is all about sex, after all, so you should get that information along with your bread and milk.

Think about how often you run into sex somewhere on TV or out and about or anywhere really.  Isn't it a lot?  Does the percentage of times you see sex in culture equal the amount of time you actually are having sex?  Because if the proportion is off, something is wrong.  Something doesn't work there.  One might think that it isn't all about sex.  And that's just math - I haven't even gotten to God yet.

When God talks about sex, it is either in the happy context of marriage, or it ends poorly (like getting the city destroyed by fire balls).  There also seems to be an abundance of other information in the Bible aside from information on sex, ranging from how to live properly to how to love others.  And yes, you can love others without having sex with them. 

We get lied to all the time.  We're told we'll be happy if we buy more stuff.  We're also told life is all about sex.  How well is that working out for us?  Either of them really.  Does the wisdom of the world really bring us happiness?  Or just STDs and a broken heart on our yacht?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Incarnation

I'm behind dwelling on the Incarnation.  That's something to do during Advent, but I kind of skipped it with the surgery.  I was thinking about it recently though, and it is rather mind blowing to contemplate.  No wonder people can spend years thinking about it.

Seriously, think about the conception of Jesus, by itself, for just a few minutes.  Before the miracles, the sacrifice, the resurrection, Jesus had to be born.  I think sometimes we are warm and fuzzy about this without thinking about how truly amazing this one particular event was all by itself.  The God who created the Universe, the same One who has been around for all eternity (a concept we can only sort of grasp), decided to become human.  The literal Word of God became flesh.  One of us.

It isn't like He was joining a fun party either.  This isn't like you create a Sims game where everything is running smoothly and then you step in to go visit.  This would be like you creating a Sims game on the computer, destroying all the police stations, sending the alien and tornado at the same time, and then hopping in next to the casino.  If you're not familiar with that game, let me summarize and say that wouldn't be pretty.

Now eternity is a hard thing to grasp relative to our actual timeline, but Jesus has been in Heaven for eternity.  On a throne.  In a perfect situation of love.  In charge of everything.  And then He comes here to be a human, need a diaper, and spend quality time building tables or chairs or whatever Joseph was working on.  No doubt Joseph was a good guy, but comparatively... well, there's no comparison.

I think, from my perspective, that would suck.  That would be awful, and that's even before we get to the gruesome death.  Can you imagine doing that?  We can't, because we're not God.  Seriously?  For us?  God apparently does think we're worth it though.  God so loved us that Jesus came to save us.  God, who has every reason to abandon the creatures who have abandoned Him, instead did the craziest thing ever.  Out of love!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  (Joh 1:1-14)

Sirach 7

Sir 7:12  Laugh no man to scorn in the bitterness of his soul: for there is one that humbleth and exalteth, God who seeth all.
Sir 7:13  Devise not a lie against thy brother: neither do the like against thy friend.
Sir 7:14  Be not willing to make any manner of lie: for the custom thereof is not good.
Sir 7:15  Be not full of words in a multitude of ancients, and repeat not the word in thy prayer.
Sir 7:16  Hate not laborious works, nor husbandry ordained by the most High.
Sir 7:17  Number not thyself among the multitude of the disorderly.
Sir 7:18  Remember wrath, for it will not tarry long.
Sir 7:19  Humble thy spirit very much: for the vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms.
Sir 7:20  Do not transgress against thy friend deferring money, nor despise thy dear brother for the sake of gold.
Sir 7:21  Depart not from a wise and good wife, whom thou hast gotten in the fear of the Lord: for the grace of her modesty is above gold.
Sir 7:22  Hurt not the servant that worketh faithfully, nor the hired man that giveth thee his life.
Sir 7:23  Let a wise servant be dear to thee as thy own soul, defraud him not of liberty, nor leave him needy.
Sir 7:24  Hast thou cattle? have an eye to them: and if they be for thy profit, keep them with thee.
Sir 7:25  Hast thou children? instruct them, and bow down their neck from their childhood.
Sir 7:26  Hast thou daughters? have a care of their body, and shew not thy countenance gay towards them.
Sir 7:27  Marry thy daughter well, and thou shalt do a great work, and give her to a wise man.


We're  not to judge others, we're not to lie, and we're to take care of our families.  Sirach is chapter after chapter of good wisdom!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Amazed and Afraid - 2

I did end up getting the DVD set I talked about here.  As well as the student workbook and associated book.  I love all three!  I just got done with Part 1 of the book and DVD, though I am still working on the workbook.

I learned a lot of interesting things, but I've been sharing this part specifically with people. 
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  (Mat 16:13-16)

Apparently that area was a mostly pagan area, leading to an interesting detail I did not notice about the above before.
There at the base of Mount Hermon - which marked the northern border of Israel - water flowed underground and sufraced in a cave at the base of a high limestone cliff.  At the time of Christ it was a place of devoted pagan worship (especially to Baal), with niches cut into the cliff holding statues of numerous deities.  Pagans believed it marked the spot where the netherworld met the material world.  At the top of this cliff stood a temple in honor of Caesar.

It was, in other words, a veritable and visually arresting display of 'Who's Who" among the pagan gods.  "Who," asked Jesus of his disciples, "do men say that the Son of Man is?" After hearing the responses - John the Baptist, Elijah, Jerimiah, or one of the prophets - Jesus asked the question he asks of every man: "But who do you say that I am?" He stands before the false gods of this world and asks for our decision; he compels a choice.  He is either God or a bad man - a liar or a lunatic.
One of the main points of the first chapter and lesson is that Jesus compels a choice like no other ever has.  He isn't pointing at the way, He IS the way.  He isn't telling you about some truth, He IS the truth.  He can't be a happy, easy to follow, wise religious teacher and nothing else because He claims to be God.  Either He is actually God, or he's crazy and/or evil.  There is no in between.

Anger Defused

There are plenty of times I don't want to pray.  Sometimes I'm busy.  Sometimes I'm tired.  Sometimes I'm distracted.  But sometimes, I just don't want to pray because it might involve praying for someone I'm mad at.  I hate doing that.  We're told to do it, so what makes it so uncomfortable? 

I think it is because it is hard to stay angry at someone when you're praying for them!  I think I want to stay angry at them, and I just know that asking God to help them and be with them and grant them wisdom and grace and safety is going to make me less annoyed with them.  It might remind me that they are God's children too.  It might make me think that our disagreement is minor in comparison to eternity.  It might make me think they have their own perspective and reason for thinking or doing something.  It might remind me they have feelings too.  And nobody wants to think that way if they're angry.

I read in a book recently that it is a good idea to pray with someone if you're about to discuss a disagreement with them.  My first thought was, "Gee, that takes the fun out of it it, doesn't it?"  I laughed.  Yes, that's probably the idea entirely.  Remove the attractive appeal of anger and you might actually get somewhere with the disagreement.

Anger doesn't give us the right to ignore what God says.  It isn't a hall pass to get around that whole loving our neighbor commandment.  There is no exception granted just because the neighbor is an idiot or thinks differently or drives too slow.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

King David

Apparently this post never made it out of draft stage.  I wrote this in November.

I learned a lot of interesting details about King David's story I never picked up on by myself.  For instance, in 1 Samuel 21, David's crazy nature saved him because the Pagans were afraid of madmen and wouldn't have killed one.

The book also did a great job connecting the Psalms with different stories.  Sure, the Psalms have a few places where they state in which part of David's life they were written, but it is hard to line those up on the fly as you're reading.  She references them at the appropriate times and so they make much more sense than when read alone.

And of course, the book was a great encourager spiritually too.  Lots of lessons to remember and apply, but all very good and very valuable.

Other People

I think it is remarkably easy to forget the humanity of the other people on this planet.  The guy driving too slow is just a moron with a low IQ that's a waste of carbon and a user of oxygen versus a living, breathing, human being in need of love and of God.  The boss that asks for some extra hours is a tyrannical overlord with no feelings, compassion, or common sense instead of a fellow miracle created by God for His purposes.  Sounds like a big difference in terms, but how often do we think of the first descriptor of someone we don't like instead of the second?  Would we treat them different if we thought of the second more frequently?

Are our friends and family members nice folks that we find to be appealing for their emotional benefit to us?  Or do we treat them like individuals in need of our love and attention and emotions?  Who are we serving, ourselves or God?  Isn't it easier just to view those around us as commodities and be happy in our own head with how amazing we are?  I mean, of course WE are individuals in need of love and of God.  The great commandment isn't to love God and love ourselves though.


Sirach 7

Sir 7:1  Do no evils, and no evils shall lay hold of thee.
Sir 7:2  Depart from the unjust, and evils shall depart from thee.
Sir 7:3  My son, sow not evils in the furrows of injustice, and thou shalt not reap them sevenfold.
Sir 7:4  Seek not of the Lord a preeminence, nor of the king the seat of honour.
Sir 7:5  Justify not thyself before God, for he knoweth the heart: and desire not to appear wise before the king.
Sir 7:6  Seek not to be made a judge, unless thou have strength enough to extirpate iniquities: lest thou fear the person of the powerful, and lay a stumblingblock for thy integrity.
Sir 7:7  Offend not against the multitude of a city, neither cast thyself in upon the people,
Sir 7:8  Nor bind sin to sin: for even in one thou shalt not be unpunished.
Sir 7:9  Be not fainthearted in thy mind:
Sir 7:10  Neglect not to pray, and to give alms.
Sir 7:11  Say not: God will have respect to the multitude of my gifts, and when I offer to the most high God, he will accept my offerings. 
The first few verses deal with the very real effects of doing evil or hanging out with those who do.  If we stay away from evil.  We're to depart from evil and turn to God.  If we continue to pursue evil, evil will find us. 

And the last verse is a warning not to be overconfident in what we have to offer God.  He doesn't need anything we have.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Peace

Joh 14:27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

I may have already written about this but I keep hearing it pop up and I love it and want to share.  Jesus says He's going to give us peace, and I don't know what others think, but I usually see that being a nice quiet tidy life with no conflict. 

The general idea of peace we have is a lack of conflict.  That's the type of peace the world is trying to attain when they have meetings between warring nations or get together to decide what to do about nuclear weapons or even go to war with the ultimate aim of returning to a lack of conflict.  Anything at all to avoid conflict, which is thus defined as peace.  So we get to thinking that's what Jesus wants for us and what He's going to provide.

While it is true that warfare and suffering and conflict isn't the ideal state we're going for, in this verse Jesus explicitly states he's going to give a peace different than what the world gives.   If the world gives peace through lack of conflict, and Jesus says that isn't the type of peace He's going to give, His peace is not the absence of conflict.

Jesus brings peace in the midst of conflict.  He says to not let our hearts be troubled or afraid.  Even in the middle of this world's problems and sufferings and conflict, Jesus gives us peace.  That's kind of mind bogglingly awesome, I think.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The House

Today was a wonderful day from God!

I've heard before we're like houses, and when we invite Jesus in, He sets to work making the house a palace.  Even if we struggle, that's His purpose.  Some days, I argue with Jesus about his plans for a given room.  Other days, like today, he opens the door to a remodel I didn't even know was in the plans!  It makes me wonder about the things in the house I don't even see, like the vents or the plumbing and what He's working there.

Sirach 6

Sir 6:24  Give ear, my son, and take wise counsel, and cast not away my advice.
Sir 6:25  Put thy feet into her fetters, and thy neck into her chains:
Sir 6:26  Bow down thy shoulder, and bear her, and be not grieved with her bands.
Sir 6:27  Come to her with all thy mind, and keep her ways with all thy power.
Sir 6:28  Search for her, and she shall be made known to thee, and when thou hast gotten her, let her not go:
Sir 6:29  For in the latter end thou shalt find rest in her, and she shall be turned to thy joy.
Sir 6:30  Then shall her fetters be a strong defence for thee, and a firm foundation, and her chain a robe of glory:
Sir 6:31  For in her is the beauty of life, and her bands are a healthful binding.
Sir 6:32  Thou shalt put her on as a robe of glory, and thou shalt set her upon thee as a crown of joy.
Sir 6:33  My son, if thou wilt attend to me, thou shalt learn: and if thou wilt apply thy mind, thou shalt be wise.
Sir 6:34  If thou wilt incline thy ear, thou shalt receive instruction: and if thou love to hear, thou shalt be wise.
Sir 6:35  Stand in the multitude of ancients that are wise, and join thyself from thy heart to their wisdom, that thou mayst hear every discourse of God, and the sayings of praise may not escape thee.
Sir 6:36  And if thou see a man of understanding, go to him early in the morning, and let thy foot wear the steps of his doors.
Sir 6:37  Let thy thoughts be upon the precepts of God, and meditate continually on his commandments: and he will give thee a heart, and the desire of wisdom shall be given to thee.


He continues about wisdom.  Several of these verses have made their way to my screen saver pictures.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Epiphany of the Lord and Psalm 46

Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord.  Readings are here.
Epiphany, (Koine Greek: ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation", "striking appearance"[1]) or Theophany,[2] (Ancient Greek (ἡ) Θεοφάνεια, Τheophaneia) meaning "vision of God",[3] which traditionally falls on 6 January, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Western Christians commemorate principally (but not solely) the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, and thus Jesus' physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Wikipedia.

I still have my tree and decorations up.  I've been telling people it is because I wait for the Epiphany to take them down, but really I've been somewhat lazy.  Today or tomorrow they will come down though!

Psalm 46
To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sirach 6

Sir 6:18  My son, from thy youth up receive instruction, and even to thy grey hairs thou shalt find wisdom.
Sir 6:19  Come to her as one that plougheth, and soweth, and wait for her good fruits:
Sir 6:20  For in working about her thou shalt labour a little, and shalt quickly eat of her fruits.
Sir 6:21  How very unpleasant is wisdom to the unlearned, and the unwise will not continue with her.
Sir 6:22  She shall be to them as a mighty stone of trial, and they will cast her from them before it be long.
Sir 6:23  For the wisdom of doctrine is according to her name, and she is not manifest unto many, but with them to whom she is known, she continueth even to the sight of God.


Here we're back to wisdom again, one of my favorite topics and found in many places in the Bible.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sirach 6

Sir 6:5  A sweet word multiplieth friends, and appeaseth enemies, and a gracious tongue in a good man aboundeth.
Sir 6:6  Be in peace with many, but let one of a thousand be thy counsellor.
Sir 6:7  If thou wouldst get a friend, try him before thou takest him, and do not credit him easily.
Sir 6:8  For there is a friend for his own occasion, and he will not abide in the day of thy trouble.
Sir 6:9  And there is a friend that turneth to enmity; and there is a friend that will disclose hatred and strife and reproaches.
Sir 6:10  And there is a friend a companion at the table, and he will not abide in the day of distress.
Sir 6:11  A friend if he continue steadfast, shall be to thee as thyself, and shall act with confidence among them of thy household.
Sir 6:12  If he humble himself before thee, and hide himself from thy face, thou shalt have unanimous friendship for good.
Sir 6:13  Separate thyself from thy enemies, and take heed of thy friends.
Sir 6:14  A faithful friend is a strong defence: and he that hath found him, hath found a treasure.
Sir 6:15  Nothing can be compared to a faithful friend, and no weight of gold and silver is able to countervail the goodness of his fidelity.
Sir 6:16  A faithful friend is the medicine of life and immortality: and they that fear the Lord, shall find him.
Sir 6:17  He that feareth God, shall likewise have good friendship: because according to him shall his friend be.


I love my friends!  And I love this wisdom about friends!  It speaks of not trusting people too soon, friends who bail on you when you need them, and friendships that turn to hatred.  But it also speaks of our faithful friends, and that finding one is like finding treasure.  How true!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hell

Some people don't believe in Hell.  I guess that makes sense if they don't believe in God.  There's no afterlife so there's no Hell.  Some Christians don't believe in Hell.  This makes less sense to me, because Jesus says there is a Hell.  He says he's going to send people there, or save them from it, when He judges them.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
(Mat 25:31-46)
Jesus seems to think there's a place where the devil and his angels are sent that some people will be sent too, which, to my knowledge, is a pretty basic and standard definition of Hell.  There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth there, not parties next to the roaring fire.  And it is forever.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mary Mother of God

Yesterday was the day we talked about Mary being the Mother of God.  As the priest at the Mass I attended noted, the day is actually less about Mary and more about Jesus even though it is her name.  The First Council of Ephesus "denounced Nestorius' teaching as erroneous and decreed that Jesus was one person, not two separate people: complete God and complete man, with a rational soul and body. The Virgin Mary was to be called Theotokos a Greek word that means "God-bearer" (the one who gave birth to God)."  Source.

Nestorius was taught the disunity of Christ's human and divine natures.  Under that theory, Mary was only the mother of Jesus.  Jesus the man and Jesus as God were two distinct entities, versus one.
Nestorius tried to answer a question considered unsolved: "How can Jesus Christ, being part man, not be partially a sinner as well, since man is by definition a sinner since the Fall". To solve that he taught that Mary, the mother of Jesus gave birth to the incarnate Christ, not the divine Logos who existed before Mary and indeed before time itself. The Logos occupied the part of the human soul (the part of man that was stained by the Fall). But wouldn't the absence of a human soul make Jesus less human? Nestorius rejected this proposition, answering that, because the human soul was based on the archetype of the Logos, only to become polluted by the Fall, Jesus was "more" human for having the Logos and not "less". Consequently, Nestorius argued that the Virgin Mary should be called Christotokos, Greek for "Birth Giver of Christ", and not Theotokos, Greek for "Birth Giver of God".

Nestorius believed that no union between the human and divine were possible. If such a union of human and divine occurred, Nestorius believed that Christ could not truly be con-substantial with God and con-substantial with us because he would grow, mature, suffer and die (which Nestorius argued God cannot do) and also would possess the power of God that would separate him from being equal to humans.

Nestorius's opponents charged him with detaching Christ's divinity and humanity into two persons existing in one body, thereby denying the reality of the Incarnation.

Sirach 6

Sir 6:1  Instead of a friend become not an enemy to thy neighbour: for an evil man shall inherit reproach and shame, so shall every sinner that is envious and double tongued.
Sir 6:2  Extol not thyself in the thoughts of thy soul like a bull: lest thy strength be quashed by folly,
Sir 6:3  And it eat up thy leaves, and destroy thy fruit, and thou be left as a dry tree in the wilderness.
Sir 6:4  For a wicked soul shall destroy him that hath it, and maketh him to be a joy to his enemies, and shall lead him into the lot of the wicked. 


Sirach 6 is harder to divide up.  The next section is all about friendship, and quite long, so I broke this out by itself.

Verse 2 speaks of pride and how we should not extol ourselves like a bull.  Oh sure, we know there are things we are good at.  But we can't forget who gave us those gifts or make sure we employ them properly.  We probably shouldn't do that thing that some might do where we sit around and are happy about how awesome we are at something... 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday Readings and Psalm 45

The top of the USCCB page with the readings says today is The Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. I think there's a split there so it is the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord and the Solemnity of Mary, but I can't be sure.  In any event, you now have the links to the readings. 

Psalm 45
To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves. My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.

And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.

Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour. The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace.

Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.
(Psa 45:1-17)