Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28, 2011 – Catechism 748-752

Since we have been talking about the Eucharist I guess, I had this thought when I was reading these paragraphs.  “I am the Bread of Life.”  Bread is nourishment for our Holy Lives, nourishment for our journey on our way to return to Christ in Heaven.  When you really need something to nourish you, what do you go for.  Do you grab junk food, small bites, or do you nourish yourself with something that is substantial.  I see junk food as being the things this world tells us will give us pleasure.  Sex, money, etc are all instantly pleasing but cannot sustain us.  We cannot live on junk food (although there probably is some diet out there that says differently and is selling books right now).  But we can also get small portions of things that are good for us.  Eat a carrot, have a salad every once in a while, in other words eat like I do.  I don’t eat a lot of junk food, but I don’t really eat healthy food.  I think this symbolizes a lot of Christian denominations.  They cannot be really fed something substantial and nourishing because they don’t have the Eucharist.  They have many Truths that can be followed and believed and lead them in the right direction, but that is like me eating my one helping of veggies every week.  It is not what Christ had in mind.  752 talks about how the Eucharist is such a substantial part of the Church.  Christ gives Himself to the Church in a Real way so that His Grace can guide it.  The Eucharist is such an important part of the Catholic Church it is seen as the source and summit of our faith.   When we think about the Catholic Church being in decline we can place the blame on the loss in belief of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.  When you lose faith in what the source and summit of your faith is, it’s hard not to fall away from the Church altogether. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 11

“I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.” Verse 2.  I still cannot understand a person being so adamant about following a teaching of the “Bible Alone” when this clearly shows that Paul was telling them to follow traditions that he handed to them.  Tradition is a part of Christian belief.  Not to mention that the following of a “Bible Alone” theology is a tradition. 

Verses 27 and 29.  Why is it such a condemnation of sharing in the cup and bread if they are only mere symbols of Christ Body and Blood.  Doesn’t it make more sense that if Paul was teaching that they are actually Christ Body and Blood and you partake of them in an unworthy manner, then you have such condemnation.  This is why non-Catholics are not permitted to receive the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass.  We believe that it is the Real Body and Blood and that in receiving it you are saying that you are in Communion with the Church and all it teaches and believe this to truly be Christ Body and Blood.  If you are not Catholic, or happen to be a Catholic by name only and don’t believe in what the Church teaches, you are not suppose to receive because your receiving the Eucharist is a lie.  There is no commitment there, no communion.  And to receive it and be lying puts you in a sinful place.  The Church restricts people from receiving for their own benefit, so that they will not “[eat] and [drink] judgment on himself” 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 26, 2011 – Sirach 37

“Then, too, heed your own heart's counsel; for what have you that you can depend on more? A man's conscience can tell him his situation better than seven watchmen in a lofty tower”. Verses 13-14.  Here it is.  The Bible completely supports the idea of moral relativism.  If your conscience tells you it is good, it is good.  If someone tells you that you are wrong, ignore them because this says you know better than seven watchmen.  (because this is typed please understand this has so far been soaked to the core with sarcasm.)  You must read the next verse to understand the Catholic Church teaching on following your conscience.  “Most important of all, pray to God to set your feet in the path of truth.”  The Church tells us to follow our conscience, but first and foremost, we must form our conscience.  If someone follows an ill-informed conscience, it is like being led by a blind man over a cliff.  Yet, that is what people want to do.  They want to do what they feel is right and not listen to others.  The world wants this to be the way it is.  Nothing is wrong because there is no truth and whatever you think is true is true for you.  It may not be true for me, but I should accept the it is true for you.  Have you ever truly thought about that.  It makes absolutely no sense.  How can a world survive if there is no absolute truth.  What does it lead to.  Basically it leads to death because your life and its meaning becomes nothing.  Someone may someday argue that you as a human do not have meaning anymore.  But you argue that you do and as long as you breath you have meaning and that is truth.  But they say they don’t really believe that, that we are all really just animals, none better than the other and you are no more important that the rest.  There is nothing special about you, so we should just get rid of you.  Because we will have lost our understanding of truth and that there is a real and absolute truth, your disagreement will have to be looked at by someone else to be judged as to who is more correct, because neither of you is absolutely correct, you can’t be if there is no truth.  This may seem over the top, but we are only steps away from it.  Life does not have the same value it once did.  The unborn, the elderly, the handicapped, they are being pushed aside.  And if you don’t think it can happen when dealing with normal everyday folks, tell that to a Jew in Nazi Germany.  When the definition of life, the meaning of life is taken out of the realm of ABSOLUTE TRUTH and is vulnerable to the a definition given to it from moral relativism, there can always be the argument that your life is the one that does not have meaning.   

Friday, February 25, 2011

February 25, 2011 – Leviticus 23

When it comes to celebrating days as a Church, the Catholic Church maintains that tradition.  Holy Days of Obligations are a way to celebrate throughout the year different and specific things happening and remind us of different and significant moments in Christ life.  Yes, keeping the Sabbath Holy is the commandment and an obligation, but that is contained in the first few verses.  The rest of the chapter describes the importance of other days of obligation throughout the year.  With Ash Wednesday coming up (not a Holy Day of Obligation but will be a day many Catholic go to Church and it isn’t a Sunday) we will be living out the tradition that started here.  It is important for us to not come only of Sunday but realize that we need more than just Sundays to remember and celebrate the significant moments in Christ life just as the Hebrews celebrate significant events in their past.  Just FYI – Catholic Holy Days of Obligation.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 24, 2011 – Catechism 737-747

I have always found the imagery of Christ as the Head of the Body that is the Church very helpful in understanding who connected the two must be.  Everything the Body does is controlled by the Head, or Brain, or is at least known to the Brain.  Food, air, water, hearing seeing, almost all the senses come through the head into the rest of the body.  Especially those things that are life giving, air, water, food, must come through the head.  That is where I think they were going when they are talking about the Sacraments.  They are the Life giving gifts from the Father.  They come through Christ and the Holy Spirit (the head) into the Body (Church) to nourish it.  The Sacraments must come directly through the Head to be useful (try drinking water by sticking your finger in the glass, just doesn’t work) and we must receive those nourishing things to stay alive (how long can you go without air, food, water). 

Here is another interesting thought.  The lungs produce the air that comes out through the head producing words to speak.  The Church provides the tools for Christ to speak to the World.  God could speak to the world without the Church (anything is possible for God) but try talking without breathing, without the air provided by your lungs.  God uses the Church to speak to the World, but those words, in order to be used correctly, come through the mouth of God, through the Head.   

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 10

If it is true that communion is only a symbol and that the bread and wine (or grape juice) is not Jesus’ body and blood, why doesn’t Paul say that in v. 16.  “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ.”  I guess the word that is in question is participation.  King James version says “communion”, Douay-Rheims Bible says “communion” and “partaking”, and there are notes pointing back to the breaking of bread in Acts 2:42.  So, if Paul is talking about the same breaking of bread that they are talking about in Acts, it does not appear to be just a gathering together to share a meal, but this celebration of the cup of blessing that is a participation in the blood of Christ. 

We also have the great verse that should be on everyone’s mind when they are struggling.  No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it. V. 13.  Nothing that happens cannot be handled if we rely on God.  He will give us whatever strength we need to manage.  This should mean that we never worry, but we all know that doesn’t happen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22, 2011 – Wisdom 18-19

Fathers Passing Underneath a Cloud.

I am not sure where the cloud will come into play in tomorrow’s reading, but these chapters deal with the story of Exodus and the Hebrews leaving Egypt and the power of God.  The cloud is the one that protected the Hebrews when Egypt came after them and they were backed against the Red Sea.  The part I found most interesting is the description of the Egyptians when they decide to come after them.  Realize that they had just had every first born male die, including Pharaoh’s son.  There would have been a lot of mourning and funerals being done.  The animals were killed as well, so the clean up would have happened with that.  It must have just been a very dark place.  And in the midst of that mourning, the Egyptians still cannot let go of these slaves.  They change their mind and go back after them.  “For while they were still engaged in funeral rites and were mourning at the burials of the dead, They adopted another senseless plan; and those whom they had sent away with entreaty, they pursued as fugitives. For a compulsion suited to this ending drew them on, and made them forgetful of what had befallen them, That they might fill out the torments of their punishment” 19:4-5.  They did not even take the time to bury their dead children before they revert back to this stubbornness and forgetfulness of what they had just been through.  I wonder what their intention was when the army was going out to them.  Where they going to bring them back or were they just going to destroy them.  You would think the anger of the many soldiers who had lost children would have been enough that it would have just been a massacre.

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 21, 2011 – Leviticus 22

The whole idea of the unblemished sacrifice makes me think of the idea of going to Mass and just going through the motions.  When we go to Mass, we are participating in the Sacrifice of the Mass.  That participation is what needs to be unblemished.  If our mind is wandering, we are worried about what so and so is wearing, thinking about how to get out as quickly as possible, our offering to God is blemished and not an acceptable gift.  I know that none of us is perfect, but these offerings were not perfect either.  There was only one Perfect Lamb, Jesus.  But what they are told to give is unblemished, or their best.  That is what we are to give when we go to Mass.  Our full attention and our every effort to fully participate.  When we fail to focus and are thinking about other things, we are offering God a blemished lamb, and such a one is not acceptable to the Lord.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20, 2011 – Catechism 731-736

The Holy Spirit as a gift.  Have you ever given a gift freely.  I was trying to think back and whether there was something that I did for which I did not even want a thank you.  Granted, there are things which I do that I don’t get thanked for and there are things I have done and been thanked for and modestly said “no need to thank me” but was actually needing the thank you.  But I mean a genuine gift that I did that at the time I wasn’t thinking at all about being thanked. 

If we have had one of those times (I still can’t think of one) multiple that by infinity.  God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit for nothing in return.  It is a gift, fully given, with no strings attached.  We can chose to accept it or not and, although there are repercussions to our decision, God seeks nothing in return for the gift.  What can you give God who is creator of all things.  The gift is given fully and the decision is fully in our court. 

But if there are repercussions, how is it a gift fully given?  I was trying to think of an example, but couldn’t think of a gift fully given.  If you win something on a game show you still have to pay taxes.  If you are given a puppy, you have to take care of them.  And I am sure there is a lecture about contraception and fully giving yourself to a spouse in there, but I am a little behind on blogs so we will leave that to another day.  But I will continue to try and think of a gift fully given and try to give without wanting a thank you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 9

When I first started to read this chapter, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.  But after you read the whole thing, go back and read it over again.  This entire thing is about Paul not wanting to be a hypocrite.  He teaches and preaches and has those that follow him and he wants to make sure that they understand he is not just preaching this life, but living it.  “Do we not have the right to eat and drink?”  He is telling them that he has the same temptations that he is warning them against.  He is not immune to temptations, nor is he allowed to indulge because he is an apostle and leader.  He is living the life he is telling them to preach so that “after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” 

This is one of the things I find hardest to do sometimes.  We can get caught up in feeling like we are doing enough to be close to God and lull ourselves into complacency.  Paul is telling us that the way to not fall into this is to “I drive my body and train it”.  Are we driving our faith, our spiritual lives, are we training and building it up, or is our spiritual life becoming a lazy couch potato.  Lent is a good time to get back into shape.  We had Advent and Christmas and New Year’s resolutions, but now we may have found that those have slipped a bit.  Lent starts in about 2 weeks.  What are we going to do to get back into shape?

Friday, February 18, 2011

February 18, 2011 – Sirach 34

I don’t know what to make of dreams.  I often don’t remember dreams and usually the ones I do aren’t good dreams but the ones you tried to wake up from.  Really the only time I really remember freaking out about a dream is when Paul was about 3-5 months old and for about a week I woke up several times knowing for certain that Paul was being smothered in our blankets.  I would wake up frantically trying to get to him and looking for him in all the blankets.  It might be the most scared I have been, yet Paul never slept in our bed.  It was completely in my head.  But many people take dreams very seriously and in the day of psychiatrist and the like, we are told that our dreams say a lot about us.  Here we are told that only fools are guided by their dreams.  They are formed by us, they display what we either want or fear, but come from us internally.  There was a time when I read some books about trying to control your dreams.  The idea was that eventually you could be active in your dreams.  You would be able to take things that you might be working on in real life, do them in your dream to see what the result would be, and use that knowledge when you woke up.  But isn’t that all limited to what your own mind contains.  Everything in your dream is limited to your knowledge.  It doesn’t take into account everyone else’s thoughts and actions and other possibilities.  Needless to say I didn’t get far because the first step is to remember your dreams, and I just have never been able to do that.  It just appears that at the present time people make a big deal about dreams and I just don’t have any feeling that a dream has ever helped me do anything.  They just don’t seem like something that is very important to me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17, 2011 – Leviticus 21

Here we see the importance of the priest to God and how He wanted to keep them separate from “normal” people.  That is because they performed such an important task of offering the sacrifices to God.  We see some of the idea of having defects as being a sign of sinfulness in that those with defects could not become the priest or at least not perform in the services as regular priest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 16, 2011 – Catechism 727-730

With the Holy Spirit with us, it is as though Christ has not left us.  Christ gives us the Spirit to guide us and to remind us of all that He taught us.  They are so closely connected.  I know a lot of times I see Father and Son as being very closely connected and the Spirit off by Itself.  But when you think that the Father pretty much was the Old Testament, Christ comes and brings the Spirit to us, as far as our connection to God, Son and Spirit are much closer to each other and the Father is somewhere off far away.  I know that neither of these are really the case and that there is no separating the Three in the Trinity, but that is just how it sometimes appears to me. 

In the Creed it talks about the Spirit speaking through the Prophets.  How is that if He came through Jesus.  (as I was typing I kinda came up with something of an answer)  I think the Spirit might have come is a special way through the prophets to prepare us for Christ, but because that connection with God was still blocked, the Spirit could not come as It is really meant to.  After Christ died and rose, the Spirit could come and be among us and fulfill its true purpose, to help and guide us.  That makes sense and helps us better understand how important the prophets were, how special they were and why John the Baptist, the greatest and last prophet, was special enough to feel the Spirit influence him even in his mother’s womb. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 15, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 7:17 - 8:13

There have been a few postings on my comments about the celibacy of priest.  Here we have Saint Paul saying again that it is a good thing for a person not to be married. 

I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.  1 Cor 7:32-34.

What does this mean if not that a person who is working for God, for the Church, needs to have their entire focus on the Church and God.  That a person who is married cannot have that focus because their focus is divided, which it is suppose to be, on their family.  But an unmarried person does not have to be divided.  They can be solely focused on God. 

Before you start this just know that I went back and forth with whether I could actually respond to things in here, but the more I actually read it, and looked into who he sites, I feel I am required to.  I don’t have answers to everything he says, but I will do my best to point to things that don’t follow at all what the Church actually teaches.  I feel a lot of this is him using information that he got from somewhere from somebody that got it from somewhere.

One comment pointed to this article, which I am going to try and respond to.

The first thing I would respond to, and this is true for almost all things on the internet, including my little blog, is that the citations leave a bit to be desired.  One example is where he writes, “Pope John Paul II recognized this in 1993 when he said publicly that celibacy is not essential to the priesthood.”  He cites Time Magazine of July 1993.  It says that the Pope said this publically, but there are no quotes.  There is no mention of the article or what this was about.  And most importantly, the Pope does not change Church teaching or infallibly pronounce anything through Time Magazine.  Even if this is an accurate statement, it is not a changing of Catholic Church teaching, which is what the writer was leaning it towards.

Another one, and I am just picking them up as I see them because I want to actually know where he is getting his info, is “In 494 women’s participation in the leadership of small communities came to an end when Pope Gelasius decreed that women could no longer be ordained to the priesthood.”  Cited as Padovano, A. Power, Sex, and Church Structures. A lecture presented at Call To Action, Chicago. 1994.  First, Call to Action is a group that names themselves Catholic in word alone.  Their mission statement says nothing about following Catholic teachings and they hold views that are anti-Catholic.  More can be said on groups like this when we talk about the 8th Chapter in 1 Cor.  He sites from this lecture many times throughout, but I couldn’t find the actually lecture anywhere, so I don’t know where he gets his information.  I would look up the person, but all we get is an initial and a last name, so we are really limited on what we can track down.   

“No one was excluded from receiving Communion. The strangers soon became friends, joined the young Church, and brought others to hear the good news of Jesus.”

This doesn’t have any citations at all, yet boldly sets out exactly how things were in the early church.  And it doesn’t appear biblical.  “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.”  1 Cor 11:27 (We haven’t quite gotten there yet.)  But if anyone can come and partake, how can a person be unworthy. 

“it was during this period [12th century] of Church history that marriage after divorce was declared to be a sin. Those who were divorced and remarried were no longer permitted to receive the Blessed Sacrament. Up to this time, marriages were adjudicated, consensually dissolved, and individuals were free to marry again, and free to receive Holy Communion.”  Also citing the speech.  This is what kept me going because I was about to scrap this whole response.  Christ made it a sin to get married after a divorce or to get divorced at all.  Wherever the speaker got this, which we don’t know, appears to be rubbish or at least misunderstood. 

It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.' But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.  Matthew 5:31-32  The tone in which this is written seems to suggest that people should be allowed to get divorced and remarried to their hearts content.  But that is exactly what Christ says is wrong. 

“In the year 1075, Pope Gregory VII declared … that everyone must obey the pope, and that all popes are saints by virtue of their association with St. Peter.  Also citing the lecture.  Although this is not the case.  The first 35 Popes are considered saints.  After that there is another streak were only a few aren’t, up into the mid 50’s.  But after that it is pretty inconsistent as to whether a pope is a saint or not. 

“70 percent of Catholics want their priests who have married to resume their work as married priests in the Roman Catholic Church.”

“Recently, a Gallup poll was taken on Catholic attitudes toward Holy Communion. The poll showed serious confusion among Catholics about one of the most basic beliefs of the Church.

Only 30 percent of those surveyed believe they are actually receiving the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. 29 percent think they are receiving bread and wine which symbolize the spirit and teachings of Jesus and, in so doing, are expressing their attachment to His person and words. 10 percent understand their action to be receiving bread and wine in which Jesus is present. and 23 percent hold that they are receiving what has become the Body and Blood of Christ because of their personal belief.”

So, what he is saying is that if enough Catholics believe something should change in the church, it should change.  Then we wouldn’t have the Eucharist anymore either. 

On one hand I think this writer has good intentions.  He see a decline in Catholic Churches and feels he has a way to solve it.  On the other hand, many of the reasons the Catholic Church is in decline is because many are not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and disagree with what it teaches.  Because of this they try to shape rules and change teachings in order to better fit what they feel is correct.  What this watered down Catholicism is doing is creating people who are not taught properly what the Church teaches, are convinced that their way is better, choose to believe their own opinions and stay Catholic, or leave the Church.  We don’t need to water down the faith and change the rules to make people feel better about it.  We don’t need to change Catholic teaching in order to bump up our numbers.  The Catholic Church has the Truth and it needs to stand firm against this type of wave.  People will either come back or they won’t.  The Catholic Church is not an all inclusive thing and not an easy belief to have, but Christ said that it would be this way. 

Chapter 8 talks about scandal and the fact that even though you know you are not doing anything wrong, if it appears to someone else as though you are and because they are influenced by you, you are guilty of scandal, even though you may not have done anything wrong.  A group like Call to Action may have good intentions, to want to help people, but by not following Church teaching and actually promoting things that are against Church teaching, they confuse and lead away many people from the true teaching of the Church.  For that, they are a scandalous group.  This writer, as I said, appears to have good intentions, but leads people astray by citing things that are either misleading or incorrect.  Every person that reads his writing and is pulled away from the True teaching of the Church is a soul that he is on the hook for, regardless of his intentions.  This is scandal. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14, 2011 – Sirach 33

I wonder if we sometimes see the talk about slavery in the Bible and automatically shut down our brain because we think that this is something old and non-existent and therefore we don’t have to worry about it.  It is a bit confusing, because we are raised with the pictures of slavery in the south, to read about slavery here.  There are two very distinct sections.  26-29 instructs a person to deal with a slave rather harshly.  Keep them at work all the time because if you don’t they will think of freedom.  If they become unruly, put chains on them.  But then in 30-33 we see that you are to treat slaves as you would yourself.  One thing that jumps out at you is that slaves are human beings (v. 30).  There was a lot argued back in the early part of our country saying that slaves were not human.  I guess if the majority of the country had been using a Catholic Bible with the book of Sirach in it they would have seen that God says slaves are human.

If you gloss over this by thinking that slavery is something ancient I think you miss a lesson.  Not only was slavery very widely used back then and not only is this instruction a more humane way of treating slaves then we see from our history books, but what does this teach us about being a slave for Christ. 

James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ James 1:1

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus Romans 1:1

We are called to be constantly doing God’s work and when we are idle we will long to be free of God, to seek material things, to become worldly.  And if we are like that, we will have chains thrown upon us, not as punishment, but to keep us focused on working for God.  We are called to be slaves for God.   

On the flip side, if we are slaves to sin, we will be constantly obsessed with it, it will be on our mind all the time, taking up all our thoughts.  If we try to venture out to see what may be beyond that sin, it will wrap its chains around you and drag you back.  Ask anyone with an addiction how it feels to be a slave to that addiction. 

God can help us break those chains so that we can become His slaves.  Hopefully this is a new way to look at slavery and when we read about it, it does not seem so foreign or ancient but a teaching tool. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 13, 2011 – Leviticus 20

What I thought of for verses 15-16 was “the poor animal didn’t have any say in the matter, why does it have to die”?

Verse 20.  Dying childless?  Does this mean that God would just make them barren or would the children be executed.  And then when we hear about women being barren in the Bible, think what the community must have thought of them.  “Well, your barren so you must have done something to earn that.”

Verse 22.  It is pretty clear what God wants them to do.  When we see Israel go into exile, they must have, or should have, looked back at this and realized that they were being vomited out of the land God gave them.

Verse 24.  A land flowing with milk and honey?  Sounds sticky.  (that is not my joke.  Stole it from Veggie Tales.) 

Every time it says someone is or should be punished by death for their breaking of the laws it says that “they have forfeited their lives.”  I don’t know if I have ever thought about it that way.  It is not so much that they did something and are being punished, but more that they forfeited their lives in making the chose that they did.  It is not about the punishment as it is about the persons free will.  It feels like we can apply that to those people that are in Hell or going to be.  It is not so much punishment for their actions, but they forfeited their souls by their actions.  It takes the focus away from executing a punishment to the free will chose of the person and the repercussions from that chose.  Those in jail are not being punished, they forfeited their freedom by making the choses they did. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February 12, 2011 – Catechism 721-726

Every time we have something about Mary, all the usually disagreements seem to be discussed.  Here we have most of them all in one place.  Instead of going into all of them again, everyone just step back and let’s think about it from a different point of view. 

Do we believe that God is all powerful, almighty, that nothing is impossible with God. 

Do we believe that Jesus is God.  Fully human and fully divine.  Although one person of the Trinity, still fully and totally God. 

Do we believe that Jesus was born of Mary, even though she was a virgin.  That the Holy Spirit came upon her and at that moment Christ was conceived in her womb.

If you believe all those things, doesn’t it make sense, still looking from God’s point of view, that the woman He chose to bring Him into the world in human form would be special.  Doesn’t it make more sense that she is created in a special way than for her to just be completely normal.  Christ is without sin because He is God.  Doesn’t it make sense that He would be formed in a womb of a woman who did not know sin.  Just some things to ponder about the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

February 11, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 6 - 7:16

The beginning of Chapter 7 talks about being married and how it is a good think for a majority of people.  Yet, Paul says that if you are able to control yourself, it is better if you are not married.  How can people read this and not understand the Church’s teaching on the celibacy of priest and religious.  Many will point to the scandals in the Church and say that it all happened because priest are not married.  That just isn’t the case.  Pedophiles are found in all walks of life.  That doesn’t mean it should have happened or was inevitable, but it can’t be blamed on the priestly call to celibacy.  And the cover up and hiding the facts shouldn’t have happened, but again, that has nothing to do with celibacy.  The celibacy of a priest is a beautiful and sacred things and allows his commitment to be to the Church and to God.  And it is shown right here by Paul to be a preferred way to live life, if you have the strength to do it.  We should all pray for our priest and that they have the strength to live out that vocation to the fullest. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10, 2011 – Sirach 36

Most of Sirach has been these lessons on how to live life, but at the beginning of this chapter we have what sounds more like a prayer to God that would be found in the prophetic books.  It seems a bit out of place, and then, after verse 17, it goes back to the lesson portion. 

Some may point to the teaching about living alone and not being married as something that may mean that Catholic priest should be married.  I don’t know if that is exactly what they were trying to get across.  I took it more as not being tied down or committed to anything.  A person who never commits to anything is a homeless wanderer.  The priest is not a person who is afraid of commitment, on the contrary, has committed himself to the Church.  I think if you look out at the world, at the couples who live together but won’t get married, the women who have children without thinking they need a father, the broken homes, those show the lack of commitment that I think this is talking about.  We are in a world where the idea of commitment is something that is not permanent anymore.  You really only have to stay committed as long as you feel like it, then you can shove off at anytime.  That type of wandering is what this is warning against.  

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

February 9, 2011 – Leviticus 19

15 – I think sometimes we fail on both of these accounts.  We sometimes give people the benefit of the doubt because of their circumstances.  If a person has had difficulty in their lives, we make excuses for them in a situation where they in some aspects may quite trying.  We also give those with money and power pretty much a free pass in many cases.  Every once in a while a celebrity might go to jail for something, but it is usually after they have been given several breaks already.  We are to judge justly, which means the same rules apply to everyone.  What does that mean when you look at something like affirmative action.  That is a policy that specifically treats a person differently because of their ethnicity.  But that is in place because prior generations treated those same groups differently in a negative fashion.  Does the one fix the other.  Can giving people an advantage now alleviate the pain of discrimination in the past.  We live in a world that doesn’t treat people equally so we come up with rules that try to force us to, but they only force us to treat people differently.  Is it fair to hire someone based on ethnicity any more than it is fair to not hire someone based on ethnicity.  God tells us to treat everyone fairly.  No law is going to achieve that.  It must be a change in people’s mentality and any law that tries to force it only causes unfairness in the opposite direction to try and make up the difference. 

With this in mind, treating everyone equally, think about this.  In April of 1972, the US Supreme Court decided a case named Sierra Club v. Morton.  The main issue in that case is whether the group bringing the case had any standing, or the right to make a legal claim, for the inanimate objects, such as trees and nature that was going to be destroyed.  The court said that there wasn’t standing although one of the quotes states that , “With all respect, the problem is to make certain that the inanimate objects, which are the very core of America's beauty, have spokesmen before they are destroyed.” 405 U.S. 727, 745.  However one of the dissenters, judge that disagreed with the majority opinion, was Harry Blackmun.  That is important to note because Justice Blackmun, less than a year later wrote the decision in Roe v Wade.  This found that the baby inside a mother’s womb does not have any rights, is not a person, and can be destroyed at the discretion of the mother.  Just a thought about what this country sees as important.   

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

February 8, 2011 – Catechism 717-720

John the Baptist is such an important character in the history of salvation.  The last prophet, the main arrow pointing the world to Christ.  During Advent I heard someone talking about everyone having a John the Baptist in their lives.  The person that first pointed them to Christ.  The one that first said, He is the One you need to follow.  Think about that and who that person was to you.  Hopefully it is your parents.  I think that is one of my most important roles as a parent.  If your parents weren’t religious, then it was somebody else.  If you are reading this because you are curious about a relationship with God and don’t have one, let me be the person that says, He is the One you are looking for.  That should be our goal, that anyone that is not in a relationship with God, if they spend time with us, leaves with that knowledge that He is the One they are to follow. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

February 7, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 4-5

4:7 – We have received everything we have.  How can we boast as if it were not received, as if it were something that we have done on our own.  Where does the credit go when something goes great.  If it is not to God, it is misdirected.  Who does an atheist thank for his good health.  Is that something that he achieved on his own.  I agree there are things a person can do to stay healthy, but that isn’t enough on its own to give you good health.  Lance Armstrong had cancer.  People get sick.  Do you really think good health is all your doing. 

4:15 – I have heard the argument that the Bible says to call no man father, so we shouldn’t call priest father or the pope Holy Father.  But here Paul is saying that he became like a father to them a father in Christ.  That leads me to believe that they called him father.  Was Paul teaching against the Scriptures.  No.  Call no man father is referring to the idea that we have one God and no one is to be put on that level.  We have only one Father in Heaven.  That teaching is about who we worship, not about titles we give people.

4:16 – Many things are said about statues of saints in churches and how our focus should be on God alone.  That isn’t what Paul is saying here.  He doesn’t say be imitators of Christ, although I think he would tell us that we should try and do that as well.  He says be imitators of me, because he knew he was trying to live a holy life.  We can look to the saints as role models in their lives and that they tried to live for the Lord in everything they did.  It is good to have those reminders of how to live life.  Christ is at the focal point and that is our goal, the saints help us get there, point us towards that goal.  Paul doesn’t seem to be opposed to looking as people other than Christ as role models because he tells us to look at him. 

Sunday, February 06, 2011

February 6, 2011 – Sirach 32

This reminds me of my mom.  She is always the last one to eat when people are over at her house.  Sometimes I wonder if she ate anything at all when we had a party.  She is always up and busy doing something while everyone gets their things and then finally she would sit down herself.  I don’t know if she has ever read this reading, but that is what it reminded me of.  I don’t know if I quite have that part of being a host down because I like to eat, but I try to make sure people are taken care of first. 

There is also the part about not over staying your welcome.  When the party is suppose to be over, leave.  You can relax at your own home.  This one I don’t know about.  I usually enjoy when people stay longer and the party winds down and you can have a conversation a little more easily.  Since we have Paul, I know we don’t stay longer than we have to, we are usually pretty quick about leaving.  I think growing up, my family was always the last ones to leave, we usually helped clean up.  Sometimes I don’t know if people appreciate that or if they just want to be alone.  With my family they were probably just ready for us to be out of their hair. 

Saturday, February 05, 2011

February 5, 2011 – Leviticus 18

When I was reading this the first thing I thought of is with all these rules, there must have been a lot of sexual sin going on during this period of time.  The laws that we have here are ones that we would think are pretty fundamental.  Basically it goes through different types of incest and says that they are wrong.  Then that homosexual actions and sexual acts with animals are wrong.  If these are the sins that God felt he had to point out to keep them on track, first and for most in means these were being done, but secondly, it means that acts that were not incest, adultery, multiple wives, and other sexual acts, were probably being done on a regular basis. 

Sometimes it feels that when people talk about the sin of sexual acts, they act as though it is something that we are just beginning to deal with now.  Obviously that is not the case when you see what was going on here.  Something that is new, I believe, is the publicity of these acts and the acceptance of them.  It used to be something that people would try to hide or keep their acts in private.  Now it is something that is spread all over, thanks to technology and the publics thirst for those types of juicy things.  Another aspect that is added is the life issues.  Where as contraception and abortion did exist back then and were used, they were not something that was readily available or accepted as normal.  That is why some point to the legalization of contraception, not legalization of abortion, as the tipping point for the dive we have taken as far as morality in this world.  

Friday, February 04, 2011

February 4, 2011 – Catechism 709-716

We fear the idea of exile.  It is not in our nature to suffer, even though, when you think about it, nothing you have that is really worth anything came to you without suffering or sacrifice.  We know this and are thankful for it, but we don’t trust it enough to go into exile with confidence.  We always go in reluctantly.  With Lent on the horizon, maybe we should go in with a better attitude, knowing that if we take it serious and honestly take a look at really growing in our relationship with God, we will come out in better shape. 

There is so much said, and recently I have seen it in almost everything I read, about being poor and meek and how the Spirit is in them.  God is preparing these for great things.  I think about what that means for me.  I am not wealthy by any stretch, yet I know I am not poor.  I know there are things I want and don’t have, and I also know those are things I don’t need and won’t help me grow.  I know I have things that I don’t need, but I also do without.  I just wonder where I fit into this.  Am I poor enough to receive God’s Spirit or even with what I have am I too materialistic so that my heart is hardened.  Obviously I hope for one, but I am not arrogant enough to think I am not a victim of the other.  I know I envy others and it is something that really eats at me inside.  I long for what they have and then I beat myself up for wanting it.   I don’t know if I am better at it than I used to be.  I think I am harder on myself when I catch myself and I think I catch myself more when I do it instead of just thinking it is ok to envy.  I guess that is something, but it is something that I will keep working on.     

Thursday, February 03, 2011

February 3, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 2-3

2:11 – We cannot know what anyone else is thinking in their soul or their minds.  When we judge people we are doing so with the limited knowledge we can see, but have no understanding of what they were thinking, where their mind is, what their experience has been.  That is why we are not called to judge people.  If we have such little understanding of other people, why are people so easy to think they understand the mind of God and what He should or shouldn’t be doing.  I love this verse.  Just as we only know what is in our spirit, so God is the only one who can know what is in His Spirit. 

2:8 – The footnotes talk not only about the rulers that actually crucified Christ, but the cosmic powers behind them.  I think this could also be said to the powers at work in our country that are taking God out of schools and government.  If they actually knew God’s wisdom and glory, even though many call themselves Christian or religious, they would not be crucifying the Lord again by taking Him out of our lives.  We would also not be crucifying Him with our sins if we actually knew and really understood His Wisdom. 

3:2 – I don’t know how I feel about this.  Being fed milk instead of food because I am not ready.  On one side I feel slighted, but on the other I am so grateful that God humbles Himself to try and help me, lowly old me, to understand His Mystery of Salvation.  In a way, we are not ready for food until we reach Heaven and can be with Him in all His spender.  Until then, we must be nursed with the little bit we can handle.  This also makes me think of the Eucharist and how He humbles Himself to let us consume Him, even though we are not worthy of it, but to help us become worthy, help us get to the Feast in Heaven.  It also makes us think about receiving the Eucharist in a worthy manner and making sure we are as worthy as we can be when we receive. 

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

February 2, 2011 – Sirach 31

Concern for one’s livelihood takes away more of your slumber than a serious illness. 

The part about how to act at a table with plenty of food makes me think of how the Koetters boys used to attack a buffet.  The part where you can lay down without discomfort is not something we knew anything about.  We could not leave a buffet without being in pain because we had eaten as much as we possibly could.  They are lucky we only did it every once in a blue moon or they could have gone out of business. 

I have heard some say that they did not have wine in Jesus time, so Catholics shouldn’t use wine now.  Here we see that they are talking about wine in the Old Testament and its effects and the fact that it needs to be done in moderation.  Actually it says it is very life to man if taken in moderation.  Joy of heart, good cheer, and even lately I have heard of the health benefits of wine if taken in moderation.  There are those who cannot take it in moderation because they have an addiction and have abused it in the past, but that doesn’t take away from its benefits if done properly.  It is no different than the idea of a buffet is a good one unless you are immature and try to fit as much into your stomach until it hurts.  Anything can be bad for you and almost all things are ok if done in moderation. 

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

February 1, 2011 – Leviticus 17

This made me think of 2 things.  First, if the Jewish people were so against anything dealing with blood, that must have made Christ teaching about drinking His blood all the more troubling to believe.  Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. John 6:53.  They do stuff with the blood of the sacrifices, but they are never to consume it, so Christ was really changing things. 

The second thing I was thinking about is how it describes what blood it. verse 11 -  Since the life of a living body is in its blood.  Think about that the next time you go up to receive the chalice.  I know that this is Christ body and blood, but think about that Christ life is in the blood.  Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is what we are taught, but to understand that it is also His life in the blood.  That life we receive so that it can live inside us.  Not only is it blood, but living blood, the living blood of Christ that contains Christ life.  I just thought that description of life being contained in the blood is something to think about the next time you receive.