Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31, 2011 – Numbers 31 - 31:24

One thing I found very interesting is that they killed Balaam.  If you remember back, he is the person that was brought to place a curse on Israel.  But every time he tried, he actually blessed them instead.  I wrote then that I thought he was a great example of following God’s will or doing what God wanted even if it was going to cause you trouble or pain.  He was promised all sorts of things, yet he did not follow that, he could only say what God told him to say.  Then we read that he was killed by the Israelites.  What gives?

Well, you have to wait until the end of the chapter to see that after he had done all that blessing, he actually caused the seduction of many Israelites to mix with groups they were not suppose to.  What it really teaches us is that just because we do one thing well, that will not cover up for our future mistakes.  We cannot rely on our good acts of the past to save us from our wrongful acts in the future.  We must always be acting in a way that follows God’s will, not just some of the times. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 30, 2011 – Catechism 971-975

Instead of writing again about Mary, I just wanted to give this link.  It is a short video that gives many of the Bible verses that support Catholic beliefs about Mary.  The one thing I did want people to think about, and I don’t think it is brought up enough, is the Israelite understanding of a mothers role with the King.  The King of Israel’s mother played a very important role as an advocate between the people and the King and was given a seat of honor next to the King.  If this is the understanding of Israel kingship, are we to think that the mother of Christ would not have some important role to play.  Just something to think about.

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 29, 2011 – Philippians 3-4

I don’t understand the objection to having statues and images in churches to remind us of holy people and their lives when Paul says to be imitators of him.  Yes, we are to look to Christ and try to be like Him, but those that lived their lives in a holy way and lived by God’s will should be role models for us.  We can be imitators of them as well.  I hear many times that the statues and images distract us from God.  That could not be farther from the truth, they point us to God.  If the statues or images are a distraction or become something they were not intended for, then I would agree that is an issue, but I have not heard of that being an issue.  They are arrows pointing us to Christ, examples that we can follow in our own life, leaders in our Church and those that are with God right now.  The saints are a great reminder for us of God’s love and the ability for us to live God’s will when we may become discouraged and feel that we can never accomplish it because we are only human.  Remember that they were as well. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 28, 2011 – Daniel 6

I didn’t realize this until this reading, but Daniel (granted he has a lot of faith in God) doesn’t appear to be saved by his prayers (although I imagined he did pray). The only prayer request we have to save Daniel is from the King. As he is putting Daniel in, he ask Daniel’s God “May your God, whom you serve so constantly, save you.” (17) I think this is something that is overlooked. Not only that, but the King’s longing to try and get Daniel out of the punishment in the first place.

Also, the amount of people that were killed by the lions is pretty high. The beginning of the chapter says that the king appointed 120 satraps and 3 supervisors (including Daniel). Then it says that Daniel was wiser than all the satraps and supervisors so they plotted against them. Then the king threw all that plotted against Daniel in the lion’s den, with their wives and children. It must have been close to 400 people thrown in. The fact that so many were killed tells us there were a lot of lions and they were very hungry, both increasing the miracle that saved Daniel.

This is also a good story to not only show what faith can do and the power of prayer intentions for others, but also God taking something that on its face is bad and using it for His own good. We might criticize the king for making such a law in the first place, but the creation of the bad law brought about the law at the end of the chapter allowing the God of Israel to be worshipped.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27, 2011 – Numbers 30

This made me think of the argument against the fact that Catholic priest take a vow of celibacy. People are so up in arms about this and feel it is such a burden, but here we see that it is a vow that has been around since the time of Moses. It doesn’t say that priest take this vow, just that when a man takes a vow of abstinence, it must be endured. Obviously abstinence can be from anything, not just sexual acts, but a vow of abstinence from those actions is something that can be taken. Catholic priest are not caught off guard by this vow, it is something they know full well when entering into that commitment. And just because it may be difficult does not make it wrong. And just because our culture at this time in history is so open to sexual freedom does not mean that a vow of celibacy is so old fashioned that it should be done away with.

I don’t know about this, but I wonder if the idea that priest be celibate is something that was brought up as a big complaint before now. I don’t know if people complained about this vow say in the year 500, 1000, or 1500. I would be interested to find that out.

Plus, we are all called to be celibate until marriage. This idea is so thrown under the rug that it’s no wonder people are shocked that priest must remain celibate after their vows.

This whole notion that we should change our tradition to make it easier on priest is pathetic logic. People should take more time and prayer to discover their vocation if they are worried about their choice. No priest has ever been forced to become a priest. They are given every opportunity to back out before taking their vows voluntarily. But after those vows, they are no more allowed to break them than I am allowed to break mine with my wife. I guess in a world that seems to accept divorce, adultery, and cohabitation so readily, taking vows and sticking to them is an odd notion.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July 26, 2011 – Catechism 963-970

I have heard some say that Catholics put Mary up at the same level as God. That is not Church teaching. Here are some sources that express the Church’s teaching that are cited in the Catechism Paragraphs.

62. This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until The eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.(15*) By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.(16*) This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.(17*)

For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer. Just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by the ministers and by the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to His creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.

The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary. It knows it through unfailing experience of it and commends it to the hearts of the faithful, so that encouraged by this maternal help they may the more intimately adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer.” (Lumen gentium – Paragraph 62)

Although Catholics put a great deal of emphasis on Mary, that is because she is Christ mother and worthy, because God chose her among all women and her example of obedience to God’s will, there is no teaching that she is a God or on God’s level. One of the many lessons we learn from Mary, from the Wedding at Cana, is that she directs us to “do whatever He tells you”. She points us towards Christ. To honor Mary is to follow Christ example – Christ obeyed the commandments and that includes honor thy father and mother. Would Christ fault you for showing honor to His mother. I think He would applaud you. And in doing so, you would see that she humbly and constantly points you to God.

Monday, July 25, 2011

July 25, 2011 – Philippians 2

6 – “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” The footnotes give an interpretation of this that I think was interesting. This lines may refer to Christ not seeking to prop Himself up as a God while on Earth even though He could have. This is in direct opposition to the chose made by Adam in the Garden where when he wasn’t suppose to he tried to “grasp” equality with God. Christ over and over again, on the cross, being tempted by the devil, with the crowds around Him wanting to make Him a leader, could have seized that power and taken things in a new direction. He chooses not to in order to show us that this is not what God wants for us. He is an example of following God’s will and putting our own ideas and understandings to the side if they do not coincide with God’s plan. Paul tells us to have the same attitude as Christ, that is to do God’s will over our own. Christ greatest example of this is choosing to remain humbly human even though He was God and had the ability to choose that path.

This kind of choice can seem a little ridiculous sometimes. We are not God and therefore, don’t have the same decisions to make. For the most part our day to day decisions, what tie to where, what to have for breakfast, aren’t God like decisions. But the more we learn about technology and are given choices about life issues, the more this message can really hit home. Christ did not make the chose to be God like, when He had the ability. It is not for us to act God like. With so many choices that have a consequence of whether life happens or not, we really need to think about what we are doing. This is really coming out in the whole idea that artificial contraception is going to be made free by the government and Obamacare. The Catholic Church has always and will always be against artificial contraception and this a way we are allowed to play God that is really taken for granted and accepted. It is really something that is so accepted that to say anything negative about it a person is seen as a lunatic. But it is wrong and not only artificial but unnatural and has farther reaching consequences than we are ever told about. When you think about this “obvious” right you have to artificial contraception, think about this hymn Paul is quoting about Christ not reaching beyond the human grasp and what we are doing every time we take life into our own hands.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

July 24, 2011 – Daniel 5

Here we have the famous quote, “you have been weighed and found wanting.”  I didn’t realize that was from the Bible.  It is interesting that the Kings keep forgetting about these powerful exiles.  The first chapter the 4 are found to be the best of the king’s men and given power.  Then in the 2nd, Daniel interprets a dream and is given power.  Chapter 3 sees 3 of them thrown into the fire.  4 see Daniel brought back to interpret a dream.  Here we have a new king that seems to know nothing of Daniel, although it appears he should know Daniel’s interpretation of the dream because he is told he knows of the king losing power and then getting it back after realizing God’s power.  This new king goes to all his mages first and then when they cannot help him he is reminded of Daniel.  Some footnotes talk about there being a gap between the kings of sometime, but if Daniel is still around, he should have known about him.  Then being told you have been weighed and found wanting, not a ringing endorsement, and then he is killed.  If everything follows the same pattern, the king will forget all about Daniel and then Daniel will be in to do something extraordinary and will be given great power again. 

Not being a biblical historian or anything, I don’t know how true this may be, but doesn’t it seem as if Daniel could be a number of separate stories that were brought together into one book later on.  The back and forth or power and being unknown seems to match with different people throughout the exile that were all combined into a single character for this book.  I don’t know if that has ever been talked about, but doesn’t seem too far out of the question. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 23, 2011 – Numbers 29

I don’t have much to say about this chapter.  The 7th month was a very important month with 3 large celebrations in it.  One footnote said that this month became the new year.  I was thinking that was really odd, but then I was thinking about all the things that start their fiscal years in June (by the way I don’t know why that is) and realized you can start your calendar whenever you want to I guess.  Catholics start their Church calendar on the first Sunday of Advent, usually just after Thanksgiving. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22, 2011 – Catechism 960-962

Here we have the summary of the last 2 days of the Catechism readings. There isn’t too much more I can say, saying quite a bit in the last section about Purgatory and the Saints intercessions and the time before that about indulgences and Treasury of Grace. 4 huge topics and theologies that are a separation from non-Catholic Christians and a vast source of comfort for Catholics. All 4 things I really could not have told you much about 5 years ago, but I have learned about and begun to understand clearly. The more I do learn about and understand them, the more sense they make, but not only do they make sense, the more I see them as a necessity in living a life united with God and something a loving God would provide for those He loves.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21, 2011 – Philippians 1

Please read the introduction first. It is very thorough in discussing when this was written. From what we have read and reflected on in other letters, the earlier time makes sense to me as well because we have seen that in early letters Paul writes of his great concern about Jewish Christians and their preaching of Mosaic law but in letters written while imprisoned in Rome these concerns seem to be resolved. If there are contentions about Jewish Christians and their teachings, that would put this letter into the earlier category.
It is interesting to see this inner turmoil in Paul, between continuing life here on Earth and being in Heaven with Christ. It is not suicidal in the least, and he seems to feel that he does have more life to live, it is more of a reflection on the lack of fear of death he has. He has an extreme confidence in that he knows what is to come after his death. He knows death for him will be a uniting with Christ. But that is because staying on Earth means living for Christ and bringing those to Him. I wonder if people take this section as a guarantee of Heaven for those that believe in Christ. I don’t think I have ever seen it used that way, but if I believed in Once Saved, Always saved or a Faith Alone type theology, I believe this is a passage I could take out of context. Even though Paul writes with confidence about being in Heaven after death, this is not something he is always confident about or something he feels he is guaranteed. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 “Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” Even though Paul has hope and works towards being with Christ in Heaven, he does not take that for granted or as something guaranteed in a “once saved, always saved” type theology.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20, 2011 - Daniel 4

Like chapter 2, the King has a dream that Daniel must interpret for him. Before I read Daniel’s interpretation, I thought I would write what came to my mind during the dream’s description. When he mentioned a tree in the middle of the world, I went back to the Garden of Eden. Then when it talked about the top being cut off but the stump being left, I thought of Adam’s first sin. When that sin occurred, man was changed from a being that was intimately close to God to one that had a separation because of sin. Yet man was left to live out life in this state, much like the trunk was left as a sign of what had happened. That is what came to my mind.
The 7 years is interesting. 7 is a number that is used to show perfection or completeness. Although Daniel’s explanation is for the king, I am not sure if my is that far off. We, as humans, are the tree that was cut down because of our choice to not to trust in God. We thought we could do it on our own and so what we were was destroyed. But we were not extinguished. For “7 years” we toiled, eating grass with the ox and so forth, until we will be completed again with God. The 7 years could be seen as the perfect fulfillment of time, when all things will be completed.
The image of the tree stump reminds me of “The Giving Tree”, one of Paul’s books.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 19, 2011 – Numbers 28

The footnotes talk about Pentecost, at least in terms of the feast and timing described here, as being 15 days after the Passover. But when Christ died and the Holy Spirit descended, that took place on Pentecost, or at least I thought it did, and that was 50 days after Christ rose. If anyone wants to help figure that out or give a clearer understanding, that would be great. Here is a calendar for this year. There are 50 days between the first day of Passover and Pentecost. So, I guess I am just confused about the footnote. Well, let me take all that back, the footnote says fiftieth, not fifteenth.
Apr 7 Nisan 15 Pesach I (First day of Passover)
Apr 8 Nisan 16 Pesach II (Passover)
Apr 9 Nisan 17 Pesach III (Passover)
Apr 10 Nisan 18 Pesach IV (Passover)
Apr 11 Nisan 19 Pesach V (Passover)
Apr 12 Nisan 20 Pesach VI (Passover)
Apr 13 Nisan 21 Pesach VII (Last day of Passover)
Apr 26 Iyar 4 Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day)
May 27 Sivan 6 Shavuot (Pentecost)
This makes me want to learn more about our calendar. What would it look like if we just had a Lunar Calendar. How off would you be. I guess I don’t know much about the History of them or how we settled on what we have. Is our calendar close enough to continue going on forever, or will there come a time when we will need to be some year where we will have to add a second Leap Day in order to get back on track. If there is no getting back on track, would seasons start to shift, starting earlier or ending later. I also wonder why they chose 24 hours and 60 minutes. They are not very round numbers. You would have thought those that came up with the Metric system would have come up with a time measurement that was more symmetrical.
There are 86,400 seconds in a day. You could go about it 2 ways. Change the length of a second, make it shorter, and make each minute 50 seconds, each hour 50 minutes, and each day 50 hours. You could go into 100’s and either really speed up seconds or live on two day cycles, which would be interesting. Or you could go 44 seconds to a minute, 44 minutes to an hour, and 44 hours to a day. You are about 20 minutes off doing that, but that is pretty close.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18, 2011 – Catechism 954-959

The three stages the communion of saints are in are here on Earth, those in Purgatory, and those in Heaven. But even though we are separate, we are still connected into the same Body of the Christ. This connection allows those in Heaven to intercede for us and lay our petitions before God. Many non-Catholics find the asking of intersession of the saints to be a hurdle that they are unwilling to accept. But does it make any sense that those in Heaven would not want to intercede for us. We believe they are in Heaven because they were people that lived lives so closely to God’s will that they receive the reward of eternal life washed in the majesty of God. Why would that stop once they get there. Yes, you can pray to God, Catholics do not say this isn’t something you shouldn’t do, but the understanding of asking those in Heaven to intercede for you is on par with asking your neighbor to pray for you. The only difference is that the person in Heaven is face to face with God and can bring your intercession in a very special way. Your neighbor can pray for you as well, but why limit yourself when it comes to prayer.
I have heard the argument that those in Heaven cannot possibly hear our request. Says who. They are intimately connected to God, who’s to say what abilities they have. Who are we to put limits on what God wants to do with those that are already in Heaven with Him. Eyes has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has in store, but they couldn’t have any more gifts than what a normal human has here on Earth. If that is the only basis to not ask the intersession of those in Heaven, then they have a poor and diminished view on the power of God and probably a very limited view on the glories of what is in store for us in Heaven.
Another thing that this brings to mind is the Catholic practice of praying for the dead. It seems that there is a an eagerness to put everyone in Heaven after they pass. There are many good people in the world, but are we really so secure in the fact that so many people will get to Heaven. Catholics, unlike other denominations, actually believes in a place after death where a person can go if they die in a state in which they are not completely ready for Heaven, but have not lived a life in which they have chosen Hell. Nothing that is imperfect can enter Heaven, but if your theology only believes in Heaven or Hell, there are very few that leave this world so free and clear as to be that prepared. Purgatory is a place in which a soul goes in order to be purified of what still clings to them when they die. We need to be purified in order to enter Heaven, there is no other way there. And if you of the belief that there is only Heaven and no Hell, then you are not following what the Bible expresses. The Bible does not mince words about the fact that there is a Hell and it also says that getting to Heaven is not an easy path. Catholics pray for the dead that we hope are on their way to Heaven, traveling in Purgatory, whatever that might look like, and we pray that their purification might be shortened so that they can enter Heaven sooner (however time may work in the afterlife). All of these beliefs seem absolutely logical and fitting to me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17, 2011 – Colossians  3:12 - 4:18

Paul sounds so jovial in this closing part of the letter.  He seems spirited and excited about the communities and how they are living their lives.  This letter is a pep talk and a confirmation for them, without much condemnation and here at the end, I get the sense that Paul was writing with a  spirited smile upon his face.  Thoughts about communities like this must have encouraged him greatly while he was imprisoned.  I can’t imagine the thoughts that might have gone through the heads of those leaders in the early Church.  They were on the edge of death all the time, what would happen when those first apostles were gone.  Would this Church be able to go on after those few that were with Jesus were gone.  Communities like these and letters like this must have been a comfort, but still you wonder if they really had any sense that the Church was going to truly be around 2,000 years later.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 16, 2011 – Daniel 3:46 - 3:100

First of all, the protestant Bible takes a large chunk out of Chapter 3 of Daniel.  All of the prayer of Blessing that is said to the Lord by the three in the fire and the part where the king sees them surviving and tells them to build the fire up more. 

The blessing is a beautiful prayer calling for all things to bless the Lord.  From earth to sky, night to day, everything bless the Lord.  It is a wonderful song of praise and reminds us of our obligation to not only petition the Lord, but to praise the Lord.  I think sometimes we may forget that.  I was thinking about the different between thanking the Lord and praising the Lord.  These three are not singing a song of Thanksgiving, but a song of Praise.  I think maybe the difference is in the recognition that you have received something.  Praising is just done for the Lord, with no sense of receiving anything.  Although these three were being saved, it is not as if they had any sense that they were being saved.  It is as if they would have been singing this song with their dying breath if they were being consumed by fire.  It goes back to this sense that they did not know what was going to happen.  They were safe at this point, but maybe to be consumed at any moment.  This was a time for them to praise their God in front of everyone.  The time for Thanksgiving may come later, but here they are offering praise to God because He is God and no other reason. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 15, 2011 – Numbers 27

Here we see a large shift in tradition.  Daughters usually didn’t inherit anything, but here we see the daughters of one of the tribes receive land in the promise land.  That is a pretty big shift. 

Also, we see that Moses wants to settle who the leader will be after he is gone.  The strange thing about this is that it is not a child of Moses that is the next leader.  It is unusual for leadership not to pass by heredity.  We see that God picks someone who is worthy, not by blood.  This is, I think, a foreshadowing of God picking David after Saul, rather than one of Saul’s sons. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 14, 2011 – Catechism 946-953

953 really hits home when you think about the world we live in today. When someone else suffers, do we feel that suffering. How fast is a video of someone getting hurt on YouTube and watch by millions. I am as guilty as anyone of that. Do we suffer for the person. Or when someone is honored, do we rejoice, or do we become jealous and envious of their success. When thinking about this, I don’t know if it is a fact telling us that when one suffers we all suffer or if it is telling us that we should suffer when another suffers. I think it is easier to see that we suffer as a group when anyone of us suffers (and maybe someone getting hurt on YouTube is a bad example of suffering). It is harder to see us rejoicing for others when they are rewarded. I can see that the body gains because of one being honored or doing something good, but I see that if many become envious or jealous as a result, the sum total is not a gain for the body, but a lose. This appears to be more of a “should do” rather than a fact that is. And think about what happens to a body when even the gains equal a combined negative. The body will not last long. In our world where nothing but Sinicism and greed are promoted and even those that do good are seen with jealousy and their motives are challenged, what is our total gain as a body. Where are we heading.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13, 2011 – Colossians 2 – 3:11

“See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition” 2:8 – Many have used this line to say that Catholics are off base because of all the traditions of the Catholic Church. Many believe they are a manmade way to give power to the people in charge and take power away from God. Is Paul saying that there is not to be any tradition in the Church. Is he saying that there is to be no ceremony, no structure, no tradition. If that is true, then the notion of a non-denominational group or “not religion” gathering for Christ is something that could be persuasive. Then explain 2 Thessalonians 2:15 - Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours. Paul is saying that there are traditions that should be followed and they were laid out by him (an oral statement or by a letter of ours), so he is not saying in 2:8 that there is to be no tradition, no structure. What he is saying is to beware those that want to go against the established tradition, structure, and Church. Beware of teachings that Jesus was not God, there is no Trinity, Salvation by Faith Alone, Bible is the sole authority. There are “seductive philosophy according to human tradition”. These go against the Tradition that Paul was telling them to follow, the tradition that he help establish. It is a God made Tradition, made through the humans used by God as instruments, much like the Bible is the Word of God written by men. There is Tradition that is to be followed and used to Guide us. That is Biblical. Sola Scriptura is not.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 12, 2011 – Daniel 3 - 3:45

I find it odd that Daniel isn’t with them. I glanced at Chapter 2 to see what happened. Daniels interprets a dream and is given power. He takes his three friends with him and they are in charge of territories. Then we have this story where they are thrown in for not worshipping the statue. The chapter talks about all the leaders of different areas were there, but either Daniel was not there at the time or wasn’t caught not bowing down. Obviously Daniel will be tested at his own time, I just always wondered why he wasn’t there for this event.

I also really enjoyed how they did not go in with any confidence that they were going to survive. They said they would survive if God willed it, but even if they weren’t going to survive, they still couldn’t bow to the statue. I think I have written about this before. I think sometimes we read these stories and figure they were special people in a way that they had no fear or knew they were going to be ok. That is most clearly not the case here. They completely understand they may not survive, what was about to happen, they had no idea, they left it completely up to God.

I also like the detail that the fire was so hot that the people that threw them in were burnt up instantly.

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11, 2011 – Numbers 26:23 - 26:65

Numbers 1:46 gives the number of Israelites that left Egypt at 603,550.  Now we have 601,730.  They wondered about until every single person that was above 20 (minus Joseph and Caleb) the first time around died.  So, not only is this second group young men, all between 20 and 60, but have no actual memory of Egypt.  This could be good, not having that influence, and then again they do not have the experience of seeing God’s works against Egypt.  But they have seen His works in the desert.  I wonder if Eleazar should be counted with Caleb and Joseph.  It appears that he is an older age than 20 when the tent and all the sacrifices were laid out, yet he is still with them about to cross the Jordan and is the High Priest.   

One thing that video I watched talked about was Moses’ sin in hitting the rock twice.  Numbers 20:6-12.  This is the second time God tells Moses to bring water from the rock.  The first time (Exodus 17:5-7) Moses was told to strike the rock, which he did.  The second time around, with the new generation, He told Moses simply to speak to the rock and water would come out.  Moses did not do this, but struck the rock twice.  Whether he was frustrated with the people, with God, with the 40 years in the desert, or simply because he was a little cranky being 120 years old, he disobeyed God’s command.  I never realized that he was only told to speak to the rock the second time an struck it instead. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10, 2011 – Catechism 934-945

It is a review day. The 12 paragraphs are a review of the last 60+ paragraphs. These have talked about the hierarchy of the Church, the Laity, and those Consecrated. Apostles were sent out to act in the Person of Christ because He was leaving the Earth. He entrusted leadership of the visible Church on Earth to St. Peter and those that succeed him as Bishop of Rome. All the Bishops succeed from the Apostles. I haven’t seen one, but evidently all Bishops have a “family tree” of sorts that they are given tracing their line of succession back to an Apostle, which received it from Christ. The laity are to be leaven for the world. To live their vocations in a way that brings Christ to the secular world and transform it into a better place. This is their responsibility and cannot be done by the clergy because they are not in the “world” like the lay people are. All the lay faithful are called to a priestly vocation, however not a ministerial priesthood. A video I watched talked of the hierarchy of priesthood established by Christ being a mirror of that in the Old Testament Israel. You had the high priest (bishops), the ministerial priest (local priest), then Israel was called to a function or participation in the priesthood (the laity’s call). Those that are consecrated have a special call in giving their lives for fully to God in order to become closer to Him. This is usually done by a public act of taking vows, but anyone that gives themselves more fully to God in their life are consecrated to God in a special way.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

July 9, 2011 – Colossians 1

24 - I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. I have always wondered about this.

“Now one man can satisfy for another, as we have explained above ([4920]Q[13], A[2]). And the saints in whom this super-abundance of satisfactions is found, did not perform their good works for this or that particular person, who needs the remission of his punishment (else he would have received this remission without any indulgence at all), but they performed them for the whole Church in general, even as the Apostle declares that he fills up "those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ . . . for His body, which is the Church" to whom he wrote (Col. 1:24). These merits, then, are the common property of the whole Church. Now those things which are the common property of a number are distributed to the various individuals according to the judgment of him who rules them all. Hence, just as one man would obtain the remission of his punishment if another were to satisfy for him, so would he too if another's satisfactions be applied to him by one who has the power to do so.” OF INDULGENCES (THREE ARTICLES) Aquinas, St. Thomas [1225-1274 AD]

This is just something I found that was talking about this verse. It seems to make some sense. When we are talking about the “Christ that is lacking” he seems to be talking about the Body of Christ, that is the Church, made up of us that are flawed. St. Thomas seems to be talking about the indulgences in regards to this verse because of the Catholic doctrine on this. There is a treasury of God’s Grace that is built up based on different holy and spiritual works that are done. Many of these can still be done and when you are doing them to can offer them up for yourself or someone else. It seems like St. Paul is talking about all the suffering he has gone through has been done and continues to be done for the grace that is needed to make the Church Holy. There is nothing lacking in Christ, which the footnote points out, but we do participate in the work of God, the Salvation of the world, when we offer our actions and our suffering to Him. Because God does not need our help, what else can we help but the Church and the World, which is a part of God that is lacking and need of healing.

Friday, July 08, 2011

July 8, 2011 – Daniel 1

Here we have the beginning of Daniel’s story. It is pretty believable that the groups that stayed away from the large banquet foods and wine and had only veggies and water would be healthier. We also see this idea of the conquering kingdoms to take their pick of the liter of the conquered group. They would take these “best of the victims” and envelope them into their culture. In doing this they made themselves stronger by growing and learning, taking the best of pieces, but they also left chinks in their armor by allowing these few to move up in their ranks. Even though many grew into fully believing everything of the conquering lands, you always risked that someone may grow powerful, yet still retain the beliefs of home. That is kind of what happens with Daniel and his friends.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

July 7, 2011 – Numbers 25 - 26:22

We have another census of Israel after the 40 years in the desert. Here they are on the other side of the Jordan, and the begin to count. I watched something last night that was talking about the number that left Egypt was 600,000 men, not counting women and children, estimated at about 2 million. Considering they went in at 70 so when Jacob came down with his family, that is being pretty fruitful.

We also have here the act of Phinehas. The footnotes talk about the fact that it mentions the backgrounds of the two he killed after he brought her into camp. It says this was done so to show the courage that Phinehas had for acting on God’s behalf. He was not concerned of the rank or royalty. He saw God’s law being disregarded and he acted upon it. God was pleased and is pleased with us when we act for Him without thinking who may be upset or what repercussions there may be. What God has instructed is the law and the truth and no amount of wealth or power changes that law and truth. Although it may be difficult, we are called to stand against the lies and sin of the world, regardless of what wealth and power are opposed to us or what wealth and power we may lose because of it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

July 6, 2011 – Catechism 928 – 933

I haven’t made any type of consecrated vow or anything that would be recognized in any way, shape, or form, but doing this little blog is a commitment. I have chosen to do this and set it out there for people to read and review and (at least a few of you) would miss it if it stopped. I don’t know how many have learned anything or felt moved, but this is me trying to guide the world in some way to Christ. Looking at the different paragraphs on consecrated lives, it is really about a special commitment that people choose so that they can either become closer to Christ or as a way to help others. By that simple definition, this is a little like a consecrated action. Sometimes it is hard to believe I have been going for over a year and a half. Then it is hard to realize I still have over 2 years to go.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

July 5, 2011 – Ephesians 6

Here we have the armor of God laid out before us.

Gird your loins with Truth

Righteousness be your Breastplate

Feet Shod with the Gospel of Peace

Faith as a Shield

Helmet of Salvation and

Sword of Spirit, which is the Word of God

Notice that everything except for the Word of God is Defensive against the weapons of the Evil One. Only with the Word are you to take the offensive. This reminds us of the Temptations in the Desert where Christ beat away the Devil with Scripture quotes, not physical strength. And even after all the armor is there, we are still called to pray and persevere in order to be on guard against the attacks of the Evil one. It is a very masculine thing, armor and warrior outfits. Although I don’t think Paul ever had any military experience, he reaches out to that primal instinct or longing in men to be warriors. He is calling them to be a different kind of warrior for a different kind or war. I think it is worth reflecting on the ratio between offensive and defensive pieces and what Paul is trying to say. Much like the notions of “if you point at someone you are pointing three fingers back at you”, or “that is why we have two ears and only one mouth”. There is a sense that we are to spend more time on the defensive side than the offensive side. I think this also goes along with the idea that Christ has already conquered sin and death. The battle is won and we are partakers of the victory. Although there are battles that may need to be fought, our real calling is to defend ourselves and persevere in Christ until we join Him for eternity.

Monday, July 04, 2011

July 4, 2011 – Wisdom 4-5

Chapter 5 sounds like something that may be said about someone like Stephen Hawkins or the author Dawkins when the end of the world comes. These are mean that lead the call for atheism and a Godless world. You may also put into this category the new age followers which has swallowed up many celebrities and countless other followers. When the end comes, they will be astonished and “they will be shaken with dreadful fear, and amazed at the unlooked for salvation.” The idea of the unlooked for salvation is something to ponder. Salvation is meant by God for everyone. The Reading for this Sunday is about the Sower and the different soils. Something I heard about this is that God does not sow seeds on just certain groups, but spreads them on everyone. He does not discriminate. Similarly, salvation is not just for certain people. Salvation is meant for all and it is our chose whether to accept it or not. In the end, all will realize and know without a doubt what their chose has been. When those that have not chosen God realize it, this verse should be running through their minds, an unlooked for salvation. Pray for all those that have turned away from God and have sought to fill that void with something else. Especially pray for those that are leading others down that path. Pray that the salvation they are not looking for or running away from breaks down the walls they have built before they no longer have the chance to change their chose.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

July 3, 2011 – Numbers 24

It appears that the third oracle is not one about Jesus. I always thought it was but the footnotes seem to say that this is not the case. I find Balaam to be such a great role model. Not for the entire kingdom and the riches in it, he told Balak, could he say anything, for good or bad, different than what God told him to say. He sees himself truly as just an instrument and nothing more or less. And you would think that Balak, after all this frustration, would have done some type of harm to Balaam. But they just go their separate ways. We have a moment here that is a separation from what is going on in Israel and their struggles. For a couple of chapters we are taken completely away from them and our focus is on these new characters. It almost feels as if this could have been its own book in the Bible, it is so separate from the rest of Numbers. And then it ends, as quickly as it started, and we are finished with these characters. I just think it is a very curious story placed in this book.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

July 2, 2011 – Catechism 920-927

The different types of religious life vocations and their vows are beautiful ways to witness to the world and to have that commitment to God. Many things you here about religious life orders are that they are failing and numbers are going down. What I hear is that the orders that have formed or adapted to allow for more flexibility to accommodate the new “world views” or to be “politically correct” or modern in order to bring more people in, are failing. Those that are more orthodox and have held firm to the teaching of the Catholic Church are doing much better, not bursting at the seams, but better. I would attribute this to the understanding that if the Catholic Church becomes flexible on its beliefs, it ceases to be Catholic and becomes more Protestant type church. The problem with this is that people do not feel a sense of commitment to those churches. They feel they can bounce from this to that because the teachings are basically the same and if there is something I don’t like I will seek another denomination or a non-denominational one where there is really no set standard. When there is no sense of commitment, people will not sign up for something like the religious life. It goes along the same lines as the reason the overall numbers are down in Catholic Churches. We have been lulled into a sense that the teachings are not something that are mandatory, but suggestions on what we should believe. As people get this sense, they feel they can jump ship at anytime because there are no repercussions for not believing in teachings. The sadness lies in the fact that many leaders in the Church have allowed this to happen by giving the Catholic faithful nothing but lovey dovey teachings for the last 40 years. The teachings have not changed nor the fact that they are obligations and not suggestions. Catholics who fully believe this will not jump ship for some “better way” because they understand that this is not out there, but right here.

Friday, July 01, 2011

July 1, 2011 – Ephesians 5

Here we have the often misunderstood verse about wives being obedient to their husbands. People may not misunderstand the meaning of this verse, but it does seem like they take it out of context. There is nothing about being obedient that is in anyway degrading to women here. Being obedient is not a negative. Wives are called to be obedient, but husbands are not suppose to take advantage of this for their own personal gains. The part that is often omitted is the part where men are to love their wives like Christ loves the Church. That is a sacrificial love, one that puts their life behind that of the other. This analogy to Christ and the Church is one of the reasons that marriage is such a beautiful and mysterious sign we have of God’s love. There is no other union that comes closer to describing God’s love for us than that of the marriage union. When a husband takes advantage the obedience his wife may have, it would be like Christ taking advantage of the Church. Any kind of break in that union would be the end of the union. It is a perfect love and one that is to be emulated. It is not something that husbands are suppose to hold over their wife’s head.

This mystery of God’s love and what we learn from it through the sign of marriage is another reason Catholics are so protective of it. Many find the Catholic teachings on marriage arcane and inappropriate in this day in age. But it is not merely for the sake of marriages, which are much stronger if the Catholic teachings are followed, but to allow us to better understand God’s mysterious love. Using contraception in marriage takes away the complete bonding that takes place between a husband and wife. As if Christ were saying I will give you just some of myself but not all. What if Christ said I will give you only this much because I don’t want the consequences of giving you all I am fully. That is not what He did on the cross and it is not what is suppose to take place in marriage.

What about divorce. Christ says I will be with you always until the end of the age. Catholics believe marriage is a lifelong commitment. What if Christ suddenly said that He was giving up on us because He realized it wasn’t what He signed up for or found someone knew that He was going to give His all too.

Homosexual marriage is another teaching that is often brought up against Catholics. The Catholic teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman is not only because that is what is biblical, but also because of the mysterious giving and receiving that is done and how that relates to God’s love for us. Much like the contraception issue, in the homosexual act there can be nothing fully given or fully received so as to produce anything, except lust and physical pleasure. I think sometimes it is seen that homosexual activity is the next stage of some kind of human evolution. We are made to think that this is the natural succession and it should be promoted on every conceivable level. I just feel nothing could be further from the truth and the more we push this, the harder it is going to be to go back. Do we understand what the repercussions are for allowing this to become as acceptable as people are pushing for. Do people understand what happens if the birthrate in our country goes lower than it already is. Do people understand what happens when marriages and family units become even more unstable and rare then they already are. Not to mention when what I am writing here becomes seen as hate speech because it makes statements against this “acceptable” and promoted way of life. Marriage, the Catholic understanding of marriage, is one of the most beautiful and mysterious gifts God has given the world and one of the most important signs and examples to show us His love. The more we disregard this and trample on it, the more we move away from any true understanding of God and He becomes less and less of what we look to when shaping our country. I guess it’s no wonder NBC took “Under God” out of their televised Pledge of Allegiance.