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Occupy Tulsa Day 4

As I write this, I’m sitting in a tent at the corner of 6th and Main street, in the heart of downtown. Our Occupation has swelled, numbers are growing, donations continue to pour in, and I’m still just more than a little bit sleep deprived. For those of you curious about just what it is that we’re doing out here, I’d like to break it down to a few simple things that we’re standing against.

The Declaration of Occupation is a really good way to see what we stand for and against. We stand for the people against corporate entitlement. This is not to say we hate corporations at large or are against people making money. We’re agaisnt corporate and systematic theft. We’re against the idea that corporations get to play by a different set of rules and then buy out the other rules that do not favor them through lobbying and special interest groups. We’re against the reality that corporate profit margins continue to grow while worker salaries stay the same and decrease. We’re tired of seeing multi-national banks outsource jobs to “reduce spending” while proliferating increasingly shameless bonuses on executives. We’ve grown weary with the way in which the government, in both parties pays loyalty to the corporations that serve them with money, when the government should be held accountable directly to the people.

We stand united with the rest of the Occupy Movements against the oligarchy established by a privileged few, and are asking for equal rights. I cannot speak for the movement as a whole, or even Occupy Tulsa, given that I am one voice among many. I am merely one mind among our masses, but I can offer my own thoughts, my own fewars and concerns, and my own story.

When the movement began and for years, my friend Sam and I have talked about economic disparity and the corporatization of civil rights. The voice of the people has become marginalized by money and special interests and it seems that no matter who you’re voting for, you’re just going through a formality because in the end all you’ve done is allow a different puppet in to pull the strings for Wall Street. How is it that we have more legislation creating subsidies for large corporations than we do for small businesses? How is it that corporate special interests get more attention than social programs for the poor?

So, now that we’re in the park, what’s next? The next step is to educate. I want to raise awareness, bring people to the general assemblies and create working teams that can effect actual change. Some people are saying it’s moronic to live in a park as a form of protest, but the camraderie and love we’re sharing here makes me feel like what I’m doing matters. The way the Civil Rights movement worked was not through legislation but through mass action, through collective unity and through the united voice of a people.

If we want to establish our civil rights against corporate suppression, we must do the same and recognize that this is a civil rights struggle, it is a struggle for our voice and our democracy against the special interests that have up to now purchased, financed, lobbied and otherwise occupied our voice. We are not picking a fight with the banks. They started this fight, they occupied our homes, raised our interest rates, sold our homes in bundles to the highest bidder, crashed our market and occupied our Congress in 2008, holding the global economy hostage. THey occupied first, they foreclosed on America, and America is merely foreclosing back.

What can you do to help?

Move your money: Transfer your money froma corporate bank into a local credit union. Credit unions are not for profit and they’re more careful with their spending, they yield higher returns on savings and lower interest rates on loans.

On the 5th of November, we’re having a rally at 71st and Memorial at 10am. We’re going to be marching to various large banks in the area and showing them that we’re not interested in being the welfare program for their continued extortion of the American public.

Come to a meeting: We can’t fight for your concerns if we don’t know them. A lot of people have said “what are their demands?” The thing is, we shape the demands together, we shape our voice into a cohesive unit and we present our ideas to government as a non-partisan force for progress. That’s the most important thing, if you don’t speak, you can’t be heard.

Collect information: Educate yourself, follow the #hashtag #OWS and #Occupy if you’re interested in learning about the movement, learning about what is going on around the country and learning about what you can do to help. Read books, come to the park and talk to various Occupants, and exercise your civil liberties.

 

Most of all,  just come see what’s up, and show us some love, we’d love to show it right back.

 

-Eli

Ugly Kids Club

So, thanks to my friend Kevin Clay, the founder of MONKROCK I have a new little musical addiction, and I thought I’d share, because, link-love is good love. And in any case, these new artists are definitely worth their salt.

In any case, here’s what else is up with me:

  1. I’m quite content to be where I’m at in life, and now that things are stabilizing, I feel rather good again.
  2. I’m painting and drawing again, which is always a good sign.
  3. Despite the sometimes overwhelming challenges of working in mental health, I actually really enjoy my work situation as well.
  4. I’m planning a new side-venture to supplement my income and I’m actually really excited about it.
  5. I’m feeling rather inspired, which is also a very good sign.
  6. I’m still deciding on a new art project, but it’ll come to me, i’m sure.
Hope you enjoyed this.

Update

Hey, I’m not dead, just regrouping, I’ve had a very busy work schedule, thanks for understanding. I’ll have new posts soon.

Pope John Paul II a Legacy of Love

The People's Pope

On May 1, 2011, some 1.5 million pilgrims, fans and other religious and faithful stood waiting eagerly in Rome as the late Pope John Paul II was advanced one step closer to sainthood. I wish I could have been there, since Pope John Paul II has had such a profound impact on my life. However, I was glad to know that it happened, and that the faithful can add to their repertoire another modern saint, another guidepost to the way of Jesus Christ. The Los Angeles Times wrote a great article on the matter.

The People's Pope

I read some liberal blogs from secularists who feel Pope John Paul II failed to defend the innocent from sexual abuse during his pontificate. I’m not going to debate all that today, I’ll deal with that fallout in the coming weeks, as I find the time and the energy to respond to the wolves, and some faithful and the concerned and confused.

When we talk about heroic virtue, and the power of God in the 20th century, two names come to mind, as they should: Mother Teresa, and Pope John Paul II. The former, a doubt ridden depressed nun, the latter a charismatic leader a man of the people, a pilgrim and a friend to all. Both are saints.

Some hushed tones and some outright definaces have broken out over this Pope’s beatification and namely for three reasons: Some say he did not punish vehemence and liturgical scandal enough, others say he promoted a pluralism of religions, and finally others complain about the “declines” in Catholic life and culture since his pontificate.

I’d like to say this briefly in response: Beatification requires two things: a miracle, which here is a matter for medical doctors and scientists and a life of heroic virtue. Some claim that this heroic virtue was not universal in John Paul’s life as saints require. However, a man who brought communism to its knees, saw a revitalization of Catholic life and culture and added over a million new faithful to the fold, as well as the enduring legacy of conversions influenced by this pope and his ministry seem heroic enough to me, besides the man’s personal saintliness. The devotions, the spiritual guidance, the mental and moral integrity that pour forth from his words are gracious and sweet, and consoling in a world devoid of hope.

I too, as an atheist agreed with the cries of Santo Subito, which poured out in Rome not too many years ago. I feel as if this is a momentous day for many reasons, and I stand by the current Pope’s decision to beatify Pope John Paul II.

When Pope John Paul II ascended to the chair of St. Peter, he brought with him a strong heart, and the courage of a love which faced some of the gravest sins of our time with clarity of intent and charity in practice. Pope John Paul II leaves us a legacy of love, and the courage to remember that “We are the Easter People, and Halelujah is our song.”

Blessed Pope John Paul II, shepherd of God’s flock, pray for us, that we might be safe from the wolves which encroach even now, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Here is Pope Benedict XVI’s homily at the beatification Mass for his predecessor:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering.

Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!

I would like to offer a cordial greeting to all of you who on this happy occasion have come in such great numbers to Rome from all over the world – cardinals, patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, brother bishops and priests, official delegations, ambassadors and civil authorities, consecrated men and women and lay faithful, and I extend that greeting to all those who join us by radio and television.

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today’s celebration because, in God’s providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary’s month, and the liturgical memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer, they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space; but in heaven a very different celebration is taking place among the angels and saints! Even so, God is but one, and one too is Christ the Lord, who like a bridge joins earth to heaven. At this moment we feel closer than ever, sharing as it were in the liturgy of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe’ (Jn 20:29). In today’s Gospel Jesus proclaims this beatitude: the beatitude of faith. For us, it is particularly striking because we are gathered to celebrate a beatification, but even more so because today the one proclaimed blessed is a Pope, a Successor of Peter, one who was called to confirm his brethren in the faith. John Paul II is blessed because of his faith, a strong, generous and apostolic faith. We think at once of another beatitude: ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven’ (Mt 16:17). What did our heavenly Father reveal to Simon? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of this faith, Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which Jesus can build his Church. The eternal beatitude of John Paul II, which today the Church rejoices to proclaim, is wholly contained in these sayings of Jesus: ‘Blessed are you, Simon’ and ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!’ It is the beatitude of faith, which John Paul II also received as a gift from God the Father for the building up of Christ’s Church.

Our thoughts turn to yet another beatitude, one which appears in the Gospel before all others. It is the beatitude of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary, who had just conceived Jesus, was told by Saint Elizabeth: ‘Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord’ (Lk 1:45). The beatitude of faith has its model in Mary, and all of us rejoice that the beatification of John Paul II takes place on this first day of the month of Mary, beneath the maternal gaze of the one who by her faith sustained the faith of the Apostles and constantly sustains the faith of their successors, especially those called to occupy the Chair of Peter. Mary does not appear in the accounts of Christ’s resurrection, yet hers is, as it were, a continual, hidden presence: she is the Mother to whom Jesus entrusted each of his disciples and the entire community. In particular we can see how Saint John and Saint Luke record the powerful, maternal presence of Mary in the passages preceding those read in today’s Gospel and first reading. In the account of Jesus’ death, Mary appears at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19:25), and at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles she is seen in the midst of the disciples gathered in prayer in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14).

Today’s second reading also speaks to us of faith. St. Peter himself, filled with spiritual enthusiasm, points out to the newly-baptized the reason for their hope and their joy. I like to think how in this passage, at the beginning of his First Letter, Peter does not use language of exhortation; instead, he states a fact. He writes: ‘you rejoice’, and he adds: ‘you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls’ (1 Pt 1:6, 8-9). All these verbs are in the indicative, because a new reality has come about in Christ’s resurrection, a reality to which faith opens the door. ‘This is the Lord’s doing’, says the Psalm (Ps 118:23), and ‘it is marvelous in our eyes’, the eyes of faith.

Dear brothers and sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness, taught by the conciliar Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. All of us, as members of the people of God – bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious – are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church. Karol Wojtyla took part in the Second Vatican Council, first as an auxiliary Bishop and then as Archbishop of Krakow. He was fully aware that the Council’s decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church. This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life. A vision which is expressed in the scriptural image of the crucified Christ with Mary, his Mother, at his side. This icon from the Gospel of John (19:25-27) was taken up in the episcopal and later the papal coat-of-arms of Karol Wojtyla: a golden cross with the letter ‘M’ on the lower right and the motto ‘Totus tuus’, drawn from the well-known words of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in which Karol Wojtyla found a guiding light for his life: ‘Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria – I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart’ (Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 266).

In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: ‘When, on 16 October 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, said to me: “The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium”‘. And the Pope added: ‘I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church – and especially with the whole episcopate – I feel indebted. I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the twentieth century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate’. And what is this ’cause’? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the unforgettable words: ‘Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!’ What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan – a strength which came to him from God – a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others.

When Karol Wojtyla ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its ‘helmsman’, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call ‘the threshold of hope’. Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an ‘Advent’ spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace.

Finally, on a more personal note, I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for twenty-three years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a ‘rock’, as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Eucharist.

Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people. How many time you blessed us from this very square. Holy Father, bless us again from that window. Amen.”

St. Nikodomos of the Holy Mountain on Perfection

I have been thinking a lot about Christian perfection and I have to agree with Nikodomos of the Holy Mountain. We must always beware that we do not confuse the methodology of holiness with holiness itself.

There are many who say that the perfection of Christian life consists in fasts, vigils, genuflexions, sleeping on bare earth and other similar austerities of the body.

Others say that it consists in saying many prayers at home and in attending long services in church. And there are others who think that our perfection consists entirely in menta prayer, solitude, seclusion and silence. But the majority limit perfection to a strict observance of all the rules and practices laid down by the statutes, falling into no excess or deficiency, but preserving a golden moderation.

Yet all these virtues do not by themselves constitute the Christian perfection we are seeking, but are only a means and a method for acquiring it.

You must learn that perfection consists in nothing but coming near to God and union with Him, as was said in the beginning. With this is connected a heartfelt realization of the goodness and greatness of God, together with the consciousness of our own nothingness and our proneness to every evil…This is the law of love, inscribed by the finger of God Himself in the hearts of His true servants!

This is the renunciation of ourselves that God demands of us! This is the blessed yoke of Jesus Christ and His burden that is light! This is the submission to God’s will, which our Redeemer and Teacher demands from us both by His word and by His example

Amen. Perfection is not in rote memorization or rote actions, it is not duty-based but love based. An ethic of love requires constant and immediate attention. We must love our neighbor, and even our enemies, this is the way of perfection.

As we pursue Christ in our various spiritual traditions, in our multifarious schools of perfection, let us remember that many prayers and great fasts are the means, not the ends.

That’s all from the Practical Catholic today. Thanks for reading.

St. Josemaria Escriva- Joy in the Shape of the Cross

image

Sometimes we hear love described (you’ll have heard me mention this more than once) as if it were a movement towards self—satisfaction, or merely a means of selfishly fulfilling one’s own personality

—And I have always told you that it isn’t so. True love demands getting out of oneself, giving oneself. Genuine love brings joy in its wake, a joy that has its roots in the shape of the Cross.

This is the Heart of Christian doctrine on love, that it calls us not to selflessness or selfishness, but a controlled, intentional and thoughtful self-emptying. To share in the Divine Life is to have discovered this self-emptying and to have found the joy in it. Let us bey joyful in the cross, and have our joy knit to us tightly always in the shape of the cross.

St. Josemaria Escriva – Bearers of the Flame

We are children of God. —Bearers of the only flame that can light up the paths of the earth for souls, of the only brightness which can never be darkened, dimmed or overshadowed

—The Lord uses us as torches, to make that light shine out… It depends on us that many should not remain in darkness, but walk instead along paths that lead to eternal life

The quote speaks for itself.

Love has Great Courage

Welcome back to the Practical Catholic.

Something that’s been tugging on my heart recently is how imperfect life is. Life has seen me ponder many a thing these past two weeks and something I keep thinking about is how Pope John Paul II once said in a series of lectures “Love has great courage and does not spare itself.” I think the thing that strikes me about this is the part where we begin to think on that and see that Love, when it is love rises to the occasion.

Since about last Friday, a term has come to mind that I think has affected me profoundly, and made me see that we’re never able to do as Pilate and wash our hands of situations. The Christian cannot wash their hands of the world, else-wise they have given themselves over to the leaven of the world. I keep reflecting on the parable of the good Samaritan and how reading it as if we are the poor beggar and Jesus is the Samaritan changes things in unimaginable ways. God comes to us, he picks us up and does not wash himself of us. God gets his hands dirty, so dirty in fact that they become pierced for us.

So too the Christian must enter into the pain of God and stand beside Christ and cast themselves into the dark chasm of the world’s pain.

I say all that to say, ethics is a big discipline in the world of today. My friends and I care about who we work for and the impact of the companies we represent on the world around us. We have come to count the cost when it comes to whom we wish to serve with our talents.

On Friday I was speaking with a friend who was looking into a film and advertising position with an oil company. My friend told me he was concerned about the impact of this company on the environment and how that might affect his morale, and his ethical place in the world.

It was then that it hit me like a ton of bricks, we all face various levels of ‘ethical overhead’. For the small business people, you know what I mean, the basic daily cost of affording to keep a business open. We all face the same thing in our lives, being that we live in a fallen world, we represent masters who are not always as virtuous, charitable or humane as we are.

There is always a cost to being in the world but not of it, and that cost is not at all easy or comfortable. But, nevertheless, it remains our responsibility to engage the world, with their currency, but on our terms. I think is what Jesus might hve meant when he said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” He wasn’t saying…’ten percent belongs to God, 12 percent to Caesar, and the rest is yours…’I believe He was saying something closer to: “Whatever it is that Caesar wants, give it to him. But, as you do, remember God, whom you fear, and know Caesar is simply a man.”

When we enter the world we have pains, sorrows and afflictions, because life is not yet perfected. However, as we learn to share in the kingdom by paying the ethical overhead and still being virtuous, we’re furthering the cause of the kingdom. It is impossible to be a good Christian and never get your hands dirty in the crap of life.

Look at Jesus.

Love has great Courage. That’s part of the wonder of the gospel. The love of Christ, shed abroad in our hearts fills us with this same courage to never spare ourselves. Love has great courage, and it does not fear affliction on behalf of the Beloved. Love has great courage, and it is our responsibility to reflect that same courage into our hopeless world.

Anyways, my encouragement the Lenten season is, get your hands dirty, be the poor beggar who cries out ‘Son of David!’ Remember, it’s a time to come back to the heart of things. As Pope John Paul II said, “Be not Afraid!” Lent is a time for love of God and neighbor, and that love gives us hope and courage. As Oral Roberts said “Go into every person’s world,” You can’t exactly do that without scuffing up your Sunday best from time to time.

My Life After Pastoring, Part II

Hey, welcome back to the Practical Catholic.

For those of you who follow the blog semi-regularly, you might know I used to be a baptist youth/associate pastor. It’s been a strange transition, from minister to layman. It’s been a road fraught with difficulties in adjustment, and sometimes uncertainty. I often miss teaching, and I often miss having people to talk to about the Faith.

Luckily, God saw my plight and has offered me a chance to do something I love yet again. My Catholic parish here in town has asked me to do youth gatherings and discipleship twice a month on Fridays. I’m very excited for this turn of events. It’s been awesome to be quiet, and still, and just catch a small vacation to collect myself. I don’t know that I’ve used the time as wisely as I should have, but nevertheless, here we are.

I think if I should have changed anything, in the months I’ve been away from service in the Church, I think i should have liked to worry less, thank God and others more, and simply rejoice that I am alive. But, here we are and everyday is an opportunity to take something good, the day which God has given us, and infill it with righteousness.

I have followed Jesus, not as wholeheartedly as I should, nor as bravely s some might see from the outside, but that’s where God’s grace comes in, and empowers me to do right. I have asked the lord to strengthen me as I prepare myself to enter his Church. I have asked one thing of God, that He might be with me, and lead me in the ways of righteousness.

Mass yesterday was great, we talked through the call of Jesus, that we should hear his words and be wise, and live them out.

This Lent, I am planning on doing a few things.

I am going to take up reading the four gospels, for spiritual formation, and as a reminder of why Christianity is so glorious to me. Jesus, after all, is the reason for my faith.

Second, I am going to make it a journey of preparation, by exercising physically, and eating well when the option is mine. Goodbye processed foods, goodbye additives, goodbye sweet, sweet, Honey-Butter Chicken Biscuit.

Third, I am going to take up laughter. I know this might sound strange, but I’m a very quiet person, and I don’t laugh nearly enough. As a child, I used to laugh all the time, nowadays, I’m far more reserved. While this is well and good for me in some ways, it restrains me in others. I am going to focus on enjoying even the difficult things in life with some sort of graciousness, and reverence, and if all else fails, a good laugh. I’ trying to take seriously Jesus’ command to us that we not worry.

Fourth, with Easter nearly upon us, I am going to take up reconciliation. I am going to make peace with my enemies, and pursue peace. I don’t mean pacifism, but peace. Between people. God orchestrates the world stage and Jesus is the Shepherd of Nations, but in my own life, where it is within my power, I shall have peace.

This fourth method of seeking virtue is going to be the hardest for me. This means putting my issues with various family members and acquaintances and friends aside, and being humble enough to forgive those indebted to me, as well as to seek the grace and forgiveness of those whom I owe.

No, this is not one of those, ‘write 50 apology letters, mail them out and hope for a response’ sort of things. But I do have one letter to write. I have  lot of people I owe apologies to.

I seek to be a peacemaker, to embody a small manifestation of God’s ultimate reconciliation of the world to Himself.

Hopefully through these things, I can be found worthy of the marks of Christ. Then shall he reside in me, and I shall make up in this earthen vessel, a treasure, what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

Thank you for your prayer.

Eli

A Brief Hello

It’s been an interesting week of ups and downs. I’ve been super busy with work, and moving and various other things. Thank you to everyone who recently subscribed to the blog, and for the faithful readers who pop in and check to see if I’ve written anything new. You are all awesome, and I’m grateful for everything you do and for your continued friendships, readerships, and comments.

I don’t have anything super deep to share right now. I just want to say I’m excited for Lent, and cannot wait till Easter. It’s going to be awesome.

I just wanted to say hello to all of you, and let you know I’m alive and well.

I depart with this quote from Augustine who shows us that we’re never fully realized in ourselves, but only in sharing life with each other and deepening our commitments to one another in the mutual embrace of love. We cannot be beautiful unless we love. It is in sharing in the communal experience of giving ourselves out to others in love, in the offering of ourselves to another, that we shall find the beauty we were made to attain.

I leave you to think on my comments and the quote itself which is here:

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo

St. Cyril of Jerusalem “The Spirit Comes Gently”

Today is the memorial of a Church father who laid a lot of groundwork for our theology of the Holy Spirit, St. Cyril of Jerusalem.

The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console.

Look at the movement in these words. The Spirit has a procession of his won, and he is preceded by light, and knowledge, much as Isaiah and the prophets would say of the Spirit of the Lord. St. Cyril is a wonderful saint to consult for theology of the Holy Spirit, and I would encourage you to engage him at some point in your near future, maybe even today.

 

 

Faith and Reason in the Fathers

“In the Fathers no conflict is observed or expressed between Faith and Reason; rather, the conflict is between Faith and Stupidity.”

I found this George Florovsky quote in that it perfectly summarizes what we should know about the Fathers and our disposition towards Faith and Reason.

It’s a great quote, and I’m thankful to Brian Akira for the original post I found the quote at.

Monologue

The prayer of a Christian is never a monologue. -St. Josemaria Escriva(The Way, 114).

It Ain’t Necessarily So

So, I posted this exact article on my other blog, but I thought it was practical and Catholic enough to go here. So, enjoy.

It aint necessarily so. Or at least, that’s how the song goes.

Temptation.

We all face it. Some of us more than others. But, I think it’s important to understand that it happens to all of us. I think it’s important to face it head on, and move forward.

And so, it is that when we look at the commands of God and the exhortation to endure in Faith, in Hope and in Charity sometimes what’s missing to find the strength of this endurance is simple perception.

But it’s hard to move on alone, and for precisely that reason I want to talk about two things:

Faith, and Community.

I think that these are two things that more than any others go hand in hand in overcoming temptations.

Recently, in some conversations with friends I have had discussions on sin, and faith and justice and belief. A friend recently came to me and said that she is having a hard time understanding how Christianity presents a comprehensive worldview that is as expansive as the multi-cultural and wide world that we find ourselves in. She expressed feeling that world is wider than Christianity makes room for, and that the Christian framework simply could not contain the whole world.

Doubt and The Post-Christian World

So, Today I want to talk about the temptation we might call the temptation to doubt.

We all go through this from time to time. It’s something I’m not an alien to by any means. It’s the challenge to our faith, the whisper in the back of our ears that says: “Did God really say?” And I think it’s a challenge that is difficult to face alone. So often in our culture, we don’t hear the word temptation. We hear about struggles, we hear about challenges, or strivings, or goals, and sometimes even doubts, but we rarely talk about temptation.

This is not to say that those other things are illegitimate, but I think that at some point we have to say that certain challenges to faith are not merely psychological or emotional, and that they are orchestrated and planned by some dark force in the universe that attempts to keep humanity from its fullness.

I think my friend is undergoing a series of temptations, and that many of my friends are in similar places. We’re facing a difficult world in transition for many of us in the post-graduate world. Either we’re in graduate school, or getting jobs and starting families or maybe doing all of those things at once. It’s not an easy task, by any means. When we encounter various other cultures or engage in post-Christian cultures, we can feel isolated, archaic, or silly and superstitious.

Answering Doubt

I think the first and most important answer to encroaching doubts is to face the questions head-on, not to shut down questions and thus remove all thought from the matter. Faith is as much about spiritual as well as mental conversions. I say conversions, because there are little ways in which things should be changing in daily life. There should be little conversions along the way. The only way we can get to answers about the faith in the end is through Jesus and the tools of faith he provides us with. He has given us the Church, her saints, the sacraments, prayer, community and the scriptures.

The first thing we might ask when doubt arises is when we last were diligent in studies, or in prayer. If these things have continued, or have ceased the answer is the same: To renew a commitment to praying for others. I think it’s important to give and to care for others when we face interior doubts because they help remind us of the world outside our rather small imaginations. Doubt constricts the imagination, but Charity gives it wings and liberates it to truly contemplate the world by allowing contemplation to happen both within and outside the person in question. Further such Charity causes the engaging of the person with community, as well as with faith.

Further, when we try to expand imperialistically a faith that has to remove all doubt, we might find ourselves tired and in an overworked empire of the mind. However, when we understand that the sacraments and all sacramental realities belong to Christ, we are in good company. The best answer to doubt is not certainty, but trust in and an encounter with The Risen Lord. St. Thomas expressed what we all similarly express when we come into contact with Jesus of Nazareth. To encounter Him is to undergo the removal of doubt. If mass is not cutting it, perhaps confession, or penance, or other sacramental realities like friendship, service, or worship can give us a glimpse of faith in a darkened world.

The Scriptures and Temptation

I am reminded of a few verses in the New Testament that deal with difficulty and I think that one passage in particular strikes me. I Peter4:12-13 (NRSV) says:

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.

This is to test us. It is that we may rejoice. To suffer Christianly, even to suffer temptations is to join ourselves to the overcoming King. How shall we know the glory we stand to inherit if we do not knwo what trials might have impeded us.

Ecclesiasticus 34:11 (Douay-Rheims) says: He that hath not been tried, what manner of things doth he know?…

If we are not faced with these questions, how will we know when the hour has come for us to be glorified? Temptation may be difficult, but it illuminates us with a different kind of experience.

Sometimes we fall. It’s ok though. Get back up.

St. Josemaria Escriva says in his book The Way: #262 Stop thinking of your fall. That thought, besides overwhelming and crushing you under its weight, may easily be an occasion of further temptations. Christ has forgiven you: forget the ‘old self’.

I know, personally, one thing that has really helped me in both making the decision to become Catholic, as well as just the rough times has been the crucifix. I look to Jesus, the crucified innocent, the man devoid of justice, and remember his suffering. I remember that this is God’s answer to our pain, not a magical cure, but enjoining us in it. We serve a God who has spoken, both through martyrs and prophets, and ultimately through the suffering servant known as Jesus of Nazareth, his very image, his very voice.

We cannot have a final non-mysterious answer to how to overcome doubt, or the temptation to believe our faith is silly, there’s no formula for it. There’s only the virtue of Faith, fostered in community and the Hope that we too shall have helped the crucified Rabbi overcome the world through our participation in his cross now, and in his resurrection then. Remember that you’re not alone, and that the only reason we choose to be alone in valleys is because we do not understand the gift of community at times like these.

The world may indeed by larger than Christianity, but I do not think so. I may not know for sure, but the best thing I can do is remain faithful in my questing after the virtues of Christ Jesus of Nazareth, and if I do these things, will not all else be added to me in time? I think that when we face the questions that try our faith, such as “Did God really say?” we might do well to investigate, to study the Church’s positions on things across time and space and discover that maybe the Church is wider and deeper than we ever imagined. Mayhap, we shall be the ones replying to the tempter with righteous scorn: “It aint necessarily so.”

 

An Update

So I have been in Tulsa for 11 days, and it’s been pretty awesome. I attend Church of the Madalene, with Kassie, everyone’s favorite Vatican spy.

Since I arrived I have acquired work, which I start tomorrow, and I have gotten a handle on things pretty well. I’ve attended two RCIA classes thus far and they have been really good. I really like my priest, and am really glad with the parish I now call home.

 

The most difficult thing to get used to so far has been not having my mom or brother around, as well as not pastoring. I really depended pretty heavily on them. My old church is missing me, I’m sure of it. I have missed them terribly, and the weight of no longer pastoring hits me sometimes. My mom and brother have been really supportive in the transition as has Kassie. It’s been really awesome so far.

Another things that’s taking getting used to is just not knowing anything anymore. I mean, things are the same, but they are different, some have graduated, some have married, and still others have moved on, it’s been really interesting taking it all in.

I didn’t get a job till yesterday, so I was a bit worried about that, though I did set myself a two week cushion as a deadline.

So, that settles the difficulties, which I figured I should address at least a bit. But, there have been so many more awesome and fun experiences I want to talk about.

Monday October 4th was more than just a good day, it was more than a great day even, it was fantastic, quite literally one of the best days of my life thus far. I feel like Kassie and I have not missed a beat, things just flow between us and we get along fantastically in person.

Monday evening last week we hung out and had pizza and watched a movie. It was the best. Friday last week we went to the Tulsa State Fair, and it was another super-fun experience. People watching, and taking in the sights, sounds, lights and colors of the fair was super awesome. We share in common more quirks and likes and dislikes than I thought possible, and it’s pretty amazing how things work with us. I love her even more than I did before, and I have no idea how such a thing is possible sometimes.

We just click. Everything we were before, we are now, but in person.

My local parish is pretty fantastic. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, being a Novus Ordo parish, but it’s a Novus Ordo done well. Our priest is spiritually adept and pastorally engaging. I have met with him personally once already and I really like him. He reminds me of Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting. In fact, at RCIA I half expect him to start writing math equations on the white board.

I am happy, and I am excited about the shape of things to come. Few things excite me more than the place I am in life right now, and the way that God is working has been stupendous, it’s been a challenge to be sure, but a good one. I love the way that things are coming together, and I feel reassured about everything. God has been so good to me, and the way things are falling into place is certainly reassuring. Thanks for the prayers, for reading, and for continued support. I’ll write more extensively on goings on soon.

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