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With my Mother

I shall grab this bead
and say a psalter,
a prayer, with my mother

I shall grab this bead,
this little counter,
this little object, so full
of divine potential

I shall count the times
with this little bead,
and I shall mark
the passing seasons

I shall witness passiontide
and Easter
The Assumption
the Stations, and Lent

I shall grab this little bead,
insignificant, supremely significant
and hold it
without faltering

I shall pray with my Mommy
for she wears stars in her hair
and has sought me from the corners
that I might join her in her prayers

I shall grab this bead
and my soul will magnify the Lord
for the works he has done
for the raising of the Lowest one

I shall grab this bead, and pray for mercy
mercy from the Lowly Son
Who’s Loving blood shall flow to me
and be my drink at Calvary

I shall grasp this calling bead,
and join the conversation
I shall hold this prayer bead
and become grasped by illumination

I will grasp another bead,
holding on for dear life
knowing that the calling comes
but not without a price

I shall seek the Defender of the weak
by counting with my Mother
and we shall weep great tears,
in the arms of the Sustainer

My Mother and I shall have spoken for the world
joining with your lowly son, and all the ills
saying with great gratitude
be it done unto me according to your will

And then we shall lift up our voice
with all our sisters and our brothers
as we rejoice in Family, One Father, One Spirit
One Messiah and One Mother

I originally penned this in September of last year, i thought it appropriate.


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. Maximus the Confessor on Grudges


We’re in Holy Week, and I wish you all the greeting of Peace from God Our Father and Jesus Christ Our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Here at the Practical Catholic, I am having a wonderful time preparing to celebrate the most sorrowful death and the glorious resurrection of Our Lord.

In St. Maximus, be aware of the word passions, which in the entire Eastern Tradition means: The emotions that control you. Things like sexual desire, anger, envy, desire for material wealth, rejection, fear and some types of love. These emotions are always attempting to assert their control over the human person.

Passions are at their heart expressions of ego-centered behaviors and thoughts that separate the person from Christ-likeness. Passions can be rewritten for good, and so St. Maximus here encourages us to do that very thing by means of practicing graciousness to overcome rejection.

If you bear a grudge against anyone, pray for him and you will stop the passion in its tracks. By prayer you separate the hurt from the memory of the evil which he did you and in becoming loving and kind you completely obliterate passion from the soul. On the other hand, if someone else bears you a grudge, be generous and humble with him, treat him fairly, and you will deliver him from the passion

*This selection is from “Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings” translated by George C. Berthold

The Resurrection and Christian Knowledge

The Resurrection in Christian theology and practice is not a matter of grasping something abnormal and positing it as a mere historical fact. That’s where fundamentalists and their approach to Christianity falls far short of what Christianity calls for.

Christianity calls for a radical divergence from all prior streams of though, a new and final worldview that establishes itself in the place of all other things.

Knowledge of the resurrection is a knowledge not of some past event, not of some sort of passed on testimony. Knowledge of the resurrection does not happen solely in the historical sphere, but also and more importantly, in the religious and spiritual sphere of man. In seeing the resurrection the Christian is called to be grasped by the intent of God to marry Himself to all creation and finally establish His place within it as the pinnacle and source of all things.

In the resurrection God reveals to us his determination to encounter both the living and the dead, the whole and the broken, the ends of existence itself, and the height of human glory.

The Resurrection is not a historical event like others, it is the definition of history. It creates history, for in it, God has established the He shall finally be Our Lord, and we shall finally be His people. The resurrection writes our continued history, it begs us to move beyond the illusions of historicity and to enter into the spirit of this history, to be apprehended by the one God, and the messiah Son who reveals Him to us with His final and definitive word that God shall not abandon His creation, even unto death.

Suffering and Salvation

In the East, Easter is about the victory of God, and does not show Jesus having burst from the grave surrounded in light, but rather shows His descent into hell. The following is from a homily Pope Benedict gave called Christ the Liberator. It can be found in the book The Essential Pope Benedict XVI. He is discussing the icon of the Resurrection in the East, and its differences.

In the perspective of the icon, this is an affirmation concerning Jesus’ victory. The icon shows Him having shattered the bolt of this world., Having torn its gates from their hinges. It depicts him as the “stronger man” who has opened and penetrated into the domain of the “strong man.” It portrays Him as the Victor, having burst through the supposedly impregnablefortress of death, such that death is not now longer a place of no return; its doors lie open. Christ in the aura of His wounded love, stands in this doorway, addresses the still somnolent Adam, and takes him by the hand to lead him forth…The Adam addressed by the victorious Christ is we ourselves- “I am in you and you are in me.” Having taken human nature he is now present in human flesh and we are present in him, the Son.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I would ask you to consider how Lent and all of Christianity has either invited you into or repulsed you from the “aura of wounded love” and leave a comment.

Share your experiences in sacrificial, wounded love. I’d love to hear from you, and maybe start a discussion. Most especially since my soteriology has taken a new twist in the past few months: “To suffer with gracious acceptance is to have found what it means to be saved” is the soteriological formula that I’ve been working with.

To end with a quote by Irenaeus:  “I have learned to love suffering, but I do not know that I deserve the honor.”

What are your thoughts?


Love Wins- A Look at Rob Bell’s Theology of Hell

So, everyone is up in arms about Rob Bell’s new book: Love Wins.

Robb Bell’s Universalism! Catholic bloggers are also up in arms!

If you’re out of the loop here’s why all the fuss.

Rob Bell’s nuances are seeming to imply that the much coveted salvation prayer of the Evangelical tradition isn’t the moment of salvation, neither are classes, seminars or other such participations.

HarperCollins’s description of Bell’s book, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived is as follows:

Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Time magazine calls “a singular rock star in the church world,” Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial generation. Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.

What I see going on here is a strong movement of jumping to conclusions. Not unfounded ones, but conclusions that are nevertheless premature. One blogger out there has ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK in its entirety. Others, are quick to dismiss Rob Bell and his ministry as heretical. Now, as a Catholic, I’m not usually on Rob Bell’s side. We do not always agree. I do not think he’s always teaching the gospel. But what I see Rob Bell doing in what scant information is available on his book, unreleased as it is, is that he’s questioning traditional evangelicalism and mainline protestantism.

Rob Bell is living out the end of Evangelicalism, like a softer, kinder, more hipster Derrida, he’s found everything without foundation, and is looking to lay a new one. Or at the very least, undo the harmful byproducts of the old one.

An actual quote from the book is not far from the work of C.S. Lewis, the Catholic position, or a reasonable one found in most people willing to question the reformed tradition.

Love demands freedom. We are free to resist, reject, and rebel against God’s ways for us. We can have all the hell we want.

Rob Bell is simply stating the old addage that hell is a door locked from the inside. But what’s more interesting is that the vision he’s drafted while dangerously close to universalism, is also dangerously close to orthodox theology, and that’s what bothers the Calvinists and the other protestant mainliners. Bell expresses a view that might just decentralize going to heaven, and might just work towards a fuller need for thinking about the Resurrection of the Body. That’s awesome, if it is in fact what he’s doing.

Love Wins.

Isn’t that the gospel message? That Jesus Christ enacted a sure victory for God? Isn’t that why we go to mass or church and celebrate? Is the victory of God really so foreign to us that we have to reject any celebration of God’s justice? Now, I’m not going to trumpet Bell’s praises, but I have to say, hats off.

The man took a risk, pissed off a lot of people and has brought a discussion of salvation into mainstream culture. Twitter exploded, Rob Bell was a trending topic, and the blogosphere erupted. This shows me a sign of hope. We live in a culture that wants more out of life and cares deeply about afterlife, despite the overestimations of atheists and some scholars about the widespread nihilism of our day.

The point of this book is in many ways a popular level version of the Theology of Hope by Jurgenn Moltmann, that eschatology isn’t something we should hide until people believe Jesus is the only way, and then spring on them that all their unbeliever friends are hell-bound. Nor is it an embarrassing end-note on Christian theology. Rather, the victory of God should flavor all aspects of our theology.

Lots of people are quoting Bell as saying that Hell is empty.

Now, if what Rob Bell means by “Hell is empty” is, that it is a place of non-existence because we’ve chosen to cut ourselves off from the one who allows us to exist, and hell isn’t a place but ceasing to have a place in God’s love, then that’s all well and good. That’s within the bounds of Orthodox doctrine on hell.

C.S. Lewis noted,  “I have met no people who fully disbelieved in hell and also had a living and life-giving belief in heaven”. So, let’s be careful if Rob Bell is accidentally trying to strip our life-giving belief in heaven through shutting the gates of hell prematurely. I mean, N.T. Wright’s book Justification says many of the same things I hear this book saying. The quote above seems to be Bell’s landing pad in the end. That we can choose against grace, and in doing so we can have all the hell we want.

The Unhealthy Alternative

If by “Hell is empty” Bell means that everyone goes to heaven no matter what…we have a problem. If this is the case then, Christ is useless because God has massacred a man for no reason, or even solely for the reason of pouring out wrath on one so he could lassiez-faire the rest of us regardless of our actions. I don’t want to serve that God, and neither should you. This sort of cheap grace as Dietrich Bonhoeffer would call it, is exactly the thing I think the blogosphere might be mis-reading into Rob Bell. Now, I don’t think we have enough information to make a definitive decision on what Bell is really saying, but the quote from the book as provided above seems to make it clear that this is not Rob Bell’s point. I might be wrong, and trust me, I’d love to review the book when I can afford a copy, but by that time I’m sure we’ll all know what he thinks unless one of my well-connected readers has an advance copy they can get me.

I think Bell is simply pushing Evangelical culture to look at itself honestly and recognize it has very shoddy doctrine in issues of salvation nowadays. There’s no singular consensus among protestants except for the “salvation prayer” tradition of most evangelicals, and/or the infilling of the holy spirit experience of Charismatics. I think Bell has asked the right questions, even if in the end it turns out he hasn’t provided the right answers.


Evangelical readers: This is not the end of the world. It may be the beginning of the end of Evangelicalism, but that’s not so bad. Bell has set the elephants in the room in plain sight. Take advantage of this to walk away different. You don’t necessarily need to change, but be open to it, and you might be surprised. Look deeply at your beliefs through this book, and ask the difficult questions. Does your theology of hell say that Love Wins? If not, it might be time to examine more orthodox theologies, and see what God really might be saying to you. After all, isn’t part of the fun of the faith journey seeking after God Himself?

Catholic readers of mine, the gospel is unchanged and the Church has taught this from the start: Love Wins. The entire book of the Revelation to St. John says as much, our world expects as much from us. We’ve been lost in an eschatology that’s been emabarassed to tell the Truth because of the enduring problem of suffering people, but the Truth is…God has won and continues to win through the person and work of Jesus, the sacrament of God.

In Christ, we all win; apart from Him, not so much. But I think Bell wouldn’t disagree with that. If he does, we have problems, but I don’t think that’s what’s being said. The jury is out, but I am withholding judgment until we know a bit more.

The important thing in the end that we can take away from this heated debate is that God’s grace is alive and well in the world of today, and calling us all to reflect more truly a love that wins.

Sexuality is Spiritual

Ever wonder why Christians hate porn?

Or why Christians insist on marriage being between a man and a woman?

Well, it’s because a secret some of us have discovered, one the Church has known for millennia, and one people are starting to realize is getting back out there. Sexuality is Spiritual.

Sexuality is more than just chemicals and genitalia, and we all know that. The Church teaches us that sexuality is a spiritual as well as physical connection. It’s deeper than emotions, it’s a whole system of actions and reactions that transcend the here and now. Sexuality is a part of the human person in ways that cannot be reduced to simple accident.

Dr. Paul McHugh has an engaging article on the matter of sexual reassignment surgery from a Catholic perspective, with very interesting findings. What were the good Dr.’s findings? What we always knew. Regardless of how you manipulate the body and its environment for a desired outcome, gender and sexuality are intrinsic to the human on a more fundamental level than the attitudes of society. Culture cannot ultimately shape what we know to be proper sexuality.

But what about the Politics!?

This week President Obama decided to tell the Department of Justice to not uphold The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I think this is simply a distraction from the budget wars that have been fought on Capitol Hill. What this means for our politics is simple,

  1. We are not always allies with the government as Christians.
  2. We will have to work culturally to revive the values we believe are intrinsic to human dignity, including traditional marriage.
  3. We will have to work harder in the gay and lesbian communities with love, patience and understanding to create a country we can all share without ostracizing one another.

However, issues of the ethics of sex begin to raise all sorts of questions about the nature of our politics. Stanley Hauerwas says “…[T]he ethics of sex must begin with political considerations, because ethically the issue of the proper form of sexual activity raises the most profound issues about the nature and form of political community.” So in essence, when we talk about gay marriage and traditional marriage, we’re not just talking about a civil institution, we’re talking about the entire structure of our lives as a culture, and a people. Hauerwas goes on to say “To reduce issues of sexuality to the question of whether acts of sex are or are not fulfilling for those involved is to manifest the assumption of political liberalism that sex is a private matter.”

The Christian Alternative

In Jewish culture, which is the wellspring of Christian thought, issues of sex affect the shape of the entire culture. Judaism was one of the first, if not the first culture with a code of sexual ethics as part of religious/societal life. That Christians today attempt to defend the public nature of sexual acts and collaborate towards a common good is not strange, but inherent to the wider Christian worldview. It is not only in Christianity, but in society as a whole across the world that marriage is a fundamental element in the social/political landscape. Marriage involves a whole convocation of issues at the foundation of every society and changing marriage means changing a whole social order.

Hauerwas is worth quoting at length here:

We must understand that if Christians and non-Christians differ over marriage, that difference does not lie in their understanding of the quality of interpersonal relationship needed to enter or sustain a marriage, but rather in a disagreement about the nature of marriage and its place in the Christian and national community. Christians above all should note that there are no conceptual or institutional reasons that require love between the parties to exist in order for the marriage to be successful. Marriage is, as Russell argues, a biological institution to beget and rear children for the ends of particular communities. What makes marriage Christian is the rationale behind having and raising children. Marriage and the family for Christians are not less political because they are not understood in terms of a national order. Indeed, their political nature is clear from the fact that they refuse to be so defined.

I’d like to take a moment to say: I disagree with Hauerwas in that I think romantic love done Christianly is the human element that make marriages increase in perfection. Hauerwas is of course on one level right, but I’d say that the case he presents has been used wide and far in all sorts of extremely non-Christian relationships, especially among Fundamentalist evangelicals and Fundamentalist mainline Protestants. Marriage is for begetting and rearing children, but it is also for the Christian community, it is also for love, for companionship, for the sacrament of friendship, for communion between persons.

Christians have a differing view of love from the secular societies they form part of. “We do not love because we are married, but because we are Christian” says Hauerwas, and I could not agree more. The basis of marriage for Christians is not romantic love. The basis of marriage for Christians is founded in the faith that calls them to love with full self-emptying devotion. In fact, this makes clear to us the venerated position of early Church martyrs. They were nuptially given to Christ. The criterion was a bodily givenness that could not be duplicated twice, and happened in a context so specific that it could not happen without certain given variables.

If marriage is understood as similar to the way we think of martyrdom, a nuptial sharing with Christ, and yet at the same time a political body which does a service to a community, we must return to what it means to be called to marriage. Being called to marriage as Christians means being called to serve the entire Christian community with our bodies, our fidelity and our patience and hope.

In short, we can say that every marriage is a death of self, so that our self may be free to give to another bodily. It is irreplaceable, and not able to be duplicated without the proper context. Just as Christ gives his body for the Church on the cross and in the Eucharist, the martyr echoes this back in a way at once dissimilar, because the martyr is not God, but sharing in the same identity. Christian marriage is bodily givenness because we are Christian, not because we have passion. Thus both marriage and martyrdom require a bodily fidelity that can be echoed by the other in a way at once dissimilar and mutually identical. Bodily fidelity such as this can only be fully expressed in marriage when a male body is given to its female counterpart as it was made to do.

The Fundamentalist Problem

This givenness fosters in us the passions and loves that the middle ages championed as the height of love. It may very well be that Christian love is the only way to reach these properly. The human element as well as the theological and emotional have to be present to foster a healthy love. Just as much as healthy sexuality is not just proper genital interaction, it is not simply about a purely theological element.

We cannot afford to lose the connectedness and the unity of sexuality for the sake of “biblical sexuality” as some have used it, claiming the other’s body as a sex object at any point through phrases about conjugal rights, and honoring husbands and submitting to the man’s desires. Any structure of sexuality where abuse, lust, rape and adultery are conceived as impossible once the couple are married is a flawed structure. Christian marriage does not say that these things suddenly do not exist or only exist in extreme situations.

Every marriage is subject to the fallen created order, which means that a man can feasibly lust after his wife. Pope John Paul II was mocked by the media for saying that a man should not lust after his wife The Holy Father says, “each man must look within himself to see whether she who was entrusted to him as a sister in humanity, as a spouse, has not become in his heart an object of adultery.”[1]. It is the responsibility of every man to care for his wife as a sister and uphold her dignity. Growing up, I had similar experiences to this where no sex before marriage was the ultimate goal. But I have since learned a fuller Christian theology of marriage and the family.

We must remember that it’s important to recognize that our spouses are not the objects of our sexual pleasure, or where we should direct our sexual frustrations. Our spouses are not where we get to live out every whim and fancy. Marriage, true marriage is a liberation of the person. It calls us to live a life in the fullness of freedom. Christian marriage calls to some and says “If you wish to have freedom from lust, live this way!”

Character and Sex

The issue for us, all of us, is not what we should do with our genitals. That’s important, don’t get me wrong. But the question is deeper and more fundamental than that. It’s a question of ‘What kind of people should we be?’ and that will clearly have something to do with our faith, cookware, genitals and virtues. But the reason that much of the argument for traditional marriage is failing in some areas is that people have made it about genitals and not the character necessary to use those genitals, and indeed our bodies rightly.

What I mean is, we’re called to use our bodies as a statement of faith. Every child that we bear is a fight against the idea and culture that says that we’re all doomed .Every single birth is a statement of faith that says, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, Lord and giver of Life.” This is not to say that children are simply this. Just as marriage needs a human element, parent-child relations need a human element. Every child is an opportunity to reflect the love in our marriages, and testifies to the fruits of our love for our spouses, be they natural-born children or adopted, it says that our marriages are still places where widows, orphans and our neighbor are cared for.

Every successful marriage testifies to fidelity between man and woman, as we were created to be. Every positive marriage shows our patience in waiting for the end, and living today as if it has ultimate importance, though we wait for the end. Every marriage serves the Church, through being called to God as a domestic priesthood, a temple of the faithful in everyday life.

When we remember this calling, what we do with our genitals matters, but for reasons larger than sex itself. Sex is an act of worship, but just as every other thing in our lives should be worship. Marriage, and sex for our good, our pleasure and our ability to enjoy. However, marriage is still a vocation and engenders us to certain responsibilities. This new understanding for the 21st century is an old one for the Church, and a view that fractures many of our cultural illusions, but as Christians we can do no less. Our kingdom, our bodies and our sex is not of this world.

[1]. Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem 14 (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women) (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1988).

The Catholic Jesus

I guess I’ve been touching on so many other issues that I haven’t really had time to talk about my experience of Jesus as a Catholic.

1. God With Us

The Real Presence has shaped my experience. When I walk into Church, I expect Jesus to be there, when I see the candle at the side of the tabernacle, I know God is with us. I feel the reverence and the sanctity when i enter for Church. I behold the Lamb of God weekly, and it has made me more devout in my walk. I feel I take Christ even more seriously than I did as a radically devout Charismatic. God’s Spirit is in the mass, and He has filled me with good things, but at the very first, he has taught me to be silent, to be sober.

God with us, it shapes my daily expectation, to join in with my heart in adoration for all the masses being said worldwide. To contemplate the incarnation, as it happens right before me, it makes the Church truly an echo of Mary, for every week, every day she makes present to us the incarnate Lord. To be able to see the Lamb which John preached, and to apprehend God with my senses, it’s baffling. But more so, I am apprehended by Him, by the peace He brings, and by the light which He alone can give.

2. A Jesus for All Ages

This Jesus is not MY Jesus, He is the Lord of the Church. He’s my Lord, but he’s not my fabrication. My experience happens with all others. My experience at Church isn’t to isolate me, it’s to bring me into worship and communion with others.

As a Charismatic, I love that my experience now has a place in the universal expression of Christianity. I am with the entire communion of the saints in worship, in adoration, and in prayers. We all have a common experience, it’s diverse, but we know we share in the same bread, and therefore are the one Body. This Jesus is not just about my today, or what the pastor says, he is about yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is truly a Jesus who was, in the history of the Church and the Jesus who is present to us today, and the Jesus who shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

The feast days for saints are reflections on this Jesus continuing to work in history, the feasts for Him remind us both of His life, and His Resurrection and ascension. The gospel daily reminds us that He shall come again.

3.  The Family-Maker

Jesus is not just in the business of saving souls, he is in the work of creating families. This Jesus is drawing an entire church into His presence. He has set me in a broader context. I commune with Him and His people. He has established a large and welcoming family, whose merit is Him alone. He is the merit by which men are saved and He is the grace which He bestows. He is the One who shall reconcile all things to Himself, both things in heaven and on earth.

He has given me a family, a mother, Mary, who I can behold, and contemplate and remember. She was and is the most perfect disciple of them all, and we should all seek to emulate her life. He has given me an earthly pastor, the apostolic office of Pope Benedict XVI, and before him Pope John Paul II to lead and to guide, to preach and proclaim. He has given me priests and bishops, prophets, and evangelists, teachers and speakers, miracle workers, charismatics, laymen and laywomen, an entire communion of saints, and most especially my girlfriend and my sponsor. He has given me a family, and a home; He has given me Himself by inviting me to dine with Him in Rome.

St. Juan Diego’s Cup of Tea

The Unofficial Patron Saint of lay-persons, St. Juan Diego strikes again. This time, with Interwebz. Alright, for those of you who don’t know St. Juan Diego is actually an unofficial patron saint of Laypeople, ask anyone who follows anything related to Guadalupe. But anyways, we’re here to day to talk about laypeople, and specifically, their cup of tea.

Matthew Warner over at the National Catholic Register published an article a while back on the way that some bishops are troubled by the Catholic bloggers out there. Bishop Gabino Zavala, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Communications Committee expressed concerns over when bloggers take upon themselves the mantle of Magisterium and use judgmental, or hurtful language or engage in personal attacks. He said “Such actions shatter the communion of the Church that we hold so precious.”

While I do agree that some bloggers out there may take it too far with cynicism, surely what the bishop means by having us not “assume the role of the Magisterium” is not passive acceptance of anything that comes from higher-ups. Surely this cannot mean we are not to speak the Truth, or evaluate decisions with confidence. We might read the statement wtih cynicism and say that this is clerical elitism, but I suspect that’s not his point. I suspect his point is that the demonization of our leaders, rather than disagreement is the heart of the issue. I do not assume Bishop Zavala to be saying that Catholic bloggers should die off. Speaking pastorally, he makes a point. Catholics have not only the image of, but are supposed to have actual unity. They are supposed to have a unity that shows them not to be splintering at the seams with rage for one another, but in the common unity of faith, they are to be united even when disagreement is necessary.

The Digital Diocese

Bishop Ronald Herzog said, “Social media is proving itself to be a force with which to be reckoned. If not, the church may be facing as great a challenge as that of the Protestant Reformation.” I have to agree. The Reformation was a confluence of religious, political and technological changes that are being mirrored in our own day, but at a much more alarming rate. The Church has the responsibility to shore up Her presence online and lead the way in digital presence online. I thought long and pondered well the statement by Bishop Zavala, and I think implicit in his statement is a recognition of a second Tea Party in America. No, not the Tea Party Express, nor any other political Tea Parties. It’s a Lai-Tea Party (pronounced just like laity). A movement that is increasingly recognized by the hierarchy of Catholic bloggers and news reporters who are taking to arms with certain issues and even working hard to bring the faith into the digital age. The Bishops are recognizing the growing social force that is the Catholic blogosphere and the presence of the “Digital Diocese” in our everyday lives. The web has garnered reporters and pastors and made the Catholic online community worth contending with and recognizing.

To define the Lai-Tea Party movement in brief: I coined the term today, while thinking about the effects the Tea Party had on American Politics. The Tea Party is a social reform movement that started in America sometime between 2008 and 2009 and focuses on reforming American social life and fiscal life. The Lai-Tea party movement is a conservative social reform movement that is usually perpetuated by the laity, though some notable priests have made an online presence. This movement has actively devout Catholics hoping to influence politics, social justice, family and life issues, social media and even Church politics in the public sphere by pressing for Orthodox commitments to the faith. These bloggers are grassroots movements, often centering charismatically on the best and most thoughtful and Orthodox bloggers. They openly call for the laity to support certain leaders and agendas over others, and are haivng an increasing effect on Catholic culture in America. Evidence shows that these bloggers, and tweeters are strongly pro-life, devout and ardent for the Orthodox expressions of their faith. Not only that, they have a growing voice in American politics, pro-life organizations and grassroots business support. For example, a 30 year old mother of three might have a blog on culture and parenting, and have relatively little impact in her immediate social circle, yet have a following of 15-20,000 regular readers. This is a prime example of what’s at the heart of the Lai-Tea movement.

There is a growing Catholic lay presence in the goings of of Catholic life and culture in America. I think this can be a very good thing, especially because it is this creative and Orthodox laity who are fighting to retain the Tradition of the Church, and to revitalize her authenticity and voice in our own world today. The “Digital Diocese” is basically what Catholicism is online, a collection of various Churches coming together, and right now the head is loosely the Pope Himself through his Apostolic exhortations and statements on New Media. He’s the most outspoken of all the Catholic Bishops on New Media and Catholicism st least as far as I can tell. Right now this digital diocese has no specific Bishop, or head to report to. It is a growing web presence and mayhap should even have it’s own Bishop someday, but we’ll leave that up to the Vatican and Pope Benedict and his successors.

The New Evangelization

Social media, the New Evangelization, and the rise of the Catholic Blogosphere are all hugely important aspects of Catholic life in the 21st Century. New media is shaping the Church towards the empowerment of the laity to serve and evangelize.We must recognize a growing influence of laity in the Catholic Church, and that it’s not a bad thing. The 20th and 21st Centuries have seen a revitalization of lay efforts around the world, and with prelates like Opus Dei in the mix, empowering lay-people for active service is imperative. It is the call of every Catholic to be prophet-priest-king in their own way. Surely those with holy Orders have a special responsibility and means of exercising those, but this does not mean that the laity is irrelevant. The revival of lay-participation on every level of ecclesial life has been hugely beneficial for the growth and maintenance of Catholicism, and without the Digital Diocese, and the freedom of Catholic information online, I wonder how many Protestant conversions and eventual reversions would be stunted.

The Lai-Tea Party in Action

Speaking of the power of the Lai-Tea Party, there have been a few things we can speculate have indirect involvement of Catholic bloggers in their midst.

Huge news this week was the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan to the Presidency of the USCCB. Reasons for the breaking of a tradition that saw the vote as more of a formality has been the subject of speculation since the upset. The New York Times reported “The vote makes Archbishop Dolan the most visible face of the church in the United States. It also suggested that the bishops were seeking a powerful and reliably orthodox voice to reassert the church’s teaching in the court of public opinion and to disarm critics who insist that the bishops have lost their moral authority as a result of their role in the sexual abuse scandals. Kicanas’ example was far from a shining light in dealing with sex abuse, and Dolan was obviously the most fit for the job. This election is a move to restore a credible face for the American Catholic Church, at least in the opinion of Phil Lawler.

I tend to agree with Lawler, but also have to cite the increased moral accountability demands from the laity. Lawler writes “As the expected ascent of Bishop Kicanas to the USCCB presidency approached, the bishop’s unhappy connection with the [Daniel] McCormack [sex-abuse] case drew new scrutiny—first from a Chicago radio station, then from Tim Drake of the National Catholic Register, and finally from groups representing abuse victims. These abuse victims, were a driving factor as well as the American Hieracrchy’s need for a new face with credible leadership. The laity spoke out, the Lai-Tea Party spoke out, and the election was given to a more credible leader.

Dolan himself denies the caricaturization between pro-life and social-justice issues saying “We bishops would bristle at the characterization that there are some bishops who tend to be more pro-life and family issues while others tend to the social-justice issues.” Whatever the case, there is a noticeably stronger and stronger influence from the laity who are pressing for more Orthodoxy, and a stronger voice on social issues in the public sphere. The American Church wants to be done with sexual abuse and timid leaders who wash their hands of situations will simply not do. It is my suspicion that the active proliferation of news across the web by laypersons and the Lai-Tea party had a lot to do with this election. In other words, thank you Tim Drake.

This Lai-Tea Party is not trying to break from the Church, or become the Magisterium, but has gained a considerable following, and is generating lots of talk and shared ideas on the internet. It is the voice of the Church echoing back to itself the high-standards of ages past. The Lai-Tea Party movement among Catholics need not be a bad thing, if we have the fortitude to recognize it as a correcting mechanism. An empowered and preaching laity is part of the Church’s acceptance of a type of priesthood of all believers. We don’t evangelize as in the classical world with ideas, and doctrines, as much as we need to show people that our faith is a matter of thought, heart, morality, and meditation. Catholicism is a life in service to God with a universal body of believers, not a collection of dogmas exclusively. The Lai-Tea Party wants both the social presence that social-justice advocates are pressing for, as well as an outspoken commitment to Orthodoxy and a swift handling of sexual abuse wherever it happens.

A Call to the Bishops

I think the bishops are right to be concerned about the dark side of all this, that is apologists, bloggers and general Catholic internet users who have mean-streaks and are not witnessing with the charity necessary to make positive witness. I think the bishops are right to ask us to remember charity, and love as part of our witness in the New Evangelization. There are big challenges afoot, and my call to Catholic bloggers and writers out there is to support the Bishops in making the change into the Digital Age. I mean there are a few ideas out there that might help in establishing what I have called a Digital Diocese. If The Bishops are wise, they might take up keeping tabs on their own local bloggers, or publish a document with guidelines and rules for blogging as a Catholic. There should be rules in place that safeguard readers from extremists, and generally cohere with the tone and nature of the New Evangelization. In other words, the Bishops can, by example and perhaps with their own blogs, set the tone and by example demonstrate how the faith is best communicated and taught.

But there is hope. The challenge is to the bishops to step up, and realize the positive impact this can have. You cannot keep people from blogging, or even from disagreeing with you, but you can establish guidelines that further the Church’s cause in the New Evangelization. Then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote “In proclaiming conversion we must also offer a community of life, a common space for the new style of life. We cannot evangelize with words alone; the Gospel creates life, creates communities of progress; a merely individual conversion has no consistency.” So too, a merely individual proclamation of the faith has no consistency. If the Bishops seek to outline guidelines of charitable communication so that the Catholic blogosphere can be a community of life it is possible. It is possible to create a culture progressing towards life, the Lai-Tea Party has proven that with the increased attention on Catholic bloggers even by the bishops and Rome. It is possible to establish a well ordered Digital Diocese, the impetus is on the bishops, their staffs, and Catholic bloggers everywhere to do so.

Bishop Herzog quoted above also said… social media is not the latest fad, but a paradigm shift…”(emphasis mine).

My call to the bishops is to take advantage of the time and the way in which online Catholic culture is forming, and to step in with their presence, making themselves bishops in not just the physical world, but the digital as well. Maybe then the Church will recognize that the strong arm of Orthodoxy or the bleeding wrist of acquiescence to culture will always be the laity. Without contact with the people of the digital age, and recognition that it is the laity that will lead the frontiers of online participation, the hierarchy does poorly to establish an online presence. But if there is a motion to be drawn together, and take advantage of existing structures, we can do so much more.

A Call to The Lai-Tea Party

You know who you are. You’re a blogger, a mother, a father, a Catholic.

The New Media will either be Babel, or a type of second Jerusalem, a community that empowers people to go forth in loving power, towards social justice, towards upbuilding of families, towards a technologically savvy Catholic Church.

What it becomes is up to us, and I think we have gotten off to a great start. From where I’m standing, we have a lot to do, but we’ve already done so much.

The New Evangelization and the New Apologetics are not so much about refuting arguments or winning numbers as they are about developing connections with people in our daily lives and online who can share in friendship with us.

5Things to briefly Keep in Mind:

1) We are witnesses, and to that end, we must be united. -We must hold true the values of communion over conflict and common cause over splintered debates.We are the presence of the Church online and in some ways, we are the priests to the online world. We have a priestly vocation to embody Christ

2) It is ok to disagree, it is not ok to debase. -When arguing a point, winning the argument is not the most important thing in the world. Arriving at the Truth in love is. If you cannot reach the Truth through logic, drop it. It’s not the end of the world. I can’t remember the last time I got flamed and was excited to change religions or point of view.

3) We may have a growing social presence, but we are not the Magisterium. -We have a responsibility to embody the Truth of the Church, and to uphold that in our lives, but we do not have the responsibility to pronounce anathemas, or excommunications, or any other sort of unnecessarily inflammatory language.

4) Remember that online presence is as Spiritual and Moral as it is Intellectual and Social. -What I mean is, when you engage your online life, do so spiritually. Do it morally. Surf the web with charity, temperance, moderation, self-control. Sometimes those things can be challenging, but they are necessary. We are a massive laity, and we do well to act as we should, and in so doing give the internet’s Catholic voice not simply voice, but a soul also.


Young people [bloggers, thinkers and writers] of every continent, do not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium! Be contemplative, love prayer, be coherent with your faith and generous in your service of brothers and sisters, be active members of the Church and builders of peace. To succeed in this demanding project of life, continue to listen to his word, draw strength from the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and penance. The Lord waits you to be intrepid apostles if his Gospel and builders of a new humanity.

-Pope John Paul II

With the Prayers of St. Juan Diego, St. Josemaria Escriva, Pope John Paul II and all the saints who pray incessantly for and with the laity, we should all recognize the call to preach the gospel at all times.

In Closing Our Father Benedict Says “… I renew the invitation to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new “agorà” which the current media are opening up…”

To which I say, Amen.

Losing MY Religion Part Three

The Beginning of the End

Ultimately, with this not-so-little series my goal has been to show that both Fundamentalism and over-emphasis on “relationship” or “spirituality” without structure are both about how I am so much better than everyone else. They are both flawed overemphases of self.

At the root of Fundamentalism, and of Postmodern approaches to faith is the same mitake, one sin: pride. St. Thomas Aquinas affirms that “heresy is a species of pride rather than of unbelief” [Summa Theol. II, part 2, q. 11 art. 1.]. I think at the heart of many if not all Christian heresies, errors in the faith, is the sin of thinking we know better; we think we could do better or somehow make something better than what has clearly been established and affirmed.

I hope that with this series I have invited you into thoughtfulness, and if you have hate mail, I would love your comments too.

My attempt is to invite you into a broader view of what Catholicism is, and perhaps to see that there is more to Christianity than the fundamentalism of some, and more to Christianity than the liberalism of others. I have hoped we could all learn that the faith is deeper than we give it credit for on both sides of the great divorce from Reason in our understanding of Faith. Pope John Paul II said that “Faith and Reason are like two wings by which the human soul rises to the contemplation of truth.” I hope I’ve shown the importance of truth, and virtue in this whole process.

The Catholic Church is wider than some critics admit, and too wide for others. She is wider than disagreements with “religion” and more “progressive” than some care to admit. She upholds social values in an age where “conservatives” more and more care about fiscal policies and immigration than societal values and for the dignity of all humans, not just embryonic humans, though even these smallest of beings she preserves with all her might.

The Church is and always has been a broad place, a welcoming and large home for many children of the faith. Vatican II may not be your favorite Church document, but it’s a document of the Church and speaks to us with authority. Dislike does not give us Catholics the authority to rebel.

Losing MY Religion

I grew up in a religion that taught me about a man in heaven who wanted me to love him, and worship him. I grew up being taught that this was the most important thing in the world. I was never taught how to “play well with others” in regards to my faith. The funny thing is, we teach our children to share, to honor adults and to listen to wise counsel, but reject these notions as we grow up and think we know better.

When the Church found me, she invited me away from myself, away from my own little creation, away from a religion I had invented, and into the broad place, with wide-open doors where I could play with other Christians. Where I could celebrate God in a huge assembly, not just with some otherworldly people who had no idea I exist and who I could not relate to. She invited me to the communion table to share in Christ at the side of St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Athanasius, St. Josemaria Escriva, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John of The Cross, St. Peter, St. John the Apostle, Pope John Paul II and others.

She invited me into a faith shaped by holiness and sacrifice rather than opinion and conjecture. She invited me into a faith that developed biblically and historically. She invited me into a playground where I could rest with God’s other children, and have a generous faith, a faith that had fences, but no to keep others out. She invited me to understand that these fences were to keep us safe and free from the dangers outside those curtains. She invited me to a tent of meeting, rather than a field where all manner of beast might pass by and snatch the unprotected.

She invited me away from my own idiocy and obstinate lack of virtue, to recognize others might know God better than I do, and to rise up to the level of my spiritual energies. She asked me to take a yoke upon myself, a true and great system of teachings, a new culture, a new life. She took me out of the spotlight, and invited me away from MY religion. She gave me faith in Jesus, a Mother, many brothers and sisters, and an enduring hope for the final day.

Growing Up

I am still developing, sometimes I am weak, sometimes I am angry, sometimes I am broken, but where I am weak and embrace the humility this brings, perhaps it is for our benefit. I know Jesus prayed that we might be one, and sometimes I come off a bit harsh, but this is my desire.

I desire that we might all learn to live together in peace. Peace cannot be had without the difficult and necessarily life-altering encounters made possible through honesty. If we cannot trust one another, we cannot live in peace. I seek that we may all learn to live together. I offer these correctives to Catholics to encourage them to seek out relationships with our separated brothers and sisters. I offer these correctives to protestants who would seek to say that we worship falsely, or are only religious without any spirituality.

I am learning to grow up, one day at a time, and I am deeply sorry where sometimes have failed in charity, or understanding. I can only offer the promise to work harder for my faith, and to embody not only an intellectual position, but a moral and spiritual one as well. My faith is slowly calling me from gripping tightly to a precious but imperfect thing, like the creature Gollum and his ring. The Church has called me into a full faith where we all share the same story, and each retelling might have a slightly different emphasis and perspective, but the story remains the same.

It’s nice to have a faith that calls me away from myself and into a broader assembly. It’s nice to have a faith that circumvents my obstinate obsession with my own opinions, on the one side or on the other. It’s nice to have a faith that strips me of a false precious, and teaches me that the reallly and truly precious thing is others. It’s nice to lose MY religion, to in the end have the religion that really matters.

Losing MY Religion Part Two

I’d like to open by saying I find it hard to take postmodernism seriously, as an intellectual position or otherwise. This position is characterized by a strong hatred of any authority, good, healthy, or otherwise, at least on matters that don’t matter. This position questions religious authority, the nature of reality, and the objectivity of meaning, but is ultimately a waste of time. This position also continues to advance medicine as if bodies really and truly matter, and continues to sustain a global market that while in recession economically is ever-expanding culturally.

2) The Postmodern Position

This position says that we should pick and choose everything, because everything is relative. It comes at a price though, because its overarching dogma is that nothing matters except the idea that nothing matters. Nothing holds weight, everything is opinion in this view. In this view the world itself is subject to my interpretation and nothing holds water.

The postmodernist position defeats plurality through a higher singular Truth, that there are no absolutes. But if things cannot be more true, or less true on a spiritual level, why is this the case on a physical level? If one could say something more true and less true about physical reality, why is it suddenly the unspoken sin of modern culture to say that this cannot be true at all or spiritual reality?

“Your view is your view, and my view is my view.” This isn’t Catholic at all, nor is it Christian. I have lots of well-meaning Christian friends who simply want to affirm that anyone and everyone is right, and that all the christianities are Christianity. This simply cannot be the case. While we may affirm the separation of our churches, we should work towards a greater unity, and that unity has to subsist in and be fully shaped by our quest for Truth together.

Sometimes there are legitimate places where we may disagree or have a closely related plurality of views, but when this becomes a dogmatic “there is no Truth, no right answer, only your view and my view” you’re already approaching the argument from a flawed perspective.

Instead of hearing and meeting the other person to quest for Truth, you have imposed your pluralism onto them. Other times, this view takes the form of an over-spiritualistic view that says that the only thing that matters is that we all embrace the “spiritual growth” of one another, without any structure.

The supreme problem with this coalition of looslely associated views is that they form the other half of the problem of fundamentalism. It is nothing but a supreme form of arrogance to assert that a viewpoint is inherently on equal footing with every other simply because it makes you uncomfortable to seek actual Truth.

Further, if we look at how this is related to Fundamentalism we see that the means are different but the end is the same, the supremacy of self above all else. We see that what transpires is my self-assertion and my imposing myself onto reality to make it serve either my obstinate determination that only I am correct in asserting my interpretation of reality, or on the other hand that only I am correct in saying there is no meaning outside of me. Both views arrive at one conclusion: I, not Christ (by whom all thing were made) determine the shape and nature of the universe. Another name for this is pride.

A Brighter Christian Relationship

Let’s face it, we have all heard, if we have protestant friends especially, “it’s not about religion it’s about relationship.” My only retort  is: If it’s about relationship, why is it not about relationships? What I mean is, why isn’t it about the way our faith is shaped with others? Why isn’t it about the way that others relationships with God can shape our own?

I think sometimes people forget that the saints had and have personal relationships with God that have shaped the Church far more than politics, or philosophies or any other thing. The saints are leaders, elders in the faith, and we can trust their experience of God because we know that God spoke to them. Such virtuous lives cannot but testify to the work of God, and yet sometimes people look at the lives of the saints and play the pharisee by wondering “By what authority is someone doing such miraculous works?”

The thing  is if we took seriously the idea of relationship, we should see that it’s not only our relationship to God personally that matters, but God’s relationship to the entire Church should shape our own. If we took seriously that Christ is the light of the world we might notice that some people in Christian history are indeed illuminated.

A Relationship Together

We, in Christ, can trust each other, we cannot have relationship with God apart from the personal dimension, because all must behold God for themselves in the end, but we have to approach this path together. I think communion of the saints and the authority of the Church as doctrines make sense if we begin to understand the potential for a brighter illumination. If you’ve ever flown in a plane at night, sometimes you see a light or two in dark, rural areas, but what happens when you see two or three of those lights together? They’re much brighter.

In the same way, when we combine our little light, with the light of others, virtuous mothers and fathers in the faith, there’s so much more we can do. We can’t build for a New Jerusalem if we’re so busy building mini-towers of Babel to this or that idea, instead of joining in the one kingdom. There is One Faith, One Hope, One God, One Lord Jesus Christ and He has called us into the kingdom and given us apostles and prophets and teachers that we might learn how to truly follow in the Way of Christ.

As a friend of mine says, “Blessed is the Kingdom.” We bless this Kingdom when we enter into it humbly, seeking to unite ourselves to others instead of rejecting them. We build for the kingdom one brick at a time when we stand with other Christians, the faithful, the tested and the proven as prophets pointing us in the right direction. When we unite ourselves together with others who have light, we can truly build a city on a hill. You can’t exactly build a city without walls, without structures and certainly you cannot do it without others.

Losing MY Religion

I love my girlfriend. And I’m proud of her taking the blog world by storm with her blog The Secret Vatican Spy. Her latest post is awesome, and I just wanted to chime in via the blogosphere and let you know that if you don’t read her work, please do. It will help you, it will make you laugh, you might be able to relate, or at the very least, laugh along. I just wanted to recommend that you read her latest post here.

In other news, I wanted to segue from the high praise of our favorite spy into something that’s been on my mind that is related, the idea of religion vs. relationship that seems to be so widespread nowadays.

Today we’ll address one half of the problem, tomorrow, the other half. Today we talk about Fundamentalism. Tomorrow Postmodernism.

Raised to Hate Religion

Lots of people hate religion. It’s trendy to hate organized religion. It’s trendy to be against the grain of authorities anyways. Our world has sold us the idea that organization is the problem. Of course, anything organized is inherently evil. I myself converted into a highly “religious” nondenominational church where the only rule was, we hate “religion”. Organization was and is evil, it only corrupts things. But when it really boils down to it we don’t mind organized medicine, or organized law, or organized education, because there are benefits to the system, right?

Yet, it seems that when it comes to religion, my personal ideas and experiences should be catered to at all costs. I mean, if the hospital doesn’t cater to my every request and give me a profound sense of meaning, I don’t mind, as long as I’m cured. On the other hand religion for many is a therapeutic product, instead of a spiritual discipline. I think that there have been lacks of emphasis on the personal dimension of faith in the past, but the answer is not to run to the other extreme and make everything personal, and all about me.

There are problems with this sort of personalistic tendency, and the first is that, you have taken the place of all authority and essentially asserted yourself over the Holy Scriptures, the Magisterium, the Tradition, the Saints and God. And this personalism has two sides. The Fundamentalist position, and the Postmodernist position.

1) The Fundamentalist Position

This position is often characterized by a strong sense of certainty, not in the Church, or in the Tradition, or in the wisdom of the leaders of the Church, but in my tastes. Many of my Catholic friends know what I’m talking about. There are holier-than-thou people out there who think that a vernacular mass is just one step above cultic devil-worship or just a cut above a really ugly non-Catholic service. I know some people who have intimated that a Novus Ordo mass is invalid. This position hates the idea that the organization can make a decision it is unhappy with, and vehemently fights for personal preference with a minority against the majority.

Papa Kant?

Fundamentalism in this sense is, taking my own experiences and turning them into universal law. Taking my own ideas and projecting them as the way the world should will things to be. In other words, a Kantian view of metaphysics, morals and religion. This position doesn’t operate under the authority of the pope, but of a new pope, a philosophical pope, Kant’s view of the universe and not the Church’s shapes such as these. I begin to act as though my own personal experiences should simply be the way things are, and this breeds a profound arrogance. When I am the measure of my own faith, and not the Church or her saints, something is gravely wrong and I might be honoring the wrong sort of authority.

All this is is the supremacy of a very flawed position. A church “looking back to better days”  is not what the Church is. In every age the Church has risen to the occasion, from the gentile inclusion to the innovation of a standard Latin mass. Believe it or not, sometimes the Church is scandalously progressive. That we have nostalgia for a yesterday that does not exist, an “earlier” Church, where the issues we face today might not have been issues simply betrays our lack of ability to live “in the now”. Let me tell you a little secret, in every age, and in all generations the Church of Jesus Christ has faced problems and challenges from within and from without, without facing these challenges head-on, we would be horribly inept at saying anything to the world of today.

The Supremacy of ME

Ultimately, this position is an organized form of dissent that says ‘anywhere this system disagrees with MY interpretation of what it should be it is wrong,’ and where we find ourselves saying that, we have found ourselves outside the Catholicity of the Church and her Teaching. It is the religion of Me, the religion of my religion, the religion of my desires and thoughts on laws and strictures of the Church.

If you disagree with the Magisterium that is fine, but unless you have a god-given authority to stand on, like obvious saintly vocation, or some other extraordinary virtues to back you up as you go gallivanting about doing so, stop trying to be Martin Luther reincarnate and be Catholic. If you want to be a protestant go do so, but don’t bring your preconceived supremacy of self to the doorstep of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and expect to be taken seriously.

I grew up in a culture and converted to a Christian faith that taught me the same, to hate religion and prize my own thoughts. They taught me to prize my opinion above all else, when Christ asked me to set myself to death. Jesus and His Church asked me to have the mind of Christ and make myself a servant. I can’t exactly serve if I am always assuming that I know best.

If I am a strong detractor of what I have come from at times, it is because I have learned a brighter path. But we’ll talk about that more, the next time.

Peace be with you.