I’m a Catholic, and I Occupy. Some of you are shocked, but I’m not alone.
Since all this started back in September for me, life has been insane. I’ve been arrested, pepper-sprayed and slept out in the rain, in the cold, intents and on sidewalks…I’ve been slandered, abused, called names, and I don’t mind so much. In fact, I’m not really bothered at all.
It’s because for me, Occupy is a response to the call for faithful citizenship. I Occupy because I’m Catholic and because the world needs justice. Do I believe that Occupy is the solution? Not exclusively.
Occupy fills a very important gap in society, that of an actual Leftist movement, a radical left that diverges from the neo-liberalism so content to settle within the establishment. I watched over the past 4 years as society began to crumble, as capitalism over-extended into culture and became in visible tangible results the poison that results from greed.
I’ve longed for other prophetic voices that would speak with the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah as well as the Apostles like James and John who would write and speak out. The following is James 5:1-6
1 Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. 2 Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, 3 your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. 4 Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.
I remember reading Stanley Hauerwas and feeling like too few Chrisitians were aware of the severe disconnect between Christianity and capitalism in the West. I still feel that way, as though too few Christians allow their faith to question their establishment.
Christian theology became for me a language that questions not only my personal assumptions about myself and spirituality, but also about the nature of reality, the relation of the state to me as a religious individual. My epistemological approach is a thoroughly theological one, I know through faith, I think through dogmatics, I apply myself to critical citizenship through prayer.
It is my prayers that keep me going through this.
It is my personal responsibility to my neighbors, and not my commitment to any particular cause that fuels me. I believe that the most important ethic in this whole situation is a personal ethic of thick relations. It’s an ethic based on the idea that ultimately my actions are dictated by the concerns I have not for this or that cause, but for my neighbor. If the Church’s people remain silent in the face of injsutices that are not explicitly religious, we cannot expect to find solidarity when religious issues are under attack. Regardless of mutual aid, the Church has a responsibility to be the prophetic voice in the most traditional sense, calling for economic and social justice .
I will say this: I believe that the Church has a place in history in this moment, and that she should side with the populist cry for justice rather than the establishment that continues to undermine her at every turn. I don’t think that the Occupy movement is the most Catholic friendly movement in the world, nor do I think it is parallel to Catholic economics. However, the cry for justice unheeded and neglected by the Church would be a grave error.
I am a Catholic, I pray, I am the 99%.
I’m still alive! I’ve been in very strange straights recently, but all the theology you love, it’s coming back soon! Stay tuned! Next post will be about the global occupy movement and my Catholic interactions with their dialogue.
Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, titled his latest book that, and I feel it’s an appropriate word.
So, here’s my take on the whole zeitgeist of progress.
I’m moving Onward.
I’m going beyond.
I’m changing things up and daring to be different from the past.
I’ve decided that right now, while I’m young and stupid is the time to take chances, to dare big things to accomplish insuperable odds and have a hell of a good time doing it. So, in light of that decision, I’m going to be trying new things, experimenting with old hobbies, and developing some new ones along the way.
As for this blog, religion is important to me, but it’s not the only thing I’m about, so expect to be hearing less on this blog, and more on my others.
I’m doing more art, more spirituality, more me. I’m getting caught up in the things that are worth catching, and dropping the unimportant stuff.
I’m telling stories, having laughs, and enjoying all the little things that make reality so wonderful.
I’m on a journey, and I want to be living in a better story, so I’m making the changes necessary to get there.
I’m letting go of the past, and channeling a deep desire to find new ventures in which to expose my creativity.
I’ve decided that while academia is important to me, so is travel, and art, and literature, and I’m not going to be tied down to the way the system says I have to go about my life. I’m going to be me, make my choices and have daring adventures in business, art, literature, and life.
I’m pushing forward; Onward.
Ok, here’s the deal. Life has been unexpectedly rough. From my car crash, to the sudden feeling of abandonment, to the emptiness of my spiritual life, I have felt so heavy.
I have been living in an ugly silence, i haven’t been reading, or writing, i have lost, or ignored the community that fostered me in faith.
It has been terribly lonely the last few months, but finally, I’m washing from my slumber abs daring to reignite the fire that had carried me through before this great heaviness.
I never did enter the Church. So I’m still practically Catholic. I go to confession, but haven’t made my profession of faith. Just in case you were wondering.
Anyways, i feel myself coming back to life. I love my new place. I share a home with an artist, a medical student, and a guy who works at a coffee shop. It’s pretty awesome. There are children over because my friend Rainbow teaches art from our home.
Then there’s the pets. I have a particular fondness for the skittish Italian greyhound named Hank. He is a rescue and survived 8 years of abuse at a puppy mill. The poor guy has huge problems with attachment, and blocks out just about everyone. Yet he has started coming about my room and stands at the door, and stares, i often stare right back at him, and we have reached an understanding. At first, he barked, and barked, and attempted to terrorize myself and any other adult in his vicinity.
Hank has taught me lots about myself in the short time that I have known him. I too, have issues with trust and friendship. I mean, i always knew this about myself, but it’s become more evident over the past few months. Hank was a slave, and he is drastically afraid. I realized through hanging out with him that i too have been afraid.
I have given way to great fear, which means that love has gone from my presence. Where fear exists, love is bound.
I guess in writing tonight, i thought to come clean and discover that healthy sorrow that purifies the souls of humanity. I’ve been too long in silence, and at last, i have found my voice, hidden and cowering deep in the recesses of forgotten pains. I left it there, somewhere along the way. But, it has returned to me, full of life, and ready to speak.
Love had not yet restored me, but i am well on my way.
So, I offer you a welcome back, as i prepare for my next journey. My next project is to blog about my experiences working at a mental and behavioral health facility.
I will also be putting out my thoughts on psychology in the coming weeks. I hope we can enrage each other in serious thought about so demanding a subject. And should any of you have something to add, please, chime in.
Peace, be with you.
Hey guys, here are my intentions and goals for 2011 on the blog.
1. I desire to be more centered in apologetics, the Church Fathers and answers to questions about Catholicism.
I know there are many blogs that do this, but I have not stayed true to my goal of talking about conversion as much as I would like to. Therefore, I will be doing readings in Church History and talking through my conversion.
2. I desire to make better contact with my readers and be more accessible to your input and to write about things you want to hear.
3. Since my parish is a pilot church for the new translation of the mass, I would like to discuss said changes.
4. I desire to blog about things I like besides theology and open up about movies and other media I enjoy as well.
5. I desire to share more of myself to you, and welcome you to share yourselves with me. I welcome more comments and desire to be more active on your blogs as well.
Thanks for your continued reading, I appreciate all your support. Be blessed this year, and may we grow in the grace of Our Lord.
Eli Silva, The Practical Catholic
If you’re a fan of American literature you might remember the “Beat Generation” people like Jack Kerouac, who were thus titled for their seeking of “the beatific vision,” in everyday life. I’m not saying they were right, or praising their loose morality, but I am saying that there’s something to the spirituality they represent which was flawed, but can find completion in the Church and her teachings. The term “beat generation” applied to a loose collective of writers with more or less one goal in mind, the spirituality of the present moment. While the beat generation sought this in roadtrips and journeys on the outside, I think that we can see that there is something to be said about interior journeys.
I don’t know about you, but I know my life is always on the move. I’ve found that keeping a strong interior life can be complicated in the midst of all this commotion, especially as I have changed cities, left home again and adventure out on my own path.
I think that my personal spiritual journey is less like building a castle, and more like taking a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage has one goal in mind, a destination. Our goal should be what the ancient saints called the “Beatific Vision.” The Beatific vision, is a soul’s absolute visual perception of God. I think that building a strong interior life is about holding this vision in everyday life. It’s less like building a fortress and more like sojourning along the way. The castle is a moving castle, the interior is a growing and wayfaring interior life towards Christ.
These three things have helped me (We’ll do a three part Series)
1) Snapshots of Spiritual Realities
- Pray Station Portable:
I’m not sure, but it seems to me that the kids I pastored assumed that prayer had to be something you sat down to do in a very reverent and quiet way at all times, and that if you were not in church (or locked away somewhere, for the older ones) you could not really be praying.What I have learned in working all this time is that I can and do indeed have time to pray in my everyday. I mean, lucky for me, I have a job where I work outside, and can listen to my phone’s podcast app on a regular basis. But in this time I have developed a growing spiritual awareness to the everyday. I usually listen to each of the offices for the Liturgy of the Hours a few times so that I can catch the general gist of it and pray along. At other times I might be running an errand and have an earphone in my ear instead of the radio listening and praying along. Now, I’m not super-spiritual holier-than-thou, I still listen to music, but it helps to take time to pray or at the very least listen to the office of readings.
The other day, on Wednesday to be exact, I was headed to lunch with a friend and the office of the readings was Ezekiel 37, the story about the dry bones. I was overwhelmed with everything. I happened to be driving by a Catholic Church, and I just had the overwhelming spiritual reassurance that God was working in my behalf, saw my sufferings and was sharing in them with me.
I felt those words echo in the depths of my soul, and I knew that the Lord was speaking to me. I don’t even know how to put it into words, but this little “pocket of prayer” gave me overwhelming spirituality, and reassurance in the midst of trial. This experience sanctified that ordinary moment into something extraordinary. Spiritual reality knocked down the door to my everyday reality and brought me back to God’s existence and work in my everyday.
The interior life I’m talking about is a wayfaring to “there and back again.” I am encouraging you to go out, as I have gone out, and gotten outside my shell and conversed with others. I am encouraging you to build a moving castle. I mean, some people don’t find it easily tenable to build a castle in one sitting, to which I say, travel, picking up things along the way, but instead of letting them fall out, bring back these precious stones, and build a castle from your journeys.
Hey all, sorry i have been absent, life has been hectic, welcome back, and thanks for the patience. Let’s get right into it.
Have you ever read that verse and been like…whoa? I know I have.
Anyways, some people i have been talking to recently feel that people received into the Church (still rather erroneously called converts) hate where they came from.
I want to say two things:
1) This is not always the case, and in fact I think it’s rarer than some assume.
2) I think that there are legitimate reasons this appears to be the case.
Jesus says that unless we hate mother, and brother, and father and sister for his sake, we are not worthy of Him. I think many people coming into full communion go through a process where they have to break from the old. They can’t put new wine in old wineskins, much less can they fit the Catholic faith which is broad and wide and deep, into the protestant/other religious life they once had which is often more shallow. The Catholic Church is like having a full set of tools in a big enough tool box. Where protestantism is like having various tools and various toolbox sizes depending on your denomination.
In fact, When I look at the verse I titled the post with I think that there’s something positive to be said about taking an axe to your former faith. I think that there needs to be a pruning, there needs to be a chipping away of the smallness of what your faith used to be. I think there needs to be a cutting away of closed doors. Sometimes this might look like a lot of shutting doors. But I think ultimately we come full circle and find that we’ve been closing extremely small doors, to throw wide the large doors to a large house, the house of the Catholic Church.
I think we find that we’ve closed some small fringe doors to mouse-holes that we’ve taken, but find that there are infinitely larger doors and infinitely larger answers and spaces for our minds to play.
I know that in my life, I’ve tried to be as Catholic as possible for the past year and a half theologically, but I don’t have everything down. In fact, the other day I said something really stupid, and it was foolish and uncharitable, to be honest. I was wrong, and sometimes we are wrong. Sometimes we prune the wrong thing, we close the wrong door.
I try to remind myself that confirmation and reception are the fullness of faith, a broadening, a deepening, an opening of new paths. I focus on what new unexplored ventures await me in the counsel of the saints. I try not to be rigid about my faith and I know I still fail at being as gracious as some other converts I know. I think that the time waiting has served me well, but I’m not perfect.
I feel like I have had to close my options from some theologians I used to really enjoy, simply because I believe differently in some areas now. This is not to say I cannot have a healthy appreciation of them in the future, it just means I’m not ready for that appreciation to not dominate my life and make my reception more difficult where they might disagree with my decision to enter full communion.
There are reasons to shut the door on your former faith in some ways, and I’m not presenting an exhaustive list, but here are a few:
1) To solidify a renewed identity in your faith
2) To be stronger in your convictions
3) Because full communion is a heavily internal process
Sometimes converts are less like joyful lambs, and more like yipping chihuahuas. The bark can terrify some people, but these are moments, this is a baby learning that hitting is not ok, this is a child learning to stand on two legs, this is a gardener pruning and tending a garden and killing what she perceives as weeds.
Confirmation and reception for me, are less like uprooting a tree and planting another, and more like taking said tree, and adding a new branch. I see my reception into the Catholic faith as an ingrafting. I have learned a lot as a protestant and without my initial conversion to Christianity, I could never come into the fullness of faith.
Do I always get it right?
But I do know one thing: I am grateful for where I come from.
I am grateful for my Pentecostal/Charismatic school. I am grateful for my protestant friends, pastors and leaders. I am grateful for my own parents who raised me well in the faith so that I cannot depart from it. I am grateful for those experiences which have shaped me, as flawed and unlovely as I can be sometimes. I might be dirty with sin and sometimes with frustrations and irritations that cause me to sin against my protestant brothers and sisters, and for this, I am sorry.
I might have laid an axe to my tree, but only to cut a place where I can make room for a new and growing faith to spring up into fullness right beside it.I may have pruned some pentecostal-charismaticism, but only to fulfill my pentecostal faith with a tree that bears much fruit. I may have taken out some parts of my former faith, and I might be rough around the edges, but I still have a relationship with Jesus; I still love Him. I ask you to pray for me and talk to me along the way, if I’m really rough around the edges, pruning isn’t an easy task, and I could use some loving hands.
I just finished my last Sunday as a protestant preacher. My year of covert Catholicism has finally come to an end, and I am now free to embrace the fullness of faith, fully.
I never expected it to be like this.
I am sad.
I thought there would be a sudden release, maybe a glorious light from heaven, a pillar of fire, hell I would have settled for a shooting star. I just feel a bit thoughtful.
My people gathered about me, they prayed for me, they exhorted me, and I feel happy, it’s a bittersweet happiness, but nevertheless.
I preached my last sermon from the First Epistle of St. Peter, and I loved it. It was just, thoughtful. I don’t know how to put into words how I feel.
I’m still collecting myself.
Anyways, just pray for me. I’m turning a page, and I’m not sure what adventures await as I get ready to cross the Tiber.
This week is going to be really hectic, but I have written some posts that you might enjoy. Also, make sure to tune into Kassie’s blog in case you miss me. She’s a way better blogger than I am, and I love reading her stuff.
I suppose if I were to summarize tonight and this past year: humility.
I learned to put away my desires, and support others, in thier quest for God. I know that I feel called across the Tiber, back into full communion, but the beautiful love that I experienced tonight, there are no words. I just wanted to thank you for your prayers, I’ll write about this more as the thoughts coalesce and become lucid.
So, today I begin the first of a series of intense farewell lunches where I say goodbye to the pastor friends I have made over the last year, and say goodbye to others that have just been here to help me along the way.
I feel simultaneously relieved to be leaving and sad to see my friends stay and myself leave. I mean, to be honest I haven’t really done much in the way of keeping in touch the past few weeks while I’ve been working myself to the bone to get ready to turn the page. I suppose the one thing that makes me contemplative today is how little I really connected at times. I tried, but everything here has felt transitory from day one, and maybe it always was. But either way, it’s been a thought-provoking experience.
I guess I just think about everything going on, and I’m glad that God has given me the grace to finish my pastorate strong, and that I have seen Him build upon what I tried to establish for my people. As I get ready to go to lunch with Ray, my methodist buddy, I just think about how it has been good times. It will continue to be good times though. If we’re all truly working towards Christ, whether it be at one table or a few different ones, wherever Christhas set Himself a table, there are my brothers and sisters.
Ray may not understand my conversion, mayhap he never will, but He has been a great friend, and an esteemed colleague throughout the year. I know I couldn’t do quite so well as a pastor without friends like him. I guess as things wind down, I look back at the year, over the acreage I have improved here at home and at my church spiritually by the grace of God, and I am pleased with the work. I look back with fondness at what has happened. The Lord has humbled me, taught me well, and will continue to do so.
I guess in closing I’d like to just offer my thanks to you, friends, who have upheld me and urged me on along the way. Thank you.