Letters From a Young Catholic
My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Friday, February 17, 2006
It was absolutely beautiful. I can't really describe it, it's more something you have to experience for yourself. It was fascinating though and it was a reminder of truly how rich the Catholic Faith is in its fullness.
After the Divine Liturgy the priest stayed around and spoke with us a bit and answered some of our questions. I feel pretty naïve / ignorant when it comes to the Eastern Church. . . it shows me I have a lot to learn.
It was interesting to hear the priest talk about what a fine line it is that divides the Eastern Catholic rites from the Eastern Orthodox rites. He urged us to experience the Church of the East and to get to know our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ and their liturgy. He was exhorting us to pray for unity of the Church in the East, that of all areas of Ecumenical Dialogue the East is perhaps the most likely place we will see unity restored if we are faithful to prayer.
On a more trivial note, the vestments that were used today were absolutely gorgeous. Breath taking compared to the 'table cloth' vestments at my parish church, but I guess beggers can't be choosers. It was also interesting to note that the Divine Liturgy today took an hour and a half. On a Friday.
I came back from the Divine Liturgy and started working on becoming a little less ignorant. Here is some of what I found:
From Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen (The Light of the East)
"[The] ancient tradition of the Eastern Churches is an integral part of the heritage of Christ's Church, the first need for Catholics is to be familiar with that tradition, so as to be nourished by it and to encourage the process of unity in the best way possible for each.
Our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters are very conscious of being the living bearers of this tradition, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. The members of the Catholic Church of the Latin tradition must also be fully acquainted with this treasure and thus feel, with the Pope, a passionate longing that the full manifestation of the Church's catholicity be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other; and that we too may be granted a full taste of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church which is preserved and grows in the life of the Churches of the East as in those of the West."
Our late Holy Father declared that "ignorance of the Eastern Rite is ignorance of the Church." I realize that I need to educate myself.
And perhaps some of the most well known words of Pope John Paul II with regards to the Church in the East are contained within the following paragraph from the Circular Letter Concerning Studies of the Orientale Churches by the Congregation for Catholic Education.
On a number of occasions and in varying circumstances, Pope John Paul II has spoken of the necessity of mutual understanding and love between Catholics of the Latin tradition and Christians, Catholics and Orthodox, belonging to the various communities of the Christian East. In commenting upon the lack of understanding which often exists and upon the ignorance of the spiritual traditions and values which form part of the heritage of so many Christians of Eastern Europe, the Near East, Africa and India, the Pope has underlined the importance of these traditions for the life and well-being of the whole Church with the striking affirmation that "the Church must learn to breathe again with its two lungs, its Eastern one and its Western one" (Discourse to Members of the Roman Curia, 28 June 1985, "L'Osservatore Romano", English language ed., 15 July 1985, p. 3).
Thursday, February 16, 2006
What to write on?
"research an individual, institution, movement, document or religious practice or issue during the last five centuries of Christianity."
Sheesh, that's pretty wide open. Basically I can write on anything. There's so much I'd love to write on but I need to come up with something specific. How to decide? I have no idea. It's one of those assignments you could get lost in. I need something with a good argument and strong thesis.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
So, on the larger campus of the Protestant university they have daily chapel time. I very rarely go because we usually have Mass during the same time (there are no classes scheduled during this block of time) over at the Catholic college. This past week though, apparently there was a talk given by a professor during chapel that really impacted a lot of people. After hearing the buzz about it all over campus I decided (thanks to the wonders of technology) to go online and listen to what he'd had to say.
That's a long intro, but anyways, I listened to the recorded talk and it wasn't difficult to see how it had seemingly impacted so many people on campus this past week. The professor who spoke talked about how he had been really struggling throughout the course of this past year with coming to terms with the recent suicide of two of his students and the suffering he sees in his own life and the lives his students share with him. He spoke about how so many of us are wearing masks and ignore and pretend we're ok when we're broken and wounded. He spoke of how so many of us a struggling and trying to get our lives together but don't know how.
The professor went on to say that he has discovered that the only way we can face our suffering is if we find meaning in it. Our suffering is only meaningful if we view it in light of Christ's suffering on the cross, if we see it in connection with the suffering of He who has suffered all things.
He also talked about how in the midst of our suffering we often feel that God has abandoned us. That we are alone. That He is no longer with us. We feel abandoned by God. The professor exhorted the student body to turn, at times such as these, to God's scriptural promises that He is with us always.
In listening to it, I can understand how this talk had such an impact on campus. The well-known and liked professor who spoke was very open about his own suffering and his struggles and doubts. He was very real with the students.
I agree with him that we must find meaning in our suffering and that though at times we may feel abandoned by God, we need to remember the promises He has made to us.
This being said, as I pondered this brief talk, I began to consider it in light of my own Faith, that of a young Catholic. In reflecting upon suffering I came to yet another one of those moments where I was so grateful for the Catholic Faith.
Yes, our suffering is meaningful. But not only is it meaningful, it is valuable, and in fact, redemptive. When we join our suffering to the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary our pain becomes a participation in the redemption of the world. It's more than meaningful, united to Christ our sorrow and pain is redemptive. This fuller picture brings us to a deeper participation in the life of Christ and helps us to see that when we entrust ourselves to Christ, both in our sorrows and joys, never shall we suffer in vain. Indeed, how much richer of a vision this is.
Secondly, with regards to feeling abandoned by God, Catholics and Protestants alike, we have all gone through times in our lives when we have had this experience. I agree with the professor's exhortation that we should cling to the promises of God revealed to us in Scripture. But then as I reflected upon this, in light of my Catholic Faith, I knew that in these scriptural passages which speak of God's promises to not abandon us lies a deeper meaning that many of my Protestant friends do not see. Yes, Christ promises us "I am with you always until the end of the age" (Mt 28:20), but as Catholics we know that He has truly, in the fullness of His humanity and divinity remained with us in the Eucharist.
Sure, I have gone through times when I have felt abandoned by God. Our relationship with God is not static. Sometimes we feel closer and sometimes we feel further away. Yet I know, that no matter how I 'feel' I can always find God. He never abandons me. Though I may 'feel' abandoned, I know where He is and I can physically enter into His presence. Not only can I cling to the promises He has left me in Scripture of His abiding presence in my life, when I feel abandoned by God and all alone I know exactly where to go to find Him. I need only walk into the nearest Catholic Church and kneel before His presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Sure, I may feel separated from God and I may question His presence in my life, but I know He is there. No matter where the path of my life takes me, no matter what suffering or sorrow I face, I know that I will always be able to find God in the tabernacles of the world.
I'm no theologian and I haven't really organized these thoughts but tonight I'm simply sharing with you something I've been reflecting upon for the past few days. I don't know if it makes sense and it's probably a lot clearer in my mind than typed out, but all the same, I thought I'd pass these reflections on to you.
Free Vote on RU-486 in Australia
You've got the Catholic-former-seminarian kind of member of parliament on one hand (no direct quotes from him...):
The debate is looking at whether to free up the use of an abortion pill, which is effectively controlled at the moment by Australia's health minister who is Catholic and opposes abortion. . . Two years ago, Australia's Health Minister Tony Abbott, a former Catholic seminarian, said the nation needed a debate on abortion.
And then you've got the feminist-it's-my-body kind of member of parliament on the other hand:
"It is galling listening to the men, and it is mostly men, who have such contempt for women who terminate unwanted pregnancies, who have neither compassion nor understanding of the huge and, for many, daunting task of taking an embryo the size of a grain of rice to adulthood," she said earlier."Most things worth doing in life are daunting. It's a daunting task to take a newborn weighing a few pounds to adulthood, yet does that justify infanticide?
While I'm not a man, personally I don't have contempt for women who terminate 'unwanted' pregnancies but rather deep and profound sorrow.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Today in Philosophy of the Human Person we were talking about love and friendship. Ok, well, that touches pretty much on the whole course, but more specifically, we were looking at Aristotle and the Nichomachean Ethics (Books VIII and IX).
In Book IX, Chapter 8, Aristotle says "the good person must be a self-lover, since he will both help himself and benefit others by doing fine actions." In other words, a person must first love themselves in order to be a good friend to others. A person must first love themselves in order to love others.
Now, this isn't a news flash, unless you've gone through your whole life and somehow never been presented with the great commandment (Mt 22:36-40):
36: "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
37: And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38: This is the great and first commandment.
39: And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40: On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."
Ok, so most, if not all, of us will agree that you must love yourself in order to love others. We're not talking in a prideful and disordered kind of self-love, but a self-love based in the love Christ has for us.
While the argument that you must first love yourself in order to love others would seem to indicate that those who don't love themselves can't love others I really struggle with that.
Is someone who doesn't love themselves utterly incapable of loving others? I don't know. It's an interesting question. I think it's more that they're just incapable of perfectly (that is fully) loving others. In which case though, it would seem that none of us are capable of perfectly loving others until we are sanctified...
Sorry, this is a very random 'musing' kind of post and it might not make any sense at all but it's just been on my mind since class this afternoon. It's one of those, "Ok, I know the 'answer' but I don't get it" kind of questions.
Monday, February 13, 2006
While I've got your attention and we're on the subject of George Weigel and conferences... Harrison over at Witness to Hope is involved in bringing him to Victoria, B.C., in September. So for those of you who are out West you should go. You can check out more information online.
To shamelessly copy and paste from Harrison:
"We've now officially began the promotion the "Discovering the Catholic Way of Life" Conference in Victoria with George Weigel. You can go to the Cathedral's website to obtain more information:
Sunday, February 12, 2006
The Law of the Gift
The article speaks of the subjective and objective aspects of love which are essential to developing love in its fullest sense.
Men and women today are quite susceptible to falling for this illusion of love, for the modern world has turned love inward, focusing primarily on the subjective aspect. In the last article, I wrote about the phenomenon of “Hollywood Love,” which tells us that the stronger our feelings are the stronger our love is. Wojtyla, however, emphasizes that there is another side of love that is absolutely essential no matter how powerful our emotions and desires may be. This is what he calls love’s “objective” aspect.
The author points out that authentic love does not merely consist of our subjective experience of feelings of love, but rather must also consist of an objective reality; a reality that is made manifest in the gift of self.
When considering the objective aspect of love, we must discern what kind of relationship exists between me and my beloved in reality, not simply what this relationship means to me in my feelings. Does the other person truly love me more for who I am or more for the pleasure he receives from the relationship? Does my beloved understand what is truly best for me, and does she have the virtue to help me get there?This article serves as a fantastic distillation of Pope John Paul II's teachings on love, particularly in relation to his text Love and Responsibility. Unlike the book, which is quite challenging to read for most, this article is very accessible. I'd recommend reading it yourself as well as passing it on to others you're wanting to introduce to the truths regarding love and the human person so profoundly expressed by our late pontif.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Karl Adam on Intellectual Freedom
"As the authorised preacher of the truth, the church will never cease to give her authoritative witness to it and to oblige all consciences to accept it. Yet she does not seek to overpower conscience, but to convince it. She seeks internal, not merely external assent. And when a man cannot give this internal assent she leaves his conscience to the mercy of God and sets him free. That is not fanaticism or severity, but a service to truth and sincerity. For the Church cannot and may not endure that there should be some among her members who are Catholics only in name. She requires that all such men should draw the logical consequence from their new state of conscience and leave the Church. And in this she protects the sincerity of their consciences as much as she guards the sincerity of her own being. The Church does no injury to free-thinking laymen or theologians when she excludes them from communion with her children. On the contrary such people do an injury to the Church if they remain in her communion when they have lost her faith." (p. 198)
Karl Adam on Confession
In discussing confession he writes the following paragraph:
"The Catholic sacramental idea, the idea of a divine reality sacramentally presented, shows its power of moral renewal not only in Mass and the Holy Eucharist, but also and not least in Confession. The Catholic knows that the preist does not hear confessions in his own right but as the representative of God, and that whatever he binds or looses on earth in the name of Jesus will be bound and loosed in heaven also, and this knowledge gives confession its deep seriousness, its absolute truthfulness and its bracing power. In every good confession the holiest victories are won by the power of conscience, by love for purity and goodness, by desire of God and of peace of soul. Confession has given new courage and new confidence and a fresh start in life to millions of men. . . in the sacrament of Confession is no mere expression of a hope, but is a consoling actuality." (p.188-189)
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Kids say the darndest things...
"I've got a sheet of paper here with some prayers for you," I said. "There's a Hail Mary, an Our Father, the Apostle's Creed, your Act of Contrition, a Glory Be. . ." Just then one of the little boys raised his hands and said "Can I ask you a question?" "Sure," I responded. With a look of sincere curiosity he asked "is there a Glory 'A'?"
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Contraceptives in their water?
One of the girls in the conversation had recently returned from a holiday to a country with third-world living conditions in some areas and commented that, after seeing the poverty among large families, she wished "we could just put birth control in their water." I was just so shocked I wasn't sure if I'd heard her right. But I had.
As horrific as that statement is, the irony of it all is that she went on to comment how she had observed that despite living in abject poverty, the children she met there seemed to be genuinely happy. She pointed out that while there are children living in North America, given all material desires by their parents, they are living in depression and emotional neglect, and yet the children she encountered in this country, living in abject poverty, were genuinely happy as were their parents for the post part. She commented "it's kind of twisted when you think about it. There's these kids from one or two kid families here in Canada who have everything they want, except the love and attention of their parents, and are depressed, and then there are kids from huge families in third-world countries that don't even get enough food to eat who are genuinely happy. I just don't get it."
Personally, in relation to what she said, I was wondering the same thing. . .yeah, "it is twisted...and I just don't get it."
Did she not realize what she was saying? Do they not see that they are self-contradicting? Do they not see the truth revealed by human experience? Do they not see that poisoning water with contraceptives will not solve the problems families living in abject poverty face?
Communion of Saints and Mass
"When, in the Moments of the Mass, in the presence of the sacred Oblation and under the gaze so to speak of the Church Triumphant, she [the Body of Christ] cries to heaven: "Be mindful also, O Lord, of thy servants and handmaids. . . who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace," then truly heaven and earth greet each other, the Church Triumphant, Suffering and Militant meet in a "holy kiss," and the "whole" Christ with all His members celebrates a blessed love-feast (agape), a memorial of their communion in love and joy and pain."
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
“One of the most important things you need to learn in university is how to lie to your prof."
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Witness to Marriage
The love and devotion my grandparents have for each other has provided me with a deeper understanding of the reciprocity of self gift in marriage. I have seen my grandparents support each other through hardships and trials and I am sure that they have had many more that I will never know of. After all, I've only been alive for the last third of their marriage.
Last year I was visiting with my grandparents when we were discussing a couple we both knew that had recently announced that they were separating. My grandparents were noting how surprised and shocked they were when, with a twinkle in his eye, my grandpa turned to my grandma and said, "Well dear, I don't see us going our separate ways any time soon."
Over Christmas I was visiting with them and I commented to them that I was so grateful for the witness of their marriage. I asked my grandma if she had one piece of advice for me in relation to marriage what would it be. This is the kind of question you want to ask when you still have the opportunity to do so. She told me that on their wedding day she made a promise to herself and to my grandfather that as long as they lived they would never go to bed angry with one another. She said that while they've had fights and arguments, they have always been faithful to that promise, a promise which has guarded and protected their marriage from animosity and bitterness and strengthened their love for one another. Advice such as this, coming from those who know best, is truly precious and worth more than any marriage preparation course you could take.
As I said before, I am thankful to God for the witnesses he has placed in my life to demonstrate to me what marriage should be. Not only have I been blessed with my paternal grandparents who are celebrating their sixty-second wedding anniversary today, God has also graciously given me the testimony of my maternal grandparents who have been married well over fifty years and my own parents who have been married over thirty years.
And so, today, as I reflect upon these testimonies to the vocation of marriage I give thanks to God for the family He has given me. I pray that he would continue to strengthen these marriages which have been so influential in my own life. I also pray in a special way for the renewal of family life and the protection of the sanctity of marriage.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Köln. . . Six Months Later
So, my friend writes:
"Ich hoffe dass der WYD in Deutschland weiterhin Frucht bringt. Ein Kameramann von Fernsehen hat sich taufen lassen. Ausserdem sind im Jahr 2005 so viele Menschen in die Kirche eingetreten wie seit langen nicht mehr. Das sind die ersten "Wunder" von Köln."
(Translation: I hope that WYD in Germany brings further fruit. A camera man from TV had himself baptised. Moreover many more people came to church in 2005 than have come for a long time. These are the first "miracles" of Cologne.)
In his letter he also requested prayers for him and his fellow seminarians:
"Alle Seminaristen brauchen das Gebet der Gläubigen. Bete bitte besonders für unsere Treue zum Herrn und um unsere Heiligskeit. Nur wenn wir als treue und heilige Priester Christi dienen, können wir reiche Frucht bringen."
(Translation: All seminarians need the prayers of the faithful. Please pray especially for our faithfulness to the Lord and our holiness. Only when we serve Christ as faithful and holy priests can we bring rich fruit.)
For the sake of the whole Body of Christ, please keep my friend and all the seminarians you know, as well as those you don't know, in your prayers.
At WYD I had the opportunity to meet and speak briefly with an Armenian seminarian. He said that he was one of six Catholic seminarians in his whole country and the only one attending WYD. He commented that he felt somewhat alone surrounded by the Italian seminarians who arrived by the busload. I only spoke with him for maybe five or ten minutes, as I shared my umbrella with him during a downpour, but our brief conversation left an impression on me. Let us pray especially for those seminarians studying in parts of the world where Catholicism is practiced only among a small minority or where the threat of severe persecution is very real.
Thomas Aquinas Study Circle
Anyways, the professor who has organized this group and is guiding us through the Summa (one step at a time...) has started up a blog which is corresponding to our discussions. Essentially, he's blogging the Summa Theologiae one article at a time in a few sentences. And so, I'm adding to my blog roll, and encouraging you all to check out the Thomas Aquinas Study Circle blog.
While you're at it, go check out the professor's own personal blog, Lumen Gentium, which he also started up recently.
Notice he's snagged some pretty good blogspot addresses.
"Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from every other disease. In the name of the Father and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit."Did anyone else get their throat blessed today? My second question is, why the candles? I'm trying to make the connection between a fish bone and candles and well... it's just not happening. Does anyone know the story behind the candles being used for the blessing?
The 2006 Catholic Blog Awards
As everyone else out in the Catholic blogosphere has been pointing out this week, the 2006 Catholic Blog Awards are under way. You can go nominate your favourite blogs for a variety of categories.
Personally, I'm not really going out of my way to solicit nominations since I've only been blogging since late September and I'm pretty much unknown. Not to mention the fact that if I even won anything I probably wouldn't be able to figure out how to place the award in my template. That being said, go nominate some of the other blogs that you think might have a chance. There are definitely a few that stick out in my mind.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Australian Catholic MDs set to quit!
From the article:
MORE than 200 Catholic doctors, all members of the Guild of St Luke, are set to resign from the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners over RU-486.
Guild president, Dr Terrence Kent, a Brisbane GP, said the group which is meeting on Sunday "will be recommending that members resign from both the AMA and the RACGP due to lack of consultation with members of these two groups on their decisions to support removing authority for approving RU-486 from the Health Minister and giving it to the TGA."
Two doctors have already resigned from the AMA, which has more than 5670 members in Queensland.
"Not only does RU-486 always result in the death of an innocent human being, complications including maternal death make it totally unacceptable," Dr Kent said.
"The horrific experience that doctors would inflict on young women by giving them this pill to take would be most traumatic to the patients we are supposed to be caring for. They would take the pill then wait several days for the process to be completed with concomitant pain, bleeding and passage of a dead embryo. Surely this would be psychologically damaging and a totally undesirable experience."
In her letter of resignation to the AMA, Dr Belinda Goodwin said she no longer wanted to be represented by an organisation whose national president, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, told the Senate Committee regarding RU-486 that "it is certainly far safer to terminate a pregnancy with RU-486 than to take the pregnancy to term".
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
God Connects the Dots
As I posted yesterday, I'm working on a paper right now for Christian History, relating primarily to St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, on the idea of the soul's espousal to Christ. So I went to bed last night thinking about that. Then, today in morning prayer I came across the following passage:
"As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you."