Wednesday, February 29
I know that I am not alone.
In particular, a friend of mine blogged about how it has really rattled his cage. So, I went looking for something to help him out. At which point Coyote thwacked my nose with a rolled up newspaper which read....
"But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him." (Titus 3:9-10)
Right, Dad. Gotcha.
Tuesday, February 28
From this verse, I would like to focus on one idea, one word - compassion. Compassion is from the Old French, leading back to the medieval latin (com-pati, to bear together, to suffer together) In the original greek, the word used in the verse is εὔσπλαγχνος. Translated as tender-hearted or compassionate, it comes from εὔ -"good", σπλαγχνος - "visceral organs/guts". A much more literal translation would be living with guts and I think that centers on what being compassionate is.
How much easier it is to ignore the sufferings of others, to judge them and to turn away from them. The truth is that it is hard. It is hard not to judge, to accept others for who and where they are. It is much easier and safer to isolate yourself from the 'other', from society and from those who need help. And that brings me to the second point about compassion.
Compassion is to 'bear with', not 'to fix'. It isn't about 'making it all better' with some magic wand, but to acknowledge the person where they are, in their suffering, and walk with them through it. In that way it is the essence of being Christ-like, for He did just this, meeting people where they are, being with them in both good times and bad and showing them the way back to G-d.
Love God, love your neighbor. Live with guts.
Monday, February 27
Traditionally in the catholic churches, Lent is a time for penitential preparation for Easter. This is a time of fasting and prayer, of sacrifice and of repentance. More recently, the idea of alms-giving was added to the penitential rites of Lent.
But I would recall that the very word 'Lent' comes from the old high German and means spring-time...literally, the days 'lengten'. As someone who rises early enough, I can attest that the days ARE lengthening, the darkness of Winter is being driven back and the renewal of the Earth is near.
As the wheel of the year turns to spring, my mind turns to internal renewal and new growth. It is a time to refresh our commitments, to overhaul our methodologies and to begin again the Good Work. Yes, one should focus our minds on prayer and on the spiritual, but do so with glad hearts, not long faces. God is with us and in us and the long nights of winter are coming to an end. The days lengthen as Lenten days are here and hints of spring are showing even today. The seeds in our hearts have overwintered and are ready to sprout. Weed the garden, tend the field and look with joy to the days to come.
Thanks be to God.
Friday, February 24
"Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die." (Ez. 18:4)
Going even further, G-d tells Ezekiel that each person can condemn or save themselves by their own actions in life.
"When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die.Yet the house of Israel says, "The way of the Lord is unfair." O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? " (Ez.18:26-29)
Thus, the final disposition of a person's soul neither predetermined nor is it a matter of heredity. Rather it is by the informed choice of an individual to turn to or away from G-d.
I guess Augustine and Calvin never read this part.
Thursday, February 23
"I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (Deut. 30:19-20)
Free will presumes a free choice. The only way of being able to choose to do right is being able to choose to do wrong. More to the point, the choice of doing right only has value when we have the opportunity to do wrong and choose not to. If we are unable to, for whatever external reasons, follow the dictates of conscience then any choice is a false one. Put differently, if we are only 'permitted' to choose door #1, it doesn't matter how many other doors there are, let alone what is behind them.
I will leave it to the reader to fathom the implications of this in the context of recent social arguments.
Wednesday, February 22
You see, I sang in our choir this evening, so while everyone else is facing the altar, our little group is pointed in the generally opposite direction, which gave me an opportunity to watch this vignette unfold.
The back of the sanctuary is glass, so that those in the narthex area can sit (with crying infants, for instance) and observe/listen without disturbing others. During the distribution of the ashes, a woman comes into the narthex and tentatively goes towards the sanctuary doors, which are closed. She stops and stands there, obviously unsure if she should continue.
After a moment, one of our priests (who was coordinating the service but not the celebrant) sees the woman. She goes to the door and opens it, welcomes her inside, briefly explains what is going on and offers her a seat. All of this is happening in the very back of the sanctuary, where nobody else would normally see. That simple act, a person (a priest, even) would welcome an outsider during a special mass, speaks more about the practice of religion than classes and books. This all gets highlighted by the gospel reading.
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them;" (Mt. 6:1)
Regarding Lent in general, I have a suggestion for those of you who are used to 'giving up' something for Lent. Instead of meat or coffee or whatever, how about something truly difficult and rewarding. Try giving up divisiveness, preconceptions of others or judgment.
"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."(Hos. 6:8)
Thursday, February 16
I have been reading and listening to a LOT of heated rhetoric back and forth in the media and on teh intarwebz. I have lots of opinions about who may have the right of things and who need a swift kick in the keester. Far more importantly, there is something which may be lost in all of the hollerin that we NEED to remember.
Those people, yes..'those' people with the crazy ideas which will be the death of (insert institution here). Those people?
They are us.
They are well-intentioned folks who are attempting to sort out the world as much as 'we' are using the limited toolset of experience and knowledge. Just like us. That applies equally to the atheists and to the zealots, to the princes of the church and the princes of this world, to the radical conservatives and liberals and everyone in-between. We are all, at base, trying to do what we think is right, fitting and proper. If we're serious about being followers of Christ, then consider how you would want them to treat you before you pen an incendiary missive or kick a can of petrol onto the comment bonfire.
Those who have ears, let them hear.
Monday, February 13
Saturday, February 11
So, then...there's the daily reading:
Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." So then, each of us will be accountable to God. Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.(Romans 14:10-13)
On purpose. I'm seein this now. Lemmie guess. "Let those who have ears, let them hear".
|Bruce speaking out against |
months before his death
Bruce had a gift, a charism if you will, when it came to social connections. He knew everyone in Frankfort, from the homeless to the Governor, knew their lives, their tragedies and triumphs and related to everyone there with a equanimity which belies the true meaning of the word compassion.
His experiences with the Roman Church caused him to leave their fold, yet I would argue in terms that I normally would reserve for Michael Judge and George Romero that his deeds, words and motivations were more catholic than those being pronounced today by the 'faithful' in that community. His wit, his humour and his friendship will be sorely missed.
Until we meet again, Bruce, my our loving Father hold you in Her arms.
Friday, February 10
Quote of the Day:
"We cannot -- we will not -- comply with this unjust law."
- Cardinal George, speaking about the HHS directive
Reading for the day:
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." (Romans 13:1-3)
I think She really does this on purpose. *looks up* You DO do this on purpose, don't you?!
Wednesday, February 8
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.Simple enough, right? Yah, except this is Paul writing and the original greek is far more important.
καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον.
When we say conformed, the greek συσχηματίζεσθε , sysxēmatízō has the subtext of assuming the outer shape or appearance.
The word translated as 'world' is αἰῶνι, aiṓn, which more accurately means age or time, rather than kosmos, which is the universe or world.
When it says transformed, the greek is μεταμορφοῦσθε, metamorphoo, the root of metamorphosis. To change form in agreement with your inner being.
The word 'renewal' here is ἀνακαινώσει, anakaínōsis -completing a process to make anew, a renovation or renewal
The 'mind' is νοὸς, noos/nous which incorporates understanding, reason and intellect. It is our god-given capability to comprehend.
to 'prove', δοκιμάζειν, dokimázō concentrates on an active discernment to affirm, as one tests metal to show its worthiness.
The 'will of God', θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, thélēma is the key word here, for it is always used in scripture to refer to the Creator/Sustainer (theós). Thélēma is the specific desire, wish or will of the God which is looking at the results of said desire.
Putting the pieces together... "do not assume the external appearance of this time, but be inwardly changed by re-forming your understanding, so your active discernment affirms the desire of the Creator - the intrinsically good, fully acceptable and even complete in perfection."
Umm. Right. I'm just going to go over in this corner and think an awful lot about this.
Thanks Coyote. *twitch, twitch*
That would sum up my feelings regarding news items in the last week or so. There are so many stories that they start to bleed into one another. One Million Moms tries to strong-arm J.C. Penney because they hire the hippest lesbian on the planet, the Koman Foundation (the Race for the Cure folks) decides breast-cancer screening is less important than abortions in publicly killing funding for Planned Parenthood, the 'faithful' in an uproar over the government requiring insurance companies to cover contraception as part of prescription plans, Proposition 8 being soundly defeated, ensuring a U.S. Supreme Court rematch. The list goes on and on.
So yes, I has a sad. I has a sad for the teens who see adults acting like irrational children, who cannot but equate the God of love and inclusion with hatred and exclusion. I weep for those who contemplate suicide tonight because parents would turn their own children out into the street because the way God made them isn't what they (or their church) want. I grieve for those who would believe that acceptance, love and peace are unimportant compared to a morally superior position.
How important is a theological argument when Christ freezes in the street? What use is moral superiority when the Prince of Peace goes hungry? Where does the balance lie when weighing doctrinal purity against the blood of the innocent spilled by those who wish to be right more than be a servant of God?
Kyrie eleison, Eleison imas olous