Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Big Chop!

With the warmer weather coming on, I felt it was about time to do my annual hair chop! I wanted to try an angled bob this time, and I think it came out pretty well!

Here's the Before and After from the front:

Here's the Before and After from the side:

And here's a view from the back:

Now I'm ready for summer!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Attention Readers in California!

If there are any lucky readers in California, I just wanted to mention that Bruce Sullivan, a former CoC minister turned Catholic, and a poster on my board, will be speaking on Thursday May 3rd and Friday May 4th in Temecula, CA. The talks are centered around his conversion story and what he has found in the Catholic faith. The talk on Friday night will be on the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. You can see the flyer here.

Also, on Saturday, May 5th he'll be giving three talks in West Covina, CA.

If anyone lives in the area, Bruce would be very glad if you can come out to the talks and help him represent the growing number of former Campbellites who have gone from the "Church of Christ" in name to the Church of Christ in fact!

Also, Bruce has been on Marcus Grodi's wonderful program, The Journey Home previously to share his conversion story, and to help answer questions on the open line. On June 4th, he'll be on the program again for Open Line Monday, so be sure to tune in then!

God be with Bruce as he shares his faith, and talks about the unique journey from Campbellism to Catholicism!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Christ Centered vs. Man Centered

I was on the discussion side of the ex-CoC board, and saw some people talking about why they go to church, and if they would go somewhere if they didn't like the preacher, etc...and it got me thinking.

Without realizing it, I believe the people in the CoC make things man-centered, because they rely so much on having a "good and sound preacher." Without a good preacher, what else is there, really? There's the Bible, but even though they tell you you don't need anyone to interpret the Bible, in practice they expect the preacher to provide sound interpretation, and to give good sermons about that interpretation...that is the height and pinnacle of the CoC service, the sermon, which is completely dependent upon the interpretation of a man.

Isn't it interesting that Catholics are so often accused of being man-centered because of the hierarchy and setup of the Church...and yet, when I go to mass, it's not for any man, it's not for the priest, it's not to hear his homily, it's first and foremost for Christ, for the Eucharist. Even if it's a parish where there are some liturgical abuses that can get under my skin, or a priest that isn't my favorite, I still know that the mass is still the mass, and that Christ is there, and THAT is what matters primarily, and I don't have to worry about any man. I wish I could impress upon non-Catholics when talking to them how huge this difference is, and how important the Eucharist is to's hard to describe, though, it's much easier to understand when you experience it.

It's just such a difference, and it reminds me how well Satan can twist things and encourage people to believe that up is down and down is up. It's like bizarro world where everything is backwards! Man centered becomes Christ centered and vice versa. Let us pray that the reality is made apparent to all of those who currently see otherwise!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

After Ascetism: Sex, Prayer, and Deviant Priests

The above named book takes a look at why the sex abuse scandal happened and what has led up to the moral decline among our clergy. The authors argue that it is largley due to a decline in ascetism, and to a rise in the pervasive "therapeutic mentality." Here's a quote from the introduction:

What changed between the first and second halves of the twentieth century were not the management policies on sex abuse and secrecy at all costs-- these remained a constant throughout—nor do we have evidence to show that the personality features of seminarians or priests changed in any fundamental way that would account for the nature and the magnitude of the crisis-- in its early stages at least. Rather, the core change over the course of the twentieth century was one of purpose or allegiance-- leaving behind ascetical discipline, having disdain for religious tradition, and adopting the therapeutic mentality, a popular belief that fulfillment of the human person springs from emotional desire in a quest for self-definition, or self-actualization, without regard to an objective philosophical, religious or moral truth. Further, the therapeutic mentality views sin as a social concern and discourages loyalty to religious authority; it is profoundly anti-ascetical.

It makes sense to me, especially seeing how society in general views any sort of self-denial as twisted and harmful, it's no surprise that some of this thinking has seeped into the Church. I've been surprised before at hearing some Catholics say, for example, that they think the celibate priesthood is really asking for the impossible, or something along those lines. I wonder, then, how did they do it for so long? Why is it suddenly impossible now? It seems it's likely just because we have bought into the therepeutic mentality, that all desires are natural and good and therefore should be satisfied, and to deny oneself longterm is basically impossible, and any attempt to do so is sure to end in mental health problems or at the very least unhappiness and unnecessary guilt, yadda yadda.

Looks like an interesting book, I may have to add it to my ever increasing to-read list! Here it is on Amazon for anyone interested.

Quelle Surprise, eh?

You Belong in Paris

Stylish and expressive, you were meant for Paris.

The art, the fashion, the wine!

Whether you're enjoying the cafe life or a beautiful park...

You'll love living in the most chic place on earth.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I Think It's About Time...

I've always intended at some point to write about my conversion experience in more detail, but it always seemed like such an overwhelming task, and so I kept putting it off. However, on this fifth anniversary of my conversion, I suddenly feel the urge to tackle it! I'm going to start wading through old emails and writings to try and bring what happened to the front of my mind. So, wish me luck! I might post some thoughts here along the way.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

After the Triduum, while speaking to various people about their Holy Week experiences, there were comments here and there about Holy Thursday mass, and whether or not the current guidelines set out for the foot washing were followed in various parishes. (Ed Peters has a good article about that here.) At times, people get a bit put off by what they perceive as "legalism" or nit picking. "Well isn't the important thing," they say, "that we learned a lesson about serving each other? Isn't that what Christ's message is all about?" And certainly, this is a lesson worth teaching. The problem is, in setting aside what is prescribed in the rubrics, we're often missing out on a deeper meaning. The thing that I LOVE about the liturgy is that it is SO full of meaning, every tiny little thing is there for a REASON! When we start to stray from the rubrics, we're actually losing the deep and meaningful aspects of liturgical worship that so many people are longing for.

I'm quite sad to say that I've been a Catholic for 5 years now, and this is the first year I realized that the whole foot washing has something to do with the institution of the priesthood. Why is that? Primarily because I've yet to hear it mentioned at Holy Thursday mass. Most of the Holy Thursday masses I have been to have thrown out that important distinction in favor of being PC and inclusive, presumably out of fear of offending women, etc, and sticking to the easy to preach and PC message that we all need to serve one another (again, not that there's anything wrong with that message, per se, except that it's pretty much the only message we ever hear nowadays, because it's acceptable and inoffensive.)

Even in my own usually very orthodox parish, women were among the foot washees, and no mention was made of the institution of the priesthood. I was attempting to explain why this was bothersome at all to one of the above mentioned standard inquirers, when I came across an excellent description in this article, which revealed the meaning behind the phrase Lex orandi, lex credendi, and its significance.

There is a Latin maxim that addresses the centrality of worship in the life, identity and mission of the Church; “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi”. The phrase in Latin literally means the law of prayer ("the way we worship"), and the law of belief ("what we believe"). It is sometimes written as, "lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi", further deepening the implications of this truth - how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live. The law of prayer or worship is the law of life. Or, even more popularly rendered, as we worship, so will we live…and as we worship, so will we become!

And isn't this true! This is the heart of the small change in liturgy can literally end up as a change in belief down the road! So, while there may be nothing intrinsically wrong with some of the liturgical changes that are made illicitly, and while they may even be things that lots of people like and enjoy and feel lifts them up spiritually, the problem is not that they are bad or wrong in and of's just that they are usually replacing a much more meaningful form of worship that has so much historical depth behind it, and what's worse is that people are totally unaware of what they're missing! And THAT is why it is so bothersome...not because we want to be nit picky, but because we want (for ourselves and for ALL Catholics) to be able to experience the full depth and meaning of the mass as it was meant to be, and a lot of us are being denied that because of the whims and fancies (and might I add, arrogance) of modernism. What is prescribed for the liturgy was not decided in a day, everything is there for a reason, and when we decide that we know better than the Church what will "uplift us" spiritually, we will inevitably lose what it is the Church is trying to hand down to us through our worship.

I, for one, don't want to lose that...I want so desperately to cling to it! And that is why it is frustrating to have to deal with liturgical abuse, because if I'm not being taught the proper way to worship, if I don't even know what I'm missing or that I'm even missing anything at all, how can I be sure I'm receiving and living the complete and unadulterated faith? It's not out of fear of Hell that I worry about this, but out of a strong desire to embrace the fullness of my faith, to know it thoroughly and to live it! Sometimes, it just makes me a bit sad that I, and others, should have to fight so hard to even know what the fullness of the faith is. I often wish I could attend mass and completely trust that there are no abuses, completely trust that the resident priest would never allow such a thing, to believe that his personal motto was lex orandi, lex credendi.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Texas Bluebonnets!

Spring is most definitely in Austin, that means bluebonnets are all around us!

We Miss You, JPII

For the English translation, go here, click on English at the top, and scroll down to Abba Pater.