Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jesus of Nazareth

I've just finished reading Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth. I really enjoyed it. If I had to describe it in one word, I'd say it's peaceful. Pope Benedict gently guides the reader to familiar scenes and sayings of Christ, and then expounds upon them quite simply. There are no big theologically fancy words or complicated explanations. And yet, I found myself again and again thinking, "Wow...why had I never seen that before?"

For instance, in one part discussing the Torah, Pope Benedict (with help from Rabbi Neusner) explains first the importance of the Sabbath to the Jews. Then he shows how, in light of this, how shocking Jesus' words (words that I've heard repeated and repeated myself many times without considering this aspect of them) would have been.

"[Neusner] then adds: 'Not working on the Sabbath stands for more than nitpicking ritual. It is a way of imitating God.' The Sabbath is therefore not just a negative matter of not engaging in outward activities, but a positive matter of 'resting,'..."

"For Neusner, the key word rest, understood as an integral element of the Sabbath, is the connecting link to Jesus' exclamation immediately prior to the story of the disciplies plucking the ears of wheat in Matthew's Gospel...[it] reads as follows: 'Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Mt 11:28-30). This is usually interpreted in terms of the idea of the liberal Jesus, that is, moralistically. Jesus' liberal understanding of the Law makes for a less burdensome life than "Jewish legalism." This interpretation is not very convincing in practice,though, for following Christ is not comfortable - and Jesus never said it would be, either.

"What follows from this? Neusner shows us that we are dealing not with some kind of moralism, but with a highly theological text, or, to put it more precisely, a Christological one. Because it features the motif of rest, and the connected motifs of labor and burden, it belongs thematically with the question of the Sabbath. The rest that is intended here has to do with Jesus...Neusner sums up the overall content as follows: "My yoke is easy, I give you rest, the son of man is lord of the Sabbath indeed, because the son of man is now Isreal's Sabbath: how we act like God."

"...'No wonder, then, that the son of man is lord of the Sabbath! The reason is not that he interprets the Sabbath restrictions in a liberal manner...Jesus was not just another reforming rabbi, out to make life "easier" for people...No, the issue is not that the burden is light...Jesus' claim to authority is at issue...Christ now stands on the mountain, he now takes the place of the Torah.'..."

"The issue that is really at the heart of the debate is thus finally laid bare. Jesus understands himself as the Torah - as the word of God in person."

After many more "aha!" moments and connections similar to this one, in the end I'm left with a sudden desire to go back and read the Old Testament from start to finish - partly because we never much focused on the Old Testament growing up in the CoC, and also partly because with my newer Catholic outlook, and with bits and pieces of the Old Testament that were highlighted in Jesus of Nazareth, I feel like there is so much that will jump out at me now that I had glossed over so many times before.

Overall, a great book, and a great resource for unlocking the depths of Christ's words in scripture.

NFP vs Contraception II

Friday, July 27, 2007

NFP vs Contraception

John Martignoni vs CoC

Erik, from my board, has found another gem of a debate. On this one, John Martignoni of the Bible Christian Society is a guest on an internet radio show run by CoC members. I very much enjoyed listening to this, it's about an hour long, and I have to add that I think the CoC hosts were very respectful, even in disagreement, and were fair in letting John have his say without unnecessarily cutting him off (like some radio folks out there do). I would have used some different word choices than John did at times to explain things in a way I know CoC people could understand better, but that's not his fault, as you can't really know that kind of thing unless you've been CoC yourself! Overall, I think he did a great job.

Thanks again, Erik!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pretty Cool!

Hey jdavidb, I thought of you when I read about this. ;-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I'm done reading it!!!

*Happy, content sigh*

Friday, July 20, 2007


The C-YA Forum! A forum for the Catholic Young Adults of St. Mary's Cathedral in Austin to come and chat and get to know each other, and once we have more plans, a place to find out info about C-YA events so that we can meet each other face to face.

If any Austinites in their 20s or 30s out there attend the Cathedral, or know of people who do, PLEASE pass the word along! I know there are people like me out there who prefer getting to know other online first to kind of take the edge off of meeting complete strangers face to face. Whether you're looking for Spiritual growth, fellowship with other young adults, or ways to serve our community, I believe C-YA will be a great way to find any and all of those things. So come and get to know us online!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

That Catholic Show - Charity and Mercy

LOVE the screaming kid, lol!

That Catholic Show - Sit, Stand, and Kneel

I believe I'm a bit behind the times as I've seen this on other blogs before, but I finally got around to watching it and thought it was pretty cool! Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More Media Stupidity

It was kindly brought to my attention by an Orthodox member of my board that Forbes had an article discussing the document issued today from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith concerning the Catholic Church's relation to non-Catholic churches and communities. According to what he gathered from the article, he explained to me, "Apparently, one of the 'lungs' is defective."

Now, right off the bat I knew the article was sure to distort what the document was actually saying. And lo and behold, after reading it myself, I was not incorrect. I suggested that it's probably wise to actually read the document itself before coming to any conclusions about its content, as the media is consistently misleading when talking about Catholicism.

Then I compared a bit of what the article said to what the actual document said. It's not even anything new!! It's just RESTATING (quite literally, by using quotes from past documents) what has already been said, and nowhere does the term "defective" appear in it.

The title of the article is "Pope: Other Christians Not True Churches." A very nice way to start out misleading people. This document wasn't put together by the Pope, it was ratified by him, and the problem is that the document is using "Church" in a very specific way, which it explains itself, using it in the "traditional" way. When speaking theologically (and philosophically) you have to use very precise terms. The article is assuming they mean church in the everyday way we speak, and makes it sound like "the pope" is saying other Christian groups aren't good enough to be considered a church, or something whack like that.

The truth is, the document is simply stating what has already been said, that we believe Christ instituted ONE Church, to which He entrusted the sacraments, and which is carried on by apostolic succession, which subsists in the Catholic Church. Without those things, it's not Christ's one Church instituted by Him. No big surprises there! Nothing new!

But look at what was so conveniently glossed over by Forbes in the document:

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.

Instead they say things like this:

On Saturday, Benedict revisited another key aspect of Vatican II by reviving the old Latin Mass. Traditional Catholics cheered the move, but more liberal ones called it a step back from Vatican II.

Translation: By the way readers, just in case you didn't know, Benny is an old fogey that's trying to get rid of all the progress we libs have made. BOOOOO!!!

Looks like they didn't actually read the cover letter to the motu proprio, big surprise.

Reading on in the Forbes article, we find this little gem: said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."

Oh brother...that statement is completely backwards. It's not that they are ecclesial communities and therefore do not have the sacraments (I assume that's what the "means of salvation", which appears nowhere in the document, is referring to), it's that BECAUSE they do not have the sacraments (because they broke away from apostolic succession) "The Church" does not subsist in those communities by definition.

However, let's take a little look at what the document itself says:

"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church"

So, this is where the whole "defective" bit is from. Boy, them Catholics sure are meanies, trying to explain that even the separated churches and communities are used as instruments of salvation. How dare they?

Now, hold onto your hat, I'm about to post the awful stuff "The Pope" supposedly said about the Orthodox...implying they're a defective lung and all that. Brace yourself...

Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term "Church" in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?

Response: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. "Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds"[13], they merit the title of "particular or local Churches"[14], and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches[15].

"It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature"[16]. However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches[17].

On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history[18].

Oh! The horror! How could he say such things?

And more from Forbes:

Despite the harsh tone of the document, it stresses that Benedict remains committed to ecumenical dialogue.

Oh it's so harsh, I know, saying how other communities offer truth and act as instruments of salvation, saying how the Orthodox Churches have true sacraments and apostolic succession. How DARE they?!?!

There was no indication about why the pope felt it necessary to release the document, particularly since his 2000 document summed up the same principles. Some analysts suggested it could be a question of internal church politics, or that it could simply be an indication of Benedict using his office as pope to again stress key doctrinal issues from his time at the congregation.

Translation: Who knows why the old bat wanted to stress all that HARSH stuff, we all know he's just a rad trad waiting to build back the walls we worked so hard to tear down.

(Maybe they should have read the introduction.)

So, there it is. Oh dear will we ever build back the bridges that have been so virulently destroyed by this vicious document? I fear the damage it did, heartlessly restating what has been said countless times before, is simply irreversible!

And THAT, my friends, is why we don't take the media seriously.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Thank You, Papa

I couldn't pass up mentioning the hottest topic on the Catholic blogosphere of late...I am, of course, talking about the long awaited motu proprio, Sommurum Pontificum. (That's an unofficial translation).

What really touched me was part of the letter to the bishops accompanying the motu proprio, which can be found here.

The more I see Pope Benedict's gentle way of guiding the Church, the more deeply I come to appreciate and love him. The way he so succinctly summed up the core issue in all of this is just beautiful.
This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.(Emphasis mine)
Isn't that the heart of it all? If you believe what Christ said, that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church, then you must make room in your heart to accept whatever the Church says is allowed.

To those who worry that the rad trads are trying to take over and do away with the Novus Ordo, he says not to worry, no one is trying to get rid of it at all.

To those who think that the Novus Ordo is invalid and bad, he says nonsense, what the Church has allowed you must allow yourself.

The Holy Father reminds us that there are not two masses or two rites pitted against each other, there is one mass with different forms. These do not contradict, but enrich each other.

As often as I feel stuck in the middle between two extremes, constantly defending and explaining myself to both sides, reading this was like a breath of fresh air. I wish I could hug him for it!

Thank you, Papa.

Patriotic Mass?

I do hope everyone out there had a great 4th of July! I'm wondering, though, how many of y'all were lucky enough to sing patriotic songs at mass? We were doubly lucky, because we got to sing some 2 weeks in a row! (In case you missed it, there was just a smidgen of sarcasm there.)

Perhaps it's because I'm married to a non-American, but when I hear "America the Beautiful" sung at mass, it just kinda makes me cringe. I'm all for God blessing our country and everything, but I'm also for God blessing the rest of the world too. Maybe I'm just already over sensitive to any hint of fanatical patriotism or nationalism, as I've seen way too many people who think of America as a Messianic country, the New Jerusalem, the Light of the World, and all kinds of other crazy and extremely self-important ideas. So when I'm at mass expecting to sing about God, and open the hymnal to a song about America instead, it just reminds me of all those wacky nut jobs who think America is God's gift to the rest of the world. But I'm not sure if there's some other reason it bothers me, or if I'm just being over sensitive.

So what say ye on patriotic songs at mass? Yea or Nay?

On a side note, I couldn't help but snicker at the line admonishing America (and, presumably, Americans) to "confirm thy soul in self control," as I pondered the rampant consumerism and over-abundance in which we're drowning ourselves.

Friday, July 06, 2007

My Bathroom's Mini-Makeover

I've been busy the last couple weeks working on my bathroom. Now I couldn't do a whole lot, because most of it is covered in tile and I can't change much about that without a serious overhaul! But I did what I could and enjoyed myself in the process. Here are some pics:

Before and After:

(I had to crop two pics of the before together, that's why the walls are different colors!)

As you can see, there's not a super big difference. The cabinets have been painted and stenciled (better pics of that in a sec), the walls got a fresh coat of white paint (which looks much better in person, much cleaner!), and also got some stenciling, I added some new bathroom-related pics on the walls, and made some new curtains, we replaced the overhead lamp and got a couple new (albeit similar) rugs.

Here's the fabric I used for the curtains (I know it looks kind of bland in the pics!)

Here's a pic of the cabinets, which are what took the longest amount of time, before and after:

A close up of the towel cabinet's stenciling:

We also replaced the towel bar here:

Another view, before and after:

Here's some of the bathroom related wall art, above the toilet:

And if you'll look closely at some of the tiles on the wall, I've stenciled some fleurs de lys on some of them. Here's a close up of one:

And finally, here are a few of the stenciled words on the walls:

That about does it! Not a huge difference, but just enough that it looks a bit sharper and more tied together. Overall, I'm pleased with the results! :-)

Catholic Priest on the Churches of Christ

Someone posted this audio clip (sounds like it might be part of a debate, it's about 20 minutes long) on my board of a priest talking about the CoC, and I found it very interesting! And on a side note, is it just me or does a priest with an Irish accent just make you feel thoroughly Catholic?