Tag Archives: Christ

Imagine yourself as a living house.

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 



C.S. Lewis on Christianity

 

“Milquetoast Christ”

Already, by the ‘sixties, in the time after Vatican II — or by the ‘twenties, according to plausible sources — the Milquetoast Christ had prevailed in the “freethinking” popular culture. By 1970 at the latest, complete fatuity had been achieved. The Good had been reduced to niceness; coupled with sanctimonious moral display. Moreover, Christ had become a team player, a kindly captain (as of a team that always loses) accommodating of our little foibles; a benevolent figure of smiling encouragement. A kindergarten teacher.

But this was not the frankly confrontational Christ of the Gospels. Several times, before I embraced Christ as Christ myself, I recall thinking, “Has anyone actually read this stuff?” If He wasn’t the Son of God, He was a dangerous madman (as C. S. Lewis explained, in a widely circulated tract).

The puzzle is that I know many who have read Scripture; and either I have missed the point, or they have. For like old age, the Christ of the Gospels is not for cissies. Often He is not even charming. Ask the money changers outside the Temple if he knew how to crack a whip. Ask the Roman soldiers if He could take a beating. Ask the thief on Golgotha what kind of man he was. For the mob that had followed to the foot of the Cross couldn’t tell you. They were too busy laughing.

Christ’s followers weren’t cherubs, either. They did not, unarmed, take over the Roman Empire, by being shy or “engaging in respectful dialogue.” The dialogue in which they did engage was, by any standard ancient or modern, rather edgy. It got all but one of the Apostles killed.

The push-back chronicles

Our task is not one of producing persuasive propaganda; Christianity shows its greatness when it is hated by the world.

St. Ignatius of Antioch

I don’t know what to do, but You do, Father. Grant me the gift of the Spirit and fill me with wisdom.
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The world always wants to know who has the power, while Good wants to know who is the servant.

Fr. Larry Richards

50 Years in a Cocoon

We are just now emerging from 50 years in a cocoon to find a world gone mad. We who lead the Church (clergy and lay) have to admit that this happened on our watch.

It is long past time to wake up to the reality that Satan has been working while we’ve been bickering and singing songs to ourselves.

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Part of the sobriety we have to regain is the understanding that we have an enemy who hates us—Satan. He is responsible for much of the spiritual, moral, and even physical ruin we see around us. We have been dismissive of his presence for far too long, as though he were a fairy tale. While we cannot blame everything on him, for we connive with him and also suffer from weakness of the flesh and susceptibility to the bad influence of the world, Satan is real; he is an enemy and he hates us. He hates our children. He hates the Church. He hates anything and anyone holy or even on the path to holiness.

We have to wise up and ask the Lord for an anointing. We need not utterly fear the devil, but we do need to understand that he is at work. We need to learn his moves, designs, tactics, and tools. Once we can recognize him, we need the grace to rebuke him at every turn.

Now be careful here. To wise up means to learn and understand Satan’s tactics, but it does not mean to imitate them in retaliation. Upon waking up and wising up, some want to go right to battle—but in worldly ways. The Lord often proposes paradoxical tactics that are rooted in the wisdom of the cross, not the world. Wising up to Satan and his tactics does not typically mean to engage in a full frontal assault. Often the Lord counsels humility to battle against pride, love to conquer hate, and accepted weakness to overcome strength.

To wise up means to come to the wisdom of the cross, not the world. The Lord is not nearly as warlike in His response to His enemy as some reformers propose to be. It is fine to be appropriately zealous for reform and to want to usher in change rapidly, but be very careful what wisdom you are appealing to. Scripture says, Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight (1 Cor 3:19-20).

Saint or Ain’t? A Homily for the 16th Sunday of the Year, Msgr. Charles Pope

Thy Kingdom Come!

Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity, and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, ‘there is no human activity—even in secular affairs—which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion’. It means working to enrich . . . society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives.

Pope Benedict XVI

Mercy, Judgment, and Repentance

Mercy without judgment bypasses free will. It makes the whole human drama unintelligible.

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It is true that if we are repentant and drop dead before we have a chance to confess our sins, we are no doubt forgiven. And it is also possible, sometimes honestly, not to recognize that a particular act is a sin. In such a case, if it exists, there would be no need of redemption or repentance.

Christ came to teach the world of its sins, but also why and how to repent of them. Mixed up in all sin is free will, which, if not present, no sin takes place. But lack of free will would make our acts insignificant and of no consequence to us as persons. If we take Paul’s list of sins and deny that they are sins but either acts of virtue or deeds done necessarily, we have made ourselves over into automata whose transcendent significance is exactly zero. The Kingdom of God is not composed of moral zeros.

On “Those Who Do Such Things”

Modernity, Scientism, and the ‘Sexual Revolution’

[O]ur current crisis is fundamentally metaphysical in nature. Modernity is a grand project of negation: the very order of being – as classically understood – has been shunned for theories that emphasize right praxis in time; history has become the lens through which things are assigned value. Fulfillment “lies in front of us, not above us,” and whoever speaks of eternal metaphysical truths is branded a reactionary.

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[Augusto Del Noce] regards the “eclipse of authority” characteristic of our age as the greatest reversal ever to have befallen humanity. Authority, at root, means to make something grow, but today it’s understood mainly as a form of repression – indeed as something that impedes growth. The wholesale spurning of authority has only ushered in a mad dash for power – a dreadful substitution.

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We moderns are allowed only one source of real knowledge – science – and so the void caused by the ban on metaphysics has been filled with a scientism. Del Noce asserts that such scientism is based upon hatred for religious transcendence. Intrinsically totalitarian, scientism is “an unproven radical negation of traditional values” and so must rely upon subjugating the will of its adversaries (since it cannot prevail by reason), and upon confining them in “moral ghettos.”

And scientism’s “point of arrival,” he explains at length, is none other than the sexual revolution. To cut a long story short, here’s how you know if you are on the wrong side of history: it’s no longer a question of class warfare (bourgeoisie versus proletariat) but whether or not you are prepared to wage war upon sexual “repression.” History is the judge, Marx once said, and the proletariat its executioner. That role has now shifted to progressives urging the “repressed of the world” to unite.

The social institution most culpable of transmitting repressive morality is, of course, the traditional monogamous family, and as Del Noce notices, “sexual liberation is not desired per se, but rather as a tool to break down the family.”

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A century ago both Mussolini and Gramsci spoke of “socialism as the ‘religion destined to kill Christianity’.” But it later became apparent that total revolution could only be achieved if Marxist revolution became sexual revolution. Or as the Surrealists recognized: “the decisive battle against Christianity could be fought only at the level of the sexual revolution.” In sum, the “erotic offensive” amounts to a “campaign of de-Christianization.”

Del Noce wouldn’t be shocked with the onset of the transgender phenomenon and the current mania for “self identifying” as something other – anything other (gender, race, species) – than what one is. It’s all part of what he saw as the secularization of Gnosticism (rather than of Christianity), whereby it is the self that creates, and freedom consists of negating “the given.” Add a touch of the Hegelian “elimination of the Divine image” and voila: you get the quest for liberation through the disintegration of every form of order, what he called the “great refusal” of 1968.

Given his diagnosis, it comes as no surprise that he doesn’t put much stock in political solutions to the real dangers we are facing.

Modernity as Metaphysical Collapse

Stories to Live By

Besides having the narrative of our own lives to deal with, other narratives are constantly being urged upon us, begging for our notice – often with all kinds of tricks to demand our attention. Buy this new car, shown driving up a mountain (which few of us will ever do). Then there’s the Star Wars saga, sucking us into multiple sequels and prequels, and littering the house with “memorabilia” of things that never happened, that many, even so, reorganize their lives around. And there is Disney’s monetizing of childhood; the hours spent binge-watching Breaking Bad. Or buying something guaranteed to “change your whole life.” We add such things to our own life story sometimes reasonably, often enough not so much.

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Followers of this story are the real heroes, not the fictional ones who in our jaded culture have to be upgraded to “superheroes” in order to make any impression. They are actual women, men and children, clergy and religious, who follow Christ.

This truth should lead you to ask yourself: Who are you surrounding yourself with? What are you reading today? What movies are you watching?

Stories to Live By

A good way to cultivate popularity, in politics or religion, is to preach constantly against the sins to which we are not tempted.

Amoris Laetitia

You say Alpha, I say Omega….

Faith, hope, love, patience, perseverance, charity, forgiveness….

The alternative is to stop trying to be Alpha and start trying to be a mature man.

The real fulfillment of a man’s soul comes from maturing physically, spiritually, and emotionally. And, unlike Alpha-ness, mature masculinity is a little easier to define.

One reason it’s easier to define is that we’ve all had some first hand experience with it.
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Be independent.
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Take responsibility for yourself and others.
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Focus.
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Do these things, aim at simply being a mature, active, responsible man, and the Alpha thing will take care of itself.

Stop Trying to Be an Alpha Male. Start Trying to Be a Grown Up.

The manner of expressing God’s eternity by means of the first and last letters of the alphabet seems to have passed from from the synagogue into the Church. In place of the Aleph and Thaw, the Alpha and Omega were substituted. But the substitution of the Greek letters for those of the Hebrew tongue inevitably caused a portion of the meaning and beauty in thus designating God to be lost. The Greek letters Alpha and Omega have no relation to the word Truth. Omega is not the last letter of the word aletheia (truth), as Thaw is of the word Emeth. The sacred and mystical word Truth, expressing in Hebrew, through its letters Aleph and Thaw, God’s absolute and eternal being, had to be sacrificed. “Alpha-Omega” (and its Hebrew equivalent) signify an absolute plenitude, or perfection. It is a Jewish saying that the blessing on Israel in Lev., xxvi, 3-13, is complete because it begins with Aleph and ends with Thaw.

Alpha and Omega

Introspection is necessary in order that we shall isolate the habit and see it clearly as a sin.
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Avoiding the occasions of sin is the easiest way of avoiding sin itself.
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An act of the will is vital to any accomplishment.
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A right philosophy of life is needed to complete the work, for evil habits cannot be overcome by the will alone: love is required as well.

How to Overcome Bad Habits

[F]iring coaches is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict. And athletes know that this is how professional sports franchises deal with conflict: so when a team hits a bad patch, and the players are underperforming, and the coach is getting angry with them, and relationships are fraying… why bother stitching them up? Why bother salving the wounds? If everyone knows where the situation is headed — sacking the manager — then isn’t there rather a strong incentive to make things worse, in order to hasten the inevitable, put an end to the frustrations, start afresh, get a do-over? Of course there is.

And precisely the same tendencies are at work in many of the key institutions of American social life. This is one of the chief reasons why so many marriages end quickly; this is why so many Christians church-hop, to the point that pastors will tell you that church discipline is simply impossible: if you challenge or rebuke a church member for bad behavior, he or she will simply be at another church the next week, or at no church at all.

It seems that we — and I’m using “we” advisedly here, as you’ll see in a moment — are becoming habituated to making the nuclear option the first option, or very close to the first option, when we can. Trying to come to terms with a difficult person, or a difficult situation, is an endeavor fraught with uncertainty: it might work, but it might not, and even if it does work, I could end up paying a big emotional price. Why not just bail out and start over?
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We live in a trade-in society.

This belief breeds impatience with everything, and that impatience in turn breeds immense frustration with any situation that doesn’t lend itself to the discard-and-replace approach.

The Trade-In Society

Secular Intrusions

In the modern high-pressure world, part of the act of faith involves avoiding secular intrusions into our daily life of faith. We should learn this kind of resistance for many reasons: because the meaning of words, events, and cultural markers should be coming from what we place our faith in and not from secular events.

Let’s take something simple, such as when do I depart from the celebration of the Mass? If I am genuinely participating in the Mass, then I would only leave after I had joined in the recessional hymn. Then, after a short thanksgiving, I could leave knowing that I had completely and reverently participated in the high point of my week.

If, on the other hand, getting out of the parking lot or getting to the supermarket have a higher priority than my faith, then of course I would be hustling to get out earlier and miss out praying and singing with the community. And I might gain – if that is even the right word – a few minutes. Of course, just to notice this fact should lead us to ask: a few minutes of what?
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Look at a Catholic Marriage. If a man and a woman were to commit themselves to checking everything that they do, individually and as a couple, against the benchmarks of the faith, I can say with certainty that they would discover a depth to their marriage and to the role of their marriage in the local church (and even in the secular community) that would absolutely surprise them.

A good place to start would be Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, particularly Chapter 1 in Part Two, the chapter on marriage. People who feel that they have their marriage under control or perhaps even feel that their marriage is getting “boring” would find inestimable treasures in seeking to absorb and live out the lessons the Church teaches there.

The secret is recognizing the importance of working outwards from the truths of the faith, rather than working from ideas and practices presented by the culture. The latter, we know quite well, may sometimes be helpful, but more often these days carry a significance that runs directly contrary to the Christian life. In a time like ours, we’re blind if we don’t recognize this in the world around us – and that means what is presented by our neighbors, the people we meet in the supermarket, even in ideas of what “fun” is supposed to be.

Letting the Secular In

My prediction is that the process of secularization will be completed within a generation. LMU is not a parish, seminary, or convent, we sometimes hear. But the only real risk is becoming one more of the numerous schools which have already entirely lost their Catholic identity: Loyola College Montreal, Marymount Manhattan College, Stevenson University, Webster University, College of Santa Fe, Daemen College, Lynn University, Manhattanville College, Marist College, Maryville University, Mercy College, Nazareth College, Medical College of Wisconsin, St. John Fisher College, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the New York Medical College.

It is magical thinking to believe LMU is immune from losing its identity. To do nothing, to continue the status quo of religious indifferentism in hiring, is to eventually join the list of formerly Catholic institutions. Higher education does not need one more flavor of vanilla.

Is Loyola Marymount University Losing its Catholic Identity?

Ten Tricks of the Devil

Satan is a snake. Remember that.

He is a liar and the Father of Lies.

He is at work in your life trying to tempt you into sin and to draw you away from God, but he is also at work in the world, trying to deceive you, confuse you. He wants you to lose your faith and turn away from God.

Here are ten of his tricks. Watch them and be aware of what he is up to.

Ten Tricks of the Devil to Watch Out For

Very few people believe in the devil these days, which suits the devil very well. He is always helping to circulate the news of his own death. The essence of God is existence, and He defines Himself as: ‘I am Who am.’ The essence of the devil is the lie, and he defines himself as: ‘I am who am not.’ Satan has very little trouble with those who do not believe in him; they are already on his side.

Fulton Sheen

“Society’s Crisis in Masculinity”

“This is what the Lord asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

A Call to Battle – A Short Film on ‘Society’s Crisis in Masculinity’

self-mastery, honor, chastity

‘Call to battle’: Catholic bishop challenges men to be ‘men’ in awesome new video

Not everyone can say the same. From time to time, I hear from men whose fathers have let them down. Some of their fathers were cold or absent. Some have stories of terrible abuse. These are complex problems with no simple solutions, but there are still things we can do to make things better.

Here are five of them:

Five Things Men Should Do If Their Fathers Sucked

“Sexual Atheists”


The Sexual Revolution has been unfolding now for over sixty years. But now, for the first time, people are beginning to wake up and realize that what is happening is not something we can ignore, because very rapidly, it is beginning to happen to us. Already, the influences of the entertainment industry and pornography are showing in the youth. It’s why Christian publications mourn the rise of “sexual atheists”—people who still believe in God, but just don’t think His rules apply to their sex life. Churches across North America are hemorrhaging young people as the public education system dutifully does what it was put in place to do: Plant skepticism, undermine the beliefs of any children from Christian homes, and then send them off to university so that the faculty there can finish the job. It’s why enormous numbers of Christians lose their faith during university.

Dear Christians: It’s no longer enough to work hard, raise a family, and hope to be left alone

The Media and Christianity

Every journalist in America has been secretly attending seminary, and now understands Christianity better than most Christians do.

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What matters, and what the media can’t for the life of them seem to understand is this: We, as Christians, do not worship a generic God-of-the-philosophers, non-trinitarian, and infinitely customizable to various faiths. Our God insists on being known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as revealed in the New Testament.

When a Christian or a journalist demands we act like Jesus and just get along with everybody, I remind them that Jesus wrecked the Kumbaya of first-century Jewish theology by making exactly the claim about himself I’m making now: He is God in human flesh.

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same god? Well, is Jesus Christ God? You can’t answer “yes” to both, no matter how loudly the theologians in the media insist otherwise.

Dear Media: Stop Trying To Teach Christians Theology, by G. Shane Morris

Charity

Charity is a noble virtue, superior to all other virtues, knowledge, and gifts. Charity embraces God, unites angels to men, and transforms the sons of men into sons of God and friends of the saints. It was charity that made Christ be born of a virgin and be crucified for our salvation. Charity cleanses the soul from sin and draws it to love God with one’s whole heart, mind, and soul; it also inflames it and fills it with a marvelous sweetness. Charity justifies sinners, makes slaves into free men, enemies into friends, foreigners into fellow citizens, strangers into acquaintances, and wanderers into settlers; the proud become humble, the stubborn meek, the lukewarm fervent, the sad happy, the stingy generous, the worldly heavenly, and the unlearned wise. All this comes about through charity, which is poured into the hearts of the faithful by the Holy Spirit and given them from heaven.

Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Christ and the World

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without cause.’ (Jn 15:18-25).

Christ makes people lose sleep in ways that others do not. His words and teachings touch a core that others never do. That the world bristles is a compliment. Jesus Christ has to be taken seriously. You may be mad, or sad, or glad, but no one goes away from Jesus Christ unchanged or merely “informed.” His words have an authority that demand a response. And the world seems to know this and thus bristles at Jesus. Some love Him, some hate Him, but few are neutral to Him.

Whence Comes the Special Resistance to Christ? A Meditation on a Teaching from Joseph Sobran