Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In the Eye of the Beholder

I had the absolute pleasure this past weekend of being able to attend Mass twice on Sunday.

It's been forever since I've been able to attend more that once in a week, let alone on the same day.  Kids and commitments keep me from making this a reality more often.

I also had the pleasure of hearing my wife sing at Mass - which has also been a long time coming. After communion, the choir sang "How Beautiful (is the Body of Christ)."  A song I've heard a number of times.  A song I thought was - to take a word from its title - beautiful.

The song focuses on the "hands that served", the "feet that walked", and even the "heart that bled" before moving on to His "tender eyes".  Now, all these things are wonderful and poignant. There is no doubt about that. but I was touched in a different way.

My research leads me to surmise that the song's writer, Twila Paris, is a Protestant or non-denominational Christian.  Which is fine, but that leads me to my point.

As I was kneeling after communion and looking up at the Pieta and the crucifix, I had a different take on how beautiful the body of Christ is.  While Ms. Paris barely touches on His "heart that bled", we glorify it... and the rest of Him.  Not in a grotesque or morbid way, but recognizing the beauty of His sacrifice.  His "most precious Body and Blood", we call it. 

That is why we have crucifixes (or, at least should) in our churches, where as other denominations have sunsets or flowers or large projection screens or rock bands.

Our salvation sings the glory of every stripe on Our Lords back.  Every puncture from the crown of thorns.  Every groan from His lungs.  His pierced hands, feet and side.

How beautiful - indeed - is the Body of Christ.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Donald Duck Endorses Goofy for President

This morning's headline: Bruce Springsteen Endorses Barack Obama.

So what?

I don't understand why anyone with a lick of sense would care at all what an entertainer thinks about the political candidates.  As a matter of fact, I am more inclined to vote AGAINST the candidate who gets the most "Hollywood" endorsements.

Guess what, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers is backing McCain!  Whoo hoo!

How silly does that sound?  Or is Springsteen more "valid" because he appears to be socially aware?  How about Madonna?  Or Hulk Hogan?  Or even Batman?

How sad it is that our morals, ethics, opinions and political alliances are swayed by simple entertainment.  The all powerful "MEDIA" that we hear so much about.

How funny it is that we Catholics are called "mindless sheep" when we follow the teachings of the Church.  I am proud to be a sheep.  My leader is the Good Shepherd.  I know His voice when He calls.

They follow someone who calls himself "The Boss".  But we follow the King of Kings.  The Risen Lord.

They go down Thunder Road.  We are on the highway to heaven.

Praise God for a mind and heart lead by faith and not by the culture of "Now".

Friday, April 11, 2008

In Cash We Trust?

I used to work for a very prominent Protestant/Evangelical television network.  

Every few months, there would be a parade of preachers, prophets, life-coaches, ministers, singers and mega-church pastors asking for your financial support.  All this set against the backdrop of one of their dozen studios across the country.  Studios built to look like castles and filled with gold-plated furniture, gaudy decor and multi-million dollar production equipment.

They would quote Old Testament Scripture about tithing, and blessings and, of course, sowing and reaping.  

The message was: Give, because you will be blessed.

There is a sense of expectancy... or worse, entitlement.

In my heart, I feel that the Catholic Church has a different take on giving.  Our message is: Give, and you will be blessed.

Our emphasis is on the giving, not the blessing.  We give because we should.  Because it is right. Because God wants us to share.

And in turn - because our hearts are in the right place - God blesses us.  After giving, our hands do not remain outstretched, waiting for our reward.  Our hands return to our hearts, folded in prayer to show our love for our Lord.

Maybe Catholics would give more - like our Protestant and Evangelical brothers and sisters - if we put our emphasis on what sort of return we can get back from our "faith investments." Catholic media struggles every day to stay on the air or even stay in business, while Christian media moguls fly from beach house to beach house in their own private jets.

One preacher on this network even went so far as to say, "How can you be a blessing to others, unless you have first been blessed?"  Meaning it is only with, and through, money that you can bless people.

Praise God for our faith, for Peter said, "I have not silver nor gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth - arise and walk!"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Just One Word

Peter and Judas.  The Rock and the Betrayer.  So different, right?  Not really.  Just one word separates the two.

Remember that Peter denied Jesus too.  Three times, to be exact.  Judas handed him over, but Peter did nothing to stand up for his Lord when confronted.  And yet one went and hung himself, and one was given the keys to the kingdom.

How can this be?

Just one word separates the two.  Repentance.

Judas was ravaged with guilt.  He turned in on himself.  Failed to ask for forgiveness.  Now we use his name to refer to traitors.

Peter felt guilt, too.  But Peter ran to Jesus upon hearing He was missing from the tomb.  Later, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him.  Three times, no less.  The same amount of times Peter denied Him.  To each question, Peter answered, "You know that I love you."

Repent.  Show you love God.  Follow His commands.

There is a fine line between Peter and Judas.  Jesus and His infinite Mercy is on one side.  On the other side is eternal damnation.


Fighting the Good Fight

We all need weapons in our arsenal to fight off temptation.

I know that my faith-life, will-power and emotional well-being have a direct correlation to how often I utilize the three greatest weapons we have.

1.  Reconciliation.  Frequent confession, penance and repentance open the soul to God's graces.

2.  Eucharist.  So filled with the mercy and grace of God that we can't help but be transformed if we open ourselves up to Him - literally.

3.  The Rosary.  Contemplating the sacred mysteries of our Lord.  REALLY contemplating them.  Through this, we can truly know and understand His love for us.

Use them often.  Don't wait until you need to pull yourself up from the muck and mire of sin and guilt.  Use them to keep you clean.  To keep you holy and pure.  They were given to you for exactly that reason.  Don't turn your back on them. 

They will lead you Home.