The people who walk in darkness

The people who walk in darkness

One of my favorite things about the Advent/Christmas season is listening to Handel’s Messiah. Though we all enjoy a good hearty singalong to the Hallelujah Chorus, I think the arias are greatly under-appreciated. Among my favorites is a magnificent bass aria to the text of Isaiah 9: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light During Advent, we remember the nation of Israel, walking in darkness, waiting for the Messiah. We reflect on how God was faithful to his promises, and came to save his people. We also look forward to the Second Coming, when Christ will come again in glory. But it’s easy to get complacent about Advent. We know how the story goes—we know that the people in darkness will see a great light. We know that at Christmas, our Lord will come to Earth, fully man and fully God. Somehow, our corrupt human nature makes it possible for this to seem like old news. Truth be told, Advent spirituality has a tendency to be, well, kind of lame. In your typical Sunday homily or daily reflection, rather than mature theological insight befitting reasonably educated adults, you’re likely to encounter strained attempts to connect John the Baptist’s “voice crying in the wilderness” to banal, supposedly relevant advice like “take time out of your busy schedule to think about God.” This just doesn’t fly. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light—but it’s abundantly clear that there are still so many people who are walking in darkness, who have not yet seen the great light. Christmas is about the light, but Advent is about...
Ephesians 5 Is Driving Me Mad!

Ephesians 5 Is Driving Me Mad!

I’m not a procrastinator.  That being said, tonight I reached out to a dear friend and asked him: “Quick give me a topic for a post I need to write.”  That post is the one you are now reading.  About an hour later he replied simply “Ephesians 5”.  “Great, now you’re going to make me look up Scriptures and stuff…” I took out my phenomenal new iPhone 6 and opened the browser, heading to the Bishops’ Conference website.  I clicked on “Bible”, “Books of the Bible”, and then found Ephesians 5.  I started reading it and was completely and utterly lost. Was this some kind of joke?  Had my dear friend meant for me to focus on one specific verse and forgotten to mention it?  With all the determination I could muster I decided to read through this selection of God’s Word to see if there was something I was missing.  I quickly determined that, although I was actually familiar with it, I could not even decipher its meaning in context of the whole chapter! Try this one on for size.  “Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.” (5:6)  Ooh, it sounds like Paul had inside knowledge of an impending cultic uprising or perhaps the approach of a comet who’s tail would be hiding an army of empty-argument-crushers.  Bizarre. Then there’s this gem.  “Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.”  (5:15-16).  This begs the all-important question “Which...
“Gradualness,” truth, and the woman at the well

“Gradualness,” truth, and the woman at the well

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really reading the post-mortems of the Synod on the Family. My fellow Truth & Charity contributor Fr. Scott Hastings wrote a wonderful piece on the synod, but unfortunately much coming out of Rome these days is not so thoughtful. On top of that, I couldn’t help feeling that this episcopal confab had the flavor of large family holiday gatherings—you know, the ones where you can count on some beloved relative to forget that we’re all on the same team and launch some strange, inappropriate outburst that threatens to bring Thanksgiving dinner to a screeching halt. However, I know that truth will prevail, and that somehow everyone will be together again for Christmas dinner. The one word that seemed to drive both fringes nuts was “gradualism,” or, as the official translation of Relatio post disceptationem rendered it, “gradualness.” I am no theologian, and I cannot claim to speak for what the bishops or their translators meant by this term. But I don’t believe that it is useful to regard “gradualness” as either a slippery slope to moral permissiveness or a stumbling block to enlightened progress. Reflecting on “gradualness,” morality, and conversion, I’m reminded of John 4 where Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well. To me, this remarkable story illustrates how we should model “gradualness” in truth: Jesus makes the first move. Real love is unconditional. Jesus knows the Samaritan woman’s story—he knows that she is living a sinful life, that she’s lying to herself, that she’s probably a social outcast. He loves her anyway, and he reaches out to her first. But...
BREAKING: Smoking Gun Evidence Jesus Was Married

BREAKING: Smoking Gun Evidence Jesus Was Married

Patmos – Scrolls recently discovered at an archaeological site on the Island of Patmos reveal smoking gun evidence that Jesus, considered by many Christians to be the Messiah – was in fact married. The find comes at a time when other recently discovered texts have been called forgeries. Catholic theologians quickly dismiss such claims in favor of their dogma. “Most texts purporting to be proof of things that don’t coincide well with Church teaching are probably hoaxes from the start,” replied Dr. Bill Noseman to our call for comment. “That’s what the so-called scholars in the Vatican will claim, anyway. It’s been difficult trying to prove the Church wrong, but it’s important work. Sure, we can push our agenda, but we’re just men. Now Jesus, he’s something more. Once it’s clear he had a wife, even the Catholics will have to remove their harmful and psychologically repressive concept of celibacy. For Noseman, that’s a personal fight. “I got married back in the 90’s, but the Vatican wouldn’t recognize it because I was already a priest. We need priestly celibacy to end so we can be happy. That’s what Jesus was all about, anyway: happiness. That was the last time I was happy, putting on my Alf vestments and looking at my wife across the altar.” Asked if he’s confident in the authenticity of his find, Noseman replied, “That’s what’s so important about this. It’s no forgery at all. I found it at the dig, but it’s in a text already authenticated by the Vatican. I was reading Revelations on my lunch break and came across a passage referring to...
Good Friday morning read

Good Friday morning read

This is probably the third year in a row that I’ve recommended Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Discourse 16. Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion as a must-read for Good Friday. The stations of the cross and the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary focus us on the physical sufferings of Jesus, and perhaps some emotional ones too as He underwent the humiliation of the crowing of thorns and His naked crucifixion. We can overlook the tremendous mental sufferings He endured as He contemplated all of humanity’s sins against the all-good and all-loving God. Read it all, and then end with his closing prayer: O Heart of Jesus, all Love, I offer Thee these humble prayers for myself, and for all those who unite themselves with me in Spirit to adore Thee. O holiest Heart of Jesus most lovely, I intend to renew and to offer to Thee these acts of adoration and these prayers, for myself a wretched sinner, and for all those who are associated with me in Thy adoration, through all moments while I breathe, even to the end of my life. I recommend to Thee, O my Jesus, Holy Church, Thy dear spouse and our true Mother, all just souls and all poor sinners, the afflicted, the dying, and all mankind. Let not Thy Blood be shed for them in vain. Finally, deign to apply it in relief of the souls in Purgatory, of those in particular who have practised in the course of their life this holy devotion of adoring...
What if Lazarus Said “No”?

What if Lazarus Said “No”?

In the world between Adam and Jesus, man’s relationship to sin was one of slavery.  The relationship was based not only in fear, but, as St. Paul tells usFor the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23, ultimately in death.  As I mentioned before, the Father offers us a spirit of adoption as Christ calls us out of our spirit of slavery and death to new life with Him.  Each person still experiences attachment to their vices; and, while some braves souls might seek a way out from their slavery, others are more hesitant to shake off the shackles. Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then, Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come out!” From the tomb came the voice of Lazarus, “No.” Jesus is constantly calling us out from our death, out from our sin and asking us to be faithful to the gospel.  How often do we simply refuse to change and hold to the familiarity and comfort we think our sins bring us?  Essentially, we’re taking the position of a baby: Yeah, it’s a mess, but it’s warm and it’s mine. Not sure of an...