The Christian life… on ice!

The Christian life… on ice!

I’m an avid figure-skater, but not a very skilled one. I really took to skating while I was in Canada, because, let’s be honest: your outdoor exercise options are rather limited in a place that is frozen nine months a year. But I relished the challenge, the exhilaration, the grace, and, well… lots of falling down and the occasional trip to the frontier emergency room to stitch up the damage done by surgically-sharp new blades and a poorly-executed one-foot spin (“I think your finger is still attached, because it looks like the ligament is only partially severed.”—actual verbatim physician quote). It’s plenty enjoyable to skate around on the outdoor rink somebody made by hosing down the frozen ground in the park, of course, but when I returned to the US last year, I decided to be a little more intentional about it. I signed up for some figure-skating lessons at the local rink. And after a year of figure skating, I’ve noticed that learning to ice-skate and pursuing the Christian vocation have a lot in common. To be fair, they both involve hard falls and sharp edges, and tough lessons in humility (those 14-year-olds make it look so easy). But it’s a little more than that. Skating, as well as the Christian life, starts with limiting one’s own freedom. Ice has certain immutable properties, and figure skates are designed accordingly. If you respect the fact that your elegant, thin blades are meant to go forwards and backwards on a curve, they work beautifully. But if you fight the physics of their design, well, you simply aren’t going to win....
Fortnight for Freedom: Do we really believe?

Fortnight for Freedom: Do we really believe?

Probably most of our readers understand that the Obama Administration has imposed restrictions on the freedom of religion, forcing Catholic institutions to provide health insurance plans which pay for contraception and abortion drugs.  This of course is contrary to Church teaching, and after it all blows over, the Church will be the one left standing.  It always is. Compared to other persecutions, this period is relatively mild.  So far we have no mass martyrdom, priests are not being imprisoned or dragged out into the street and shot.  However, the unborn are being slaughtered at breakneck pace, and the Catholic Church is being compelled to pay for it. Over the course of the last few weeks, I have had occasion to attend Mass at a handful of Catholic parishes.  At two of the parishes, the Creed was omitted.  I do not know the intent of the priests or whether the omission was deliberate or accidental.  At one of the parishes, omitting the Creed is commonplace to make room for non-liturgical events during the Mass, such as a post-communion speech on mission work, or a video presentation of the new church design.  While there exists a debate among Catholics as to whether or not these events are liturgically appropriate, one thing is certain, the Creed is not to be omitted.In certain instances, the profession of faith takes a different form through a renewal of Baptismal promises During this time of persecution, Catholics are challenged and charged with the duty of living our faith and not cowering at the slightest chance of confrontation.  If we are to stand up for what we...

Spousal Privilege

Since I’ve been on vacation, I’ve been watching an unusual amount of television. Over the past few days,  I’ve been struck by the volume of material about sex. Talk shows, tv shows, even supposedly conservative networks like Fox News seem to be obsessed with the topic.  The mentality of these talk show hosts seems to be that we’re “afraid” of sex or “embarrassed” about sex and that’s why it hasn’t been talked about as openly in the past.  I’m a little surprised that none of them stopped to think that maybe the reason people do not talk about it is because it’s just one of those things that’s private within the context of marriage and simply doesn’t need to be discussed ad nauseum. In the short seven months I’ve been married, I’ve come to realize that there are actually many things that fall into this category of things only to be discussed between a husband and wife. “Spousal privilege” is a legal term used to protect the marital bond from undue burden when questioning that could jeopardize the relationship. I’m using the term, however, to describe information that should only be kept between husband and wife. When I’m with my husband, I can freely be myself the way I don’t really behave around most other people.  When there is sure confidence and discretion, spouses can have the level of trust that enable them to completely, freely be themselves with their spouse. This level of trust simply cannot exist when there isn’t assurance that the other spouse won’t promptly post to their Facebook wall intimate conversations. A campus minister once told me of a concept called, “emotional...
Hell, Mortal Sin and the Loss of Freedom

Hell, Mortal Sin and the Loss of Freedom

My mind inhaled sharply and I immediately began to think of how I could do damage control with anyone who would listen.  While God may be Just, I found it difficult to believe that He would end up vying for the scraps falling from the Devil’s table. Certainly, one can do the moral math and probably come to the same conclusion: 1) Mortal sin causes “the eternal death of hell” assuming grave matter, full knowledge, and complete consent. 2) Among instances of grave matter are premarital sex (as well as a variety of other sexual sins), missing Sunday Mass, eating meat on Fridays during Lent, drunkenness (also drug use), etc… 3) A great number of individuals are involved in at least one of these sins. When it comes to Church teaching, especially on moral topics, there is often an inverse relationship based on how specific a given situation is.  Generally, a broad situational example can be given a narrow and specific answer: Q. What happens to a man who commits a mortal sin and then dies? A. He goes to hell.  Conversely, the narrower the example, the broader the answer: Q. A homeless Catholic man is full but not sure of the next opportunity to eat a meal consumes a hamburger on a Friday during Lent – Is he in mortal sin? A. It depends… ultimately, only he knows. In order to shed a bit more light on the situation of moral actions, it is helpful to address the fact that the severity of sins can be reduced based on the circumstances; usually having to do with a person’s...
Freedom and Dancing

Freedom and Dancing

by Mary Walker Anyone who has ever attempted something difficult, or seemingly insurmountable knows that the only way to achieve success is to practice and focus on the task at hand. What could be more important (and for that matter sometimes challenging) than building a relationship with God? It requires dedication, practice and discipline, but the result is a beautiful faith. The first analogy that comes to my mind is the art of dancing. One of my favorite people in the entire world is this girl I lived with after college. A phenomenal Catholic, she was reserved and a little quiet when I first met her. But the next week, when I took her line dancing with some of my girlfriends, she TORE it up on the dance floor! She was the most incredible dancer I have ever seen. She nailed every step, did so with grace in an effortless way. She made it look so easy, like she was born with this natural poise and elegance. This, to me, exhibited the very nature of what freedom is. After years of practice, watching people dance, and probably lots of lessons from great dancers, she is able to move on the dance floor in complete freedom. Our relationship with God is similar. In the same way, we might hide our true identity as God’s children when in the secular world but once we get on to the dance floor (maybe a difficult situation or one in which it’s imperative we show God’s love for others), we flourish! In order for this to happen, however, we have to know the steps...