Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chapter One

Notes on Chapter One

Driving back up this mountain yet again for the umpteenth time today, my kids and I had The Conversation yet again for the Umpteenth Time:

“But Mom, why did they do that……?”
And my response was, “Well, sweetheart, its because everybody wants to look good, to be on top, to be a winner. But we know that appearances can many times be deceiving, right. Anyway, God knows their hearts.”

And so this first chapter of Matt Kelly’s
“Rediscovering Catholicism” begins with an opening volley that on some level we are all aware of the truth that we have built a culture based on appearance.. Everything looked real good up until the recent financial crash and resulting recession. Just scratch a little below the surface of anything these days, and there is in fact very little substance. The reality that there is Good and Evil, that these two realities are in fact black and white and not relative is no longer considered a truth. It is considered a “judgment” and an “intolerance,” and is therefore dismissed as old-fashioned, out-dated, and irrelevant.
We are hungry for truth in the midst of this moral and spiritual famine. We know this because of the attempts our culture makes to celebrate honesty, integrity or loyalty in popular movies (however weak the attempts be actually be). We are HARD WIRED to seek and know TRUTH. Our hearts are at rest when we recognize what is true and rest in truth.
Matt Kelly would have us understand that Christianity has been largely rejected. He asks the questions: “Why are so many people so hostile toward Christ and His teachings?” and “If we are followers of Christ, why are we not enthusiastically embracing Christianity?” He wonders if the answers to these questions lay in the possibility that Christianity and perhaps Catholics are as much a part of the culture of APPEARNCE and DECEPTION as anyone else. We have become so numbed to cheating and lying as necessary evils that we are uniformly skeptical, wary and even cynical in our search for truth. We are a tired and worn-out people. Too much noise, too busy, too much to be done…
The world, our friends, neighbors, and colleagues are all sending us the same message.,
“Don’t tell me, show me!!!!” No more books, no more TV preachers, no more radio talk shows or tapes. Just show me someone - anyone who is living an authentic life: humble yet heroic, good, true, noble. Mr. Kelly hints at the end of this first chapter that he knows what it will take to be that courageous man or woman who can choose with God’s grace to come forward and lead an authentic life.

In His grip,
Francis of Assisi

Monday, July 19, 2010

Introduction--Why Mass? (Luke)

Msgr. Pope says “the best scripture reading is done when we place ourselves in the story”.

In the preamble story to Rediscovering Catholicism we are asked to do just that, place ourselves in the story. Not only in to the story, but at the top of the story as the major player and protagonist. We are being asked to place ourselves in God’s own shoes as he witnesses our human response to the sacrifice of Himself and of His only Son for our benefit!

How can we possibly understand the mind of God? When we try to do this with the entire story of Salvation History there is realistically no way. This is what I find myself thinking virtually any time someone says “God thinks…..this or that.” My instantaneous and reflexive response is, “how presumptuous of you, who told you that? How can YOU possibly know?”

But the challenge here is not really to comprehend the incomprehensible, but to try to convey a small piece of it in very human terms that we CAN understand. I believe the story is about recalling for us something of the sense of what God has done for us in a way that calls out to our senses of emotion and reason simultaneously.

For who can read that story, especially as a parent, and not be moved virtually to tears! Embarrassing? Maybe yes! Especially for guys. Something you want to push back and minimize, not let loose? Sure. But then I remember that someone once told me that this just may be the Holy Spirit making himself felt in a very real and tangible way. So we should take care and listen to this. We should allow it to wash over us.

We also need to step back and look at the facts of the story. What is the reason behind the emotion? On this level the story speaks for itself as well. There is every reason for concern about the seeming lack of gratitude that we all have for the sacrifice of God on our behalf! We should have this on a very personal level and remember it each and every time we step out of that pew and come forth for the Eucharist! But how often are we distracted? How many times are we consumed with thoughts about whether we will finish Mass in time to get to the next part of our day? How often are we concerned about what happened yesterday or early in the morning on the way to Mass? So I think that part of the reason for the story is to help us FOCUS…..on the truth and on the very real sacrifice that we are participating in each and every time we receive Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity!

Lastly, we need to be thinking beyond ourselves! How often are we concerned for those who have lost their faith and need to be called back to the Eucharist? There is a great part of our own Church in this category, and we should also be concerned far beyond that to those who are essentially un-churched. We need to live our lives in such a way that these folks see something different in us that is attractive, something they see as very positive that they will need and want.

As we move through the rest of the book many of these things will be brought in to sharp focus, with very concrete ideas on how to put our faith in to action. Will we be perfect in our application? No. Will we surge forward with enthusiasm and fall back again? Yes. But hopefully not ALL the way back! Hopefully we will begin to see a stable framework on which we can build a more godly life, a life centered on walking, however imperfectly, a path toward holiness.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

First Post!

This is the first post in the Rediscovering Catholicism blog. Let's start by reading the preface and blogging---the start of a new adventure!