Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Divine Wind

And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. - Acts 2:2-4

The day of Pentecost points my mind to a couple of Old Testament subjects, the divine wind of Genesis 1:1 and the tower of Babel of Genesis 11.

The spirit of the Lord, the "mighty wind" which hovered over the waters is the same wind that rushed into the upper room where the disciples and Our Lady were gathered. As the divine wind brought order to the chaos of the primordial universe heralding the new creation, so the mighty wind at Pentecost brought power and courage to the apostles which heralded the creation of the Church, the new Jerusalem and the renewal of a fallen creation through the promise of Christ.

The disciples were filled with the spirit which enabled them to speak in languages unknown to them creating an image of the church as Catholic, one which embraces all time, languages, peoples, and cultures. That image of the Church is fulfilled today since the body of Christ, the universal Church united in faith proclaims the same faith in numerous languages.

Pentecost was a restoration of the world order prior to the tower of Babel where all peoples spoke one language. The problem back then was that in our fallen state, we took advantage of that single language in order to build a name for ourselves (signified as the tower of Babel). In other words, man in his pride was attempting a power grab from God. In response, God confounded them in their pride by creating a multitude of languages. Humanity became a divided race.

At Pentecost, God rectified the situation by sending his spirit to the Church who united all peoples in one faith despite the multiplicity of languages. Ironically the power that humanity had attempted to grab as described in the book of Genesis was freely given to them at Pentecost. The difference? In the second case, the power from on high was a gift from God the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

He ascended into heaven

And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." - Acts 1:10-11

When I hear this passage from the Acts of the Apostles proclaimed, I always wonder if the disciples were startled at the sight of two men dressed in white conversing with them. I suppose at this point nothing would startle them after all they have been witnesses to the resurrected Christ, perhaps the most startling yet joyous thing imaginable.

I also used to think that this passage was basically angels saying, "Hey! Chop chop! Get to work!" Now I have expanded on that. It is normal for us to get caught up in the heavenly realm because that is our ultimate home, but the reality is that we must be firmly grounded in carrying out the Lord's work in our world as is his command.

It is because we know that humanity has been raised up and now sits at the right hand of God the Father in Christ Jesus that we can joyfully work in his vineyard.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth! Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouth of babes and infants, thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. - Psalms 8:1-2

Today I had the privilege of visiting with a precocious two year old who loves books, speaks very clearly, and most interestingly prays five to six times a day! FIVE TO SIX TIMES A DAY! I was floored! Her mother even informed me that at times she will wake in the middle of the night and then come into their room and pray with them.
What innocence and trust! What grace!

I told her parents, "Now I am in trouble. I will be contemplating this all day!" And here I am blogging. You just never know when or in what manner the Lord will visit you, do you?

"Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." - Mark 10:14b-15

Monday, May 14, 2007

Anger to agape

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

God allows you to make a fool of yourself to teach you a lesson. I became acutely aware of this today, and I won't go into great detail, but suffice it to say that I lost my temper and hurt a very good friend of mine. In my anger over a completely minuscule thing, I turned inward and in a selfish tirade lashed out at a person who was only looking for my help. He wasn't trying to inconvenience me or take advantage of our friendship. He was only looking for help. God offered me the perfect opportunity to be selfless, and I failed.

I am ashamed.

As I prayed tonight before my icons, I contemplated the words of St. Paul. Had I put charity or agape first none of this would have happened. I realize that putting charity first is not going to always be the easiest thing in the world, and so once again I come to the reality that only by being open to God's grace will I be able to even attempt to be charitable. But I have no other choice. I have to be charitable for Christ requires it, and I have to rely on grace.

I discussed my issues of anger with my wife, Kriesha, and asked for her advice. I took Kriesha's advice tonight and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet and prayed for the grace to overcome selfish anger.

St. Paul, pray for me. St. Faustina, pray for me.

Whistle, I am sorry.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Soft Gospel

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings,
and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. - 2 Timothy 4:3-4

I was reading the combox of another blog today, and this verse from St. Paul's letter to St. Timothy was quoted by a person who has left the Catholic Church as one of the reasons he left. I was quite puzzled as to how this could possibly be the case. So I thought for a few minutes about the practices of the Catholic Church that people who leave find most distressing, and there are many, but I think it would suffice to just discuss three: 1) Confession of sins to a priest 2) prohibition of the use artificial contraception and 3) the Papacy.

1) Confession of sins to a priest. Now, I don't know many people who have "itching ears" to hear, "Ok, if you sin grievously against the Lord, you must (i.e. you have to do it) go to your priest and relate this in detail so that you may receive absolution." By relate in detail they mean you must tell the priest exactly what you did, and how many times you did it. That's the rule. What do non-Catholic Christians say? "I will only confess my sins to God!" Usually this means something like, "Lord, I have sinned against you. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Amen." Given the choice, I would probably choose the general confession to the Almighty Himself over the detailed account of my ugliest sins to a fellow human being even though he has been ordained with authority from Christ and will never repeat to another person those sins.

2) Prohibition of the use of artificial contraception. Yes, I want to be told that I cannot use artificial means to regulate the number of children my wife and I conceive. That suits my liking just fine what with the lack of sleep plus the added expenses. Forget ever spending quality alone time with my wife! Who needs that?! Potty training alone is the joy that makes me want to follow a church which creates just such a doctrine. The Catholic Church remains the only church who forbids the use of artificial contraception in any form. Do many Catholics not adhere to this teaching? Yes. But who is wrong, those individuals or the Church? Does the lack of adherence implicate the teaching as invalid, or does the teaching merely convict one of sin which sends the Catholic back to the confessional (which I have already discussed)?

3) The Papacy. The visible sign of unity in the Catholic Church is the Bishop of Rome. He has the role of upholding his brethren in the faith. Part of that role is guarding the faith from misinterpretation by individuals. Ironically, what non-Catholic Christians do when they disagree with the teachings promulgated by the Pope is simply make themselves their own Pope charged with promulgating the truth "as they see it." Naturally what I would want to do is follow a church which teaches that there is an infallible authority to whom I must fully assent even if I do not like what he is saying, like not using artificial contraception.

The hard truth of the matter is that there is nothing exceptionally easy about following Christ. There are several episodes mentioned in the gospels which support this statement (the entire sixth chapter of St. John's gospel just to name one). What I find honestly to be the case is not that the Catholic Church creates doctrines to suit the needs of people, but rather people who leave the Catholic Church reject her sound doctrines for those which are easier to follow. They reject the tough gospel proclaimed by the Catholic Church for a soft gospel.