Monday, October 20, 2014

Passion and Sin

At this moment I am extremely angered--the angriest I've been in quite some time. Those who know me personally would be flabbergasted that I would even express such an emotion because, by personality, I am reserved, introverted and extremely patient. However, those who know me most intimately (God and increasingly my fiance') know that I can experience emotions very strongly while at the same time controlling myself and my facial expressions such that most would never even know. I don't write all of this to tell you about myself but about my journey in handling, wrangling and experiencing my passions so as to give a comparison and opportunity for others to examine how they handle theirs in response to life's myriad moments.

The reason I am angry is my family has just fallen victim to an internet scam. We currently are in need of a car but do not have a whole lot of money to spend. A lister on craigslist set up a scam for a decent commuter car at a slightly more than reasonable price. To make a long story short my parents are out $2,500 and still no car. Times are tough enough without being duped into handing out money we can't afford to give away. After, I realized the ruse, the veil that's been pulled over our eyes, I couldn't help but think about the person or people at the other end who are now enjoying roughly a hundred hours of work that my mother had earned caring for the health of elderly and infirmed. What I mainly thought about was what kind of mindset does it take for people to concoct such an elaborate ploy involving multiple email addresses, fax numbers, graphically sophisticated invoice fabrications and a sob story? Even more disturbing a question: Is there any guilt or desire in such people?

It was this last question that piqued my anger as my suspicion answered, "No." The idea that there were people who sat around devoting their time, skill, knowledge and energy to making life just that much more difficult for others simply angers me. I stewed in this anger. I researched if there were any ways we could get the money back (there isn't) or if my local police department had an online investigation resource (it seems they don't). Feeling helpless and angry, I simply filed a police report and stewed some more while as I researched further how little hope there was at ever seeing that money come back.

My father is a passionate man who, unlike me, wears his emotions for any and all to see. He gets angry and often has to release his energy physically. He's never hit anyone, but he has put holes in walls, slammed doors and stormed out on a brisk walk. But, like me, his anger is shallow. He may get extremely mad but he doesn't hold grudges and believes strongly that justice will be served without his having to do anything. As quick as my father angers, it dissipates just as quickly.

This time he took the walking option. He walked as I sat there stewing. After he calmed down a bit and upon his return, my father came to me and told me the source of his self-assurance. He told me that we should let our offender(s) know that they are bringing a curse down upon themselves--that there is a family curse that brings retribution to those who offend the family. I had forgotten about this as he told me once years ago, but explained to me again the curse that seemingly defends the family name.

"Once a man deeply offended and took advantage of your grandpa. Your grandpa said to the man, 'I hope you drop dead!' And later that day that is exactly what happened." Then my father went on to explain his own experience. "The guys who really offended me, some of them ended up crippled the rest had misfortune hit them real hard." Lastly, he explained, "I am not sure if this comes from God or demons but either way it is justice. I don't know but it may be passed on to you." My father spoke of this as something that gives him a sense of justice, a way to rationalize it and give him peace of mind. I couldn't share in this idea of peace.

Curses are real as blessings are real. And it is true, according to every Church document and teaching on the occult and evil spirits that curses, hexes and the like can be passed on through the bloodline. I won't delve anymore on the subject here but it suffices to say a curse may very well be the case but I take no delight in thinking that there is a force that will bring destruction and misfortune on those that offend me. The spirit of vengeance is not from God as tempting as it might be to align myself with it.

It is tempting to desire bad things to happen to the people who do bad things to us. The bad things that others commit--the sins or trespasses of other--makes us feel terrible. Whether it is sorrow, anger, despair, vengeful, anxious, fearful, distrusting etc., they are passions, though familiar, were never meant to be part of the human experience. They are, in a sense, contrary to our nature in that the capacity to feel is directed toward experiences of joy, gratitude, contentment, awe at God's glory and other good emotions to have. This is the perversion of sin in the human heart.

Humanity was originally given a heart that beat solely for God's delight. In its breaking at the fall, it strives to do for that which it was made--to feel joy and share it. However, the complexities of sin make the heart perform what it was designed for in perversity. The heart, in response to things that it was never meant to experience, feels passions it was not supposed to feel. Betrayal, deception, pride--sin is something that the heart was not built to handle. Thus, the heart will do the only two things it knows how. Feel what it feels and stir the desire to share what it feels.

There is truth in the saying, "misery loves company." It is part of the tendency to sin in humanity that seeks to make others feel as we feel when we get hurt. That is precisely the flashes of passions I experienced. I wanted to hurt those who hurt my family, who hurt me by deceiving me. When my father told me about the curse there was a part of me that did want those scammers to be accursed. But there was another voice in my conscience whom I've learned to listen to more trustingly. The sense I had in the midst of it all was that I needed to make a choice: to bless or curse.

The temptation was, of course, to give in to my heart's desire and curse those who have just offended me. That, however, is not Christ's way. He tells us, "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). I am staunchly convinced that grace came to me at the moment of the question: Bless or curse? I wanted no part of anything that was not from God. So, I decided to get down on my knees and pray for those scammers. I prayed simply, telling God, "I am saddened by what has happened. Even so, bless them and bring them to conversion and repentance that they may realize the injury they cause us and others and seek your forgiveness." The deeper prayer I believe that God heard was my concern for the state of their soul. Someone who has spent so many resources on a ploy of deception indicates that they have given their heart, mind and will to the devices of evil. They have intentionally contributed to further injury in the world. And that is definitely something to be saddened by.

Paul tells us, "Love rejoices with the truth" (I Cor 13). Rejoicing is the appropriate response of the heart when it encounters the truth. Likewise, sin should sadden us because, again, it was not supposed to be there. But what shall we do with this sadness? What is the life-giving course of action for us to take as Christians in the contemporary world?

Christ timelessly speaks to us the beatitudes. In particular to this case, Christ says, "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). The beatitudes have always held a place of awe and intellectual tension as another way of translating blessed is "happy." Happy are those who mourn. The more I dwell on it the more apparent its truth is. Mourning is the response of the blessed in response to the evils of this world. Like I mentioned earlier. The heart is only capable of two things passion and stirring desire. In original justice, the heart was made simply to delight in God and his goodness revealed in creation. By sin the heart was perverted to experience things that break it and share its brokenness. In Christ, there is mending of the human heart through the beatitudes. Mourning and sadness are indeed what we are to feel in response to injustice. Just to realize that is cause for joy because the blessed can say they can recognize sin, recognize the sadness they feel and, most importantly, recognize the temptation of the heart to share it but, by grace of the free will, we can decide not to. Instead, by returning blessings for curses, love for hatred, we are doing real battle against the forces of evil.

What the scammers did was wrong, hurtful and is contrary to human society. More importantly it was contrary to Jesus' own prayer to the Father, "...Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It is a reminder to me that I personally, but all of the Church also, have a responsibility to do battle with the forces of evil and further the kingdom of God. It is the battle we all must fight where the enemy line is drawn right down the middle of our hearts. I will not allow this evil to win by dragging me into its ranks. I will follow the commands of the Lord to do good in return to those who do me evil. This battle, I can safely say, belongs to God and I get to enjoy the spoils as well. Though the war is far from over this little victory is one among many more to come as God conquers the evils of my heart.

"Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me."
--John Donne, Sonnet 14

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Catholic or Not, This Matters

Catholic or not, anyone who claims to be of good will should be concerned about the intent of having a black mass celebrated so widely publicized, open and, worst of all, generally accepted. The archbishop Coakly who oversees the the diocese of Oklahoma City has called upon Catholics everywhere to fast, pray, adore Christ in the sacrament and be in solidarity with local Catholics as they prepare for the spiritual hardships being invited in to their area by the satanic worshippers. As a cradle-Catholic who more-or-less knows my faith, I know the kind of impact a satanic ritual can have and have done what I can to lend an intercessory hand. However, this is not an event that concerns only Catholics. Disbelief in a certain aspect of reality does not exempt anyone from it. A disbelief in gravity would have dire consequences indeed. The satanic worshipers, be they the culturally curious or outright God-hating,are bringing about a change that is in no way good no matter how you look at it. And yet, city officials can legally do nothing to stop it. This societal shortcoming should be widespread cause for concern.

By reason alone, it is easily arguable that the black mass is not for any good whatsoever. By its very nature as a parody of Christian rites and, by extension, Christian doctrines, a black mass is a proclamation of evil. In order to understand this point one must understand the intent and expression of the Christian mass. Only with the understanding of the original act does its parody become comprehensible. Having explained a bit about the mass, it will be easier to see why a so-called black mass cannot be tolerated under any circumstance, not even under the guise of religious freedom. 

The Christian mass focuses on the person of Christ himself. To worship "in truth," as Catholics say, recognizes that love and allegiance to Christ cannot at the same time disobey his word. As Christ himself says, "If you have any love for me, you must keep the commandments which I give you" (Jn 14:15 see also Jn 14:21 and 23). This is discernible with any allegiance, love or loyalty. A pledge of allegiance to the flag and the republic for which it stands, followed by burning the flag nor traitorous activity are diametrically opposed and cannot coexist together in the same person that cannot also be called a liar. In love of Christ who said, "Do this in remembrance of me," Catholics celebrate the mass. 

Further, there is a proclamation, a ritual speech act expressed through the mass. Paul says, "It is the Lord’s death that you are heralding, whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, until he comes." Catholics call this to mind every day in the mass under three different formulations but the one spoken of here is, "When we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again." This, again, is no different from what we find in mundane living. There are actions that mean more than the act by itself. A bow, for example, is not just a simple bend of the body, it is a universal sign of respect. Christians proclaim explicitly what the partaking of communion is in reference to which is the Paschal Mystery. 

The Paschal Mystery is the central Christian doctrine. No one can call themselves a Christian while at the same time not believing in the Paschal Mystery. It is the proclamation that Christ has saved all mankind through his suffering, death and resurrection. "It was his wounds that healed you" (1 Peter 2:24). "Saved from what?" you might ask. In a word, sin, which also needs some explanation but given the nature of this medium I can only give a cursory explanation. 

Sin in philosophical language, is utter non-being: the extreme of privation of existence. One of the common understandings of sin is as a wrong-doing or unjust act, like stealing or lying. Yes, such actions are called sins as well but the most wholesome definition of sin is that which is and leads to the undoing of the human being. Behind this understanding of sin is an understanding of the human being as being made good and for good. Death was not something God designed and set in place but was the result of sin. This, too, can be seen from the standpoint of pure reason. Man should do things for his own good and that of his neighbor. This is the foundational principle of all societal living and its fruits are apparent. A person who does what is bad for him rushes toward his own demise. Paul formulates it for Christians by saying, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). 

Returning now to the original point, the paschal mystery is how Christ's death saves humanity from sin. There is the cosmic-metaphysical effects of the paschal mystery that can be explained at another time but what is visible to unaided reason at least is that Christ becomes a sign of what real love and goodness looks like and his death was the sealing moment in history in which his teachings, at least as humanly understood, would be remembered for ages to come. The core of Christian doctrine is widely known in that Christian virtue is found in goodness, generosity, mercy and, above all, self-giving love. Love of God and love of fellow man are inseparable, and further that real love can only be expressed through self-giving sacrifice for another in the building up of a community of mutual respect and common good. These assertions as can be understood by unaided reason, in a nut-shell, are what the Christian proclaims in act (even if not fully understood or embraced by the individual) each and every time they go to mass. It is not only in no way contrary to societal prosperity, it encourages it. The Christian is a friend to all.

It is with this understanding of the Christian mass, that its parody can be understood for the hostility and societal subversion that it represents, not to mention the spiritual afflictions it brings about. Where Christians proclaim peace, the satanists proclaim strife. Christians proclaim life, satanists death; Christians good, satanists evil. They are diametrically opposed in belief about society, the human being and about goodness itself. Just as the Christian proclaim the goodness of being and of being in community in the celebration of the mass, the satanist is the herald of chaos and hatred. The very act of parody is itself a statement of satanic ideals, particularly modern cynicism and nihilism. 

In simple terms, satanism proffers immorality and social discord while in the same breath scoffs at the demands of truth and virtue. Though this public version is being slightly, albeit fruitlessly censored, the black mass will feature a scantily clad woman who would typically be naked, as an object beneath her dignity as a person. She will be used as a mock altar. Where there would have been actual urine, they will use vinegar. Yet, the satanist is willing to concede these aspects of the ritual because the message remains unchanged: all of this is foolish. "This" is in reference to the actual rite they perform, but also to all rituals especially the Christian sacraments (which include the mass) and all seeking for goodness in general.

What is truly sinister about the black mass is its goal is not necessarily to make everyone followers and worshipers of the diabolic. If they are able to convince everyone that goodness, virtue and truth are mere urban myths--constructions of a naive and fantastical worldview--then they will have achieved their purpose. Sadly, satanism and satanic ritual, does not demand belief for its efficacy. The conviction that "none of this matters" is the seed of despair and ultimately of the destruction of human life and community. Sadder still is that this conviction has already taken root in the minds of many which is evident in the attitude of current law and government. City officials will not do anything to prevent it because it does not concern them. It does not "matter" because they are only concerned with whether the particular act obstructs the law. Civic inaction, too, says something. Though the black mass highlights the values that subvert law and general morality, as long as it is done legally, nothing else matters. 

By innate moral conscience, there are certain things that cannot be justified on grounds of religious belief. Unjust killing, stealing and perjury are some examples of things that cannot be justified. Why can we tolerate that which encourages these things? It makes no sense. This is why, we as a country and as a whole people should look at this intent to have a black mass, not as another tolerable annoyance but as an intolerable offense against reason and goodness. 

Catholic or not, given what the black mass means in light of the Christian mass and given that we as a country are being made to choose what to support, to side with Christians is the only good choice to make.

[I didn't have the chance to edit for content or form. I would appreciate constructive critiques in the comments section below.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why the Name

In a spirit of levity I'd like to write a little bit about the displayed name of this blog and its author. I mentioned early on that I'd explain why I chose the name, "Truth Bear." It's a little playful jab at one of my favorite song-writers. I'll leave his real name veiled but it wouldn't take much research to know who this is.

Anyway, this singer and songwriter liked to play as both the lead singer and guitarist in an alternative rock band and as a solo acoustic folk singer. His strongest virtue as a musician was his lyrical composition. He had a way with words that few musicians can approach. Of course, this was something he had to have worked at which means there are slip ups on the way to literary skill. His stage name as a folk singer was one of them.

The name he took was in Latin. Though it was evident that in taking this name he really didn't know Latin and was relying upon a bad translator (I suspect the early Google translator). He aimed for Bearer of Truth, which is a pretty cool name and in Latin would have been even cooler. It would have been something like Veritatis Signifer. However, he came up with Ursus Veritas. Ursus means "bear" as in the big furry omnivore that hibernates during the winter and known for leaving their doors open for little yellow-haired girls to come and eat their porridge. Given the suffix of "veritas" with "ursus" Latin rules of syntax means that they are qualifying each other. If you had said this to an ancient Roman it would have been a little confusing because which qualifies the other? 

What the young song-writer ends up with is a name that means either "bear truth" as in a bear conceptualized as truth; or "truth bear," referring to something like truth incarnate as a bear. I found the image of the latter quite fun. I imagined a small bear that has a special glow about it shedding rays of knowledge and wisdom as it prowls around in search of fish and beehives. The singer must have realized the disparity between what he aimed for and what he ended up with because he has since distanced himself from the name and goes with his legal given name instead.

I shared this story with my fiance whose pet name for me is simply "bear." As it tickled her brain as much mine it ended up being a little inside joke of ours where "truth bear" was like a comical mythological hero that could serve as back-story for an episode of the Care Bears. As I was thinking of a name for this blog, I wanted something light-hearted and fun with a tinge of quirkiness. Thus, Truth Bear the blog was born, come to shed little rays of knowledge as its author scrounges for any food that may be lying around.

So, in part to honor my favorite singer-songwriter whose lyrics inspired both faith and creativity of thought, I write this blog. You're still my favorite contemporary musician! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Jeremiah's Candor: The Pain of Happiness

"I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it." --Jer 20:9
[Part of the readings from the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, A]

This verse from Jeremiah has always struck me as particularly resonant with my own experience of faith and writing. I once took these words as like a mission statement for one of my first (failed) blogs. As you can see, here I am, at it again. This experience of trying to lay down what needs to be picked up is a stunning glimpse into the broken dynamic for human happiness--the brokenness brought about by sin. 

Sin is a major concept that our own sinfulness prevents us from fully understanding. It is so easily misunderstood that even well-meaning Catholics as well as the faithful as a whole tend to get it wrong. Given the nature of this post I will set that aside for another time but what will suffice to say for now is that sin prevents persons from being able to correctly discern the course of action that will bring about that real and fulfilling happiness that we are all wired to seek. This brokenness runs so deep that what truly brings about happiness, we often perceive and prejudge as accursedness and misery--sadness. And yet, such perceptions really could not be further from the truth. 

The wisdom of God confounds us because it is not intuitive, as it shouldn't to a bunch of sinners. Many a time, his word sounds paradoxical, nonsensical even contradictory but it is because God calls man to dare to go against his natural instinct and with the seeming chaos and uncontrolled movements of God's will and spirit. In a world marred by man's sin down to a metaphysical level, God speaks to us the salvific words that we must rely upon in faith if we are to be healed by them. Indeed, they are quite offensive to man's sensibilities. They are encapsulated in a few places in scripture. Some places we could point to are the beatitudes as well as today's readings. Nothing seems as contradictory as the words: "Blessed (happy) are those who mourn (are sad)..." or "whoever wishes to save his life will lose it." And yet Christ speaks them with a straight face and we are called to believe such words. How?

When I began my first blog, I was struggling with the reasons why I wanted to start a blog and write in that I didn't know what the reasons were. All I knew was the urge--the compulsion--to write. I tried to make a reasonable justification. "Maybe it would lead to a fruitful career" was one of the many reasons I tried to project upon this urge. So I struggled with it. I wrote a little here or there. Tried this, promised myself that. I made all kinds of deals with myself. One such deal was, unless I knew that my writing was going to be "successful" which I determined to mean widely read then I wouldn't write. Another deal I made with this urge of mine was unless it was at a high-level of writing on a topic that was relevant for many, I would not write. What ended up being the case is I set so many conditions that writing was no longer possible. I had rationalized the urge away as some irrational passion that would not bring me any more happiness than any of the other fantasies I set up for myself. I not-so-quickly found that I still did not grasp the reason behind the urge so I eventually just put it away to the back of my mind pursuant to "more productive" uses of my time.

In retrospect, I've come to a rather stunning reflection on what I was doing to myself; who said I needed to have a reason to write. I think they were the whispers of evil and temptation that say things like, "you need a reason to do the things that fulfill you." I may be a famous writer, I may not. Such things I leave in the hands of God and are not for me to determine. The only thing I do know is that God has written the act of writing upon my heart. Every time I try to set it aside, my mind and heart ache because they are trying to be warped into doing things they were not meant for. To use Jeremiah's imagery, the fire in my heart grows. I've tried ignoring it as a passing fancy, a personal fad that I would simply bore myself with and then move on except I never do. I tell myself, "you're naive if you think that writing will pay the bills and provide for you." However, there is another part of myself that is not myself that speaks gently and encouragingly: "writing doesn't have to pay the bills, whether it does is not up to you but it will satisfy." I then give in again. I return to the keys, form a new slate and pound away.

Returning to the words of Christ that seem diametrically opposed to themselves, we must recall the state of life we find ourselves in. I do not mean the state we are in individually in the myriad diversity of all its particularities. I mean, rather, the universal human condition of restless pursuit--the quiet desperation we all fight to stave off. Happiness and, by privation, the desire for it is the primal impulse of humanity. What Christ reveals, and indeed had to reveal to us, is that happiness comes from a counter-intuitive lifestyle of self-denial.

Hans Christian Andersen, in the original telling of the "Little Mermaid" writes that for the little mermaid to live and walk as a human being she had to endure the feeling of treading upon needles and knives with every step. However, driven by the desire to be human and to have an immortal soul, "she bore it willingly." The mermaid's journey to certain happiness, the everlasting joy of heaven, could only be completed by painful means. The little mermaid becomes the foil of human striving. What we ultimately strive to be is fully ourselves--fully human. Given a state in which there is a shortcoming, a lacking--sin--the brokenness of which reaches to the very nature and essence of the human being, we must come to our full and perfected identity as glorified human beings, as men "fully alive" by enduring the pain of denying our current state. To continue on in our current state is to continue on in misery whereas to endure the painful realization that happiness with God requires adherence to his designs and not our shortsighted desires is where true bliss is.

I've come to realize that whatever thoughts I may have before, after or even during my writing, I am truly happy. There are times when it is real work and labor, the laboriousness of which can affect my other activities. However, in the act of writing there is one certainty. I am. I am doing what I am supposed to be doing; the fire is quelled and the urge satisfied. It is a painful process and there are moments that I hate it, that I don't feel like doing it, that I cannot see as being even remotely a means to happiness but in the moment I press the keys I am revealed to myself as patient, kind, not jealous nor proud nor quick-tempered nor boasting nor proud. Not rejoicing in evil, but rejoicing in truth. There are moments of true love both for and from me. It is the stream to which God has led me, refreshing my soul. I want for nothing and I envy no man. 

These words may never be read by anyone else but that isn't my concern. In this moment nothing concerns me. If it is the case that no one reads this, it would seem from the outside that it was a waste of time and energy, a futile attempt at prosperity. From the inside, the writing is the reward because it comes form God. This is not to say my writing is infallible and inspired but as a gift from God to me, it is a gift I accept by giving it away freely. In not so confusing of words, in this laborious gift I find God's rest. What comes from it I give to God for Him to do as he wishes; whether it is read by none or many, is acclaimed or ridiculed, I resign myself and the fruit of my labor to God's purposes. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Santa Rosa

Today, the Church celebrated Saint Rose of Lima. She was a Dominican saint of Peru who lived from 1586-1617. She was known for her devotion to Christ in ascesis, preached penance and remained a holy virgin. 

I had the privilege of celebrating this feast with the Santa Rosa diocese and read a few of the holy Peruvian's words today on the love of Christ. Her words reveal something of her mystical encounters with the Lord. In them, she writes of the great graces that may only come through suffering and tribulation. This is something that Jesus tells St. Rose she must go on and share this lesson with the world; that "without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven."

Doing the math, we find that St. Rose made her presence felt and she was able to accomplish her divine mission in a span of 31 years. She died a young woman. As I near the age of 30, I wonder about my own calling to holiness and what I can and should be doing differently. I am reminded of the words of St. Catherine of Siena, who also died a very young woman, saying, "If you are who you should be you will set the world on fire." As I don't seem to be setting the world on fire with faith and love for God, I can't help but pray, "What more should I be? What else must I do?" To answer my question in this message of penance, St. Rose reminds us so much of what Christ did but what he did not do.

A forgotten lens through which we might understand Christ's salvific suffering, also known as the passion, was how in the midst of this suffering Christ was passive. Yet another name for Christ's passion is his passivity. The word "passive" is in contrast to "active." In the moment he entered willingly into his passion, we witness a sequence of events in which Christ is not so much the one acting as the one acted upon. Christ was betrayed, bound, led away to town leaders, stripped, beaten, mocked and killed. This should give us pause as we ponder the great mystery of our faith--the paschal mystery.

The life and ministry of Christ leading up to the passion were revelatory but were not definitive acts of universal salvation. Christ lays hands upon the sick and they are healed. Though "many" are healed it is relatively few in comparison to the rest of the world. Even fewer still are those whom Christ raised back to life from death, namely Lazarus and the publican's daughter. In these cases the graces are given to specific individuals. As Jesus tells John's disciples these were merely the signs that the messiah had come, but none of these were the acts or signs by which the whole of Israel would be redeemed. As scholars glean from the gospels, the recounting of these miracles prepare the listeners for the great act of salvation by God through Christ. Then comes the definitive act of salvation--the act of inaction.

Paradox is the hallmark of God's wisdom as it is truly a wisdom that surpasses our own. It challenges our limited understanding to broaden to a point beyond reason to contemplation. In the contemplation of mystery, no words can truly apprehend it they can only, and meagerly, approximate and indicate the truth. Such is the case here as we explain Christ's "act" of salvation in which the act is a letting go a submission to the will and actions of the other. This inaction ends up being the sign of the heights of God's unfathomable power. What we learn about the passion, in Christ's painful prayer in the garden was that the Son had to submit to the will of the Father to allow what would come to pass and do nothing to stop it. This moment of surrender is the perfection of holiness that each member of the Church is called to learn and emulate.

True holiness is complete obliteration of any differences between one's desires and God's. This is painful. God desires love and love, in this world, requires no little sacrifice. This is the message of Christ that comes through St. Rose of Lima. When we ask, "What must I do? What more should I be?" we can easily be tempted to think the answer will come in the form of some force of the will, some great motion of our personal being that effects the fire that St. Catherine says would set the world ablaze. The reality is when we ponder what is the next "step" we cannot discount the actions we must not do--those that we must let go of--the stillness that leads to true obedience to the Spirit of God. There are times where we must instead ask that God's act be done to us--in us. In such, times we realize that when we become who we should be it will not entail great acts, inventions or creating paradigmatic worldviews. It will involve doing less so as to allow God to act in us more, becoming less so that God may be the more that each of us should be. The paradoxical act of meriting grace is to be passive in one's interaction with God.

As Karl Barth might say, we must let God be God. God does not force or impose his will upon us. We have free will as God does. God acts freely in love toward us. He did not need to, nor was God bound by some law imposed from outside God to love and act in that love toward us. He simply did. The implied question is, given our own freedom to respond as we see fit, what are we going to do about it? We have our Mother to thank for teaching us the best and most loving response: "be it done unto me according to thy word!"

Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Post


This is TruthBear. 

I'll explain the name at some later time (it's an inside joke) but as for the first post I wanted to expose more my mission and reason behind this blog. I want to be an accomplished writer. Anyone who would have bothered to follow such a writer will know that I struggle with perseverance and consistency in writing. I've begun over half a dozen blogs or sites but I end up treating them like novelty gifts. They're fun to play with at first but there's a point at which I put it on the shelf and not pick up again until it's time to throw it away. This is a search for a way beyond that point and truly give myself to writing something.

Of what I've written so far, my most successful project was a blog I did for Lent called "Forty Days of Spring." I wrote everyday for the duration of Lent on various topics in Catholic spirituality. I consider it successful because I did what said I would and set out to do. Now I'm trying to replicate that on a larger scale and with broader scope. 

Some things you can expect to read on this Blog: All things Catholic, particularly theology as well as little bits of philosophy, writing, technology and practical wisdom sprinkled throughout. In seeking to share the most intimate details of my seeking I also seek not to take myself so seriously so as to truly enjoy what this is about. As for what is about...I guess that remains to be seen.

To anyone who may stumble onto this blog, I make no promises about consistency or quality, because, truthfully, this project just may end up on some forgotten shelf on the internet like my other blogs. In any case, I simply intend to try again and let my "yes mean yes" and avoiding this:

If you benefit from my writing in any way, then all the better.