04 October 2015

Oh, for the love of God!

Finding Pasture is back on the air.  I've been pried from under my rock in the pasture by reading the comments on various blogs about the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops starting today, October 4, 2015, and to end on October 15, 2015.  In particular, Hilary White's What's Up with the Synod?, and the story behind it, has confirmed my own growing sense that I need to wade back in.

Some posts and comments of late, on various sites and blogs, express dismay at various reported words and acts of Pope Francis.  People are concerned, uncertain, even afraid, because it is clear that Satan has deceived some Roman Catholic leaders to an extent and degree even greater than some cynics suspected.  The flock is clearly nervous.

This post is intended to be corrective, a bracing reminder of who we are and what we're about.

A word about who I am:  I was a new and ardent convert to the Church immediately before the changes imposed on the Church after Vatican II.  While my relationship with the Church was derailed, my relationship with its Founder was not.  I renewed the prayerful research that led me to the Church in the first place.  I have been "going in and out" of various Christian pastures in my study for forty years.  I came close to joining a different church only once; but, during the meeting where the pitch was made for joining, it became clear that, indeed, the fullness of faith can be known only in the one Church founded by our Lord. Some of my experiences and conclusions are recorded in older posts in this blog. 

Now then. To review:

God created all there is, including ourselves.  God's creation of the human experience was completed; it is not ongoing.  Our discoveries and learning are ongoing.  God gave us a clue to guide us as we learn:  what God made was and is very good.

God has built in the capabilities we need to make good decisions.  We are made in the image and likeness of God.  What we call a "mirror" is a crude analogy.  In essence, God is unknowable to us except insofar as we respond to Him appropriately.  If we do not reflect God, we cannot perceive him at all, because he acts through his Spirit, intangible, and immeasurable, because he is everywhere.  We have free will and can choose thoughts and actions that do not reflect God.  Our ability to reflect God is impaired, in the same way a mirror is misty.  Our understanding of God's purpose, and therefore our ability to follow his rules, is equally clouded, not least by our susceptibility to sensory input needed for our discoveries and learning.  It always will be whenever we mistake knowledge about good and evil for "wisdom."  We need discernment to distinguish good from evil.  God's desire is to have a relationship with us in which we trust him so deeply that we truly do reflect his goodness.  We have to remember what we know about him.  In the end, clarity will come only through Jesus.

Satan is real.  Since falling from heaven, he has wandered around, leveraging human curiosity and pride to distract and confuse, tempting even the people who do great things for him to do things that are evil, or even attacking people outrightHe is our adversary.  He means to capture that which is God's image and likeness, the human soul

Jesus is a real person.  IS, not was.  Satan tried to distract and deceive Jesus, but it didn't work.  Satan was as determined then as he is now to wreck everything.  Jesus was eventually arrested, insulted, savagely beaten, mocked, and executed by crucifixion.

Satan has no power not given by God.  In fact, Satan is used by God to fulfill God's ultimate plan of salvation.  For example, Jesus' trial, abuse, and crucifixion, even down to its specific details, could not be a surprise to anyone who knew the Bible.

The Point:

We need to quit focusing on fallible men, and proclaim Jesus.  Jesus is real, Jesus is alive, Jesus works among us, Jesus died for us.  The Bible is as clear about what is right and what is wrong as it is about how much God loves us.  We can turn from God if we want; why in the world would we?  Didn't Jesus show us exactly how important it is to God that we choose good??

Ann Barnhardt, God bless and protect her, shows how it's done (as reported at What's Up with the Synod?:
...Still glaring at me, the bishop then launched into the first of his two defenses of the September 8th catastrophic Motu Proprio. First, he complained about the “stack of paperwork” backlogged on his desk from all of the annulment requests he had to deal with.

I interrupted him with, “Yeah, that’s just awful – almost as bad as being nailed to a cross….”

Thus ended the episcopal bitch-fest about the unbearable existential burden of backlogged paperwork.
(Read it all.)

What is our standard?  What matters?

Image of Christ on the Cross

(Image source.)

Do not worry.  Do not fret.  Satan didn't win then.  He won't win now.  Even if they come today and strip us of everything, flog us and nail us up to die, Satan has lost.  Pay no attention to him.  Focus on the One who is All.  Strive to see him so clearly, and live the life he gives so abundantly and joyfully, that you begin to see who he really is.  When your body dies, shuck it off like an old tent and go straight into the arms of the One whose image and likeness you are,-- ... and so loved.

Obama and his Geeks

From Fast Company.com

Rather chatty article about high-level techs that Obama is hiring.  Incidental information about who finally fixed Healthcare.gov.  Also, note that the end of Obama's term is a Big Deadline for these people ... as though, if the work they were doing was objectively good, the incoming administration would automatically fire them, anyway.

Makes you wonder.

via Free Republic

Just when I think no one else knows about Gramsci

... Father Ray Blake proves me wrong.

The important thing for Gramasci [sic] was to create a certain confusion a mess, a "lio", but based on what was reasonable and from there to increase demands by increments, for example, the change with the general acceptance of the Gay movement, 'loving relationships' everyone can relate to, 'people suffering because they love' makes a rather attractive narrative identity, in a heterosexual context it is part of our cultural narrative and is much more attractive than discussing anal sex, which I suppose a few people still have qualms about. Thus in a few short years we move from a criminal act, to legalising consensual homosexual acts to recognising homosexual unions to marriage equality,  and children being taught about such things in school and we can well imagine the eventual removal every other sexual taboo, not just those that once merely surrounded homosexuality. In moral terms it is Marxist perpetual revolution.

(Read the whole thing.)

Thoughts on reading the Bible

 In exploring how the evangelicals think, I learned to read the Bible in its entirety. We Roman Catholics still, to this day, are not taught to do this.  It is one of the great unmentioned scandals of the implementation of the "spirit" of Vatican II that, despite the frequent assurances from Those In Charge that we use more Scripture in our worship, we are actually being starved of the Word through targeted selection and, in America and to some degree in England and Europe, Bible translations that are frankly dodgy, at best.

As an example of how Protestants immerse their thoughts in Scripture, Robert Murray M'Cheyne prepared a Bible reading plan which I have used for some years.  Many are the times that two or more of the readings speak to one another, deepening my awe for the "scarlet thread of redemption" that can be traced through our Bible.  While M'Cheyne's plan does not encompass the Deuterocanonical books (the Apocrypha), one could do worse than to follow it as a daily practice.  For Catholics, it is important to do so in a reliable Catholic translation, of course.  For this purpose, the RSV-CE version is my preference.

However, Catholics would benefit from proper Bible study materials.  By that I do not mean long articles written from the leftist viewpoint about this or that aspect of the Bible.  I own a great many Bibles (it's been 40 years, after all), and, at one time, I had a NAB Study Bible.  No more, and never again.

To get a feel for how Protestants (those who are recognizably Christian) get their bearings in Scripture, the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible is a good resource.  Its premise is that the Bible can speak of and to itself.  There are no doctrinal articles.  I have used it for many years and have found nothing that is blatantly anti-Catholic.  It works with the text only to group verses by topic and to set out things like the prophecies realized by Jesus' life.  The Thompson has not been published using a USCCB-approved translation, but I think a fairly literal version like the New American Standard Bible or the New King James Version would be safe for use.

In my experience, it is downright dangerous to trust mere men in the matter of what scriptures to read.  It is foolish to restrict one's exposure to the Bible to the smattering of verses presented in the liturgy through the three-year cycle, or even the Liturgy of the Hours (as revised after Vatican II, of course), in which alert readers have discovered the intentional omission of verses that are "uncomfortable" for some in today's environment.  The Episcopalians did this in their daily reading plan in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.  For example, in the second reading for the Daily Office Year One, Wednesday of the Week of 2 Lent, the reading from Romans 1 goes from vv. 16-25.  The reading on the next day, starts at Romans 1:28.  Two verses were left out, Romans 1:26 and 1:27.  Was it just an oversight?  Let's see.
26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
There's another gap, ironically also from the readings for the same time of year (Lent!).  Look at Daily Office Year 2, Week of 2 Lent, this time between the Wednesday and Thursday.  Wednesday's second reading does from I Cor. 5:9-6:8, while Thursday's picks up at 1 Cor. 6:12.  What could be in vv. 9-11?  Can you guess?

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
In practical terms, this means is that, even if an Episcopalian is honest, devout enough to at least include the readings from the Daily Office in the day's spiritual diet, he or she would never see those verses.  In the case of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, that's really spiritual malpractice, because they show the effect of grace that redeems the sinful soul.

If a priest or any minister does not "spend time in the Word", may he not end up preaching tripe like, "the point of the multiplication of loaves and fishes is that everybody shared"?  Really, the Church would be healthier if such absurdities had resulted in people leaping to their feet and yelling "Get out of here!" and running him off the property.  In Protestant churches where the Bible is read searchingly and thoughtfully, this kind of thing is not unheard-of.

The Protestants are more or less sharply divided these days between those who search the scriptures to find out what's true about God, and those who prefer their own ideas.  The churches where the Scriptures are taken seriously are multiplying with stunning speed; the others are dwindling into oblivion.  Sadly, the most devout Reformed Protestants still categorically deny even the possibility that what Jesus said in John 6 is simply what Jesus meant to say, and convey, no more and no less.  I'll write about that in a different post sometime.

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”  -- G. K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World Part I, Chapter 5, “The Unfinished Temple.”

22 May 2015