Saturday, June 30, 2007

Blogs Are Not Forever

For those still reading this blog let me commend you on faithfulness, or stubborness, or whatever the case may be. But, as is probably quite obvious by now, I no longer have the time to regularly blog. So this will be my final post. I will shut down the blog eventually, but it will be up for a while for any who want to still comment or simply review some previous post.

The blog was helpful for me as I was making my way from evangelical Protestantism to Roman Catholicism. I had hoped that I could regularly come up with some inspirational thoughts that would be of benefit to others. But things are rapidly changing. The blog helped me work out some of my own thoughts. Circumstances in my life are changing such that I am not able to blog as regularly as I once did. And I'm really not that faithful to it even in the best of circumstances.

I am Patrick, a sinner, rescued from eternal damnation by the Grace and Power of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. "O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Ro. 11:33).


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Corpus Christi

Today we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi. This is the celebration of the giving of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. As Catholics, we believe He is truly present in the bread and wine. The accidents (as we call them) remain the same. It still appears to be bread and wine. But the substance has been changed. It is no longer what it appears to be. It is Christ Himself appearing under these species. Consequently, we show a degree of reverence and veneration that is consistent with such a belief. We pray before the Blessed Sacrament. We genuflect when passing by it. It is holy. It is Jesus.

On this day we celebrated by following the Blessed Sacrament in procession from our parish church to the school a short distance away. We were, in a very real sense, following Jesus. Wherever He led, we followed. I cannot adequately describe the wonder I felt as we did so. I began to discover within me something of what it means to make a pilgrimage. There is truly something Grace-filled about doing that. God meets us in a very real and wonderful way. As I followed I felt my heart filled with the desire to know Him more. I wanted in every way to follow Him and make Him known. I wanted the world to see what we were doing and ask what it was all about. I longed to issue the simple invitation to "come and see".

It is said by many that of this belief one either responds in faith or doesn't. There's no middle ground. To those who believe, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not, no explanation is possible.

I now know that my life as a Protestant gave me many wonderul treasures. But in this area it was sadly deficient. I revel in what is now afforded me- to receive my dear Lord in the Holy Eucharist and in it know His Grace and forgiveness. I am blessed to be blessed with His Real Presence dwelling with us and in us.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Some Thoughts About The End

What happens when we die?

That's a question that plagues all of us in our quietest moments. In fact, I think one of the primary reason for our preoccupation with noise is to keep such thoughts at bay. But I digress.

The Christian answer to this question gives us three possibilities: heaven, purgatory, or hell. I am not an expert theologian on these matters so I will simply offer some passing thoughts on the subject.

Heaven is the place of the beatific vision. That is, we will see God face to face and we will be as He is. The soul longs for such revelation and communion. Here our longings are met for eternity. But how do we get to heaven? Simply, we must be of pure hearts and pure lips. We are to be those who love God with all our beings. We are to be those perfected in His holiness.

Most of us cannot hope to attain to such a place with such a criteria. Therefore we are prone to dumb down the qualifications. But an honest evaluation of Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church through the ages will reveal that this is, indeed, the criteria. Thus, purgatory becomes a comfort to us.

Purgatory is the place for those who are blessed with eternal life, but have not yet purged all the remaining vestiges of sin. They are not yet holy, and their love is not yet purified. However, they did die in a state of Grace and are, therefore, brought to this place to be purged of sin and made ready for heaven. Many (perhaps most) Christians do not believe in purgatory. This is unfortunate as it has been part of the historic Faith from its inception. It is also unfortunate because without it one finds himself in the unenviable position of dumbing down the requirements of heaven to such a degree that it could no longer truly be heaven, or he has to simply keep virutally everyone out.

Purgatory is not a second chance to get it right. It is not for those who have lived all their lives as rebels against God and then think they will get bailed out in purgatory in the end. Their destination is the next place we will discuss. No, rather, purgatory is for those who have loved and believed in our Lord, but still were in need of being perfected. (Remember Jesus told us we must be perfect as the Father is perfect- and He meant that). With this in mind, purgatory is a place of God's mercy and Grace. We may be thankful for its existence and even look forward to our time there that we may finally be perfected and made fit for heaven.

Hell is the place for those who have spent their lives in rebellion against God and His ways. Hell is real. Hell is horrible. Hell is eternal. With only that much knowledge we should do everything we can to avoid it and to keep those we love out of it. There is no escape from hell. Once there, the soul remains there forever. Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. But it is the final place for those who imitate these in their rebellion against God and His authority. God doesn't send people to hell. They choose it. God being loving and just gives each of us what we choose.

Where am I going? Where are you going? We cannot say for certain. The soul who lives righteously now does not know if he will someday turn against God and be lost for eternity. The one who lives in gross sin now has the chance to repent and receive God's mercy in the end. But the person who believes in Christ and demonstrates it by the actions of his life has the promise of Christ that he will not perish but inherit eternal life. This is the good news.

A few moments spent in sober meditation on such thoughts as these will do wonders to help us to see the greatness of God's mercy and the fearsome reality of His wrath. It is my prayer that His love revealed in the promise of heaven is enough to win your heart. But if not, then I hope the fearsome fact of hell is enough to scare you to turn from your sins and run quickly to His loving arms.

In our media saturated world we think that somehow every life will come to live happily ever after. But that is not true. Many will indeed be lost. Still, I hope that if you're reading this you will not be among them.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Visitation

Today is the Feast of the Visitation. It is the time when the Church remembers and reflects on Mary's visit to Elizabeth after she found out she would become the mother of our Lord and heard of Elizabeth's pregnancy. The journey was long and difficult, yet Mary still went. It seems clear that she went to celebrate with Elizabeth, as well as to minister to her as she entered upon the end of her pregnancy. The Scripture tells us that on hearing Mary's greeting, the babe inside of Elizabeth jumped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

As I consider the Visitation, it is all about hospitality. It is about the desire to bless others at the expense of one's own convenience or comfort. Mary took Jesus to Elizabeth (and John in Elizabeth's womb). She went to bless and to be a blessing.

If we are Christ's, then Christ lives in us. When we go to bless people, we bring Christ with us. We bring Christ to the people. The simplest and most menial acts of mercy take on greater meaning as we ponder the fact that it is Christ in us bringing His blessing to the people. We see chores, duties, and even our jobs in a whole new light when we see it through that lens.

Today, like Mary, let us lay aside our own hopes and plans to bring Jesus to the people around us and bless them. A simple smile, or a sincere "how are you," can become the means of bringing God's blessing to people all around. Let us, then, carry Christ to the people in our own "visitation" every day.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


It seems to me that in many Christian circles there are far more theological and devotional thoughts about the Holy Spirit than simple obedience to Him. On this day when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Church, I echo the timeless prayer of the Church in sincerely asking: "Come Holy Spirit and kindle in us the fire of Your love!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Choose Your Battles

I am in the midst of reading about King David from 2 Samuel. I am struck by his gentle spirit on one hand, but his voracious combativeness on the other.

We see David mercilessly slaughter his foes. We even read some of his sentiments in the Psalms. But then we see him remaining passive and even taking flight in other circumstances instead of staying to fight. What makes the difference?

David seems to have held it as a matter of principle that he would not engage in attacking the Lord's Anointed. Thus, we find him utterly refusing to attack Saul, or his family. We even find him exacting vengeance on those who killed Saul. Even though Saul was plainly in the wrong, David refused to fight back. Instead he resigned himself to trust in God to work it all out.

The second instance in which we see David refraining from battle is when his son, Absalom attempted a coup. He most likely could have easily routed this upstart army. But he could not bring himself to fight against his own son, albeit that he and Absalom were fairly estranged anyway. Again, he trusts God to do what is right, even if that means losing his own life.

What do we learn from this? We face times of conflict. We often wonder if the path the Lord would have us take is one of combat or forbearance. How are we to know? Taking a page from David, we can see that there are times when we are called to fight. We are to fight couragously and persistently. We are to fight in faith, trusting in God for victory. Such times are when we are fighting to defeat those foes which God has called us to overcome. Fleshed out for us in our modern times that will mean winning against our own lusts and sins. It will mean standing up for truth, justice, morality, and life. In these instances we are called to do battle and never back down.

But there are other times when we face more personal battles. We see those in leadership and authority who are misusing their positions. David's example shows us that we are not to come against them directly. Rather, we are to pray and leave the outcome to God. He will take care of it. We just need to trust Him.

Secondly, there will arise conflicts with our brothers. These may be family, friends, other Christians, or even those in the world. They may attack us pesonally in a variety of ways. For the sake of love, both of God, and our brothers themselves, we learn from David's example that we run from these battles while we again commit ourselves to prayer and faith. God will see to it that it works out.

The great difficulty for us here is that we are not usually as resigned to God as David was. We want things to work out our way. David was content to die if that was what pleased God. It seems to me we must come to this same place. It is the place we are constantly called to. It is the place of the cross.

If you find yourself in the midst of battle today, ask yourself which kind of battle this is. Are you fighting for the truth of the Gospel? Justice for the poor? Morality? To preserve life? Then fight with all your might. Be strong and courageous in the power of the Lord. But if it is a personal attack from authorities or acquaintances, abstain. Run! The Lord will be with you. He will take care of it. Trust Him and you will see the glorious victory of God- just like David did.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The New Pharisees

I am continually growing weary of the cultural newspeak drummed into our consciousness every waking minute. It never fails that I read the paper, surf the web, or turn on the television and there I am treated to the latest phenomenon in "choice", "sexual preference", and other psycho-babble. In the midst of all of this I am suddenly aware that the Pharisees have changed their clothes. They no longer wear the religious robes of Jesus' day. Instead they are outfitted in the latest fashion of pop culture and social consciousness.

Remember the classic confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees in Matthew 15. The Pharisees were upset because Jesus' disciples didn't keep their tradition. But Jesus replied, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?" Then He went on to rebuke them for creating traditions that had the effect of nullifying God's Word. He wrapped up by saying, "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with thier lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men,'" (vv. 7-9).

So it is today. The new Pharisees have a tradition as well. It is a tradition of about 40 years now in which any and every sexual perversion is to be normalized and accepted. Furthermore, unintended consequences from said perversions (pregnancies, STD's, AIDS, etc.) are to be dealt with swiftly so as not to jeapordize the intended pleasure of these perversions.

So while God has said, "You shall not commit adultery," the new Pharisess have taught that adultery is an outdated expression from tight-minded Christian radicals who have too many hang-ups about sex and sexuality. Therefore if it seems good to the parties involved, then it should be encouraged. While God has said that a man shall not lie with a man as he does with a woman, and that no such person will inherit the kingdom of heaven, the new Pharisees assure us that some people are just born this way and each person ought to have the right to choose his/her/not sure- sexual preference. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

So how do we deal with this? Unfortunately, too many well-meaning Christians are going right along with it. They are either afraid that maybe science knows more than God, or they're just too afraid to buck the establishment, or they are so inundated with the values of the current culture that they're not quite sure there is a problem after all. In contrast to this, we see Jesus confronting it head on. Look again at how He dealt with the Pharisees in Matthew 15. Or, for that matter, how He did it again in Matthew 23, or on numerous occasions throughout His ministry. Jesus was not afraid to confront hypocrisy, especially when it was having the effect of carrying the masses away with it.

This is exactly why I feel these are the new Pharisees. The single thing that characterized them was hypocrisy. They thought the whole world should live by their rules. It's just that they didn't always live by their rules. Those propagating such things among us would have us embrace a plethora of perversions while jettisoning any and all Scriptural guidelines. It is a recipe for disaster.

I urge all who read this post that call themselves Christians to stir yourselves and see what is happening in our day. Do not be content to sit back and accept it. Confront it head on. Be content with their ridicule, or their laughter. They won't be laughing on that great and terrible day when each of us will answer to God for what we did when we were on earth.

Let us confront the hypocrisy, and shine the light of God's truth throughout our world!