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.