Friday, April 23, 2010

Breaking Bad Habits

Life becomes difficult and complicated when we turn down the opportunity to be who we are meant to be, “The “mastery” over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self.” (CCC pg. 107)

We all know how this works. Who doesn’t have a bad habit they need to change or a vice they’d like to get rid of? Have any of us lived in denial or made lame excuses to avoid reality and consequences? Blame it on the human condition, but don’t give up your personal power to change who you are, by becoming who you want to be.

“The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman, and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called “original justice.” (CCC pg. 107) “This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God’s plan, will be lost by the sin of our first parents (Adam and Eve).”

Goodness is the most natural part of our nature. Weakness defines who we really are. Consider someone with a short fuse who can’t control their temper. Before long they are defined by the actions that defeat their true purpose in life. They proceed to make excuses and minimize the impact of what they do, denying its affect on others.

Think about the pedophile that preys on young children. He does his evil deeds in secret, eagerly waiting for the perfect opportunity to harm another human being. Weakness turns into something uncontrollable, as more and more children are attacked. This man was not born to harm children; he simply gave up trying to master himself one day, until his weakness became stronger than his ability to maintain mastery of self.

Weakness is not the enemy in our lives. It is the opportunity to achieve our higher purpose by overcoming it. People make goals in life from the moment they are born. Who doesn’t know the thrill of overcoming everything to achieve something wonderful? Success stories are celebrated each time a child learns to walk, a teenager makes the varsity team, someone with cancer goes into remission and so many other beautiful life scenarios playing out everyday in our world. Each one is an act of conquering self where people unite with God, living up to the potential He alone gives them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Defining Marriage in the Catholic Church

Nothing God creates is random. Nor is any life form empowered to bring destruction on other life forms. As I study the next part of my Catholic Catechism (pgs. 105 – 106), I appreciate what I’ve always known, that when two people marry, they accept the innate responsibility to participate in the willful act of God’s creation.

Sexual expression of affection is not the purpose of marriage. Marriage is about communion with God in a unique and special way, fully acknowledging His power to create new life at will. However, “This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary and destructive domination.” (CCC pg. 106) I would be remiss if I didn’t address homosexuality here.

While marriage is defined as the union between a man and a woman in the Catholic Church, the catechism does not give us the authority to be prejudice against same sex couples. Instead, it states very clearly, “In marriage God unites them in such a way that, “by forming “one flesh,” they can transmit human life: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” (CCC pg. 106)

Society has a way of muddying the waters of social issues. Everyone was created by God; not everyone has the same calling to serve Him in the same way. Being gay is not a sin, but it also does not lend itself to the definition of marriage in the Catholic Church.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Immortality: Body and Soul

“Summoned by the God who made us, rich in our diversity. Gathered in the Name of Jesus, richer still in unity. Let us bring the gifts that differ and in splendid, varied ways, sing a new church into being, one of faith and love and praise.” These lines quoted from the hymn, Sing a New Church, filled my soul as I was reflecting on today’s post.

Man, made in the image of God is presented as a unified being, made wholly alive, body and soul, through Christ who redeemed us. It was no accident that you and I were chosen to be born. God did that on purpose.

“Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone.” (CCC pg. 102) God is the creator, and as much as all life is precious, people are truly God’s special gifts to the world. Everything was made for us and it is only right that our response is to love and serve God in return.

The story doesn’t end there though. Our physical birth is only a beginning, as we become animated with the Spirit breathing life through us. As much as our bodies work mechanically, our souls work spiritually, joined together in our earthly presence. Two separate entities unite as one, and death cannot separate them.

We live in the promises of redemption, the glory of the Resurrection of Jesus, and the fulfillment of hope in eternal life. “The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God—it is not “produced” by the parents—and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.” (CCC pg. 104)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Abuse within the Catholic Church

If ever there was a challenge to test the Catholic Faith, I believe it would be now. Catholicism may be the first religion to face scrutiny for its years of accepting, and even ignoring, abuses perpetrated by hierarchy in her church that was blindly followed and defended, without true justice for victims. I am fairly certain it will not be the last.

Sexual predators are good at what they do, and they seek opportunity that won’t easily be thwarted. Positions of trust and authority are perfect for them; these are found readily in many religions. As if that weren’t enough, victims for their heinous acts are plentiful in every religion and church that was ever built. “Mothers weep for your children, and your children’s children.”

I do not excuse what has taken place in my Church. I know too well the effects of abuse (though I was never molested by a priest). I feel the devastating heartbreak when perpetrators are never brought to justice. “Justice is mine,” says the Lord. I cling to my Savior, knowing that as much as He died for my sins, He also died for each and every other sin that has ever been committed, even the sins of sick buggers like verbal manipulators, many who take their mental abuse one step further by molesting children and vulnerable adults.

That’s when I know I need to step back. Hatred is as close to my heart as it can ever get. There is no excuse for violating another human being so wickedly. Any refusal of the Church to provide human justice for victims often causes even more injury. Victims end up in a vortex that makes them question their belief in their church as a whole. And then I remember that faith is about belief in Jesus and what He taught.

I realize that faith must be separated from institutions and their politics. Jesus warned many times of the dangers of following people blindly and without reason. His statements weren’t permission to go it alone, they were warnings that danger lurks, even in the most unsuspecting places.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is as valid today as it was when Jesus walked the earth. Believing in the Catholic Faith is not the same thing as blindly following the Catholic Church. As true believers, we must separate our faith from the institution, in so far as the institution makes its human errors. We are called to discern right from wrong. It is not accurate therefore, to judge the merits of the Catholicism based on the infiltration of it by evil men who used it for their own abominable purposes. Doing so minimizes personal power, allowing evil individuals to destroy what we hold so dear.