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Archive for the ‘Simple Thoughts’ Category

Eucharist - Real Presence

There is no greater presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ than the Holy Eucharist. This is because in the mystery of the Eucharist Jesus is not present in another, but rather is the Other. He is not merely present in the Eucharist, but indeed the Eucharist is Him. To look upon and receive the Eucharist is not to look upon and receive a representation of Jesus Christ, but to look upon and receive Him. There is nothing greater in all creation than this mystery.

Holy Orders - In Persona Christi

After the Eucharist, Christ is must fully present in His priests. While the Logos is in all by virtue of all being made in the image and likeness of God, and while He more intimately dwells in Christians by virtue of the reception of His Spirit, divinity, and life in Baptism, He most intimately dwells in His priests through the sacrament of Holy Orders. The priest is not simply a representative of Jesus Christ. When he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he does not do so merely as an ambassador or emissary. No, the priest acts in persona Christi. Christ is present in the priest in such a way that it is He who offers Himself at the altar.

Adoration of the Lamb - Jan van Eyck

In matrimony, Jesus is uniquely present in the husband and wife, who become an icon of the marriage of Jesus to the Church. This marriage is cosmic, bringing together God and man, as well as the Uncreated and created. It is a marriage that entails the whole of creation. Christ’s sacramental presence in the married couple is such that they become a visible image of the mystical union, the wedding feast of the Lamb, a love of mutual submission, sacrifice, and glory.

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I’m not a big fan of laws. They’re necessary, but if we come to depend on them above all else for the right functioning of society and the relations of peoples in society then those laws will become blind, heartless, and tyrannical. This because laws are exterior to man. For a true right functioning of society, for man to be truly good it is the heart which must be focused on, not laws. We have an interior law, a law that does not come from without, but rather from within; it is the law of the heart. It is a law that is not imposed upon us. No, it is a law that springs forth from our heart’s deepest longings and points us to true happiness. For instance, we do not need laws to tell us that murder is wrong. We know that murder is wrong and that it will not bring us happiness. Only the fool deludes himself that something such as murder can make one fulfilled. The problem isn’t the fool, however; it is all of us, for we are all bear the weight of sin. All of our hearts are covered with the filth and vileness of sin. Laws do not change this; laws keep the consequences of such a reality in check. Only grace can change the condition of the human heart. Only grace can enable man to not only see and love the law written upon his heart, but to also act upon that law in freedom and joy. Imagine what such a society would be like! What would happen in our society if Christians truly lived and promoted the life of grace, instead of getting bogged down in the politics and laws of it all? What a thing that would be.

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Last year for the beginning of Lent I wrote a post, “The Deconstruction of Lent”, on the need to have a greater awareness of the communal character of Lent in the life of the Church rather than making Lent an individualized affair: HERE. A couple of weeks after that I wrote another Lenten post, “Combatting Porn During Lent”, the main point of which was to draw attention to our need to allow ourselves to be formed by God rather than thinking of Lent as an opportunity to form ourselves: HERE.

Lent is fast approaching – Wednesday, March 1. I don’t know about you, but I can often drive myself crazy trying to figure out what I should give up for Lent or what additional practices I should take on. But what if the answer is nothing? Lent and its disciplines are not something we put on ourselves. It is part of the Life in which we live. What if God simply calls us to live that life: to be faithful in our participation at Sunday Mass, our fasting, and our Friday abstentions. What if He simply wants us to be formed by Lent by participating in the various Lenten traditions of our parish: Stations of the Cross, Lenten missions, soup dinners and fish fries. God doesn’t wait until Lent to call us nearer to Him. Lent is strengthening for that journey already begun. Perhaps there are disciplines He has called you to and Lent is simply a time to persevere in those disciplines, disciplines which may fall away if we cover them with others. If you are still considering what it is God is calling you to do in the coming week, remember, Lent isn’t meant to be complicated; it just needs to be lived. May God bestow His grace upon you abundantly and may you have a blessed and holy Lent.

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Recent conversation has brought to mind the question of knowledge, particularly of knowing with certainty. There are a lot of people who fall under agnosticism because they hold that one cannot have any real certainty that there is a God, or, if there is, that we cannot have any certain knowledge about this God. There is such an intense focus on whether or not one can be certain that it has become an all-or-nothing question. This is because the question of certainty is directly connected to the question of reasonability. The question of having certain knowledge has become equivalent in the minds of many (unconsciously so) with the question of said knowledge being reasonable.

Among the pop-philosophy intelligentsia, it is no more or less reasonable to believe in God than to believe in magical unicorns or that we are all brains in vats. We cannot disprove that we are brains in vats, that there are magical unicorns, and we cannot disprove the existence of God. The argument for God is seen as a self-enclosed argument. But this is not actually the case. If we ask if it is reasonable to believe that there are magical unicorns or that we are brains in vats, we must emphatically answer “no”. If we ask if it is reasonable to believe that God exists, we must emphatically answer “yes”. Why? To hold to either of the former beliefs is to hold to something for which we have no evidence. To hold to the latter is to hold to something for which there is evidence. It is reasonable to believe that God exists because there is evidence that God exists. It is unreasonable to believe that we are brains in vats because there is no evidence that we are. One should be able to easily distinguish this.

However, the problem here is not simply of intelligence. There is also the problem of virtue. There are many who can see the difference between these questions if they listen. But then they will still hold that they cannot be certain, and, in their uncertainty, they will freeze in cowardice. It takes courage to follow the evidence. To how many in modern society can the words of the psalmist be applied: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'”?

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Jesus carries Cross

Though harshly treated, he submitted and did not open his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth. (Is 53:7)

I seem to remember in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ that, when Jesus was given His Cross and embraced it, one of those crucified with Him cried out telling Him not to do so. It gives the impression that this is not something that someone about to be crucified typically did. Rather, it is indicative of one who is “meek and humble of heart.” While this particular portrayal of Jesus embracing His Cross is not related in the Gospel accounts, it does express well the above verse from Isaiah: He went along willingly. Why? Why embrace the instrument of your death? Why embrace that which will bring you excruciating pain? Because it is the way of love. In love and mercy we are redeemed. In love Jesus embraced His Cross because He knew it was not just the instrument of His death, but the instrument of life and redemption, of the restoration of man to God. So, yes, love. In love He created us; in love He became incarnate for us; and in love He redeemed us.

To embrace our own cross and follow Him, is to do the same. The crosses of life are inescapable. We can neither run nor hide from them; if we simply confront them relying on our own strength, we will find that we are weak. The Cross is a fact of life, and there is only one response that does not result in our being crushed: to embrace it in love – love of our Lord, love of our neighbor including our enemies, and to suffer as co-redeemers with Him for ourselves and for all people.

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Man’s greatest desire is nothing less than God Himself. It’s not just a desire to be with God though; it is a desire to be God. This is what the most Holy Trinity made us for: to partake of His very nature and, hence, to become divine. The only way that this can happen is through union with Jesus Christ the Lord God.

Annunciation

God came into the world through the Incarnation, His conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We too are called to conceive Christ within us. He desires to be conceived spiritually in our hearts.

Visitation

In imitation of Mary, having conceived Him we are to bring Him to others proclaiming the Good News of our salvation. Others are to encounter Him and be aware of His presence through their encounter with those who have conceived Him in their hearts.

Nativity

And like, His mother, we are to give birth to Him. It is not enough simply to bear Him within ourselves; He must come without and be present in the world. How does one spiritually give birth to the One conceived in our hearts? As one grows and develops in the womb so too does He grow in our hearts, changing us until our will, our intellect, our passions, our body and soul are His. The whole given over to Him so that with St. Paul we can say, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me.” Giving birth hurts.

Presentation

Having been born He is revealed as the Light of the world to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. We become a light of the Light: to see one is to see the other: “I am in my Father and you in me and I in you.”

Finding in the Temple

But all of this requires a response. He first comes down to us, but we must embrace Him. To do that we must go where He is, His Father’s house, the Church. Only in the communion of the Church are we able to receive and conceive the Lord God in our hearts. Only in the communion of the Church do we find and rest in our heart’s desire.

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jesus_face_shroud

The Lord is my light and my salvation. However, just as the sun shines upon our face, warming it and giving joy to our eyes, this only happens if we look toward the sun. So too with God. To enter into divine intimacy and friendship, to allow the radiance of His face to shine upon us and to receive the gaze of Love, one must have the humility to turn their face to Him.

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