Discussion Q’s for the Weekend

shaq

Next Attorney General of Virginia?

The next Virginia Attorney General?

(Click through to the links if you need more information.)

1. Is Shaq actually a LIABILITY for the Cavaliers?

2. Is it okay for a Christian to go trick-or-treating on Halloween?

3. Is Ken Cuccinelli a bigot because he said that homosexual acts are intrinsically wrong? Or do good people oppose same-sex marriage?

4. Is this, or is this not, the best motto a person could have:

I life would wish, and that I might
Waste it for you, like taper-light.

(from the Prologue of “Pericles, Prince of Tyre,” by Wm. Shakespeare)

5. Is Kelly Clarkson just about the most awesome pop singer out there?

kelly clarkson concert

God Asks Permission His Way

annunciationI am ashamed to admit that I am just now getting around to reading all the homilies and speeches our Holy Father gave when he was in the Israel in May.

When he was preaching in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Pope made a remarkable observation.

He was recounting what happened at that spot, when the Archangel Gabriel awaited the Blessed Virgin’s response:

The narrative of the Annunciation illustrates God’s extraordinary courtesy. He does not impose himself, he does not simply pre-determine the part that Mary will play in his plan for our salvation: he first seeks her consent.

In the original Creation there was clearly no question of God seeking the consent of his creatures, but in this new Creation he does so.

Of course it is a beautiful thing to see the Archangel waiting on Our Lady’s free response–to see the Lord waiting on it, all creation waiting on it.

Pope in Nazareth

Pope meditating during Vespers in Nazareth

What struck me here the most, though, is the way the Pope blithely contrasts this with the way God created us in the first place.

In the original Creation there was clearly no question of God seeking the consent of his creatures.

Of course there wasn’t. He created us out of nothing. You can’t ask nothing permission to create it, because there is nothing to ask.

You can only seek the permission of a free person who already exists. Existing is a given–literally. God gave us ourselves.

Then, He asks us to give ourselves back. Freely giving ourselves back is the one and only way for us to deal with having ourselves in the first place.

It is pointless and absurd to fuss about existing, because it never was, and never could have been, a matter for advice and consent.

But offering oneself back to God as an oblation of love–now that is something to fuss about…

ben

My brother Ben

Speaking of which, a friend asked me to mention that The Bethlehem Monastery of Colettine Poor Clare nuns in Barhamsville, VA is having a “Come and See” day on November 14 for women 18-35.

…P.S. Just in case you were looking for White in the Grey Lady recently, Ben White has moved on from the NYT and is now contributing to a daily briefing on politico.com called “Morning Money.”

Philly Up, Philly Down!

PhiladelphiaSkyline

This whole sad, sorry mess is not a local tale of a franchise gone rotten anymore; it’s national news, almost as depressing as the real world. —Mike Wise on last night’s Redskins loss

Fair amount of hype about both the Yankees and the Giants going to Philadelphia this Sunday, to play the Phillies and the Eagles, respectively.

ovechkinWe will see how things go. But how about this:

Few teams are more loathsome to a Washingtonian than the Iggles. For instance: the Flyers.

Yes, Philadelphia whupped us yesterday.

But the Caps whupped Philadelphia today!

Also, let’s look at the bright side: The Redskins scored more points last night than they have scored in a while…

Approval-Seeking Missiles

As I sat listening to testimony about the D.C. Council’s “Same-Sex Marriage” Act, the key question that emerged in my mind is: Why is this happening?

To listen to all of the Council members and most of the witnesses at the hearing, the answer would be: It is happening became this is a matter of justice and human rights. “Marriage equality” is the civil-rights cause of our era. It is something that “obviously makes sense.” (Mary Cheh)

Mary Cheh

Councilmember Cheh

All of this, however, is manifestly untrue. Most of the witnesses who testified against the bill objected to the exclusion of District voters from the debate. The powers that be in the city government refuse to refer the same-sex marriage question to the ballot box. Councilmember Catania took it upon himself to lecture Bishop Jackson about 19th-century voter referendae.

It certainly would make sense to refer the question to the voters. But even if every citizen of the District insisted that someone was suffering an injustice over who can get a marriage license these days, there still wouldn’t actually be any injustice.

Continue reading

Praying for Miracles

hot-dog

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”

…Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

Immediately he received his sight… (Luke 10:46-49, 52)

This is what happened when the Lord Jesus was leaving Jericho. In two and a half weeks, I will be entering Jericho myself.

The blind man had the sense to cry out to the Lord, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” The blind man persevered and kept calling for help even when they tried to make him stop.

We pilgrims are going to the Holy Land to cry out like Bartimaeus, to beg the Lord to have pity on us, to ask God to do good things for us and help us.

maerati(If you have any particular intention for which you would especially like me to pray, write it down on in the comment box, and I will carry it with me to Israel.)

Bartimaeus had the faith and the courage to ask the Lord for what he wanted. He wanted to see—which is a reasonable enough thing to want. Most of us take it for granted. It’s not like Bartimaeus was asking for something extravagant, like an Xbox or a Maserati.

Continue reading

Mystery of the Lost Coin

smadehChapter fifteen of St. Luke’s gospel is famous for containing: the parable of the Lost Sheep and the parable of the Prodigal Son.

In between these two beautiful parables, there is a strange one, the parable of the Lost Coin:

Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it?

And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’

In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Please do not get me wrong: I mean no disrespect to our Lord. But I have always found this parable strange.

coins necklaceSure, losing one-tenth of your savings is something that would lead you to go searching, lamp in hand. But there seems to be more to this than the monetary value of the coin…

There is:

According to the old customs of Palestine, brides do not wear wedding rings. They wear veils embroidered with coins, or necklaces made of coins. The coins symbolize the dowry they brought to the marriage. The coins ARE the wedding ring, the symbol of the marriage bond.

The woman in the parable, searching the house frantically with lighted lamp, is searching for her lost wedding ring.

(Hat tip to H.V. Morton.)

Catching You Up

District_of_Columbia_building_1

John A. Wilson District Building

I think the last time I was actually inside the District Building was when John A. Wilson was still very much alive. My dad occasionally had business in there, and I entered those solemn halls with him a few times.

In other words: I was a youth the last time I was in there. There were no blogs then, and only madmen would have proposed that a man could marry a man, or a woman a woman. Homosexuals had no designs on the “right to marry.”

Bishop HolleyA quarter century later: I have just come from listening to two hours of testimony about the City Council’s proposed “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act.”

I went to give moral support to Bishop Holley, the representative of the Archdiocese. (He is one of Archbishop Wuerl’s assistant bishops.)

I was also glad to shake the hand of Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church–the most prominent opponent of the City Council’s same-sex folly. I assured him of my prayers and support.

Bishop Jackson

Bishop Harry Jackson, Hope Christian church

Anyway, I have been wracking my brains, trying to figure it all out. I have a few things to say, but…

I am behind, my dear readers!

I have other things I have to tell you first.

Then I will come back and explain the pain in my heart after listening to two hours of thoughtful testimony in Room 500 of 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

(The pain will probably only get worse after kickoff tonight…)

Tuesday Evening Quarterback

frank earnest

I have been on a nice, long hot-air balloon ride. Just got back, and I found my computer under a basket in the attic…

I.
Let’s go back to the beginning of September:

eighth stationThe first part of the Redskins’ season was supposed to be easy.

After a near-certain loss to the Giants in the season-opener, it was supposed to be five gimmees before the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, October 26.

Now the waning days of October are upon us. A whole lot of people are crooning the Redskins Blues.

But let us call to mind these words of our Lord:

Weep not for me but for your children. If this is what they do when the wood is green, what will they do when the wood is dry? (Luke 23:28,31)

Green wood (Weeks 2-6): Rams, Lions, Bucs, Panthers, and Chiefs
Dry wood (Wks 7-16): Eagles, Broncos, Cowboys, Saints, Giants, etc.

3-13 is a rosy scenario for this Redskins season. Pardon me while I get back in the balloon…

II.
The Lord Jesus helped us out by explaining life in His perspicacious parables.

For example: The one about how we are like servants awaiting our master’s return. Here is how it begins:

Gird your loins, and light your lamps, and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. (Luke 12:35-36)

The Lord is urging us to be ready for the Final Reckoning, of course. But there is more.

wedding cakeI had always thought that the master could have been gone for any reason. Gone for a wedding, or gone fishing, or gone to find better football players on another continent, or gone on a weather-balloon ride–whatever. The point is that he is gone, and he could return anytime.

But of course it matters where he is. There are no throw-away lines in the parables of Christ.

The Master has gone to a wedding.

He took our human nature up to heaven. The angels rejoice. God has betrothed the human race to Himself. The Bridegroom stretched out His arms on the cross and won His Bride, and now the heavens are drunk with sober joy. They are dancing and singing the canticle which is too sublime for sound.

When He returns, He will be coming from the heavenly wedding banquet. He will bring the dew of angelic festivity with Him when He comes. He will be wearing the smile of the happy, chaste groom.

III.
A-Rod is OUT OF HIS MIND!!! (Click hot-link, and scroll down to 2009 post-season batting stats.)

ALCS Yankees Angels Baseball

Missionaries

parthenonHere’s a question:

Did the name of the city of Athens come from the name of the goddess Athena?

Or did the goddess’ name come from the name of the city?

Plato reports that the goddess’ name is from the Greek for “God’s knowledge” (Cratylus 407b).

On the other hand, a number of ancient Greek cities worshiped the same goddess. The different cities called her by different names, and her name was always based on the name of the city. In Mycenae she was called Mykene, and in Thebes she was called Thebe…

October 18: WORLD MISSION SUNDAY

God came to earth on a mission. Jesus Christ was the first missionary.

There are lots of missions out there. The U.S. military is on a mission in Afghanistan. Gilbert Arenas is on a mission to get the Wizards back in the playoffs. A wife might send her husband on a mission to the grocery store to get some milk.

arenasBut of all the missions that people can have, there is only one that will bring about eternal results. That is the mission of Jesus Christ, the mission of His Church—our mission.

Today is World Mission Sunday. There are still places in this world where people have never even heard of Jesus Christ. The missionaries who are spreading the Good News rely on our generous contributions. So we have a second collection in order to send the foreign missions some money.

But let’s face it: Today what we really have is two collections for the missions. Every Sunday we have a missionary collection here. Our parish is a mission field. This neighborhood is a place where a lot of people still need to be ransomed.

Continue reading

Punishment May Be Slow, But…

Roman poet Horace

Roman poet Horace

I neglected something very important in my earlier account of the martyrdom of the prophet Zechariah, son of Jehoiada.

(By the way, it is not the same person as the prophet Zechariah who has his own book in the Old Testament, or the priest Zechariah, father of John the Baptist. There are three different Zechariahs in the Scriptures.)

Anyway, I failed to recount Zechariah’s dying words, which he uttered as King Joash’s henchmen were killing him in the Temple:

“May the Lord see and avenge.”

Just in case you don’t remember Horace’s Third Ode word-for-word, allow me to call these lines to mind:

raro antecedentem scelestum
deseruit pede Poena claudo

“Although punishment may walk with a lame foot, she rarely allows the guilty man to run ahead.” (Tip of the hat to Fr. Haydock.)

May God give us the grace to repent of our sins and escape liability for the blood of the prophets! May His mercy allow us to run ahead of the punishment we deserve!

Also: If you missed it last year, click here for a message on the occasion of the Memorial of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.