The Corrupt Generation

After Jesus rose from the dead, He filled St. Peter and the other Apostles with courage. Then they declared to the world the resurrection and the triumph of Jesus. Some who heard the news, and believed it, asked them: “What must we do, then?”

Card Newman
John Henry Newman

St. Peter answered: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation…Repent and be baptized in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Now, what exactly does this mean? Should we translate it loosely as, “Run for your lives!” Maybe not exactly.

Is this particular generation more corrupt than any other? We might wince at the thought of the things they did at Woodstock, or during the reign of the Roman Emperor Caligula. But all of human history bears witness to the deeper meaning of this phrase, “corrupt generation.”

The corrupt generation is: Us. Mankind as a whole, the entire kit and caboodle; lock, stock, and barrel. The late, great Cardinal Newman put it like this:

We must each become a new creature; love, fear, and obey God; be just, honest, meek, pure in heart, forgiving, heavenly-minded, self-denying, humble, and resigned. Yes, man is confessedly weak and corrupt. But the Bible enjoins us strictly to be religious and unearthly.

Christ, risen from the grave, can make us serious. Serious about eternal life—the life He Himself now lives. He pours that life out upon us, through His manifold gifts. Jesus can make us holy. Then maybe we can eat a couple pieces of Easter candy and have some wholesome, uncorrupted fun.

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Plowing Through A Thousand Difficulties

No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)

Faith doesn’t swerve. Faith reaches the most solid ground, God. We believe; we don’t let go; we don’t fudge, hedge bets, go by halves. To believe in God and in His Christ is to invest everything, our souls, in His truth.

John Henry Newman
Indeed, for us to know anything = knowing a tiny part of what God knows. When we wrap our minds around anything at all, we do it with the God in Whom we believe.

Believing means that every act of our minds co-operates with God; nothing ever happens in there without Him. All knowledge, even if it is something after which we have striven with great effort—all of it is ultimately His gift. For us to doubt Him would be like the 10th floor of a building getting the idea that there is no such thing as a 9th floor, or a 1st-8th floor, or an earth.

Does this mean, though, that the intellectual life of a Christian flows smooth all the time, like melted butter in a little ramekin for dipping your lobster-meat? Not exactly.

When the Lord Jesus prohibited in the strongest terms any defection from faith, He did not simultaneously promise that we would always understand everything. Quite the contrary. He said: “The wind blows where it wills. You hear the sound, but you know not where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Faith in God comes as a gift from God. Easiness sometimes comes with it. Often it does not.

When John Henry Newman entered the Catholic Church after decades of inquiry, he did not understand all the Church’s doctrines. In fact, Newman struggled with the most basic doctrines about God’s existence. But he never doubted. As he wrote, “a thousand difficulties do not equal one doubt.”

Newman believed based on the authority of the One in Whom He believed, as we do. Understanding comes as it comes. Again, to quote the great Cardinal:

A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem…, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a certain particular answer is the true one.

On the hard days—on the days when we find ourselves annoyed that we cannot work out the problem—we keep our hands on the plow anyway. We are not dealing with an equal or lesser intelligence, after all; we are dealing with the mountain upon which the little fern of my own mind is growing. Tomorrow is another day. And tomorrow, like today, belongs to the one, true God.

Superstitious?

Leave it to LeBron to talk like he has a ring on his finger, when, in fact, the Heat must still face two teams from Central Time. May the the MVP and Co. stuff King James in a four-game sweep. Then LeBron can sit and watch the Finals with Kobe and their respective hand-puppets…

…Our Holy Father started a new series of catecheses on prayer last Wednesday, and continued it the day before yesterday. Don’t miss.

Here is a good part–about the universality of prayer throughout history, and of kneeling in prayer:

“Digital” man and the caveman alike seek in religious experience the ways to overcome his finitude and to ensure his precarious earthly adventure…In the dynamic of this relationship with the One who gives meaning to existence, with God, prayer has one of its typical expressions in the gesture of kneeling…The posture of kneeling at prayer expresses this acknowledgment of our need and our openness to God’s gift of himself in a mysterious encounter of friendship.

…Thirty years ago today, somebody shot the blessed pope.

Ten years ago, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick laid hands on a tall, kneeling goofball, after the goofball promised to serve the holy altar for life. Happy Friday the 13th!

…If a Jesuit named Conroy has to be the chaplain of the US Congress, I wish it could have been Father Jim Conroy.

…How about if we discuss A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain?

Continue reading “Superstitious?”