Friday, May 14, 2010

The CDC of Our Children’s Souls

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth."
~ 1 Corinthians 3:6

As our culture struggles for its soul, the importance of our children’s religious education has only increased. We give an incredibly tough task to those who teach our kids the Faith in parish CCD programs. The kids can be unruly, disruptive, disrespectful, unmotivated, and just plain rude. With little if any immediate results, it makes sense that the metaphor commonly used is one of sowing or planting seeds. You often hear that the best that can be hoped for is to plant the seeds of faith, because it’s better than nothing – right?

But is it OK to settle for just sowing or planting the seeds of the Faith? Given the reality of situation, I think that it is, granted the seeds of faith are sown well. But what if they’re not? What if the seeds were sown poorly? What if the Faith passed on is incomplete or damaged? I would like to put forth an analogy I believe more closely reflects the reality of education in the Faith done poorly. Let’s consider the Faith as if it were a sort of disease with CCD being an attempt to infect the kids.

The goal of evangelization then would really be to “infect” others with the Faith. As with other diseases, some people are more and some are less susceptible to infection. While this type of disease is not as highly contagious as we’d like, the best method of transmission seems to be personal contact with an infected person. With the goal of course being to unleash a great pandemic across the whole earth; “making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus has commanded us.” (Mt 28:19-20)

A vaccination works by introducing a small amount of the disease-causing pathogen in a dead or weaken state, or another substance that resembles it into a person. This small amount of the weakened or counterfeit agent in the body is attacked and destroyed by the body’s natural defenses. As a result, the body makes adjustments in its immune system allowing the disease to be recognized and destroyed if an attempted infection should take place in the future. The person has been immunized against the disease.

So in order to protect against the chickenpox, a small amount of the virus that causes chickenpox is introduced into the body resulting in immunity to the chickenpox in a very high percentage of people.

Now what happens when the seeds of Faith are not planted on well? What happens when what is passed on is “dead”, weak, or counterfeit? Immediately attacked by a culture of “death”, moral relativism, institutional secularism, peer pressure and the students’ concupiscence, an immunity to this “disease” may form. What had started out as an attempt to pass the Faith to our children not only failed in planting the seeds of Faith, but has actually inoculated them against that Faith. Here the CCD acts as the CDC of our children’s souls.

But I've used the CCD only as one example of the problem.  Of course the child’s education does not only take place during CCD. If it does, the child has little chance of being exposed to anything strong enough to result in an infection. The problem we see in CCD classes is a reflection of what currently exists in the home. We parents fail to teach our kids the smallest parts of the Faith and wonder why they aren’t learning anything in CCD. Teachers may hold the child down, but it’s the parents who ultimately responsible for vaccinating the child.

Planting seed is hard work, and they don’t plant themselves. Some are constantly trying to simplify the Faith, or make it more attractive, fun, culturally sensitive, palatable, less offensive, believable, etc. Some of these can be worthy endeavors if done properly and carefully. But they may not necessarily get more seed into better soil; tragically, they may just produce more inoculated kids.

Sure it can be hard, but so can math and we still expect our kids to take it seriously and work at it.  Never has a child accidently learned the Faith, it is up to us as parents to pass it on. And that requires time, effort, intention, and a touch of grace.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blood Money

bloodm From an article by Lifenews:
The premier of the movie "Blood Money," which exposes the abortion industry, has been canceled after the theater was threatened by abortion advocates. Roman Jaquez, an independent film maker and artist produced the documentary -- which contains interviews of whistle-blowing former employees of abortion centers.
They expose the deceitful tactics used by Planned Parenthood to increase its profits without regard to ethical practices.
Sal Munafo and Earl Wallace emailed with news of the cancellation.
"Despite one of the film's showings already having sold out and steady ticket pre-sales, a representative of the Spectrum Theater in Albany informed Roman this past Friday that, after receiving phone calls from pro-abortion interests who threatened to protest and disrupt the showing of the film, it has decided to cancel the premier," they said.
The theater gets some calls from people threatening to protest and it pulls close the shades and calls the showing off?  Interesting ….

On the issue of abortion, you can split people into three groups: Pro-Life, Pro-Choice (death), and those who just don’t care enough to voice an opinion they would possibly have to defend.  Often people think of this third group as undecided, but I don’t think these people are as undecided as they are unmotivated.  I believe most people in this group would agree that abortion is wrong, but are just not motivated enough to actually form an opinion that may force them off the fence.  “I personally believe it’s wrong, but I wouldn’t want to force my opinion onto anyone else.”  A foot in each camp; a head nod to Life and a wink at Death.  The person acknowledges what is right while committing to never act on it.  It seems that the challenge is more to convince these people that something must be done rather than convince them that it’s wrong. 

I think the angle the new movie Blood Money is taking by shining light on Planned Parenthood’s greed, hypocrisy, and intimidation is a great idea.  The enemy is not the poor women having the abortions, the enemy is the one lying to, taking advantage of, and brutalizing those poor women.  It will be interesting to see if it can get some traction.  The movie is supported by Priests for Life, and you can show your own support by visiting the website and signing up..

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A "Truly Terrifying" Persecution of the Church

Today, the BBC reported the following:

"Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from outside enemies, but is born of sin within the Church," the pontiff told reporters on a plane bound for Portugal.

His comments were his most direct response to press questions, and some of his strongest words yet on the abuse scandal, says the BBC's Vatican Correspondent, who is travelling with the Pope.

Benedict said the Church has "a very deep need" to acknowledge that it must do penance for its sins and "accept purification".

However, he added that forgiveness should not be a substitute for justice.
I often hear other's talk about how the media or secular society is blowing the abuse scandal out of proportion.  I've heard that protestants have similar issues with their ministers that you rarely reported on in the media.  Or that public school teachers abuse children at rates equal to, or exceeding, what we see about in the Church without the same level of legal prosecution. 

Both points may be very true, I have no reason not to believe either, but so what?  The fact that any number of the Holy Church's Bishops and priests would do anything like this should shock us all beyond pointing to other's sins to distract us from, or make excuses for, our own. 

When the Pope refers to the situation as "terrifying" and speaks of the Church having "a very deep need" to acknowledge that it must do penance for its sins and "accept purification", we would do well to listen.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A False Understanding of Compassion

SchoenbornCardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the general editor of the Catechism  of the Catholic Church, considered one of the papabili in 2005, and no doubt in position for consideration when Pope Benedict’s predecessor is elected, was quoted in an article written by the British Catholic weekly newspaper, The Tablet.  From that article:

Questioned on the Church’s attitude to homosexuals, the cardinal said: ‘We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships,’ adding: ‘A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous.’

The cardinal also said the Church needed to reconsider its view of re-married divorcees ‘as many people don’t even marry at all any longer’.

The primary thing to consider should not be the sin, but people’s striving to live according to the commandments, he said. Instead of a morality based on duty, we should work towards a morality based on happiness, he continued.

Cardinal Schönborn said clergy had often primarily protected perpetrators of abuse instead of the victims. ‘It was said in the Church that we must be able to forgive, but that was a false understanding of compassion,’ the cardinal insisted.”

Considering the quality of the homosexual relationship, reconsidering the view of re-married divorcees, and working towards a morality based on happiness.  Love and compassion are so important, but they can never trump truth.  It seems that this “false understanding of compassion” is disturbingly widespread.

To God the Glory, to Steven Baldwin … the Money!

donate“In the land of Uz there was a blameless and upright man named  Job, who feared God and avoided evil.” ~ Job 1:1
A new bankruptcy recovery plan has emerged and its creators (Restore Stephen Baldwin) have chosen Stephen Baldwin as its first victim client.  Drawing from the Old Testament Book of Job, the group equates the suffering of poor Job with that of poor Stephen Baldwin. 

Both once incredibly wealthy, and attacked by Satan.  This attack resulted in both being subject to ridicule and slander, and both losing their once great wealth.  Now I don’t see any signs of leprosy or boils on Stephen, but no doubt it’s only a matter of time. 

We’re lead to believe that the resemblance between the two is sooo incredible, that it must follow that God’s will for Job must be that for Stephen – complete financial restoration.  And since Job’s financial restoration came through the people who knew him, it’s time to give God the glory by giving Stephen the money.

Wow.  In a way I feel bad for Stephen Baldwin.  Financial struggles are just as real and tough for celebrities as they are for any of us common folk.  And from everything I’ve read, it seems this was not his idea and that the only involvement he had in it was to give his consent.  But Stephen, baby, did you even ask to see the video or website before it was released?  What did you expect the reaction to be? 

In 2 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul speaks of how he handled his money challenges while working to spread to truth of Christ to the pagans of his time:

“For you know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us. In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat. “ ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10

We are all called to charity, and so I do hope that people who desire to send money “join the movement” and do.  But I think that Stephen’s friends should advise him not to look to the person of Job, but to spend his time looking for a job.  And I hope that unlike Job, Stephen will listen to those friends.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Written on a Wall in the Lübeck Cathedral

Ye call Me Master and obey me not,
Ye call Me Light and see Me not,
Ye call Me Way and walk not,
Ye call Me Life and desire Me not,
Ye call Me wise and follow Me not,
Ye call Me fair and love Me not,
Ye call Me rich and ask Me not,
Ye call Me eternal and seek Me not,
Ye call Me gracious and trust Me not,
Ye call Me noble and serve Me not,
Ye call Me mighty and honor Me not,
Ye call Me just and fear Me not,
If I condemn you, blame me not.
~ Anonymous