Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Review: Abbess of Andalusia

The Abbess of Andalusia: Flannery O'Connor's Spiritual Journey The Abbess of Andalusia: Flannery O'Connor's Spiritual Journey by Lorraine V Murray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book immensely. It has really encouraged me to read more of Miss O'Connor's work.

There were some unfortunate editorial gaffs in the book which surprised me: A sentence repeated twice on the same page, a couple of other sentences which, try as I might, I couldn't make sense from.

There was also what seemed to be a spell-check error (a correctly spelled word that should have been another word entirely), although it may have been a local term I was not familiar with. There is some dialectic use of language in the book.

I also thought there was a bit of preachiness in the presentation of Miss O'Connor's Catholicism. That may simply be that as a Catholic myself, I saw on my own what was being pointed out by the author.

Still, this did not take away from the fascinating personality and life of Flannery O'Connor. I recommend this book.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Faith and Reason

I've been doing a bit of surfing while I've been ill and I've noticed that those who believe faith incompatible with reason frequently seem to be operating with neither.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Charity and Love

Hi Folks

Those who have not yet gone to Mass please say a prayer for me?  I missed Mass today as I am sick.  Yuck.

I did a little research recently and confirmed that the words "charity" and "love" come from the same Latin root word "caritas".

I clarify that word 'love' in this case would also be translated in Greek 'agape' to distinguish it from filial love or erotic love.

Agape love, caritas, is the sort of love that is unconditional.  It's a general sort of love that can be directed to people you don't know.  Caritas fuels charity.

I remember from my youth, an episode of "The Waltons" on the TV where Ma Walton (I'm pretty sure it was her) said that they wouldn't  accept charity.  Times were hard, and they were hurting.  There were people who wanted to help.

I've been thinking of this and wondering if refusing charity is also refusing love? 

Pope Benedict's book "Deus Caritas Est " means "God is Love".  That is certainly not an unknown phrase.

Why would one refuse charity, if one was truly in need?  Is it pride?   By refusing appropriate charity, one is refusing someone the opportunity to show love...the spirit of charity.

God is Love...Caritas.  This phrase has been abused to the point of being meaningless.  So often it seems to be the license to be politically correct.  We refuse to call sin what it is (sin) for fear of offending someone.

How loving is it, really, to see one who may well be on the road to Hell, but not to counsel them of the risk they're taking? 

But we're not to judge, right?  Yep.  Right.  We are not to judge.  We are not to tell someone they ARE going to Hell.  It is absolutely not our place, but God's place to judge.

Confirmed Catholics, are commanded to admonish the sinner!  That one seems to get forgotten.  We are SUPPOSED to call sin, sin.  Are we perfect?  Not likely, but no one ever made that a requirement for performing the Works of Mercy!

As we admonish, we must be very aware that people who love us will admonish us from time to time, as well.

That is a charitable act of a loving person!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Keeping Christ in Christmas

Hi Folks!

Happy Ordinary Time!

Now that the Christmas Season is over, I have time to think a bit more about it.

A priest friend of mine related a story that happened to him one Advent. Shortly before Christmas Eve, he received a call from an older woman, asking if he celebrated Midnight Mass. He said he did not, but celebrated an earlier Mass, as a nearby parish celebrated Midnight Mass.

She told him that she was an old-fashioned Catholic, and really thought that Midnight Mass should be celebrated everywhere.

He asked her where she regularly attended Mass, and she replied that she didn't regularly attend Mass.

Uh-huh. So just how does she call herself an "old-fashioned" Catholic, when attending Sunday Mass is one of the basics?

This made me think of the catchy phrase "Keep Christ in Christmas", which I believe is promoted by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization I greatly admire.

I think that in the struggle to recognize Christ as "The Reason for the Season" as another phrase goes, some fall into the trap of ONLY keeping Christ in Christmas, and at no other time of the year...except maybe Easter.

This is not a sustainable relationship with Christ or His Church.

To be Christians, we must not only recognize that Christ we do at Christmas when we envision the Manger and listen to readings from Luke's gospel, but we must remember that He will also come again at the end of time (parousia).

Will He recognize those who think they know Him? Do 'they' really know Him, when they do not regularly recieve Him, in the Word, or in the Flesh?

Reading Scripture on ones own, while an admirable practice,  does not suffice. We need to also read Scripture through the lense of the Church. As it says in Acts 8:31; "How can I understand if no one explains it to me?"

To read scripture only through ones own interpretation, or through another person's interpretation leads to the embarassment which all Christians should feel at the disunity of Christian denominations.

So where do we find Christ, if not only in Christmas?  In the hearts of believing Christians.  In the Word (Holy Scripture). In the Eucharist, where we have Christ; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  And finally in the validly ordained Priest or Bishop when he celebrates the Mass where Christ comes to us in the Eucharist.

The Church Jesus founded becomes Him.  He remains at the head of the Church.  If you doubt this, remember the words spoken by Christ to Saul, on the road to Damascus "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"  Saul, later to become St. Paul, was not persecuting Christ, to all appearances.  He was persecuting Christians.  Christ in His question to Saul, verified that we are Christ's Church, and therefore part of Himself.

Keep Christ in Christmas...but don't leave him there!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Where two or three are gathered...

Merry Christmas!

I would just like to point out a little feature of my blog which you may not have noticed.

On the right hand side, about 4 inches down, there is a 'follow' button. If you are a visitor to my blog and like what you read, you may opt to follow it, by clicking on the button and following the instructions.

It would be lovely to have you!

God Bless

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Merry Christmas?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Yes, it is still Christmas. According to the Catholic liturgical calendar, Christmas does not actually end until the Baptism of the Lord, which this year falls on January 10th, in Canada anyway.

I have been pondering the phrase "Merry Christmas". It really surprises me that this is the default Christmas greeting. It seems that every year there is some disaster or other that ensures that Christmas will be difficult for a lot of people.

I'm sure each and every one of us knows someone who is having a rough time during this season.

I can think of at least a couple of Christmas tunes that make reference to mixed feelings for the Christmastide...'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas', 'I'll be home for Christmas'...'Blue Christmas'...that one from the movie Polar Express for which I cannot figure out a title...

The Movie "A Christmas Carol" had a very nice ending, but the situations that were portrayed were very likely someone's reality. At that point in England, they were probably many people's reality.

And the reason for the season?

Our Saviour began His earthly life born in a manger...a rack for animal food! This after a long, forced trip for His pregnant mother. They were far from their home, and living in a stable! Were this anything but the entrance of eternity into time, I think this could be classed as a rather inconvenient set-up to say the least. Not really a merry picture.

The pictures we are given as an example of a merry Christmas usually include snow, candles, fireplaces, wrapped gifts in abundance, groups of people enjoying each other's company...

Why is this considered the norm? It occurred to me, as I watched an old cartoon of a very jolly Santa Claus providing a profuse number of toys to a house that contained many more than three children, that this was almost cruel, especially given that the cartoon dated from the early 1930s. That would be during the Depression, no?

Whence the merriment?

We should all be joyous when we think of Christmas. This is when Christ came to humanity. Emmanuel means "God with Us".

Did joy somehow become confused with merriment? I do not see anything wrong with being merry at Christmas, if we can manage it. I do think that joy and thankfulness should be what we strive for first.