Saturday, November 28, 2015

On Being "Old-School"

It’s an obvious fact of life that we Christians live in “the world”. That is, we live in the world as opposed to our true home, eternity in Heaven with God. And so as we live in the world, there are a myriad of different people, ideas and ideologies, cultures and moral codes. Or, as modern secularists (or even some ill-educated Christians, unfortunately) might put it, “there are many different ‘truths’ to be had.” We as Catholic Christians know better than that, of course. We know that truth cannot be subjective. By the very definition of the word “truth”, the act of calling any one truth subjective is a contradiction of epic proportions. A truth, especially THE Truth, is indeed objective. So if truth is objective, then the number of years, centuries, millennia, etc. that go by should have no bearing whatsoever on that truth. That makes sense right? So why is it that so often I constantly have to hear friends, co-workers and others tell me that such-and-such person is too “old school” in his thinking? That the bishops in the Catholic Church are behind the times? As if simply the passage of time itself is what determines if something is true or not? If I’m getting tired of it, then I know many of you are too.

What Is Truth? Christ Before Pilate- Nikolai Ge
Now of course, I’m not talking about every instance of the phrase “old school”. My favorite baseball and basketball teams sometimes wear old school, throwback jerseys. Or some video game or TV show I used to enjoy that makes a comeback in our nostalgic culture can employ a positive connotation for the old school saying. 

What I object to, and find grating, is how ideas such as chastity, temperance, sacrifice, prudence and the like can be dismissed out of hand by so many by negatively referring to these things as “old school”. As if by speaking those two words, the definitions and meaning behind those ideas and virtues become null and void, are not open for discussion, and are to be looked upon as archaic; as things that modern men and women would never dream of doing.

This happens to me often at work, where for instance I hear how a co-worker’s daughter is going out with a boy whose family is “old school” in that they don’t want the two cohabitating before marriage. Or when I was in high school, I had one of my good friends tell me that since I preferred to wait until marriage to have sex, I shouldn’t get my hopes up for finding a girl with similar values. They just don’t do that anymore, he said. “Anymore” implying that, perhaps, at one time people found it moral to abstain from sex before marriage, but such a thing just doesn’t happen anymore… that truth has changed!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Outrage to Violence Should Be Global

It goes without saying a tragedy occurred in France yesterday. They certainly need our prayers as the hashtag making the rounds suggests. But if we're truly outraged, why are only focusing on what the main stream media presents to us? We should also be outraged at the suicide bombings that took place in Lebanon the day before, killing 41 and wounding over 200.

We should also be outraged at the Christians, Yazidis and other peoples that have been systematically massacred in countries like Syria, Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere. Massacres that have been occurring for months, years even, on end now.

Our Lady of the Assumption
Where is the outrage for these innocent people? Where is the option to "support" these peoples in a profile picture? Right now, Facebook has an option to turn your profile picture into the colors of the French flag, in "support" of the French people. It doesn't say to change your picture to "show that you support" France; but somehow they are implying that by simply changing your profile picture on a social media account, you are actually doing something to support the hundreds of people affected by this tragedy.

Sometimes I get the impression that it's simply "trendy" to stand in solidarity with victims or a cause on social media. If we have true outrage, I feel that we should make a big deal out of all these atrocities, and not just focus on one event. There is a bigger picture out there. Let's not only pray for Paris, but for the world at large. We need to pray, and work as well, to stop ISIS and other Islamist extremists so that all this carnage comes to an end. Every act of violence they commit is indeed outrageous.

The affected people of Lebanon, Syria, et. al are just as important as those in France. Their only fault in not being recognized is that they aren't a Western country. Luckily, in modern times, we can give temporal aid to our brothers with the click of a mouse. We can press our elected officials, who might have the power to physically do something, to bring about change. It's hard to do, and it's something I myself should do more, but to effect that change we should do so willingly. Christians should especially take that charge seriously. But I know many people that might have a difficulty in getting monetary aid to a hungry refugee or victim. This reminds me that St. James has a good point on the power of prayer, and how it may be our best bet for helping those affected by this terrorism:
The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. (James 5: 15-18)
Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Barbara, pray for us!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Discussion With Reformed Protestant on the Salvific Nature and Legitimacy of Infant Baptism

About a year or so ago, I got into a discussion with a Reformed Protestant on the subject of infant baptism. This all took place on the combox of a Facebook post which was originally dealing with a documentary on the Church's teaching regarding chastity and homosexuality. As you can see where we pick up this conversation, our Protestant friend (who we will call John) makes many false claims about the Church in succession, causing me to jump in to clarify things.

While at first the dialogue seems to be a bit heated, John and I eventually get into a very nice conversation, and I only wish that it would've continued further. I was also joined in this conversation by two other Catholics, who we will call Tom and Harry. This conversation was actually one of the first times I ever debated and defended my faith on a large scale, and I learned a lot myself as I responded to John's questions and comments. It's my hope that our conversation here (which has been edited only to stay on the relevant topic of infant baptism) will be educative and edifying for other Catholics and Protestants as well.

As usual in these combox discussions, all participants words will be color coded. My words will be in blue, John's words in red, Harry's words in orange, and Tom's words in purple:

Baptism of St. Francis of Assisi- Antonio del Castillo

Monday, November 2, 2015

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Better known as All Souls Day', today we of course remember the holy souls of those who have gone before us and pray that those in Purgatory may be able to enter Heaven. I've always had a devotion to the souls in Purgatory, especially those who may be there from within my family. What better place to celebrate this feast than at St. Odilo's Church in South suburban Chicago. It's fitting, as St. Odilo is the abbot who began All Souls' Day, first in his own abbey, and after his death the feast was extended to the entire Universal Church.

Below are some pictures of the Requiem Mass:

Father delivered an excellent homily on how it's OK to be sad that are loved ones are gone; that's why his vestments are black today. But our tears of sorrow can turn to tears of joy because we know that our loved ones aren't dead! The rest of the world may think these people are dead, but we as Catholics know better as we believe in the resurrection. It was great to hear him speak about how important it is to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

The schola was spot on too, such lovely music and chant we were able to hear today. I can't remember if I was able to hear this last year, as it is an option, but the schola sang the Sequence for the day, Dies Irae, and it was absolutely beautiful to hear and follow along with the English translation in my missal. You can read it below:

The day of wrath, that day
Will dissolve the world in ashes
As foretold by David and the Sibyl!

How much tremor there will be,
when the Judge will come,
investigating everything strictly!

The trumpet, scattering a wondrous sound
through the regions of sepulchres,
will summon all before the Throne.

Death and nature will marvel,
when the creature arises,
to respond to the Judge.

The written book will be brought forth,
in which all is contained,
from which the world shall be judged.

When therefore the Judge will sit,
whatever hides will appear:
nothing will remain unpunished.

What am I, miserable, then to say?
Which patron to ask,
when [even] the just may [only] hardly be sure?

King of tremendous majesty,
Who freely savest those that have to be saved,
save me, Source of mercy.

Remember, merciful Jesus,
That I am the cause of Thy way:
Lest Thou lose me in that day.

Seeking me, Thou sattest tired:
Thou redeemedst [me] having suffered the Cross:
let not so much hardship be lost.

Just Judge of revenge,
give the gift of remission
before the day of reckoning.

I sigh, like the guilty one:
my face reddens in guilt:
Spare the supplicating one, God.

Thou who absolvedst Mary,
and heardest the Robber,
gavest hope to me, too.

My prayers are not worthy:
however, Thou, Good [Lord], do good,
lest I be burned up by eternal fire.

Grant me a place among the sheep,
and take me out from among the goats,
setting me on the right side.

Once the cursed have been rebuked,
sentenced to acrid flames:
Call Thou me with the blessed.

I meekly and humbly pray,
[my] heart is as crushed as the ashes:
perform the healing of mine end.

Tearful will be that day,
on which from the ash arises
the guilty man who is to be judged.
Spare him therefore, God.

Merciful Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. Amen.

It was truly wonderful to be present for this beautiful Mass and to go back to my old parish once again. I have to say, I have been very blessed with great homilists and reverent priests, and my current parish is no different. The pastor has just reintroduced the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei in Latin during the Mass I attend on Sunday mornings. It's great to know that all of our Church's beautiful traditions have not been cast aside, and are still living on even today. Our Church has so many rich treasures, and I'm glad I'm still able to experience them wherever I may go.