Thursday, September 30, 2004

Uh oh, it's that "Dignity" word

Our company just informed us that we will be receiving MANDATORY "Dignity and Respect in the Company" training. The word "diversity" showed up in the same sentence.

I'm not looking forward to this. Our participation is required and monitored. I bet we have to sign something.

As a Catholic Christian, I must and strive to respect and love all my brothers and sisters because Jesus died to free all of us from sin, and to open the gates of Heaven to all. But I'm guessing that I will be required to "celebrate" diverse lifestyles that I cannot approve of.

I've already refused to participate in United Way contributions because they support abortion providers in many states and women's shelters who refer women to abortion providers in my state in particular. That's only garnered mild disappointment from the boss, who got leaned on for full staff participation.

Probably borrowing trouble, but...... anybody had any experience with this in their jobs?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Letting our voices be heard

Maybe it's a contagious disease I've gotten from the blog world, but I am writing more emails in protest to companies for their support of abortion, or promoting the radical gay agenda, or hosting stupid radio shows that encourage sex acts in Catholic cathedrals. Sometimes I worry that I'm a crank, and sometimes I feel like a useful squeaking wheel.

I picked up the fact that Barack Obama, the keynote speaker of the Democratic convention, who is running for Senate in my home state of Illinois, has been invited to speak at "Catholic" Benedictine University in suburban Lisle, Illinois. I found the "contact us" location on their website and fired off this, hopefully polite, note:

I am horrified to hear that you have invited pro-abort, pro-gay-marriage Barack Obama to speak at your Catholic university. Please don't expect me to believe that you are inviting him in the interests of "hearing from the candidates," or you would be inviting Alan Keyes as well.

I am happy to know that, little by little, "Catholic" schools who ignore Church teachings are being revealed by their actions, making it easy to know where to place our children and our support.

Please reconsider this invitation, at least extending the invitation to BOTH candidates for the Senate.

NOTE: Alan Keyes, the Republican candidate, was a last minute jump-in after the prior candidate resigned over embarassing revelations about his first marriage. Alan has been stepping on his tongue a lot, but speaking with passion and courage about the hard moral issues facing Illinois and the nation. He's being ignored and vilified in the state, and I feel sorry for him.

I hope all of us are making complaints, making our voices heard. Even telling our friends our positions, sometimes the hardest challenge of all. So much easier to be silent.......

Friday, September 17, 2004

Giving and receiving and Love

Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body is an amazing work. I'm currently reading Christopher West's exposition and commentary titled The Theology of the Body Explained. I am wowed and inspired on almost every page.

Today, this grabs me about the nuptial nature of our relationship with God.
This is the language of the nuptial embrace: "I give myself totally to you, all that I am without reservation. Sincerely. Freely. Forever. And I receive the gift of yourself that you give to me. I bless you. I affirm you. All that you are, without reservation. Forever." This is an experience of being chosen by eternal Love.

He's talking about sexual union in marriage. And a person's union with God. The free giving and receiving without fear, without restriction, full of love -- and Love.

I refuse to let my mind get away with reducing this to metaphor. If I don't experience this as characteristic of my relationship with God, then there's more for me. It's not aspirational -- it's descriptive, both of marriage and of Marriage. Between a husband and wife, between Christ and his Bride.

I want it. God, please take me seriously about this. Fix what needs fixing, change what needs changing, but please don't let me settle for a mere shadow of what's possible.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Prayer needed to avoid ham-handed evangelization

Most times, an opportunity for evangelism to non-Catholics surprises you. But I just got handed one that won't happen until Saturday. Suggestions and prayer needed to keep me on the right track....

A cousin is being married on Saturday. She and her fiance are Catholic, but when the Catholic Church they approached for the marriage asked them to participate in a Catholic life and to join the parish, they took that as an insult and flounced off to be married in a Baptist church instead. They are lovely young people and I am sad that they won't at this time be a part of the parish in question, a dynamic, growing, devout one.

They decided, because it's someone's favorite piece, to have Ave Maria played during their lighting of the "Unity Candle." Today, three days before the wedding, the organist refused to play it out of religious discomfort, although the pastor had (oddly, I think) consented. The couple has turned to my brother and me, who will play and sing it during the service.

I looked around the Internet and found a relatively succinct defense specifically aimed at Baptists about Catholic teaching on Mary and printed it out. Made two copies, in case the organist AND the pastor want one. I'm going to pray and be as charming as I can possibly be without ticking off the musician who will be playing my cousin's wedding music, and offer to clear up any misconceptions he has about Catholic belief. Yeesh.

If you told me three years ago that I'd prepare for a musical performance by handing out tracts to defend my faith, I'd have offered to be your designated driver.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, pray for me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Tremendous surprises

Today is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross; you can nod your thanks in its direction or get lost in the depths of its wonderfulness. Let's choose the latter. Jesus chose the cross at his Father's request, and we are the beneficiaries. We were separated irrevocably from God by the folly of our own choices with no way to bridge the gap. Jesus became the bridge. Jesus didn't just talk about mercy; through Him God showed mercy, he rained down mercy, he became mercy.

I have a friend, a Jehovah's Witness, who is confused about many aspects of orthodox Christian belief, but who has an especially difficult time with the fact that the cross is so significant a Christian symbol. Why, she asks, would you give such prominence to the instrument of torture that put Jesus to death?

I've never been completely satisfied with the answers I've given her. Today, I read this as part of my morning prayer and thought of her:
The cross, instrument of torture and death, raised aloft as a sign of glory, continues to confound the wisdom of this world. God's work of salvation stands human expectations on their head: humility is exaltation, wounds are healing, death is life.

This is the economy of God. In the middle of death, decay, winter, discouragement, politics, disgrace, scandal and sin, all the promises of God find their Yes in Christ (cf. 2Cor 1). In the midst of death, we are in life. We do not hope in princes, armies, wealth, talents, good fortune, intelligence, savvy or interpersonal skills. We place our hope in the Lord our God, who not only can bring glorious life out of nothing, but has done it and continues to do it for our sake and His glory.

How can you help loving Someone like that?

Monday, September 13, 2004

A parenthetical note

All I can say is "wow". A secular film reviewer has changed his opinion of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ in a big way. Click here to read. (Kudos to Robert of Santficarnos for picking this up.)

By the way, thank you Therese for giving me a copy of the DVD. I have it with me on this trip.

Update: The film reviewer, Michael Coren, discusses his recent return to the Catholic Church after 10 years as a heartfelt and orthodox evangelical Protestant. I must say, I'm surprised to find such worthwhile reading in the Toronto Sun. Way to go, O Canada.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Aching for the pain of others

I have a dear friend who is going through hard times. They have been difficult for, literally, years. She knows and loves God, and these challenges are deepening and strengthening her, but the bottom keeps falling out of the little pieces of hope that come up.

I am baffled at what God's purposes might be in such a prolonged time of discouragement and difficulty. Every once in a while, I realize that I can't know what God's purposes are (though we are often blessed by glimpses of how all things work for the good for those who love God). I would probably not appreciate His purposes if I knew them.

But what I want is to be able to comfort and encourage my friend. I grasp at earthly encouragements -- things have to turn around soon, thank God your children are so wonderful, I'm with you if you need me -- when it is the Holy Spirit's encouragements that will truly strengthen her. He is the Comforter, the Consoler, the One in whom is all God's love and care, and who lives inside her, never to leave.

Oh God, help me say the things that will help her to see your face, not just my good will and friendship. Less of me, more of You.


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"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009