Friday, June 29, 2007

Et cum spiritu too cool

The Pope announced a Motu Proprio, an "on his own volition," meaning that he made a decision that will affect the whole Church, but is not an infallible pronouncement. He is asking that there be greater exposure and use of the Tridentine Mass, the form of the Mass used for centuries.

The press has been handling (or mishandling) the announcement over the last few days. This has a been a hot topic of discussion in the Catholic blogworld for a couple of years. I was interested but not surprised to find a negative reaction from a Jewish group. Sadly, I was also not too surprised to find push-back from some bishops, who think their flock have brains like...well, sheep.

There will be many thoughtless, uninformed Catholics who will describe it as "the priest mumbling in a language nobody knows, with his back turned away from the people, and old ladies praying their rosaries in the pews" and there will be a smaller, but more fervent group who will welcome this development TOO happily, perhaps disgusted by the fooling-around of some priests with the ancient and sacramental language, the "theme" Masses, etc.

I am pleased, for several reasons:

1. Nostalgia. I am old enough to remember the Tridentine Mass, and the mystery and the awe of that Mass penetrated my little grade-school brain. We knew we were doing something way greater than we were. I went to a Tridentine Mass in Chicago last year, and it grabbed me by sight and sound and smell and sound, pushing me back into the childlike wonder about the love of Jesus for me that I felt when I made my First Communion 15,000 years ago.

2. Universality. I've not yet had the experience of attending Mass in a foreign country, in their own language. I asked a priest what one does in that situation, thinking that the right answer is to use your own language very quietly, praying the same prayers. He said no, that you should try and use their language, so that you are praying in union. In a Latin Mass, no problem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. You can read the daily Scripture readings in your own missal, and pray for the priest while he delivers a homily you don't understand.

3. Challenge. The Latin texts are much closer to the original Scripture AND the original earliest prayers of the Church. We are a highly-educated people, and human nature rises to a challenge anyway, and a little learning or re-learning of the prayers and responses will make us more aware of what we're praying. If our attitude if right, anyway.

4. More Latin in the Novus Ordo, which is actually in Latin in the first place! If we could more of the Liturgy of the Eucharist in Latin, I think it would accomplish the first three items, bringing us back in better touch with history, being more united in prayer at Mass elsewhere in the world, challenged to think about the words we pray.

Sadly, my parish will probably not be where the Tridentine rite is celebrated, because our "liturgical east" altar, the back altar, was disassembled decades ago, and we only have a front altar. (Yes, you have to play Hunt the Tabernacle at my parish, although it's an easy find, in a side chapel.) Our priests will not be able to face, not away from the people, but in the same direction as the people.

The arguments will go on. Good, maybe it means that more people are startled into caring. I just want to say that THIS is beautiful!

Neat links:

Guide for the altar boys' prayers in Latin, with audio. I used to watch the altar boys praying their part along with the priest; deeply impressive.

Badly formatted, but useful: side-by-side English-Latin guides to the Novus Ordo and the Tridentine Masses.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Not a minister, but I play one at funerals....

It is a chilly thought when a family is so completely out of touch with the life of faith that they can't scare up a minister of any sort to lead a funeral service.

My dear childhood friend lost her mother yesterday, and her dad a year ago. I am reminded that it was not my generation who began openly kicking church-going life to the curb, it started long before, back to our parents, the "greatest generation," the WWII generation.

In this group, the family is so disconnected with church in all three living generations that *I've* been tapped to lead a prayer service at the memorial this week. I did the same last year for the dad.

I'm honored to be asked, but I know it's because I'm the only religious person they know!

Anyway, prayers for all those people who are so unchurched, so adrift (and whose lives and worldview reflect it in many ways), and here's the service I put together, for your critique:

Friend and Husband honored me with their request to lead us in prayer, as we remember Friend's Mom today. Let us begin in the memory of our Baptism, In the Name of the Father.....

The prayers we've known since childhood "light up" in different spots when we say them in unity at times of sadness and joy. Listen to the words as we say them together, to know where our treasure lies, and to where we commend the soul of Friend's Mom: Our Father, Who Art in Heaven.....

I read this Psalm at Friend's Dad's service last year, and Friend's Mom was sitting right in that seat. We've been given another year with her but we come together to listen to this comfort from Scripture: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.....

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
And may perpetual light shine upon her.
May her soul, and the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, Amen.

(Is it ironic to pray for a woman who forced her teen-aged daughter into a late-term abortion, professed to scorn the church as money-making, hypnotizing nonsense, and whose very nice children think religion is an archaic hobby that helps insecure people feel better? I have grave concerns about her immortal soul, but have to trust in the Mercy of God. I feel sorry for clergy who say these words over and over to waves of unbelieving but superstitious faces.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

And he's generous, too

Update on my previous St. Anthony post:

About 20 minutes after I posted about The Saint, my dear husband found his digital camera that had been missing for about 9 months.

Coincidence? I don't think so, myself.

Thanks, St. Anthony. That was really nice of you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

He isn't trite after all

I probably learned about St. Anthony of Padua before I knew how to say the Hail Mary. I have lost things since I first could grasp them, and my sweet grandmother, with her folksy trust in the saints, taught me to ask St. Anthony for help finding lost objects. To this day, I am amazed at the concrete assistance I get. (My late husband, confirmed Evangelical Protestant that he was, made friends with St. Anthony as with a buddy in the trenches. He lost things, too. A lot.)

But that's all I've known until, in the throes of planning an upcoming trip to Italy, I came across Padua and more about "The Saint," as he has been known in his home town since the day of his death. What a remarkable soul!

The thing that strikes me is how homey his miracles are. A barrel of wine runs dry because his companion's cup breaks as he's trying to fill it -- but the saint's prayers result in a repaired cup and full cask. One day, as he's preaching to crowds as storms threaten, he miraculously preserves them from the rain. These are the actions of an abundantly generous God, reminiscent of the wedding at Cana.

But St. Anthony is primarily revered as an inspired preacher whose words resulted in the conversion and reconciliation of thousands and who so inspired the Pope that he was canonized within a year of his death. In 1231, he preached a series of sermons during Lent, primarily directed against hatred and enmity. The crowds, often numbering close to 30,000 responded in tremendous depth as they reconciled relationships, forgave debts, and flooded the available priests with requests for confessions. (Patron of the lost -- souls, that is.)

Contrary to our expectations that heroic sanctity, like an Old Testament prophet, is not recognized in one's home town, when St. Anthony died (at the tender age of 36), children ran through the streets weeping as the entire region mourned his loss.

And to think I only gave him a thought when my car keys were missing. Sorry, St. Anthony. It's good to know you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Even driving....

Never make a decision without stopping to consider the matter in the presence of God.

St. Josemaria Escriva

THAT's a good idea, isn't it? Eating, or overeating. Gossiping, or telling a secret. Criticizing, or withholding praise.

Now we have the Vatican's "commandments of driving!"

(Picture Hat tip to The Curt Jester, one of the funnier guys on the Internet. He adds a hilarious list of his own.)

These really were issued by the Vatican just recently:

1. You shall not kill.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
4. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
5. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
6. Support the families of accident victims.
7. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
10. Feel responsible toward others.

I'm sure these will be made fun of ("doesn't the Vatican have anything better to do with their time?") but they are thoughtful and cover the sins against humility, gentleness, temperance, prudence, charity.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Would there be enough evidence against you?

That's line #2. Line #1 is "If they came to arrest you for being Christian..."

I love this little section of today's first Mass reading 2 Corinthians 6:12ff:

We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful;
as unrecognized and yet acknowledged;
as dying and behold we live;
as chastised and yet not put to death;
as sorrowful yet always rejoicing;
as poor yet enriching many;
as having nothing and yet possessing all things.

I cannot think of a better epitaph. To be misunderstood by the world by living for Christ. Better still, I guess, would be to have the humility to desire that this NOT be my public epitaph, to be recognized and/or admired for living through this friction with the world, but to die without regard, to hear "Well done, my good and faithful servant" only in God's voice.

Friday, June 15, 2007

No luck in the Bible

The concept of "luck" or "chance" is mentioned very rarely in the Bible. In the RSV, I find only
Do not reveal your thoughts to every one, lest you drive away your good luck (Sir 8:19)

I tried looking up good fortune and surprise and fate only found uses that don't mean

1. The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; fortune
2. Good fortune or prosperity; success
3. One's personal fate or lot

If you google "make your own luck" you will find lots of validation that you can make your own luck, find the things you need, meet the people you want, arrive at the place you can prosper. Some point to preparedness and planning; others veer off into occult practice.

I have long been "lucky" in two superficial aspects of life: I can always get a great parking space, and I tend to do well at games of chance, especially when I don't care (which means without any real money on the line - think "Las Vegas Night").

And I delighted in the concept of serendipity, when I would run across an old friend when I made a wrong turn, or found a book I've hunted for years when I went into an old store to please a traveling companion.

Well, it's probably abundantly clear to all you better-Christians-than-me out there, but it truly didn't occur to me until the last few years that there is no luck, there is only blessing. Even when I truly understood that my joy is in Jesus Christ alone, I still drew a line above a certain amount of luck: how could God be concerned with my strategy for Yahtzee?

It's sinking in, that God loves me so much, and is so close to me, that He puts His Father's hand into my life and directs it gently for my good. To that end, as a witness, I'm trying to unlearn the phrase "What luck!" and replace it with "What a blessing!"

On a side note, what's your luck/blessing? I can find a parking place in front of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Memorial Day....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Feast of St. Tuesday

By 7 am today, I received all the beauty I would need for the rest of this otherwise humdrum Tuesday.

Morning Mass. Early morning Mass. Still cool out. Today's celebrant always says Mass reverently and joy just streams out of him. The green vestment of Ordinary Time is still refreshing, after the white of the Easter Season.

My turn to lector and when I turned to read 1 Cor:18-22 and Psalm 119, I was surprised at the number of newbies in church. One known seminarian, back for the summer, another, unfamiliar guy, who had that seminarian vibe coming from him, many more commuter-dressed guys than usual for summer vacation season, more of everybody, it seems, even more of the ones in the back who don't go to Communion (no, we're not staring at you, we just notice you like we notice any neighbor!).

The special intention of the Mass was someone's 25th anniversary, rather than the usual "repose of the soul of." There was a little ripple of recognition, that smiled breath and rustle.

The sun gleamed on the candlesticks and the chalice and we on the "Mary side" of church squinted when we turned into the low morning sun towards those on the "Joseph side," to offer the sign of peace (at this hour, spread out as we are, it's more the "nod and smile of peace").

Consecration, all eyes meet by meeting on the Body of Christ held high. Long Communion line, people's feet are very quiet, all serenely bow or genuflect, loving Jesus with one mind. Thanksgiving in silence, bird-chirping silence (tiresome cicadas don't get revved up until later in the morning).

After Mass, Father processed down the main aisle. When we joined him on the sidewalk, there was the couple whose anniversary we prayed for God to bless, and Father was praying over them, laying on hands. We all formed a rough circle of admiration and intercession and said "Amen" together. Here we are in suburbia, priest in vestments, people of all ages and types, worn missals and briefcases or track suits, paused again with one mind. For once I forgot to take a cautionary look around at the dog-walkers and commuters to see who was staring or glaring or smiling.

We were in a fully-Christian-world moment.

The talk after the blessing was congratulations and talk about trips and vacations and the usual golfing group made their pastel-polo-shirted way towards their cars, some walked by shyly and silently, some hurried to catch their train.

This is what life is, should be. Adoration, community, blessing, going forth into the world.

Ite, missa est!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Spousehunting redux

A bit ago, I laid on you my tips for what to look for in a husband. On the lighter side, over at In Dwelling I've posted some hints for how to tell you should leave that guy for someone else to marry.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Martyrdom by pinpricks

As some of you may know, I have been crutching around with a broken foot for a week or so. This is on top of two or three very busy weeks of travel, out-of-town guests, a high-school graduation and accompanying open house, etc.

It's been trying.

I really thought I was more resilient than this. I certainly thought my spiritual and emotional maturity would make mincemeat of a little minor incident like being laid up and subject to minor discomforts for a short period of time.

I was wrong. I don't know whether I've been unduly grumpy or irritable (you'll have to ask Henry), but I've been whining in my heart. I'm sore, I can't get from one end of the house to the other without it taking sooooo long, my posterior parts hurt from sitting so much, my leg is hot, I'm running out of yarn to knit, I feel guilty that Dear Husband is doing all the clean-up and laundry, etc. etc. In short, I'm a bit of an interior pain in the neck.

I am, however, learning things. I'm learning that I should start for the bathroom the minute it crosses my mind that it might be a good idea. I'm learning that the people in my life are sincerely sorry for my misfortune and are caring enough to do anything they can to make the situation better. I'm learning that there's a lot to be said for taking the time to pet the cat. I'm learning that it's not a waste of time to do what you can with the time, not what you wish you were able to do. And, I've learned that graduation parties are never attended by as many as you think you ought to cook for.

OK, I'm done now. (selfcenteredgrumbling = off)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Chicken going up

I got in the elevator at work with one other person, who pushed 9. I work on 7, but in a moment of absent-mindedness, I pushed 3. Can't unpush the button, so instead of apologizing and pushing 7, therefore making my elevator partner spend TWO floors of stops thinking I'm an idiot, I got off on 3 and rang for the next elevator. If there had been five or six people on the elevator, I probably would have faded back and let 3 come and go, stepped forward and confidently pushed 7.

Look, there's Elevator etiquette that mentions this dilemma!

I didn't want even the slightest moment of discomfort, feeling stupid, like this was going to ruin her day or mine. So to get away from my innocent blunder and the tiny fall from pride, I wasted my time, cosseting my pride, standing there on the third floor, waiting for another elevator. Dear Father, let me train myself in the humility of these little things, so I might be ready for the greater You wish to give me!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Art of Successful Spouse-Seeking

Among the greatest privileges given me from time to time is to be invited by one of my children to offer advice or guidance. (For any of you tempted to envy, I should hasten to add that this opportunity doesn't generally arise until the children have moved beyond adolescence.)

Well, I got the Mt. Everest of such requests the other day. I've been waiting my whole life for this one. My daughter asked me for my list of things to look for in a husband. She's aware that I've had more than the usual success, since I was very happily married to her father until his death several years ago and now have the excellent fortune to be approaching a first wedding anniversary with my very dear Henry. I guess she figures I must be doing something right.

As most self-respecting blogsters will report, about halfway through my e-mail to her, I thought to myself "This is so on the blog." So here you are, dear readers. It's what I looked for and found. Some of it will be particular to me and my style, but perhaps it will generate ideas for you and yours.

What I Looked For in a Potential Husband

I have "Admission Ticket" items. If I don't get satisfactory answers to my questions on these issues, there are no more dates.
  • Solid Christian. It has a high level of importance in his life.

  • Excellent character; reliable, honest, can make the tough decisions, yet thoughtful and gentle

  • Employed at a level (or with a trajectory) that could provide for the family if the wife stayed home to rear a family.

  • No debilitating psychological issues or such a trashed upbringing that it seems likely to hamper being able to be a full partner in an excellent marriage.
Then there's the second level -- what I need to find in order to have confidence that the kind of relationship I want can develop. The first 2 are the "Big Two", in my view.
  • Does he have the capacity to love and be loved at a deep level? Will he value that opportunity? Does it seem that, if we married, he would place a high level of importance on building and sustaining the relationship?

  • Does he have the capability of communicating about how we communicate? When we talk about things with a lot of "emotional content", is he able both to pay attention to how he feels as well as pursue understanding how I feel? What's his attitude when something is more important to me than it is to him?

    And, for the Graduate Level of meta-communication, after what might have been a tense conversation, is he inclined to talk about how the conversation went and consider how we might change how we discuss something similar in the future so it will work better?

  • More about communication: I'd be cautious about a tendency to be defensive. Is it important to him to be right? Or, something that might indicate the opposite problem, does he generally yield in order to keep the peace? Does he consider genuinely important things (and only those things) worth making issues of?

  • Am I comfortable being my authentic self around him?

  • Do I respect him as a man the way he is now? Or are there important aspects of his character or personality that will cause me problems in the future if they don't change?

  • Does he welcome the idea of having a family together? Do I? Will he be a good father? Will his children love and respect him?

  • Will we able to become fully involved in a common community of faith? It's key to both be mature Christians, but it's also important to have a common culture in which our family Christian life can flourish.

  • Does he think I'm wonderful? Is he proud that I'm with him and that he's won my affections? Does he embarrass me? If so, can the issues be addressed, or will they be long-standing?
  • Do we laugh together? Does laughter and humor generally draw us together, or is it a veiled jab instead? Can we defuse tension with laughter? Does it help us avoid the issue, or does it instead lubricate our progress toward a solution?
  • What do others think of us as a couple? Do our closest and respected friends have significant concerns? Is our care for one another visible to them? Do they think we're a good fit? Does anyone tell us that we're good for each other? Do they see evidence that we're becoming better individuals as we grow in our relationship together?
That's all I can think of for now. What else should be on this list? I'm dying to pass it along to my eligible bachelorette.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Beautiful from a distance

Commenter Kansas Bob made reference to St. John of the Cross (I love all the Carmelite saints!) and his Dark Night of the Soul.

Often, people misuse that term for the difficulty Christians face, the struggles they go through, to reach knowledge, or faith, or rest in Christ. Actually, it's what seems like spiritual coma or death through which the soul passes through on the "purgative way," while it is detached from all comfort and light in prayer, from satisfaction, spiritual pride and avarice, to find union with Jesus Christ on earth and in Heaven.

I flipped open my laptop to write an appeal about my own spiritual coldness and dryness and found Roz' post and KBob's link - thank you, brother and sister. But mine is not the purification of Juan de la Cruz' dark night. It's plain old ordinary fallenness: clinging on to habitual sinfulness, laziness in devotion. I can't weaken Christ's love for me, but I can sure get the heck out of the way of His Grace by turning away towards decidedly lesser goods, abandoning the greatest Good. I can also fool myself that because I'm pretty dependable about giving time and money and attention to the church, that I can pick up enough Face Time Points to cruise along until I get around to embracing humility and single-footing it on the Narrow Way.

St. John, like all saints, never goes out of date or relevance. He says something wonderful in the link in Chapter II (no way to point to it directly):

5. Some of these beginners, too, make little of their faults, and at other times become over-sad when they see themselves fall into them, thinking themselves to have been saints already; and thus they become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another imperfection. Often they beseech God, with great yearnings, that He will take from them their imperfections and faults, but they do this that they may find themselves at peace, and may not be troubled by them, rather than for God's sake; not realizing that, if He should take their imperfections from them, they would probably become prouder and more presumptuous still. They dislike praising others and love to be praised themselves; sometimes they seek out such praise. Herein they are like the foolish virgins, who, when their lamps could not be lit, sought oil from others. (emphasis mine)

Well, howdy Therese! I want God to take away my sinfulness so I can be pleased with myself and my holiness! Bow down before the Idol Comfort! I don't want to push sinfulness away from myself, solely with the help of His Grace, to follow more closely God's Will. St. Paul says it clearly, too, in 2Cor12:7 and following:

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me -- to keep me from exalting myself. Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.

We don't know what it was that tormented him - I see some commenters refer to sinfulness and others to poor eyesight ("see with what large letters I write to you!").

The lesson I've learned today, again, again, is that (1) Only His Grace is necessary for any good, for any turning towards the Lord, (2) I'm no better than anyone else, gol dang it, (3) I'm a sinner, (4) Tomorrow's another day, to rise again and carry my cross.

What do you do to kick yourself in the spiritual heinie when you've become lukewarm?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Knowing is overrated

In order to be valid, everything has to be thoroughly parsed by my brain first.

Isn't that the way we often approach things? It's an insult to have a statement brushed off as "mindless" or worse, "uncritical". We have a far greater horror of appearing gullible than we do of sinning. We examine and reexamine, we split hairs, we make sure everyone in earshot knows the details of our differences with our favorite political party, we have to avoid at all costs accepting anything without having "thought it through."

Then there's the good sense found in those who put intimacy with God ahead of intellectual over-analysis:
When I first stumbled upon the Benedictine abbey where I am now an oblate, I was surprised to find the monks so unconcerned with my weighty doubts and intellectual frustrations over Christianity. What interested them more was my desire to come to their worship, the liturgy of the hours. I was a bit disappointed -- I had thought that my doubts were spectacular obstacles to my faith and was confused but intrigued when an old monk blithely stated that doubt is merely the seed of faith, a sign that faith is alive and ready to grow. I am grateful now for his wisdom and grateful to the community for teaching me about the power of liturgy. They seemed to believe that if I just kept coming back to worship, kept coming home, things would eventually fall into place. (Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk)

"Things would eventually fall into place." Is there anything more exasperating to those of us addicted to intellectual rigor than an attitude like that? But can any of us deny that, if we had been Peter, intellectual rigor would have kept our gluteus maximi firmly planted in the boat instead of walking toward Jesus on the water?

HT to the charmingly titled Velveteen Rabbi.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sheet Cake Poisoning

That's what I'm suffering from. And Potato Salad Overdose.

Graduation, First Communion, Baby Shower, Birthday, Graduation, Graduation, Ordination Anniversary, Graduation. I have a diminishing fan of cards spread out on the table, and I pore over them - which ones to mail? Which need a check? Little kids like cash better than checks, so where're the new tens and twenties and fifties? Will she like this? Will it fit? Where's the wrapping paper?

I did not win a popularity contest, it's the utter depth and breadth of family and community around me. I talked to a friend who said, with a carefully modulated tinge of regret, that she hadn't been to a family event in over twenty years. She's got the family, she just doesn't go. She's not churched, so she lacks that bond, too.

I think she feels "free" and I certainly feel a little tiny bit trapped right now, endless paper plates and kissing aunts and trying to remember cousins' childrens' names and meeting the old next-door neighbor of my new pew neighbor and listening to inning-by-inning replays of Little League games from a little boy who is keeping me mesmerized not by his fielding prowess, but because he is holding a live ticked-off cicada with beady red eyes by the wings in each hand.

Isn't this what church is like? You are baptized into a family full of bores and grimy little endearing children and drunks and quiet humorists and geeks and saints. People whose lives are chaos and people whose lives of desperation never get them down. Models and Dire Warnings.

If you are inclined to dislike your church and long for a different one that seems full of people "more like you," ask yourself if your family lives up to your tastes (and you live up to theirs). If you think the decorations and music are awful, and the finance committee needs to get their high horses taken away from them, check yourself out for spiritual socks-and-sandal outfits and your ridiculous pride in your avocation, boring to everybody but you and your industry buddies.

If I love my family and friends, I'd better damn well love my church just as much, because we're all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Okay, I think I've made room for another taco and a beer. What a pretty cake!......

Friday, June 01, 2007

Withering the fig tree

woodcut by Johann Christoph Weigel

Today's Gospel reading is Mark 11:11-26. I was ready to hear what I thought of as the prime point of the passage: that "all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours "When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions."

But look at the fig tree story, which is NOT a parable, a little closer. Jesus was hungry and encountered a fig tree that only had leaves, since it was not yet time for figs. He cursed the tree, declaring that it would never bear fruit again! The next day, the tree is found withered to the root, and Jesus teaches the Twelve that whatever they ask for in faith will be done. Presumably, that means that He withered the tree by asking that it happen. Or does it mean that Jesus' desire for food, being a prayer for it to the Father, should have acted upon the tree, causing to produce fruit suddenly out of season? Or?

I used to think of that phrase "nothing but leaves" as a serious warning for those who flourish within the life of the Church, but bear none of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. They sink their roots into the life of the Church, but make no fruit, set no seed. But why the detail about Jesus cursing a tree that wasn't even supposed to have fruit yet? Seems unfair, as unfair as the last-minute guest at the king's banquet who was found to be without a wedding garment. (Setting aside the apologetics arguments about the garment being the garment of baptism - I agree that this is an appropriate description, but the invitation to the unbaptized still brings the same swift trip to the outer darkness.)

Jesus is never unfair, so I'm missing the point here.


Sample Text

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For a glimpse at our lighter side, hop over to In Dwelling.

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Sample text

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

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009