Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Year for Priests to begin June 19, 2009

From The Vatican : "Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father on June 19, 2010....Precisely to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends, I have decided to establish a special "Year for Priests" that will begin on 19 June and last until 19 June 2010. In fact, it is the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Curé d'Ars, John Mary Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock."

The Pope explains the intent behind this emphasis as safeguarding the "legitimate expectations of the faithful" These Men are really and truly living to serve our spiritual hunger. Called by God, discerned by Conscience and delivered by His Church, I am grateful for their service.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Review - The Shack

You will find this novel in the Fiction category, which is an ironic indication of how backwards we all have organised "our" world. The Shack succeeds in presenting truth; biblical, relational and theological, wrapped in a fictional delivery that bypasses our "religion" filters and presents a tale that is stunning and deep. Without a spoiler, here is a truth excerpt conveyed during a dialogue, by someone not of this world:

"People are tenacious when it comes to the treasure of their imaginary Independence. They hoard and hold their sickness with a firm grip. They find their identity and worth in their brokenness and guard it with every ounce of strength they have. No wonder grace has such little attraction. In that sense [people] have tried to lock the door of [their] hearts from the inside."

I couldn't agree more.

The story succeeds in compressing a wide spectrum of potentially human manufactured Christian misunderstanding of Scripture, through a lens of no religious predisposition. Instead, Paul Young places the reader in a purely human experience using Mack's personal and family relationships, including tragedy and dynamics as the truth communicating vehicle. If I go beyond that, it would be a spoiler.

*Spoiler Alert*

My exposure to it began with Paul Youngs collaborators and his interview with Sr. Ann Shields on Ave Maria Radio. To see into what we may assume are heretic, anti-institutionalism motives in the author(s), before I got the book, I listened to the God Journey podcast and many interviews with Paul Young.

Fearing its "churchless" undertone and exegeting this book like scripture is pointless. It is an attempt at exposing the centrality of Jesus' new covenant, and exploring how our our feeble human fears, secrets, lies and obstacles can be overcome by relational theology.

There are many highly visible Protestants (Chuck Colson, John MacArthur, Driscoll, etc,) denouncing this book for the obvious motives, it appears to take their well tithing members out of keeping them in the black.

Just like taking a single Bible quote from Romans out of context may lead to Calvinism, my advice is listen and read about the Author and collaborators, their personal religious backstories and one to one, in a human and personal way, read this book in the context of its sources. There is Catholic Truth in it, while it is fictional. One example: Numerous references by Papa to working in and not violating our free-will reinforce the Catholic belief of a "both-and" salvation relationship with The Father, while Protestants reel at this shot at double predestination theory.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We Interupt this Blogcast #7 - Nick

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cardiac Lenses

Investigating Predisposition lens theory, Is it possible to erase all personal predisposition when studying scripture or modern thought or philosophy and the like? I imagine one would have to first admit one IS predisposed, or angled toward or against a given thought trajectory. So, OK, in my best dressed humility I admit some level of predisposition to Orthodox Christianity, in general (IE. Catholic, Orthodox and a fraction Episcopalian). When I read a given scripture passage, I must be adding an Orthodox advocacy to understanding the intent of the passage or thought. In the cerebral flow of words into comprehension, my precious Roman Catholic Identity strives to bond with the given reading. Here, lets take this on at extreme of predisposition.

"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church..."
[Matthew 16:18]

This small part of one verse (and its mosaic parallel in Isaiah 22:22) created all of Apostolic Succession Doctrine, the Papacy, Hierarchical authority. That's a tangible lens with a Catholic/Orthodox predisposition. Most often, it is quoted and conveyed to be absorbed in a concrete and sequential way. The language appears physical and direct, a singular path of appointment for a tangible purpose...to build a Church.

Lets remove that lens, break it down a bit and see what else is there, without losing the literal Orthodox definition:

"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter..."

Christ is communicating to Peter. He is facing Peter and showing trust in Peter. That is one essence of Christs Ministry, it is relational and trust giving. He is also exalting and honoring Peter in a singular and humanly understood way, by giving Peter revealing "Title". What does it say to Peter? I would be confident that Peter is saturated with the heartfelt relationship that this outward proclamation makes visible.

"...and upon this rock I will build my church..."

Christ repeats the Title in 2 ways, Peter (Cephas) and Rock, revealing his ability to not only have a personal relationship, but also to make a decision of responsibility placement, on Peters Heart. What do we imagine Peters comprehension was, at that exact time? Surely it was relational, and penetrating.

We know from further contextual reading that Peter built the Church, through the limited means available and the other Apostles. What drove Peter to carry it out to the ultimate Martyrdom? It had to be more than a simple concrete instruction. The relationship and mutual trust with Christ turned to Love, a Love not of this World. An unconditional Love. A Love of the Heart.

The challenge here is not only to study in a present day context of the writing, but also from the communicants perspective and their environment...inside the heart and mind and outside, and see where that Truth becomes the most real.