Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Newsy Tuesday: Stuff About Wednesday

Interview with the author Bradley Birzer
to air tomorrow on the Garden of Holiness Podcast.

This book available on Amazon.com

For those of you who enjoy the Garden of Holiness Podcast, I won't be able to be on tomorrow. I'm going out of town and will be on the road. Deeper Truth plans to run a prerecorded show, it's just a matter of which one. I have permission from Sister Miriam to run her interview with Bradley Birzer, the author of American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll that originally aired on my local Catholic radio station, KDJW Saint Valentine Radio. Charles Carroll was the only Catholic founding father of America. His life is an interesting story about surviving and flourishing in an anti-Catholic culture. It's a good interview and I hope it can air. Otherwise, we'll be running something just as good so tune in!

The Garden of Holiness Podcast is scheduled Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Friday, October 19, 2012

7 Quick Takes

I knew it!

1 We are finishing up our second round of colds for the season. This one came barely three weeks after the last one. I am hoping and praying this trend does not continue through the winter. At least this time we were all sick at about the same time, so we didn't have healthy people annoying the malingering people. We all managed to annoy each other while we were all too miserable to do anything about it. Not bad, all in all.

2 I can tell I am on the mend because my first reaction to sitting down to write was, "SEVEN?! Seriously, seven? Why can't it be Two Quick Takes? Why me?!" Crankiness is a sure sign of improvement. Yesterday, I'd have just managed to shoot the computer a dirty look.

"Will work for Legos"
3 My soon to be nine year old son's birthday is at the end of next month. He has taken the Lego catalog and planned out all his surprises. He carefully added up his wish list which prompted a, "We are not spending $652.93 on your birthday, son" speech. Plus tax.

4 This little interaction between my husband and my four year old daughter made my morning, though.
"Daddy, is Jesus dead?"
"No, baby, He is risen!"

5 I'm running out of steam here. I have no idea what to put on for number 5. Maybe it should be an announcement that I'll be out of town next week, so I'll have to write next week's 7 Quick Takes ahead of time. I sure hope 7 interesting (enough) things happen between now and then. Or maybe I shouldn't hope for that. "May you live in interesting times" is a curse, isn't it?

6 We have a Reader's Digest thief in the house. My second youngest squirrels away the little magazines almost as soon as they come in the door. I'm not sure what the fascination is as she is only five and can't read that well yet, but she has quite a horde in her room. I had to borrow from her stash when I ran out of reading materials this week.

7 Bless your heart, you hung out with me to the bitter end! I'm ending on a lame joke because it only hurts when I laugh.

A priest told the little kids they could come Trick-or-Treating at the rectory but they should dress up as one of the Saints.

So the kids arrive - here's a little boy dressed up as St. Anthony, St. Joseph, a little girl is St. Clare - and then there's this kid in a dog costume.

So Father asks "Where's your saint costume?"

The little boy replies: "I'm SAINT BERNARD!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to disagree

Robert Frost's proverb "Good fences make good neighbors"
applies especially to differences of faith.
My sister is Mormon. I'm Catholic. There are important matters of the faith that we do not agree upon. You would think this would cause tense moments and awkward silences. You would think there should be subjects we must avoid at all costs. You would think this difference would cause strife and division between us. It doesn't.

It really doesn't. My sister taught me the skill of holding onto your most precious beliefs while respecting that others disagree. In other words she taught me the skill to tolerate any one's right to be wrong. Because of her, I can look her in the eye, disagreeing with her completely, and still find love. Before I was even a Christian, she showed me how to love in Christian Charity. She showed me that when you hold the Truth in your heart, it is like an armor. Nothing can touch it.

She showed me how to be unshakable.

So, how does that translate in a world where disagreements of the sort that exist between Mormonism and Catholicism lead to harsh words and strong emotions at best? It looks an awful lot like what you will hear on this podcast. We are very matter of fact about our respective faiths. We listen. We find the common ground and point out the differences. We allow space to exist where it exists and we don't insist on agreement. We build a good fence in that particular spot and gaze over it, saying, "Well, that is different."

That doesn't mean the differences aren't fundamental or essential. It simply means that I know her heart is for God. She is in the palm of His hand, and I know He loves her perfectly. I tell her the truth of my faith, she tells me the truths of hers, and then we live those truths the best way we can.

She is no hypocrite, my sister, I can tell you that. So I can trust her to be wrong. She can trust me to be. We both love each other and believe wholeheartedly, "I can trust God with her."

I guess that kind of faith in God and His providence is one of those spots where there is a gate in our fence. It's a place where we find common ground, where we can really open up and see into each other's fields for a short distance. We won't agree on everything, but this little spot is good. We can rest there for a little while.

So what if she prays for me and not so secretly wishes I was Mormon? I pray for her and wish she were Catholic. That's perfectly okay. Conversion is a continual return to God, so if she prays for my conversion I am strengthened by her prayers, and she, the same.

I trust so completely that God meets us where we are. She is there. I am here.

And here you are.

So, my neighbor, are we at a fence or a gate?

Listen to internet radio with Deeper Truth on Blog Talk Radio

The idea for this show came from a Facebook discussion of the Vice Presidential debate that turned quickly into an anti-Romney, anti-Mormon thread. I countered, with help from a young woman of my acquaintance, and decided it was an opportunity to clear up some falsehoods about Mormonism. The first step to good apologetics is education, so here is an opportunity to learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from someone who knows her faith and lives it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

7 Quickest Takes Ever

Simon, 7 years ago

1 It's quick because 7 years ago yesterday I was kissing this baby's face for the first time ever and we took the day off. I have some makeup work to do.

2 We had this for lunch because it is so good. We substituted cornflake crumbs for instant mashed potatoes and they turned out great.

3 Who knew that mayo had soy in it? Why, for Heaven's sake?

"Homemade Mayo is easy," they said. "You'll love it," they said.

4 So we've also redone this humbling mayo recipe and I forgot how humid it was today. I also forgot to warm the eggs, so it didn't turn out fluffy. It was wet. Still worked though.

5 Why care about soy? My youngest, as it turns out, is not allergic to wheat as we suspected, but soy. I'm changing up my entire cooking routine, but this is just proof that you don't fool around with possible food allergies. Test, don't guess.

6 We have discovered that driving is driving us off the roadmap of the family budget. It is pushing $100 to fill up my family van, which we do three times a month. I have to cut that in half. Sadly, that means therapeutic horse lessons have to go, and if that doesn't do it, we'll be cutting the library and Eucharistic Adoration from a weekly visit to twice a month. If gas prices go up much more family trips to town will be on a Sundays only basis.

I am not bothering to complain just yet. It could be worse. My niece in California has a sensible gas sipper of a car. She paid over $100 for 29 gallons the other day. I'm just explaining myself to myself here.

7 Speaking of creative ways to rearrange the budget, we wanted to support our local Catholic radio station but had no extra money in the budget. While reading the newspaper the other morning it occurred to my husband and I that the paper was a luxury that could go.We decided to cancel the subscription and channel that little bit of money into a charity we wanted to support.

When money gets tight, like it is for all of us lately, it's time to set the mind loose. Get a budget so you know where your money is going, then get creative to find ways to make it go further.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Year of Faith

Some other ways to celebrate the Year of Faith 
(and some on-line resources to help)

You could...

  1. Study Catholicism Online
  2. Read the entire Catechism in a year
  3. Countdown the year, keep track of celebrations, and even indulge yourself
  4. Read the entire Bible this year
  5. Go to Daily Mass which includes #4 only if you don't sleep through the readings
Have a happy and faithful year!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's with all the saints? And the nature of prayer...

"Saints and the Garden of God" Podcast

Listen to internet radio with Deeper Truth on Blog Talk Radio

What's With All the Saints?
And the Nature of Prayer

Originally Posted on 9-16-2011

"I'm having trouble with praying to the saints. I know it's possible, I just can't see why it's necessary." This question came from a fellow convert. Her conversion, like mine, was emotional and total and nearly as instantaneous. God simply handed her the Truth of the Church and reduced her (and continues to reduce her to tears) at the beauty of 2,000 years of the Faith laid out like a welcome mat before her. We both (and indeed we all) have been graced with the one true faith; what we don't know is the details. This type of conversion of the heart means that the mind sometimes takes a little while to catch up, so my young friend will ask me questions on occasion, knowing I went through a similar process. Sometimes, I have looked into it already. Sometimes we have to go looking for answers and off we trot. This was what I found out in answer to her question. 

Unlike me and my spiritual meanderings, she comes directly from a Protestant background, so Biblical references are helpful to her. I've listed them below so you can read them at your leisure. For the purpose of this explanation, I am going to assume that you, too, know the truth, but are hungry to know why it should be true.

The Prayers of Petition: Who Needs Them?

1) God doesn't need you. You need God.

First off, we need to understand that God doesn't need anything. He Is. He can do what He wants, with or without our input. Petitioning God for you and your own needs or even intercessory prayer (a prayer that asks God to do something for another person) does not turn God into a slot machine. Insert prayer, pull handle, receive blessing. As we all know, every petitionary or intercessory prayer is answered with either a yes, a no, or a wait awhile.We need to ask. God wants us to ask, but He has no need of the asking.

2) Prayer is a gift.

The act of prayer is not even our own. It is our response to grace. The desire to pray is placed in our heart. It is a sign that we are beginning to cooperate with the Will of God, no matter how imperfectly. It is often the person praying that God changes in order to answer the prayer. So, for example, even though you may be praying for a stubborn coworker who drives you batty, the answer to your prayer may look a little like this:

You haven't thought about that obnoxious co-worker much lately, but in the middle of an tense discussion with your husband you are suddenly graced with a vivid understanding of how petty you are being. You are given the insight to see that he is bothered by your demands, but is perfectly willing to do it your way to keep the peace. Not only do you see your own pettiness, but you can see a direct correlation between your pettiness and the pettiness of that coworker you've been praying for. The insight into your own character is in answer to that original prayer and if you could put it into words it would be something like: "Is it any wonder that this coworker bugs me so much? Everything he does pricks my conscience!"

I try hard to remember that there are an infinity of irritants in the world and most of them bounce off with little notice. It's the irritants that resonate with our own faults that catch and hold our attention. I know this may seem off the topic, but it really has a lot to do with the question of praying to the saints. It has to do with our needs, rather than God's. My point is that God does not need to be asked to act, and in a similar way, God does not need the saints to ask either. Neither do the saints need anything, being in Heaven already.

When we pray to God to change something in our life, we are responding to the grace to pray and are cooperating with His will. He will use our cooperation to change us, to make us more of who He created us to be. 

3) Intercessory prayer increases our communion with the Body of Christ.

It is a spiritual no-brainer to understand that praying increases our communion with God. You have to talk to someone to get to know them better, so that sort of truth about prayer can be intuited without much research or contemplation. Something about intercessory prayer that might not be obvious is that we begin to commune with each other as we pray. Prayer is communication. When we pray for others part of our communication is our communion with God and also with the person we are praying for. In other words, we are strengthening our relationship with that person through God. Strengthening the bonds with another strengthens the unity of the Body of Christ here on Earth. It brings us together in community here and helps us remember that we are, in fact, related and necessary for one another.

Asking the saints to pray for us is the same thing, only with the larger Body of Christ. The saints don't need our prayers, being in Heaven already. God doesn't need our prayers, being God, nor does He need the saint's prayers. We have need of the saints, though. We need to be closer to those who have triumphed. We need to build stronger bonds with Heaven and the residents there. It helps us remember that there is our home, the more we call upon all the loved ones there. 

Our focus should be Heaven. Our actions should be Prayer. Our life should be God's. Prayer helps us to make that happen. Prayer is so much more than what we bargain for and thank God for it!



Scripture Proofs (from this link)

I. We are One Family in Christ in Heaven and on Earth

Eph. 3:14-15- we are all one family ("Catholic") in heaven and on earth, united together, as children of the Father, through Jesus Christ. Our brothers and sisters who have gone to heaven before us are not a different family. We are one and the same family. This is why, in the Apostles Creed, we profess a belief in the "communion of saints." There cannot be a "communion" if there is no union. Loving beings, whether on earth or in heaven, are concerned for other beings, and this concern is reflected spiritually through prayers for one another.
Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23-32; Col. 1:18,24 - this family is in Jesus Christ, the head of the body, which is the Church.
1 Cor. 12:12,27; Rom. 12:5; Col. 3:15; Eph. 4:4 - we are the members of the one body of Christ, supernaturally linked together by our partaking of the Eucharist.
Rom. 8:35-39 - therefore, death does not separate the family of God and the love of Christ. We are still united with each other, even beyond death.
Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30 - Jesus converses with "deceased" Moses and Elijah. They are more alive than the saints on earth.
Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38 - God is the God of the living not the dead. The living on earth and in heaven are one family.
Luke 15:7,10 – if the angels and saints experience joy in heaven over our repentance, then they are still connected to us and are aware of our behavior.
John 15:1-6 - Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The good branches are not cut off at death. They are alive in heaven.
1 Cor. 4:9 – because we can become a spectacle not only to men, but to angels as well, this indicates that angels are aware of our earthly activity. Those in heaven are connected to those on earth.
1 Cor. 12:26 - when one member suffers, all suffer. When one is honored, all rejoice. We are in this together as one family.
1 Cor 13:12; 1 John 3:2 - now we see in a mirror dimly, but in heaven we see face to face. The saints are more alive than we are!
Heb. 12:1: we are surrounded by a great glory cloud (shekinah) of witnesses. The “cloud of witnesses” refers to the saints who are not only watching us from above but cheering us on in our race to heaven.
1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 20:6 - we are a royal family of priests by virtue of baptism. We as priests intercede on behalf of each other.
2 Peter 1:4 - since God is the eternal family and we are His children, we are partakers of His divine nature as a united family.
1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 1:7 - we are called to be saints. Saints refer to both those on earth and in heaven who are in Christ. Proof:
Acts 9:13,32,41; 26:10; 1 Cor. 6:1-2; 14:33; 2 Cor. 1:1; 8:4; 9:1-2; 13:13; Rom. 8:27; 12:23; 15:25,26, 31; 16:2,15; Eph. 1:1,15,18; 3:8; 5:3; 6:18; Phil. 1:1; 4:22; Col 1:2,4,26; 1 Tm 5:10; Philemon 1:5,7; Heb. 6:10; 13:24; Jude 1:3; Rev. 11:18; 13:7; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6;18:20,24; Rev 19:8; 20:9 - in these verses, we see that Christians still living on earth are called "saints."
Matt. 27:52; Eph. 2:19; 3:18; Col. 1:12; 2 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 5:8; 8:3-4; 11:18; 13:10 - in these verses, we also see that "saints" also refer to those in heaven who united with us.
Dan. 4:13,23; 8:23 – we also see that the angels in heaven are also called “saints.” The same Hebrew word “qaddiysh” (holy one) is applied to both humans and angels in heaven. Hence, there are angel saints in heaven and human saints in heaven and on earth. Loving beings (whether angels or saints) are concerned for other beings, and prayer is the spiritual way of expressing that love.

II. God Desires and Responds to Our Subordinate Mediation / Intercessory Prayer

1 Tim 2:1-2 - because Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5), many Protestants deny the Catholic belief that the saints on earth and in heaven can mediate on our behalf. But before Paul's teaching about Jesus as the "one mediator," Paul urges supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. Paul is thus appealing for mediation from others besides Christ, the one mediator. Why?
1 Tim 2:3 - because this subordinate mediation is good and acceptable to God our Savior. Because God is our Father and we are His children, God invites us to participate in Christ's role as mediator.
1 Tim. 2:5 - therefore, although Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man, there are many intercessors (subordinate mediators).
1 Cor. 3:9 - God invites us to participate in Christ's work because we are God's "fellow workers" and one family in the body of Christ. God wants His children to participate. The phrase used to describe "fellow workers" is "sunergoi," which literally means synergists, or cooperators with God in salvific matters. Does God need fellow workers? Of course not, but this shows how much He, as Father, loves His children. God wants us to work with Him.
Mark 16:20 - this is another example of how the Lord "worked with them" ("sunergountos"). God cooperates with us. Out of His eternal love, He invites our participation.
Rom. 8:28 - God "works for good with" (the Greek is "sunergei eis agathon") those who love Him. We work as subordinate mediators.
2 Cor. 6:1 - "working together" (the Greek is "sunergountes") with him, don't accept His grace in vain. God allows us to participate in His work, not because He needs our help, but because He loves us and wants to exalt us in His Son. It is like the father who lets his child join him in carrying the groceries in the house. The father does not need help, but he invites the child to assist to raise up the child in dignity and love.
Heb. 12:1 - the “cloud of witnesses” (nephos marturon) that we are surrounded by is a great amphitheatre of witnesses to the earthly race, and they actively participate and cheer us (the runners) on, in our race to salvation.
1 Peter 2:5 - we are a holy priesthood, instructed to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. We are therefore subordinate priests to the Head Priest, but we are still priests who participate in Christ's work of redemption.
Rev. 1:6, 5:10 - Jesus made us a kingdom of priests for God. Priests intercede through Christ on behalf of God's people.
James 5:16; Proverbs 15:8, 29 - the prayers of the righteous (the saints) have powerful effects. This is why we ask for their prayers. How much more powerful are the saints’ prayers in heaven, in whom righteousness has been perfected.
1 Tim 2:5-6 - therefore, it is because Jesus Christ is the one mediator before God that we can be subordinate mediators. Jesus is the reason. The Catholic position thus gives Jesus the most glory. He does it all but loves us so much He desires our participation.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Western "Civilization"

To those of you who think we have "evolved" as a culture,

To those of you who think Western Civilization is a Shining City on a Hill,

To those of you who sit complacent and stare into your flickering screens hour upon hour,

I say this....

It should be no surprise to anyone that the "civilization" that produced this:

Two famines complicated by oppressive import laws and decisions not to render aid in order to thin out an "undesirable" population:
Deaths from the Bengali Famine estimated at 1 million

Irish Famine deaths estimated at over 1 million

and this

An estimated 225,000 civilian deaths in both bombings.

has also produced this:

2,014 aborted children today in the United States and
64,515 worldwide today

and 1,270,287,112 dead children worldwide since 1980 (at least as of 2:07 p.m. today).

Most of them girls.

And that is only counting the surgical abortions.

If we are perpetually willing to sacrificing "undesirables" I, for one, do not call that civilized.

We have work to do.

James 1:27