Escher rocks my socks. <3
I cannot even tell you how much I despise the phrase that creates my title. It's like an MC Escher painting (Escher, BTW, is my favorite artist). You know something's just a bit off, but you're not sure exactly what it is until you take a deeper look.
This phrase is the calling card of Cafeteria Catholics. Chances are, if someone starts off labeling themselves as Catholic only to snarkily comment about Church teaching two seconds later, they are the cafeteria variety (translation: they're not actually Catholic).
Oxymoronic disclaimers like this exist in all forms. "I'm not racist, but listen to this black joke..."or "Look, I 100% believe men and women are equal, but let's be honest..." or my favorite, "... homosexual joke..." *pause as folks look on, obviously uncomfortable* "What? I've got plenty of gay friends, so it's okay."
Ay yi yi.
A friend of mine posted this article to Facebook (regarding the resignation of Bishop Zavala) which garnered quite the response. He headed the article with: I think the Church needs to rethink the celibacy mandate for priests...
The first to respond, I said:
This isn't an issue of celibacy. We've gotta do a better job of screening applicants. We've also gotta do a much better job of solidifying a proper support system for priests who are under ridiculous amounts of stress from being stretched too thin and having too, too much expected of them.
My heart breaks for priests these days... we are lucky to have ANY, and things like this are good (if disappointing) reminders that they are men... human men with human failings the same as us. That we expect them all to be living saints is tragically fallacious. May Our Lady protect our priests... ♥
Pretty soon, however, responders were adamantly decrying the "old-fashioned" and "sexually repressive" celibacy rules as nothing more than remnants of a greedy Church that realized priests with families would water down earnings through inheritance.
Now, while I realize that celibacy for priests is not dogma (especially considering we do actually have some married priests through conversion and/or reconciliation with Rome), I don't feel as though it's simply an outdated practice meant to hoard Church resources and repress sexuality either.
Celibacy is not just about refraining from sex. It is the understanding that one's objective in life is all-consuming, resulting in the refusal of hinderances to that objective. For a priest, this objective is to bring as many souls to Christ as possible through becoming as Christ-like as possible, thus things like romantic relationships, drug habits, or even arrogant pride are hinderances to that objective (hence the vows of obedience and chastity).
Priests understand that when they take upon themselves the mantle of priest, they are "in persona Christi" (or, acting in the person of Christ). Their personal goal is to become enflamed with the love of Christ, since that Christ-like love will radiate out towards the people and pull them closer to Heaven. This personal goal - to attain such Christ-like holiness - is not an easy thing. It is an on-going process that requires dedication and constant vigilance.
Romantic relationships detract from this goal as the priest is no longer able to remain vigilant / dedicated to being in persona Christi. Instead, he is forced to split his time between catering to the people and catering to a family. I'm not saying holiness is impossible to obtain for married folks. Quite the contrary. However, a priest models his married life after Christ. Married folks model the Holy Family (St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother).
Marriage is the sacrifice of two persons for one another. Well, marriage in the way it's supposed to be, anyway. The wife submits herself to her husband, and the husband submits himself to his wife.
For a priest, he follows the example of Christ who submitted FULLY to His bride, the Church (even to the point of death and on-going imprisonment). The Church, in turn, is expected to fully submit to her Spouse, Jesus (though we're notoriously awful for doing that). Just as the faithful should obediently submit to the teachings of priests (so long as these priests are in good standing with the Church, of course, and aren't teaching anything contrary to dogma).
Anyway, would I be super against priests being allowed to marry again? No. Christ, Himself, chose married men to be His first priests. However, upon choosing these men for this ministry, all "left their families" to focus on their mission. Mind you, they did NOT abandon their families. Instead, they lived as Essenes did - celibate and apart from their wives.
But I digress.
Celibacy is not the root issue of these types of stories. Celibacy also isn't the evil, archaic or sexually repressive thing current generations attempt to paint it as. Allowing priests to marry isn't going to solve our problems, and may very well bring up new ones (scandal of infidelity, divorce, wayward children desecrating holy things, etc, etc, etc).
Ah well. I'm curious if any one else has thoughts on this. I'll admit it's not something I've really delved too deeply into.
I have a friend who once was Catholic. She has since fallen away from the faith and considers herself atheist. She sometimes drops by this blog to chime in (through Facebook or e-mail threads) on current Church events that she hears about through mainstream media.
In all honesty, I think she just hears God calling her name now and again. :)
Anyway, she asked me a question and gave me permission to expound within the blog itself. Considering her tendency to only talk about things like abortion, the death penalty or women priests (sidestepping the child-abuse scandal), I was REALLY surprised to hear a question about the rosary spill out of her.
"Why do you talk about Mary and the rosary so much?"
Cue big cheesy grin.
My immediate response was, "Because I love them."
She responded with "Why?"
I took a moment. This friend, let's call her Lily, views the Blessed Mother, Jesus and pretty much all saints / religious figures as akin to Santa Claus. At one point in history, they probably existed in some form, but they've long since died and their legends morphed them into something very different from who they originally were.
Thus, her question of "Why?" is not a surprise. Even with her Catholic upbringing, she does not view the Communion of Saints possible. Thus, veneration of, or prayers to, spirits / souls is pointless. After all, wouldn't my time be much better spent serving others in a positive way?
So to answer her question, I needed to lay some groundwork.
First, I asked her ideas on what happens to a person upon death. Is death final?
She affirmed that was her belief. Upon death, we go in a box in the ground and that's that.
I asked if she was open to the possibility of a soul. She granted me an open mind and said there could very well be a soul that goes somewhere, but she simply doubted it.
A seed is all I need, baby.
Since my belief obviously sides with souls and an after-life, I logically hold that those who have died before me are living this "after-life." Those who lived exemplary lives, like the Blessed Mother and favored saints, are in Heaven. Those who didn't, well, we've got Purgatory and Hell.
Obviously, since Heaven is where us Catholics believe Jesus to be, that's where we, too, want to go. The truest example of a Heaven-bound soul is the Blessed Mother. Thus, if I wanted to be sure I got to Heaven, I'd go ahead and follow her example. Much like an amateur poker player might study up on Chris Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth or Dan Negreanu, us Catholics like to look to study up on the best of the best. Who better to follow than the Mother of Jesus, herself... the one we believe to be Queen of Heaven?
The rosary is an in-depth study of Our Lady. As I've said before, the rosary is the Photo Album of Christ. It is also the photo album of Our Lady. Though not depicted in each decade, she is spiritually present in each and every frame. Thus, in praying the rosary and going over the details of how Our Lady responded to these challenges and blessings, we come to understand how we, too, should respond to challenges and blessings.
So to answer the question, "Why do I love them?" I answer this:
I love Our Lady because she is a living part of the Communion of Saints who actively works to restore my inheritance with Christ in Heaven. Through her the gift of Salvation (Jesus) came into being, and through her I have the most perfect example of how to get my soul into Heaven. The Rosary, gifted to us by Our Lady, is a picture-map to Heaven. It is the most simplistic tool we have that directs us on how to enter Heaven. How could I not love that which teaches me so much? How could I not love the person who grants me so much?
Plus, she's so darn sweet. What is there not to love about her? :)
I was just asked why I "go back" and enter blogs from the days I hadn't previously posted. The answer is simple. I typically write every day, but for the days I don't get to "post" it's usually because I'm not at a proper computer.
So while I do tend to write every day, I end up entering the blogs at a later date when I'm able to get to a computer with a proper internet connection.
Hope that clears up some confusion! :)
Upon completing this story, I dropped down to my knees and thanked God repeatedly for such a blessing. What could have been an absolute tragedy turned into the most blessed story of survival, heroism and happiness.
Now, the folks involved are acting as examples to others. Absolutely incredible! Guardian angels were working overtime for this family and those brave enough to rescue those children! Praised be God, and praised be His Most Blessed Mother who no doubt had a hand in such a grace!
Today is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. What a treat to start off the New Year in thanksgiving for the Mother of Salvation. :)
Our pastor delved into the mystery of Jesus being both fully God and fully human, taking His Divinity from His Father and His Humanity from His Mother. Though something we are unable to fully comprehend, this article of faith is one of the backbones of our religion.
Since today is Sunday, I also got to pray the Glorious Mysteries. Some thoughts that popped into my mind while praying...
Resurrection - Though Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus' resurrected Body, I can't help but wonder if Jesus didn't appear to His Mother interiorly. She understood the necessity of His Death, and probably had an inkling of His Triumph over death. I wonder if she understood it to be in this particular manner, though. Anyway, upon news of His Resurrection, confirming whatever interior visions she was given, she must have been absolutely elated. Oh, but how her heart must have longed to hold Him!
Ascension - So bittersweet again for Our Lady! No doubt she endured emotional torture as she watched her beloved Son again move beyond her physical realm. Unable to hug Him, kiss Him or hear His Voice, she must've clung to the Eucharist in a way most infathomable. No doubt she was spiritually linked to Him (as she was and always will be), but as any of us know, being apart from the one you love is painful... even if you're able to keep in touch via e-mail, Skype, or telephone.
Pentecost - What bliss! Our Lady once more feels the presence of Her Spouse as He baptizes her with untold graces! Again, the Blessed Mother is there from the very beginning. She was the catalyst for the Savior's birth, and she was present for the birth of the Church. Can you imagine how all the apostles must have flocked around her as chicks to a mother hen? Our Lady held such love for all of them, and no doubt counseled them in countless ways. Our Church was forged by her Queenly hand, just as it was forged by the hands of the apostles.
Assumption - I imagine this to be Our Lady's happiest moment... probably even to this day (yes, even more than Christ's Nativity). I'd be willing to wager the only moment sweeter for her will be the Final Judgement, when all is completed and Her Son no longer must agonize over the sins of mankind. I've gone on and on about the Assumption several times, but honestly, I never tire thinking about how inexpressibly joyful that reunion must have been for her. Being corporeal, she'd've thrown herself into His Arms and no doubt He enveloped her with equal relish. To have been an angel (or even Saint Joseph!) looking in at that moment. All of Heaven must've been ablaze with their love!
Coronation - Our Mother - the Queen! I wonder which angels got to help prepare Our Lady for this event. I wonder if her own mother, St. Anne, were blessed to be there to brush her hair back, to place a veil upon her head, to adorn her perfect child with jewels. I wonder, too, if St. Joseph were there to process beside her as she made her way forth to the Throne of the Trinity. No doubt Jesus crowned her, probably just about besides Himself with joy. Oh wow.
I then imagined that Jesus granted her one favor as a gift for such a special occasion. Immediately I saw the gates of Purgatory open and thousands of souls come rushing into Heaven. The gift she requested was the freedom of souls - not for herself, but for Her Son who so loved them so dearly. Though Divine Justice dictates they make restitution for sin, Divine Mercy does not want it. A word from the Queen of Heaven is more than payment, and the joy of that blessed occasion must've reverberated throughout the earth.
Mind you, I'm not saying I saw these as true visions. My mind wandered over these things as I prayed the decades. I can't help but think Our Lady's graciousness extends infinitely towards all of us, especially those most in need of such kindness.
Mmmmm - I could dwell upon Our Lady forever with the dopiest look of love on my face, I bet. :) How blessed are we to have been gifted so great a blessing!
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