Thursday, November 30, 2006
10 Rules for Handling Disagreements Like a Christian
10 Rules for Handling Disagreements Like a Christian
1. The Rule of Charity: “Charity is primary.”
This has to be the place to start whenever we disagree with one another: with love. St. Paul said: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). No matter how wise my insights or astute my plans, they count for nothing if I do not offer them with love.
Now, that charity is the first and fundamental requirement for all authentic Christian speech does not mean that such speaking can only be weak, but it does mean that whatever is said ought always to be offered respectfully and for the genuine service of others, especially my hearers. In fact, all of St. Paul’s sage advice in the “Hymn to Charity” in 1 Cor. 13 spells out eloquently this “Rule.”
2. The Rule of Publicity: “Think with the mind of the Church.”
This rule is simply a translation of the Latin axiom “Sentire cum Ecclesia.” This means that, when we disagree, the final measure for judging what’s on target and what’s off the mark is what the Church thinks, not, ultimately, what you think or what I think – not private opinion, but what the Church has said to all to know.
This is the reason I call this the “The Rule of Publicity.” The criterion for our deciding our disagreements is not one’s own private opinions, but the mind of the People of God, what the Church thinks.
In order to apply this rule effectively, we need to use a corollary: “Measure everything against the authoritative documents of the Magisterium.”
The logical question to follow any call for us to “think with the mind of the Church” is: How do I know what that is?
The answer is: “Look in the places where the Church has expressed her mind with authority.” Look in the writings of the Councils and the popes, in the Church’s laws, and in the teachings of her Fathers and Doctors. Any survey or poll, no matter how extensive or accurate, if it contradicts the Magisterium, is not the Church’s mind.
3. The Rule of Legitimate Freedom: “What the Church allows is not to be disallowed.”
This rule means that in situations where the Church says that a variety of views or opinions is legitimate, I should not impose my option as a mandate on others. For example: we can receive Holy Communion in the hand or on the tongue. Either one is acceptable.
4. The Rule of Catholic Freedom: “There’s something for everybody, but not everything is for everybody.”
This fourth rule is an extension of the one above. It applies the same sort of respect for diversity to the wider spheres of our common life. This rule is based on the recognition that “It’s a big Church.” God has given gifts of grace in an almost dizzying variety. Some folks are attracted to the Carmelite Third Order, others gather for charismatic prayer. Nobody has to live the Christian life exactly the way I do.
Remember: “Think (and act) with the mind of the Church.” We need to respect every practice or approach that has a legitimate place in the life of the Church, and we cannot make our favorite practice or approach mandatory for others if the Church has not.
5. The Rule of Modesty: “Not all of my causes are God’s causes.”
Yes, it’s true that in many cases we invest our heart’s devotion because that’s what God commands for all his people. But that’s not necessarily so in every instance. Some of my agendas are mine. It’s right to embark on projects with a zealous desire to give God glory, but I have to remember that while it may be his will for me to take this on, there are cases when it’s not his will for everyone else to join me.
6. The Rule of Integrity: “To do evil in order to accomplish good is really to do evil.”
Breaking one of God’s commandments is not the way to advance his Kingdom, ever. If, in the service of Christ, I act in an un-Christian way, I become a highly effective ally of the very forces I set out to combat. (Among those who are big “Star War” fans, this rule is sometimes referred to as the “Darth Vader Axiom.”)
7. The Rule of Realism: “Remember that Satan is eager to corrupt my efforts to build up the Kingdom, and he’s smart enough to figure out a way to do it.
This rule is strong statement about the need for each of us in our disagreements to practice that form of realism, for which the more common name is “humility.” My cause may be right or my view may be true, but I have to watch that their goodness is not corrupted by my infidelity.
8. The Rule of Mystery: “Not all the habits and attitudes which belong to a society governed by a representative democracy are appropriate in the Church.”
In every age there is a tendency – often unconscious – to shape the life of the Church after the pattern of the secular order of the day. In the Middle Ages, the governance of the Church was often configured to the feudal system of the times, sometimes with very harmful consequences. For example, bishops and abbots were identified with the barons of the nobility.
In our own day, we could make a similar sort of mistake: thinking that the responsibility and authority of the Church’s pastors are of the same sort as that of our elected officials. In such mistaken identifications, what is at work is a forgetting that while the Church is, yes, a human reality, she is also a divine reality, a mystery, unlike any other community every known in the history of the world.
The Church is neither a democracy nor a monarchy. She is the Church, the Lord’s own creation, constituted according to his will and plan.
9. The Petrine Rule: “Nobody ever built up the Church by tearing down the pope.”
This rule follows quite logically from the one immediately above. The Holy Father’s leadership is part of the Church’s constitution from Christ. Because the pope is not the sort of democratic leader we are accustomed to in civil society, there is a tendency by some observers to characterize his office as a “throwback” to times that we have surpassed, a “burden” for the Catholic people that we would well be freed from. Not so.
The pastoral care we receive from the Holy Father is a great grace, St. Peter’s own service of his fellow disciples continuing to this very day. A great pope makes us a better Church.
10. The Eschatological Rule: “The victory is assured; my job is to run out the clock with style.”
Christ is risen – truly, body and soul risen and in glory at the Father’s right. He has conquered sin and death and all the forces that threaten us. Whatever is at stake in our trials or conflicts, the certainty of Christ’s victory is not in doubt.
And he promised he would be with us always, until the end of time (cf. Mat. 28:20). He will never leave his Church, and his victory will be ours as long as we abide with him in his Mystical Body.
This rule, of course, is not an excuse for giving less than our full effort to spread the Kingdom; that would be a kind of presumption. However, this rule is a call to remember that there is one Savior, and it’s not you or me. Our mission is to serve the Lord in fidelity and hope, and be ready for him to act, for he surely will.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Eeneh keh Saint Paul dar yeki az namehash migeh:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Yani eenkeh fekr nakon keh een doshmaneh ma masalan dolateh romeh (keh oon zaman maseeheeha ro mikoshtand) ya emperatooreh. Va masalan ageh dolateh rome az been bereh moshkelateman hal misheh, ya bereem folan keshvar hal misheh, na kheir. Doshmaneh ma spiritual hast, dar donya gahi beh shekl yeh hokoomateh, gahi beh shekleh yeh ideology ast, gahi yeh fardeh (anti-christ behesh migim), va gheireh. Vali ageh emrooz eeneh, farda cheezeh deegar ast, chon kingdom ma dar een donya neest. Dar vagheh moshkalat ma ba Utopia hal nemisheh, chon utopia dar een donya emkan nadareh.
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world...my kingdom is from another place."
Eeneh keh maseehiha midoonand keh donbaleh panacea (masalan eediology rooz) naravand. Midoonand keh manbaeh evil dar donya dar vojood khodema ensanhast va ham az shayateene.
Va neez midooneem keh Maseeh ba margesh bar sheytoon pirooz shod va komak ma dar een spiritual warfare Jesus Christ ast. Faghat chon Jesus barayeh ma joonesh ra fada kard mara az chang sheytoon nejat dad, va ma az tareegheh oon mitooneem dar moghabel sheytoon vaysteem. Chon Jesus Maseeh is " 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Yek spiritual battle mohem barayeh maseeheeha alaheh "culture of death" mibasheh. Culture of death keh shameleh men jomleh abortion, euthanasia, va embrionic stem cell research. Va barayeh hameeneh keh maseeheeha kheili be ghodrateh doa (power of prayer) agheedeh daran. Va barayeh masael donya ba ghodrateh doa mijangand. Barayeh mesal yek doayeh kheili ghavi keh sai mikonam hafteii aghalan yek bar bekhoonam, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy nam darad.
Pas ma chetoori mitooneem khodaman va azeezanemoon ra mohafezat koneem? Bah eeman va ehteka beh khoda, bah doa va niayesh ziad, az tareegheh Maseeh keh raheman ra baz kard. Ba komakeh taghva va gonah nakardan (ta haddeh emkan) va ziad va fooran tobeh kardan. Bah estefadeh kardan az suffering in expiation of sins, "offering it up". Bah komak az fereshteh nejateman, khoobeh keh ba oon ziad harf bezaneem (aya midoonesti keh mitooneh esmesh ra beporsi? Baleh bahash harf bezan, esmesho bepors behet migeh). Va mitooneem az fereshtehayeh digeh ham komak bigireem, masalan Saint Michael.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
- defend us in battle.
- Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
- May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
- and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host —
- by the Divine Power of God —
- cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
- who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Friday, November 24, 2006
A Short Road to Perfection
It is the saying of holy men that, if we wish to be perfect, we have nothing more to do than to perform the ordinary duties of the day well. A short road to perfection—short, not because it easy, but because pertinent and intelligible. There are no short ways to perfection, but there are sure ones.
I think this is an instruction which may be of great practical use to persons like ourselves. It is easy to have vague ideas what perfection is, which serve well enough to talk about, when we do not intend to aim at it; but as soon as a person really desires and sets about seeking it himself, he is dissatisfied with anything but what is tangible and clear, and constitutes some sort of direction towards the practice of it.
We must bear in mind what is meant by perfection. It does not mean any extraordinary service, anything out of the way, or especially heroic—not all have the opportunity of heroic acts, of sufferings—but it means what the word perfection ordinarily means. By perfect we mean that which has no flaw in it, that which is complete, that which is consistent, that which is sound—we mean the opposite to imperfect. As we know well what imperfection in religious service means, we know by the contrast what is meant by perfection.
He, then, is perfect who does the work of the day perfectly, and we need not go beyond this to seek for perfection. You need not go out of the round of the day.
I insist on this because I think it will simplify our views,’ and fix our exertions on a definite aim. If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say, first—Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God’s glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
A Christian Reviews Groundhog Day
Here is an extract of a Christian review of that wonder-filled movie, Groundhog Day.
From Touchstone Magazine:
Michael P. Foley on the Lessons of Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day is the story of Phil Connors, an obnoxious weatherman at a Pittsburgh TV station who must cover the celebration of Groundhog Day in rural Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Phil (masterfully played by Bill Murray) is egotistical, career-driven, and contemptuous of his fellow man. “People are morons,” he tells his producer Rita, played by an adorable Andie MacDowell. “People like blood sausage.” Phil, in other words, is the typical product of modernity, the bourgeois man who lives for himself in the midst of others. Rita describes him—and us—well by quoting Sir Walter Scott’s “There Breathes the Man”:
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.
By refusing to die to himself, Phil and those like him are doomed to die doubly, triply, innumerably.
The Punxsutawney celebration of Groundhog Day culminates with the town elders consulting a real woodchuck, also named Phil, about the next six weeks. The groundhog sees his shadow, an omen that more winter is to come.
Connors cannot wait to return to Pittsburgh, but trapped by a blizzard (which he failed to predict), he and the crew must stay another night in Punxsutawney. When he awakes the next morning, Phil discovers to his dismay that it is February 2nd—again. The same thing happens the next day, and the next. For reasons that are never made clear, Phil is condemned to live Groundhog Day over and over.
Phil’s situation is unique, yet the movie hints that it is not unrelated to our own quotidian lives. Commiserating with two locals over beers, Phil asks, “What would you do if every day was the same, and nothing you did ever mattered?” The men’s faces grow solemn, and one of them finally belches, “That about sums it up for me.” Phil’s preternatural plight bears a twin resemblance to ours: first, as a symbol for the Fall, with its “doubly dying” estrangement from God and return to the vile dust from whence we sprang; and second, as a symbol for life in the wake of postmodern philosophy.
For the great father of this philosophy is Nietzsche, and the idea that frightened him most was the “the eternal recurrence of the same,” i.e., that even the superior human being must bear the same dreary existence an infinite number of times. Like us, Phil is the modern man who must now confront the hardship of postlapsarian life on the one hand and the metaphysical meaninglessness of postmodern thought on the other.Read the whole thing here.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
What is a Christian? From the Early Church Fathers
From the Epistle to Diognetus
"Christians are not distinguished from the rest of humanity by country, language, or custom. For nowhere do they live in cities of their own, nor do they speak some unusual dialect, nor do they practice an eccentric lifestyle....While they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each one's lot was cast, and follow the local customs in dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own citizenship.
"They live in their own countries, but only as aliens; they participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is foreign. They marry like everyone else, and have children, but they do not expose their offspring. They share their food but not their wives. They are `in the flesh,' but do not live `according to the flesh.' They live on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws; indeed in their private lives they transcend the laws.
"They love everyone, and by everyone they are persecuted. They are unknown, yet they are condemned; they are put to death, yet they are brought to life. They are poor, yet they make many rich; they are in need of everything, yet they abound in everything. They are dishonored, yet they are glorified in their dishonor; they are slandered, yet they are vindicated. They are cursed, yet they bless; they are insulted, yet they offer respect. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when they are punished, they rejoice as though brought to life....Those who hate them are unable to give a reason for their hostility" (5.1-17).
The Epistle to Diognetus then compares the relationship of the church to the world with that of the soul to the body.
"In a word, what the soul is to the body, Christians are to the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians throughout the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but is not of the body; likewise Christians dwell in the world, but are not of the world. The soul, which is invisible, is confined in the body, which is visible, in the same way, Christians are recognized as being in the world, and yet their religion remains invisible.
"The flesh hates the soul and wages war against it, even though it has suffered no wrong, because it is hindered from indulging in its pleasures, so also the world hates the Christians, even though it has suffered no wrong, because they set themselves against its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and its members, and Christians love those who hate them.
"The soul is enclosed in the body, but it holds the body together; and though Christians are detained, in the world as if in a prison, they in fact hold the world together. The soul, which is immortal, lives in a mortal dwelling; similarly Christians live as strangers amidst perishable things, while waiting for the imperishable in heaven....Such is the important position to which God has appointed them" (6.1-9).
Sign of Contradiction
From A true Christian is a sign of contradiction ~ a living symbol of the Cross. He or she is a person who believes the unbelievable, bears the unbearable, forgives the unforgiveable, loves the unloveable, is perfectly happy not to be perfect, is willing to give up one's will, becomes weak to be strong, sees some good in every bad, and finds love by giving it away. A Christian transcends the natural with the immeasurable power of love and becomes a supernatural person. Joseph Roy"Jesus came to bring salvation to all men, yet he will be a sign of contradiction because some people will obstinately reject him -- for this reason he will be their ruin. But for those who accept him with faith Jesus will be their salvation, freeing them from sin in this life and raising them up to eternal life."
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
Credit post to The Dawn Patrol
Hate the Sin Love the Sinner
Do you know what that means? There are only three possibilities:
1) hate the sin, love the sinner
2) love the sin, hate the sinner
3) hate the sin, hate the sinner
The fourth one--love the sin love the sinner--is impossible.
Take the easy case, the third one--hate the sin hate the sinner--Islam for example.
Christianity says #1, hate the sin love the sinner; who says the second one, love the sin hate the sinner?--secularism. Here's the difference. When I hate the sin love the sinner think of how you love yourself and how you feel when you do something wrong. It's easy to understand if you take how you love yourself as an example. Another example is of a loving father to his child. I keep both examples in mind because they both help me.
I often struggle to know how to love in every situation (for example, in a particular situation, do I love by keeping my mouth shut or do I say something?) So first I have to know what is love. To love is to will the ultimate good for a person, meaning whatever would get that person closer to God, and it involves self-sacrifice and requires purity of intention. Back to my two examples, a father loves his child and desires his good; I love myself and desire my good. These usually help me to figure out how best to love in every situation, but the third example that I didn't mention is Jesus Christ.
The second Person of the Holy Trinity came down to earth and took on flesh, He was not born in a castle but in a manger and placed in a feeding trough. He came to a poor family and labored in obscurity for 30 years and after three difficult years of healing and performing wonders laid down His life in a most horrific and gruesome death. He said Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Read the gospels. Every instance of Jesus's life is an example of how to love. And you may notice that he never says sweet and syrrupy things to anyone. There is no ghorboon sadegheh, no del o jegar, no gol goftan o gol shenoftan. He shows His love to His Father and to people in His actions.
So if you ever wonder like me how to love in any situation, ponder the three examples I gave you and then pray on it.
And what does loving the sin hating the sinner mean? Now this is really interesting. It means not disapproving of zena (premarital sex), but instantly calling any woman we don't like a "ho" (even though she behaves exactly like me). It means hating people for the narcisstic and arbitrary reasons:
I HATE HER BECAUSE SHE:
stole my boyfriend, (personal injury)
is popular, (envy)
makes me uncomfortable about my own choices, (narcisstic injury)
is a geek, (is unfashionable)
is a liberal or republican, (has different political beliefs than mine)
is a frickan franistinian, (is from a different race or nationality or religion).
is a taghooti, (an ideological reason)
When we don't have a sense of sin, then our hatereds are going to be confused and arbitrary and narcisstic. That is the nature of things. Because sin is real, suffering is real, there is real evil in the world. When we have lost our capacity to recognize the source of evil (ourselves and evil spirits), then the world becomes a hodge-podge of post-modernist nihilistic imaginings.
Option #1, hating the sin and loving the sinner, actually frees us because now we can love people and grieve for them for their sins all the while remembering that we share in their fallen nature.
It brings us closer to God because now we are seeing things the way God sees them, and this is the whole reason God became man--to help man become like God!
Ah Maseeh be man beres mano faramoosh nakon. Ay Maryameh moghaaddas, madareh Khoda, keh barayeh adamhaee beelighat mesleh man khodeh ra fada kard, bia to ghalbam o mesleh ayneh pakesh kon keh chehreye Pesaret dar man namayan besheh. Ameen.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Hungry Souls (Een rooh ghaza mikhad!)
But true happiness can only come to the soul, when we are not feeding our soul we must then chase pleasures and endlessly distract ourselves.
But something is missing from all of this. Our relationship with God. Because in the end the only thing that is important is our relationship with God. As St Augustine said, "Our hearts our restless until they rest in Thee"
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The Story of Job or how Suffering can be Good
The story of Job (Ayoob), the innocent righteous man who lost everything, gives an answer to that. Here's an insightful meditation by Drusilla of Heirs in Hope:
“God was unjust to Job. His faithfulness and piety deserved better treatment,” proclaimed the professor of a course I was taking in literary depictions of justice. I was shocked and totally disagreed but at seventeen I had no words to help me express my dissent only the absolute conviction that God is never unjust and that the professor was missing something of vital importance. Of course most people would agree with my professor. Job suffered terribly. God gives Satan permission to harm Job and even admits that Satan "moved [God] against him, to destroy him without cause." So it should all be very simple. On this occasion, God must be unjust.
I first read the book of Job when I was five and was chiefly struck by the image of a dirty old man, clothed in rags, smelly, probably drunk (I’d already read about Noah), perched atop a pile of ashes scraping giant boils. A gruesome image. Over the next ten or twelve years, I read Job again, two or three times, and while the gruesome image remained, by nine, I realized his ‘friends’ were blaming him and wondered fearfully if they were right. By fourteen I was impressed but puzzled by God’s response – he never answers Job’s demands and accusations. Then there was the course when I was a sophomore in college which signaled the start of another eight years of pondering Job, of trying to understand God’s justice. On perhaps the twelfth reading I noticed for the first time a phrase I’d missed in the past. Sitting on his ashes after a seven day silent watch, Job curses his very existence in frustration and rage ending, “…the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.” But what had Job feared? He had had everything. I went back to the beginning and paid very close attention. As I walked alongside Job in my imagination, I saw him making continual sacrifices just in case. His was the behaviour of a frightened man, of appeasement – Job seeks to avoid God. In his speeches, Job expresses his feelings about God in language that is at first reminiscent of Psalm 8 but quickly moves to a place of terror and darkness: “What is man, that thou dost make so much of him, and that thou dost set thy mind upon him, dost visit him every morning, and test him every moment? How long wilt thou not look away from me …thou watcher of men?”
For Job, God is cruel and exacting, lying in wait for him to err, lying in wait to punish him with His terrible glance. This had not been discussed in that course on justice. ... They focused on Job’s sufferings but failed to look at his actual relationship with God, a relationship in which he seeks to remain safely in one corner and to keep God safely in another. They did not see that Job’s sufferings begin long before Satan “move[s] [God] …to destroy him without cause." To worship God in an attempt to keep him far away is to suffer horribly.Do you want to know how Job gets his answer and is satisfied? It may not be what you think. So read the whole meditation here. What I like about this is that it illustrates the redemptive value of suffering, overturning our preconceived notions that suffering is a sign of God's wrath or indifference (the latter being worse, imo) or else what happens to losers.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Why I can't speak, Beloved
The fallacy is that many people assume they know Christianity because they know the plot. I was one of them. They think the plot is Christianity.
That's not true, Christianity is the missing piece of the puzzle that explains everything. It was the centerpiece that you didn't even suspect was missing. Now that you've found it you see everything differently. It's like before you didn't even know that you needed glasses. It is a lightbulb turning on. It is Ah-hah! Eureka! It is "Oh sweet mystery of life at last I've found you!". It is all these things and more because Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life.