Busted Halo created this cute video about Advent. I hope it cheers you a much as it did me.
Robert Frost said, “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”
The same could be said for family. Just for today, let’s not trot out the laundry list of “bad” families and family dysfunctions and remember instead that when, as we say in these parts, push comes to shove, your family members are the only people who will stick by you.
As a long-time/small-time public figure, I can tell you that there are days when home is not only where the heart is, it is also the only safe place.
Enjoy your family this weekend. Your life will be better for it.
So I was steam-cleaning the shower; giving the house it’s Thanksgiving go-over.
I have an industrial-strength steamer that, when it’s fully rigged up, looks a lot like one of the bugs in Starship Troopers. It produces hot, hot steam in violent jets that dissolve dirt and slay bacteria with a single hiss.
I was running it with the squeegee attachment, going up and down the shower walls, steam coming out in an angry zzzzzzzz, my laboriously straightened hair collapsing into tight little curls, when my youngest son popped his head around the bathroom door.
“Whachadoin’?” he asked.
“Cleaning the shower.”
“I want you to come do that to my shower,” meaning, the shower in the house he shares with his brother, a shower so dirty that there’s no way to be sure what color the enamel might be; a shower so dirty that self-respecting bacteria moved out months ago; a shower so dirty that I wouldn’t use it to bathe a dog.
“Nope. But you can borrow the steamer.”
“But I want you to come do it.”
“All right then,” he said, wandering off.
I guess I’m responsible. After all, I raised him.
When he marries, I plan to begin my relationship with my new daughter-in-law by apologizing.
I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium
Pope Francis has issued a beautiful new document, called an Apostolic Exhortation, and a wonderful exhortation it is.
Needless to say, the popular press has already begun issuing their skewed interpretations of what he said.
I think the reasons for this constant re-writing of the Holy Father’s message is twofold. First, they are literally putting words in the pope’s mouth to advance their own social/political agendas. Second, the drive to pick out the most compelling headline and pull readers into their publication leads them to sensationalize Pope Francis’ statements.
I’m not going to write in detail about Evangelii Gaudium until after Thanksgiving. We’ve all got turkey on the brain right now. I’ve been steam cleaning and dusting and vacuuming. Then I’ve got to start preparing food for a small army of hungry family and friends.
That’s why I put the quote above. I can’t take the time to analyze the Holy Father’s statements until after Thanksgiving, but I can, and have, let him summarize himself.
The Holy Father did not, as one press report I’ve read claims, call for the dissolution of Vatican authority in the Church. What he did do was call each and every one of us to our universal Christian vocation of living for Christ and sharing the Gospel with the world. It’s a beautiful document that spoke to my heart as I read it.
He’s so right about what ails us and what we have to do to live out our vocation as Christian evangelists in this fallen world. Those of us who live in the post Christian West have our own unique challenges. Our first challenge — and it appears to be a tough one for most Christians — is to know and to believe that we live in a culture that is hostile to Christ and His message and to us as Christians. We have to choose this day whom we will serve. That choice has eternal consequences.
A lot of us don’t want to believe that uncomfortable fact. We don’t want to chose and make people mad at us by our choice. We want to slip by without incurring the wrath of the culture and still slide home to heaven after it’s all done.
We’d rather compromise our faith than face the wonderful fact that we are a new First Century generation, called to evangelize a libertine and openly anti-Christ culture. We have been entrusted with the gift of being able to stand up for Jesus and take a couple of verbal brickbats for him from our child-sacrficing, marriage-and-family-destroying, women-and-children-selling culture.
Our grandparents didn’t have the opportunity to stand for Him that we’ve got. They lived in the days of ez-pz faith in a country where saying you were a Christian opened doors instead of shutting them.
But we can stand for Jesus in a way that makes a difference. That is the challenge of, and the gift to, our generation.
Pope Francis is all about issuing that call to stop hiding our light and make a stand for Jesus. He is leading us to give up passively sitting in the pews and watching self-absorbed priests wave around incense and preach feel-good homilies that don’t address the human meat market world in which we live. We are, all of us, from the bishops on down, being challenged by a pope who sees the problem and knows that the solution is us and our fidelity to Christ.
The time for lukewarm ministers, politically correct bishops and social club laity is past. It is no longer a get out of jail free card to be a Christian. In fact, proclaiming your faith in Christ and the teachings of His Church will get you reviled, mocked and attacked.
Pope Francis has written a wonderful, much-needed document calling you and me, our bishops, priests and all the religious to our true vocation, which is proclaiming the Gospel of Christ by how we live, what we say, and what price we are willing to pay.
You can find Evangelii Gaudium: On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World here.
Patheos’ Beer Guy, Frank Weathers
My husband and I took a rambling drive through the Oklahoma hills yesterday.
We wound around the Talihina Drive and ended up at Pete’s Place in Krebs, Oklahoma. For those of you who don’t know, that means we were well and royally fed.
I admired the beer menu, and the good folks at Pete’s gave it to me. Here it is, for the perusal of all you poor folks out there who aren’t Okies. (And, of course, Patheos’ own beer connoisseur, Frank Weathers) I’m not a beer drinker, but those who are say that Pete’s and Choc beer are beyond compare.
It’s a step in the right direction.
China has announced that it will “ease” its draconian one-child policy. Now, the good government will allow families to have two children.
I am glad they are doing this, but governments do not have any business telling families how many children they can have. Period.
If China — or India, for that matter — wanted to “ease” the pressures that lead to aborting, abandoning and murdering baby girls, they might consider measures to change the age-old practices that created this violent discrimination. I am not talking about coercion. Rather, by addressing issues of parity in inheritance, income and opportunity, much of the “reason” for murdering baby girls would go away.
The article below seems to say that ending the brutal murders of baby girls has nothing to do with this policy change, so don’t hold your breath for these kinds of changes. What the article implies is that China is “easing” their policy (but not relaxing their control over people’s private lives) for economic reasons. It seems the economy flourishes with a growing population to buy goods and services.
In the meantime, I am wondering if this new policy means that now the Chinese government will knock down people’s houses and grab pregnant women off the streets to force abort them after the second baby instead of the first.
(Reuters) - China will ease family planning restrictions nationwide, the government said on Friday, allowing millions of families to have two children in the country’s most significant liberalization of its strict one-child policy in about three decades.
Couples in which one parent is an only child will now be able to have a second child, one of the highlights of a sweeping raft of reforms announced three days after the ruling Communist Party ended a meeting that mapped out policy for the next decade.
The plan to ease the policy was envisioned by the government about five years ago as officials worried that the strict controls were undermining economic growth and contributing to a rapidly ageing population the country had no hope of supporting financially.
A growing number of scholars had long urged the government to reform the policy, introduced in the late 1970s to prevent population growth spiraling out of control, but now regarded by many experts as outdated and harmful to the economy.
Not, mind you, the gun-toting, building-blowing-up, people-killing kind of revolutionary. If we would just pull the shades off our eyes, we’d see that killer revolutionaries are old hat, trite and not really all that unusual. People have been killing people since Cain and Abel.
Jesus was the kind of revolutionary who lights the spark of ideas that wind through the centuries, slowly elevating all of humankind. He was the counter-cultural, upside-down uber revolutionary of all time who taught us that the God who made everything everywhere loves us and knows all about us down to and including every single hair on our heads.
This attention to life and love is universal, it seems, since the same Jesus told us that not even a bird falls from the sky but that the God of everything, everywhere knows and takes note of it. This is the God Who looked at creation and said, “It is good.”
Jesus is a revolutionary today, just as much as He was in first century Palestine.
His Vicar, Pope Francis, has been speaking and teaching this same revolutionary message that His Master taught 2,000 years ago. He hasn’t changed the message. Pope Benedict taught the same Good News, as has every other Vicar of Christ. Despite their failings and weaknesses, not one of these men has ever departed from the Gospel Good News of Jesus Christ to teach a false gospel of god made in our image.
For reasons that I think have a lot more to do with the Holy Spirit than those who are slavering over the Holy Father’s teachings would ever admit, this old wine of the Gospel has become new again in Pope Francis’ way of expressing and living it.
“Bombshell” is the word that pundits attach to comments he makes that are nothing more nor less than what the Church has taught from the beginning. I keep hearing about these “bombshell” comments from people who are offended or upset by them.
So, I’m going to go over them and try to explain why the only thing new about them is the simple fact that the revolutionary teachings of Jesus Christ are always new and always challenging. Following Him is not now and never has been for sissies.
Here are a few examples of statements the press has termed a ‘bombshell.’ Give them a look. You’ll see what I mean.
1. Who am I to judge?
What this statement is not:
Pope Francis’ said this in relation to a priest who is in a prominent Vatican position, and who had fallen into public sexual sin in his past. This particular priest also happens to be homosexual, so his sexual sin was with other men. The Pope simply said that if a man has repented and is trying to live his vows and the Church teachings, “Who am I to judge?’
This was not a statement that gay sex is ok. It was not a statement that it’s ok for priests to break their vows.
What this statement is:
It was an affirmation that we are all made new in Christ. I am the recipient of this same grace, as, if you will be honest, are you.
St Paul murdered Christians before he became the great apostle. St Peter denied he ever knew Christ and cursed His name before he became the first pope.
If a priest falls off the chastity wagon and then repents and lives his vows afterwards, how is that different from you and me? Who, as the pope said, are we to judge?
2. And I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being.
What this is statement is not:
Pope Francis was not saying that all truth is equal and one “god” is as good as another. He was not saying that Jesus is just one among many Gods.
What this statement is:
The Pope was telling us that there is One God, that Jesus Christ is His son, and that this Jesus is Lord of all, including the Catholic Church and the Pope. The Church doesn’t own God. God owns the Church.
3. The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.
What this statement is not:
The Pope is not saying that Church teaching is picayune and that we can ignore it.
What this statement is:
The Pope is saying “by grace you are saved and that not of yourself.” You can not earn heaven. Jesus Christ has saved you. We belong to Him, or we don’t. It’s our choice.
4. We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
What this statement is not:
It is not a repudiation of 2,000 years of Christian teaching on the sanctity of human life and holy matrimony. The Holy Father is not undoing what Jesus did at the Wedding of Cana. He is not saying that the early Christians were wrong when they condemned child sacrifice and abandoning disabled children and baby girls.
What it is:
The Holy Father is telling us that abortion and gay marriage are not the only sins against life and against God. As I sometimes jokingly say, you can’t claim, “I am anti-abortion, so that means I can rob all the banks I want.” We need to live out the whole Gospels in our Christian walk, not just one or two commandments.
5. It hurts me when I see a priest or nun with the latest-model car. You can’t do this. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but, please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.
I’m not even going to try to explain what this is not. It’s obvious what the Pope was saying to priests and nuns: Walk the walk.
It applies to the rest of us, too, which may be why some people get so upset about it.
After all the hullaballoo, it turns out that the Vatican is not seeking input from the laity about it teachings, procedures, or anything else.
The survey the Vatican announced a week ago is designed to collect raw data at the diocesan level. It is not, as the popular press implied, a poll of the laity on Church doctrine and discipline. The data will be used as a resource in the 2014 Synod.
I’ve seen the survey, and I hope that it is not fully reflective of the issues that will be considered in the Synod. I am concerned that it is too focused on the needs of “new” family structures and not enough on how the Church can better support the traditional family.
I realize that the problems and the noise from those in “new” family structures tends to focus Vatican attention. But while those in “new” family structures are making all the demands and creating all the fuss, traditional families are quietly foundering.
Men and women, husbands and wives, in traditional Catholic families need a lot — and I mean a lot — more teaching and support, both spiritual and practical, from their Church. I hope that the bishops do not have the idea that what the Church is doing now to support traditional families within their care is enough. It simply is not, and I point to the need for this survey on “new” family structures as an indication of how serious the problem is becoming.
The huge increase in these “new” family structures which predicates surveys and Synods on how to deal with them is, to a great extent, testimony to the fact that traditional families have been suffering and failing. Traditional family has been under unremitting, concerted attack for almost 5 decades now. The Church needs to change how it supports traditional families to reflect this reality.
We need new and more inclusive ways of nurturing healthy Catholic families for the simple reason that traditional Christian families are under such enormous destructive pressure in this post Christian society. This destructive pressure bears down on every area of family life, from the way jobs are constructed, to social pressures, to the propaganda our children are inundated with in the public schools.
As Yogi Beara said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
If the church truly is a community, building healthy Catholic families by providing practical support of many types has to be part of its ministry.
From the National Catholic Register:
Vatican Collecting Diocesan Data, Not Lay Opinions in Worldwide Survey
Multiple media reports have given rise to the misconception that Pope Francis is polling Catholics for their views on Church teaching and practices.
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/vatican-collecting-diocesan-data-not-lay-opinions-in-worldwide-survey?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-11-8%2022:12:01#ixzz2kAjgql7O