Music for Our Times Sounds Like This

Lang Lang playing the piano. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by digital cat https://www.flickr.com/photos/14646075@N03/

Lang Lang playing the piano. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by digital cat https://www.flickr.com/photos/14646075@N03/

I will never play this piece of music. It’s right up there with jumping the Grand Canyon flat-footed and breaking the sound barrier without an airplane.

In fact, I have to listen to hear it intelligently, and every time I hear it, I hear something else.

It’s Chopin’s Ballade No 1 in G Minor. I’ve taken to listening to it a lot lately, especially as it’s performed by various artists. It seems to speak of the times we are entering, at least to me.

Here is Chopin’s Ballade No 1, played in a grand manner by Rubenstein. This version includes the music so you can follow along as you listen. Be patient with it. There are a couple of written quotes at the first of it before the music begins. Notice how the Ballade changes constantly all the way through.

YouTube Preview Image

Here it is, performed by Lang Lang. I love to watch him as he plays. He feels the music, is transported by it. His playing is more lush, with big emotionality.

YouTube Preview Image

Here is a thoughtful interpretation by Martha Argerich. Do you hear the more introspective way she  approaches it, compared to Lang Lang, who is full-on with it? It’s also interesting to hear the difference in the pianos they use. Do you hear that?

YouTube Preview Image

This incredible piece of music talks to us through each of these artists, and what it says is a bit different, depending on which of them has control of it. Their genius shows in that whichever one of them is playing, they are not just pounding out notes. They have control — although you sometimes feel as if their control is just barely there — of the music in the notes.

I change my mind a lot about which interpretation I like best. They’re all so good, each in a different way. Do you have a favorite?

It amazes me that people can do this. Chopin heard this music before he wrote it, felt it before he heard it. These pianists are able to overcome the technical difficulties and complexity of this piece of music to master it to the point that they can then take it and put pieces of themselves back into it, making it their own.

We are wondrously made. Chopin wrote this wonderful music after the partition of his beloved country. He somehow managed to pull the longing, the chaos and the clash of this disaster out of the piano. The history of the Ballade alone nominates it as music for our times. But the Ballade itself reaches across the century and speaks of today as if then was now.

It is not a marching tune. You would break your leg, marching to this. I can’t even tell for sure which key it’s in a big part of the time. The Ballade is a technical power house that only a genius like Chopin could tame into a not-quite form.

As I said, I have to listen to even really hear it.

Such is the genius of the human being.

Of us, who are fearfully and wondrously made.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Pope Francis is 80 Today!

Photo Source: Flickr Craative Commons by Arghya Banik https://www.flickr.com/photos/arghyabanik/

Photo Source: Flickr Craative Commons by Arghya Banik https://www.flickr.com/photos/arghyabanik/

Our Papa is 80 years old today.

If you would like to wish him a happy birthday, you can do so by making a comment in his Twitter account, @Pontifex, his Instagram account, or use one of the seven email accounts the Vatican created for this purpose.

I hope you take the time to wish our Holy Father a happy birthday. I also hope that those of you have fallen in to the trap of attacking the Pope will call a time out for the day and join the rest of us in sending him your good wishes.

We are blessed to have this good man as our shepherd in these times. It is foolishness not to know it.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

We are Called as Missionaries

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kate Ter Haar, https://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kate Ter Haar, https://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/

We are all called to go out as missionaries and bring the message of God’s love to every person in every area of life.  Pope Francis

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

I Am Standing with the Pope. Glad You Noticed.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

This isn’t about me, and I’m not trying to make it about me. But I’ve just had one of those experiences when angry people hand me a totally unexpected — and unintended — honor, and I’m too happy about it not to share.

I wrote a little post saying, in essence, that no matter what the reaction to Amoris Laetitia, I was standing with the Pope and his authority as head of my Church. The basic thing in the post was simple: Pope Francis is my religious leader. He’s the commander in chief of this earthly army for Christ, and I am — well I don’t even really qualify as a buck private — I’m more of a flag waving member of the cheering section, sending the real soldiers off to battle for Christ.

I hadn’t intended to take sides in the priest fight ensuing between Pope Francis and four cardinals. But, the stuff and nonsense I’ve been seeing directed toward the Pope just plain got to me. There are whole websites with large fanatical followings dedicated to destroying his credibility as the Vicar of Christ. There are Facebook pages authored by sick little people whose only purpose seems to be to tear down, do harm and create division among the faithful.

There are people who insist on referring to the Holy Father by his birth name as a means of disrespecting him. There are nuts out there who claim he’s not the pope. There are people who say he’s a heretic and is in apostasy. They quote — and misquote — canon law and papal encyclicals to “prove” this nonsensical garbage.

These sicko web sites who have dedicated themselves to attacking the Pope usually sell things and hit you up for donations as soon as you arrive on their turf. They are obviously making $$$ out of this hate enterprise they are running, and they equally obviously do not care one whit about the damage they are doing to the Church by attacking the Pope in this outlandish manner.

This whole thing is verging on being schismatic. It is also fodder for the mentals among the flock who need to rage about something in order to shout down their inner demons. Hating the Pope has become a kind of therapy for those who are damaged and hurting from the harms this sinful world has inflicted on them. It takes the place of drugs, overeating, cutting, and a lot of other ways of self-numbing.

I have every sympathy for these people. I understand the damage that the things that are done to us can do to our lives.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to follow them down the road. I sympathize, but I am not following these hate-filled web sites, Facebook pages and Twitter communities. I will follow the Vicar of Christ.

I am, as I said, standing with the Pope. Period.

I knew when I said this that there was every possibility that I would catch the angry eyes of the blogmeisters/Facebook-pagers/Twitter-storm-gurus who are fomenting this attack on the Church and her Pope. I knew that they are always in search of a new hate object.

These people need a steady supply of fresh meat to feed the angry crowd they’ve created so that it doesn’t get bored and look elsewhere. They are making their living by chopping away at the unity of the Church. If they don’t mind attacking the Pope, then they certainly aren’t going to mind attacking little old me.

Add to that the fact that members of this nasty tribe have had some success in getting writers fired for saying things they didn’t like, and you’ve got a leader, handing out the torches, and looking for someone to march on next.

I’m not saying that my little blog post got a full-on attack. But it did register a few hits. Evidently, one of the folks who drive this hate bus against the Pope said something or the other that was intended to take a bite out of me and that resulted in a little blast of comments on Public Catholic.

The difference between me and the people who have been hurt by being attacked by these folks is that I have nothing to lose. I don’t make my living doing this. I am not ambitious about my writing. I also don’t see myself as a theologian or a Church authority.

What I am is a pew-sitting Catholic who is grateful beyond words that I was allowed in this Church. I am a sinner whose main religious claim to fame is that I love Jesus with my whole heart. I am blessed every time I take the Eucharist.

If there was some way that I could reach out and enfold the whole world in the love of Christ that I have experienced, I would do it.

This little flurry of comments and whatever the hate-meister said about me that drove them wasn’t much in the scale of things. But being dinged a bit for standing for the Pope is an honor and I am grateful to have received it.

I am grateful to be a Catholic. I am grateful, blessed and healed every time I receive my Jesus in the Eucharist.

I can’t wish anything better for anyone than that they should know Jesus and His love. It’s what I truly wish for this sick and suffering world of ours.

If everyone really knew Jesus, there would be no more hunger or misogyny or racism or economic disparity. If everyone really knew Jesus, there would be no more war, no mindless hate. If everyone really knew Jesus, there would be no one to write hate blogs and no one to read them.

But we live in the time of Kingdom coming, a time when the Kingdom is here, in each of us who truly love Him, and not here in the way we sin in spite of this love; all this in a world that still writhes in the pain of its fallenness. We are witnessing a vast apostasy, a turning away from life to death by whole populations who reject Christ in order to follow their own, broad way.

I believe without doubt that these attacks on the Pope are ultimately an attack on the Church. The fact that those who foment them claim that they are doing what they do on behalf of the Church is just old scratch, talking through people to tell his lies.

I am standing with the Pope.

If that warrants me a few dings in the shooting gallery of the internet, I am honored to be of service.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Happy Anniversary to My Hubby and Me

Copyright by Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright by Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Have you missed me?

I’ve been gone for a few days. For the first time in a long time, I haven’t been MIA because I was sick. I’ve actually been celebrating the fact that I’m NOT sick.

My anniversary was this weekend. Last year on this day, I had one of the surgeries that was my lot during that period. It was a rotten excuse for an anniversary.

So this year, hubby and I did it up good. And it was fun.

Then, I’ve spent the last few days with my 11-month-old granddaughter.

That, and not any illness, is why I’ve been gone from this blog.

I’ve got quite a lot I want to talk to you about, but I’ve got g-daughter today, too. She’s toddling, and it’s a scramble, just keeping her from baby mayhem. You know how it goes with kids: Every day we get older, and they get stronger.

As I said, I’ve got a lot I want to write about, what with cabinet appointments and the Russkies maybe stealing our election, but baby girl makes that impossible right now.

It’s good times at my house. And I’m enjoying them.

I’ll be back as soon as I can.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Come Out of the Cold This Advent

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Bruno https://www.flickr.com/photos/_pek_/

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Bruno https://www.flickr.com/photos/_pek_/

I need Advent this year. I think we all do.

I wrote this post, concerning Advent and renewal because I need Jesus. I need His love, forgiveness and strength. I was blessed to have someone I could go to and talk about these things; a generous, loving spiritual mother who did not turn me away.

From the National Catholic Register:

Come Out of the Cold This Advent
Praying for someone does not mean you agree with the bad things they do.

I needed spiritual guidance and I didn’t know where to turn. This election and the evils thereof had driven me to hatred and a kind of despair about people and the integrity of many Christian religious leaders.

I needed spiritual guidance, a spiritual friend I could trust to lay bare my soul, to let them into the hurt, the ravaged misery I was feeling. I couldn’t talk about the things that needed saying. I’ve learned the hard way that there are some things, some experiences, that belong between me and God.

I turned to the woman I think of as my spiritual mother. I called her out of nowhere and asked if I could come talk to her. She was busy, but she set all that aside and welcomed me.

She was the one who suggested a Novena. Her suggestion was a simple one: Go to Mass every day for 30 days and pray the prayers of the Mass earnestly. I thought it was a good idea.

I left her feeling comforted. She understood my anger and hurt, didn’t deny the reasons for it, then redirected me back to Jesus and away from the visceral hatreds of our political mess. But, it turned out, God was not done with me yet, not by a long sight. The Holy Spirit kept at me, making me miserable as only the Holy Spirit can when you’re doing something wrong.

I’m not good at being on the outs with God. When the Holy Spirit gets after me, I cannot resist for too long. After a couple of days, I yielded and went off alone and prayed. I asked God to forgive me for the hatred in my heart that this political campaign had aroused, and I asked Him to help me. He immediately soothed and comforted me, sent graces of forgiveness and calm.

But the question of a novena stayed. And the anger remained. With the help of prayer, I came to realize that you do not fight the devil with the devil’s weapons, and hatred is absolutely the devil’s weapon. But the anger that fuels a fight for justice is another animal entirely.

Anger in the face of evil is both just and necessary. It is the human response that Jesus Himself evinced when he was confronted with the leaven of the Pharisees. Anger that does not fester, that does not hate, but propels us into good, positive action to right wrongs, is not a sin. It is a force.

Hatred corrupts and destroys the effectiveness of that force. It steals the light of justice from it and turns it to destructive use that never results in any good thing but only feeds the darkness. God is love. Satan is hatred. It’s as simple as that.

That brings me back around to the idea of a novena, or something kind of like a novena. I am not talking about a literal nine-day prayer. I mean something both grander and less than that. I am talking about repentance and conversion; about turning around. I am talking about coming back to God.

This is the second week of Advent — a time of repentance, of making way for the Lord.

We need, this year far more than most, to take advantage of the opportunity Advent affords us to cleanse ourselves of the evils of this political campaign. I know full well that there are going to be recounts and fisticuffs even now, weeks after we voted. But it’s time for those of us who say we follow Jesus to stop following these little-g gods and get back to actually following Jesus.

Here’s what I’m going to suggest. If you are a Hillary hater, pray and ask God to forgive you for the sin of hating her. Contrary to what you may have told yourself, hating her is not righteousness. It is sin, and it separates you from your Maker and imperils your immortal soul. You can end up going to hell for righteously hating Hillary. Wouldn’t that be an ironic end to all this?

If you are a Trump hater, then you need to ask God to forgive you for the sin of hating Donald Trump. Just like the Hillary hater, you can end up going to hell for your righteous hatred of Trump. For all I know, your special hell may be spending your eternity next to a Hillary hater and battling it out with them forevermore.

Ask God to forgive you and then ask Him to use your good anger at one (or both) of these candidates, the anger at abortion and race-baiting and other sexual and moral depravities, to good purpose. Ask Him to give you the courage to do something useful and helpful to save lives — something real that requires a bit of sacrifice on your part, that makes you pay a price for the innocent victims of our sins.

After you pray your please-forgive-me-for-the-sin-of-hatred prayer, I want you to keep it up. If you are a Hillary hater, I am asking you to pray for her every single day of Advent. If you are a Trump hater, I want you to pray for him every day of Advent.

I don’t have any idea what, if anything, these prayers will do for them. That will depend on how receptive they are to the Holy Spirit. But I know what it will do for you. It will do the same thing that praying for those who hurt you — and they have hurt all of us with this campaign, grievously so — always does. It will clear your mind and heal your soul.

Praying for someone does not mean you agree with the bad things they do. It means that you acknowledge their humanity, that they are, like you, made in the image and likeness of God.

The most important reason for praying for both these people is that Jesus told you to do it. Jesus didn’t tell you how to vote. In fact, He said that His Kingdom was not of this world, meaning, I think, that Christians are citizens of a Kingdom without politics first, and citizens of the political kingdoms of this world second.

We have all bent our knees before the little-g gods of politics these past months. Now it’s time to bend our knees before the real God, the One Who does not want to manipulate or exploit us, the One Who only wants to bless us.

You and I need to pray for both Hillary and Donald because Jesus told us to pray for our enemies, to forgive those who spitefully use us — and we have been very spitefully used in this campaign. We need to pray every day of Advent for the candidate who is not our choice.

That is not a penance. It is obedience. It is doing what our Lord God Christ commands us to do.

It is time to lay down the nasty name-calling and spiteful self-righteousness. We all have sinned and gone astray. We don’t need more fuel for the hideous fires of hatred burning in our politically obsessed souls. We need the cleansing, healing perspective of the Cross.

This campaign has been one of the many Gethsemanes of our lives, and from what I can see, none of us — including our religious leaders — was able to wait with Him for one hour. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All of us.

We need forgiveness. And we need to change.

Of all the reasons for going to hell, senselessly hating one of these two people has got to be one of the stupidest.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

I Want You to Stop and Think for a Moment About How Much God Loves You

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by BuzzFarmers https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzfarmers/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by BuzzFarmers https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzfarmers/

Note: I’m re-publishing this because it didn’t come through in its entirely the first time I put it up. I hope it makes more sense this time around.

I wrote this a few months ago for the National Catholic Register. I think it’s worth publishing again at this time when we have been so deeply damaged and degraded as a nation and a people by the amoral cruelty of the election just past, and when our Church, which should be the lodestone that guides our lives, is at odds with itself.

I was in a special place of grace when I wrote this. Cancer was, for me, a powerful experience of the love of Christ. The graces He rained down on me during that time could only have come from a God Who truly is love.

Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve spent the past seven months in the hermetically-sealed world of cancer treatment. That world disconnected me from the other world of normal life with the abrupt finality of amputation.

One minute, I thought I was fine. The next, I was fighting for my life. The re-entry into what I just labeled “normal” life was as abrupt as the leave-taking. I arrived, not well, not even close to well, but wounded and battered from treatments that had just ended. The sights, sounds, behaviors that confronted me in this “normal” world seemed alien and more than a bit trivial.

I suppose it was a bit like a soldier returning from an overseas war. They get on the plane with sand in their teeth and the rattle of gunfire still sounding in their ears and get off a few hours later in the impersonal noise and confusion of an American airport. Technically they are home, but “home” feels more alien than the alien world from which they have come.

They are stunned. As I was stunned.

The single biggest change is not that I am changed physically, although I am changed physically in obvious ways. It’s the shift in values, in my understanding of what matters, that sets me apart from everyone around me.

Take, for instance, Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love. I think I heard something about it when I was in that other world, but I don’t really remember what. Between the drugs and the overwhelming sickness, nothing stuck except a clear memory of how wretched I felt. That, and not much else, is imprinted on my mind, in much the same way that I would keep seeing a blinding flash, even after it’s over.

I was aware, in that same vague way that I knew about the Exhortation, that there was the usual carrying on from the usual places that seems to accompany everything the Holy Father says or does. But somewhere between the words “you have cancer” and the release of the Exhortation, my relationship with my Church had changed.

That’s only reasonable, since my relationship with God had also changed during that time. I’ve never felt closer to Jesus than I did during those months of treatment. He was, to paraphrase W H Auden, my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest.

I was both too sick to care about the reaction to Pope Francis’ Exhortation and too deep in the love of God to take it seriously. Now that I am slowly getting better, tip toeing ever-so-cautiously around the rim of normal life without actually diving in, I retain the profound crystallizing viewpoint that is, to paraphrase another poet, all I know of heaven, all I need of hell.

I’ve been someplace quite rare in this life. I’ve been to hell while wrapped in the loving arms of God my Father.

I want to tell you what I learned on the trip. I learned that all we know of heaven lies in the peace of Christ Jesus. There really is a peace that passes all understanding, a love that does not die, that grows stronger when we are weak. The secret to life in Christ is no secret at all. It is not built on being sinless, pious and perfect. It is certainly not built on having the right political ideas and voting correctly. You do not get to God by hating the right people for the right reasons. Rely on yourself and your own righteousness, and you will never see heaven at all.

The only way to heaven is through the Way, which is Jesus and His love. All you have to do is trust Him. That’s all. Just throw yourself into His arms and let go of everything else.

We are so grounded in this life that we lose sight of that. It’s very difficult for earth-bound creatures like us to fly. I was blessed to encounter the terror of cancer. Cancer pushed me right up to the cliff of abandoning myself utterly into God’s hands, and in the faith that came from decades of walking in Him, I closed my eyes and stepped off.

The rest is a song of floating in His love through the white water that lay ahead of me.

During that passage, as a result of that step off the cliff, I changed. The Church became, not a set of teachings and dogma, but the living Eucharist, the Body of Christ in fact and in truth.

I encountered Jesus every day, and He blessed me over and over again, while the Church fed me with the concrete love of Christ in Eucharist. I could reach out and touch Him, taste Him, receive Him physically, while He surrounded me with His loving presence spiritually.

God’s beautiful people reached out to me with letters, emails, offers of help and assistance from every direction. They, too, became the living Body of Christ and I found deep healing in their caring.

When I heard about the Exhortation, I didn’t really care what it said. Pope Francis is Peter. Me? I’m just a back-pew sitter who has no real right to be part of this beautiful Body of Christ. I am not here by virtue of my virtue. Far from it. I am only here because God loved me from eternal death to eternal life through His forgiveness and Mercy.

I am writing this post for one reason. I want you to stop and think for a moment about how much God loves you. Stop what you a doing and just think about what He has forgiven you, and how much you rely on His love and forgiveness. Without that love, without that bounteous mercy, you and I would both go straight to hell.

That, my friends would not be a harsh judgement. It would be justice in its absolute and accurate sense. We do not deserve heaven. We deserve to go to hell.

If those people who hated me back when I was doing my worst had had their way about it, God would certainly have never forgiven me. It is a verifiable fact that some of them were outraged and bitter when I converted, that they called everyone from my bishop to other members of my parish to protest and say that I should be shunned and kicked out.

But that great Body of Christ which is the Catholic Church welcomed me home and accepted me as its own daughter.

If Pope Francis is telling us that God’s Mercy extends to everyone without regard to what they have done, he is only telling us the truth. He is not changing doctrine. He is preaching Christ.

I know only too well the kind of willful sinfulness leaning on my own wisdom can lead me to commit. I pray every day that God will protect me from my own understanding, that He will not let me walk past Lazarus.

If you are one of those who is outraged by what our Holy Father has written, stop for a moment and think. When you stand on the edge of that cliff and look out over the expanse of nothingness that is your own suffering and death, the Church will be there to sustain you.

When you step off that cliff, the arms of Christ will catch you.

None of this will happen because you deserve it. It will happen because love is stronger than death, and our God is a deeply personal and infinitely loving God of mercy.

Do not begrudge other people the same forgiveness that saves you. Do not, ever, tell anyone that God does not love them. The first is not only a cruelty, but a denial of your own salvation, as if you are throwing God’s gifts to you back in His face. The second is a lie, plane and simple.

I think that when we get to heaven one of the biggest surprises we’ll have is who we see there. And who we don’t.

Trust the Church and trust Jesus. Don’t wait until one of life’s existential trials forces you to it, trust Jesus now. And stop worrying.

Whether it seems like it or not, God’s got this. If you are His, you have nothing, absolutely nothing, to fear.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

You Can Go to Hell

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ArtFortheGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ArtFortheGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

I wrote this post for the National Catholic Register. As soon as it went up, there was a comment saying that there were actually two Judgements, not one, and another attacking someone besides themselves — in this case, the Jesuits — for not following Church teaching.

One of the commenters remarked that there was “nothing new” in this particular post.

All I can say about that is I should hope not. What I am saying here is old. It’s is 2,000 years old. But it is just as revolutionary today as it was when it was first spoken.

Here’s the point, and it has nothing to do with other people’s sins or nit-picking over theological points. Get ready now, you aren’t going to like this one bit.

You can go to hell.

Let me say that again, so that you understand. I am not saying that someone who commits sins you don’t commit is going to hell. I’m not saying that Democrats, Republicans, abortionists, feminists, Pope Francis, the Jesuits, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are going to hell.

This is about YOU.

You, perfect as you are, can go to hell.

You can go to mass every week, toss big checks into the collection plate, participate in the walk for life and quote Canon Law like a religious F Lee Bailey. But if you do not care for the least of these, if you do not extend your hand to help suffering people, then you can go to hell.

Now, participating in pro life walks and donating to the Church with the intent of supporting Church missions that help the weak and poor (and there are many) is an indirect way to helping the least of these. That is true.

But the Pharisees that Jesus basically said were going to hell if they did not change were obsessively conscientious about doing the “right” things while they walked past suffering people on their way to the Temple. Probably worse than that, they condemned and shunned everyone who did not measure up to their remorseless rules; they even condemned Jesus for associating with “sinners.”

Don’t be like them. Don’t do the “right” thing in an angry condemnatory way. That can send you straight to hell.

How will we be judged when our life is over? Jesus said that we will be judged by how we treat other people.

He didn’t mention one word about sniping and carping over Canon Law. He didn’t say anything at all about voting right or loudly condemning people who commit sins that don’t tempt us. He said that we would be judged based on how we treat people who can’t fight back, how we minister to those in need, how we reach out to people who are on the fringes, who are judged by society to be dirty, lost, condemned.

Far from giving us leave to condemn those who differ from us, He said that we would be judged on whether or not we reach out to those who have been condemned, many of them justly so. That’s what it means when He said “I was in prison and you visited me.”

We can not leave one person alone, lost and despised.

That is a tall order. There is no one of us, including me, who can fulfill it. That is why we need a savior. Jesus didn’t just give us a new, impossible, set of commandments. He didn’t just show up and set the bar so high that no one could possible manage to get to heaven.

He came to give us a way out.

And that way out is the Cross. We enter into the New Covenant of love and salvation by way of the Cross. Jesus is the Way, and the Cross is the door.

We have a way out of our sins, and that is repentance and turning to follow Him with all our hearts. The Church offers confession to cleanse us, the Eucharist to feed us, and clear, simple teachings to guide us.

But the bottom line is that we are, each of us, rapidly speeding toward that moment when our personal end of time arrives and we stand before the Lord. And we will be judged according to the teachings I quote in this post.

I’m going to be writing quite a bit about basic things. This election and the lack of teaching from our religious leaders has destroyed the concept of pubic morality. It has placed all of politics and thus our national thinking, in a morality free zone.

We need to understand that this is an illusion. There is no morality free zone. There is only following Christ or following the devil.

From the National Catholic Register:

Our Holy Father spoke about the end times during his Angelus on the first Sunday of Advent. We all — believer and unbeliever — know that there will be an end. The end of all things rims our lives like a horizon all our days.

The truth is, we don’t need to worry overmuch about the ultimate “end times.” We are all rushing headlong to our own, personal “end time” every single day we live.

When we die, we will be at our own end of days, our end time. The things we have done will be writ and cannot be erased. This simple fact gives perspective to our here and now.

Pope Francis reminded us that the material things, what Wordsworth called “getting and spending” don’t matter all that much when we are forced to consider the ultimate toting up of our lives. When we stand before God, what will matter is the hour we spent visiting a lonely person in a nursing home, stood by a rape victim, helped an unwed mother find ways to keep her job or continue school during her pregnancy, or reached out in forgiveness to someone who had hurt us.

It won’t matter what kind of car we drove or if we got that big job. It certainly won’t help us on that day if we spent much of our time in this life doing things — even little things — that hurt and humiliated other people, or worst of all, drove them away from Jesus.

What will matter is whether or not we loved Jesus and other people. God is love, and our love, faith and hope are all that go with us into eternity. Those who love much are rich with the only lucre that saves, both now and in our ever after.

There are no foreigners, no rich and famous, no impoverished and unknown, no powerful and mighty, when we stand before the cross. We are all one nation, one family, of fallen souls, equal in our abject dependence on the broken Son of Man hanging there.

Here is what Jesus Himself told us about the Judgement we will face.

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

That is Jesus Christ the Lord, God made human, telling us directly and explicitly how we will be judged when we stand before God.

I have three simple questions to ask you.

One: Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God?

Two: Do you believe that He said this?

Three: Do you believe He meant it?

If your answer to those three questions is yes, yes and yes, then there aren’t any more questions. You  know how you should live and what you should do.

 

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

What is Advent?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kylie__Jaxxon https://www.flickr.com/photos/76614164@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kylie__Jaxxon https://www.flickr.com/photos/76614164@N02/

 

It’s Advent! Time to prepare for the coming of the Lord.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Sex Education, Catholic Style

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stephan Hochhaus https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephanski/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stephan Hochhaus https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephanski/

The Vatican is launching a sex education program based on family and led by parents. This is very different from the secular notion of sex education which involves classes taught by Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s number one abortion provider, in schools.

This program, which is developing organically with input from parents, is based on Catholic teaching and is grounded in morality. Sex education, Catholic style, sounds like a great new-old idea.

YouTube Preview Image
Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK