Because Confession is a Sacrament, and the Sacraments Make All the Difference

Frank and I are gratified by the number of comments so far on the latest post about confession. Blogging is funny: you dig and dig day after day, and then you hit a vein. It turns out, people are passionate about confession. The readers of this blog, at any rate, are uniformly passionately in favor of confession. I’ve reviewed the comments so far, and here are a few conclusions. Please feel free to add your two cents.

Catholics who go to confession mostly love it. Thank God for Warren Jewell, who writes: “I have to confess: I LOVE to confess. Confession is how I emulate (and, actually, effect) being a convert.” Think about that incredible statement for a second! Each time we confess we are, once again, a convert, whether we’re a cradle Catholic or not. We are “turning ourselves over” to God—again.

Matthew seconds Warren here: “Going regularly to confession is perhaps the single most important thing I could have done to grow closer to God. It’s irreplaceable.”

Some non-Catholics “crave” confession. At least, Michelle, a non-Catholic, does. She writes: “[Confession is] something I’ve craved for years now.” And in a later comment, Michelle writes, “The two things I crave the most being a non-Catholic looking in are the Eucharist and Confession.” Hear that, Catholics? We have something that others crave!

EPG chimes in: “As a non-Catholic, I found the level of response to this post fascinating, and encouraging. The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, has a rite for confession and reconciliation. It is, alas, little used, as far as I can see. . . . ” While that may not constitute craving, it is another non-Catholic voice regretting that his church seldom uses confession.

I am not the only Catholic who is sometimes chicken about going to confession. And it’s not only Sean’s 9-year-old daughter who is “nervous about going to confession.” An anonymous commenter writes: “I recently returned to the Sacrament after 17 years. I found that I needed to make an appointment because it had been so long and I had a lot to say and I tend to ramble anyway. But more importantly, I needed my pastor to know I was coming so that I was committed to showing up. I had made several drive-by attempts at just showing up at scheduled parish confession times, but never made it further than the parking lot.” In other words, without that appointment, Anonymous might have chickened out again: another “drive-by Catholic”!

Some Catholics still go to confession once a week. Look at the poll results so far. Of 141 participants (at this writing), 6 said they go once a week. This encourages me to try doing the same, at least during Lent. I figure that if Pope Benedict goes once a week, and Mujerlatina went every week as a child, I can do the same, right? How about you?

I’m pretty clear that our poll does not represent a random sample. Readers of this blog are probably either devout Catholics or non-Catholics interested in learning more about Catholic experience. Which is to say, I suspect that if you polled all Catholics, the number saying they go to confession “seldom or never” would be a lot higher than whatever the final poll numbers will show here.

The Church is wise to give us the option—behind a screen or face-to-face. While commenters came down on the two sides of this question, I can only conclude that how one chooses to confess is a matter of personal preference. The important things are (1) that I make a good confession, (2) that I choose the method that most supports my doing this, and (3) that I remember that confession is about the absolution I receive through the confessor, not about the social work or spiritual direction he incidentally performs for me. 

Where confession is concerned, better catechesis is needed. Another Anonymous writes: “Sometimes I wish there was a video or a recording of what a ‘really good confession’ looks and sounds like. I am definitely one of those visual learners. Of course when I went through RCIA we saw a mock demonstration but it was just a shallow laundry list of sins, not in my perception what a true confession would look like. While I attend confession a few times a year I often am not sure I am making a ‘good confession.’ I do make an examination of conscience and try to cover what I can think of, but sometimes it is a laundry list for myself, other times I share my sins and then when I talk further, I feel as if I am making excuses for my sins. For example, am I just supposed to confess my selfishness or do I state it and then share an example of how it reared its ugly head? I think sometimes I do feel the pressure of the ‘line of others outside the door’ and feel like I have to keep it short. Sometimes when I hear someone talk about their confession it makes me question, Could I be doing this better?”

This is perhaps my favorite comment because it reflects my own uncertainty as a convert. I think I should know what a good confession is, but I don’t, but I don’t want to admit it. . . .

Maria asks a final question: Why did they change the name from confession to the sacrament of reconciliation?!

And so do I: What can we do to make more Catholics go to confession more often? Your thoughts?

Because of the Russian Orthodox Beatitudes (More Music for Monday)

Guest post by Allison 
Our parish choir hadn’t sung since the end of the Christmas season. We hadn’t rehearsed since then either; a Thursday evening rehearsal was canceled because of a snowstorm. Yesterday, our choir director, who also plays our organ and sings in the choir, let us know we would be singing the Russian Orthodox Beatitudes as an Offertory song.

Because this piece is a chant, it is easy to sing, even with two members of our eight-member choir missing yesterday morning.

Remember your servants, Lord,when you come in your kingly power.

The verses themselves come from Matthew 5:3-12, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn;
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek;
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful;
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart;
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers;
for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when the world reviles you and persecutes you;
and utters all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake;
Rejoice and be exceeding glad;
for great is your reward in heaven.

To my modern ears, the tune, with its soulful, irregular rhythms, sounds like a spiritual. But its roots are far older. Russian Chant has its origins in the tenth century and is regularly used as part of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy.  The Beatitudes themselves are woven into Orthodox Divine Liturgy. For both Catholics and Orthodox Christians, Christ’s powerful blessings are our guide for living as God wants us to.

Richard Proulx, a post-Vatican II composer and champion of high church music, arranged this piece. I am grateful he did. Every time I sing the Russian Orthodox Beatitudes, I am reminded not only of my own faith traditions, but also of the deep connections we Roman Catholics enjoy with our Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters. What better way to honor our shared beliefs than by highlighting a piece of their liturgy while enriching our own?

The link above is the piece in question. Here’s some more Russian liturgical singing by a wonderful amateur group:

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To Practice the Presence of God

When do you think good intentions run highest, New Year’s Eve or Mardi Gras? Both are licenses to overindulge, in exchange for better behavior at daybreak. Maybe one is the secular version of the other, but both are testaments to man’s wish for something better—and ability to delude himself.

I thought of asking readers what they are giving up and/or doing for Lent (reading plans and the like), but I realized that’s a private matter. I ain’t telling, and you shouldn’t have to either. Instead, let me propose taking a few minutes to meditate on a reading in this morning’s Magnificat.

It’s from that strange 17th-century figure Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, who isn’t even a Blessed, for gosh sakes, but who got to me the first time I read about him two years ago and still gets to me every time I am reminded of his Practice of the Presence of God. This simple discipline puts most of our Lenten plans and promises to shame because it says that sometimes the hardest thing is to remember the simplest thing. So read Brother Lawrence:

The first means to acquire the Presence of God is great purity of life. The second is great fidelity to the practice of this presence and to the fostering of this awareness of God within, which must always be performed gently, humbly, and lovingly, without giving in to disturbance or anxiety. We must take special care that this inner awareness, no matter how brief it may be, precedes our activities, that it accompanies them from time to time, and that we complete all of them in the same way. 

Since much time and effort are required to acquire this practice, we must not get discouraged when we fail, for the habit is only formed with effort, yet once it is formed we will find contentment in everything. It is only right that the heart, the first to beat with life and the part that controls the rest of the body, should be the first and the last to love and adore God, whether by beginning or by completing our spiritual and physical activities, and generally, in all life’s exercises. 

It would be appropriate for beginners to formulate a few words interiorly, such as: “My God, I am completely yours,” or “God of love, I love you with all my heart,” or “Lord, fashion me according to your heart,” or any other words love spontaneously produces. But they must take care that their minds do not wander or return to creatures. The mind must be kept fixed on God alone, so that seeing itself so moved and led by the will, it will be obliged to remain with God. 

This practice of the presence of God, somewhat difficult in the beginning, secretly accomplishes marvelous effects in the soul, draws abundant graces from the Lord, and, when practiced faithfully, imperceptibly leads it to this simple awareness, to this loving view of God present everywhere, which is the holiest, the surest, the easiest, and the most efficacious form of prayer. 

Because You Requested It (Music for Mondays)

Happy Monday!  Are you still snowed-in? Hopefully not.  But in case you need a lift before heading out to shovel your driveway, have a listen to this sundry mix from the (not quite famous) YIM Catholic Music for Mondays archives. We’ve got it all this week from Pop to Poetry.  Thank God someone invented YouTube!

We start off with a couple of selections suggested by readers last week, in response to posts. This one was sent to us by Maria and is sung by renowned bass Paul Robeson. The words are from one of our favorite non-Catholic poets, William Blake, from his poem Jerusalem (from Milton),

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green
And was the holy lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen

And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills

Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spears o’clouds unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire

I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
‘Til we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land
‘Til we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land

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Our next selection was also sent in by a reader: Ennio Morricone directing the theme music from the movie The Mission.

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This is Seal singing Prayer for the Dying from his second album.  One of our readers wrote that she thinks of this song whenever she hears of someone’s untimely death.  This song is about all of us though. Is Seal Catholic? I have no idea. I only recall these words of Our Lord when he was questioned by the Sadducees in the Gospel of Matthew (22:29-33),

Jesus said to them in reply, “You are misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven. And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

So Seal croons,

There is a light through that window
Hold on say yes, while people say no
‘Cause life carries on

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Speaking of Our Lord, here is one of my favorite modern Catholic hymns sung by a choir from the St. Mary Parish in Alpha, New Jersey.  Here is their blog. Maybe this hymn is one of your favorites too?  The lyrics are based on Psalm 16,

Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord,
“You are my Lord, my only good.”
The gods of the earth are but nothing,
cursed be those who delight in them.
Those who run after foreign gods
only have their sorrows multiplied.
Let me not shed blood for them,
nor their names be heard on my lips.
O Lord, my inheritance and my cup,
my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.
The best part has been allotted to me.
Delightful indeed is my inheritance!
I bless the Lord who counsels me;
even at night my inmost self instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
for with him at my right hand,
I will never be shaken.
My heart, therefore, exults, my soul rejoices;
my body too will rest assured.
For you will not abandon
my soul to the grave,
nor will you suffer your holy one
to see decay in the land of the dead.
You will show me the path of life,
in your presence the fullness of joy,
at your right hand happiness forever. 

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Ash Wednesday is coming up in a few days.  Let’s all go to Church. After all, as this song (which helped make Kansas’s reputation in the late 1970s) notes, all we are is Dust in the Wind.

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To Pray for Vocations Like This

Each of our two grown daughters is facing the question of vocation. One is oriented to the arts, one to business; neither is presently a Catholic. So the idea of a capital-v Vocation does not figure. Still, watching a joyous interview (in four installments below) with a Carmelite nun, Sr. Cushla, put a prayer in my heart for my children, and yours, today.

Here’s the prayer:

Heavenly Father,
In this Year for Priests, grant that many young men and women may respond generously to the need for priests and religious in your Church. Grant that all men and women may open their hearts and minds to you, as priests or religious, or as lay people devoted to your Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, serving your Church as we are called to serve. Grant that our children may hear your voice over the deafening roar of modern life and allow it to direct the course of their lives, as joyously as Sr. Cushla has done. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. 

Here is the interview, in four installments (h/t Mujerlatina):

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Because I Am Dust

One of the first posts I wrote for this blog was entitled Because This May Be My Last Mass. I wrote it based on my experiences in the Marine Corps when I saw the photograph of a Navy chaplain administering the Eucharist to Marines on Iwo Jima.

I suppose it is easy to consider the idea that you may die today when you are engaged in combat. But as I sat in Church today as Lent approaches, the same thought entered into my mind. This may be my last Mass.

Will it be my last Mass? Not if I can help it. But the fact of the matter is, I really have no idea. Having just gotten over a flu bug, I realize again how poor and weak I actually am. Someone commented on my first post from sick-bay, “Have you been taking your vitamin C?”  No, I have not. Not since I was almost killed in an accident have I wasted any time or money on vitamins.

Of course, I haven’t completely abandoned trying to eat “healthy” while having a balanced diet either.  I just don’t think of my body as something I can control, like I may have thought at one time. Today’s readings helped me along in this, as I was reflecting that Ash Wednesday is only a few days from now and the Lenten season will begin.

Paul writes to the Corinthians and I emphasize in bold,

If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.

Before I was a Catholic, I was a fair-weather sort of Christian. It is still a temptation to be one now. You know, it’s easy when things are going right to be thankful to God. But in the Summer of 2001, I almost became dust in the sands of the Mojave Desert.  Two of my comrades lost their lives. I was hospitalized for 5 1/2 weeks and convalesced for 6 months. My Marine Corps career came to an end as well.

I don’t have any memory of the event at all.  My brother Marines at the scene have told me a few things. They tell me I said I wanted to see my kids, for example. My mother says I wrestled with an angel the way Jacob did. I don’t really know why I was spared. Maybe it was so I could write these words for you. To remind you that you are dust as well, and that at any moment your version of eternity will begin.

In today’s Gospel reading from the Sermon on the Mount, Our Lord says,

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. . . . Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.

Kind of leaves you with an uneasy feeling, doesn’t it?  There is nothing fair-weather in those words. But they speak to my soul, if not to my body. These words also remind me of something G.K. Chesterton wrote as well,

The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.

So on Ash Wednesday, my family and I will go to Church and have the mark of the Cross traced on our foreheads. A mark that says we are not of this world. As the mark is made, these words will be said,

From dust you came and to dust you will return.

What humbling words to hear. What a subtle reminder of my own poverty. For rituals like these, I became a Catholic. Because I need to be reminded of my place in the grand scheme of things and to whom I have pledged my allegiance while I am here.

The first time we went to Church on Ash Wednesday was in 2008, right before I was accepted into the Church. I had been going to Mass for close to 18 years with my wife, and we had never gone on Ash Wednesday ever before. I remember being amazed at how many people were at the service. I remember thinking to myself, These people understand.

I’ve never missed going to Church on Ash Wednesday since, and I intend to never miss it ever again. That is, right up until my last Mass.

With the Help of a Good Confessor

Yesterday a fellow parishioner confided to me that she does not go to Father Barnes for confession, but goes to a confessor in another town. My friend’s reason? “I’d just be embarrassed. Most of my sins are truly venial, but Father B’s my friend,  and I—(shrug, grimace)” This reminded me of my quandary when converting: Should I confess face to face or behind a screen? And to whom?

The Archdiocese of Boston has launched a web site to encourage Catholics to go to confession more often during Lent. (Some of the back story is here.) Hot on the trail of St. Joseph, I am now reading a biography of St. Teresa of Avila, who was devoted to St. Joseph and for whom one confessor was a particular source of strength, comfort, and spiritual mentorship. After a while, the good father probably knew who Big Terry was, even when she spoke from behind a screen. I imagine she had a powerful voice.

All of which leads me to the question: Confession? Do you go? (Please answer the poll at right.) Do you go anonymously or face to face? Do you go to the same confessor each time, or—and I think many do this, I certainly have—take the heavy stuff to someone who doesn’t know you and the trivial stuff to your parish priest? (Please comment below.)

Here’s my thinking today, after two years as a Catholic: If I am really, truly serious about cultivating my spiritual life, as St. Teresa was, I will go to confession regularly (once a week or at least once a month) and I will always sit face to face with a priest whose counsel I have come to trust. I know that he is “only” an intermediary and that the absolution I receive is from God. But by confessing to my parish priest or one who gets to know me and my recurring sins, I am accomplishing two things.

First, I’m taking a big whack at my pride, that is, if I’m giving a good confession and not just trying to look good by looking contrite. Been there, done that. I want Father Barnes’s good opinion of me as much as anyone’s. To tell him what’s worst about me puts that good opinion at risk, or at least it does in my prideful imagination.

Second, I get double benefits: God’s absolution and the counsel of a wise man. I do not have a spiritual director, per se, and although I have thought about “hiring” one, every time I do think of it, I realize that I already have one, Father B. Between the pulpit and the confessional, he gives me all the spiritual advice I can handle.

What’s your experience?

For the Love of St. Joseph II

During my wilderness years, I fell for theories about mystical kingdoms in Tibet or where Jesus really was from age 12 to age 30. But what if Tibet’s only kingdom was destroyed when the Chinese invaded? What if Jesus did nothing from 12 to 30 except stay home in Nazareth, near Joseph and Mary?

Since this is a Catholic blog and since we’re five weeks from the feast day of St. Joseph, my patron, I’m going to stick to the second question.

In the what-did-Jesus-do department, I somehow thought that the gnostics might have it right: That He maybe studied with some esoteric school somewhere, like, say, the Essenes. I didn’t really know who the Essenes were, but if there were such a thing as a universal mystical brotherhood, operating in, like, say, Tibet, then it made sense for Jesus to have been in touch with, oh, say, some sort of correspondence school or some such affiliated with said brotherhood.

But what if the Church is right? (A question I never seriously asked until being received into the Church two years ago.) What if Jesus, Mary, and Joseph returned from Egypt to Nazareth and, with the exception of Passover visits to the rabbinate in the city, they just stayed home? What if the world really is as simple and straightforward as it seems? What does this say about St. Joseph? Or about the importance of the family in the divine plan?

I thought about this question yesterday, as I wrestled with a heavy cold, pondered a personal fatherhood question, and read Redemptoris Custos, John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on the Person and Mission of Saint Joseph in the Life of Christ and of the Church. There’s nothing that will bring theological questions about fatherhood into sharper focus than tossing and turning in sick-bay while thinking about a grown child who is not answering a friendly e-mail.

Who was St. Joseph? What was his life like? And if it was really like I think it was, and Immaculate Mary was Jesus’s mother, what other teachers did Jesus need? Especially if He, Jesus, was the Son of God? I will leave detailed discussion of Redemptoris Custos (Guardian of the Redeemer) until next week and finish here with a couple of my own personal and entirely noncanonical thoughts about Joseph.

Mary may have been born immaculate, without stain of sin, but there’s nothing in Church doctrine that says the same of Joseph. Joseph was a JAG, just a guy, a carpenter. Descended from David, yes, and probably devoutly Jewish. Old? Young? Certain veins of tradition argue that he must have been old, because a widower. But what was old in that time? Thirty? Forty? I give Joseph credit for being young enough to pack his family off to Egypt under cover of night, young enough that when he settled back in at Nazareth, the demands of chastity while living with a beautiful young woman were significant.

This guy kept his mouth shut and worked and cared for his family. I’m guessing that an adolescent Jesus may have been a handful, and who’s to say that even Mary didn’t have her moments, no matter how immaculate? Joseph kept his mouth shut and worked and cared for his family and died in total anonymity and (this is my addition) never resented it for a moment. To quote once only from Redemptoris Custos, “Joseph was in daily contact with the mystery ‘hidden from ages past,’ and which ‘dwelt’ under his roof. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to St. Joseph in Western Christianity.”

This gives me my next step on the path to understanding St. Joseph better. I’m going to dedicate the weekend to reading Shirley du Boulay’s biography of Teresa of Avila, which has been staring out of the bookshelf at me for far too long.

And I am going to keep my mouth shut as I wait for my beloved daughter to get back to me.

Footnote: Any reader who has come this far might conceivably be interested in why St. Joseph is my patron, which is to say, how he nosed out St. Thomas More in the homestretch

Thoughts on Temperance on a Friday

I’ve been thinking about these thoughts written by C.S. Lewis in the current YIMC Book Club selection Mere Christianity.  They are from chapter 3 of Book III, The Cardinal Virtues. I thought of this when I saw this photograph of Our Pope and a tall glass of beer. Hats off to Athos over at Chronicles of Atlantis.

It reminded me of something Benjamin Franklin said, Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Here is what my new friend Jack Lewis has to say on the subject of Temperance,

Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism. But in the days when the second Cardinal virtue was christened “Temperance,” it meant nothing of the sort. Temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further.

It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotallers; Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion. Of course it may be the duty of a particular Christian, or of any Christian, at a particular time, to abstain from strong drink, either because he is the sort of man who cannot drink at all without drinking too much, or because he wants to give the money to the poor, or because he is with people who are inclined to drunkenness and must not encourage them by drinking himself. 

But the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying. One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons-marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.

Still not sure? Here is what Our Lord says about such things in the Gospel of Mark, (7:14-23) from the Daily Readings earlier this week,

The Heart of Man

After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable.And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and then out into the latrine?” Thus He declared all foods clean. 
And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

So be temperate, and prudent, and all the other Cardinal virtues. It’s almost Miller-time at Casa del Weathers.  Even if I’m under the weather, (ha-ha, no pun intended) it’s still one beer per man, per day in my household.  Adios, and please drink responsibly!

Thanks to Seal and Bishop Sheen? “A Kiss From A Rose”

Afternoon folks!  Frank from sick-bay here. And from the looks of it, Webster will be joining me here soon. We’re a couple of sick-bay commandos today, or so it seems. The flu bug or something. Heck, I think even our guest Allison has been under the weather. Be careful reading this because it appears to be communicable over the internet.

So, I’m lying here in bed and I pull Life of Christ by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen off my nightstand. I turn to the part in the early going of the book where he is writing about the early life of Christ. His life in Nazareth. The obedience He had for his earthly parents. How after He was “lost” at the temple at age twelve, and impressing the scholars with His questions and knowledge, he still went home with Joseph and Mary and lived obediently with them for 18 more years.

It’s a great story, and told masterfully by Bishop Sheen. What does this have to do with Seal and his song Kiss From A Rose? Probably nothing, but I ran across these words of the Bishop and it reminded me that Allison had asked in the comment section to my first post on Seal,

Now then . . . could you please explain the words of “Kiss on the rose” or whatever it is called? Seal seems like a good guy but his lyrics confound me.

I sent her something via e-mail that was incoherent, most likely.  So I’ll share a thought that I just read written by Bishop Sheen in 1958 and I’ll throw Seal’s video up for your enjoyment and commentary. The Bishop writes the following (bold highlights are mine):

For the next eighteen years, after the three-day loss(when he stayed behind at the temple) He Who had made the universe played the role of a village carpenter, a maker in wood.  The familiar nails and crossbeams in the shop would later on become the instruments of His torture; and he himself would be hammered to a tree.  One wonders why this long preparation for such a brief ministry of three years. The reason might very well be that he waited until the human nature which He had assumed had grown in age to full perfection, that He might then offer the perfect sacrifice to His Heavenly Father.

The farmer waits until the wheat is ripe before cutting it and subjecting it to the mill.  So He would wait until His human nature, which He had, reached its most perfect proportions and its peak of loveliness, before surrendering it to the hammers of the crucifiers and the sickle of those who would cut down the Living Bread of Heaven.

The newborn lamb was never offered in sacrifice, nor is the first blush of the rose cut to pay tribute to a friend. Each thing has its hour of perfection. Since He was the Lamb that could set the hour for His own sacrifice, since He was the Rose that could choose the moment of it’s cutting, He waited patiently, humbly, obediently, while He grew in age and grace and wisdom before God and man. Then He would say: “This is your Hour.” Thus the choicest wheat and the reddest wine would become the worthiest elements of sacrifice.

Listen to the lyrics, look at the album cover photograph (above) and use your imagination.  I don’t think this is about Batman Forever.  Take it away, Seal!

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