The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Do the Right Thing

And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  (Acts 10, 34-35)

Do the right thing.

It's a simple suggestion and yet one that has become woefully complex in American culture, today.  Having devalued Christianity to just another optional religion, this land of liberty finds itself without a core set of values to rely upon to exercise prudence over said gift of liberty.  In such a model there exist no absolutes, and government by the people and for the people wrestles in a world of abject relativism.

The above bumper sticker seemingly reflects a nice sentiment.  How can one argue that to get along in this world we simply need to tolerate all belief systems?  The challenge occurs when this tolerance becomes the basis for belief versus a characteristic.  With such a mindset, all faiths are equal, and one freely establishes oneself above it all, free to pick and choose cafeteria style the attributes and practices that feel the best.  Tolerance and feelings replaces prudence.

In 2008, Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith conducted interviews with 230 young adults (ages 18-23) asking them about their moral lives.  The results say more about these kid's parents than they do about the kids themselves.  A full two thirds were unable to even describe a moral dilemma.  Their standard response was along the lines of:

“It’s personal. It’s up to the individual. Who am I to say?  I would do what I thought made me happy or how I felt. I have no other way of knowing what to do but how I internally feel.

This generation of young people who will one day rule the country is a generation that has no idea how to examine its conscience for it has nothing to juxtapose the morality that emerges from the privacy of each individual heart.  There exists no solid standard or absolute which had been in large respects the value of the Judea-Christian ethic discarded by many of their parents.

How can one do the right thing when one believes there is no wrong thing?

Let all pray for an awakening of this generation to the reality, the love, and the authentic freedom found in Christ.  Failing that, it becomes difficult to see how this nation can sustain itself.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Master Gardener

Separate me from myself and from all that is not you, in order to unite and incorporate me with you. Empty me of myself and of all things, destroy me utterly, in order to fill me with yourself and to form and establish yourself in me. Cause me henceforth to be a perfect image of yourself; just as you are a most perfect image of your Father. -- St. John Eudes

Anyone who grows roses has an appreciation for pruning.  By its nature, the rose bush gifts the world beautiful blooms which last for a little while, and then they wither.  Those blooms carry with them a sense of anticipation, first budding, then slowly opening to reveal their full color.  The good gardener knows to prune the rose before it wilts.  This isn't just to enjoy a bouquet on one's dinner table or to share with a friend. Rather, the rose bush has energy to produce more blooms and by pruning the gardener signals the rose bush to repeat the effort.  In a matter of moments, the gardener uses her pruning shears to transform the once beautiful rose bush that previously dazzled the passerby with its majestic color and fragrance into an ordinary green, thorny plant.

Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. - (John 15,2)

In gospel for today's Sunday Mass, Christ reveals God as a master gardener.  No matter how many good works one does, those works are like the rose bloom.  They dazzle for a short time and then begin to fade.  And while it is true that some works done may have a lifetime effect, the fact remains that Our Lord asks for still more fruit.  Being a Christian means enjoining oneself to the will of God which is an ever flowing gift of love to his creation.

Works do matter.

One of the great errors that emerged from the Protestant Reformation was the belief by some ecclesiastical communities that works were merely a sign of one's agreement with Christian living, but in the end played little in the salvation economy.  Profess that Christ is one's lord and savior and one is good to go.  Yet the Gospel tends to point out that more is expected.  One does not bear fruit simply by being.  Effort, energy, commitment, and a will must be present.

It's easy to sometimes lose heart in the pruning process, which is often thought of as the way of the cross.  Gaze upon the crucifix and behold the word made flesh that endured the ultimate pruning and in return produced a beauty that we can only begin to fathom.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15,5)

Let all pray for the grace to bear much fruit and welcome the inevitable pruning that leads to greater things.