Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Confirmation is NOT a sacrament without a "theology"

First of all, theology means "the study of God", so something can't "have a theology" in the first place.

You hear a lot of people say things like:

"What's your theology of Grace" or

"What's your theology of Heaven" or

"What's your theology of history"

This doesn't make sense.  It would make no sense to say "What's your study of God of Grace?"

Anyway...more importantly, to suggest that the Church's teaching on Confirmation isn't clear is ludicrous.

We know EXACTLY what Confirmation is, just as we know exactly what the other Sacraments are.  The Catechism is perfectly clear about what Confirmation is.

Instead of blaming Church teaching for being confusing about Confirmation, we should blame the real problem - US!

We've made Confirmation way harder than it needs to be, and so we shouldn't be shocked at:

1) The number of adult Catholics who have never been confirmed

2) That our young people fall away from the Faith at SHOCKING rates PRIOR to us deigning them worthy to receive the exact Sacrament that is supposed to help them fend off attacks to their Faith!

Make no mistake, the disaster that is the way the Sacrament of Confirmation is handled in the US isn't in any way the fault of Church teaching, it is our fault.

A video for every atheist!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wedding Processions

There are two options for a wedding procession according to the Catholic Rite of Marriage:

"If there is a procession to the altar, the ministers [e.g., lectors, altar servers] go first, followed by the priest, and then the bride and bridegroom. According to local custom, they may be escorted by at least their parents and the two witnesses. Meanwhile, the entrance song is sung."

In the average US suburban parish today, where most of the other rubrics of Catholicism are disregarded, it should not surprise us that this rubric is also discarded.

In the typical suburban US Catholic wedding, the priest and groomsmen walk out of the sacristy, and this is followed by a 5 minute fashion show.

What the Church requires, however, is a procession - servers, followed by priest, followed by either

a) the bride and groom


b) groom and his parents followed by the bride and her parents

I would like to note a couple of objections that some might have to doing it the Church's way:

1)  Bride: "This is my day!"

My response: "Say that slowly a few times and then see if you still want to say that out loud.  Is the wedding Mass really about you?  Is that not in fact one of the most narcissistic things you can say?  When is a Mass ever ABOUT anyone other than Christ?"

2) Bride: "But I've envisioned doing it my way since I was three!"

My response: "Is it good to still want the same things when we are 20 that we wanted when we were 3 years old?  When you were three you also wanted to be a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, to eat all the cookie dough, and to snuggle with your snorting blanket."

3) Bride: "But I just want my Dad to walk me down the aisle!"

My response: "When else do we want to hearken back to the days when women were merely regarded as property to be given away?  Your Mom raised you too."

4) Bride: "My groom can't see me before the wedding!"

My response: "Okay, so do you want to bring a lucky rabbits foot with you?  Get married during a solar eclipse or when the stars are in the right order?  Any other completely superstitious behaviors you want to have as a part of your wedding day?"

Look, which do you want?

The Church says something very important - the couple getting married are the MINISTERS of the Sacrament of Marriage!

What impression do you want people to have who attend your wedding?

There is SUCH AN INFINITE difference between incense, a crucifix, servers, a hymn, the Gloria (something else the Church asks that is often ignored) etc. vs. the standard narcissistic fashion show.

Weddings are one of the most frequently attended Masses by non-Catholics.

Do you want non-Catholics who attend your Wedding Mass to encounter Jesus as Jesus has asked the encounter to take place through his Church, or do you want people to remember you?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I Bet My Life on You!

I could totally see the lyrics of this song being sung by St. Augustine to God after his conversion to Christianity.  I identify with them as well in terms of what I would say to God now as well.

The gist: "I treated you like garbage in the past, but now I've bet my life on you!"


I know I took the path that you would never want for me
I know I let you down, didn't I?
So many sleepless nights where you were waiting up on me
Well I'm just a slave unto the night

Now remember when I told you that's the last you'll see of me
Remember when I broke you down to tears
I know I took the path that you would never want for me
I gave you hell through all the years

So I, I bet my life, I bet my life
I bet my life on you
I, I bet my life, I bet my life
I bet my life on you

I've been around the world and never in my wildest dreams
Would I come running home to you
I've told a million lies but now I tell a single truth
There's you in everything I do

Now remember when I told you that's the last you'll see of me
Remember when I broke you down to tears
I know I took the path that you would never want for me
I gave you hell through all the years

So I, I bet my life, I bet my life
I bet my life on you
I, I bet my life, I bet my life
I bet my life on you

Don't tell me that I'm wrong
I've walked that road before
And left you on your own
And please believe them when they say
That it's left for yesterday
And the records that I've played
Please forgive me for all I've done

So I, I bet my life, I bet my life
I bet my life on you
I, I bet my life, I bet my life
I bet my life on you

So I, I bet my life, I bet my life
I bet my life on you
I, I bet my life, I bet my life
I bet my life on you

Friday, March 20, 2015

Rebutting Rabbi Sasso

In the Indystar today (why do I read it when I'm at my parents' home on my day off?) there is an editorial from "Rabbi Emeritus Sandy Sasso" telling us we should reject 'religious freedom' legislation.  It simply needs to be rebutted.

1) Sasso: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is contrary to the Exodus of the Israelites through the Red Sea.

Me: This makes no sense whatsoever.  There is no attempt to explain this metaphor and it completely fails.  The only thing I can think is that she's trying to say, in a roundabout way, that you are somehow anti-semitic if you are for RFRA.

2) Sasso: The bill seeks to exempt individuals, including businesses and corporations, from any statute that "substantially burdens" their religious freedom.  The government would then have to prove that there is a compelling reason to require that burden."

Me: YES!  That is a great idea!

3) "In practicality, it means that business owners can refuse services or the selling of products to those who engage in legal practices that the proprietors deem contrary to their religious beliefs, such as the celebration of a gay marriage"

Me: a) why rephrase this?  It seems like she thinks we are all simpletons who need her helpful rephrasing.  There is nothing confusing at all about #2 above.  #2 above is not calculus.

b) If the acts in question weren't legal, there would be no need to discuss religious freedom in the first place.  If religious freedom is in jeopardy, it is because an act is legal that the religion disagrees with.  You wouldn't need an RFRA to protect churches from being forced to traffic cocaine because cocaine is illegal.  Churches only need protected from things that ARE legal.

4) Sasso: "Some say the bill is needed to protect people who strictly interpret the Bible"

Me: Nice.  Demonize the other side.  Those who think differently than Rabbi Emeritus Sasso are "strict interpreters" of the Bible.

5) "because those individuals don't want to bend their religious beliefs"

Me: The word "bend" is quite wrong.  It gives the impression that everything is relative, so our beliefs are "bendy" as in asking Catholics to violate their religious is simply asking them to "bend" something.  It isn't "bending" their beliefs, it is BREAKING their religious beliefs.

Everyone seems to get this with Islam - "Hey, muslims are offended when you draw the Prophet, so let's not do that, okay.  They take that really personal."  No one says Muslims should "bend" on their beliefs...but everyone else's religious beliefs are "bendy"???

6) Sasso: "This bill focuses solely on the public sphere"

Me: In the public sphere you have PEOPLE who have beliefs, and people who run companies have beliefs.  Don't buy their stuff if their beliefs upset you.  If you don't like Chik-Fil-A's stance on things, don't eat Chik-Fil-A.  It is really quite simple.

7) Sasso: "This legislation is dangerously ambiguous.  It leaves it to the courts to decide what a sincerely held religious belief belief is and what a compelling state interest is."

Me: Yes.  This is a grown up question, and a question that we ought to be able to debate and discuss in a court of law.  If the courts don't decide that, who should?   The courts are exactly where these questions need to be hammered out, and if legislation needs to develop out of those court discussions, then that is fine.

8)  Sasso: "Does a man's belief that he may attribute, albeit erroneously, to the Bible allow him to beat his wife?"

Me: Who are you trying to sway here, Bart Simpson?  This is such a sophomoric argument, and frankly it is childish journalism and a travesty of logic that wouldn't have been found in serious editorials even a decade ago.

Yeah, the courts are going to rule that a guy can beat his wife!???!  Come on.  Be serious and talk about this issue with seriousness.

9) Sasso: "Can a pharmacist who does not believe in birth control be allowed to refuse to sell it to a client"

Me: "YES!"  Let's have that discussion.  Sasso mentions it like it is such a slam dunk no brainer ridiculous example of "biblical fundamentalism" when in fact it is a very serious question that needs to be discussed.  That Sasso and others find this to be an obvious example that needs to be rejected illustrates precisely why the bill is needed.

10) Sasso: "Common sense and good will should lead to the defeat of this bill."

Me: WOW!  Paint the other side again using sophomoric debate strategies.  So those who are for the bill lack common sense and good will.  Very good.  Again, this would never be in a serious editorial until newspapers had to start competing with bloggers.  This is terrible journalism.

11)  Sasso: "We crossed the sea to freedom once; let's not have to do it again."

Me: ????????  What in the world does that mean?  Again, in her mind, apparently if you are for RFRA you are equivalent to the Egyptian anti-semites.

It is hard to read articles/stories or listen to speeches that the author or speaker THINKS pack a punch when they really don't.

Sasso's editorial is illogical, and it also is not very effective writing.  The end of an article or speech like this should at least pack an emotional narrative punch, but not only does this line not make sense, it is tough to read because you can tell Sasso DOES think it packs a punch, and that makes it even more painful.