The book of Numbers continues to establish the law in tedium and subsequently offers a case study of application to the law regarding God’s boundaries and expectations, the consequences of breaking said boundaries and exacting God’s justice, and the bestowing of God’s loving mercy when the people repent. Continue reading
Life is funny: there can be times when we feel so connected to one another, we are in sync and almost finishing one another’s sentences, and there other times that we could be sitting beside one another right now but there is a gap miles wide between us. Sometimes we can be engaged with one another and other times that no matter what we say, no one can understand exactly what is going on inside. There’s a quote that has been attributed to many people over the years, but it’s in a movie that I really like called Playing by Heart, and the line goes like this: “Talking about love is like dancing about architecture.”
The Trinity is much like this quote: we can talk and talk, and while the discussion would be amazing, our understanding would still leave us wanting more. Continue reading
“This realization of your own unworthiness will drive out of your heart all unreasonable interest in other people’s affairs and criticism of their actions, and will compel you to look at yourself alone, as though there were no one in existence but God and yourself. You should consider yourself more vile and wretched than any living creature, so that you can hardly endure yourself, so great will be your consciousness of inward sin and corruption…For whatever defiles your soul or hinders its knowledge and experience of God must be very grievous and painful to you.”
~Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection, Book 1 Chapter 16
I first became aware of Josèmaria Escrivá’s teachings in a little movie called The DaVinci Code. However, as we all know, that film is a highly entertaining one built upon a teeny tiny foundation of pseudo- truth and an overwhelming amount of fiction, fantasy, and “what if”? In the past few years I have discovered that the teachings of St. Escrivá to be ones that do not allow any “wiggle room” or opportunities to make excuses and rationalizations — something that I can do with great flair! Escrivá cuts to the heart of my humanity and challenges me to be better, stronger, through the grace and passion of Christ.
“Put your heart aside. Duty comes first. But when fulfilling your duty, put your heart into it. It helps.”
“You strayed from the way and did not return because you were ashamed. It would be more logical if you were ashamed not to return.”
“Is it not true that your gloominess and bad temper are due to your lack of determination in breaking the subtle snares laid by your own disordered desires? The daily examination of conscience is an indispensable help if we are to follow our Lord with sincerity of heart and integrity of life.”
“Don’t say, ‘That person bothers me.’ Think: ‘That person sanctifies me.’ ”
“If obedience does not give you peace, then you have pride.”
I believe that we should all seek those people in our Christian past with whom we can identify. The saints give us hope that, even through our ugly and selfish humanity, we can continue to be sanctified through the blood of Jesus. If I know I fail at holding to the teachings of Escrivá, how much more do I fail my God. But, thanks be to God and with His help, I pray that He draws me closer and continues to change my heart.
Pray for me, St. Josèmaria Escrivá, a sinner.
Henri Nouwen writes: “Nuclear man no longer believes in anything that is always and everywhere…He lives by the hour…His art…is a combination of divergent pieces, is a host impression of how man feels at the moment [emphasis mine].” Further, “We see man paralyzed by dislocation and fragmentation, caught in the prison of his own mortality…We also see exhilarating experiments of living by which he tries to free himself of the chains of his own predicament.” And finally, there are those who have, “deep-seated unhappiness with the society in which the young find themselves. Many young people are convinced that there is something terribly wrong with the world…everywhere we see restless and nervous people, unable to concentrate and often suffering from a growing sense of depression.”
It would be easy to slip into a ministry that tries to be all to all. We see a great deal of pain and isolation and disappointment in our world. We see congregants on Facebook share frustrations, speak out using less-than-Christian language, and come against others with something akin to a verbal-online flogging. However, Continue reading
I have the immense honor of writing for The Ambrose Institute, a spiritual formation and congregational development program through Nashotah House Theological Seminary. This is my latest article written for Formatio, the online journal of Ambrose. Just click the links and see the amazing work they do to form and encourage the Body of Christ!
In post-modern culture we guard the written word and even the ideas behind the ideas with patents, trademarks, and copyrights. We protect and lay claim to our creation like a dog marks its territory. However, there are some scholars who find it necessary to analyze the verbiage, syntax, and style — to distinguish the “authentic” writing of Paul from those of a scribe or follower. There are scholars who say that only about seven of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul truly had his direct hand upon them. Of those are the Pastoral Epistles — 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus — are truly doubted as to have been written by Paul and significant doubt exits as to the direct authorship from Paul of Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians. The main argument for doubt is the variations in style of Greek vocabulary — as Paul mainly wrote in Koine Greek and referenced the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew canon.
For Paul and other writers of his age, Continue reading
It seems to me that we mortal men desire to see relevance and to understand meaning in every event. We need to understand the “why” and “how” of things, and by doing so we validate that thing’s presence, its breaking through into our little worlds with its disruptions or smoothing over. We need the link of “if…then…” made clear and resolute. In doing so, we feel we understand and might be justified in the conclusions we draw.
If we seek Jesus in every detail of the Old Testament, we will find Him. However, are we correct in doing so? If we look to the value of historical and cultural framework of the Old Testament as a literary text, Continue reading
Aquinas speaks to the relation between nature and grace concerning the sacraments. However, we should first understand the value of grace according to Aquinas and his predecessors.
In Question 2, Article 10, he references Augustine: “By the same grace every man is made a Christian, from the beginning of his faith, as this man from His beginning was made Christ.” Aquinas follows by underscoring the unity of nature and grace, “But this man became Christ by union with the Divine Nature. Therefore this union was by grace.” He continues in Question 7, Article 11 by stating that grace is taken in two ways: the will of God graciously given and as the free gift of God. Finally, he speaks to the unending effect of grace because of its unity with the Divine Nature.
Aquinas later addresses sacrament and grace in Question 38, Article 6. He again references Augustine in reminding us that “our sacraments are signs of present grace,” and he contrasts our present grace with the Old Law which were signs of a future grace.
Understanding the nature of grace and what a sacrament is a signifier of, Continue reading
I do not believe that, as a general rule, we live into the phrase “‘the kingdom of God, as Jesus proclaimed. I do not believe we understand the gravity and power of its implication; because of the limitations inherent in our humanity, I believe we limit God.
Let me step back and lay some groundwork for my assertion. What does it mean to say “the kingdom of God”? What is it? When is it? And where?
R.T. France in A Theology of the New Testament notes that within our definition and awareness of a “kingdom,” we perceive it as a geographical region. I would also say that our definition would encompass a sense of authority as in a ruler/servant or leader/disciple relationship. France continues by including the Jewish heritage of the idea bringing it to “an eschatalogical dimension.” France references Norman Perrin in that the kingdom of God is a symbol, and it seems that notion does have some merit in that the phrase itself represents a concept and reality so much more vast than we can fathom. (I am thinking of Julian of Norwich in that her Revelations of Divine Love speaks of the hazelnut…all that is resides within the smallness of such a thing.) France continues to state that “in the teaching of Jesus the kingdom of God is both present and future.” He ends by saying that it “is the subject of an active verb — it is in itself a dynamic agent.” Continue reading