November 27, 2023
Filed In: Faith
The Chronicles of Narnia are legendary in their own right, a series of books worthy of sparking the imagination of any young reader. As noted before on this blog, they also make for a profound spiritual experience reading them as educated adults.
CS Lewis masterfully translated the genius and mystery of God into a story that is so relatable and comprehensible. It’s a story filled with beautiful imagery, like Aslan strolling across the vast darkness, singing the world into existence through beautiful melody.
Throughout the series, we see Aslan close at hand and seemingly far off. The forces of good and evil are in a constant struggle, at various times each gaining the upper hand. When the children are drawn back to Narnia in Prince Caspian after just one year away in England, they stumble into the ruins of their ancient castle. The story of their existence disputed as fanciful nursery tales.
Whenever the forces of evil are on the march, and victory in their grasp, Aslan always returns in great glory. With a single roar, he marks a return to reality as the force of his voice destroys all who oppose him.
Lewis took the time, in each story, to explore the different dynamics of Christology, from Genesis to Revelation. We see him creating the world and, in his absolute power, crushing evil. The truth in this power is that, though we see evil on the march in our time, and injustice abound, Christ is never far off, ready to herald in a return to reality, the world in which He has already conquered death and reigns supreme.
It’s an honor and a privilege to be counted among Christ’s followers, a side that, though always purportedly on the verge of total defeat, instead exists in the reality in which total victory is already achieved.
November 20, 2023
Filed In: Faith
Life is a series of checkpoints, moments along the path that lead us to our final destination. In our Christian life, many of these checkpoints are moments of conversion. The culmination of perseverance and hard work, winter breaks, and you experience that fresh, new spring.
These moments are profound times of spiritual insight. We get a taste of the reality we were designed to exist in. Our understanding of our faith, and the wisdom of loving God’s law, is crystal clear. Temptation bounces off us, and an effervescence permeates all aspects of our day.
Those they may be fleeting, grabbing hold of these turning points is critical. We are large ships, and turning is never easy. Incremental progress is the tried and true way to success. Although we may get down the path and lose sight of these lampposts, they remain touchpoints that we always return to. For in these moments, these short periods of time, we live as who we were made to be.
November 13, 2023
Filed In: Church and Culture
It’s challenging to remember the feelings we experienced at the election of Pope Francis. A total wild card, a true Vatican outsider, swept onto the world stage and took the Chair of St. Peter by storm. It was, in some ways, a bit refreshing. Pope Benedict XVI was deeply intellectual, providing the theological underpinnings that we need to sustain the faith. Still, we longed for the charismatic and energetic days of Pope John Paul II.
In those early days, Francis lamented the parochial clericalism. He dispensed with bestowing the rank of Monsignor on priests as a sign of gratitude for their good works. He asked us to go out and make a mess in our dioceses. Indeed, in this regard, he’s truly practiced what he’s preached.
Over the last decade, under the influence of living at the Curia, Francis has become a creature of the Vatican. He’s become exactly who he asked us not to reject. He wields administrative law against his opponents, and uses the media as a tool of his decidedly ideological agenda.
The first few off-the-cuff remarks to the press that caused a stir could be understood. As a local bishop in Argentina, his media profile was a fraction of the attention that the pope receives. Now, ten years on, it’s his preferred method of stirring the pot. He knows the weight of papal words, even in casual settings, and has used them to move the ball down the field.
At the root of it all, the main problem is that Francis intentionally sows confusion. The Catholic Church is the only organized institution existing today that existed in the same format during the days of the Roman Empire. Why? It’s a ship steered by certain fundamental, immutable principles that keep the ship on course.
In many ways, Pope Francis is the quintessential theocratic political operative. He grants the Chinese Communist Party the co-authority to appoint bishops, and shrugs when they bypass him anyway. He creates counterfeit sacraments, but admonishes the clergy to only use them if they won’t be confusing. Francis calls an entire conference of bishops who dare question his agenda “backwards” and “reactionary.” He tells the world that our understanding of faith and morals “evolves.” He makes promises that no pope can ever make good on, and then winks when he inevitably cannot deliver.
Throughout Church history, there are many periods when the Church falls into disrepair, and the responsibility to right the ship falls to those outside of the highest echelons of authority. As the ironies pile up, one of the most clear examples is the life of St. Francis himself. Constant reform is the way of the Christian life, and it falls to the vibrant religious communities and the laity to rebuild God’s Church. We find ourselves in need of a new St. Francis to repair the inestimable damage wrought by Pope Francis.
November 06, 2023
Filed In: Philosophy
In life, we often have to walk difficult paths to achieve our desired outcomes. Whether at home, at work, spiritually or in our relationships, getting from where we are to the place that we dream about requires an ongoing commitment and thousands of steps. Though it’s easy to be motivated in the beginning, how can we best sustain our good works?
Though the individual steps in our journey may not be desirable or even enjoyable in and of themselves, if we love the path, success is assured. Armed with the knowledge that the path terminates at our objective, we can be confident that by following it, we will reach our desired ends.
Every step of a marathon is not a joy, but crossing the finish line always is.
October 30, 2023
Filed In: Faith
Although easily forgotten in the midst of this week’s kickoff of the end-of-year holidays, the intent of Halloween, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day is to remind us of our mortality. Nearing the end of the liturgical year, the Sunday readings focus on eschatology, or the end times. Throughout the Bible, and in the ministry of Jesus, the fact that our time on Earth is transitional is never hidden. We are all walking on pilgrimage, with judgement assured when our journey meets its logical end.
Though it may seem foreboding, reaching the end of that journey should be cause for joy and hope. Our lives are filled with difficulties, sadness, and sufferings that God never intended. It was only through the entrance of sin into our world, and our complicity with it, that these sorrows have befallen us. Still, although sin and sadness are real, we can choose even today to live as God intended. We can love God’s commandments and experience a wholesome, fulfilling and joyful life as the saints have shown us.
Though true, this is all a bit academic. Time ticks away slowly, and it’s hard to keep the mind focused on an eternity of peace and exuberance. This is especially true when the kids have been fighting all day, you still have to put together a grocery order, the cars need to be waxed, and you have a major project due in two days. God designed every facet of our bodies with great purpose and intent, and He understands the challenge of focusing the mind in the midst of stress and a to-do list pouring off the page.
It’s one of the reasons we go to Mass every week. Not only do we need the rejuvenation and the break, but we need reminders of our future at regular intervals. Why do we not lie, cheat, and steal as others do? Because this peace, this calm, this celebration is what we were created for. It’s the great foretaste of what is to come, if only we run the race and win.
Life is not easy, and in moments of stress, exhaustion, and temptation, failure is the path of least resistance when we lose sight of where we’re aiming. There’s a forever of calm and peace waiting for us if only we choose it.