Friday, August 28, 2009

Simple thoughts on the Rosary

I prayed the rosary last night. I have not done so in awhile - maybe a month ago, maybe less, but in any case it hasn't been central in my prayer life lately. I always find that praying the rosary has the affect of making me feel grounded in my Catholicism, and such was the case last night. My spine actually tingled as I thought about how many others around the world were praying the rosary with me at that very moment, and how many people has stopped that day to pray through their own series of Hail Mary's. Usually I pray the rosary with a special intention in mind, and I wondered how many others had done the same, and what was on their heart. It is profoundly encouraging to me to know that we are allowed to ask the saints in heaven to pray for our broken world.

I find it surprising how blessed I find praying the rosary to be just due to my personality. For those acquainted with the Meyers-Briggs personality test, I am an INFP. The N stands for intuitive, which means I use my intuition to gather information rather than directly using my senses, and I am extremely strong on this. I despise precise things like measuring tapes, where there is an exact rule to follow. It's almost laughable to see me use a measuring tape - I tiled our bathroom floor earlier this year, and I much preferred to eyeball how much tile I needed to cut off, and some of my measurements? Well, they made me laugh. (But I did get it done!) Trusting my intuition to guess measurements more than the tape is so illogical, and I really need to gain some maturity with using measuring tapes, but still--I just don't like them, and I never will. I dislike set ways of doing things, I don't need specific instructions to get things done, and I get annoyed with people who do. Which is why is is so interesting that I feel eternally grateful for the depth the 'rote' prayers of Catholicism have added to my prayer life. Due to my personality, you would think I would prefer to come up with my own prayers, and while I haven't abandoned doing so, I love the set prayers of the faith. There is beauty in the unity of Catholics who pray them, there is a richness of thought that comes with repetition, and there is comfort and awe in the timelessness of the faith.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quotable Monday

"There is, as we saw, one good reason for not believing in God: evil. And God himself has answered this objection not in words but in deeds and in tears. Jesus is the tears of God."

--Peter Kreeft, Catholic philosopher

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Life: It's Not Complicated

I am feeling very Catholic today. This morning I visited the website of the "Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice", where I noticed the Presbyterian Church USA listed as a member, which piqued my interest because the last church I went to before I became Catholic was PC USA. So I clicked on the PC USA website and searched for "abortion".

Let me tell you!

I knew the denomination was liberal, but silly me, I thought that meant they ordained women and such, not that they supported abortion as a choice for those facing what they repeatedly term "problem pregnancies". I never looked into the denomination as a whole. What does your average Protestant care about church hierarchy crap? I didn't.

Here are a few disturbing excerpts from the PC USA position on abortion:

"Presbyterians have struggled with the issue of abortion for more than 30 years..."

“the artificial or induced termination of a pregnancy is a matter of careful ethical decision of the patient…and therefore should not be restricted by law…”

"We may not know exactly when human life begins..."

"to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable, though certainly not the only or required, decision. Possible justifying circumstances would include medical indications of severe physical or mental deformity"...

"Problem pregnancies are the result of, and influenced by, so many complicated and insolvable circumstances that we have neither the wisdom nor the authority to address or decide each situation."

This last one is the phrase that keeps reverberating in my head; individual women have the wisdom and authority to decide if they should or should not get an abortion, but the Church does not have the wisdom to be able to speak against abortion because it's complicated. How can the body of Christ not know if it is right or wrong to kill an innocent human being? Apparently because the PC USA body believes that what is right in one situation may not be right in another. The Holy spirit may indeed affirm that one women should have an abortion, and he may say "no" to another. In reality, Abortion is not a complicated issue, but calling it so makes people who like to avoid being judgemental feel better about giving up their moral voice. But wait, shouldn't a church, of all things, maintain a consistent moral voice? And how does a church descend to such unfamiliarity with what I will term the Christian tradition, which has always held that human life from conception forward is sacred?

The PC USA page states,"In the Reformed Tradition, we affirm that God is the only Lord of conscience-not the state or the church."

Now I certainly think the PC USA is twisting 'reformed tradition' here by using it as an excuse to bow out of advocating for the lives of the unborn, but it's revealing that they use this statement here. What is being said in this context is that the church doesn't have the authority to say what is right and wrong because only God can do that. But if God is the only 'Lord of conscience', then the Lord of conscience becomes whatever individuals decide God is, and predictably, everyone seems to get a different version of God.

This past week I've made many comments on a post my husband wrote on facebook about all things related to marriage and sexuality. I noticed that there was a common theme running through all the other (non-Catholic) commenter's thinking; that this was a matter of opinion and preference, whether or not the commenter had a loose or strict vision of where the line of sin should be drawn. I notice this all too often among secular and Protestant circles (and bad Catholic ones, too): dialogue is the highest appeal to determine truth. Nothing else can be trusted. Christians may trust God, but there is no authority of authorities to explain God, everything is a matter of personal interpretation.

I expect this in secular circles where oneself is the highest judge of morality, but I would hope better of Christians. We're supposed to have submitted our lives to Christ, and that means submitting to the Church, which is "the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:15). (Unless, of course, you belong to a church like the PC USA, which seems a little iffy on the concept of truth).

Besides being so glad I can trust the unadulterated doctrine of the Catholic church, I've come to a conclusion through all this: I really, really don't like the way faith looks when it is disconnected from authority. Faith just lacks integrity without it. When there is no recognition that the Church has authority to interpret scripture consistent with the way it has always been interpreted and to pass on the historical faith, people seem to feel free to go around reinventing whatever facet of Christianity (or life) they see as needing improvement. That's just sad.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quotable Monday

"No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to be done."

--Dorothy Day, journalist, social activist (1897-1980)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

oooh, so maddening

Did you know our president just got done celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender month? (He declared June such himself, what a guy). On Monday, he hosted a LGBT reception at the White House. Read the transcript here.

Here's a nice excerpt of Obama speaking on the struggle to advance the LGBT agenda:

"Now this struggle, I don't need to tell you, is incredibly difficult, although I think it's important to consider the extraordinary progress that we have made. There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop. And though we've made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted."

So now myself, most of (all?) the Catholics I know personally, the Pope, my bishop, and untold millions who prefer to allow God, the Church, the wisdom of the ages, good psychology and reason to decide what it means to be whole have officially been declared backwards...intellectual neanderthals...something to be eradicated. Thanks, Mr. President.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods"

--C.S. Lewis, Irish scholar and author (1898-1963)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Toys and play

I've been thinking about toys, play and imagination lately.

I read something in Whole Child/Whole Parent that I keep coming back to (paraphrased): A toy is just the means of discovery. Once a child has learned whatever he or she can from one particular toy, he will become uninterested in it. Toys and play give children opportunities to learn about the world.

This makes sense because I've seen it happen. If I take my three year old to a garage sale selling toys, he will be mesmerized and play with whatever they have for as long as I will let him. But if I were to buy every toy they had, he would be ignoring them in a day or two because the toys would offer him nothing new. The initial entertainment value of any toy fades really quickly--unless it is the kind that requires imagination to use.

Some time ago I read an article on play that I also keep returning to; it talked about how there has been a negative shift towards replacing play with educational activity. This is a mistake because children learn about the world through their play, and sad because children's imaginations are under-utilized when play gets pushed aside for 'more important' activities. What is a child if not a creature of imagination?

I try to stay away from feeding my kids tv and toys with batteries because (besides the jangling noises) I think of them as the junk food of play--they tend to be things that short-shrift imagination. Battery run toys do one thing, and one thing only. A talking toy piano will always be just a talking toy piano. But a bucket? A bucket can be a hat, a stool, a pot for cooking, a mold for sand--anything, really.

Naturally, I've been thinking back on what I liked playing with as a child, and I think I can pretty safely say that my favorite toy was my dollhouse. Yes, the dollhouse was always a dollhouse, but every new play session offered the potential for something new to be created in story. Even unused, the dollhouse sat waiting for someone to come and make up a new story to happen between the little walls. I still have the dollhouse in a crate in the basement, and all the tiny furniture I collected over the years tucked away in boxes, waiting for some other child to bring them back to life. I couldn't ever possibly feel the same way about an old video or remote controlled car I used to love as a kid.