Month: November 2013
Soon we will be barraged with rhetoric about the “War on Christmas” because someone wishes us “Happy Holidays.” As Catholics, Christmas does not begin until the Vigil on the 24th of December (Christmas Eve). Before that, we are in the season of Advent. A time of preparation, of supplication, of penance, of prayer. To wish others a Merry Christmas, though well-intentioned, ignores a very important time in our Catholic faith and our spiritual lives. We must prepare ourselves spiritually to receive Jesus Christ, the bearer of the Gospel message. The Christian life is not easy, the message brought by Christ challenges everything about what it means to be human. Even the disciples proclaimed: “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (John 6:60). If we do not properly prepare ourselves for the Coming of Christ, we will not be ready to receive him into our hearts and lives. We will leave him in the cold, shuttering, alone and rejected. When he comes there will be no room for him just as it was so many years ago when his mother and father were left without a proper place to bring him into the world. Do not be so rushed to usher in Christmas; Christ will come just the same. But, will you be ready for him? If you do not take this Advent season to prepare then perhaps you will be the one who, when his parents knock, tells them “We have no room.”
Wishing others a “Happy Holidays” is not an attack on Christmas at all, but rather, a recognition of the Advent season and other days of observance in preparation for the coming of Christ. Once Christmas arrives, wish one another a Merry Christmas, but until then, let’s not forget the fullness of this holy time of year.
The Four Sundays of Advent
December 8 – Immaculate Conception
December 12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 25 – Birth of Our Lord
December 28 – Holy Innocents
December 29 – Holy Family
January 1 – Mary, Mother of God
January 3 – Holy Name of Jesus
January 6 – Epiphany
January 12 – Baptism of the Lord
For Catholics, until we get to December 24th/25th, we should all wish one another Happy Holidays or Blessed Advent!
God’s Peace be with you all!
Many of us do not like complexity; we like things simple. Highly educated and intelligent are just as guilty of such mentalities as anyone else. We create categories and assert falsely that they are necessarily opposed to one another. They myth of “race” is one such category that we have created in our temporal life. This is even more the case when it comes to the Church. We think in terms of “Pre-Vatican II and Post Vatican II” Catholics, as if Vatican II was a complete break from the previous 1,930 years in the Church and Revelation of God. We divide our allegiances in our parishes between the “Liturgy people vs. the Social Justice people” even though without the Liturgy our actions in social justice tends toward emptiness, and without taking social action in society to serve others, our reception of the Eucharist borders blasphemy. There are those who argue for a solely “Gospel-centric” Catholicism, ignoring the other books of the New Testament and the entirety of the Old Testament, reducing all we should focus on are the words and stories of Christ. However, without the other books we cannot fully understand and appreciate the Gospels. If our only reference point to determine right action and thought in this life are the Four Gospels then we also deny every other revealed truth that was not recorded in Sacred Scripture but was still handed to us by God through the Apostles. Every word Christ spoke is not written in the Gospels. If this were the case then Jesus really didn’t speak very much in his three years of ministry (roughly 2000 words are attributed to Jesus in the Bible). Every truth revealed to humanity out of love of the Father is not recorded in the Gospels, or even the Bible. If we want to be honest about what God desires of us, we have to be more comfortable with complexity, with a “both/and” attitude and not an “either/or” attitude. We have to be more comfortable entrusting ourselves to Christ by entrusting ourselves to the Church that he established and continues to guide and guard.
I know a lot of people who get upset when they hear others argue that the Catholic Church needs to “get with the times” and change Her teachings in order to remain relevant in the “modern” world. I almost always have an internal chuckle at such comments because the Catholic Church is the oldest institution on Earth and has outlived every “modern” society without having to worry about changing fundamental doctrines. She has outlived the Roman Empire; Han dynasty, Sassanid Empire, British, Spanish, Portuguese, and French Empires, Ummayad Caliphate, Mongol Empire, Soviet Union, and will continue to outlive all “modern” societies. Her stability and longevity is because She has remained faithful to the truth, especially those revealed truths that came directly from God, not by molding herself “to the times.” Her truths are eternal and so they stand the test of time. Why get mad? The Church wont “get with the times” in the way that many people would like because She knows better than the times. G.K. Chesterton once said (paraphrasing) “there are no new heresies, only old heresies wrapped in new packages.” Much of what people want the Church to change, to “get with the times” are simply old heresies in new packaging. Those heresies failed in the past, they will fail today, they will fail tomorrow because error decays, and truth remains. Don’t worry about Holy Mother Church, She will care for the Deposit of Faith. Instead, worry about whether or not you are truly living up to Her teachings. Worry about whether or not you are truly living a loving relationship with Christ; whether or not you are living a loving and merciful relationship with all of humanity. Do good, avoid evil. God will continue to guide and guard the Church; we must continue to follow His commands.
I have been a volunteer firefighter since the year 2000. Of the more than One Million firefighters in the United States, the vast majority of them are volunteer (over 70%). Over 90% of fire departments in the State of Iowa are staffed completely by volunteer firefighters (90.7%)? Another 5.5% of Iowa fire departments are considered “mostly volunteer” (the majority of firefighters are volunteer and not paid). Only four states have a greater percentage of all volunteer fire departments: Nebraska (92.7%), North Dakota (92.4%), South Dakota (92.5%), and West Virginia (91.3%). Iowans volunteer and place their lives on the line for the safety of others for no other reason than to serve. They do not receive much in return, except the knowledge that they have done what needed to be done. The mission of the fire service is simple: Save lives, protect property. In order to accomplish this goal, firefighters, especially volunteers, need your financial support. Please remember to support your volunteer fire departments with donations, taxes, maybe even a hot meal. And, if you feel called, consider joining up. You wont regret your service!