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Archive for August, 2009

SUNDAY, AUGUST 30, 2009 Liturgical Year B 

First Reading – Deut 4:1-2, 6-8

1 And now, O Israel, hear the commandments and judgments which I teach thee: that doing them, thou mayst live, and entering in mayst possess the land which the Lord the God of your fathers will give you.
2 You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it: keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
6 And you shall observe, and fulfill them in practice. For this is your wisdom, and understanding in the sight of nations, that hearing all these precepts, they may say: Behold a wise and understanding people, a great nation.
7 Neither is there any other nation so great, that hath gods so nigh them, as our God is present to all our petitions.
8 For what other nation is there so renowned that hath ceremonies, and just judgments, and all the law, which I will set forth this day before your eyes?

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A Christian Nation

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” - Thomas Jefferson, “Deist”

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” - Thomas Jefferson, “Deist”

A Christian Nation

A very important and well-written disputation of the canard that America is not a Christian nation and never has been, by Jeremy D. Boreing  in Breitbart’s Big Hollywood blog.   Read it, email it to your friends, print it and leave it laying around.  After explaining why America’s founders were indeed Christian and not say, “Deist” or “Atheist”, Mr. Boreing ends his essay with the following eye opening observation:

Since God no longer exists in government, and his history there is no longer taught, is it any wonder that millions upon millions of Americans believe, in utter opposition to the founding philosophy, that our rights come from the government? Where else would they come from? And should it be any surprise if those same Americans desire that the government give them other things as well? After all, if our rights are not by the grace of God but by the grace of government, then whoever controls the government has the ultimate authority over man. Government by definition can do no wrong. This is precisely the kind of thinking our Founders literally warred against. It is also precisely why Americans of all faiths should be proud to own America’s Christian Heritage, and why without it, America is lost.  (emphasis mine)

“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian Nation…” - Barack Obama, “Christian”

“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian Nation…” - Barack Obama, “Christian”

(Pictures and quotations from Boreing’s original article.)

BTW — if you are interested in more information on the Christian underpinnings of our nation, a very excellent book is Under God, by the dc Talk guys (Toby Mac and Michael Tait).  Chapters focus on different men and women from American history, emphasizing our Christian heritage as well as looking at some very terrible incidents in our history (e.g. Jim Crow laws).

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CCD classes as a child.  Well, not the beer.

CCD classes as a child. Well, not the beer.

 

Again, from Alive and Young.

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From the Alive and Young blog:

Why the Church Has all those Dogmas and Doctrines

From something by G.K. Chesterton, but it is a great reasoning on why the Catholic church does what She does. I also like it because it is familial. I might borrow this when I get to the morality lessons with my students.

The Catholic Church “is the only continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. Its experience covers nearly all experiences; and especially nearly all errors. The Church makes itself responsible for warning her people against all the blind alleys and dead ends and roads that lead to destruction. She dogmatically defends humanity from its worst foes, from those devouring monsters of the old mistakes. There is no other corporate mind in the world that is on the watch to prevent minds from going wrong. The policeman comes too late, when he tries to prevent men from going wrong. The doctor too comes too late, for he only comes to lock up a madman, not to advise a sane man on how not to go mad.”

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Today is the Feast Day of St. Augustine.

Reading The Confessions of Saint Augustine, bishop
O Eternal Truth, true love and beloved eternity
Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light.
  O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my God, and for you I sigh day and night. As I first began to know you, you lifted me up and showed me that, while that which I might see exists indeed, I was not yet capable of seeing it. Your rays beamed intensely on me, beating back my feeble gaze, and I trembled with love and dread. I knew myself to be far away from you in a region of unlikeness, and I seemed to hear your voice from on high: “I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me”.
  Accordingly I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed for ever. He called out, proclaiming I am the Way and Truth and the Life, nor had I known him as the food which, though I was not yet strong enough to eat it, he had mingled with our flesh, for the Word became flesh so that your Wisdom, through whom you created all things, might become for us the milk adapted to our infancy.
Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!
  Lo, you were within,
  but I outside, seeking there for you,
  and upon the shapely things you have made
  I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
  You were with me, but I was not with you.
  They held me back far from you,
  those things which would have no being,
  were they not in you.
  You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
  you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
  you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
  I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
  you touched me, and I burned for your peace.

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[My friend mentioned that his new business would include a ministry component and that they hoped to expand it into two week mission trips “around the world.”  This got me thinking (never a good idea).  Although I bit my tongue, I wanted to ask why the mission trip had to be to some foreign (and probably exotic) locale.  Isn’t there good to be done locally?  (Yes.)  Aren’t there men, women and children who need Jesus locally?  (Yes.)  Wouldn’t all the raised money spent on travel be better spent on the actual charity receivers?  (Yes.)    I bit my tongue but have been finding it hard to keep my opinion to myself. Then I distractedly picked up the local paper in the coney today, and smiled.  I am always relieved when someone else agrees with me.]

From the editorial pages of The Oakland Press, wise advice to all who lead, organize or participate in missions groups:  STAY CLOSE TO HOME!    This is — of course– my opinion.  I think too many Christians use “mission work” as an excuse to go to unusual places, either from a genuinely perceived calling or through self-deluded ideas of “world charity.”  However, there are real things to be done right at home, whether that home be downtown Detroit, the plains of North Dakota, the tundras of northern Canada or the barrios of Arizona.  Take, for example, The Covenant House mentioned in this article.  It does really fantastic and necessary work with homeless kids in the SE Michigan area.  These are kids who ‘timed’ out of foster care, who have no place, no family to go to.  At the Covenant House, they can sleep safely, get educated, get job training, career clothes, counseling, and intervention programs.  Imagine, mission leaders, taking your teen youth group to work with peers who look just like they do, talk pretty much like they do, are the same age, and live lives of quiet desperation only 30 minutes from where your teenagers live.  Imagine what impact it would have for them to realize that for teens just like them, ‘tragedy’ is  not defined as ‘having your RAZR taken away for racking up 3000 texts in one month.’  Tragedy for their peers might mean having no place to sleep on a cold January night in Detroit.   What a lesson.

Anyway…the editorial:

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I really like Christianity Today.  It’s articles tend to be well-balanced and helpful.  Occasionally though, I read an article that hits me, as a Catholic, as something so obvious that I wonder why the topic is being discussed (like their article on how hard it is for preachers find authority when teaching scripture) .  Othertimes, it seems to me that the writer(s) are going a long way around an issue to reinvent Catholic teachings without actually admitting the Papist connection (like their article on how to introduce preparation into the weeks leading up to Easter.  Uh…Lent?).  

So I came across one of these today, one of those articles that confuse me.   The article, called Here We Are to Worship is a well-intentioned discussion of how to best balance Sunday worship between the authentic and lure of contempory culture influences.   I’ve pulled out some interesting quotes, with my comments in blue:

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