On Recovering the Culture

Last night, in my blog post, I said I think our culture is past the point of no return, and that we are presently on a Search and Rescue mission. I then woke up, in the middle of the night, and I think it’s the Holy Spirit reminding me that He transformed civilization under more daunting conditions, 2,000 years ago, and will do it again —

BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT
1) We must recover our zeal for Christ, a zeal to match that of the early Christians, who carried the Gospel through the entire world, even when doing so meant their physical death.

2) And men must step up and lead the way. We women have a role to play, but we cannot do a man’s job with a man’s strength and skill. Men *must* exert their physical and moral strength and courage, and make a public stand for Christ. Without masculine leadership, Christians cannot recover our influence in the world.

 

Devotional Bible reading Part Four

“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” said St. Jerome. So let’s look at this foundational step toward a devotional life: a daily devotional reading of Scripture.

I’ve already discussed choosing a translation here, and choosing a Bible here, and there’s nothing I’d change about that, really. If you’re a Protestant, I know the NIV is very popular right now, but the NASB (New American Standard) ranks better on translation accuracy, is also a pleasure to read and is easy to navigate. There are still the die-hard King James adherents, but even in the nearly-200 years since what we know as the KJV was updated, language has undergone enormous shifts which can be misleading:  I once heard a preacher give a sermon on “The Prodigal’s other son” — he didn’t realize the Prodigal Son (not Prodigal’s son) was about the younger son, or that a “prodigal” is another name for a money-waster.  “Suffer the children to come unto me” is another example, as “suffering” means something completely different there than in our modern usage.  No, if you’re going to read the Scriptures, you’d better know the words it contains, so unless you’re a language or literature scholar, I’d bypass the KJV.

So how to begin?  A lot of people follow a Lectionary schedule, and read the passages marked for the day’s Mass readings.  This is a good place to begin –

However, I believe we need to have a sense of Scripture in context, of a Book as a whole, which is how it was written — which means we need to engage in a Book study.  Each Book of the Scriptures (and Bible comes from the word biblia, which is the root for most European language’s word for library: bibliothèque) was written independently of all the others.

So I’d recommend you choose a Book of Scripture, begin with Chapter 1, Verse 1, and read it through. Start with one of the Gospels, perhaps, or one of the shorter books of the New Testament. And get a sense of the whole message contained in each Book.

I suggest you read the Psalms and Wisdom Literature separately.  The Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours, is built from the Psalms; you might read a Psalm a day (or a part of a long Psalm), and a chapter or a set number of verses in your other reading.

For the time being, I recommend avoiding, in the Old Testament, the Books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (which are the Law, the Census, and speeches of Moses), while you get a stronger sense of the drama of the Historical narratives (Genesis, Exodus, Joshua-Esther). The Wisdom literature and Prophets are easier to keep focused on, too.  As you are becoming grounded, you can read a few verses of Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy as an introduction, or for research — I just suggest you postpone reading straight through those, for the present; because they’re not narrative, they can be discouraging — just what you do NOT want to encounter, early on in your reading!

In the New Testament, I would likewise suggest waiting before tackling Revelations.

I also recommend you pace yourself. I believe it’s better to read for comprehension and retention, and a “Read the Bible through in a year” program just doesn’t lend itself to those.

Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be daunting or intimidating or mysterious; in fact, it’s quite a thrilling endeavor.

New Year, Resolutions?

January 1, 2019. Another year, and the push to make new resolutions for a “New Year, New You” for the coming twelve months, mixed with the jokes about broken resolutions and the unending cycle of same.

For us as Catholics, the year begins with Mass – not for a new year, but to honor the power of the Incarnation through the fiat of Mary, in a grand Solemnity. I cantored for a local Mass last night, and played at the chapel for another, this morning. This is a very good way to begin.

We are in a grave time of crisis, and we have important choices to make. Our culture is running mad. Children are being exploited as sex objects, even applauded for being transgender or a drag queen on national television, for all our children to see and to think should be imitated or looked up to.  Local libraries and bookstores are promoting reading hours with drag queens — again, to influence our children and to lure them into a false glamour, to rob them of their innocence.

There is an increasing push to criminalize reparative therapy:  the gay lobby insists, very loudly, that it is impossible to change one’s gender preference and that reparative therapy is abuse of a criminal degree — while they insist that one can overcome biology to change one’s own gender.

Public schools are promoting these ideologies, and even taking children to begin the process of “transitioning” — without parental consent.  Parents who oppose these manipulations of their children are being charged with criminal acts and losing their children to the State.

It’s being reported than nearly 14,010,000 babies were aborted in the past year.

The hallmarks of paganism are human sacrifice and sexual depravity.

More and more, Christians and those who hold traditional moral and social values are being scorned, persecuted, punished in the public square.

And even our beloved Church, which is supposed to be the safeguard of all things holy, and the example of sanctity in the world, is embroiled in one controversy and crisis after another — as princes of the Church protect one another from accountability for grave misdeeds, and promote individuals who defy Church teaching in order to promote deviance in the name of “love” and “acceptance.”

We can’t even take our own pontiff seriously, any more, for whatever words he might utter about homosexuals being kept from the priesthood, he promotes and protects the apologists for the homosexual lifestyle and punishes those who actually hold faithful to the Magisterium.

So, in this coming year, I propose that we must be resolved:

  1. to make an oblation, an offering, of our lives to God.
  2. to live faithfully to Christ, even in isolation, even in defiance of the tsunami of atheism and insanity that is pouring in on us.
  3. to know our Faith better, day by day, through diligent study of the Scriptures and works of the Magisterium (beginning, in conjunction with the Scriptures, the Catechism)
  4. to foster a greater love for Christ, through an increase in prayer and devotional time, so that the whole of our life might be a continual, unceasing prayer and praise
  5. to practice the Works of Mercy – which includes the often-uncomfortable Works of rebuking sinners and instructing the ignorant
  6. to guard our minds and hearts against the influence of the Evil One
  7. to do all in our power to protect our homes and families from evil influence
  8. for those who are married to pray together as a couple, and those with children to incorporate the family rosary and prayer in your daily routine
  9. for those who are not married to find prayer partners with whom you will unite in prayer and service, holding one another up to God and to accountability
  10. to serve faithfully in the Church Militant in that sphere of life to which we are called, and in which we daily live.

Frankly, I think our culture has gone past the point of no return. I don’t believe we can recover the innocence and purity of past generations.  I believe we are now on a Search And Rescue mission.

Let us do our very best.

Vivat Christus Rex!

Draw close to Christ

So much upheaval, and the acceleration is alarming! – Planned Parenthood, gay marriage, Islamic terrorism on the rise, public school crises, personal violence  . . .  crises in the Church . . .

It’s easy to take our eyes off God, but now, more than ever, we must draw close to Him.  All the indignation in the world, all the activism, means nothing if we aren’t close to the Source of our passion.  There must be time each day, out of the craziness, which we devote to being still and quiet with the Holy Trinity. Time for prayer, time for Lectio, time for entering a personal sanctuary where nothing matters at all but His sweet Presence.

 

There is nothing that can happen to us –

I would not, for all the world, want to seem to trivialize the tragedy of Newtown, CT, but I think I would be mistaken if I did not post this. I have learned its truth over the years, and after my ranting and raging, earlier today, it slips into my conscious thought with soft but victory-promising murmurs:

There is nothing – nothing! – that can happen to us that God will not redeem, that He will not use for our greater good and for His own greater glory.

Human Life – Disposable

I’m still reeling from the news about the school shooting in Connecticut, which I’ve been following all afternoon. One of my piano students is kindergarten-age, for goodness’ sake! And I remember so vividly how sweet and small and precious my own daughters were at that age.

So many people on Facebook are screaming for more gun restriction laws – but just who’s going to have guns, then? I mean, for crying out loud, people, the school was a NO GUN ZONE… and who had the guns there? The criminal. The off-hinged young man who came in and shot up the school and killed at least 26 people, 20 little kids.

No. The problem is not “gun control.” It’s a rotten, selfish attitude that people are here for someone’s personal convenience, are disposable. It begins with the 1960s and the idea of contraception on demand, the idea that we can have our pleasure without consequences, without lifechanging commitment. It grew in the 1970s with the legalization of abortion-on-demand, and the idea that if the contraception fails (or if one is too lazy or selfish to use it) then a little surgical procedure will take care of the problem – the baby can’t even be called a baby any more; it has to be a “clump of cells” or a “fetus”; God forbid we should acknowledge the humanity of the unborn.

It grows with a sense that children can’t be spanked, no matter what they do, because that would hurt their precious feelings. Most of the parents I’ve known who refused to spank their children have tried to present themselves as morally superior to the rest of us, but in reality they’ve just been too damned lazy to deal with their kids. Working in a lawyer’s office, several years ago, I saw the names of some of those unspanked kids of my acquaintance listed on a series of police arrest reports for drug, larceny, and property damage charges. Mom and Dad wouldn’t deal with them as toddlers and preschoolers, so now the court system has to deal with them.

What happened in CT this morning is an extreme consequence of the disregard of personal responsibility. It’s really not so ironic that on the same day, in another abortion capitol, China, a man went through a crowd of school kids with a knife, hurting more than 20 of them.

We must renew our fight against the attitude of children – of people – as accessory objects that can be casually gotten rid of if they get in the way of our personal satisfaction.

Pre-Lent reflection on living in the Last Days

Dear friends, as I post on news comment boards and read the comments left by other participants, I am astonished by the willful ignorance, compounded by the unveiled hostility, of other posters toward Christianity and Christian moral values. We do indeed live in the age foretold by Isaiah, when people would call black, white, and white, black. The Enemy has so deluded men and women that they have become his willing servants, hating what is true, hating what is holy.

Rather than posting the list here (I am thinking of compiling a list of examples to post as a note here, or on my Facebook Notes), I simply ask you to commit yourself to renewing your part, as Church Militant, in the Great Battle during this season of Lent which begins tomorrow.

Let your Lenten sacrifice not be merely the continuing of an old tradition, but a genuine offering of self to God through some form of denial that brings you closer to Christ’s gift of self in His Passion, and on the Cross.

And I ask you to pray daily – throughout the day – for the salvation of souls, for the conversion of sinners, for the forces of this present darkness to be pushed back… for our beloved Nation to be once more spared from the Judgment we increasingly seem to be begging for.

We have come full circle. Christianity began as a small, persecuted minority in the midst of a great pagan Empire – rose in influence and political power through the centuries until the entire West was shaped by the Church’s teachings and values… only to have declined, so very rapidly, into, once again, this persecuted and despised minority.

It is because of this cyclical reality I am seeing that I feel that this present crisis differs from the crises of prior generations. Our modern technologies take the evils once confined to major metropolitan areas and push them into our own living rooms – when once upon a time outlying and rural areas were largely spared from the wickedness marking various rulers and Courts, preserving enclaves of quiet, peace, and safety.

I believe we will soon – perhaps in my lifetime – see the culmination of human history as we have known it, when Christ will “Come Again in Glory to Judge the Living and the Dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.”

So – “let us not weary in doing good” as we enter into this Lent, but let our love for Christ be flamed, and our desire for sanctity burn brighter than ever before.