24 August 2010

A Paradox of Truth

Life and the world are full of contradictions.
One may also call them paradoxes.
We find them all around us, and not in the way that song that isn't really about ironies says. Things that seem to be rightside up are often upside down, and the other way around. It can be confusing!
For example - I love to be alone. I hate that I love to be alone because I know I shouldn't love being alone because it doesn't take much alone time before I hate being alone and only want people again. Yet, the more you end up around people the more you miss being alone... it's a vicious cycle, really.
Another great one would be suffering in general... love-hate relationship, of course. No one really loves hardship, right? Yet, we love the fruits. We appreciate the formation, the growth, the lessons learned that come from hard times. Then, we begin to love the experience of the hardship because we understand what comes after it. We don't love the pain, but we love what it can bring to us. So there is often some balance of appreciation and loathing that work together in our minds and hearts when we endure trials.
Among the million and one things I need to write about, and the other million and two that are based solely on reflections drawn from things I have read (for that is when my mind most often explodes), in particular a recent excerpt from Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II caught my attention.
John Paul is reflecting on the nature of sin and concupiscence in humanity. The context of anything out of this extremely rich text is necessary for a full understanding, but I will dare to expound on a sentence and hope for the best. He says, "Concupiscence is to be explained as a lack, as a lack, however, that plunges its roots into the original depth of the human spirit."
I had to read that line over and over for a while to get the imagery down. The privation of anything is only a deep as what has been deprived. The depth of human goodness, of the original innocence man was created in before the fall of sin, sets the boundaries and limits for how far concupiscence, directly as the lack-of this innocence, reaches.
This should elicit a few responses from us. Immediately, it should be impressive. We are rather aware of the negative effects of sin in our world... clearly concupiscence has paraded its power all over our society and ourselves. Adversely, this should mean we were doing pretty well prior to the invasion of sin in our world. If it's black and white, and the black is dark and pervasive, it can only imply that the white is bright and stunning. This is encouraging! Despite the many failures we experience in the game of "being good in life" we should be both motivated and confident because according to this paradox, we were made for something much greater than what we have known.
Consider the fullness of the freedom mankind knew before the effects of sin! John Paul discusses how concupiscence deals with man's desire. It is the yearnings in our heart that are corrupted. We do not want the good, we want what we decide is good. We are not able to see clearly to know the true good from what appears good, and so we often are mistaken in our wants. Also, our desires, being thus blinded, become habitually more self-serving as we are given the dissatisfying gratification of what we had thought was best for us. Rather than building up a freedom for our hearts, we build instead a cave, that leads further and further down into disappointment. When we are looking for fulfillment outside of ourselves but allowing only selfish desires to guide that search, we aren't bound to get very far.
So rather, John Paul points to the glorious freedom we possessed when we were created and living without any lack. The purity of our hearts and our desires allowed us to simply be in the good. We were good. There was no need for yearnings for things which would not satisfy. We discovered ourselves in free-gift to the other. We found our capabilities, our glories, our joys through service and gift. These ways-of-being were the culminations of freedom, for since we possessed ourselves so fully through such pure intentions, we were able to so fully give ourselves over, and through the gift rediscover the affirmation of our individual self in its fullness. Again, this is all much easier to understand if you sit through the many pages of the Pope's entire text.
As it is, the point is simple. This paradox, just as the Incarnation or the Cross and Resurrection, contains such depth precisely because of the power of the original good. The understood "lack" of good ought to set our imaginations free to create the idea of just how full of good we must have been. This imagining should simultaneously set our personal goals and hopes for living in authentic freedom. Clearly we will never be able to be completely free from sin - yet, we certainly could make great progress towards that beauty that first dwelt in the soul and body of man.
If nothing else, the symmetry and consistency of such truth - that the lack is only as deep as what was once present - whispers of recreation and hope that is absolutely overflowing with confidence and energy. Even that is a contradiction! Whispers of things that enthrall and eventually lead you to explode with the amazement at the promise God makes to us. That we could be so healed, so filled, so named, so remade, so broken and then so complete... it is worth the reflection.

30 September 2009

The Double Standard About Pedophile

Read an interesting article that finally inspired me to post after months of being AWOL...

Father Polanski Would Go to Jail

The long and short of it - priests (and the Church as a whole, in fact) have a dark cloud placed over them and face tremendous malignment and vilification because a small number of them (roughly 4%) are guilty of pedophilia while famous director Roman Polanski, an admitted sexual abuser, gets an Academy Award.

As Fr. Reese rightly points out in his article, any person or organization who's members are guilty of such a crime should be placed under a microscope. Attempts should be made to get to the bottom of it, so to speak. And those guilty should be justly punished.

The point is that while this process is taking place in the Church, it is not in Hollywood for people like Polanski. There is a double standard.

Now, the thing that really struck me is not so much this double standard. It's a huge problem and one I am afraid will continue. But this article serves as a reminder of just how broken we are as people, across the board.

Sexual brokenness rears its ugly head in many ways. Pedophilia is just one of them. Any time our bodies are being used for anything other than to love as God loves (by giving ourselves over to another, not taking something from them) we deviate from the intent with which God created them. And when we deviate from God's plan, things get dicey.

What is worst of all is that ANYONE guilty of sexual abuse, would be given a free pass. People have viciously attacked the Church in light of the scandal, yet others guilty of the same crime are allowed to move on unscathed. Forget the double standard, it just reeks of evil.

20 May 2009

Christopher West on Nightline

Video Here: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=7534337

Hey, so I know I'm like 2 weeks late on this bit, but there hasn't been anything "on-time" about this blog in the past year anyway :)

As many may know by now, Christopher West was featured on ABC's news show Nightline. I actually thought it was a success for the simple fact that hundreds (I imagine) of people who've never heard of the Theology of the Body before now have been introduced... sort of.

The feature was not without it's eyeball-rolling moments - ABC labeling West a sex therapist, over-exagerrating West's analogy with Pope John Paul II and Hugh Hefner (founder of Playboy), to name a couple. Yet, seeds were planted. I've gotta believe that some people investigated TOB a little further because of this 8 minute presentation.

At any rate, it has made for a lot of dialogue on the net, especially in the Catholic blogosphere. For the record, here's the TOB Institue's reaction to the feature... http://www.tobinstitute.org/announcement.asp?AnnouncementsID=22

27 April 2009

Love & Monkeys

A neat little snippet of a talk by Dr. Janet Smith

12 January 2009

Only by His Divine Mercy

So, I'm becoming increasingly convinced, in what I see happening in the world around me and in my recent prayer experiences, that the Divine Mercy is the single most important devotion to come from the 20th Century.

I do not say this to slight other devotions. Indeed I love Our Lady and find much comfort and hope in her appearances in Fatima. Lord knows we need her prayers and her guidance.

What I see is a world just absolutely lost. Like, in the middle of the jungle, without a compass or water, beaten within inches of death, lost. We are pushing God further away every day, and finding ourselves deeper in that jungle.

I wish I could express my thoughts more clearly. All I know is that WHAT BUT HIS MERCY CAN SAVE US? I mean really, THANK GOD FOR HIS MERCY! How lucky are we that HE IS SO FORGIVING!? We've spit in His face and pushed Him away. We've given away the freedom he blessed us with. We've fallen for the same lies of the evil one over and over again. We're KILLING EACH OTHER and we've practically buried ourselves alive. And yet - His Mercy is more powerful than all of that. All the sin in the world COWERS at His Divine Mercy!

No matter how bad things get, and I can only imagine how much worse they will get, we have such a good reason to hope - because God is Merciful. If only the world would whisper at once... "Jesus, I trust in you".

22 December 2008


My soul glorifies the Lord, *
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her lowliness; *
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me. *
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age, *
on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength *
and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones *
and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things, *
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant, *
remembering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his sons for ever.

18 November 2008

I was searching TOB videos and came across a friend achieving You Tube fame. This is Father Mike Schmitz of Duluth Minnesota, an absolute rock star priest.