"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Principle Work of the Christian

"Then said they unto him, what shall we do that we might work the works of God?"(Jn. 6:28)

It is a fair question and one to which every Christian ought to know the answer. I have a feeling that if you asked this question to any 10 Christians (depending on the denomination) you would get a breakdown something like this:

Social Justice-3
"Wait...Christians have to work?"-1

And it is true that it is of utmost importance that we tell our neighbors that Jesus has made a way for them to be free of their sins. It is true that we ought to fight against things like abortion and that we should feed the poor and care for widows/orphans. Furthermore, worship is the center of the Christian life. We are made to worship God, which is why the scenes we have of heaven from the Scriptures portray endless worship of the thrice-Holy.

But when the Apostles asked the question about what they must do in order to do the work of God, Jesus answered them and said "This is the work of God, that you believe on him he hath sent."(V. 29) When I read this the other night, I have to admit I was a bit surprised at the answer Christ made. But it makes sense. Of the three legitmate answers to the question given above, none are possible if you do not first believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was sent into the world by his Father to be its Redeemer. Or said a more famous way,"Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. 11:6)

As Christians approaching Holy Week, keep two things in mind. First, the very simple of prayer of St. Faustina. "Jesus I trust in you." And secondly, the timeless prayer of the unnamed father in Mark 9 "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." But more than keep them in mind, pray these two powerful prayers. In this way our hearts and minds will be transformed by God's love and we will indeed do the the work of our Lord.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I've written on this blog and other places before about suffering. Generally, I've taken a spiritual and academic approach to it. The posts are filled with quotes from Jesus, Simone Weil, and many other mystics. And there is always talk about finding ways to unite our pain to that of the suffering Lord Jesus, in order that the suffering which we endure becomes, in some way, redemptive.

But tonight's different. Tonight I am tired, battered, unsure of so many things, feeling sort of friendless, and feeling rather like a failure. The suffering is real and it hurts. I know all the Christian answers to the problem of evil-and I genuinely believe them. But for the moment, hope is absent. Dreams and wishes are crushed by the weight of reality. My desire to do anything but sit on my bed is small. I can't remember a time where I literally felt I was dragging myself to work, forcing myself to eat, for three straight days.

I usually shy away from writing things that include excessive use of the words "seem" or "feel", but as I said, tonight's different. Nothing much else is coming to mind.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fulfilling Baptismal Vows

Covered in Baptismal waters, children begin their life long journey toward God. It is in these waters that regeneration takes place and the initial steps of justification happen. It is not magic, mind you, there must be faith present. But there is no getting around Peter's words that a man, in order to be saved, must repent and be baptized. But Baptism is not, as some have vainly imagined, after-life insurance. For it must be accompanied by a life of repentance for our sins.

I was reading the Epistle of Jude this morning and was thinking about verse 5. "...having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that did not believe." If you have any doubts about the necessity of Baptism and Repentance for salvation, you need look no further than this verse. St. Paul refers to the Exodus as a great Baptism. (I Cor. 10:2) Without this Baptism there would not have been freedom for the Israelites. Without our Baptisms or another means of regeneration, there is not any ability for us to repent of our sins.

Yet, Baptism does not guarantee that we will persevere in fulfiling our Baptismal vows. Essentially, what Jude teaches and calls to remembrance, is that many of the people of God in the days of Moses, forgot to uphold what was signified in their own Baptism. They were given the freedom to worship and obey God without hindrance. But as Jude records, they chose not to believe. Herein is a profound warning for the Christian: you are baptized. That's one component of salvation. But Baptism is a one time act. The life of repentance is just that, a life. In the sacrament we are called to reject the world, the flesh, and the devil. Baptism has no lasting impact on those who will not turn away from their sins. Let us walk carefully in these days, being sure to use the freedom we have been given to serve God. The Israelites who fell in the desert, never seeing the land of promise, are our warning sign today.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Best Biblical Argument for the Immaculate Conception of the BVM

Considered by many Protestants to be the hardest of the Marian dogmas to accept, the Immaculate Conception is not something clearly spelled out in Scripture. Of course, just because something is not explicity stated in the Bible does not mean it is not to be believed. However, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, that she was in the first moment of her conception preserved free from the stain of original sin, is actually centered in the first recording of the Gospel, the proto-evangellium.

In Genesis 3:15, the motif known as the "Seed of the Woman" is born. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed. He will bruise thy head, and you will bruise his heel." In God's conversation with the serpent we rightly emphasize the latter half of this prophecy; God's promise that at the Crucifixion of the Child of the Woman the head of Satan would be definitively crushed. Yet it cannot be overlooked that the Lord also states that enmity will exist between the serpent and the Woman. This is not in any way a clear statement that Mary was immaculately conceived, but if Mary was at emnity that means she was a foe, an opposite. What is the opposite of utter sinfulness? You guessed it.

In the end, I still think the best argument for this dogma is that Christianity has always taught that Christ takes his entire human nature from his mother. If he is perfect, and he is, how can his mother not be perfect? How would Christ not be infected with her sin?

Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis