Monday, September 24, 2012

Faith Is Caught, Not Taught

Wake up Catholic Priests and do the job to which Christ called you when you were ordained.

Evangelical Christians have long espoused something that most Catholics never understood, and so avoided. 

When I was a child in the 50s, I attended Mass regularly, was an altar server, and generally hung around the Church and our Catholic school and church community.  Then Vatican II occurred, and many priests, religious and lay people in the Church took the move to the vernacular form of the Mass to break down the walls of much of what was considered sacred, which is in truth, contrary to the teaching documents from Vatican II.

Where Pope John XXIII was inspired to usher in to the Church a new age of the Holy Spirit, many took the opportunity to follow the devil and bring in a New Age style of movement, diminishing the mysteries and humanising everything else.

The sexual revolution came along about the same time, and all Hell broke loose, both literally and figuratively.  There again, the Pope did the right thing, and Pope Paul VI released the most important document on faith and sexual morality never read by most Catholics, with the Encyclical Humanae Vitae.  But, here in Canada, and throughout much of the free world, bishops and priests let the already dwindling faithful down.  In Canada, we had a watered down interpretation of Humanae Vitae called the Winnipeg Statement, which at a time when we needed clarity on sexual morals including contraception, gave us pablum instead of meat.

I know very few married people who claim to be Catholics, nominally or practicing, who did not contracept at some time during their marriages, and most did so before their marriages, where sexual immorality took its root.

So, Catholics have left the Catholic Church in droves.  Many found homes in other Christian denominations, a sad truth.  Sadder still is that more left church all together, and profess to not miss it one little bit.

How can this be, if the words of Jesus Christ himself to us about the Eucharist are true, as He stated to those with Him at the time: "Unless you eat (the Greek word used actually means to gnaw on) the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life within you"?  These words caused many to leave Him at the time, saying this teaching was too hard.  And too hard it has proven even for those who confess to follow Him today, as only the Catholic and Orthodox Churches hold it literally to be true.

If these words of Jesus are true, and if Jesus gave the power of his first priests to pass on this sacred gift of Himself in the form of bread and wine that he instituted at the Last Supper, then why have we left, and wandered off wherever?  These are after all, "the words of eternal life."

We, the People of God have a responsibility to develop our faith, but it is very difficult when we are not properly instructed in that faith.  If, in fact, faith is caught, not taught, then the teaching is what prepares the fertile soil for the seeds of faith to grow and multiply.

Our pastors have failed miserably to keep us home, and to bring us home, and have allowed the sheep to be scattered, and they will be held to account for doing so.  But, for those of us who remain, it is incumbent on us to lift our pastors up in prayer, that they might become the leaders in faith that we need to strengthen us and to grow the faith back up.   For failing to support them, we will be held to account.

Our pastors have proven to be all too human, to have fears of congregations shrinking, and so have tried to mollify us, rather than to educate us in the truth.

Shame on them!  And, shame on us for not supporting them prayerfully day in and day out to provide them with the spiritual cover to allow them to be steadfast in preaching the Gospel with no excuses, and no apologies.

Our Evangelical Protestant brothers and sisters know that Christianity is about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  What is more personal than to eat the Body and drink the Blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

This morning in the Lauds, the first Liturgy of the Hours for the day, there was an excerpt from a sermon on Pastors by Saint Augustine that is on point.  Every Catholic priest in the world should have read these words and taken them to heart in their early morning prayers.
From a sermon On Pastors by Saint Augustine, bishop
(Sermon 46, 14-15: CCL 41, 541-542)

Welcome or unwelcome, insist upon the message

The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. In one way or another, we go on living between the hands of robbers and the teeth of raging wolves, and in light of these present dangers we ask your prayers. The sheep moreover are insolent. The shepherd seeks out the straying sheep, but because they have wandered away and are lost they say that they are not ours. “Why do you want us? Why do you seek us?” they ask, as if their straying and being lost were not the very reason for our wanting them and seeking them out. “If I am straying,” he says, “if I am lost, why do you want me?” You are straying, that is why I wish to recall you. You have been lost, I wish to find you. “But I wish to stray,” he says: “I wish to be lost.”

So you wish to stray and be lost? How much better that I do not also wish this. Certainly, I dare say, I am unwelcome. But I listen to the Apostle who says: Preach the word; insist upon it, welcome and unwelcome. Welcome to whom? Unwelcome to whom? By all means welcome to those who desire it; unwelcome to those who do not. However unwelcome, I dare to say: “You wish to stray, you wish to be lost; but I do not want this.” For the one whom I fear does not wish this. And should I wish it, consider his words of reproach: The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. Shall I fear you rather than him? Remember, we must all present ourselves before the judgement seat of Christ.

I shall recall the straying; I shall seek the lost. Whether they wish it or not, I shall do it. And should the brambles of the forests tear at me when I seek them, I shall force myself through all straits; I shall put down all hedges. So far as the God whom I fear grants me the strength, I shall search everywhere. I shall recall the straying; I shall seek after those on the verge of being lost. If you do not want me to suffer, do not stray, do not become lost. It is enough that I lament your straying and loss. No, I fear that in neglecting you, I shall also kill what is strong. Consider the passage that follows: And what was strong you have destroyed. Should I neglect the straying and lost, the strong one will also take delight in straying and in being lost.
Dear Priests:

Do not let us stray any longer.  Invite us into personal relationship with Jesus Christ, as exemplified so wonderfully in the Eucharist, but also in every moment of our daily lives.  Tell us the hard truths about sexual morality.  Tell us about sin and its deleterious effect on our daily lives and on that relationship with Jesus.  Preach the word of God with truth and clarity.  Help us to catch the faith by preparing the soil of our hearts to receive, nurture and grow that seed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What's Love Got to Do With It? For an Atheist - Everything

That learned 20th century philosopher and songstress Tina Turner asked the question "What's Love Got to Do With It?"  OK, she didn't write the song.  The real philosopher in this instance is songwriter Terry Britten, who among many gems written for various artists, also penned her hit "We don't Need Another Hero" from the cult movie "Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome".

Of course, I call her, or him by attribution, a philosopher in jest.  The heavy duty philosophy of the particular song of the title of this piece includes the following about love:
It's physical
Only logical
You must try to ignore
That it means more than that
So, what had this to do with anything?

Well, recently, I have been engaged in a dialogue of sorts with a commenter (Rationalist1) over at Father Tim Moyle's blog "Where the Rubber Hits the Road."  WTRHTR is a clever attempt by Father Tim to engage people in conversation about the important issues of our day, which for him and for me relates to the Person of Jesus Christ, and His Divinity and humanity, and what it all means for us personally. 

Where some bloggers provide material that only expresses one perspective, Father Tim provides a more open forum, at least I think so, that lets atheists, at least one witch, Catholic and other Christians, and agnostics from various quarters engage in what is usually meaningful dialogue.  There is much disagreement, but I find much of the dialogue to be challenging.

Recently, I have come back from a hiatus to engage a bit in the dialogue, and have encountered a commenter named "Rationalist1", who is intelligent, educated, and sits on the opposite side of the Christianity fence from Father Tim and myself.

I have only one real criticism of the person called Rationalist1.  I know who Father Tim Moyle is.  It is no secret.  In communications with him, I have come to know a bit more than is on WTRHTR, but he is very open about who he is.  I believe that I have been open about who I am as well.

It is, however, difficult to engage in fruitful dialogue with a man, at least I think Rationalist1 is a man over the age of 30, which I DEDUCE from his comments, who hides behind a moniker.  When I tell you that my name is Michael Brandon, it says little more about me than that my father was a Brandon, and my parents liked the name Michael for me as their first born son.  But, it is the name attached to the individual that is me.

Should I tell you that my name is Rationalist1, which is already taken, it tells you little, but leaves impressions that may be intentionally conveyed, or that come from the reader's own experiences of life.

That seems a circuitous route to get to my purpose here which is to discuss some of the comments from Rationalist1 that I have had from him (again I assume the commenter to be a him) recently.

So, here's how we get to this moment in time.  In response to my posting the other day "Atheist Jumps in to Deep without a Life Preserver"  Rationalist1 provide 4 meaningful comments, the first 2 of which I want to examine here.

I made a statement in the piece that he took me correctly to task over:

I had said:
"The problem with atheists and most non-believers is their inability to have any faith in anything that thay cannot see, taste, smell, feel, and/or touch."
He correctly upped the game with the following:
I can do none of those things with an electron, yet I accept their existence. Why?

Because I've measured the charge of an electron, used its charge to then calculate it's weight in a magnetic field, used its spin to design techniques for MRI machines and I have been know to stare at their scintillation on a phosphor screen as they show me images (CRT television).

I cannot see, hear, smell, taste or feel electrons yet I accept their existence. Because I have evidence of their existence.
It is quite true to say that mankind has scientifically proven that air exists, and many things we cannot normally see, touch, taste etc. and so for scientific purposes they are real.

But, the next statement that he set out to refute I still stand on, and will explain:  I said:
"That, of course, requires rationalists to be bereft of love for self or for others, because love cannot be deduced or reasoned. They could then be filled with self loathing, but that would not be rational, since it too is sensory. That leaves them as dead men or women walking, which, of course, can only progress to dead men or women lying in a cold grave."
Rationalist1 responded by saying to this:
How do I know my wife loves me, yet Angelina Jolie doesn't? Is there anyway by the words or actions of these two people that I might that one of them loves me or are that evidence somehow precluded from being considered.
Although Rationalist1 used Angelia Jolie as his foil, and I have replaced her with Tina Turner for this discussion, his answer is faulty.

Tina Turner voiced the atheist view of love written by Terry Britten that "It's physical, Only logical".  So, Rationalist1 deduces from words that his wife speaks and her actions, and which he has never heard or seen from Angelia Jolie (nor Tina Turner) that his wife loves him.

So, love, which has no atomic weight, is not measurable by X Ray, MRI, PET, MRA, ultrasound or any other scanning method known to man is real for him; yet God who Christians believe is Love, because the written word of God says so, and of which those who have committed to follow Him and believe Him and in Him have personal evidence, does not exist.  That seems curious to me, coming from a scientist.

Love is the essence of any debate about the existence of God.

But, back to friend Rationalist1.  Many years ago, I read an enlightening book by Anthony De Mello, an Indian Jesuit priest and Psychologist, called "Awareness".  It was an eye opener, and in it, he told the following story:
There was a woman in a therapy group I was conducting once. She was a religious sister. She said to me, "I don't feel supported by my superior". So I said, "What do you mean by that"? And she said, "Well, my superior, the provincial superior, never shows up at the novitiate where I am in charge, never. She never says a word of appreciation". I said to her, "All right let's do a little role playing. Pretend I know your provincial superior. In fact, pretend I know exactly what she thinks about you.

So I say to you (acting the part of the provincial superior), 'You know, Mary, the reason I don't come to that place you're in is because it is the one place in the province that is trouble-free, no problems. I know you're in charge, so all is well.' How do you feel now"? She said, "I feel great". Then I said to her, "All right, would you mind leaving the room for a minute or two? This is part of the exercise". So she did. While she was away, I said to the others in the therapy group, "I am still the provincial superior, O.K.?

Mary out there is the worst novice director I have ever had in the whole history of the province. I n fact, the reason I don't go to the novitiate is because I can't bear to see what she is up to. It's simply awful. But if I tell her the truth, it's only going to make those novices suffer all the more. We are getting somebody to take her place in a year or two; we are training someone. In the meantime I thought I would say those nice things to her to keep her going. What do you think of that"?

They answered, "Well, it was really the only thing you could do under the circumstances". Then I brought Mary back into the group and asked her if she still felt great. "Oh yes", she said. Poor Mary! She thought she was being supported when she wasn't. The point is that most of what we feel and think we conjure up for ourselves in our heads, . . .
Rationalist1 relies on how he feels about his wife, and how he feels about what he hears his wife say to him or about him, and what she does for him in their relationship to KNOW that she loves him, and because Angela Jolie does not do things to or for him, nor speak to him or about him that she does not love him.

Recently, I sat somewhere for a few minutes with the wife of a friend, and was shocked at things she said in this brief conversation.  She and her husband have been married for more than 30 years, are always together, and seem to enjoy each other's company.  She professed an unresolvable emptiness in their relationship that I am darn sure he has not the slightest idea about.  He would say as Rationalist1 does that he knows his wife loves him by her actions and her words.  What he has not got clue 1 of are the words of her heart, since he has put up walls to keep her from feelings safe to express her deepest feelings.

I believe that I love my wife, imperfectly, and I believe that she loves me, imperfectly.  But, I am certain that God loves me unconditionally.  So, love has everything to do with IT, no matter what IT is.

Rationalist1 had said in response to my posting "Science Disproving the Existence of God?" the following:
I was an ardent practicing Catholic for the first 30 years of my life. I finally realized that I was fooling myself. I actually know more Catholic theology than most Catholics. I have tried and found nothing there and then I realized I dodn't need there to be a God.
To quote William Shakespeare from the "to be or not to be" soliloquy in Hamlet: "Ay, there's the rub."

You see, Rationalist1 came to the correct conclusion that he was fooling himself as an ardent practicing Catholic.  Good on him that he knows more Catholic theology than most Catholics.  Most Catholics don't know very much theology, Catholic or otherwise.  Shame on our priests and bishops for that is on their heads.

But, the practice of Catholicism has become for many about being ardent, and about theology, and that is not at all about the love of God, which is what Love has to do with it.

Earthly love is a shaded mirror of the love that God has for all of us.  It is not a true reflection, but is the best we are capable of here on earth, particularly if we are not in relationship with God.  God is not about theology and practice, though both are useful. 

God is about love, and about personal relationship, Him and me, Him and you, Him and us all.

So, a Rationalist1 or any scientist can claim that he loves his wife, and she him, but he cannot prove it even legally "beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt".

So, for atheists, the delusions of religion are based on false premises, and the solid foundation of their own lives on the bedrock of science is merely an illusion.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Atheist Jumps in to Deep Without a Life Preserver

Science Disproving God?

Yesterday I wrote an article based on a piece by Natalie Watchover of, called "Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God?"  One atheist "Rational1" had a comment to make about it, though actually only tangentially.

He said:
Very few atheists attempt to prove God does not exist (Victor Stenger is a notable exception) and are instead content to say there is not evidence for the existence of God.

As to the miracles, I can remain skeptical of those miraculous claims that your religion purports for the same reason that your are skeptical of the numerous and incredibly well attested modern miracles of Sai Baba ( )

The problem with atheists and most non-believers is their inability to have any faith in anything that thay cannot see, taste, smell, feel, and/or touch.  Somehow air is exempt from their disbelief, even though the senses cannot detect it, but God is a concept/reality that just does not cut it for them.

They tend to becloud discussion lest there be any challenges to their world view.  After all, their world view is a naturalist/rationalist comprehension, and that is all there is.  Rational1 did that in the comment above, which had nothing to do with the post I had written, other than to signal that Rational1 was "running helter skelter with his fingers in his ears" pretending that life is just as he sees it.

Since the commenter calls himself Rational1, let us try to see what a Rational1 might be.  I take the liberty of speaking for him, since he did the same with me in his comment, where he claimed I was skeptical about something of which I have never had knowledge, other than in the last few hours, by his link in his comment.

It is reasonably safe to assume that someone who calls himself Rational1 is a Rationalist.  Well, a Rationalist is one who holds views "appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification."  Essentially, truth is to be deduced or established intellectually, and there is no room for the senses.  Of course, truth has to be subjective, since if we are both rationalist and come to different conclusions, we must both be right.

That, of course, requires rationalists to be bereft of love for self or for others, because love cannot be deduced or reasoned.  They could then be filled with self loathing, but that would not be rational, since it too is sensory.  That leaves them as dead men or women walking, which, of course, can only progress to dead men or women lying in a cold grave.

So, you say, you know many rationalists and they love their spouse and their children, and they hate deluded conservatives and Christians and people of faith or whoever else they might target.  The fact that they can feel love disproves rationalism, but that must be ignored, maybe as an anomaly, or something, kind of like Rational1 discrediting the miracles I spoke of yesterday, because, after all they come from those deluded religionists.

It is a slippery slope our friends the rationalists descend on, as they must suspend belief in things that are obvious to their eyes, if they choose to open them up.

Rational1 implied that there is "not evidence for God", though in truth there is more evidence for God than there is for him.

The purveyors of the very incomplete science of knowing how the world was created always run into one stumbling block in particular.  How do you get something from nothing?  To have a big bang, something has to cause it, or there has to be some matter present, and where did it come from?  By stopping before reaching the end of the process, and declaring a new goal line, the rationalist is able to claim a position on the existence or non existence of God.  However, anyone who has tried to solve a significant math problem, and quit just before the last step in the solution knows their answer is incorrect.  It is one thing to be ignorant of how to complete the last step.  It is another matter altogether to pretend that the last step is unnecessary, and declare victory without it.

I tried for many years to ignore the existence of God.  However, I was open to the possibility that there was a God, and never called myself an atheist during those years.  I did claim to be agnostic, which is really an uncommitted atheist.

Because I had a mother who prayed for me without ceasing for many years, God made himself known to me with some measure of regularity.  I tried to ignore Him, but what He said to me was too compelling to brush off, and eventually I started, ever so slowly to respond.

I feel sadness for folks like Rational1 who have locked themselves out of possibilities that they cannot fathom since they are dependent on what they candeduce for themselves.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Science Disproving the Existence of God?

How Curious?

Disproving the existence of God is a fun pastime for those who are determined that a loving God could not possibly have created our universe and if He did, he surely would not have let it run amok as it has.

One of the most popular news headlines today on Yahoo News is an article entitled "Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God?"  You can read it at the link, but you can also step away from it, as there is nothing really new here.  Disbelieving in God requires that one ignore history, and any parts of science that do not coincide with the world view that it takes to disbelieve in a Creator.

It is all pretty silly, as this anonymous but thought provoking story below explains:
A man went to a barber shop to have his hair and his beard cut as always.

He started to have a good conversation with the barber who attended him. They talked about so many things and various subjects. Suddenly, they touched the subject of God.

The barber said: "Look man, I don't believe that God exists as you say."

"Why do you say that?" asked the client. "Well, it's so easy, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God does not exist. OK, tell me. If God existed, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be no suffering nor pain. I can't think of loving a God who permits all of these things."

The client stopped for a moment thinking, but he didn't want to respond so as to cause an argument. The barber finished his job and the client went out of the shop.

Just after he left the barber shop he saw a man in the street with long hair and a beard (it seems that it had been a long time since he had his hair cut and he looked untidy).

Then the client again entered the barber shop and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say they don't exist?" asked the barber. "I am a barber and here I am."

"No!" the client exclaimed. "They don't exist because if they did there would be no people with long hair and beards like that man who walks in the street."

"Ah, barbers do exist. What happens is that people do not come to me." "Exactly!"- affirmed the client. "That's the point. God does exist! What happens is people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."
Believing that there is a God requires the suspension of our internal belief systems.  The problem with the Big Bang theory, and why it will never be more than a theory, is that it does not explain how the something that was there to bang big got there.  Scientists can explain a lot, but they cannot explain that away, so they ignore it.  That is not science.  That is stupidity.

Of course, scientists choose to ignore miracles that have occurred here on the earth, many of which have been well documented and accepted by the Catholic Church as real.

Take for example the miracle of Saint Januarius, whose Feast Day it is today, September 19.  Saint Januarius was a martyr for the faith, and since 1389, a particular miracle has occurred every year on his Feast Day, and there is no earthly explanation for it.  Read about it here at Dr/ Taylor Marshall's blog, Canterbury Tales.

You might also read of the documented miracle from the early 1600's of St. Joseph of Cupertino, who is said to have levitated often during his lifetime.

And though you do not have to believe me, I have had at least one miraculous healing happen in my own life, that I have touched on from time to time and wrote some details of here.

Even more astounding and outstanding are miracles of the Eucharist that have occurred down through the ages.  One example is The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy.

However, none of the many miracles that have occurred down through the ages, and occur daily somewhere in the world will ever be written up by the Main Stream Media, like this bogus article that I referenced in the beginning of this piece.

If you want to prove to your own satisfaction that God does not exist, you can keep your head in the sand, quote some scientific studies that are probably reasonably accurate as far as they go, and smugly go on with your life, if you choose to so do.  If you want to prove to your own satisfaction that God does exist, then you have to do some real work, because you won't find it in the paper, or on most TV channels, or in the movies.   It is amazing to me that the spiritual mysteries of a loving God are considered too frivolous to match up against the banal, but titillating movie fare we have available, and all of the garbage found on our televisions.  Yet, we sit in front of a movie or the tube and turn our brains off while being entertained.

I challenge any reader who does not believe that God exists to do some serious research into claims by Christians of miraculous events that cannot be explained away by science, and to ask God to open your eyes to the Wisdom of His Existence, and His Plan for your life.

In fact, I dare you.