punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lest We Forget What Pride Actually Is

As we bloggers say, "I'm dusting this one off, from last year."  It's still pertinent:

Pride is the deadliest of all the seven deadly sins.

We seem to have forgotten this lately.

I came across a timely post from the Archdiocese of Washington, and, in light of current social trends, one paragraph defining pride, worth reading and re-reading, intrigued me:

Pride is the sinful refusal to recognize anyone or anything greater than us, to whom, or to which we owe reverence and obedience. Modern man has not only abandoned God, but even natural law. In Original Sin Adam said, “I will do what I want to do and I will decide if it is right or wrong.” Thus he refused submission to God. Modern Man extends this concept beyond God’s law, even to reality itself. In this attitude, there is no reality outside himself to which he must conform himself or to which [Man] woes any allegiance. In abandoning natural law, modern man increasing says that reality is what he says it is. Reality no longer matters, all that matters is what I think or feel. *

What's interesting is how the mainstream media portrays 'pride' as something healthy and favorable to people, when, as the quote above reveals, precisely the opposite is true. As June 2011 concluded, it found itself dedicated to a specific variety of 'pride.' I don’t feel I have to mention which variety explicity because, in essence, all pride is equally destructive no matter how flamboyant or celebratory we’ve become of different displays of hubris.

But isn’t there such a thing as healthy pride, you may ask? Such as in the face of an accomplishment or when one pays homage to their nation, ancestry or ethinicity?

In those cases, it’s not really pride (e.g. “I’m so proud of you, family member X …” or “We come from a long line of proud So-and-Sos…) at all. But since we must use language to express the combination of satisfaction, joy and gratitude for an earned success as well as the respect, reverence and humility experienced with ‘honoring one’s roots,' we tend to distill these concepts down to the current banal usage of the term ‘pride.'

If you look closely, however, in those cases there is a recognition or an acknowledgment of being blessed that does not self-aggrandize but which gives credit where credit is due: to the One who gives us our talents, history, nation and family.

Of course, it still remains possible to become disordinately proud when one succeeds, such as when one attributes all success and personal merit to oneself. There is also a way of overemphasizing the importance of ancestry, race and nationality, such as when one considers it their primary identity and starts to conform their entire lifestyle to it rather than to God's will for their lives.

In other words, the subjugation of God’s law as well as our obligation to observe it, to something as dramatically miniscule as ourselves and our personal desires is the essence of pride. Whether contemptuously driven to turn away from God (as in the case of Satan) or simply due to the pull of our fallen nature, the prideful person succumbs to the temptation to consider themselves as the ‘master’ of their own lives rather than acknowledge a higher power and Authority.

This is why when St. Thomas Aquinas writes about pride, he calls it the beginning of all sin after Sirach 10:15, Pride is the beginning of all sin. He explains why:

…pride regards sin as turning away from God, to Whose commandment man refuses to be subject, for which reason it is called the "beginning," because the beginning of evil consists in turning away from God...We must therefore say that pride, even as denoting a special sin, is the beginning of every sin. I-II q 84 a2 c.

In other words, pride is the disposition by which all evil, all 'turning away from God' (i.e sin) becomes possible if not probable. Pride, therefore, can rightly be called the deadliest of all the deadly sins. And so, when our culture as a whole does an about-face from the Truth, instead of admonishing the sin and educating the sinner as we should, we celebrate it and them. And why not? Since we’ve already made ourselves our own Gods, why shouldn’t we spend time honoring ourselves and then punish those who don’t do likewise? The Washington Archdiocese post further elaborates on what happens when we become entirely self-focused:

In severing his relationship with God, and even with reality itself, the human person can turn in almost entirely on himself and be unreachable. He becomes hardened in his self-enclosed thinking and will only admit data and people who conform to his stinking thinking. As time goes by, almost nothing can break through this wall of pride. Scripture says, For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools….(Rom 1:22-23).

I just want to repeat one line of this quote which really struck me: "[He] (the prideful person) will only admit data and people who conform to his stinking thinking." Intolerance, from this perspective, becomes the most immediate and natural offspring of pride. Today, however, we so often hear the term 'pride' and 'tolerance' mentioned in the same breath together that it's now a forgone conclusion that the two are somehow complementary. And yet this spurious claim of compatibility between the two, once properly examined, emerges as inherently fraudulent, as neither tolerance nor pride, by their very natures, can coexist together. Pride can only ever admit to ways of thinking that do not threaten or challenge it, and then persecute any that do.

The foolishness and heresy committed by the Ego who considers itself the source of all truth is rampant and robust in present times. Why? Because we’ve forgotten what pride actually is, and, as such, have become a prideful society. We now throw parades for pride and dedicate full months of the year to it. Imagine that, waving flags and marking our calendars for what amounts to both the root and vehicle of our own self destruction. And yet you don’t need to spend too much time trying to imagine it; I hear it gets great media coverage by all the major networks these days.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Being a Mom of Two Young Children Really Means

I have great news! I’m going to be an aunt again! My sister is expecting her second child.

Yay! And, forgive me, but muahahahaha…now she’ll understand my pain.

Come on, all of you with two or more thought the same thing. I heard your thoughts from here! And the answer is no, I’m not going ‘break the news’ to them, I am going to let them learn for what having ‘more than one’ is like for themselves.

However, being the compassionate, older sister that I am, I decided that before they learn the secret handshake, I would prepare a short list of what they have to look forward to with the two. 

My own children are four and two years old and so some of these may not apply for awhile, but here goes.

Dear sis, as a mom of two kids, prepare to:

·      Own stock in a dairy farm somewhere with all the galloons of milk your family will guzzle.

·      Buckle, unbuckle; buckle, unbuckle wherever you go.

·      Become the enemy of evolutionists, for you still will not have grown that second set of arms so biologically necessary for caring for two human beings at once.

·      Develop a renewed sense of respect for your own parents, and all parents throughout history who have raised more than one child at one time.

·      Feel the need to wear a plastic rain poncho at bath time.

·      Frequently order one meal to feed the two of them.

·      Feel the need to wear a rain poncho at meal time…and, while you’re at it, why not drape plastic over everything in house, including the dog?

·      Hear the phrase, “My mommy,” “No, my mommy,” and derive a secret satisfaction from it.

·      Catch yourself reminiscing about what it was like when you could go to the bathroom by yourself.

·      Discover how insurmountable and miraculous the simple task of “Getting out the door” can be.

·      Learn the art of healthy, and maybe not so healthy bribery (Cookie?)

·      Find yourself intimidated by how well both can actually understand their unintelligible filial toddler lingo. (Is there anything weirder than seeing two little human beings that you made start conversing?  I don’t know.)

·      Unconsciously accept the five-second rule (or the five minute rule) for fallen food in your household.

·      Resign yourself to the thought, “Well, at least they’re dressed,” more times than you ever believed you would.

·      Be able to distinguish between a ‘good’ loud thud and ‘bad’ loud thud and whether it actually requires your immediate attention

·      Prepare to be amazed at watching two little people do this thing called ‘growing up’ together.

Teach them the Faith and, if you can, make it most beautiful part of their lives. I know you are already doing that with your first one.  Her “Faddah, Sohn, Holy Spit…” Sign of the Cross surely indicates the deep piety rooting itself in her tiny breast.

Do try to enjoy every minute of the aforementioned bath time with your little fishies (for me, this has been one of my favorite parts of this whole parenting gig) and make family meals central to your domestic life.  We’ll all want to hang out with you guys in public and at restaurants if you do.

Congratulations, sis!  That learning curve from one kid to two kids is a steep one, but thankfully, there’s a step-by-step manual you can buy to help you with this.

Oh, wait, no there isn’t! Oh well… don’t worry!  You are actually going to be able to write your own one day and probably just in time for the grandkids.

God bless, you!  Signed, your sister and the future god-mother…right?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Third Category of Catholic?

I want to get your feedback on a topic that I've been ruminating over for some time, one that closely reflects my own experience as a "cradle" Catholic.

As someone who never left the Faith, I nonetheless found myself bathed in disillusionment the day that I discovered the 'Catholic Church' which I assumed I knew so much about, it turns out, had been a concoction of some well-meaning, but poorly formed dissenting theologian.
Speaking of equality, a confounded faith means equally
confounded Catholics.

Let's put it this way: some people, and perhaps, especially those from my post Roe v. Wade generation, grew up on some very bad catechesis, if you can even call it that.

So for those of us that fit into that category: we're all "cradles,"  none of us are "converts" or "reverts" but we were told things about the Church that were brazen and bold faced falsehoods. 

We're the Elmo-loves-you generation presented with a happy clappy version of  the "true," "tolerant" and "compassionate" 'Catholicism of the gospel," mainly because it was assumed that we couldn't handle concepts like sexual purity and distinctive gender roles within the family.

This is the Catholicism of Catholics for Choice, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, "women priests"and a host of others that are now so lacking in valid arguments for their cause that the only move they have left to play is the "I'm a victim!" card.

But what category do we, "I was told, and I believed that I was being a good Catholic" types fall into?

Well, what do you think?

I would say, for the sake of alliteration, another "c" word is in order.   How about "Confounded" Catholics?

That definitely applies to me: the sheer confusion, surprise and frustration associated from having all that I thought I knew about the Faith dispelled as wrong fits my experience. 

Because it's all dilly-dally all day long at the Vatican...

I was, for the majority of my life, a Confounded Cradle Catholic.  Judging by the prominent Faithful holding political office, and the sound bytes of Catholics against their own Church in recent history, I can tell I'm far from being the only one.

Pray for Confounded Catholics.  Many of us don't even realize our confoundedness.  How can we? We're  already stuck in our assumption that we're the correct ones.

The cure for this condition is simple: proponents and those knowledgeable in Church teaching need to continue in their apologetics ministries, in putting forth rational arguments and appeals to the facts.  They make a greater difference than they perhaps realize.

I changed because I was confronted with the naked tenets of my Faith, with the truth about abortion, contraception and homosexuality.  No one was intolerant or mean or vindictive - they were just more informed than I was.  And, if anything, I was the venomous one emotionally attached to some bizarre idea of free will and human relationships.

I owe everything to the simple, un-sentimentalist,  and truly compassionate attitude of certain authentically Catholic professors.  I'm thankful to have become acquainted them when I did because the rhetoric that becried the witness of those good faithful people as bigoted, archaic and fearful became just angry clamor that signified the nothingness or nihilism to which their perverse causes inevitably culminate.  And sadly, the most vociferous of these 'conscientious objectors' were other Catholics.

So pray for those who are lost and cause others to run astray as well.  They're not bad people, they're just unknowing; they have not been fully educated in the Faith they are dissenting from. They keenly feel the call radical charity, but they've haven't been shown how to properly execute it.

Just like the rest of us, they're trying to be 'good' Catholics. They acutely thirst for the redeeming waters of Christ, just like we all do.