Consider the lilies, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these.”  Luke 12:27

Earlier in the week, someone asked on a page I follow, if anyone knew of the music for “Amen”, from the movie “Lilies of the Field” – After some discussion,. we got into a great back and forth about the history of music… performance, and so forth

If you are unfamiliar with the movie, its a simple concept. Homer Smith, a contractor, stops by a Nunnery…that is VERY much in its infancy, comprised of German Immigrant nuns – The Mother Superior, gradually ropes the star (played by Sidney Potier) into more and more tasks, finally roping him into building a church. The locals (Mexican Americans, ) upon watching this one man try to build a church, eventually chip in. Together, through Homer’s leadership – they complete the church for the Nuns. In it, the whole town comes together to build this church. The Men, the women, the elderly – Even the business owner from outside of town.

It reminded me how the great churches of Christendom built in this country, often had VERY little physical involvement from the episcopacy, or the Holy See (even though their first job is to establish the kingdom of God…I digress) – Often, the poor, gave anything they could, because they knew that it was fitting for Almighty God to be worshiped with mind , body and soul.

Right now we have a real struggle, and its rooted in the false concept of the Church being owned and ran by the Bishops – Where its just the opposite.  The Church is Centered on Jesus – The Bishops are there to lead…and to represent Christs Priesthood in its fullest- But its up to us to take ownership

Its up to us to know our faith, and to renew the church. We need to support our leaders…and challenge them to do better, not simply follow them without reservation. We are in spiritual warfare.

What we lost and when we lost it…and why it matters

35 And they told what things were done in the way; and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread.

36 Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not.”

Luke 24:34-36

A good friend of mine is a Methodist Elder (at the time, he was a provisional pastor), and when writing his Thesis, he decided to 1 – Do it on sacramental theology and 2 – Decided to hit up the Catholic. I jokingly said it was because we had more sacraments… so I was a likely choice.

That said, we talked, and we both agreed that Sacraments are more then simply symbols, that it is something tangible by which we know the Lord in our midst.

Thats a good middle ground – The classic definition is such 

Sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification (Catechismus concil. Trident., n. 4, ex St. Augustine“De Catechizandis rudibus”)”

Pretty intense stuff. In Short, they are a sure fire way for us to know, and show how God works in our lives.  We have the Sacraments of initiation  (Baptism, Communion, Confirmation)  The Sacraments of Service (Ordination and Matrimony) and the Sacraments of Healing (Penance and anointing of the sick (formally Extreme Unction or Last Rights)

These 7, while different, all exhibit one aspect. We have a God, who is very much present, and works in a rather manifest way, in our lives.  This is why sacraments not only are Trans formative (a difference between Catholic/Orthodox understanding and mainstream Protestantism), but they are also indicative and s sign of God’s grace. Grace transforms us. It can embolden us, it can heal us, and it can very often use us (Marriage and Ordination, being on the same level, do this )

All of this matters because they are the chief conduant of a Living God, one who works through us, with us, and in us. 

Its no surprise then , thats really the first thing that we started seeing go away if we look at things historically – The first thing the reformation contested was Sacraments. They became “Symbolic” for many, and “Ordinances (IE, Rites of Passage) for the more reformed theologians. When you take out the real presence that Sacraments show, you have taken away their effectiveness.

This has been exasperated the last 50 years. Even among us Roman Catholics, frankly, sacraments have become a circus. If its not parents shoving each other out of the way to get the perfect picture of their little one receiving first Holy Communion, Its the Bridezillas taking over churches and running both Pastor and musician crazy so they can have the perfect day. The Parents have no concept who their Children are receiving, and the “Happy Couple” has no idea who they are called to bring  to the world.

We can go deeper and look at ordinations, which have become viewed as some sort of thing that is owed (particularly to a gender that has its own holiness; I digress). Its all the same though, instead of something that should be Christocentric, Its become anthrocentric, and thus has been profaned. Instead of praying for the dead (2 Mac 12), we instead are incredibly sensitive to the loss. So we create a fairy tale of how everyone instantly goes up, and why? Because it makes us feel good.  We don’t realize the incredible spiritual assault that every soul goes through in transition, let alone the ones who actually GET to purgatory (sorry…not everyone even makes it that far).

Its all about US..rather then how WE can get closer to him. This is why every denomination out there is broken right now, and most of all..We Roman Catholics. We tout how we are the original…but we look nothing like we should.

So why shouldn’t we have problems? In order to claim God is with us, we have to first understand he is God, and instead we have made God’s of ourselves through our egos. Sacramental theology, in its purity, says ONE THING. We are helpless, and the only person who CAN help us, is Jesus. 

Seasons Change, Reflections

“7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Tim 4:7-8

As it is, this past Monday marked the end of the Road racing season (for me anyhow), with the completion of Gateway Cup. I Showed up..I gave it everything I could… and didn’t leave anything behind – with few exceptions, in reflection I don’t think it could have happened any other way.

The past year, has been truly dynamic. With getting a year under my feet at a new company, to settling the custody issues with my children, to having not one, but two crisis of faith, its been truly a character building year.  I don’t need to remind folks of the events of the last 4 weeks concerning a certain Cardinal (or several)…and his boss that has been overly quiet..much to the dismay of all the faithful. 

In criterium racing, its very dynamic. You have 20-80 extremely crazy cyclists… all on a closed course… trying desperately to win. Some will try harder then others. Through a 40-60 minute race, you will have attacks, pacing. You could have crashes, rain, obstacles (people), and other things that can over all kill your mental resolve. I myself had a few. With a race restart Friday, a flat Saturday, and avoiding 3 crashes on Monday, it truly was an effort among efforts.

I tend to go through a depression after big races. In retrospect…I have since high school. You push and push and push..only to suddenly be done with everything. It got me thinking that our faith journey, is very much like a race. You start off optimistic. You might come off the line as hard as you can. You will follow someone who you think is a “good wheel”.. only to find another to pull you through.  In an instant.. your dreams of grandeur can be completely crushed, only to see that faint chance, and a strong surge at the end.

Faith is like this, especially in light of the latest scandal. Those of us who try (and none of us have it right).. will have our own race dynamics… and I certainly have been dealing with that on a larger scale myself. If anything,  the Mccarrick scandal was losing the pack, and the Pope’s lack of leadership.. is that jerk in the pack who instead of helping you out… goes off and does his own thing. 

Its only at the point…that inside… the Source, the One, speaks to us…tells us to hang on a little longer, and to surge with everything we got. Then at the end we can enjoy the reward…not one of Tin, Gold, Money (or even beer), but the words we all hope to hear someday  “Well done, good and faithful servant, Enter into the Joy, of your Master’s Kingdom”

To my friends (and myself) , who are struggling right now – Hold your line. Ride your race. reach down… and eventually our race will be done, and we will have the joy and peace of having done all we could to get to the real prize, Him.