Label : none

Release date: April 12th 2020

Track List

  1. Be Not Afraid
  2. 2.Of the Glorious Body Telling (Crux Fidelis)
  3. 3.Praise to the Lord, the Almighty 03:22
  4. I Heard You Call Out 03:14
  5. Downtown
  6. Call Me Ishmael
  7. Wounds I Choose
  8. Of the Glorious Body Telling (early version) 03:49

Peter JohnstonRVA- Be Not Afraid Album Review

Raw stripped-down guitar, authentic struggle, and Catholic imagery typically do not describe music in today’s scene. Yet that is exactly what you get in Peter JohnstonRVA’s debut album Be Not Afraid.

The opening track shares the album title. It opens with a light guitar melody, but what got me hooked was the vocals. I like the raw raspiness as the singer sings, “Be not afraid, not today Be not afraid, not today, be not afraid,” and during the chorus, “Some say it’s all over now It’ll never be the same again but the worst is not on us yet so let the future start today.” The vocal delivery gives a sense of urgency as if the singer himself needs to be not afraid. An important message for sure in times of uncertainty.

If urgency can be felt in the first song, the second song, Of The Glorious Body Telling, has a poetic whimsical feel. This is achieved by the backing vocals between each stanza. This song has my favorite introduction. The intro guitar coupled with the vocals on the first line, “Sing my tongue the glory of the victorious fight Sing of the noble triumph Our first father was defrauded into misery from the first fatal bite,” remind me of the stripped-down guitar of some post-grunge acoustic songs. Since the lyrics are based on a traditional Catholic hymn, the uniqueness comes from the musical arrangement.

Praise to the Lord, the almighty is the weakest song on the album, but by no means a bad song. It has a simple melody and as always a good guitar and drum backing. This is the kind of song I’d expect to a youth guitar Mass. The song is safe and marketable. If I was the record label, this would be the single for its mass appeal.

I Hear You Call Out makes up for whatever weaknesses this album has. I am a big fan when songs have the potential to have a double meaning. This song has all the trappings of a romantic pop/rock song, but it is obvious is a reference to the various different calls we read about in the Bible. The one that comes to mind for me is Isaiah 6:8,

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

The drumbeat, starting at the beginning and continuing throughout the song, makes the song delightfully catchy. It will get stuck in your head.

The next song, Downtown, is my personal favorite for its depiction of authentic struggle. Some new Christian artists are afraid of struggle. They are afraid it takes away from their call to be hopeful. Let’s be real, the Christian walk is not easy. Thus it was refreshing to hear the lyrics, “I won’t pretend to be the one, who’s sincere.“ I’ve always struggled with the sincerity of my Christian faith, so it’s nice to see that depicted in a song. Ultimately this song depicts the story of betrayal and dealing with the aftermath of a broken friendship.

I thought we were friends, it doesn’t feel that way I’m on my own more times than I’d like to claim

These lines hit especially hard for me. I’m no stranger to friendship betrayal. Not every song has to be explicitly about Jesus to speak the truth about the human condition.

“Call me Ishmael” is a puzzle box of a song, whose meaning is not outwardly obvious. The title obviously references Moby Dick, a book I’ve sadly never read. It also references the first son of Abraham, who was forced to wander around a desert after being banished by Sara. The chorus states,

“I didn’t know the time of day or even where I was It’s hard to be what you can be as you stare down a gun “

Taking the words literally, I think of someone being saved from suicide, yet I think the lyrics might have a more figurative bent. I think the gun is a metaphor for societal pressures that make it hard for one to work to their potential. I am happy that the lyrics are not your traditional cookie-cutter worship lyrics. I would like to see more lyrics like this in the future. Musically, this song has a bass line starting at 1:26 that transitions into a musical solo before the bridge on 2.06. These three notes separate it from the other songs on the album.

Wounds I Choose is the last original track on the album. As always I am impressed by the authentic struggle depicted in the lyrics. It’s reminiscent of the psalms that beg for deliverance from their disobedience. One stylist choice was to add a bit of an echo or reverb on the vocals. This choice makes the singer feel far or lost, which matches the song. Again there is some nice guitar work before the bridge. The lyrics are full of allusions to the Bible without being overly explicit or corny.

“A quiet voice has kept me in the game.”

Seems to call back to the story of Elijah and God’s still small voice.

Overall this album will appeal to those, who like their worship music to have a bit more authenticity and rock influence.

Similar artist: The Thirsting, and Jack Johnson

Can NFP be used as Contraception?

” When all the smoke has cleared, contraception was invented because of our lack of self-control” Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners1

Long before I knew about Theology of the Body or Natural Family Planning (NFP), I was enrolled in my Christian ethics class tasked with writing a final paper. As a new Catholic, I wanted to challenge myself to defend the Church’s teachings on contraception. Admittedly, I had had a hard time accepting this teaching. For the paper, we had to use two different methods of arguing our point. I chose to argue the scripturally and philosophically contraception is morally wrong. For the philosophical piece, I chose to cite Thomas Aquinas’ defense of self-control as a virtue.

Fast forward, I’m reading Theology of the Body. I read the above quote from Christopher West. Laughing on the inside, I think to myself, I could have written that sentence.

Yet Catholics make everything so dang complicated. Note, I don’t mean the Church, I mean individual Catholics. Let me explain.

NFP Week

NFP week occurs on July 21-27 and boy, there was conflicting information. Twitter was an especially confusing place. People accusing others of having a “Contraceptive mentality” simply because they wanted to space out their children.

As someone, who wants only two biological children (I am open to adopting much more), the moral imperative to have as many kids as possible scares me.

Luckily the keyboard warriors of twitter don’t define Catholic theology.

What is NFP?

NFP or Natural Family Planning involves using a women’s natural cycle to determine if a woman is fertile? It can be used to avoid pregnancy or to have a baby. There are many different types of NFP.

Creighton model

This model requires a woman to measure her cervical mucus before and after she goes to the bathroom. Depending on the color and texture, a woman is either fertile or infertile. There are classes a woman can take to help her know what to look for when measuring mucus.

Sympto-Thermal model

In this model, a woman measures whether or not she has cervical mucus. She also measures her temperature every morning at the same time. Based on these measurements, she determines her pre-peak, peak, and post-peak. It used to be inconvenient to have to measure your temperature at the same time every day. Now though, there have been breakthroughs in wearable technology. A quick internet search showed me a band worn under the armpit and an in-ear thermometer.

Marquette Method

This method is the newish one on the scene. It involves testing women’s hormone levels using a fertility monitor. While this method is reliable and easy to understand, it is too expensive for most women. It requires a woman to purchase both a fertility monitor and strips. Yet it is the easiest method to follow if you have the excess money to spend.

Effectiveness

By now, dear readers, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “why to go through all that work if artificial birth control is 99% effective.” Well, the reason I chose to highlight the above NFP methods is that they are 98%-99% effective with perfect use. The keyword, of course, is the perfect use. So let’s talk imperfect use.

In imperfect use, artificial birth control pills are 92% effective. The Creighton model ranges from 95%-98% effective. The Marquette model ranges from 89%-86% effective. Lastly, Sympto-Thermal model is 98%-92% effective.2

I know that is a lot of numbers to throw at you. My point is that, except for the Marquette Model, all of them are on par with artificial birth control. The latter of which comes with negative side effects.

Okay so all things being equal, why is NFP morally better than artificial birth control?

Christians have a moral obligation to choose NFP.

Self Control

But the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

As Christians, one of the signs that we are one with God is our growth in the fruits of the spirit. Check out that last one, yep, it is self-control. We should always strive with God’s grace to grow in self-control. By denying sex for a little while 6-10 days a month, you are practicing self-control.

Why NFP is not Contraception

Sex that creates life necessitates that a woman and a man have vaginal intercourse. Thus, the church requires all sexually acts entail vaginal intercourse. When a couple has vaginal intercourse and the woman is naturally infertile, this does not render the sexual act objectively sterile. Contraception, on the other hand, renders the sexual act objectively sterile. Christopher West puts it this way,

Contraception is the choice of engaging in an act of intercourse but doing something to render it sterile. Couples who engage in NFP, when they have a just reason to avoid pregnancy never render their sexual actions sterile.3

Thus NFP can never be done with “contraceptive mentality.” Sex with NFP is always open to life.

  1. West, Christopher. Theology of Body For Beginners (Ascension Press 2009), pg 113.
  2. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/1115/p924.html#afp20121115p924-b23
  3. West, Christopher. Theology of Body For Beginners (Ascension Press 2009), pg 111.

The Indianapolis Archdiocese made the correct decision.

A Reflection On The Debate Regarding Gay Teacher

Headlines filled my twitter feed. Indianapolis archdiocese removes Catholic standing from Jesuit school over a dispute regarding the gay teacher.

Immediately, the usual suspects begin rushing to the school’s defense. They cite unjust discrimination. Catholic Church only cares about sexual sin. They target gay and lesbians to make themselves feel more righteous.

I have heard it all and I’m here to set the record straight. This is about authority. It has nothing to do with the teacher’s sexual orientation.

Let me explain.

Defending the Indianapolis Archdiocese

Public verse Private Sin

So the Archdiocese justifies the firing by saying,

All faculty are ministers and as such, they’re public and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic teachings.

But the liberal Catholics cry, why don’t you fire every Catholic, who uses contraceptives?

When I entered into the Twitter debate, my favorite example was why don’t they monitor food intake and fire people for gluttony and greed.

The problem with all of those examples is that they are all private sins. Gluttony requires a person to take pleasure in food.

Thomas Aquinas said it best, “too soon, too expensively, too much, too eagerly, too daintily.”

There’s a certain internal attitude one must have to be greedy or gluttonous.

Contraception is something a person does in the privacy of one’s own home.

Just like the government, the Catholic Church can’t invade the privacy of the marital chamber.

Marriage; however, is a public declaration. It is a signing of a piece of paper that becomes part of a public record.

The Catholic Church believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

By participating in a same-sex marriage, the teacher has publicly declared an opposing view on marriage that is contrary to church teaching.

Anytime anyone publicly declares anything contrary to church teaching, that person will be fired.

An analogous situation would be participation in a black mass or working for an abortion clinic.

I believe that if the man had not been married and just in a homosexual relationship, there would have been no justification to fire him. Thus it is not an attack on his orientation.

Rather it is a direct attack on the Archdiocese’s authority over marriage.

Speaking of authority….

Who’s the boss? Archdiocese or Brebeuf Jesuit preparatory high school

First, What does Catholic mean?

At its very basic Catholic means universal.

To be universal, the church must be united.

To achieve this unity, a Catholic organization must be united with Catholic authority.

The bishop is the supreme authority over Catholic organizations in a diocese.

The school wants to be independent. They say, “always maintained control of our school’s operations and governance, including our personnel decisions.”

Sorry, you can’t be independently universal. That makes no sense.

Final thoughts

Ultimately liberal Catholics will make this story about unjust discrimination.

Don’t be fooled, it is solely about authority.

Does the church have the authority to define marriage? Does the bishop have authority over Catholic organizations?

Any Catholic in good standing should answer yes to those questions.

Yet a Brebeuf Jesuit preparatory high school wants to answer no to those questions and cries when their hand gets slapped.

Catholic means having universal assent with church teaching. There’s no room for individual conscience.

Thus the Archdiocese is right.

Bishops Say The Craziest Things

a Reflection on USCCB General Assembly 2019 June

Hating on the bishops is the latest fad on Twitter.

I can understand why. The latest sexual abuse scandal has broken everyone’s trust. I feel like the bishops are out of touch. I feel it especially when they tweet out:

Problem with Bishops’ Statement

At first glance, I did not think much of the question. Yet I could not let it go. The problem is that everyone should have the same answer as Simon Peter

” Jesus said to the twelve, “will you also go away? Simon Peter answered him, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life, and we believe and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-68a RSV Second Catholic Edition

I stay not because the homily is good or because the music moves me. Faith formation programs while important are not the reason I stay. Rather I stay because somewhere along the way, I became convinced that the church through Jesus had the word of everlasting life.

Problem With Communication

Bishop Barron’s solution

I stay because the Catholic Church is the truth. Perhaps then people leave because the truth is poorly communicated.

Bishop Barron seems to think so. Twitter criticized Bishop Barron for suggesting that the church imitate the style of Dr. Jordan B Peterson.

Now I had never heard of this guy. A quick google search reveals that he is a psychologist with moderate political videos.

He is not a devout Catholic. If anything, he flirts with Christian morality when it fits his agenda.

To be fair, Bishop Barron did say to imitate the style of and not the substance. But why? Christianity should be all about proclaiming the truth.

Yet people join the ranks of the religious unaffiliated not out of ignorance, but out of lack of relevance.

Parish’s Disfunction

I don’t want apologetics!

I want community.

Thus the below tweet intrigues me.

_

Is USCCB right? Are parishes dysfunctional?

Yes and no.

First, we need to understand what a parish is.

I have written about parishes before. In that post, I said, “I think most Catholics leave, not because protestant services are more entertaining or because they don’t understand the Eucharist, but because it’s easier to feel like you belong.”

I stand by that statement. Most parishes are awful at fostering that sense of belonging. Furthermore, parishes have no incentive to foster belonging. A parish receives its authority based on geography. That’s a shame for all those people driving 20 or more minutes away.

This also explains the Latin Mass phenomenon. Despite what your Trad friend would love to brag. The Latin Mass feels like a community because it groups together like-minded people. It has nothing to do with pre-Vatican II Liturgy.

Bishops so close, but not exactly

So I do agree parishes don’t work. Yet parishes don’t work, not because younger people migrate. Rather they never found that authentic community. Most of what parishes offer appears inflexible and unwelcoming. Most people do not know anyone’s name or notice when they don’t attend.

So we should do away with the parish right?

Rather I think a change of attitude is in order. Parishes are not merely places to procure the sacraments. They become places where the community is found. After all, when two or three is gathered in Jesus’s name, he promises to be there.

Interested in learning more? I’ve written on how to foster community and still stay reverent here

wear, clothes

What Not to Wear: Mass Edition

Growing up I loved the show What Not to Wear on TLC. I loved seeing people get an updated more modern and sophisticated look.

In my own life, I like to dress up. I am not a girly girl by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t go out of the house in sweat pants. I always dress up for Mass.

Although I must confess that I’ve worn jeans to mass before.

I didn’t think what I wore to Mass was such a contentious topic until I saw this tweet.

Dear Catholic men: Why are you wearing cargo shorts and flip-flops for Sunday Mass? You wouldn’t wear anything close to beachwear for a) a job interview, b) a wedding, or c) dinner with the Queen of England, and you know it.

Patrick Coffin’s point is that we should show respect because the king of the universe is present. Does God actually care what we wear? What does the Bible say about our clothing?

Old Testament Clothes

So the first mention of clothes occurs in Genesis chapter 3.

then the eyes of both were open and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. Genesis 3:7

So in the garden, they were naked.

This represents innocence.

Yet when sin entered they wanted to cover up. They felt shame and guilt. This translated into being embarrassed about our bodies.

Yet our bodies are not shameful. Your body was created by God. In fact, God gives us clothes.

and the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skin and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

God clothes Adam and Eve with garments of skin. The plants were not sufficient because their sin required a blood sacrifice. Thus, clothes function to hide our shame and guilt. God already knows what I have done. He knows our bodies. Thus clothes are for us. It is to protect us from being vulnerable.

So how does this affect the New Testament community?

The writings of St. Paul

After the gospels and book of Acts, there are the letters of St. Paul. Letters can be tricky. When I read the letter, I am reading the answer without knowing the context or question. Nevertheless, we know that the letter authors were writing to churches. They were correcting problems.

St. Paul had problems with the church of Corinth. Things were getting out of hand. Here’s what St Paul said about women’s attire in the church.

For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil.

Don’t grab your hair veil just yet!

Paul is recognizing the fact that women are subordinate to men.

Now feminist, hear me out.

Paul absolutely believes that man and women are equal under God.

Yet he recognizes that women have a unique role and purpose. Our job is to be a helpmate to men. In Paul’s time, both men and women wore veils. Yet in the house of God, women should veil to show their unique relationship. Likewise in Paul’s time, having short hair associated you with a less honorable class of women such as prostitutes and lesbians.

Hence women should dress in accordance with their God-given role.

Paul elaborates on this in his letter to Timothy.

Similarly, too, women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds. 1 Timothy 2:9

Paul does advise against braided hairstyles, gold ornaments, and expensive clothes. Yet his main goal is to emphasize modesty. Our reverence to God is shown not by being flashy, but by good works.

Take away

So the point is not so we can have an excuse to dress however we want. Our clothes do reflect our hearts. If we are respectful and reverent, we will put more effort into our appearance.

Yet this issue can’t fit in a 280 character tweet.

A person’s holiness is not measured by what they wear, but rather by what they do.

I think I’ll keep wearing my nice dark jeans and a nice modest top.

The Rosary Speaks: Are you listening?

I prayed the Rosary more as a non-catholic than as a Catholic.

As a non-catholic, I became fascinated by the rosary. I thought I could never recite 150 plus prayers. I also wondered how it was possible to memorize and recite at the same time.

Yet I decided to try.

Over time I really got into the mysteries. The Joyful and sorrowful stood out to me.

In the sorrowful mysteries, I felt that Christ understood my pain. As I meditated on Christ’s last days, I realized that Christ’s suffering was beyond anything I can comprehend. Yet not only did he have the patience to undergo those trials, but so did his mother.

Christ falls three times

When I imagine this scene, I imagine it from the perspective of Mary, Jesus’ mother.

I am not a mother.

Yet I have been an ill child in and out of hospitals. I have watched my mother, how she fought and cared for me. I can’t imagine what it’s like to not be able to do anything but watch.

Yet as Jesus falls, all Mary can do is watch in horror. What patience and faith Mary must have had to endure seeing her child in agony.

Thus the sorrowful mysteries help me be more patient when I face trials and I am in pain.

Finding Jesus in the Temple

I am a Catholic convert.

Thus, when I imagine Mary and Joseph looking for Jesus, I put it in the context of my own life.

I imagine Mary and Joseph looking everywhere for Jesus. They visit family members. They consult their friends. Finally, they go back. Into the temple, they enter to find Jesus. He wasn’t with family or friends, but he was found in the Fathers house.’

So many times I’ve looked for truth in other people’s opinions. Yet I couldn’t truly find truth or Jesus until I came back to the Church. Just like he was with Mary and Joseph in the temple, he is present in the tabernacle for us. If we want Jesus to speak to us, we need to go back to church, in front of the tabernacle, and listen to him teach us.

The mysteries speak to us. They speak to me. Only if I take my time and intentionally pray them.

Adoration with monstrance

Adoration is my favorite devotion, why?

Imagine a date with Jesus.

You get dress up because you want to look nice for the king. You arrive early because you don’t want to keep the king waiting. Sitting across from Jesus, you wonder what to say to the creator of the universe. All of a sudden, he speaks. He asks you, how are you doing? At first, you try to give a generic answer, but Jesus is having none of it. He wants the truth.

Through Eucharistic adoration, I’ve been on that date.

What is Adoration?

I began adoration at the 24-hour chapel. Admittedly I was nervous. Despite being an introvert, staying one hour in silence did not sound appealing. Yet I had wanted to challenge myself. In Matthew Kelly’s book, Rediscovering Catholicism, he challenges the reader to devote one hour to adoration.

Thus, it began as a challenge

Radical Encounter

It turned into a radical encounter with the Lord

And he came to his disciples and found them sleeping and he said to Peter, “So could you not watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you may not fall into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is indeed weak” Matthew 26:40-41

I have been tempted. I have heard the lies whispered in the shadows of the night.

Satan tells me that I am:

  • unworthy
  • unlovable
  • should be anxious about my future

Yet for the one hour in front of the blessed sacrament, I get to lay all of that down in front of the king of the universe. Jesus, who loves me, wants desperately to hear me and spend time with me. He tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

Jesus came so that you can have an abundant life. He doesn’t want you to fall into the lies of the evil one. I challenge you to spend one hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament weekly. Your life will be forever changed.

Easter Vigil: Why You Should Attend!

Imagine entering a pitch black sanctuary. The only light to guide you is the soft glow of a candle. Up ahead is the light of the Paschal candle. As you file into the sanctuary looking for your seat, you hear the priest chanting the Exulet:

This is the Easter Vigil.

It gives me goosebumps.

I love the setting and atmosphere. Thus, the Easter Vigil is my favorite liturgical service. I have other reasons for liking it too.

Old Testament References

The Easter vigil starts with The Exulet, which has the following line:

This is the night, when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children,

from slavery in Egypt and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea

Jesus’ death and resurrection did not happen in isolation. Rather God has always rescued his people. The references to the Old Testament continue throughout the night. It starts with the creation story in Genesis and ends with the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus.

Thus, I am reminded that God can rescue me.

Symbolism is on Point

For starters, the paschal candle represents the light of Christ. We all receive this at baptism. When I carry my own candle into the sanctuary, I remember that the light of Christ is always with me.

One of my favorite moments is when the lights are turned on for the first time. I am reminded of how Christ can take away the darkness in my life. Christ’s resurrection offers hope.

Music

Music impacts my life and is a passion of mine. You can read what I’ve written about music here

In my apartment, there is an assortment of posters from all the concerts I have been to over the years. I’m always discovering new bands and artist. When I began to explore Christianity, it wasn’t well-reasoned arguments, but rather music that moved my soul.

The music of the Easter vigil moves my soul.

Not only is most of it beautiful, but it is also joyous.

I like to sing.

After every reading, there is an optional psalm to be sung. Hence, there is a lot more opportunity to sing.

Baptizing Adults

I am a convert to the Catholic faith. The struggles convert face is close to my heart. Thus, I like to support those entering into the Catholic faith. Seeing people receive baptism fills me with joy, It gives me hope for the Catholic Church.

Conclusion

I believe every Catholic should attend the Easter vigil at least once. It is a beautiful liturgy filled with meaning, symbolism, and great music. Yes, it is three hours long. Yes, it is late in the evening. Yet if you attend it will move your soul!

Lent- Transformation or diet plan?

Desert with sand dunes reminds me of Lent

As a young person, I gave up T.V. for Lent.

Yes, you read that correctly. As a twelve-year-old, I wanted to give up T.V. As a young person I believed wrongly that Lent was about giving up something. My twelve-year-old self thought that we earned God’s love through our Lenten sacrifice. My parents supported me. In fact, they liked it so much, the no T.V watching became the household norm.

I grew up.

As I re-entered the Catholic Church and matured in my faith, I began to see the real beauty of Lent. I have learned that Lent is much more than a diet plan. When approached correctly, it can radically change your life. I know that it has changed mine.

Purpose of Lent

Lent has a three-fold purpose: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These practices help us empty ourselves so that we can be filled with God’s presence.

Prayer

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is week Mathew 26:41

Every morning is a battle. The alarm goes off and I am faced with a choice: to snooze or not to snooze. My tired eyes beckon me to sleep for five more minutes. Yet my soul knows that those five minutes I could be spending with God. Jesus tells us that prayer protects us from temptation. In my life, I am tempted to fall into despair. In those moments I turn to the Divine Mercy prayer.

Eternal Father, whose mercy is endless and whose treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly on us and increase in us Your mercy, that in difficult moments, we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your most holy will, which is love and mercy itself.

Prayer has helped me fight my inner demons. Nowhere has this become more clear than during Lent. I discovered the Litany of Trust during the fourth week of Lent. I decided to pray it every day during Lent. Since then I have seen my confidence grow and God doing impossible things.

Fasting

I like food.

I am the worse when it comes to fasting. It seems like every Friday I get a craving for fried chicken. One time I had left my Friday holy hour hungry. I decided to go through KFC drive through because I could not wait. As soon as I had the food in my hands, I remembered that it was a day of absence from meat. I reluctantly ate it as to not waste food.

In my moments of weakness I recall Jesus’ example:

And he fasted for forty days and forty nights and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “if you are the son of God command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “it is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:2-4

I know that if I was Jesus, I would have given into the devil’s demands. By forcing us to fast, Lent reminds us of our human weakness. Every time I’m tempted to snack on some crackers or gorge on fried chicken, I realize how much I need God’s grace.

Alms Giving

I am frugal with money.

I struggle with Works of Mercy because I keep to myself and help myself. God decided to shake me up. One Saturday after confession, the priest told me to do a random act of kindness as part of my penance. As someone, who keeps to themselves, this was completely out of my comfort zone. I agonized over the decision. Ultimately, I ended up buying a cup of coffee for someone in line behind me. God must have a sense of humor. It turns out that the people in line behind me were buying together. When the cashier asked me if I wanted to pay for both, I awkwardly said yes.

I’ll admit that it did feel good to buy them coffee. Ever since I have looked for ways to do random acts. I hope to one day get to the point where my Lenten sacrifice involves doing an act of kindness every day. Until then God has a lot of work to do.

Lent reimagined

Lent was never intended to be a self-improvement plan or a diet regimen. It transforms us by making us walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Like Jesus, we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to the desert. We can be tempted by hunger, greed, or business, but we will not give in. Instead, we will find that we need God.

Nature is Ensouled: A Response

Nature: blue sky, grass, rocks

that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until the present time. Romans 8:22

I love Twitter.

Catholic twitter is regular twitter except for all the people you follow are Catholic. It is a happy place mostly. Occasionally you will get people riled up about something. I still have not forgotten the dancing priest outrage. Last month, an article, Nature Is Ensouled written by the Center for Action and Contemplation had people talking.

People were accusing Father Rohr of being heretical. Intrigued, I took a look. Skimming the article, my eyes fell on this statement,

I’m not saying God is all things (pantheism), but that each living thing reveals some aspect of God. God is both greater than the whole of our universe, and as Creator inter-penetrates all created things (panentheism). No exceptions.

Father Rohr seems to be suggesting Panentheism is compatible with Christianity. Now to the average person, what Father Rohr is saying may sound appealing even correct. I wasn’t so sure. Not satisfied I sought to research.

In my research, I learned that New Age focuses on harmony and communication with nature1. This sounds good on paper. Even I can understand the appeal. I have always felt that nature had a deep inner beauty.

I value knowledge.

Thus I understand the appeal of a lounging to discover some inner connectiveness. Yet there are three problems with this.

1. Relationships

The Christian God is relational. God wants a relationship. If Father Rohr is correct then I need to “discover the soul in other things to live in union with the source of all being.” 2 Yet discovering some hidden soul is completely opposite of Christian values. I don’t need to become one with nature, rather, I need a relationship with Jesus Christ.

2. Searching in vain

The Bible is just one big love letter from God. The stories in the Old and New Testament show how God is pursuing humanity. I typically don’t give into romantic sentiment. Yet I love the idea of being pursued by the Divine creator. I don’t get that with new age religion. Rather New Age teaches that I have to search for the divine.

3. Who is God?

I am made in God’s Image.

I have a rational soul.

God is my creator.

Ultimately. New Age Mysticism challenges me to define these three fundamental truths. Yes, both New Age and Christianity believe animals do have souls. The difference is a matter of degree. In Christianity, animals have material souls. These souls decay and die. Yet New Age insists that animals and God are intertwined 3.

It is so easy to fall into error. It is easy to be taken in by the longing for interconnectedness. I understand the appeal of wanting a deeper connection with the divine. Yet I would not trade in a relational deity for an impersonal essence. I am sad that an institution with Catholic roots would fall far from the truth. The earth’s redemption may come (Romans 8:22), but let us focus on growing deeper with Christ.

  1. https://www.allaboutspirituality.org/new-age.htm
  2. https://cac.org/nature-is-ensouled-2018-03-11/
  3. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html#1.4.%20The%20New%20Age%20and%20Catholic%20Faith