Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Matters in Life

The purpose of my writings here in this blog has been to express my thoughts, hopes and dreams about my Catholic faith and doing so in my own words. I have given the utmost effort not to go too deep in a theological vein. It should come off as an adult man in his early 60's speaking about life, faith and spirituality as he sees it. I have a pretty long history of studying God and the mystical aspects of religion, the Church and her liturgy, people and their behavior, and the most important philosophical question: why the hell are we here? I live a pretty simple life as I see it, I'm not into anything on a grand scale. I love gardening, running, cooking, reading, and spending time with my family. I am not at this very moment doing any evangelical work, teaching, or volunteering. The intent here is to make one think. And to hopefully move one to some kind of action. The pendulum of life and it's meaning has been swung so far in the direction of indifference and ignorance that I feel at times it is incumbent upon me to try to instill a sense of seriousness into one's life. There are some things that matter and these important ideas should be discussed, examined and implemented into one's personal philosophy. What makes my ideas important? Well first off they come from a long life of thinking and reading and investigation. They are also ideas from many great thinkers and from Jesus Christ who was the most important teacher in the history of mankind. I think life matters, what you do, what you think, how you act, how you treat others, how you think of yourself, how you think of God, and what you think of God matters. It means something, just like love means something. Love is real and can bring out within us all the full range of emotions. Love is not frivolous, and meaningless, and not something that doesn't move us or carry us away. Love cannot be ignored, and nor should it be. The starting point to understanding life and it's meaning comes from understanding this. God exists, he matters, you matter to Him, and what you think, say, and act matter, in fact more than anything else external to you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Misunderstanding of God and His Moral Teachings

I believe in getting to the point. I also believe that there are matters that are important in the hierarchy of  life. Things that matter first. The best analogy that I can use comes from the sport of running. I am a runner. Now a person cannot just make that claim unless we can agree upon with some degree what a "runner" is. In other words we have to be communicating the approximate similar meaning. In our "wishy washy," modern times where relative things and meanings rule the day and there are valueless underpinnings to what is called "truth', it is difficult to get a consensus on just what something is or isn't. Things tend to not matter, and that's a real problem because I'm sticking to my premise that there is a hierarchy of important matters. I have digressed from my analogy. When I say I am a runner and I can with a great deal of assurance, find other runners who would agree with me, I mean that I run a significant distance (miles) on a routine basis. One is not a runner if one shows up at a park and runs a quarter mile every 3-4 months. We can debate the frequency and the distances, the length of training and the pace at which one runs, but with certainty a runner runs a significant distance and runs routinely. At a dinner party, a runner conversing with another runner knows what this means. I personally have run over 10,000 miles in the past 13 years. This leads me (finally) to my point. When I say God, I mean one thing. Unfortunately this meaning has been lost due to a number of things (Reformation, Nominalism, etc) When I say God I mean a Divine Being who is radically distinct from the universe, radically transcendent, and altogether other from his creation, who literally is unimaginable and incomprehensible.(Psalm 145:3) This means that God cannot be shown to be unreal via empirical inquiry because by definition, any empirical inquiry is an investigation of the natural world. God's work is manifested in his creation but GOD IS NOT HIS CREATION. Therefore God cannot be proven not to exist. Belief in God is a matter of faith, but it is not "blind faith" nor is it in any unreasonable. Just look at the constants in the universe, if they did not exist we would have chaos, yet they do. I believe there is ample reason to have faith in God. I also believe that Jesus is God Incarnate, God dwelling among mankind in a specific time in history. I know Jesus, I've studied Jesus. I believe Jesus. Now another problem with "wishy washy" thinking today is the notion that Jesus loves us and all will be well. That is true under two conditions and really they are the same condition. That is we love Him and we obey His commandments. To Jesus obeying His commandments and loving Him was the same thing.  John 14:14.Jesus reinforced the necessity to obey His Father and he taught us the next level of love in His message contain in the Beatitudes. So here is where the misunderstanding comes today. God is way bigger than most people think and God's commandments are not electives that we can pick and choose. People today and many Catholics and Christians think of God existing on THEIR TERMS. So in the order of the hierarchy of things that matter it goes like this: GOD MATTERS and 2nd WHAT HE WOULD LIKE ME TO DO MATTERS TO HIM AND THUS SHOULD MATTER TO ME. Morality and virtues should be the most important priorities in one's life. Think about it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Indifference of the Catholic Church - Why she doesn't care about me

Before you get to criticizing what I am about to write with words like, "whiny," "ungrateful," "selfish," "all about you" I'm going to first get down to who I am and  and who I am not.  I am a quiet, unassuming, humble person, not in the least bit interested in recognition or "being in the limelight." People who know me can attest that I would do anything for just about anybody.I love God deeply. I am a family man who raised four children to adulthood. They are mature, intelligent and good human beings, kind and considerate of others.My wife and I have been happily married for 36 years.I am a cradle Catholic, who like many young people left the Church, not by renouncing it, but by ignoring it. I did find my way back and am now a devout, and prayerful Catholic. My children were brought up in Catholic schools and I paid a fortune in tuition for all those years.My wife and I have volunteered countless hours to the Church. I volunteered coaching for many years, in fact I coached youth sports for  over twenty years. We've been on many fundraising committees, home & school association, and on and on. In  2009 I entered a Masters degree program in theology  and in 2010 I decided to put my business on hold and work to evangelize young people by teaching high school religion. As a side note I have had hundreds of hours of spiritual direction with a retired Jesuit priest whom I  visited weekly with for a bout a year and a half. My approach to teaching was to be from true Christian charity. I loved my students and was kind and generous to them. I never sought my own  attention, I just did these things as a matter of honor and stewardship in building God's kingdom. My wife and I went to the adoration chapel and committed for an hour for nearly twenty years. I was a Eucharistic Minister at a local hospital, bringing Holy Communion to the sick every Friday and then Saturdays when I taught. I also taught adult education classes and was involved in the parish's apologetic s group.  When I taught high school many of the children I taught told me I had a profound effect on them. I never wanted credit, I knew it was God working through me. But I found out this much about kids, and the Catholic School System. First, many kids were disrespectful and disinterested and refused to even acknowledge me when I taught them. Not all the children, some were very kind and engaging, others were cruel and hurtful, not giving a care about how I felt, even though I showered them with love. 90% of the kids did not go to Mass on Sundays and many were having sex and using drugs and alcohol. The administration turned a blind eye to all of this. The schools system is only interested in academic achievement and pays lip service to morality and Christian values. They too turn a blind eye to kids who neither go to church or know their faith. I was vigilant in my Moral Theology classes as to developing an understanding of good not from a legalistic, "you must follow the law" approach, but rather from a desire to love back to God who loves us all so much. In my final year at the school the administration and staff were cold to me and down right uncharitable. I was reduced to a spectator at the Senior Retreat, a baby sitter who wasn't allowed to contribute. Then there was the time when the juniors were going for a field trip to a local prison and I wasn't even told about it. After three years I was 'disposed' like an old dishrag, not with any advanced notice but told on the last day of school. I will have completed my Masters in Theology by this Fall, but at 60 years old, I am not in demand, can't even get an interview, dying on the vine. All that I have learned from my life experiences, spiritual directions, years of reading, prayerful meditation, my education in theology (which cost me thousands of dollars), my 36 years of marriage, my parenting skills, will not be shared in building God's Kingdom, not because I don't want to, but because the Church couldn't care less about me. So my head and my heart is back into the business world. Sorry...