Sunday, February 21, 2010

Catholic New Media and the Baptismal Call of Evangelization

Now first of all, I don't claim to have an extensive knowledge of new media even Catholic New Media (these guys do). I don't feel like I have the greatest grasp on why Catholics blog, podcast, vidcast, or whatever new media I'm not even familiar with. I think I can make one assumption though, there is a definite evangelistic tinge to all Catholic media, as there is to all things Catholic. These Catholic new media peeps wish to share with the world their faith in Jesus Christ. They try to embody this:

"Evangelizing the social sector, then, means infusing into the human heart the power of meaning and freedom found in the Gospel, in order to promote a society befitting mankind because it befits Christ: it means building a city of man that is more human because it is in greater conformity with the Kingdom of God."*

The way in which I have experienced Catholic new media those bloggers, podcasters, and vidcasters emoby this evangelistic thrust. Whether they are discussing the inner workings of the Catholic hierarchy, or sharing videos on vocations, or discussing whether Jesus spoke Greek, all of these people wish to share the freedom and meaning of the Gospel and the Christian life.

So, whomever reads this: SUPPORT CATHOLIC NEW MEDIA. Give the support it needs to reach more and more people not for the sake of popularity or numbers or pride but for the greater possibility of saving more souls.

* Compendium of Social Doctrine, para. 63

Friday, February 19, 2010

Two Deaths

Throughout my spiritual reading, I have come to see that there are two main kinds of deaths. The first death is the physical death that we all participate in when our Beloved calls us from this world: ‘remember, you are dust and unto dust you shall return’. The second death is death to self. This death is only experienced by those who seek perfection. I would like to take a moment to reflect more on both of these.

Physical death is something that most people dread to speak of. Today, you can even find a large number who believe that there is nothing following the death of our bodies. On top of our own death, the death of a loved one carries its own pain. Some don’t even care if they die nor in what condition they do die, they only seem to care about the ‘stuff’ they leave behind.

However, we must not see our physical death in the dark light of pain, suffering, and a complete end. We have been giving the amazing grace of a new hope and a new understanding in Jesus Christ! The Incarnate Word came down from heaven to obediently accept death in order to defeat death. It is in this victory over death that our souls fill with total joy. In the victory of the Cross of Christ, the Incarnate Word opened wide the gates of Heaven! He also released the floodgates of mercy, grace, and love so all may understand.

God desires us to remember that it was the Son of God who endured the physical pains of the beatings from the guards, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the carrying of the cross, and the crucifixion. It was the Incarnate Word who endured the internal wounds for us, the wounds of constant mockery, the temptations of pride and disobedience, and, the deepest wound, seeing His mother weep. Christ suffered all of this out of complete, overflowing, absolute love for you. He defeated death so that you may enter eternal life. If it was only for your soul, He would endure all of this again.

Oh, how glorious and merciful our God is! May the most holy and glorious Trinity praised forever!

The second death I am placing out there is the death of self. As I said before, this death is for those who seek perfection in our Beloved. Many think of St. John of the Cross’ ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ when speaking of death of self. Although the ‘Dark Night’ may indeed be part of death to self in some cases, it may not be experienced in this death of self.

Death of self is an intense time in which God places the soul in the ‘seven-times hotter’ fire in order to burn all the impurities out, all those things that are displeasing to the Holy Trinity. Also, while the soul is being purified in the fire, being purged from such impurities as pride, relativism, and disobedience, God shapes the soul in a particular way that reflects true obedience, true humility, and true selflessness. It is within the death of self that our Beloved allows us to see glimpses of how our God sees us, both good and bad aspects.

The struggles that we have to face in the death of self and the intensity of this death greatly depends on upon God’s Divine Will for us and our abandonment to Him. A few things, however, can be certain about this death. First, this death is a road of true humility and true obedience (see The Rule of St. Benedict). This path, and in general the path of perfection, is not for the faint of heart and requires much reflection upon self and upon God.

Second, when on the road to perfection, it is God who will call you to death to self when He sees you are ready. You may work on growing in virtue and in self-knowledge, but it is God and only God who brings you to die to yourself.
Third, although it is a hard and difficult step on the way to perfection in our Beloved, when you have truly died to self, your soul will rise within the heart of Christ. Then, as an adoration prayer I know indicates, your hands will be His hands, your feet will be His feet, your mouth will be His mouth, and your heart will be His heart. It is then we can really live every present moment in complete abandonment to our Beloved and His Divine Providence.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The [Partial] History of the Liturgy

For one of our classes her at the seminary, we were assigned a book by Marcel Metzger entitled 'History of the Liturgy' that purported to display the development of the Catholic Church in her 2000 year history. What it actually accomplished was much less, to my disappointment. It did well in covering the first 400 years in about 120 pages; this section was full of quotes from various ancient documents and Church Fathers that really showed how many things we see even today were already established. It discussed some interesting facts and traditions that were part of the Church in her early years. When the author got to the year 500 though, it just seemed to take a nose-dive real quick. It was clear from his writing that he wasn't a fan of the state of the liturgy for about 1600 years when the 'savior council' of Vatican II came around and fixed all the things that the Church had messed up or failed to do since the days of the Fathers. In all, I enjoyed the first four chapters because they had interesting facts such as - at one point they would pour hot water into the precious blood to make it warm like true blood and to show the 'life' that it brought to those who drank of it. Also, in one tradition first communion after baptism consisted of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood, as well as water and honey, signs of the cleansing they had received and the promise of eternal life for those who dwell in Christ and His Church. In all, I would suggest reading the book for the first four chapters. The last two comprise only 26 pages there isn't much to miss. :)