Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ambition in Peace

We are ambitious, a term of perfectly human form, meaning to project oneself toward a goal and to assign reward to success and penalties to failure.

Ah. The ambitious Catholic is hard-pressed!

I could write for ages on this theme, on the contradictions of ambition and humility, mainly. St. Paul, a slave to Christ, who wrote for the ages! But I know enough to be quite certain that I cannot add to the lessons of the Lord in his parables (or to those of St. Paul in his letters). And, even there, I hesitate to offer examples to put "my" point across without succumbing to ambition its very self.

It's all quite amusing. I do not mean that ironically. We have guides and tools aplenty. Regular attendance, acts of charity, the commandments and liturgy, obviously, etc.

But most apparently (for those who have eyes to see) we have the example of other Catholics. Either long-time parishioners or the process by which new Catholics become old Catholics, learning, along the way, how to serve, willingly, joyfully, so as to set an example for others.

We have been doing this for a while now. 2,000 years, give or take. And it boils down to four words:

Believe   Commit   Serve   Share

How else would one follow the Lord? What options are there that can possibly claim anything like success? Understanding that any success is simply recognition of the power of God, what ambition is available to us, but to believe (in the Lord), commit (to following his example), serve (others in their belief), and share (our experience as believes and thus evangelize)?

What do Catholics believe? We believe that to be, fully, is to share fully in belief. We, as individuals, do this more or less well in the way that people do more or less well the things they do. Running a country, raising a family, being married, painting a painting, running a business, running a church, serving the Lord.

We put serving the Lord and each other first. Both. Love God and your neighbor. So, there you have it. The ambition is not in how to be Catholic, but in being in faith as we understand it to serve God and others.

But, you know, I do not really care for opinions that seek to show that something rich and complicated is "really very simple." No, not at all. I like complicated things to be recognized as such, and for rich important things to be left free and clear for everyone to plumb for whatever meaning they can draw out. I cannot simplify my faith.

I can't say much other than what has been shown to me. And, what is the purpose, after all? For me to sound like I know what I am saying?

No, the ambition is peace. And I am not peace. The Lord is. The Lord is peace of heart and all that will be.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Open Prayer for Today

When things are good, an emptiness opens up, as if a void within me. And I remember the old urge, to fill it, but I do not follow that urge. You have shown me not to. So I wait, knowing you will show me how to fill it. It always takes a certain amount of time, or I go about seeing the world, doing this and that, holding the new emptiness.

So, when I say that my life is mine, I mean it only politically. I say it is mine more in a manner of speaking, when nothing could be clearer to me than to know that my life is yours to do with as you please. I say this as a fact of knowing, such as if I were to acknowledge my friends, or the passing of the seasons.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Words including Hobby Lobby

Reading the news, walking around, I have had thoughts concerning the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision. You see I have not linked to the decision. I assume you know what I am talking about or, if interested, you will go and find it. I do not write these posts as a means of drawing attention to anywhere else. I want us to spend this time together, unimpeded by easy opt-outs.

Yes, I have considered Hobby Lobby. I have formed sentences or approaches. I have thought that I should read the entire ruling and dissenting opinions before forming my own opinion. That was very mature of me, I am sure you will agree. It's nice to see a blogger being so thoughtful and thorough and mature.

But it is not in the spirit of thought that I sat down to write this blog. No, it is in the spirit of having had thoughts that bored me to tears. I mean to say, quite decidedly, that I have nothing to say with respect to Hobby Lobby. Nothing. If I thought that anyone would benefit from my thoughts, or, indeed, if anyone's opinion would be influenced or altered, then I might express myself. But no one is interested in anyone else's opinion on things like contraception or abortion or women's rights, or things of that nature. There was a time, I seem to recall, when people had discussions about serious social issues, but that time is past. These matters, as vital and compelling as they are, have taken on aspects of some weird national sport, where you root for one or another team, come hell or high water, and that is that. Everyone is right and their respective moral ground is unassailable. They proclaim, they fight, but they do not talk, and they do not listen.

When I turn to actually writing this blog, or anything for OpenCatholic, it is as a Christian as I live that term in my life, by the grace of God. And, so, if pressed  - by either "side" - for an opinion on Hobby Lobby, or indeed any of the "hot button" issues related thereto, I would say that there are no limits to understanding and mercy. None. This is the light burden spoken of by the Lord, in that we are tasked with letting go of things (like, our opinions) in order to draw closer to God.

Let us love God and each other. Let us celebrate the Eucharist. For all the rest of it, may God have mercy on us. Amen.