instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, February 27, 2015

An unlosable proposition

I'm having a raggedy Lent so far this year, which on the upside means I'm not at risk of vainglory in how well I'm keeping Lent.

But I have managed to actually complete a novena -- to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots -- in the nine days since Ash Wednesday. (I probably complete on time about 10% of the novenas I start.) And just a couple of hours after I finished the ninth day's prayer, I received some fantastic news related to my prayer intention.

Correlation? Empirically so. Causation? Impossible to say, as impossible as when something good happened related to my prayer intention the other time I completed a novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.

Now, there's nothing at all miraculous about the good things that happened. I'm inclined to think -- even, in a way, hope -- they were purely coincidental. If it turns out to be the case that God wants to answer my prayers, then my lousy prayer life is responsible for a whole lot of grace missing in this world.

Frankly, though, it doesn't matter. The act of prayer is in itself a grace, which if maintained becomes the habit of prayer, and that's a good in itself. Whether or not we get what we pray for in some discernible way, we are sure to get what praying does for us, which we can then give to those we've been given to love.

Offer yourself to Jesus. Invoke Mary's aid. Trust.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Quotations from St. Teresa of Avila's The Way of Perfection

A timeless question:
"What is the matter with Christians nowadays? Must it always be the ones who owe You the most who afflict You?"
A timeless observation:
"Let those who are to come realize that if the bishop is holy the subjects will be so too..."
But before we murmur against our bishops, St. Teresa immediately adds:
"...and as something very important always ask this of the Lord in your prayers."
And while this is written to the nuns of her convent, it can be adapted for anyone who considers themselves a disciple of Jesus:
"Be determined, Sisters, that you came to die for Christ, not to live comfortably for Christ."
[From the Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume 2, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez O.C.D., published by the Institute for Carmelite Studies, Washington. DC.]


Monday, February 02, 2015

When is a fact untrue?

In his homily on Sunday's Gospel, the transitional deacon preached about the deceptions of demons. They're so slippery they can't even keep their pronouns straight.
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are -- the Holy One of God!
Last year, I went through the Gospel According to St. Mark to categorize all the quotations, and was somewhat surprised to find that, other than God the Father, the demons had by far the best and clearest Christology. It wasn't forced out of them by exorcism, they freely confessed Jesus to be the Holy One of God. If the people had just believed what the demons said, they'd have known Who Jesus Is.

But, as the deacon pointed out, you really shouldn't believe what the demons say. Even if it's true, they aren't saying it for your benefit.

In the case of the man from Capernaum with an unclean spirit, it may be that the spirit was trying to upstage Jesus, or at least throw Him off His game. It interrupts Jesus' teaching, asks the same sort of bogus question the serpent asked in the Garden, and announces the Messianic secret to a congregation wholly unprepared for it.

The people, meanwhile, are amazed at Jesus' authority over unclean spirits, but Mark says nothing about their reaction to the "Holy One of God" bit. Maybe they didn't follow that part, or maybe they knew better than to pay any attention to what unclean spirits say.


Sunday, February 01, 2015

Pay it forward a dozen years

I see Cath News swiped my joke without attribution. I'd be more put out if I hadn't swiped the joke without attribution myself.


The teacher appears

We're going through the parts of the Mass in RCIA class now. Participation in the work of God, dual character as sacrifice and meal, proper disposition for fruitful reception of a sacrament, foreshadowing in the Old Testament, looking forward to the Eternal Wedding Banquet, all that sort of thing.

I can't quite shake the sense that, if we could break the respectful silence with which most of this is received, we'd get to the real question: "When do we sit? After Communion, we're kneeling, but some people sit right away, and others wait for the priest to sit, and others wait for the deacon to sit, but when are we supposed to sit?"