Confession

It’s easy to pontificate and to rant and rave as if I had something wonderful and profound and incredibly important to say to the world.

Fact is, I’m scared to the point of having a massive case of writer’s block.

I’m reading through the Old Testament to get some of the background on what it means to be a prophet, priest or king, reading documents of the Church –

Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) and Apostolicam Actuositatem (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity) down – Gaudium et Spes (the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) and a few others to go.

I’ve talked to several friends, far better-educated than I, who are telling me I’m doing something they haven’t seen done before.

If God has given me something unusual to give, in turn, to His people, then I pray to do a good job of it. And I will do it – I accept the call.

But I’m scared. What a terrible responsibility this is! What if I have a priest friend to vet it when I’m done, and he tells me it’s a bunch of codswallop? Okay, Fr. G wouldn’t do that to me, but he’s a scholar and he’ll be pulling no punches if I mess it up.

And this is a lot more work than I had realized, prior to really getting into it – so much I hardly know which way to turn to get it done. When I was conversationally showing the concept to people, it was simple. Now, though, it’s added a layer of meaning, and requires a lot more research in order to be honest and truthful – not just opinionated.

I’m scared. When my husband left me, more than twenty years ago, now, the trauma hit me solidly in my ability to concentrate for prolonged periods of time. This is a lot of work I’m saying Yes to – I’ve got to be able to increase my stamina for reading, note-taking, writing…

I’m scared. This is such a BIG project!

Advertisements

Lessons of a biblical proportion

Wow. Reading through Joshua and Judges, yesterday and today (research, as well as – well, reading!), I’m struck by several things. One in particular I think worth blogging about.

Israel has come out of bondage to Egypt, been forced to wander around in the desert for forty years because Israel still doesn’t get it that God means it when he says, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt….” I’ve lost track of how many times He’s told them this.

Look. Who we worship determines what our lifestyle choices are going to be. Our morals, our ethics, our politics, our everything.

Here God is reminding Israel again and again and again, “Hey, folks, listen up: I am NOT the gods you left behind in Egypt, I’m ME, and you are my people, so prove it! – Here’s what I want from you.”

He’s given them the Law, the 10 Commandments and all those details thereof – He’s brought them twice across bodies of water, parted so they walk across on dry land (the Red Sea, leaving Egypt, the Jordan River, entering the Promised Land). He’s given them extraordinary military victories against superior political powers…

All He’s asked of them – required of them – is that they remain faithful to Him and to the covenant He made with their fathers, a covenant by which they are bound to Him as His own possession.

Part of that obligation is that they get rid of the pagan inhabitants of this land He’s given them. And guess what? They didn’t oblige. Some of Israel’s tribes let the pagans stay put. Some were put into servitude (against God’s command) and some were just left alone, in some sort of – what I expect must have been an uneasy peace.

Then the sons of Israel began marrying pagan women. The pagans began marrying daughters of Israel.

And what happened next you don’t have to be prescient to anticipate: The Israelites began worshipping the pagan gods.

AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!

But here’s what’s happening: the people of God ignored the presence of the single greatest threat to their spiritual health. They ignored the pagans and all their pagan worship practices. They let those practices catch their imagination, gain a toehold on their own family life.

We live as strangers in an alien land – in a secular world dominated by allegiances to false gods. The hallmarks of that pagan world were twofold: sexual licentiousness (surely I don’t have to draw the parallels of how that’s playing out in American culture today) and human sacrifice (abortion? euthenasia?). We’re called to live as distinctive children of God in this secular culture. And we’re falling asleep at the wheel.

How does pagan culture infiltrate the Church?

What television shows do you watch? “Oh, it’s just a tv show, it doesn’t mean anything.” Well, yeah, it does. The adulteries and fornications and lies and sarcasm and lack of respect and lack of reverence and contempt for decency that you find so funny and so entertaining are like a termite infestation eroding the best part of your own good judgment, subtly persuading you that what is twisted, perverse, and unworthy of the people of God is just ordinary human behavior, nothing wrong with it.

What periodicals do you read? What values do they promote? Do they promote chastity and fidelity, or are they full of articles on getting more gratification out of your romance du jour? Do they promote modest living or acquisitiveness?

What movies do you pay to see? What sort of music do you listen to? and how much violence, profanity, and misogyny is it promoting?

What entertains you? How do you spend your leisure time? Would you want the Final Judgment to descend upon you as you engage in these? Do you want to be held accountable for the destructive influence these recreations are having on the children in your households?

These are the subtle ways in which the Enemy of our souls is undermining and sabotaging our best spiritual life – our fidelity to our God.

And, if we don’t regain our senses, the same fates of judgment, destruction, and slavery await us – just as they did Israel.

Just who are we, anyway?

Part of my research for Pray, Study, Work – I’ve been reading the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem) from the Second Vatican Council. Every Catholic ought to read this, and Lumen Gentium (the Dogmatic Constitution on the Faith).

In a nutshell (because this has to be a brief post this morning), the laity have two major functions in the life of Christendom:

First, we have a duty, a mandate, to bring the Gospel into the secular world we frequent in our careers, education, and daily associations.

Second, we have the mandate to infuse that worldly world with Gospel values – to be a redeeming influence on it.

Now. It may be because I live in an area where a lot of retirees move, but it seems to me that I far too frequently hear Catholics complain that they’ve “done their bit,” and are now ready to kick back and relax a bit.

Ladies and gentlemen: There is no retirement from the Church Militant. We hope to graduate, but resignation is unthinkable!

This is the sort of attitude I lament in “Spiritual Warfare.” Our culture is in the mess it’s in because good Christian people – Catholic and nonCatholic – have bought into the lie that we have an obligation to shut up and get out of the way so that people who reject our paradigm can do whatever they want in order to think they’re “happy.”

We need to get off our fannies and quit acting as if we were called to be Church Somnolent.

Book update

I engaged one of my student friends to help me as a research assistant, this morning. He’s a good Baptist and well-versed in his Bible. I took him through the chapter I’m working on, showed him what I’m looking for. He’ll help me fill in the baps for illustration and verification, thus saving me… probably a couple weeks’ work?

I’m touched by the comments. I really feel the idea I have, here, is important. The Church is suffering from lack of understanding of what our identity is, and lack of instruction how to live in that identity.

The basic elements of Pray, Study, Work are also integrated in our baptismal identity, with Christ, as Prophet, Priest and King.

This job is getting exciting!

Workin’ on the book

The working title is Pray, Study, Work – taken from the counsel of St. Benedict in his Rule.

The basic premise is this: There are three major dimensions to the Faith: the intellectual/theological, the mystical/emotional, and the servant/practical. Each of us needs to develop each these dimensions in order to serve, first of all, as a microcosm of the Church in the World, and secondly, as effective Christians, and finally, to best prepare for Heaven.

Each of these dimensions helps to shape and balance the other two. Without the other two, any one can develop attributes that are unhealthy and counterproductive.

Each of us is particularly gifted or shaped by circumstances to be keen on one of these dimensions and, likely, to neglect at least one of the others (for me, as an ex-Quaker, the weakness is the practical. Want to get me out of the room? Say, “Social Justice.”)

Stay tuned. I’m not sure how much info I’ll share as I write – don’t want to give the store away before I’m ready. But several writer friends have recommended that I go ahead and blog now – to stimulate your interest and to kick myself in the butt to get more work done on it. So here it is.

Pray for me – it’s slow going. Thanks.