Jan 25, 2009

The world is passing away

Wow. I thought I was interpreting a passage from today's New Testament reading out of context ... but when I searched for the passage, I found it duplicated in another context that sums up exactly what I originally interpreted anyway! Probably most fundamental truths are like that - they are so pervasive that they cut straight thru context. Here's the passage from today's New Testament reading ...
... For the world in its present form is passing away.

Paul mentions this, almost in passing, in the middle of his advice to virgins - to remain as they are - anxious to please God and not worried about pleasing a spouse.

But, today's message - in all the readings and in Fr. Joe's homily - was, for me, to deny worldly things altogether. In the story of Jonah, the people of Nineveh repent by fasting and wearing sackcloth - they deny themselves even food and clothing. Paul admonishes the virgins in the Corinthian church to deny the "worldly" anxieties of marriage. Simon, Andrew, James, and John all leave their worldly lives to follow Jesus when he calls them.

So when I searched for the bit I remembered from 1 Corinthians - "the world is passing away" - I was surprised to find the top result is 1 John 2:17 ...
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Whoa. That's exactly the message I received from the 3 other "un-related" passages.

I think it sorta hit me strongly yesterday because I've been keeping myself busy - never good for spiritual growth. And a few times recently now, people have tried to engage me in some spiritual conversation and I've been unusually inarticulate and dumbfounded. I think I'm consuming myself with worldly things.

So, I'm going to (re-)commit to a few practices that will hopefully help me move my attention back towards God in the world, rather than the world itself. I'm going to resume my daily devotional - been slacking on it recently. I'm also going to start attending Wednesday morning Mass and pray the Rosary afterwords. And I'm going to continuously read something by C.S. Lewis - I think the exposure to his metaphors and analogies really help me relate spiritual Truth to this world, which is what I feel like I've been missing.

I've been too consumed with the passing of "this world" and I've been ignoring the presence of God within it.

Jan 8, 2009


Another regular-expression post title. This blog might also accidentally teach readers computer programming! hah!

I realized today that I've written some about my spiritual/emotional/whatever experiences, but haven't really mentioned some of the ordinary organizational stuff. Maybe today I'm just feeling guilty because I haven't actually been to an RCIA class for 4 weeks, though 3 of those weeks were simply because there weren't classes. Still, I pretty much skipped a class this last week without a very good reason. :(

Anyway, to join the Catholic Church in an official sense, adults typically go thru RCIA - Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. It's a series of weekly classes and some "extra-curricular" events for catechumens (un-baptized) and candidates (baptized Christians) to learn and experience the Christian - specifically Roman Catholic - faith. It's also possible (though I'm not sure how common it is) for a person to receive personal, individual catechism.

My official journey started Thursday, Nov 6th, when I met with Father Joe from Saint Benedict, and signed my paperwork to join the RCIA course there. Fr. Joe and Peggy, the RCIA coordinator, had told me that Saturday was going to be the official Rite of Welcome which would "seal-the-deal" for people seeking to enter full communion with the Catholic Church.

I remember standing in Peggy's office still feeling a little trepidation about it, but I knew this was where God was telling me to go and that making it official was one of those outward signs I had to make. So I signed on the dotted line, asked my sister-in-law Laura to sponsor me thru it all, and prepared for the Saturday retreat, which was awesome. I started going to the RCIA classes that next Tuesday.

My RCIA classes are every Tuesday night, from 7pm to 9pm. The format is generally opening prayer, then a review of Sunday's liturgy, small-group discussion of the review, then a lesson on a Catholic doctrine or topic, then a closing prayer service in the church sanctuary - my favorite part.

In addition to the Tuesday night classes, the RCIA candidates and catechumens are dismissed from Sunday liturgy after the Scripture readings and homily. We go to the chapel to discuss what was presented. Sometimes there's great provocative or profound conversation in there - right up there with Agora. Other times there's only a shallow interest and sparse discussion - which sometimes happens at Agora too. ;)

Another official/organizational aspect of the Church is Holy Days (holidays) - especially of the "obligatory" type. From the outside I thought of it as a way to guilt people into coming to church more often. From the inside, every single Holy Day Mass has really helped me appreciate the depth of the sacred mysteries. Just to spend that extra hour contemplating the Communion of Saints, or the Immaculate Conception ... really strikes home the wonder of God's interaction with us.

I think that's about as much of the organizational aspect of catechism that I've encountered so far. Each official event shows me more and more the overlap between the organizational and the mystical elements of the Church and of our Faith.

Jan 6, 2009


It's high-time for another blog post, but I need some inspiration, so I'm going to follow Terry's lead; he was also the first person who helped me find some of the rich meaning in Christian Tradition stretching back to the ancient church. Speaking of which ...

In the early church, it was a time when new converts were admitted to the church after a period of preparation.

This obviously resonates with me, as I will be admitted into full communion with the Roman church this coming Easter season. The Liturgical seasons of the Church is one of those things I never experienced as a Protestant, and the emphasis on them in the more Traditional church is really cool, in my opinion. I resolved to develop my faith in the Roman tradition right around the end of October, so Advent was my first season. I really got into the way all the Scriptures, homilies, daily readings and prayers revolved around preparing ourselves in anticipation of Christ.

Until this season of epiphany, and our first Sunday discussion of it, I had never really considered the flow of the Christmas story continuing out past the point of incarnation. But it does - the incarnation is just the beginning. Matthew's account of the magi's gifts symbolically point to Jesus's death, and also to his glory - celebrated during the Easter season. Even there is not the end; the Emerging movement does a great job in emphasizing our call to continually live the restorative mission of Jesus. I love what Terry said about it ...

... because in the Christian faith everything is present, here and now. Our Lord Jesus Christ is with us here and now, our inseparable Companion and Comforter. The historical event is just a motive and remembrance, because the Person of Christ is ever present ...