Blog Template Theology of the Body: June 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The latest high profile convert to Catholicism

Will be Tony Blair after he leaves office on Wednesday. There are some who do not think it is a good fit, though I'm guessing that if Pope Benedict is okay with it that it will probably work out.

Because there's nothing like a little monastic spirituality to accentuate your summer

Check out friend David Whidden's blog next week for updates on thought and experience in a monestary. David is a very good man and a very clear thinker, so you are sure to be edified.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Second Favorite Week of the Year...

Next to Holy Week, my new favorite week of the year is the St. Michael's Conference, where MM and I will be on the faculty this coming week. She will be teaching a course on evangelisation and I will be teaching a course entitled "Defense Against the Dark Arts."

To whet the appetite a bit, I decided to post the Keynote slides from the first session of the course, entitled Demons and Their Defeat. I will try to post the rest later. Many thanks to Peter Kreeft's wonderful little book Angels (and Demons), for a great deal of help with this subject.

Saint Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in the day of Battle.

MM Says: I am off for Camp tomorrow! The night before camp is a big deal... I have not felt this way since I was a child. I have towels, a clean toothbrush, and my sneakers all packed into my duffel bag... and a book bag full of my course materials for the kiddos. Friends, please do pray for the faculty, counselors, and campers of the St. Michael's Conference SW. This is a serious time. In addition to being something like Hogwarts Academy for Christians, it's a time for the young people to return their hearts to Christ in a very serious way, and it's an important time of their being equipped to do serious things in the very real Kingdom of God. It's a time for them to be called to do serious things for the Kingdom of God. It's clear to me that we who will be working with these precious young people next week are investing in some of the Father's most elite movers and shakers. Their Father in Heaven loves them so much. Pray for open hearts for all, for strong protection, for sound teaching, for good communication, for peace, and for lasting impressions as the campers are exposed to some of the riches that the Church has to offer.

Dr. Bauman's Five Forbidden Sentences Etc.

These five apologetic responses point out the self-refutation of modern relativism.

1. Everything is Relative

But this statement presumes that its proposition is right, and that to disagree with it would be wrong. This statement presumes that "everything is relative" except the assertion that everything is relative. So obviously not everything is relative.

2. There are no absolutes

This statement itself poses the absolute proposition that there are no absolutes.

3. Who’s to say?

This question presumes the elitism of private judgment. The same question can be turned around: who’s to ask? ...The most reasonable solution is that it’s the person with the best arguments who gets to make assertions and pose challenges. Then you can have a real conversation.

4. There is no such thing as right/wrong

Again, this statement makes a proposition that the speaker presumes is right, such that an opponent would be wrong to disagree with it. It defeats itself.

5. Everything is determined by the laws of nature

…Including this opinion?

Aditionally: Good stuff for discussing Christianity's essential affirmation of miracles in our very naturalistic age:

You’ve probably come across the scoffer who tries to deal you a verbal deathblow when he or she finds out that you believe in miracles. Scoffers who ask such frequently answered questions are playing a game with you. It’s a game, as distinct from an honest question because they don’t expect a satisfactory answer. We could call this particular game ‘Jelly legs,’ because the questioner expects you to wobble at the knees over his question, believing you are holding an irrational belief.

The antidote is usually to turn such games back on the originators. Ask what evidence they would accept. If it is ‘nothing,’ they are clearly being unreasonable. If they are not sure, prompt them. To the question ‘How did Noah get all the animals into the Ark?,’ for instance, you can politely suggest they find out the size of the Ark, what kinds of animals boarded it, the average size of the animals, and the number that could fit. Most people are surprised to discover how huge the Ark was. Help them find the solution from creationist literature if you need to. For example, see How did all the animals fit on Noah’s Ark?

It is important to be alert for scoffers’ games. Scoffers and honest seekers alike need to be answered. But you will save time and frustration if you turn questions back on the scoffers instead of answering outright. It gets them to do their own work, and avoids questions that may sidetrack you.

Secondly: 'Scientific' objections to the possibility of miracles like the Resurrection are simply bad science. When people argue that the Resurrection must be impossible because human beings don't normally rise from the dead, they are imposing an apriori assumption on the evidence. An apriori assumption is a theory which does not tolerate the possibility of new observations. Thus, since the historical Resurrection that hundreds of people observed in the risen Christ does not fit with their theory, modern naturalists say that such an observation could not possibly be true. This is a very bad philosophy of science; good science allows for changing theories according to new observations and evidence, including the considerable evidence that Jesus did so rise.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Church's Scriptures

"What criteria did the early Church use in determining which popular documents would compose its Canon?

Basically, the early Church has three criteria which it imposed upon the texts.

First, the books must have apostolic authority- that is, they must have been written either by apostles themselves, who were eyewitnesses to what they wrote about, or by followers of apostles. So in the case of Mark and Luke, while they were not among the original twelve disciples, early tradition has it that Mark was a helper of Peter, and Luke was an associate of Paul.

Second, there was the criterion of conformity to what was called the Church's Rule of Faith. That is, was the document congruent with the basic Christian tradition that the Church recognized as normative?

And third, there was the criterion of whether a document had had continuous acceptance and usage by the church at large. have to understand that the Canon... came about because of the intuitive insight of Christian believers guided by the Spirit. They could hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in the Gospels; they could hear it in only a muffled and distorted way in the false teachings. When the pronouncement was made about the Canon, it merely ratified what the general sensitivity of the Church had already determined. The Church simply listened and sensed that these were authoritative accounts."

- Bruce Metzger, The Case for Christ.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hindu 'goddess' visits D.C. public school



So I'm going to tell my little friends in high school not to worry any longer about sharing the Gospel during public school hours...

Thank you CMK.

Real Woman Award I

(Notice: This is a new Wednesday development for this blog, as inspired by Fr. and Mrs. Nelson. Let the Real Women of the 'sphere be celebrated... a lot)

This week's award goes to Crystal at Biblical Womanhood, of course. She is at this moment delivering her second child... and live-blogging through labor. Wow. Readers, keep Crystal and her little one in your prayers!

Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult

A few posts ago, I was urgently seeking helpful titles on evangelism. Search no more, I've found the best one from a pretty thorough search: for a skillful, compassionate general treatment of methods and manners for sharing your faith (including helpful things like conversational flow charts), see Nick Pollard's Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult: How to Interest People who Aren't Already Interested. This great book is even user-friendly enough for young people among the laity...

Jim Wallis to speak in Dallas

For those of you who are in the Dallas area, you might be interested in attending this talk by Jim Wallis on July 24 at Wilshire Baptist Church. Entrance is free, but reservations are required.

Edifice Complexes...

How much does it cost one to get something as ugly and unsatisfying as this built?

What's that you say? $190 million dollars?

Well, alright. It seems pricey, but when you want to play with the big boys, you gotta pay up. We simply cannot be outdone by those fine people in L.A. with their neo-marxist construction. We simply must have one of those enormous square altars. We simply must have

You do realize this means you're going to have to cut programming don't you?

Yes, yes, cut away. Inspiring the people is more important than saving their souls.

Ok, then, we're a go - what do you think we should put on the front?

We need something that screams Roman Catholicism - maybe we should think about putting in a cross or a crucifix, but let's wait on that decision - maybe there is a more fitting symbol. I mean, the whole thing IS in the shape of a fish. Can I get more creation motifs?

Oh absolutely, Your Eminence! I mean, they did go out in the mid-80s, but I know you like creation motifs, so creation motifs you shall have.

Excellent! What about our plans to make it irrevocably attached to modernist deconstructionist liturgical styles?

Well, I'm glad you asked! The altar weighs 16 tons, so it can't be moved without tearing a hole in the ceiling. So does the font, so no worries! The cathedral clergy will be stuck with cassock-albs and broadstoles into eternity!

Oh, this is exciting. What about the chapels?

Well, this is best part of all - we have constructed several renderings of concrete rooms - we're calling them "devotional areas." They'll contain all sorts of items meant to dull spiritual senses. You know - the old standards - corpuses without crosses, anthropocentric statuary (but nothing too realistic, mind you!), oh - and we're putting in a reconciliation room - just as you asked!

These concepts are delightful and inspiring!

Well, we're glad you like them.

Oh, I do! Spare no expense, my good men, spare no expense!

Read at your own risk.

HT: Father Tim Matkin.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Intriguing and Admirable

...because rhetoric can be key, and because we've all got to do something:

1. Feminists for Life.

2. Students for Life.

3. Athletes for Life.

Monday, June 18, 2007

While Our Troops Stood By... Is This Our Vision for a "Free" Iraq?

"Baghdad, June 7, 2007 : Muslim extremists attacked two churches in the Dora district of Baghdad on Tuesday, the 5th of June. They killed security guards at one church and forcibly turned the other church into a mosque.

Several security guards were killed at St John the Baptist Church in Hay Al-Athoriyeen. St Jacob’s Church in Hay al Asya was vandalized and forcibly turned into a mosque. St Jacob’s Church had previously been attacked in October of 2004.

At the same time as the churches were being attacked, the funeral Mass for Chaldean Catholic Priest Father Ragheed Ganni, was being celebrated in Karamles by Archbishop Faraj Rahho of Mosul amidst tight security.

Sarkis Aghajan, the minister of finance of the regional Kurdish government attended the service.

By this time some christian groups said to the Salem Voice Ministries (SVM) News Service that they demand an Assyrian region at the border with Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.

Fr Ragheed Ganni, 35, a parish priest, and three deacons, were shot dead on 3 June, in front of the Holy Spirit Church in the Nur District of Mosul."

From here.

When you think about it, an Assyrian Christian province bordering Kurdistan is terribly important, especially if it is clear - and I think it is - that Iraq will continue to be ruled by Islamic extremists bent on persecution of Christians. When Churches can be converted by force into mosques by force (sound familiar?) - we are not talking about free nations - we are talking about little more than regions run by thugs. If that is what our soldiers are there to make permanent, then I say bring them home.

More from the world of sex without babies and babies without sex...

"IN a commercial for Trojan condoms that has its premiere tonight, women in a bar are surrounded by anthropomorphized, cellphone-toting pigs. One shuffles to the men’s room, where, after procuring a condom from a vending machine, he is transformed into a head-turner in his 20s. When he returns to the bar, a fetching blond who had been indifferent now smiles at him invitingly."

Read the whole thing.

Kudos to FOX and CBS for rejecting this hogwash.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

In the category of things impossible to make up

She's an Episcopal priest...AND a Muslim. I'm reminded of the line in The Princess Bride: "Inconceivable!" "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Reverend Ann Holmes Redding.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


One of the things in my life about which I am most grateful and proud is being this man's daughter. Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who finds great delight in his commands.
His children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Prosperity is in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.
Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
Surely he will never be shaken;
a righteous man will be remembered forever.
He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is secure, he will have no fear;
in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn will be lifted high in honor.
Psalm 112

Christian Civics 101

Frankly, few things make me angrier than so-called "Christian" primary school curriculum that has nothing intrinsically Christian about it. Christian kiddos need to be educated from the Gospel account of the person of Jesus and the Church's confessions about Him, not in spite of. This is particulary true when educating Christian young people about their delicately balanced role as dual citizens of the Kingdom of Christ who live in modern America. I was recently comissioned to put some ideas together in this regard- here is the result, which reflects ample reliance on my favorite organization for Christian social teaching...

Seven Principles for the Formation of Christian Americans:

a. The Dignity of the Human Person

i. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all ages, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father, by whom all things were made. For us and for our salvation Christ came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man; He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures.

ii. From God’s creation and redemption of humanity we recognize that every human being has intrinsic and inalienable dignity that begins at conception and extends to natural death. This dignity, the basis for every human right, is God’s precious and inviolable endowment of the human person. The dignity of the human person must be cherished in custom and protected by law.

b. Our submission to God’s Principle of Servant Headship

i. We believe that Christ shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom shall have no end.

ii. From Christ’s redemption of humanity by grace, we understand that Christ is our King. In obedience to Christ and for the sake of His Kingdom we honor those to whom honor is due, particularly in our Church, our family, and our nation. In imitation of Christ our Lord, we use our strengths, our rights, and our privileges to serve the least of God’s creation.

c. Our allegiance to our Christian Heritage

i. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We believe in the \Communion of Saints.

ii. As Christians, we believe that true solidarity is the unified commitment of persons to live and work together in the truth of God’s revelation. We seek to understand and emulate the lives of past heroes of our faith, particularly those who have served our society.

d. The Christian Understanding of Freedom

i. We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.

ii. We know that the human person is free. Yet freedom, exercised solely for selfish or self-assertive ends, is radically incomplete. In celebration of the freedom that is ours in Christ alone, we continually seek true freedom in obedience to God’s law. We believe that the freedom of the human person is most fully and rightly lived in the gift of ourselves to God and to others.

e. The Christian Responsibility for Just Government

i. We believe that Christ sits at the right hand of the Father.

ii. We affirm that under Christ’s governance, each person has the responsibility to participate in the building of a free and just society rooted in the intrinsic and inviolable dignity of the human person. We call upon all persons to give of themselves in order that society may be justly governed. We call upon all persons to contribute to the common good. The common good consists of the well-being of the persons in a community, solidarity among those persons, and an environment in which each person’s deepest human aspirations and capacities can flourish. Participating in the common good belongs to each person by right of his or her dignity under the rule of law, in conditions of political transparency and accountability, free expression and participation.

iii. Recalling that the intrinsic dignity of each person is the foundation of all just human interactions, and recalling that this dignity is inalienable and cannot be mitigated in any degree, we affirm that solidarity is built on the use of this freedom to recognize fundamental human needs, desires, and rights, and to authentically pursue their fulfillment for all persons, particularly those in danger of poverty, exploitation, or death. Visible signs of need, suffering and injustice expose the universal human condition of vulnerability and reveal a common identity amongst the self and other persons. This in turn lays the foundation for the understanding and forgiveness necessary for lasting solidarity. Christian young people particularly commit themselves in solidarity to all those who live in need, and who experience the vulnerability and hardships of war, famine, disease or social unrest, and who suffer the poverty of hopelessness.

f. The Christian Commitment to the Human Family

i. We believe that the Holy Spirit has spoken through the Prophets.

ii. From God’s affirmation of the family as revealed in Scripture, we joyfully affirm that the family is a school of deeper humanity within which each member learns best what it means to be a human person. There, each member of the human family can experience the gift of unconditional, enduring love and is carefully taught to be responsible, to commit, to share, and to love. The family sustains society as it gives life to the next generation. It also has the privilege of forming free and responsible citizens, thus securing democracy. As the fundamental unit of society the family ensures the sustainability of civilization and culture. The family takes on essential tasks in the care of all and especially the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.

g. The Christian’s Rightful Allegiance

i. We look for the Resurrection of the dead, and the Life of the world to come.

ii. We acknowledge that our only absolute loyalty is to Christ. As members of Christ’s chosen people, we admit that our Kingdom is not of this world. As we wait in joyful hope for Christ’s coming in glory, we submit gladly to the authority of the Church, Christ’s “holy nation.” We serve our temporal nation and we transform our culture, witnessing in our families and in our work by serving Christ in all people.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I'm Impressed

Cool Article: "The Impossible Faith: Or, How Not to Start an Ancient Religion." Here.

I have really been enjoying the Tekton Apologetics Ministries website today; I've also enjoyed Christian Answers, and, oddly enough, Answers in Genesis has some great general apologetic material. I think I will have to update the sidebar...

Ruth Graham Dies

The lovely wife of evangelist Billy Graham died in her home day before yesterday. More here. Requiescat in pacem.

Luther, Calvin, and Aquinas: On Grace

It has been said that neither Luther nor Calvin had read Thomas Aquinas; my proposal is that if they had, the Protestant Reformation might never have occured. Consider, for instance, how Aquinas (the explicator of RC doctrine) deals with grace in a way that fully accommodates Reformation concerns:

What is grace?

a. Grace is God’s favor or love for us—this is the primordial meaning of grace. God’s free, non-required favor toward us or good will toward us. Like in human relations (we have favor toward one another).

b. Grace is a gift freely given (e.g., when we say “I do you this favor”), the gift that God gives as a result of this favor or love. Again, analogy to human relations (we give gifts to those whom we favor).

c. Grace is also the response to a gift freely given (e.g., when we give thanks for benefits received). The response that the receiver makes to the gift. Gratias agere: Latin for “to give thanks” (lit: “to do grace”).

• The three meanings are linked, in sequential order (110, 1, c):
• The second depends on the first: it is out of love for another whom one holds in favor that one freely bestows a gift upon that person.
• The third depends on the second: gratitude is due to gifts freely given.

3. Grace is uncreated in one sense and created in another.
a. Fundamentally, grace is uncreated because it is God himself. So God’s favor is uncreated because it is God, and God is uncreated.
b. But the effect or outcome of God’s favor (which is uncreated) is something created in the soul. It is the created form in the soul or the shape that human beings take on when they are conformed to Christ.

(E.g., consider the signet ring which impresses a seal in the wax. The soul is like the wax, and God is like the ring. When the ring impresses itself in the wax, the wax takes on the shape of the ring. Created grace is not the wax or the ring but the shape or indentation that the ring makes in the wax—which is not a barrier to the conformity of the soul to God but precisely is the conformity of the soul to God.

4. There are two kinds of grace:
• habitual grace
• and actual grace or the grace that is auxilium (“aid” or “help”)

a. habitual grace (or dispositional grace): a habit or steady disposition to act in a certain way. It adds power to the person, thus rendering possible acts of a certain kind. By habitual grace, God imparts to humans in the very depths of the soul a form or shape on their souls (i.e., the shape of Christ). To anticipate a little bit, habitual grace is conformity to Christ, the soul’s union with Christ by which the soul itself in its deepest recesses takes on the shape of Christ.

b. actual grace / grace that is auxilium: God’s active involvement in human acting, or God’s direct action on the human will. A power is needed for an action, and yet a power does not reduce itself to an act. Rather, something already in act must reduce the potential to act. For Aquinas, when talking about the movement of rational creatures to God as their end, this something in act is God. God reduces the potential constituted by habitual grace, the added endowment of the person, to act, by auxilium.

5. In both habitual grace and actual grace, when grace is understood to mean the gracious moving by which God moves us to meritorious good, then grace is appropriately divided into operative and co-operative grace.

operative grace: “An operation which is part of an effect is attributed to the mover, not to the thing moved. The operation is therefore attributed to God when God is the sole mover, and then the mind is moved but not the mover” (I-II, 111, 2, c).

co-operative grace: “when the soul is not only moved but also a mover, the operation is attributed to the soul as well as to God” (I-II, 111, 2, c).
In this case there is a twofold action within us:

1. the inward action of the will, in which the will is moved by God (especially when a will which previously willed evil begins to will good) = operative grace.

2. the outward action, in which operation is attributed to the will, since it is commanded by the will = co-operative grace.

…God helps us even in outward actions, by outwardly providing the capacity to act as well as inwardly strengthening the will to act.

Grace is necessary to know any truth and to do any good; there is a pervasive necessity of God’s grace. In order to know any truth and do any good, we need God to move us. Every human act, insofar as there is goodness in it, is the gift of grace, the result of God’s free action in our life. (This would be true even without sin. For Aquinas, there is a deep need for grace in even the pre-fallen state of human nature. Even in our created original state we would need grace in order to know any truth and to do any good.)

God is the efficient cause of truth and goodness in our actions, minds, and wills. A man can do nothing unless he is moved by God (I-II.109.7 ad 2).

Grace is also necessary to attain the knowledge of God in which salvation consists. We are created desiring by nature an end which we cannot reach by nature. The only way we can reach it is by the gracious elevation of our nature beyond its natural capacities. Grace is absolutely essential for the successful completion of the journey to God: it overcomes the obstacles that separate people from the transcendent end that is God, and renders them fit for their direct encounter with God in the next life.

HT: My classmate KL.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Theologian Par Excellence: Jaroslav Pelikan

Pelikan's The Christian Tradition is the standard work of historical theology in English. He is certainly the last scholar to attempt the task of a single historical narrative of the Christian tradition in one voice. Here we see one scholar with the courage and commitment to read all the sources and assimilate them... which is amazing. I only wish that I had been at Yale in time to dwell in the same town with him- and with all of the other greats who are passing their twilight days in New Haven, drifting anonymously in and out of the Starbucks on the Green (we could never find them). Requiescat in Pacem, Professor Pelikan.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Great Evangelists: St. Paul the Apostle, Missionary to the Gentiles

From his conversion in AD 35 to his martyrdom in Rome in AD 67, Paul's vision of the risen Lord impelled him to proclaim and explicate the Gospel between Jerusalem, Tarsus, Arabia, Ephesus, Antioch, Galatia, Macedonia, Athens, and Rome. He had been the hunter of those who called Jesus of Nazareth their Lord and God; he became Christ's most prolific apostolic witness.

Critics have long suggested that Paul's life-chaning vision of Christ Himself can be explained in natural terms as the product of an excitable, nervous temperament, external agitations, and a strong imagination. These suggestions are countered by Paul's own self-description: he is certain of having seen Christ as did the other Apostles (1 Corinthians 9:1); he declares that Christ appeared to him (1 Corinthians 15:8) as He appeared to Peter, to James, to the Twelve, after His Resurrection; He knows that his conversion is not the fruit of his reasoning or thoughts, but an unforeseen, sudden, startling change, due to all-powerful grace (Galatians 1:12-15; 1 Corinthians 15:10). Furthermore, he is wrongly credited with doubts, perplexities, fears, remorse, before his conversion. He was halted by Christ when his fury was at its height (Acts 9:1-2); it was "through zeal" that he persecuted the Church (Philippians 3:6), and he obtained mercy because he had acted "ignorantly in unbelief" (1 Timothy 1:13). All explanations, psychological or otherwise, are worthless in face of these definite assertions, for all suppose that it was Paul's faith in Christ which engendered the vision, whereas according to the concordant testimony of the Acts and the Epistles it was the actual vision of Christ which engendered his faith.

It is St. Paul who shows us the inseperable synthesis between sound theology and the proclamation of the Gospel. Paul builds an entire theological system from the person and work of the Redeemer; everything in St. Paul converges towards Jesus Christ. It is St. Paul who shows us human nature wholly under the dominion of sin, whom God refuses to abandon, and for whom we see Jesus- the pre-existant Christ, fully man- enacting the objective redemption of the world by His own body.

Great convert and Apostle of the Gentiles, you became Christlike and knew only Christ Crucified. Though extremely learned, you relied completely on the Wisdom received from the Spirit and taught from the abundance of your heart. Instruct modern evangelists - those who preach Christ to others. Let them realize that their actions speak louder than any words they may use. Teach them to use their talents in conveying their God-given message but to rely above all on the promptings of the Spirit. After persecuting the Church you became by God's grace its most zealous Apostle. To carry the knowledge of Jesus, our divine Savior, to the uttermost parts of the earth you joyfully endured prison, scourgings, stonings, and shipwreck, as well as all manner of persecutions culminating in the shedding of the last drop of your blood for our Lord Jesus Christ. Obtain for us the grace to labor strenuously to being the faith to others and to accept any trials and tribulations that may come our way. Help us to be inspired by your Epistles and to partake of your indomitable love for Jesus, so that after we have finished our course we may join you in praising him in heaven for all eternity. Amen.

So I sound a little bit like Scott Hahn

It happens all the time: "support catholic practices from Scripture!!!!" I always smile a little bit at this demand. Proof-texting is an important thing to do, of course; but the demand presumes that holier persons than you and I had not been grappling with the commands of Scripture under the guidance of our own Holy Spirit for centuries, such that we Christians can safely rely on their conclusions and get on with the business of waging our own battles in our war-torn world. The demand presumes that Scripture is not itself a prized tradition among other traditions of Christ's Church. It's as if St. Luke and St. Paul, and other writers of the canonical Scriptures were not themselves infallibly recording the things "handed down to them" in and by the catholic tradition (see Luke 1:1-4, I Corinthians 15, etc.).

Here is a recent proof text defense of some basic catholic practices. I'm proud to say that this was all off the top of my head...

Transubstantiation: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him." John 6: 54-55.

Peter as first pope in a papal lineage: "Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:17-19

Also: "But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31-33

Also: (With Jesus having established that He is the Shepherd of His flock, He hands His office of shepherding to Peter) The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." John 21:17 etc.

The pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra: Given Peter's primacy and the idea of a continuing apostolic 'seat' as described in Acts 1:20, the doctrine of the binding nature of Peter's teachings and the binding nature of his successor's teachings is derived from Jesus' presuming that the 'seat' of Moses in the Old Covenant is infallible: "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you..." Matthew 23:1-3.

The holy Sacrifice of the Mass: "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." Luke 22:18-20 (Christ's references to His body being given for the sake of sinners is corroborated by Paul's description of Christ our 'propitiation' in Romans 3; the same language is echoed in I Johan 2 and 4. Likewise, Christ explicitly describes His blood as a covenantal offering or sacrifice. Thus, given that the Last Supper typifies Christ's Sacrifice, the Church understands that its own Eucharist re-presents the once for all sacrifice that purchased our salvation.)

The Assumption and Immaculate Conception of Mary: "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." Luke 1:28.

Both of these doctrines proceed from the doctrine of Mary's preservation from original sin. The doctrine of Mary's sinlessness is derived from the Old Testament understanding of the utter sanctity of God's dwelling place, and from the angellic greeting which proclaims Mary as uniquely 'favored' and uniquely 'with' God, as in a manner only possible for those unsullied by original sin.

Mary's Perpetual virginity:
"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus." Matthew 1:24-25

The Greek form of 'knew her not' here- eginwsken- is imperfect, meaning that the verb denotes continuing action without termination; in other words, the sense of the language is of Joseph 'never knowing' his wife. Also, the doctrine also proceeds from the Old Testament understanding of God's vessels being totally consecrated to Him alone. In other words, it follows from God's utter holiness that it would not be right to put that which He uniquely inhabited to mundane human uses.

Veneration of the relics/remains of deceased heroes of the faith, and invoking the saints as our companions in prayer:

A) The saints are our witnesses who have preceded us into the heavenly presence of God: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us..." Hebrews 12:1

B) Those who have entered already into the joy of the Lord's presence have been entrusted with the continuing work of God's Kingdom through their heavenly prayers and praises: "His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Matthew 25:21.

C) The saints and martyrs are concerned with the affairs of the Church in the world: "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Revelation 6:9-11)

D) The same grace that was given to our forbears for particular situations can be invoked for our own times of need: "And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him." II Kings 2:15.

7 sacraments: Every one of the seven sacraments is presented in Scripture as an action that Jesus either a) directly commanded or b) participated in, or, the apostles directly commanded it. (I've presupposed Baptism and Eucharist here)

A) Marriage: Jesus honoring the wedding at Cana with His first miracle, the nature of which foreshadows His own nuptials... John 2.

B) Confession: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16.

Also, "And when Jesus had said this to the apostles, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." John 20:22-24

C) Unction: "And the apostles went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them." Mark 6:12-14. Also, "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." James 5:14.

D) Confirmation: See every passage having to do with believers' receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit for ministry- Ezekiel 26:25-27, Joel 3:1-2, Luke 12:12, John 3:5-8 and 7:37-39 and 16:7-15, Acts 1:8, John 20:22, Acts 2, etc.

E) Ordination: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by...the laying on of the hands of the bishops." 1 Timothy 4:13-15 .


Monday, June 11, 2007

Let her cover her head

I am off to get a mantilla to cover my head in church. Some of my girl friends and I have talked about this before, but this wonderful little essay by Andree Seu at World Mag has just sealed the deal:

"My personal great awakening involves "a more determined quest for Him who is the sole object of it all." This means trying "to discern what is pleasing to the Lord " (Ephesians 5:10), even when it's baffling.

It means launching out and putting a symbol of "glory" on my head at church because I think 1 Corinthians 11 tells me to, even if I may turn out in the end to be wrong. That's because I will definitely be wrong if I don't do what I think God is commanding. To disobey what I think God is telling me is to disobey God. There is nothing more a man can do at any given moment than say yes to God as he hears Him. It is God Himself who gently steers our boats, and corrects their course, but only as we're moving toward Him (Philippians 3:15-16).

Granted, "Let her cover her head" (1 Corinthians 11:6) may not be as important as "pour yourself out for the hungry" (Isaiah 58:10)—if you can call any part of God's Word unimportant. But I figure if the king tells you to go conquer the hinterlands one day, and tells you to shoe his horse the next day, you should do them both without slacking. He is the king.

There's a lot more than mantillas at stake for me personally. I want to stop putting filters between me and the Word of God. I appreciate scholarship, but it is rarely conclusive. The question is this: When push comes to shove, do I go with Christian peer pressure or with God's Word as I see it? All my obediences to received practice are suspect when I balk at the one point where conscience makes a contrary demand. It's when there is disjunction that my true allegiance shows.

I read in 1 Corinthians 11 that the woman's head is to be covered in worship. The modern Christian consensus tells me that is a relative and obsolete command, dealing with some first-century problem in the city of Corinth. My high-school literary skills tell me otherwise: The command is rooted in creation (verses 7-9) and in nature (verse 14). And if that weren't ironclad enough, I am to cover my head "because of the angels."

The angel detail is so cryptic, so off the wall, so without explanation, that it becomes the strongest argument of all. Where is the "cultural relativity" case now, where angels transcend all historical agitations?"

Brother Colson, Meet the Fathers

My crusading mother and I had breakfast this morning with Chuck Colson, iconic founder of Prison Fellowship. I admire this man. He has he committed his life to the spread of the Gospel in dark places. He has also concerned himself with our poor culture in the pure way that requires the collaboration of confessing Christians, as manifest once and for all by his couragious signature on that watershed document, Evangelicals and Catholics Together. This was not an easy thing for him to do, and I have long applauded him for it.

Mr. Colson informed us this morning that his commitment to Christ's Church and its confrontation of the culture is currently expressing itself in a popular book that he is writing on Patristic doctrines, in collaboration with Tom Oden, and some other good scholars- "The Faith Once Delivered," due out this February. Colson said that he is passionate about modern Christians being able to define what Christianity really is. -Exciting for the Evangelical world, and for all of us. I thanked him for this effort from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

More for Corpus Christi

Here is a picture of the thoughts of an old Basque peasant women returning home from church -- a truly lovely poem by Ann Bunston. She was born about 150 years ago, and the poem is to be found in the Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse.

O LITTLE lark, you need not fly
To seek your Master in the sky,
He treads our native sod;
Why should you sing aloft, apart?
Sing to the heaven of my heart;
In me, in me, in me is God!

O strangers passing in your car,
You pity me who come so far
On dusty feet, ill shod;
You cannot guess, you cannot know
Upon what wings of joy I go
Who travel home with God.
From far-off lands they bring your fare,
Earth's choicest morsels are your share,
And prize of gun and rod;
At richer boards I take my seat,
Have dainties angels may not eat:
In me, in me, in me is God!

O little lark, sing loud and long
To Him who gave you flight and song,
And me a heart aflame.
He loveth them of low degree,
And He hath magnifi-ed me,
And holy, holy, holy is His Name!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Glory Be: Real Womanhood

The Blogosphere has just been graced with something that we truly need: a blog about Christian womanhood and family life from a truly catholic perspective. Check out Ela's Real Womanhood! This purportedly real woman is going to be a daily reader...

Religous decline and the family

The standard meme about the relationship between religion and family size is that religious people have larger families, with religion being the causal factor; being non-religious causes one, on the whole, to have fewer children. (I should mention that this is all based on society-wide measurements of religious attendance and birthrates -- obviously there are plenty of exceptions at the individual level) Anyway, in this interesting article, "How the West Really Lost God," Mary Eberstadt argues that a case can be made for reverse causation -- that it is a decline in nuclear families that causes the decline in religious belief. She's not so simplistic as to argue that it is the only cause, but rather argues that there is significant evidence to indicate that the decline of families may be a major factor in the rise of secularism. While there are several elements of the article I disagree with, the article is sufficiently provocative enough (in a good way) that it is worth reading the whole thing. I'd be interested in your responses.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Union of Covenant Keepers: The Church as Eucharistic Community

My thoughts here, in honor of Corpus Christi.

The Eucharist - the Church's Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

"He who offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me," says the Psalmist (Psalm 50:23) and before this, in the same Psalm "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving." (vs. 14). What are we, as Christians, to make of these verses?

There are some who will say that the Sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross has made all sacrifice obsolete. In other words - all sacrifice seeks to in some way "buy off" God, and since this has been done once and for all, then it need be done no longer. This a bit simplistic however, because in the OT there are many types of sacrifice. There are holocausts or "burnt offerings" there are sin offerings, there are cereal offerings, libations of wine, and then this "thank offering." Each has a distinct purpose, and in the book of Leviticus, we see the purposes. The thank offering described in Leviticus, chapter 7, is an offering of unleavened cakes or wafers mixed with oil. Leviticus Chapter 2 mentions this as well. The cereal offering is burnt upon the altar by the priests. It is meant to be a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the harvest.

A recent blog post by Taylor Marshall on this subject really fleshes this out in reference to Isaiah 66:19-21, in which Gentile priests are depicted bringing a cereal offering to the holy mountain Jerusalem. Did this happen prior to the Death and Resurrection of Jesus? Not possible. Why? It is not possible that there could have been Gentile priests prior to the Church. The sacrifice of thanksgiving continues, even past the Passion because it is still correct and laudable to offer thanks to God for His perfect Sacrifice. The very word we use in the Church - Eucharist (meaning thanksgiving) means this very thing. The Eucharist as a sacrifice is united to the One Sacrifice of Jesus upon the Cross, a perfect re-presentation of His Death and Passion.

As such, it is right that not only continue this sacrifice of thanksgiving, but that it continues until Our Lord's coming, for He says "I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Matthew 26:29

The Feast of Corpus Christi

"It is truly the one, identical Lord, whom we receive in the Eucharist, or better, the Lord who receives us and assumes us into himself. St Augustine expressed this in a short passage which he perceived as a sort of vision: eat the bread of the strong; you will not transform me into yourself, but I will transform you into me. In other words, when we consume bodily nourishment, it is assimilated by the body, becoming itself a part of ourselves. But this bread is of another type. It is greater and higher than we are. It is not we who assimilate it, but it assimilates us to itself, so that we become in a certain way “conformed to Christ”, as Paul says, members of his body, one in him.

We all “eat” the same person, not only the same thing; we all are in this way taken out of our closed individual persons and placed inside another, greater one. We all are assimilated into Christ and so by means of communion with Christ, united among ourselves, rendered the same, one sole thing in him, members of one another."

Pope Benedict XVI

What Mrs. Eddy Taught: Christian Science v. The Gospel

Christian Science

• God is the divine Principle, known as the Divine Mind. God has no personhood and no personality. God is "All in All," meaning that God inheres in all the spiritual individualities that God created. God did not create the physical universe, which is an illusion.

• Jesus is a Way-shower who leads to understanding. Jesus was a mortal man who epitomized the true principle of the divine Christ-Consciousness/Christ-Character which indwells all humanity. Jesus was not God in flesh. Nor was Jesus the Christ.
• The Christ is a higher, transcendent, impersonal Idea, a principle that dwells within each and every individual. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 333:3-15; 334:3.)
• Christian Science absolutely rejects the Christian understanding of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus and states that the death of Jesus had no efficacious value (S&H, 25:6).

The Individual Human Being
• God is all that exists and what we perceive as matter is merely an interpretation of the divine mind. A human beings is not an integrated reality consisting of body, soul, and spirit. The human being is merely a particular instantiation/expression of the single Divine Mind- an “individual.”
• Christian Science teaches that man does not have a sinful nature and is a perfect reflection of Divine Mind. Sin is a false interpretation of Divine Mind, and is really nonexistent (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 335:7-15).
• To achieve "salvation," humanity needs only to achieve understanding of true reality, as revealed in Christian Science teachings. Truth is a matter of higher understanding and learning. Salvation is achieved through progressive spiritual understanding. A person is not saved from hell, but from his or her belief in materiality.


• God is one God in three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is Personal. God is the Creator of the physical universe and has provided redemption for the fallen creation through the body of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is God Incarnate.

• Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Trinity, the fully divine Son of God who became fully man and died for our sins. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
• Jesus is God physically incarnate in human flesh from the Virgin Mary, His mother. Jesus became incarnate in physical human flesh for our salvation.
• Jesus Christ suffered physical death under Pontius Pilate for our atonement and was resurrected on the third day. His sinless nature made him uniquely qualified to bear the judgment and punishment that God’s holiness and divine justice demand. Our salvation from sin and death is possible only in Him.

The Personal Human Being
• Made in the image of the personal God, the human being is rightly described as an integrated person. God created the physical universe as an act of His free grace. God created the physical bodies of humanity as well as the human soul and spirit. Human beings were created to fellowship with God with their whole selves- body, mind, and spirit. Christ redeems humanity by taking onto Himself the human soul and body and returning it to the Father on the Cross.
• Fallen from communion with God because of sin, salvation is offered to humanity in Christ as the gift of God’s grace. It cannot be earned or achieved by human effort, but must be accepted by confession of one’s sins and by faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on one’s behalf. Salvation is not from a belief in materiality, but from damnation.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Liturgy and Evangelism

Fr. Dan Martins had a great blog post yesterday to commemorate St. Boniface:
I've dabbled in enough history to know that, in the era of the greatest missionary expansion in the history of Christianity--that is, the time before the faith became legal in the early years of the fourth century--the celebration of the Eucharist was restricted to the initiated Faithful. Not only were casual inquirers and other wannabes kept away, even catechumens who seriously intended to be baptized were not allowed to even witness the full liturgy. Sunday worship was certainly not the streetfront display window of the Church. There were no marquee signs, no websites, no Yellow Pages ads informing the general public when the Mass times were. It might have gotten somebody arrested or killed!

It is not the function of the liturgy to serve as a tool for evangelism. In trying to make it so, I fear that many churches have succeeding is bastardizing the liturgy and accomplished very little by way of evangelism in return. The liturgy is for the initiated, not for the seeker. It should not be made to bear freight it was never designed to handle.
Read the whole thing.

Just for fun: Filmic Christ Characters

Kim Fabricius at Faith and Theology has started a fun post on Christ figures in film; David at Fire and the Rose added the suggestions at the bottom of the list below:

Here is an even dozen of my favourite filmic Christ figures. By “Christ figure” I mean a protagonist who fulfils the following criteria:

The character comes from another world/environment.
The character is “other”, alien, strange.
The character transcends his/her/its surroundings.
The character is salvific, i.e. bestows blessings like inspiration, liberation, transformation, reconciliation, justice, healing to other people or a community.
The character arouses opposition and/or suffers.
And, crucially – it eliminates a host of famous potentials – the character does not maim or kill, i.e. is fundamentally non-violent (there go westerns like Shane and science fiction flicks like Terminator 2).
To narrow the field further, the character cannot be biblical, or even religious (so no priests or nuns), nor historical (e.g. Ghandi or Schindler), nor come from an animated film (sorry, Shrek!).
Here they are, then:

1. Luke – Cool Hand Luke (1967)
2. Randle McMurphy – One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
3. Rocky – Rocky (1976)
4. ET – ET (1982)
5. Babette – Babette’s Feast (1987)
6. Edward – Edward Scissorhands (1990)
7. The groundhog (totemically) – Groundhog Day (1993)
8. Andy Dufresne – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
9. Forrest Gump – Forrest Gump (1994)
10. Babe – Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
11. John Coffey – The Green Mile (1999)
12. Amélie – Amélie (2001)

13. Ofelia – Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
14. Kanji Watanabe – Ikiru (1952)
15. Damiel – Wings of Desire (1987)
16. Babette – Babette’s Feast (1987)
17. Mateo – In America (2002)
18. Theo Faron – Children of Men (2006)
19. Phil Parma – Magnolia (1999)
20. Andy Dufresne – Shawshank Redemption (1994)
21. Lena Leonard – Punch Drunk Love (2002)
22. El Chivo – Amores Perros (2000)
23. Priest of Ambricourt – The Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
24. Sister Constance Lazure – The Barbarian Invasions (2003)

Readers, Weigh In! Votes... Suggestions... who is your favorite Filmic Christ Character?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A rebuttal of my favorite atheist

I'll have to admit a certain weakness for the writing of the notorious atheist Christopher Hitchens, even as I disagree with him. His wit and writing style are always amusing (my favorite is his take on the ten commandments). Anyway, he's written a new book against religious belief, which is reviewed here.

The kicker is that the reviewer is Hitchens' brother, who happens to be a Christian. Nothing like a little Cain and Abel action on the world wide web...

And seeing your Incarnation, the Angel cried...

Seeking to know knowledge unknown, the Virgin cried to him who ministered unto her: From a chaste womb how can a Son be born? Tell thou me!

Then spake he to her in fear, and crying aloud:

Rejoice, thou Initiate of the ineffable counsel.
Rejoice, thou Faith in that which demandeth silence.
Rejoice, Prelude of the miracles of Christ.
Rejoice, Pinnacle of His doctrines.
Rejoice, heavenly Ladder whereby God came down.
Rejoice, Bridge leading those of earth to Heaven.
Rejoice, Marvel far-famed of Angels.
Rejoice, wounding much-bewailed of demons.
Rejoice, thou who ineffable gavest birth to the Light.
Rejoice, thou who didst reveal the mystery to none.
Rejoice, thou who oversoarest the knowledge of the wise.
Rejoice, thou who enlightenest the minds of the faithful.
Rejoice, thou Bride unwedded.

I have been slugging around in despicable, slimy, smelly heresies on an assignment for the past couple of days. Ugggh. There is nothing like the relief of the virgin Mother of God in resisting that old lie that Christ has not come in the flesh. Read the whole Akathist Hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos here. You really do not want to miss this, whether you are for her or against her.

HT: Faith and Theology.

The Sanctification of Work

An old post, resurrected as this graduate student faces a very 'working' summer...

Christians Carry out the Creation Mandate in Terms of the Great Commission.

This means that we "fill the earth and subdue it"... with converted disciples. This means that we "take dominion"... only in the name of the Lord who suffered for His enemy and gives Himself in love and service for His people. This means that every action, of every day, can be a small enactment of His renewal and redemption, and a small version of eucharist that returns His gifts to Him in thanksgiving. This means that everyone has a ministry; that every workday is a day of vocation. The sweat of our brow has meaning in the light of Christ; within our work, we go into all the world and make disciples.

"Service to neighbour" was the way Luther linked daily life and work with Christian vocation. John Calvin emphasised the fact that God intends Christians to work "for mutual service," in light of the riches of diverse gifts and in light of social inter dependence: "all the gifts we possess have been bestowed by God and entrusted to us on condition that they be distributed for our neighbour's benefit," such that Christians were to so actively seek to use their talents and abilities to serve their neighbour as to change their station in life to make such service possible.

For the Christian, work does not have its meaning in paid employment or in occupations carried on for financial gain or profit; rather, work becomes another gracious vehicle for the vocation of honoring God and extending His love among His people.

John Paul II expressed the Christian theology of work beautifully. Naming humanity as sharers in the image of the Creator, he calls us "God's fellow artists," who, through our own creative work, offer gifts to the world: "the opening page of the Bible presents God as a kind of exemplar of everyone who produces a work- the human craftsman mirrors the image of God as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life. In a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece." (More of the same in John Paul's Letter to Artists, here)

...And in the words of those working saints of Opus Dei, "God is not removing you from your environment. He is not taking you away from the world, nor from your condition in life, nor from your noble human endeavors, nor from your profession. For He wants you to be a saint- right there."

Christ qualifies Genesis for us with even greater clarity: we are to let our work make masterpieces of us, refining us with patience and courage. In our work and the fellowship it engenders, we are to make masterpieces of one another. In Christ, there is no mere labor; the tilling of the cursed Garden has become the exciting and sanctifying pilgrimmage into all the ends of the earth. Go there, in your daily work, and make disciples.

1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord....2 Corinthians 6:1: We then, as workers together with Christ, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain...Matthew 5:16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Latest ITunes Download

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

-William R. Featherston, 1864 age 16.
Hear it at

What's an Ignatian Retreat Like?

People often ask me this. I'm just back from a wonderful weekend Ignatian retreat on the shores of Lake Dallas, so I thought that I would share about the experience. Ahem:

First, an Ignatian retreat is hard. You are in total silence for the entire time, except for attending retreat talks and sharing with your retreat director. If you are fasting, you are hungry. You have lots of open-ended hours with nothing to do but immerse yourself in Scripture and pray; and, in contrast to the busyness and routine of ordinary daily life, this can be terrifying.

Secondly, an Ignatian retreat is beautiful and purifying. My body responds to these retreats in an amazing way; I always come back more refreshed and in better health than if I had been intentionally working on it for weeks. You fall in love with the silence, and you learn to "listen" to the other silent people around you with great care and compassion, even though you cannot speak with one another. You learn the value of every single word.

Thirdly, an Ignatian retreat is for falling in love a little more with Christ. It works! Ignatian spirituality is all about the heart. Through hours of reflection on the Gospels (and that's it, folks- nothing more, nothing less) you immerse your imagination in Jesus. You remember that our Lord ascended as a young man who loved His friends, and you open your heart to this Friend with just a little bit more abandon. You learn to pay attention to your own heart; having surrendered it to Christ each and every hour, you learn to distinguish carefully between moments of desolation (despair, discouragement, anxiety, and confusion) and moments of consolation in the faith, hope, and love that make us run to Christ. You renew your commitment to live in this consolation and to say a firm no to all that takes you from the love of Jesus.

And incidentally, for those of us who struggle with the discipline of daily devotions, an Ignatian retreat will make daily morning prayer and Bible study seem like a cake walk. - better yet, you sharpen your taste for prayer and the Scripture.

So that's an Ignatian retreat. Anyone interested...? :)