Showing posts with label mission. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mission. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2023

It’s Iimi! That Was… Unexpected

With Krysta in trouble, Kismetta going to Foothill for Arabic class, and Paula at a doctor’s appointment, Iimi is alone when Mike shows up looking to fight... or is it just to talk? Will it be the same old story? Or will people say, “That was… unexpected”

Post-Comic Notes:

We’re now seeing some results from when Mike sat in with the Socratic Club. If Mike seems less irritable than before, I don’t like caricatures. So, we’re seeing a little bit of what he’s like in a one-on-one discussion, getting hints from his past.

You may have noticed that the school exterior has a new model. That’s because I needed the ability to rotate and change angles. Besides, the stock Comipo art has a lower resolution than I need.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

On Confusing Style With Holiness

Preliminary Note: To pre-empt any accusation of this advocating “modern” or “minimalist” style, let me be clear. This article is not about what the style of churches should be. It’s about people missing the point by saying only a certain style of art is the sign of a holy Church.

Some of the internal criticism on the Church is to compare the glory and temporal influence of the Church at her height (usually in the high Middle Ages or the time of the Council of Trent), and contrast it with the rebellion and contempt against her today. The argument is that ever since X happened, the Church has been in decline. Some blame Vatican II or the Popes from 1958 onward. Others blame Popes after St. John XXIII for “betraying” the Council. But both are operating from the belief that:
  1. There was a time when we had a “golden age” in the Church.
  2. This ain’t it.
  3. We need to go back to what worked at that time.
The problem is, the glory and prestige is a byproduct of the mission of the Church that only exists in certain times. In most times, the Church has had to deal with indifference, hostility, and disrespect. Even in the times of the greatest earthly renown, the Church has needed to deal with hostile governments (some of them Catholics), corruption, dissent, and sin.

When people speak of the decline in respect and holiness, they usually confuse the architecture of churches, the talent of artists, and the solemnity of a High Mass in a certain era with the holiness of the Church. But the mission of the Church exists, regardless of the artistic talent of the times.

There’s a vast difference between the frescoes in the catacombs and the Renaissance art [§]. But the mission to be God’s way of bringing His salvation of the world to every person in every place and time continues regardless of the talent and piety of the individual Catholics. 

That’s not to say that art, architecture, and ceremony aimed glorifying God is meaningless. If not done to an excess that distracts, these things are good at elevating the heart and mind to thinking about God. But if the focus on these ever becomes a distraction away from serving God, then people have missed the point of the Church.

I am reminded of a video shared by a member of the SSPX that purported to show a modern altar that was ignored. Then (through time lapse photography), the altar was decorated (practically buried under cloth and statuary over crates) to look like a pre-Vatican II altar and people started showing it more respect. The point was supposed to be that respect was lost because of Vatican II.

“But,” I replied, “what was sacred was the altar itself, not the decoration on top of it. The fact that people were not being respectful of the altar before it was buried under trappings shows they were missing the point of what was sacred.” The altar should be reverenced because of the role it plays, not because it is adorned with beautiful things.

Of course, when possible, the altar should be dignified. We shouldn’t tear down the old without serious reasons [#]. But dignified is not the same as “ornate.” Music should be dignified, but dignified is not the same as “baroque.” Churches should glorify God, but glorifying is not a synonym for “flying buttresses.” To say that a church that is not ornate, baroque, or designed in a medieval style is not dignified is to miss the point.

Some may be called to create beautiful churches, beautiful decoration, and beautiful music. They should carry out that calling of course. But let’s not forget that this beauty is not the point of the Church. The mission of saving souls is. If our quarrels over beauty obscures that mission, we have missed the point of what the Church is.


[§] I’ll set aside the discussion of the general decline of art as we go forward in time. Much of the recent bad “Church art” seems to coincide with bad art in general.

[#] It was tragic when some Catholics carried out a mini iconoclasm in the misinterpretation of Vatican II. But this was not done at the instruction of Vatican II.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Church Will Survive...But We Have Work To Do

The Internet is full of people gloating over what they see as the defeat of the Catholic Church. Ireland, being long seen as a bastion of Catholicism, has voted for “same sex marriage” (62% voting yes) and the critics of the Church think this is a win-win situation. In their mind, either the Church changes her teaching and becomes what they want her to be or she refuses and goes extinct. In other words, they get what they want either way. At the same time, there are a lot of Catholics are looking for someone to blame. There are accusations being leveled that if the Church had done things differently, this would not have happened. In other words, both sides seem to look at this as a permanent loss for the Church.

There is no doubt that the implications of this vote are serious. Catholics have become so uninformed about that their faith that they think they can reject Church teaching as if it was an opinion, or even that it is compatible with the “greater truths” of the faith—as if Catholicism could be compartmentalized or one part set against another. But despite this apostasy in Ireland, this is not the “end of the Church.” Not universally, and not in Ireland (which Catholic bloggers love to ask as headlines).

The Church has faced setbacks and attacks all throughout her history where rulers or people turned on her. At one time the majority of the Roman Empire chose the Arian heresy over the Catholic faith. England turned on the Catholic Church during the Reformation. Japan expelled all missionaries and sought to exterminate the faith during the 16th century. France turned on the Church during the Revolution. Anti-clerical forces attacked the Church in Italy (19th century) and Mexico (20th century). 

The Church has always survived and continued to preach the Gospel. That doesn’t mean that everything turns out peachy in the end. Sometimes the relationship of the Church with the people of a nation is permanently altered as a result (England once was a solidly Catholic nation for example). But the Church will survive.

That doesn’t mean we can take the attitude of “God’s going to win, so lets sit back and wait” however. The fact that 62% of the Irish voters approved of something completely incompatible with the Catholic faith shows that a lot of hard work needs to be done there to bring the message of Christ back to the people. It’s not just Ireland for that matter. Even though, in America, the imposition of “same sex” marriage” is largely done by judicial diktat, the fact remains that there is a growing number of people who have been deceived into thinking this is good and the Christian teaching is based on “hatred.” It’s remarkably similar to how the ancient Romans thought Christians were the enemies of humanity (which I suspect we’re not all that far away from again).

It means Catholics have to abandon the attitude of “Let Father/The Bishop/The Pope do it!” No. Every one of us is called in the role of Priest, Prophet and King” to go out and evangelize the whole world. The people of the world have been deceived into thinking self interest can be labeled as good and virtue can be labeled as judgmentalism and hate. So we need to start again, teaching people that sin exists and we need Jesus as our savior—which includes going and sinning no more (John 8:11).

This may seem to be a hardship. But read the lives of saints throughout history. They spent their lives laboring in the vineyard of the Lord despite tedium or hostility. That’s our task as well. Some of us may suffer martyrdom. Some of us may be persecuted in other ways. This is not something new to the history of the Catholic Church. But we need to stop pointing fingers at others in blame. We need to stop expecting others to do the task. We need to pray to be shown our own task, and then carry it out—in communion with the Pope and bishops to go out to the whole world preaching the good news (Matthew 28:18-20)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Don't Panic

Don t panic

The situation of the religious freedom in America is certainly as bleak as it has ever been in our history. The three branches of government take it as a given that they have the authority to rule on matters that involve religious obligation and to dictate to believers which of their beliefs are valid and which are not. The general trend here is to force religion out of the public square under the assumption that anything with a religious motivation cannot be used to set policy. (That’s the Genetic fallacy by the way). Between the government and the influential shapers of public opinion, people are being led to the view that unpopular religious teaching is based on intolerance (poisoning the well fallacy) and any religious opposition to an issue is portrayed as the equivalent of the racist opposition to civil rights in the 1960s (false analogy fallacy).

The result is, we are now in a situation where religion can be restricted outside of the most narrow redefinitions. The rights of people who profess belief in the Christian moral teachings and the institutions or businesses they establish is denied on the grounds that their belief is merely a repugnant intolerance (Begging the Question fallacy). We could soon see an even more overt attack where Christian individuals and institutions affiliated with churches have no right to refuse to do something their religious beliefs condemn, and thus suffer lawsuits, fines and prosecutions. It’s the kind of behavior we hitherto associated with Communist governments and long said “It can’t happen here—our Constitution prevents it."

The world may end up unjustly oppressing the Church in ways we can’t even guess at right now (Who would have thought, eight years ago, we’d be where we are today?), and individuals need to consider the strong possibility that persecution will afflict them personally, as opposed to something that only happens to people far away. But, as bleak as things are, we must avoid the attitudes of panicking and assuming that the world will defeat the Church. We must certainly avoid the attitude of “if only the bishops had done something, this wouldn’t have happened!” (Hypothesis contrary to fact fallacy).

(Don’t Act Like This)

We Christians may end up losing this battle. But God will win this war. The thing to remember is that if the government here decides to interfere with our seeking to be true to Our Lord, this is not a defeat for God. This has happened before, when persecutions lasted hundreds of years. Reading Butler’s unabridged Lives of the Saints, shows us the persecutions of the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire, Islam and Reformation England where being a member of the Church was a punishable offense—often by death. There are many records of saints who were unjustly hauled before the courts and given the choice between going along with the unjust demands of the state and suffering for putting God first.

We, individually, cannot change the state. All we can do is to bear witness to our faith in God, and show we would rather suffer evil at the hands of men than do evil in the sight of God. Tertullian once said The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians. When we show our determination to follow God, and show love for those who hate us, God uses that to bring more people of good will to Him.

So while we may be angry at the injustices done to us and the slanders directed against what we believe, we must make sure that how we live in Christ bears witness. We cannot hate our persecutors. Our task is to love and to continue to teach the world of Christ—even when the world hates and persecutes us for it.

So let us continue to pray for the conversion of our nation, and pray that we may live as God calls us, regardless of what may come. Let us continue to bear witness so people may see the love of Christ in us.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years 2013: Let's Be Prepared

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. (1 Peter 5:8-10)

It is safe to say that Christianity is being treated as a hated minority by the political and media elites, regardless of what the majority of the population might think.  Whether the majority agrees or disagrees, it is this elite that calls the shots and says what is. 

If the population chooses to believe the slander of the elites, the elites will be able to make use of this support to justify whatever actions they want to carry out against Christians.  If the population does not, the elites will be able to employ the law to harm us, but will have to work harder to give a semblance of legality for their actions.

Let's be prepared.  America is at the point where real persecution against Christians can be expected.  In the name of the popular ideology, we have been declared hate filled people who make our teachings on the basis of hatred of our neighbors – a charge the Romans made against the Christians in the first centuries of its existence.

Christians can only counter the slander/libel of the charges against them by reasoned argument as to why the attacks against them are false and unjust.  We can expect to be shouted down of course.  We can expect to have our teachings distorted.  We can expect to have our explanations ignored.  All we can hope to do is reach out to the person of good will who might be observing what we have to say.

We can expect this because it is already happening.  Our elites attempt to force Christians to change their beliefs, and accuse us of being ignorant and intolerant because we believe the Christian teaching is reasonable and worthy of our trust.  As they grow in power, they can be more direct in their actions.

So we have to be prepared.

But our preparation is not to find bunkers, load up with guns and launch a revolution, or to hide away if America collapses.  As Christians, we know the truth of reality.  God exists.  Jesus Christ died to save us, He rose again and we are required to respond in faith to bring the Good News to the world until He returns.

That requires us to be in the streets, not in the bunkers.  That requires us to try to bring the truth to those who hate us.  It also requires us to refuse to bend when they demand we bow the knee to the altars of the secular.  A time may come when armed revolution may have to to be waged.  A time may come where we need to practice self-defense.  But that time may also not come.

The history of our Church is filled with martyrs who met the hatred towards Christ with love, recognizing that these persecutors are our brothers and sought to bring the Good News of Christ to them, letting them know that God loves every one of us, but also calls every one of us to repent.  This is not a duty for men and women dead for hundreds of years.  It is a duty of every person who professes to be a Christian.

We must be prepared.  Not for armed conflict with hostile human beings over the political direction of our nation, but for conflict over the souls of our people who are deceived to believe that God only suggests we all be "nice" to each other.  Every one of us, by our lives, are to be a witness for Christ.  Some of us may be called to be a witness for Christ by our deaths.  We have to be prepared for that too.

Finally, we must be prepared for battle for our own souls.  Throughout the history of Christianity, there have been people who weakened and compromised their faith and their witness.  Yet Christ has warned us in Matthew 16:25-26 that:

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?

We can expect to be hated, because He was hated and no servant is greater than His master (see John 15:18-20).

In fear of the hatred any one of us can falter.  When you have angry people screaming vile hatred at you – ironically condemning you as someone hates and judges others – it is easier to stay silent, easier to compromise, to stall.  it is easier, but it is also forbidden to us.  If we love Christ, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15) and one of His commandment is:

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

We must remember that to be strong Christians we must realize we are weak.  We must remember that we work with Christ and not on our own.  We must pray daily that whatever trials and challenges may be sent our way, that we may be given the grace to persevere and to live as Christ calls us to live, and maybe even to die as He calls us to die.