Sunday, April 08, 2007

Something Strange is Happening

Bona Pascha!

One of the things that the theology of the body affords us is understanding how to untwist the lies. So often human desire is built upon lies, yet the desires still lead to the good. This is so true of the many sexual sins that scourge our world today. People are searching for what they believe to be good, unfortunately, they're looking in all the wrong places. Our job is then to right the wrongs and fix the errors.

It's a blessing that we have the theology of the body to do just this. We can learn so much from looking at sin today in finding examples of people trying to fulfill their desire for union with another. So let us not forget that when dealing with others, to build off their desires and help them right the wrong. Let us help them understand what their desires are really indicating - a desire for union with the Divine, with Jesus Christ.

I know that this is a day late, but here is a homily from the early Church for Holy Saturday from the Office of Readings about Christ untwisting the faults of Adam. Enjoy:

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had
won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: "My Lord be with you all". Christ answered him: "And with your spirit". He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light".

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person a
nd we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

She said, "Yes"

She said, "Yes."

After a year long process, with a few months of in depth searching for the best possible way to ask, I just got word that I will become a Dominican this summer.

Holy Mother Church has said yes to my proposition for marriage, and man, it's amazing to think that someday, I could be wed to that which is perfect.

We can see in the life of the religious a great chance at becoming holy. We can also see a great chance to become one with the spouse and to experience a foretaste of the reality of heaven while here on earth. This is amazing.

The celibate is called to make heaven present on earth. He or she is to a sign to the world of what heaven is really about - that union with the Triune God in the eternal Beatific Vision.

Unfortunately, there is often such a bad rap about giving yourself totally to Christ and the Church the way a celibate does. But, it is just that, unfortunate that people think that way! If the celibate life is lived well, then there should be nothing unfortunate about this total surrender of everything for the spouse. Rather, we should pray that celibates live the best life he or she can and so that the only thing that the only reason while they are regarded as eccentric or strange is because their lives are a contradiction to the world.

Pray for the celibates around the world, that through their witness, they may show the world what heaven is all about.

Friday, February 23, 2007

"Fuistre polvo, polvo eres"

These words at the dispensation of ashes ("Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return"), two days ago, help bring us round course back to what out time on earth really means. These words help us to recognize that what time we have on earth is really a gift from the Lord, and that soon, we will, God-willing, enter into that eternal communion of love that is the Beatific Vision.

Being that I work at a funeral home, I often see some interesting things. Yesterday, I saw one of the most amazing (the other being the eighteen week old stillborn) things yet. I picked up the body of a deceased fellow from the hospital, and when the mortician began the embalming process, we noticed that the body had ashes on his forehead. He had died the day before, Ash Wednesday, and we got to see this visible witness of those wonderful words, "Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return."

This man had heard the words earlier that day and then fulfilled their promise a few hours later. God-willing, he had followed the advice of Christ and repented and believed the Good News (cf. Mark 1:15).

But, where am I going with all this? Like I said before, the time we spend on earth is a gift from the Lord. This man's witness truly attests to that, and it visibly shows a reality that we might not understand otherwise. The words on Ash Wednesday are meant to really convey in us a sense of awe and wonder at God's omnipotence. They are meant to bring about a conversion in our hearts so that when we pass from this earthly life to a heavenly one, we will do just that and not go down to the netherworld. Our passing could come at any time, that's what the words tell us. That's what this man's story shows us. But, while we're living, we must remember that we are not here of our own accord but because the Lord willed us into existence.

Our whole creation is based on the outpouring of the love of the Lord. He created us because He wanted to share his love. He didn't need to, but He wanted to. He wanted to bring others to understand what love was. Pope Benedict XVI's first Encyclical is titled "Deus Caritas Est" - "God is love." This love that is God is a communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, our creation is meant to share in that love. In other words, our existence is a gift from the heavenly Father.

When we remember those words throughout this Lent, let us remember what they are trying to convey. We have existence as a gift from God. Let's offer that gift back to the Father. Our lives are not our's to choose whatever we want (not to say that we don't have free will), but rather they are a gift from God, and we should live with such a mindset. Let us live lives of thanksgiving to the Triune God, in which we offer all we can back to the Father in repentence of our sins and in thanksgiving for the gift of life.


Friday, February 09, 2007

The Offering of a Lifetime

"Our task and joy is to offer ourselves to him, who offers himself for us, by offering ourselves to others."

The Homily given at the Dominican House of Studies for the Presentation of the Lord has now been put online. As you get further and further into it, you begin to see more and more ideals of the TOB seeping into Fr. Lawrence's words. I hope you enjoy it.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

TOB and Honesty

This talk might as well be titled "Honesty and the Theology of the Body." I hope you enjoy it.

“Witness to the Truth: Heroic Christian Honesty”


The Infamous Inverse Clothing Law

I hope that I don't scandalize anyone by this post (that's always a great way to start a blog entry). So in light of that, I must preface the main topic with a key point of the Theology of the Body.

Pope John Paul II talks at length about a correct understanding of human sexuality. So, in light of women, they should act like women. They should also dress like women. They should dress modestly, which means to dress in that you're showing that you're a woman, but at the same time, you're not revealing too much. Be proud of the beauty of the way that your body is created but keep it precious and don't reveal it. In other words, modest dress for a woman lies somewhere in between wearing tight clothes that cover everything but reveal all a woman's curves and the clothes that a muslim woman would wear that are so loose that you wouldn't even be able to tell that she's a woman from behind were it not for her headress. Modesty is modesty, not an extreme.

In light of that and the idea that you should read the whole entry before jumping to any weird conclusions, let me get to the main topic.

Lately, my roommates have been discussing the "Inverse Ninja Law," which basically states that the more opponents a ninja fights, the more chances he has of winning. If he only fights one opponent though, it is extremely hard for him to win. While one of these said discussions was ensuing, these same roommates were watching the Kung Fu channel, and a movie came on with a martial arts tournament. In one of the first rounds, a woman entered the ring wearing the traditional kung fu outfit, which is pretty modest, especially for active wear clothing. My one roommate commented how she was sure to lose because she was wearing too much clothing. We thought, that's silly, but sure enough, she lost right away. Soon after there was another fight where one of the competitors was a woman wearing much less clothing, and my roommate said that she would definitely win because of the "Inverse Clothing Law," which states that a woman who has less clothing is more powerful than a woman with all her clothing. Yet, if a woman has no clothing, then she has no power and is extremely vulnerable. Sure enough, the woman clearly won the battle as well as her next three.

This thought is found in many movies and video games of today and is very interesting because when we apply it to modern culture, it also bears a truth that is extremely disturbing and simultaneously degrading to women.

Basically, what we can learn and find proof of in the way women we see walking around the city dress is that when they wear less clothing, men often show them more attention. Thus, a woman feels more empowered. So often you'll see very wealthy young women wearing extremely short skirts and very low cut tops when it's warm outside (and on weekend nights, even when it's cold). Because of the lustful attention that men show them, they often feel more in control. They feel like there is a good chance that they will be able to steal the show. And unfortunately, but it is true, we can see something here. Women are looking for someone to love them. They're looking for security and support. Society, rather than looking for love in God, has taken this desire and distorted it. Rather, the devil has taken this legitimate desire for communion and twisted it so that women look for love in all the wrong places. And because they legitimately seek love so much, they think that no matter how they are going to get it, it's alright.

Unfortunately, we then see the last part of the "Inverse Clothing Law" play into affect. When a woman has no clothes, she is extremely vulnerable. After a woman has found what she thinks is a fulfillment of her desire for communion with another, she often finds herself as an object of man's lust. She finds herself degraded. She finds herself used and vulnerable. It is the time when she is naked after seeking the power, that she is really naked before God and seeking to find fig leaves to cover herself. It is in this moment, when woman is most fragile that she needs the most help. Unfortunately, society tells her otherwise.

In light of all this, what can we do? What can we as members of the Body of Christ, do to aid our bruised and beaten sisters who have fallen prey to the devil and his lies? First, we can try to restore a true understanding of womanhood. We can use the Blessed Virgin as our prime example. The picture to the right is a wonderful example of what it means to be woman. Mary shows us so profoundly and humbly that the gift of self will weild the greatest power in a world that is so self-centered. We can see in the Blessed Mother that continuous drive to give of herself and come into a relationship with God and with others. She shows us what it means to give ourselves through the nuptiality of our bodies and so live out the meaning of our existence. That's what this whole clothing thing is about.

Mary is clothed with the sun. The glorified bodies of the saints in heaven will yield great power through their gift of clarity (seeing into the reality of the person interiorly just by looking at their eyes - in a way they're naked, but more in the sense that Adam and Eve were pre-fall). The truth is that nakedness is not shameful. Unfortunately, the nakedness that society proclaims is not a nakedness like Adam and Eve experienced before the fall, but rather afterward. Women are looking back to get back to what it was before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit. But, they're going about it all wrong. Instead of wearing less clothes to find love, they should find love through a gift of self. They should reveal themselves in a true sense of intimacy - in to me see. We should all focus on understanding the human person. Only in that way will we be able to see the true beauty of the human body and not be scandalized by our lustful thoughts and not fall into the trap of seeking love in all the wrong places.

Let us put on the shield of the Immaculate Conception and so seek union and communion with God and the Church.


Friday, January 12, 2007

"Man and Woman, Created to be Worshippers"

This is a link to a lecture that was given at the Dominican House of Studies in DC last night on "Man and Woman, Created to be Worshippers." The whole video is online.

Enjoy. Notice that it outlined in a similar way to the original breakdown of the TOB.

You can check out more posts from the Dominicans here.


Union and Communion, PT I

This is another four part posting from St. Catherine of Siena's Dialogue (also from, A Treatise of Discretion). This has the same format as the last set of posts:

"And they have a special participation with those whom they closey loved with particular affection in the world, with which affection they grew in grace, increasing virtue, and the one was the occasion to the other of manifesting the glory and praise of My name, in themselves and in their neighbor; and, in the life everlasting, they have not lost their love, but have it still, participating closely, with more abundance, the one with the other, their love being added to the universal good, and I would not that thou shouldest think that they have this particular good, of which I have told thee, for themselves alone, for it is not so, but it is shared by all proved citizens, My beloved sons."


St. Catherine's Vision of the Eschaton, PT IV

The second half of the quote ties very nicely in with the first half.

St. Catherine goes from talking about the soul bringing joy to the body, but here she mentions what will happen. The body will pass through walls? Is that part of the glorified body? While it's really cool, and while it'll be great to be neither injured by fire or water, we must look at something else here.

In this passage St. Catherine mentions that these graces come from Grace Incarnate. It is through Christ that the body can be glorified. There is nothing that we can do on earth, apart from Christ, that will aid us in walking through walls. It is a mystery, although a very cool one, to think that one day we could be able to do that. But, it is even more interesting to think about how grace could make this happen.

When we think of the Transfiguration, we must wonder what the amazing reality of grace occurred that Sts. Peter, James, and John were able to behold the glorified Christ. It is simply amazing. They were able to see firsthand what the Final Resurrection would bring. And even more amazing, they probably remembered that event at their deaths, holding great joy in what was to come.

This grace so affected the soul, that it led St. Peter to be crucified upside down. It led him to his Calvary to "share in the sufferings of Christ." Grace affects the lives of saints and helps bring about amazing miracles: St. Joseph Cupertino's elevation at the consecration, St. Gerard's instant conflagration, St. Teresa of Avila's ecstasy, St. Catherine of Siena's wedding ring from Christ, St. Pio's bilocation to save an Italian city, St. Paul's conversion, St. Therese's purity, and the Blessed Mother's life in and of itself. All of these, whether showy miracles or not are examples of grace affecting the body of a person, whether it is through miraculous external or internal instances.

Grace has the power to convert the greatest sinner. Grace has the power to actuate the glorification of the body. We must contemplate this great thought. Grace can actually alter the physical nature of things. That is amazing. Christ is Grace Incarnate. We can see that through the Transfiguration, where Grace was shown Incarnate. We will hopefully all experience this too in the Eschaton.

What an amazing thing to be Catholic.

Finally, if you noticed that there was a section missing from the second half, I took it out because it is a great prayer. This is what St. Catherine says:

"The eye of the intellect is not sufficient to see, nor the ear to hear, nor thy tongue to tell of the good of the Blessed. Oh, how much delight they have in seeing [God], who is every good!"


St. Catherine's Vision of the Eschaton, PT III

Here is the second half of the quote:

"For, as the soul is made immortal, stayed and established in Me, so the body in that union becomes immortal, and, having lost heaviness, is made fine and light. Wherefore, know that the glorified body can pass through a wall, and that neither water nor fire can injure it, not by virtue of itself, but by virtue of the soul, which virtue is of Me, given to her by grace, and by the ineffable love with which I created her in My image and likeness...Oh, how much delight they will have in being with the glorified body, though, not having that delight from now to the general Judgment, they have not, on that account, pain, because no bliss is lacking to them, the soul being satisfied in herself, and, as I have told thee, the body will participate in this bliss."


St. Catherine's Vision of the Eschaton, PT II

We can find great wisdom in this amazing quote. Now, at the same time, we must not think that St. Catherine is in any way saying the body isn't good. Rather, she's arguing that beacuse of the soul, the body has meaning.

At first glimpse, this might seem to contradict JPII's assesment, that the body creates a theology of its own. Afterall, he does say, "At the Incarnation, the body entered theology through the main door." Over and over again, he mentions that the body creates and reveals a theology. "The body, and only the body, can make visible the invisible, the spiritual and the divine" (new translation). This might make one person think that it might be the other way around: the body gives reason for the soul to exist.

That would be wrong. We can look to death to find the reason why. At death, the body and soul are separated. The soul leaves the body, and longs for the return of the body at the Final Resurrection, as St. Catherine states. Yet, the body does present a theology, nonetheless. What we must understand though, is that while the body presents a theology and makes visible the invisible, it only does so because of the presence of the soul.

Angels are spiritual beings with no bodies. They are beautiful in the eyes of God. Up until the Resurrection, they were held higher than sinful man. Yet, thanks to the Word made flesh, the body is given a new dignity, and glorified man is held higher than the angels. If it isn't so, then Christ must've been confused since he came as a man. The Incarnation alters all of history. It affects all of creation, especially the crowning joy - man. Thanks to the Incarnation, "the body enters theology through the main door." It is the Word being made into flesh that does this. It is the soul that gives joy to the body. Not the other way around. While our bodily actions do affect the state of our souls, i.e. virtuous acts or sinful ones, it is the state of the soul that directly affects the state of our body. If our soul leaves our bodies, we die. That's what happens at death (I guess that "Death and the Theology of the Body" could be a post in and of itself). Yet, we must remember that the body and soul are so intricately intertwined that as St. Catherine says, "The soul will give of her abundance, and will re-clothe herself on the Last Day of Judgment, in the garments of her own flesh."

This will bring great joy to heaven.


St. Catherine's Vision of the Eschaton, PT I

This is the first of a four part posting on St. Catherine of Siena's Description of the Eschaton from The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena (A Treatise of Discertion). The first part is a quote, the second is the explanation of that quote, the third is the second half of the quote, and the fourth is the explanation of that half. Enjoy part i :

"They [the just] have a desire too, to regain the gifts of their body, but this desire does not afflict them, as they do not actually feel it, but they rejoice in tasting the desire, from the certainty they feel of having it fulfilled. Their desire does not afflict them, because, though they have it not yet fulfilled, no bliss is therby lacking in them. Wherefore they feel not the pain of desire. And think not, that the bliss of the body after the resurrection gives more bliss to the soul, for, if this were so, it would follow that, until they had the body, they had imperfect bliss, which cannot be, because no perfection is lacking to them. So it is not the body that gives bliss to the soul, but the soul will give bliss to the body, because the soul will give of her abundance, and will re-clothe herself on the Last Day of Judgment, in the garments of her own flesh which she had quitted."


Monday, January 08, 2007

On the Baptism of the Lord

In today's Office of Readings, we read:

"He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water...Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him." (From a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus)

Here, we are given an interesting thought. Christ sanctifying the world, not just humanity? When we think about it, original sin was such a disorder to God's creation that it affected all of creation. Man's sin altered the creation of God, and thus God had to alter it back to its original state.

In the Baptism of the Lord, we see that. Just as the Easter cander is dunked into the Holy Water font at the Easter Vigil, so too is Christ sent into the waters of the Jordan to sanctify them for all of time and eternity. Christ's salvation was so great that it affected all of creation in some way or another.

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