Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Day Jesus Jumped Out of My Mouth

Christmas Eve Liturgy, Christmas Day (actually December 26) Vespers, and most of today’s Sunday Liturgy, were very profound spiritual experiences. It has been a long time since I’ve felt consolations like I did today. I alternated between tears and joy, pain and ecstasy.

Then something happened. I’ve received Communion on the tongue so many times that I can’t even remember the last time I received by hand. I’ve received Communion in the Byzantine Rite (Ukrainian once and Melkite many times now) enough to know how it works. I’ve received sitting in the pew, and in various other awkward situations. Today, I came up, and it was like a wall formed across my mouth. I wasn’t sure what to do. The Host fell thankfully onto the cloth. I paused in confusion. Father picked it up and tried again.

Obviously, the “rational explanation” is that I had some kind of neurological issue, but why at that instant?

The thing was, I wasn’t aware of any mortal sin, and, like I say, I ahd been having a profound spiritual experience till that point, so Jesus was trying to send me a message. But what?

I often refer to the passage in St. Faustina’s diary where Jesus warns her about the time in Purgatory earned by a sinful thought. Then Father spoke in his homily today about how we all can be Herod. It kind of tied into my reflection on Judas from Christmas Day, in my previous post.

Last night, we watched the first part of The Greatest Story Ever Told. I was struck by something “Jesus” says in the film. Faith is about more than just an intellectual proposition: it’s about our trust in God’s promises. It’s also about our trustworthiness in God’s Eyes. When people say, “If you only had enough faith, ____,” they’re partially right. Faith isn’t just thinking “I believe God has the power to answer my prayers.” It’s being willing to literally go out on a limb for Him as Zacchaeus did. It’s being willing to give all we have like the widow.

So, tonight, I had briefly entertained some bad thoughts, and my daughter told me the dog needed to go out, so I had to take the dog out. A series of misadventures later, and I was outside for a half house. At one point, I thought maybe *this* was tied into the message God was sending, and I had the above thought process.

I believe, Lord! Help my unbelief!

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How will we be remembered?

One of my favorite lines in Jesus Christ Superstar is in “Pilate’s Dream,” where Pilate says, “then I saw thousands of millions, crying for this Man.  And then I heard them mentioning my name–and leaving me the blame.”
In Bread in the Wilderness, Thomas Merton observes how God even glorifies those who don’t deserve it, asking who would remember “Sihon, King of the Amorites and Og, the King of Bashan,” if they hadn’t been destroyed by Israel?  By being mentioned in the Psalms (135:11 and 136:20), they get mentioned more frequently than many “great conquerors.”
I thought about both these observations at Christmas liturgy at St. Ignatios in Augusta this past evening.  Look at the Ikon of the Last Supper.  I was struck by the figure of Judas, leaving with his back turned to Jesus, colored in grey clothes where the others are brightly robed.  His eyes are smaller.  His skin is grayish.  There, amidst however many images of Our Lord, 2 of Our Lady, John the Baptist, Anges, the Apostles, the Major and Minor Prophets, and the parish patron Saint, is the Betrayer.  Like Sihon, Og and Pilate, in spite of his dubious status in God’s eternal memory, Judas has earned everlasting mention in the liturgy by his act of unspeakable evil.
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Each of us from time to time can be a Sihon or an Og, impeding the progress of God’s people; each of us can be a Pilate, using moral subjectivism, doubt and peer pressure as excuses to ignore the Truth and condemn Jesus by our sins; and each of us can be a Judas, betraying Our Lord with a kiss, as the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom reminds us every week. To die unrepentant, without the Sacraments, is to risk sharing in their infamy. Merely being in God’s presence does not guarantee us salvation any more than it did Judas or Pilate.

I want to talk about Star Wars Theories

Not about spoilers for Episode VII: The Force Awakens, mind you: the theories themselves, their existence.

It now seems a long time ago (for some of us, it was) that Disney bought LucasFilm  and announced not only a new “trilogy,” but a set of tied in one-off films in the manner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so there will be at least one Star Wars movie a year for the foreseeable future.

Even before that, though, Star Wars was, of course, a very popular topic online, generally of course why the “original trilogy” was good, why Empire Strikes Back was great, why the prequel trilogy was bad, or else how the original trilogy has some weaknesses and the prequels have strength.

A common theme that shows up is that the “Dark Side” of the Force are actually the good guys.  The prequels show the Republic and its Jedi secret police to be corrupt and incompetent.  The Empire just wants to bring order and governance.  The destruction of Alderaan was, in the galactic perspective, a legitimate military target.
The Rebellion wants to restore the chaos.

More importantly, Yoda, the “oldest and wisest of the Jedi” allows a Sith Lord to not only escape his notice but to work closely with him for *years* without getting a hint.  Yoda and Obi-wan are a couple of  liars who deceive Luke about his father *and* his sister (spoiler alert!).   Almost everything Obi-wan says in the “first” movie is revealed to be a lie by the end of Return of the Jedi and definitely by the end of Revenge of the Sith:
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Are these moral ambiguities merely plot holes?

Or is there a deeper problem with the series’ Gnosticism?

C. S. Lewis, after St. Augustine and many others, argues that the inherent flaw of a Dualistic worldview is that we’re told that “good” and “evil” are equal, opposing forces, and there’s no reason to say, “this side is good” and “this side is bad,” other than subjective perspective.

The same Obi-Wan Kenobi who described Vader as “Twisted and evil” earlier told Vader, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes” (itself one of the statements used in evidence against the Jedi as the “good guys”).

On the other hand, when Darth Tyrannus is talking to Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones, he is telling the truth: the Republic is under the control of a Sith Lord; the Republic is riddled with corruption.

Many Star Wars fans argue that the terms “good” and “evil” should not be applied, that it’s “light” and “dark,” because the Force is not even dualistic: there is one Force, not a “Good Force” and a “Bad Force”; just one Force with two sides.  The Force can be accessed using different emotions, like the Lanterns in the DC universe.  The “light” side uses emotions generally considered “positive,” and the “dark” side is fueled by anger, revenge, hate, etc.

Watching The Force Awakens, while I enjoyed it and believe it has many strengths, I tended to agree with the L’Osservatore Romano review that evil is not clear in the film.  It’s kind of gloomy and pessimistic–which makes sense in a movie that’s supposed to be the inversion of “A New Hope,” but there’s also an even greater sense of that lack of clear lines of what is good and what is evil, because the characters lack a clear motivation or guideline.

The “Force” does not give moral laws; it just gives powers.  In real life, this is the problem of a dualistic worldview.  As soon as you say, “That is evil,” unless you mean it as, “I find that unpleasant,” you’re really saying there has to be one God who tells us what is evil.

Devotions to the Infant of Prague

Devotions to the Divine Infant Jesus

St. Wenceslas, pray for us

St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us

Infant

Pray and fast. And Fast.

When a mass shooter professes atheism or devil worship, posts anti-Christian and pro-abortion screeds online, considers himself a Democrat, etc., the media blame guns. If he’s Muslim, they blame guns and his victims, or say “workplace violence.” If he’s supposedly Christian, anti-abortion, and/or conservative, they blame Christians, abortion opponents and/or conservatives for “hate speech.”

What do all these inconsistent attributions have in common?

They never blame the evil in men’s hearts. They never blame the shooter himself (or herself) for just intending evil.

Why?

The foundation of liberalism (in all its forms) is the denial of original sin, promulgated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  For almost 400 years, people have been soaking in Rousseau’s teaching that people are born good and corrupted by society–without any real explanation of where corruption, then, comes from–that by giving people more education, more money, more this, more that, reforming this institution and getting rid of that one, somehow they can come up with the right formula for “curing” evil.

“We can end terrorism by doing X”
“We can prevent war by Y”

If a behavior, particularly a sexual behavior, *does* seem inborn and not learned, then the liberal insists that behavior must not be wrong.

Russell Kirk sees this as one of the basic lines of demarcation between what constitutions a “conservative” or a “liberal”: whether one believes in some form of “original sin” or one believes in Rousseau’s teaching that evil is learned.

Recently, I learned some background on Rousseau I’d never heard before by watching this Fulton Sheen rerun on EWTN:

When I did the VIRTUS training, something struck me: in the video about sexual predators, the “experts,” psychologists, law enforcement people, and most notably, the clergy, talked about psychology and “reasons” why they thought pedophiles hurt children.  Nobody mentioned the Devil.  The only ones who actually talked about evil were the convicted child molestors they interviewed: “People try to say this is about love.  It isn’t,” they said.  “I wanted to do evil.  I wanted to hurt these children.”

When I was in school, I forget whether it was the nondenominational school I attended in 6th grade or the Catholic high school, I remember a video featuring a former Satanist who said he set out to break every commandment in the worst way possible to gain admittance into a coven and gain magical powers.  An imprisoned would-be school shooter claims he was going to do it because he’s a Satanist, and that he had posted about it on a message board, that Satanists rank themselves and seem power from the Devil by murder.  Supposedly at least one of the recent shooters was involved in such a group.

Yet if you talk about the Devil, people claim you’re making excuses, when they’ll gladly blame guns or just about any other external “cause” than the person’s evil intent or demonic influence.

Pray and fast, and fast.