My Fellow "Interesting" Catholics,
Comedian Mark Lowry once noted that to sum up the Christian life in one word, he'd say it was "interesting". An old curse (of dubious origin) wishes "may you live in interesting times", and Christians are living in very turbulent, sinful, choatic - read: interesting - times indeed. We live in a culture of sin and death, where absolutely nothing is absolute and the orthodoxy is the unorthodox. Today we can read about prayerful, devoted Christians who, together, are helping drive a spiritual coup-de-tat.
Yesterday was the feast of St. John Vianney, so let's begin with a biography of the Cure de Ars put together by Jean at Catholic Fire. I've heard it said that those most oppressed by the devil are confessors, and St. Vianney is a powerful example of what a weapon against sin and death the confessional really is. Bearing in mind the theme of the Gospel readings in recent weeks, St. John Vianney reminds us that "prayer is to our soul what rain is to the soil." If we are to be the seed sewn in good soil - part of the crop gathered to Christ at harvest time - we need prayer and forgiveness to help us!
Adoro te Devote offers advice on prayer this week, as well. We should remember always the instruction to "Be Still and Know that I am God". Julie reminds us of the meaning of words like "devotion", "adoration", and "contemplation".
Julie's advice applies to both spoken and sung prayer; music in church can be beautiful, especially when sung prayerfully and adoringly. Dan at Believe and Profess has clearly put al lot of care and talent into his draft of a chanted Sunday Vespers. Please try the draft out, or pass it along to those who can, and send feedback.
Sister Spitfire shares a lesson she learned that battleplans don't survive contact with the enemy. (Don't miss the ironic "Shhh" at the end, either; its entirely appropriate to the earlier reminder to "be still"!)
There are a number of battles raging right now - the small, quiet - yet critically important - battles of the domestic church; and the larger, public battles of the Church as a whole. The war for the lives of the unborn is just that - a war. (There is a reason members of both sides are sometimes labelled "militant".) A newcomer to Catholic blogging, The Political Housewyf, tells us why she can't not be pro-life. Christine, from A Catholic View, explains how the UNFPA's Annual Report Focuses on "Reproductive Health" (meaning abortion). In contrast, Marcel at Aggie Catholics notes that abstinence education works yet gets almost no (positive) press. Finally, on the subject of the family, Elena offers us part 6 of her series on How to Have a Domestic Church. She discusses the "contraceptive attitude" compared to the view of life as a gift (and challege) given us by God.
We Catholics often seem foolish to the rest of the world. Not even other Christians always understand the things we do (been accused of worshipping Mary lately?). We may seem fools to others, and we may even seem to be the villains at times, but that must not stop us from
sacficing. As St. Paul reminded the Corinthian's, we must be fools for Christ (1 Cor 4:10). Nathan Hutchinson provides a spoiler-free key to using The Dark Knight as an example of Christian sacrifice. At the HMS Blog, Kevin writes about the Eucharist, the value of our sufferings, and "Offering It Up".
The Eucharist itself has come under attack - this time by an atheist. I posted today how He is Still Pierced with Nails, and Hilary Flanery offers a poem about the desecration of the Host.
To battle those who would have "a world without rules" - where lives we don't value can simply be ended and God can be publicly desecrated, we must be well-armed and ready. Tim at Army of Martyrs reminds us just how critical it is to get the "Essentials of Faith" correct. Even if we look and sound foolish to most people, we will eventually be fools in heaven. Speaking of essentials... Evann at Homeschool Goodies suggests a number of Back to School links. Many of these - especially scripture study and prayer - are excellent review material for all of us. If you have not spent some time schooling yourself in your faith lately, visit a link and get started!
And in a beautiful contrast to this talk of wars and storms, Lee, in View from the Choir, gives us a very physical example of finding peace in the midst of it with "St. Padre Pio and Brother Bee".