Joy in Chateau

Posted April 30, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Faith, Catholicism

Happy Sunday dear friends!

I wanted to take a little break from my Biblical journey to talk about Laurence and Gilbert Pierre and their ministry.  Laurence and Gilbert are a wonderful Haitian couple who were led by the Holy Spirit to start a summer camp for children in Laurence’s home town of Chateau.  The Haitians are an amazing inspiration to me: they respond to grinding poverty, hurricanes, earthquakes, and a corrupt government with astonishing resilience and persistent inner peace and joy.  In our country we tend to respond to our overwhelming problems – like only getting one bar on our smartphone – by shaking our fists at God.  I encourage you to check out their web site: https://joyinchateau.org/.

God bless!

2 Maccabees 10-12; 2 Corinthians 4

Posted April 25, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Catholicism, Faith

2 Maccabees 12:38-46 Judas rallied his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was approaching, they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath there. On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his companions went to gather up the bodies of the fallen and bury them with their kindred in their ancestral tombs. But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had fallen. They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden. Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.

This is one Scripture Catholic apologists point to when Protestants say (I admit to being a little burned out on “our Protestant brothers and sisters” or “our separated brothers and sisters”.  Just say “Protestants”, it’s inclusive…am I wrong here?) that Purgatory is not biblical.  In 2 Maccabees, we see that its roots are in Judaism.  Most of us who die in friendship with Christ are nonetheless unperfected; e.g. I’m still a little disgruntled about all the times my wife made me change my shirt because it clashed with my pants, and I need to get over that.  The concept of purgation after death did not originate with the Church’s oppressive white male patriarchy…just sayin’.

2 Maccabees 7-9; 2 Corinthians 3

Posted April 20, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Catholicism, Faith

2 Maccabees 7-9:19-27 “To the worthy Jewish citizens, Antiochus, king and general, sends hearty greetings and best wishes for their health and prosperity. If you and your children are well and your affairs are going as you wish, I thank God very much, for my hopes are in heaven. Now that I am ill, I recall with affection your esteem and goodwill. On returning from the regions of Persia, I fell victim to a troublesome illness; so I thought it necessary to form plans for the general security of all. I do not despair about my health, since I have much hope of recovering from my illness. Nevertheless, I know that my father, whenever he went on campaigns in the hinterland, would name his successor, so that, if anything unexpected happened or any unwelcome news came, the people throughout the realm would know to whom the government had been entrusted, and so not be disturbed. I am also bearing in mind that the neighboring rulers, especially those on the borders of our kingdom, are on the watch for opportunities and waiting to see what will happen. I have therefore appointed as king my son Antiochus, whom I have often before entrusted and commended to most of you, when I made hurried visits to the outlying provinces. I have written to him what is written here. Therefore I beg and entreat each of you to remember the general and individual benefits you have received, and to continue to show goodwill toward me and my son. I am confident that, following my policy, he will treat you with equity and kindness in his relations with you.”

Thus is the last letter of Antiochus Epiphanes (Epiphanes “God Manifest”) to his subjects as he was dying a disgusting slow death – the being “eaten by worms” gastrointestinal illness – that seemed to be the fate often reserved for pitiless tyrants (e.g. Herod in Acts).  This letter is comedic in view of the the earlier chapters of 2 Maccabees where Antiochus was horrifically oppressive of the Jews; 2 Maccabees 7 the torments of the mother and her seven sons is part of the Advent word practicing Catholics are familiar with.  According to his Wikipedia page, Antiochus was called by some of his contemporaries “Epimanes” (“The Mad One”) a wordplay on “Epiphanes” because of his eccentric behavior and capricious actions – the Kim Jong Un of his day, it seems.  He was probably mocked in skits – they just called the show “Saturday Night” as everything was live then – with the 2nd century  B.C. version of Alec Baldwin doing his Antiochus impressions.  Funny stuff, until the guys with the swords and the sandals showed up.  I love 1 and 2 Maccabees: you’ll never see dramatizations of the books on the Hallmark Channel!

2 Maccabees 4-6; 2 Corinthians 2

Posted April 18, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Uncategorized

2 Maccabees 6:18-31 Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes, a man advanced in age and of noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork. But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement, he went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture, spitting out the meat as they should do who have the courage to reject food unlawful to taste even for love of life. Those in charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside, because of their long acquaintance with him, and privately urged him to bring his own provisions that he could legitimately eat, and only to pretend to eat the sacrificial meat prescribed by the king. Thus he would escape death, and be treated kindly because of his old friendship with them. But he made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood. Above all loyal to the holy laws given by God, he swiftly declared, “Send me to Hades!” “At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many of the young would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. If I dissemble to gain a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring defilement and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid human punishment, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hand of the Almighty. Therefore, by bravely giving up life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.” He spoke thus, and went immediately to the instrument of torture. Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed, now became hostile toward him because what he had said seemed to them utter madness. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned, saying: “The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him.” This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of nobility and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.

 Eleazar is one of the earliest models of martyrology, written to encourage God’s people in times of persecution.  If you are familiar with Saint Ignatius of Antioch, it is reminiscent of his martyrdom, how his Roman persecutors were almost embarrassed to take a dignified old man to his death, encouraging him to apostasize for decorum’s sake, but the great saint was cognizant of the importance of his example to young people and to all the faithful.  And the persecution goes on today, as it has for the last 2,000+ years.  And so does the inspiration. When ISIS was preparing to behead those Coptic Christian workers on the beach in Libya, one of their captives was a young non-Christian Ethiopian, whom they asked “What about you?”  His reply – as the Coptics prayed to Jesus – was “Their God is my God”, and he was beheaded too.  What an inspiration to us in this country who face soft persecution for our Christian beliefs!  May we all cling to Jesus, our one true unfailingly faithful friend in this life.

 

He is Risen

Posted April 16, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Catholicism, Faith

Hopefully the mortifications and devotions of Lent, and the resounding triumph of the Triduum made us all better Catholics, closer to the Sacred Heart of Christ.  I continually ponder the words of C. S. Lewis, that Christianity is either the most important thing in the universe or it’s not important at all – there is no in-between!  Who do you say that he is?  God bless!

2 Maccabees 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1

Posted April 9, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Catholicism, Faith

2 Corinthians 1:5-7 For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement.

As we approach the culmination of the liturgical year, a message of hope and encouragement from Saint Paul.  As I’ve become truly involved with different groups at my parish – and aging is undoubtedly a contributor too – I’ve come to know how suffering is a universal human experience, and when Jesus says “Take up your cross and follow me”, the suffering has meaning.  But while I can’t say to another person “I know how you feel” in recognition of their suffering, Jesus can because he underwent perhaps the most painful ordeal any human being has ever experienced.  Yes, he does know how you feel.  If you haven’t started, I encourage you to seek making him the truest friend in your life.

My “Top Ten” Mass Peeves

Posted April 2, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Catholicism, Faith, Humor

I’m going to take a side trip from my Biblical journey and wander about in the tall weeds to talk about my Mass pet peeves.  These are not necessarily in order from least to most peevish; some you’ll may go “Right on Shaft!” and others you may go “Get a grip bro.”  But keep in mind these are my peeves, not necessarily those of your Archbishop, although Pope Francis has probably said something in the back of a plane about them.

“Turn and greet and introduce yourself to those around you.” Not the stuff of which great human problems are made, but a Protestant-flavored attempt before the opening hymn to make everyone feel “welcome”. The Mass is a recreation of Christ’s Paschal sacrifice, where heaven meets earth, not a social event.  And I don’t necessarily relish shaking hands with little Billy right after he wiped his nose with his right hand during cold and flu season.

“Take a moment of silent prayer to prepare our hearts and minds for holy Mass.” This is one particular to my parish – which I love in so many ways – but it takes more than 5 seconds to prepare one’s heart and mind for holy Mass. Get your butt in the pew at least 10 minutes before Mass begins to do some serious praying and prepping.  Families with young children are excused: I laud you for getting there on time or close to it (I’ve been there).

Most of the hymns written after Vatican II, especially those written by Marty Haugen. “Gather Us In” (the lame and the stinky?) and “All Are Welcome” (Nazi Satanists too?) are Haugen classics of tonal and lyrical insipidity. Somehow blissful marijuana-fueled hippie-dom took over Catholic music.  I want songs of spiritual struggle, where you shoot Satan with a .44 and the like.  But that’s just me.

Priests who think they are Bob Hope or David Letterman. This takes the form of post-Communion stand-up where vacation slides of the parochial vicar laying on the beach are shown while the pastor does an engaging (he thinks) monologue. Father, in your spare time head out to open mike-night at the comedy club, but spare us at Mass.

Applause. I guess clapping for Bob and Sally after their two-minute post-announcements pitch for the WEDS ministry is OK – took a little courage to get up there. But clapping for musical performance – like a post-Communion Flugelhorn solo of “Ave Marie” – is never appropriate.  It’s Mass, not a concert.  Any music performed is not for human praise, but for the glory of God.

Showing words to songs and parts of the Mass people should know by heart like the Creed on the back wall of the sanctuary using a projector. I’m sorry, but I was taken to Shakey’s Pizza as a child several times, where they had guys in old timey dress playing the piano and the words to songs like “Down By the Old Mill Stream” projected on the wall so you could sing along. Blame this on Shakey’s Pizza.  My parish years later still has idiot cards in the pews: c’mon people, make some kind of minimal effort to learn the prayers.

Irreverent/casual communicants. Dudes and dudettes: you are about to take the body and blood, soul and divinity of the Creator of the Universe into your corpus. Don’t act like you are getting a flu shot or in line at the DMV.  Especially don’t wave at your friends or exchange pleasant banter as you process by their pew.

Recorded music. I experienced this recently at a Mass in Ohio during Communion. Creepy, and a violation of canon law.  Made me feel like I was at Applebee’s or something.

Homilists who require audience participation. (How many of you say grace AFTER meals? Put your hands up!)  Also homilists you just repeat the readings to you.  (We see that Abramafter being told by God to go to a distant land, does so without question.)  Dude, try to make some kind of connection with living life today, try to make me have a “V-8 moment”.  Deacons are especially egregious in this regard, probably because the diocese keeps them on a tight rein.  Occasionally one goes rogue elephant, snaps his tether and kills a coolie, and that’s always a pleasure.

Special appearances by Santa at Christmas Masses. One time the priest processed in dressed like Santa going “Ho! Ho! Ho!” I love priests, but keep in mind Father what Jesus said about scandalizing little ones and that millstone necktie.

Actually I have many more, but these are undoubtedly more reflective of my sinful shortcomings than the shortcomings of others.  I long to be present purified at the heavenly worship described in Revelation 4 and 5.  But that’s just me.  God shower His grace on us all!