Catholicism Crisis: The Immigration Debate

I’m having a Catholicism Crisis. What is a Catholicism Crisis? I define it as being torn between what the Catholic Church teaches and what I believe. At one time my whole life was a Catholicism Crisis, after all, I came from that post-Vatican II era when catechizing was almost non-existent and attitudes about many Catholic teachings began to change. Continue reading “Catholicism Crisis: The Immigration Debate”

Thou Shall Not Censure

In my last post, I talked about the “Lost Books of the Bible“. I briefly mentioned that there were many theories regarding why these books were left out of the accepted Bible. Most of these theories seem to point out to a specific agenda of the early Christians to make the bible say what they want it to say. This may or may not be the case, but some of those same critics are doing the same thing today. Continue reading “Thou Shall Not Censure”

Are the Animals Lining Up

As I am sitting here listening to the rain tattooing the roof of the building I am in I am wondering if  this will be going on for another 39 days. Of course, I know that God promised Noah that it wouldn’t happen again, but could he change His mind? No, because he doesn’t renege on His promises.

I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. – Genesis 9:11

Now that isn’t to say that the end isn’t going to come some other way, in fact, we can pretty much count on it. When it will come we
do not, nor will we ever know, but it will come. Which is another reason to live each day as if it will be our last, always keeping the end goal in mind. What is that end goal? Come on, you know, I’ve told you before. Anyone? The end goal is to do whatever we can to get us to heaven so we can spend eternity with the Lord.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;  and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. – John 10:27-28

Follow Him and receive eternal life. What a deal.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore. – Psalm 121:8

Life is what you make it. About five or six years ago I was diagnosed with fibro
myalgia. It basically drains the life out of you. (Yes, you can buy my book here). I decided I had two choices, I could be miserable and let it beat me, or I could go on living and beat it. I beat it. It is the same with anything we do. We can wake up and decide we will have a good day or a bad day, it is our choice. We can decide if we are going to live as a good Catholic and Christian or if we will follow Satan. In other words, we can choose to live with the end goal in mind or not.

You Just Never Know

First I must apologize for yesterday’s post. In reviewing it today i realized there were numerous typo’s. This is what happens when you are rushing to get the post done.

Today’s gospel is Matthew 25: 31 – 46. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” We never know when Jesus will be standing before us. We never know if that is him standing on a street corner and begging for spare change. We never know if that is him over there struggling to change a flat tire. We never know if that is him asking us for directions. We never know and we never take the time to even fleetingly think it might be.

We may never know but when it comes time to separate the sheep from the goats, the shepherd will know.

Can you give to every pan handler? Can you help everyone in need? Of course not, but let me ask you this – do you even bother to wonder? Do you at least pause or do you just keep walking or driving, going about your business? Do you even see or does it all just blend into the landscape? Is there so much (okay you know what’s coming) noise that you don’t even see?

So that brings up this question: Obviously you can’t help every beggar you see. There are some pan handlers out there who are probably making more money than you or I are, they are just scammers. I remember on in particular who used to stand on a corner in Harvard Square in Cambridge. One afternoon I saw her packing up her cardboard sign and other goodies into a shiny new BMW. I am pretty sure she wasn’t living in the beamer. So how can you tell? How do you know which one might be Jesus?

This brings up another interesting, almost related thought. I was listening to a Catholic talk radio show this morning and the host was discussing a new movie called “The Shack”. Since I was only half listening I am not quite sure what the discussion was about except for one thing I caught. Evidently God appears to the main character in several different human forms. One was as a old black woman and another was as a Muslim I believe. There seems to be some controversy among Catholics about this since this is not how God is generally pictured. What do you think about this? What do you think God looks like? Can not God manifest in any shape or form he wishes to? Read today’s gospel reading again, it sounds like he is appearing in different forms to me.

As I said I really wasn’t paying full attention as to why people were upset about this, but I look at it like this, God can be anything he wants to be, or more accurately He can be “in” any form he wants to. I think of God as a being, definitely real but not necessarily something you can see or touch. I also think of Him as being in all things, in everything you see, touch and hear. I guess it’s hard to explain, but when you actually take the time to look, you’ll see God everywhere.

 

Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

Warning: We are about to get into some pretty deep theological discussion, well at least deep for me. As I wrote in my last post, my sister passed away last week and as one who has to analyze everything on different levels (maybe over analyze would be a better way to put it) I began thinking about Purgatory. As far as I know, I believe this is a uniquely Catholic belief.

Let me give you the textbook definition of Purgatory, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.  The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.

Basically we can look at Purgatory as being somewhere between Heaven and Hell, this is the place where our sins are washed away before we can get into Heaven. Of course in order to go to Purgatory, we have to profess our belief in God, even if it is on our deathbed. We have three choices of places to go after death:

  • We can go directly to Heaven
  • We can go directly to Hell
  • We can stop in Purgatory on the way to Heaven.

Once in Purgatory, we may stay there for awhile, but from what I have read and heard, we will eventually get to Heaven.

Alright, so what was I thinking about regarding Purgatory and my sister? Is it possible for us to be in Purgatory while we are still alive? As I had mentioned in my last post, my sister suffered from mental illness. For the last 35 years or so, her life (at least as I see it) wasn’t all that good. She suffered from Paranoid Schizophrenia, with all the attendant symptoms, delusions, hearing voices, paranoia. For the record, she wanted nothing to do with me for the last ten years, so I don’t have first hand knowledge of this, but I don’t imagine she was very happy or that her quality of life could have been all that good. Again, this is an assumption om my part.

Therefore, if this were in fact true, could this have been her Purgatory? If she were suffering, was this the suffering she needed to go through in order for her to get to Heaven? We as Catholics are taught that only Saints go directly to Heaven, everyone else has to go through Purgatory, but is it possible that my sister had her Purgatory while she was alive?

We always hear that God has a plan for all of us, and I believe that, but I wonder what His plan for my sister was? It wasn’t her fault she had this illness, yes, some of her actions may have contributed to it (a subject of debate between my siblings and I) but it certainly wasn’t something she chose. We all have the free will to sin or not sin, but we don’t have the choice on whether or not we suffer from mental illness.

I don’t know the answer for this, at least not yet, but I will continue looking into it. If anyone has any input, please feel free to leave a comment.

Some resources on Purgatory:

The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno (Penguin Classics)
The Seven Storey Mountain
The Biblical Basis For Purgatory

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