Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"Do you also want to leave?" (John, 6;67)

What is your answer?
By Paul Dion, STL

Peter’s answer was another question, “ Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life . We have come to believe and we are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Do you have a question as an answer? Something like, “What about my civil marriage?”, “What about my divorce?”, “What about my previous drug use?”, What about my homosexuality?”, “What about my abortion?”, “What about my birth control practices in my marriage?”, What about the money I donate to the ‘embryonic stem-cell’ research lab?”, “What about my disobedience to the Church’s teachings about the sanctity of life?”, and finally, “Why should I listen to the Church when you, Lord are no longer here?”

I have been helping Catholics and Non-Catholics alike to come to grips with Christ’s challenge for several years.

I myself have been asked, “Why don’t you go to the Anglican church?”

My answer has always been, “I have my issues with the Pope, I don’t want to have any with the Queen.”

I have friends who have gone to Eastern churches of one practice or another and seem to have done well. A classmate of mine went to the Anglican Church and became a rather well-known preacher of retreats and teacher of theology.

Finally, I have friends who have left the Catholic Church for Protestant fundamentalist communities thinking that they were going to find Christ. Actually, all they found was the Bible and a community of people who were groping around as blindly as they. They comfort themselves by developing themselves into one-issue leaders for the good of the community. When they get old and tired, the issue is left without the sound of their drum resonating through the community.

I have always been able to see Christ in the Catholic Church. I admit that I sometimes get frustrated with the politics that exist at the human level of the Church. I admit that it gets rather difficult sometimes to accommodate myself in faith in the Church and Faith in Christ.

Sometimes I get to wondering how the rules and regulations mesh with the Will of God. How am I going to know that in following the Church I am following God? How am I going to be sure that this is not another Galileo fiasco? What if we really find out someday that the moon is really made out of green cheese? How will the Church react if and when aliens really do make it here from another world? Or what if we make it there first? Will these beings know the same God that we do? What if they don’t? Better yet, what if they do? What if they know Him better than we do? Would we be jealous of them?

See, I have all these questions. I think I know the answer, but I wonder if the Church’s answer is the same. I trust that Christ has the answers, but sometimes I actually wonder if there is anyone at the higher levels who is really listening.

So, here’s what I do. I just talk to God and tell Him that it is His ball game. I figure that there is no better ball park than the Catholic Church, so I let myself go and enjoy truth as it is presented to me by the Catholic Church.

I have answered Jesus’ question often in my life. My answer has always been a clear statement, “Whether you like it or not, I’m staying.”

The nice part of deciding to stay is that I have faith that if Jesus and His Church could be around for 2,000 years, then there is more than likely still room for me for a few more years. I also believe that the drum that I am beating will be beaten by someone else when I am no longer around and the community will be assured of the eternal dimension of the Catholic Church.

I think that Jesus is still wondering what to do about me. I am getting older and I’m still around. Maybe He is confused. Maybe He is not confused, maybe He is just giving me more and more rope so that He can get more out of me than He ever got before.

Whatever it is, He and His Church are all I know, they are all I really want to know, all I want and all I need.

So I’m staying.

You can’t cry at my funeral for that.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

DA VINCI CODE: "I Don't Know How to Love Him"

DA VINCI CODE: “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”[1]

I couldn’t resist that subtitle for all you Mary Magdalene fans.

I can’t believe that I am spitting into that Dan Brown River of ink that is already flowing toward the ocean of insignificance, the “Da Vinci Code.”

I’ve read the book. It is nothing but a $25.00 hard-bound movie script written in miserable fifth grade level English. The “facts” that the author claims to be well researched have been authoritatively corrected by much smarter and better informed people than I.

Let me start by drawing your attention to the sub-title above. It is a clear sign that this is not the first time in modern times that an author has linked Jesus with Mary Magdalene;[2] this is not the first time that an author talks about the Prieuré de Sion;[3] this is not the first time that an author discusses the hidden meanings behind the paintings of Leonardo de Vinci;[4] this is not the first time that an author says nasty things about the Opus Dei[5], and finally, in my lifetime there have been several instances when murder and intrigue in the Vatican made the headlines.

Dan Brown has not revealed anything to the world that the world did not hear or read in the last fifty years or so. In fact his “research” was aimed at the successful publications of some brilliant men who came not too long before him. He has somehow captured the imagination, and the dollars, of the world by weaving a suspenseful story with some “juicy, gossipy” details around a statistically impossible theory.

The “spinal cord” of the story is the belief that the royal blood of King David still flows in some real people living in Europe. This royal blood comes from Jesus who is king because he is from David.[6] Jesus and Mary Magdalene are said to have had a child. Mary and child supposedly escaped to Europe (Southern France) after the crucifixion. The child married and her descendants form the still active Merovingian Royal Blood Line[7].

That would mean that King David’s descendants would still be alive and well and continuing his blood line 2,500 years after his death. Not bad, eh? What’s even weirder is to hear how Jesus’ progeny reached Europe in the first place. But I’ll leave that for another time and place. It might take a drink or two to get that one out of me.

This “thread” that keeps the book going is not one that takes up much mental space in the world today. Most people are talking about the “racy” topic of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. They gossip and opine about how Da Vinci portrays Mary of Magdala at the right of Jesus during the Last Supper and how Peter was jealous of her because she was stealing Jesus’ time away from the apostles.

And people are worried about what is being said about the Opus Dei. Who cares about the Opus Dei? Maybe we could start a rumor that they have infiltrated the U.S. Supreme Court through John Roberts and/or Sam Alito. The Knights of Columbus certainly already have. None of this emotional energy is going to get anyone anywhere.

Since I am neither Opus Dei nor Knights of Columbus, nor Prieuré de Sion, nor Knight Templar, nor Knight of Malta, nor Knight of Saint Gregory nor Freemason, nor Rotary, nor Elk, here is my long-winded suggestion.

If you want exciting reading, do read the Bible. There’s a good murder Story in Genesis, chapter 4. There’s family intrigue and skullduggery in a family of twelve that turns out well at the end, starting at Genesis 37. The book of Judith is about a new widow who saves her country by seducing the invading commander (Rated R). If you don’t have too much time, read the story of the reluctant missionary who couldn’t dodge God’s will because a big fish belched him up on the shore of the place where God wanted him in the first place.[8]

Poetry? Hmmm, poetry, you say… Oh, go to the book of Job, chapter 38 on. I dare you to lay it down once you start. You need some quiet time? You know, meditation? There are 150 songs (psalms) right in the middle of the Bible. Hey, knock yourself out. Having trouble with your boys tonight, Mom? Turn off the TV, shut down the PC and the Nintendo, sit them in a corner and read them a couple of thoughts from the book of Proverbs. It says in there that they should obey their parents so they will live to a happy old age.

The Bible contains well over 1,500 pages of good stuff. Use it for any problem you might have. You don’t believe me? Can’t sleep tonight? Tossing and turning? Grab that Bible, open it to the fourth book of the Bible, “Numbers.” I guarantee the results, “zzzz’s” in five minutes.

Yes, dear friends, have all the fun you want with the “Da Vinci Code” but I guarantee that you will make yourself a whole lot happier if you keep coming home to the Bible. Remember, it took the Vatican officials three years before they even acknowledged the very existence of the “Da Vinci Code,” and even then they weren’t all that worked up about it.

So, here’s my bottom line, short and sweet suggestion:

Don’t buy the book. It’s more interesting if you borrow it and get a free read. Smart readers can read it in about 6 hours. Like I said, 5th grade English is easy to read.

Then, have some fun. Don’t say a word as you listen to all the cockamamie comments of the bozos who have a negative opinion about it but have neither read the book nor seen the movie yet.

Don’t see the movie in the theatre. Wait until it comes out on tape or disk, invite yourself over to your friend’s house or some such and enjoy it there for free. That way, it will be a lot more fun and you just might score a meal too.

Follow my advice about the “Da Vinci Code” and you’ll know why you won’t want to cry at my funeral.

[1] Webber, Andrew Lloyd, music and Rice, Tim, lyrics 1971
[2] Kazantsakis, Nikos; “The Last Temptation of Christ” 1960
[3] Eco, Umberto; “Foucault’s Pendulum” 1988
[4] Baigent, Michael; Leigh, Richard; Lincoln, Henry; “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” 1982
[5] Baigent, Michael; Leigh, Richard; Lincoln, Henry; “The Messianic Legacy” 1986
[6] Matthew, 1: 1-17
[7] Baigent, Michael; Leigh, Richard; Lincoln, Henry; “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” 1982
[8] Jonah

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