Friday, May 31, 2013

Mixxed Marriage

I guess I'm the lone dissenter here. I have also been in a mixed marriage for just over two years, and have not found it to be an insurmountable obstacle at all. I also poured over these specific CCC articles in my own marriage prep, and it does read that a mixed marriage is not impossible "when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each the ways in which each lives in fidelity to Christ." The key here in OPEN Communication and honesty about our faith, and being unafraid to share it.

In daily practice that means we do learn from each other and respect each other. We are also not afraid to pray together even though we both follow different denominations. I have learned his family prayers, and he has taken the time to learn mine as well--such as our dinner prayer. We may discuss/debate our difference, but we both make Christ the center of our marriage. Those debates also keep me honest in my walk with God too, and making sure my motivations toward religion are good ones. Likewise, being married to a non-Catholic has encouraged me to learn about my faith and apologetics.... so that I can explain it/understand why we do things the way we do to my husband and his family (Such as learning to explain how the Mass is very biblical to those who follow sola scriptura, or answering the question, "what does tradition ACTUALLY mean?")

Very often my husband comes to Mass with me, and very much enjoys it. However part of this may have to do that he grew up in a denomination with a similar worship structure...a fact which has eased this transition. My priest, who married us, loves seeing him at Mass when he comes too. William knows he is welcomed there. When he was stationed in Iraq he even found he enjoyed going Mass much more than the contemporary generic Christian worship style services offered to Protestants at his base.

I'm not trying to say that a Mixed Marriage is easy. It's a challenge, for sure. I see my husband's face when he stays at the pew when I go up to receive the Eucharist every week. Our Holy Week gets crazier than usual as we balance two churches. However, as my husband's own denomination has been facing yet another split, he has been able to find some solace in the Mass too. I find that he does have someplace to go, a blessing, even as he turns down the idea of converting. As the Catholic in the marriage, I do understand that part of being his wife is showing him the love my Church has to offer. Maybe one day he'll be Catholic, and maybe he won't. I respect his decision either way.

So, while a Mixed Marriage may not be "better" it can still be worth it, as long as the conversations are happening that allow the couple to find their commonalities in Christ. My own Mixed Marriage still happened in the Church, is still Sacramental, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It works because we make Christ the Center in all and We are not afraid to discuss and have the difficult conversations. For me, it has been very much "worth it." I have a husband who loves me, supports me, encourages me in all that I do, and in the larger scheme of it, where each of us goes to church on Sunday is a small part of who we are, because there are so many more ways to live out our faith. He encourages me to both bible-study and
pray my rosary because he knows that ultimately they are good for me, even is he doesn't always agree with some of the theology behind it.

For any couple who might be considering a mixed marriage, I would say it will only work IF both parties are asking the tough questions of themselves and each other regarding their own faith and how they intend to share it and live it. I would tell them to make Christ the center, no matter what. It takes honesty, integrity, and communication. Any couple, regardless of belief needs to have that discussion anyway.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Journeys Through the Scripture with some Sisters in Christ...

Since the start of the school year I have been participating in a wonderful group bible study with the Women's Ministry of Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church.

We have been journeying through the often confusing book of Deuteronomy through the study book  More Grace, More Love: Living in Covenant with God by George Robertson, with Mary Beth McGreevy.  Talk about an intense book!  The authors of our study, all the speakers in the women's ministry, and our amazing small group leader have all helped crack open the depth of Old Testament Law for us and have made Salvation History make sense. 

Every week I have plucked along with them with my little Kindle edition ESV, or when I'm at home my New Jerusalem Bible. We worked through the study questions together weekly, and discussed our answers as a group when we met.  Some weeks I was on fire for the lesson and to get into the Word.  Other weeks I putzed through the lesson and wanted to skip it, but knew that keeping the routine was good for me.  Some weeks I had to look up the Catholic response to some Protestant theological idea, but most weeks I was keenly aware of our strong joint understanding of the same redemptive drama (We use mostly the same bible, after all).  This was a lesson in perseverance too, it seems.

What's a good Catholic girl like me doing in a Protestant bible study anyway?

I have always had an ecumenical heart....otherwise I never would have married a good Lutheran boy!  I have always struggled in finding good Catholic Bible Studies, even though I have found other ways to live out my Catholic faith in my own parish.  Also, us Catholics tend not to know our Bibles as we should, considering it IS one of the pillars of our faith (the other being Tradition).  I have often admired just how well Protestants are able to memorize and quote bible verses with seemingly no effort.  There is something to be learned here.....  Besides, how much better would my own witness become if I could give a biblical reasoning behind what I believe?

It's a funny story how I wound up there, actually.  My often-Baptist-leaning Lutheran sister-in-law invited me last spring when I was struggling with depression and needed to fill a routine-type void when my day-treatment program was coming to an end.  Her and her Aunt had been a part of this community for years, as the resident Lutherans in a group of wonderful ladies whom I have come to know. I jumped at the chance, with clear knowledge that if I was to develop a healthy relationship with my sister-in-law it was going to be through God and his Grace. This was a means to develop deeper relationships with this family I married into.  And what harm is a bible study anyway, especially for a Catholic who tends not to read the bible as much as I ought?  Turns out the relationship roots grew deeper than I had imagined, as my husband's grandmother used to babysit for our small group leader long ago.  It was almost as if family was waiting for me before I even entered the door..... talk about the relational nature of Christ and his church, no?  And they welcomed me in, despite me being the Papist that I am.  Today I have been cultivating my relationship with these ladies, many of them of a generation who can teach me quite a bit as a younger woman.

I feel so blessed to have been spending my Tuesday mornings with such wonderful women of wisdom, and have been realizing just how much I am going to miss them when the semester comes to a close.  It was luck, God, serendipity.... that my schedule was such that I could join them.  I fully acknowledge that I might not be so lucky in the autumn either, especially as I continue on my search for a full time job in my field. 

As the end draws near I have been meditating on how to continue the healthy bible study habit.  I am the kind of person who needs a structured pre-prepared study to crack open the meaning behind the Scriptures.  I tend to fall away from the habit of reading them if I'm reading them free-form.  For this reason I often will just read the Gospel reading from the Daily Office, but the challenge of a long term in-depth study such as the one I am about to finish makes me feel more fulfilled in my understanding of Christ.

I've been looking at Edward Sri's A Biblical Walk Through of the Mass: Understanding What We say and Do in the Liturgy as one possibility.  I was also looking at Stacey Mitch's Courageous Love: A Bible Study on Holiness for Women.  Both looked promising.  Would any of you have any suggestions? 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Meditation on just one evil of mankind...

I cannot remain silent about the Gosnell trial, happening as I type this.

I usually try to remain silent on my own social media outlets because of the diversity of viewpoints I have on places like my facebook feed or twitter.  On one hand I choose to listen to what they have to say, and on the other hand I am afraid that they will see me as nothing more than some conservative nutjob and fail to see me for me...someone with varied opinions about a variety of topics, and who doesn't follow a party line.  However I felt about the topic of abortion years ago, my heart has been changed toward the topic over time. My heart has changed because of first hand stories I have heard and what I have experienced, although the stories of others belong to the people who have lived them--they are not mine to tell.

I used to be pro-choice.

I used to make the argument that many around me still do today: While I myself would never choose abortion for my own child, I would never make the act illegal so that it can remain safe for those who do choose it.

So in other words, I chose ignorance of evil and silent acceptance.

Yes, I said evil.

I guess it all goes back to the debate of when life begins.  Does it begin with birth? Does it begin at conception?  Or does it begin somewhere in between?  Oh....and how valuable is life anyway?  Is this creature in the womb even a person?

The reason that many pro-life advocates choose to show violent images of aborted fetuses is to try to shock the viewer into accepting their opinion as the right one.  I don't know if this is the answer.  I also don't know if legislation is the answer at this time, but I do know that honesty, integrity in the face of the suffering, education about options and gentle persuasion are.  Until the hearts and minds of a nation can be persuaded into choosing life, legislation might be doing little more than continuing to divide us as a people and nation.  It is for this reason that my heart goes out to those who support the adoption industry or drive the ThriVe vans, who provide prayer and emergency counseling at a grassroots level.  Division as it is today has caused more polarization of values in this country, and violence as a result, which is also wrong.  We need to pray that all hearts and minds see the evil of abortion and to be united in this....otherwise this fight will just go on and on and on, and back and forth and back again.

I do not think it is right to kill another human being just because a mistake was made.
We cannot cure sin with more sin.

BUT.  We live in a secular world, a world which more and more lacks morality and fails to see God's love for us.  We live in a nation severely divided against itself, where no one can agree whether it is black and white, or shades of gray.  It is complicated.

Women who have made this very tough decision need our forgiveness and our prayers.

I think that regardless of how you feel about abortion, we can all agree that the nature of Kermit Gosnell's work is absolutely deplorable and evil on so many levels.  What he did was to induce labor and kill the born....he didn't just kill the unborn.  That's just a small part of his crimes against women.  Feel free to research it for yourself here, here and especially here.  Was his work common practice in the abortion industry or simply the work of a depraved man?  There is quite a debate in that question alone.  I have heard both answers from multiple sides.  I'm saddened that this story isn't making the media as en force as a guy who hurts dogs....which is also deplorable, but aren't people a little more important?  People.....US....Those who cannot speak for themselves....such AS the UNBORN.

Book Review: History of the Catholic Church

Much my own spiritual journey happens through the books I read.  Right now I am reading about the ancient journey of others and simultaneously church.

I am ever so slowly plucking my way through James Hitchcock's  History of the Catholic Church.  It's a big one guys!  Because I'm reading it on my kindle I didn't realize just how thick this text was until I saw it during a visit to my local Catholic Supply where it was on the shelf with other new titles.  There it was: hard cover, and quit hefty! I'm already considering it as a Christmas gift for my father....the print version that is.  Tis not for the feint of heart or the impatient reader.

Hitchcock has attempted a difficult undertaking: telling our rich story as a church from the time of Christ until today.  He is covering everything from wars, changes in liturgy, major theological thinkers, each and every heresy which threatened her existence; and all of it is interwoven with European social history.  I just finished reading about the Crusades and the separation of the East and West.  Because of the broad scope of this project (Over 2,000 years), Hitchcock does not go into too much detail...rather this is an introduction to many many ideas that can be a jumping point to your own research should a person wish to explore a topic more in depth.  I appreciate the way he puts many complicated ideas into the layman's terms without oversimplification or dumbing down, although the topical nature in which he covers his subjects can become a little confusing when you are reading from past to present.  Be ready for some jumps in the story telling as he back tracks to futher explain some concepts in more detail.

Overall, an interesting read, but then again, I consider myself an eternal student of History.
I'm sure I'll be referencing this one for many years to come.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

For the Record.....

For the Record....

I'm just a girl.  With a Blog.

My only credentials are as a student. Of Art History. (I have the degrees to prove that.)
I am not a theologian, even though I love theology.

I like to read and write about what I read.

I also like to cook and taking pictures of what I have cooked.
Maybe some day I'll even start blogging recipes and kitchen experiments.

I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert at anything, because I'm not. 
But I will not pretend that I am without passion for the things I am interested in. 

My interests don't just stop with food and God.  I love making a home for myself and my wonderful husband.  I love sharing my faith, even though in person I can be quite shy about it, choosing to open up on a one-on-one basis rather than in a large group, introvert that I am.  I love Irish culture....her food and her music.  But I am not, by blood, Irish in any way.  I feel at community when I am in my favorite Irish Pub.....where I am a regular and always feel like I am a part of a big extended family when I am there.  I love Beauty and Artistic expression, and revel in the many ways that artists through the ages have told God's story in their own ways.  I spend way too much time isolated from a world I want to be a part of: because of the weakness of my body and the weakness of my mind.  So I probably spend more time online that in face to face community.  I love going to mass.  Don't ask me to explain it, or try to convince me that it's a waste of my precious time.....because my soul yearns for the Sacrament, for Jesus, for friendship with God, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I find a well brewed cider and good company equally as sacred.  My favorite part about Irish culture?  Their love of hospitality.  Even if I don't physically always go out into the world, my door is always open to a kind soul.  I have a distrust of authority, yet I crave approval.  I struggle.  I learn.  Even if I tend to ramble, I love to share.

I DO have passion and I DO have Love.

And THAT is why I blog.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another post on New Evangelism

As I have been reading about this topic of New Evangelism, I have noticed that each of my sources on the topic have included a different set of lists about what a New Evangelist or what New Evangelism is.  Luckily, they all seem to start at the same place, which is Jesus. 

I'd like to share what these thinkers believe make up New Evangelism, starting with Fr. Robert Barron.  He describes Seven Keys to Being a New Evangelist in this interview posted by fellow Catholic Blogger Brandon Vogt on his own blog, and then on Fr. Robert Barron's own Word on Fire. What I am including below is Barron's list with my own thoughts, paraphrases of Barron's idea.  I highly recommend that you start by checking out my original sources first....both Vogt and Barron put it far better than I could!  No, really....go check them out now! (And if you have 45 minutes, DO Listen to Vogt's speech on the topic)

1. "In Love with Jesus Christ" or "A friend with Jesus Christ"

This is a trait that New Evangelist Roman Catholics share with our Protestant brothers and sisters.  The emphasis on having a personal relationship with Christ is one that has not been emphasized in recent history by Catholics, but that needs to be on the forefront of our faith if we are to maintain our Catholic identity into the future.  Just knowing ABOUT Christ is no longer enough, or learning our faith through cultural osmosis.  It needs to get personal. Personally, as someone who is ecumenically minded, my heart rejoices that this is the first on the list of traits.  It gives me something strong in common with my Protestant brothers and sisters, and I can honestly say to them when asked, that yes, I do have a friendship with Christ.

2.  "A Person of Ardor" or who is "Filled with Ardor"

Us Catholics just love vocabulary lessons! (Consubstantial, anyone?)  Someone who is filled with Ardor for God is someone who is ON FIRE for him, someone who is passionate.  Someone you can't help but listen to, and who rejoices in having what Fr. Barron calls a "keen sense of the resurrection."  When we are filled with joy of what Christ did for us on the cross.  When we truly GET IT, it's difficult not to be filled with immense joy and want to shout it from the roof tops.  The first person I think of is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who expresses this passion and joy in every interview I've watched.  Some day I'll get to listen to the joyousness that must be one of his sermons live.

3.  "A Person Who Knows the Story of Israel,"  Someone who is well aware of temple about covenant about prophecy, about law, because Jesus fulfills all of that.

This past fall my sister-in-law invited me to a bible study with a Women's Ministry at a local Presbyterian Church.  Now, as you may have guessed, my In-Laws are NOT Catholic, but I still relished in this invitation to share my walk with Christ with them, and so I became the groups "pet Catholic."  Incidentally, the study we are doing is "Deuteronomy: More Grace, More Love: Living in Covenant with God," by George Roberston with Beth McGreevy.  It is an in depth look at the Old Testament which has opened my eyes to the foretelling nature of Christ in the Jewish scriptures. I am a little bit jealous at just how well most Protestants know their bibles backwards and forwards and are deeply aware of the ways that Christ fulfills Old Testament prophecy.  I hope to emulate this kind of bible knowledge someday and am able to express it in teaching my own children.  It's a little frustrating that my own catechesis had too take a temporary dive into Protestantism in order to fall in love with the temple narrative.  However, I rejoice that this narrative is a central portion of my favorite mass of the year, the Easter Vigil, when we hear numerous readings about Man's Fall and the hope of Christ to come hinted at throughout all of time in the prophets of Abraham, Moses, David, Jonah, Elijah, and others.  My husband refers to this mass as the "Marathon Mass," which at three hours long when attending it at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis does seem like a marathon, (fitting that Paul did refer to the Christian life as a marathon often) but the participant is richly rewarded in the end by sharing in the joy of new Christians entering our church and in the resurrection of the lamb.  Cue the Alleluia chorus in full glory near the end......

4.  "Has Got to Know the Culture"  or be"A Person who Understands the Culture" 

Fr. Barron refers to the quote by Karl Barth that "the homilist should have the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other:" a quote which resonates with my Lutheran husband.  Being a Christian today is inexplicably a Counter-Cultural move.  Our beliefs often don't make sense to those outside the church, we have been described as hateful and behind the times for putting our foot down on certain moral issues and refusing to budge.  The trap is to fall into our own little subculture as many evangelical Christians have been known to do, only listening to "Christian" music or wearing "Christian" logos on t shirts.  However, when we tuck ourselves behind a closed door of a sub-culture, we are not engaging the culture at large.  As New Evangelists we are called to be in engagement of the culture around us, not in avoidance of it.  We are called to question it and to interact with it, drawing out what message of redemption we can use in order to preach the Gospel.  St. Patrick evangelized the Celtic people by using their own imagery.  According to the legend, we used the three leaf clover to describe the Holy Trinity.  In our time, speaking the language of the culture around us may look like knowing what movies are playing, referring to facebook, television.  Fr. Barron lives this example in the cultural commentaries that he publishes on his Youtube channel.  Oddly, there was a time in history when WE were the culture.  Take a look at Renaissance art, for example.  But today, our culture has increasingly turned away from any kind of biblical foundation and has turned toward postmodern pessimism.  It needs re-engaging and re-filled with hope.

5.  "A Person who reverences Great Tradition" Not Sola Scriptura.....our tradition has unfolded over time.  We have a grand interpretive tradition, the arts--visial and media

Roman Catholicism acknowledges the infinitely enjoined nature of both the Bible and Holy Tradition.  The Bible was born out of Holy Tradition and Holy Tradition continues to be evaluated by the Bible.  We are not Sola Scriptura as the Protestant denominations have insisted on.  We, instead, have a rich interpretive tradition of two thousand years worth of thinkers who have been inspired by the message of Christ and  have put down their words to inspire future generations.  They have interpreted the Word so we may be left without interpretive confusion about what is going on.  That, and we have this rich tradition of art, music, even movies, which have had something to say about the nature of our world, the nature of man, and the nature of Christ's grand sacrifice.

6.   "A Person with a Missionary Heart"

I know many a person who claims Catholicism as their religion and history, but don't go to mass.  Even I struggle to make it to weekly mass.  While I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family where missing Sunday mass was usually not an option, as an adult no one is forcing me to wake up early on Sunday morning and just go.  I have fallen trap to the "Meh" Culture.  I'll go tomorrow.  Truthfully, however, when I don't go to mass, I feel it the rest of the week.  I feel that separateness from God.  Fr. Barron called souls divorced from God in this manner as anguished.  It takes surprisingly little to go from not going to church anymore to not believing anymore.  It's going to take a real effort to get wayward Catholics to return in a culture that doesn't want to be bothered.  Our mission as New Evangelists in North America has to engage this "Meh" culture, to reawaken those of us who have fallen asleep in Christ, and to be missionaries within postmodernism.

7.  "Knows and Loves the New Media" or "A Persons who knows how to use the New Media" 

Fr. Barron and others have pointed to the work of the Venerable Fulton Sheen who has had a mission toward using the Media of the day.  Today we live in a world rich with media technology.  For people like me its even almost a part of our blood!  Youtube, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter.....these are all a part of our culture and HOW we engage the culture.  These are simply many forms of media as our fingertips.  The most beautiful part of this is that these very tools make it possible for us to tell our OWN stories.  Just look at the coverage of last week's papal elections to see the fruit of this.  On one hand we have Mass Media, owned by secular institutions, who have already tried to tell our story for us and have tried whatever they can to paint our message in a false light.  On the other hand, the thousands of us telling our own story via New Media.  Who is going to tell the story of our faith?  Us?  Or a culture hostile to the message of Jesus?

Coming Soon: What Cardinal Donald Weurl has to say about New Evangelism.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

George Weigel on the Church in Latin America

Speaking of our amazing Pope Francis and of George Weigel and his Book, Evangelical Catholicism ..... this interview was made just days before a certain someone became Pope. Enjoy.