Lent Day 6

Today’s post is going to seem disjointed because it is disjointed.  I had a few days of being sick, mixed with traveling and a toddler and I didn’t get to post as I wanted.  But, this isn’t about making a daily post, it’s about me talking about Catholicism and my own thoughts, so it will be sporadic and disjointed.

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From 20170304 readings:

“‘For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.’ Jn 1:17” (Note 1)

“‘The light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’ Jn 3:19. (Note 2)

This particular quote sums up the modern world quite well — a society that shuns the very idea of truth, substituting for it whatever they feel to be true.

“The one who is condemned by the truth hates and flees it.” (Note 3)

In our modern times, people no longer flee from the truth, they work to convince everyone that it is not the truth, that the only truth is relative and they persecute the truth and try to eradicate it so they will feel better about themselves.  Again, truth is based on feelings and relativity vice objective truth.

Truth seems to be Bossuet’s theme for today — objective truth — something that people no longer believe in.  As a libertarian, I tell people there has to be objective truth if we are to relive in the dignity of the human person.  Whatever we base it on (God, Natural Law, or merely the concept of Human Dignity/Individual Freedom), without it there is no human dignity and we are all vassals of whatever tyranny — whether a tyrant or of the majority — is in power.  This is PRECISELY what People Benedict XVI was speaking of with his “Dictatorship of Relativism”. (Note 4)

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From today’s readings:

“The Lord’s Prayer is Christianity’s greatest prayer.  It is also Christianity’s strangest prayer.  It is prayed by all Christians, but it never mentions Christ.  It is prayed in all churches, but never mentions church.  It is prayed on all Sundays, but it never mentions Sunday.  It is called the ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ but it never mention as ‘Lord.’  It is a prayer from the heart of Judaism on the lips of Christianity for the conscience of the world.  It proclaims a radical vision of justice that is the core of Israel’s biblical tradition and a hymn of hope for all humanity addressed to all the earth that God’s world must be distributed fairly and equitably among all God’s people.” (Note 5)

To follow this up, it is only fitting to post the “Lord’s Prayer”:

“Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

And forgive us our debts,

As we also have forgiven our debtors;

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.” (Mat 6:9-13 (RSV))

In all fairness, though, it is only fitting that I post the next two verses because they are, in my mind, very important in understanding the “Lord’s Prayer”:

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mat 6:14-15 (RSV))

Depending on which Diocese you are in, you can get debts/debtors or trespasses/trespass against us.  I think either one truly expresses the importance of the point that is made in the follow on verses (14 and 15) — if you don’t forgive others their trespasses (or their debts), then the Father in heaven will not forgive you yours.  Specifically, the “Lord’s Prayer” says, “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” [emphasis mine].  God will forgive us as we have forgiven others.  If we haven’t forgiven others, then He will not forgive us.  I think that is a very important point to be made during this Lenten season.  We are supposed to be fasting, praying and giving alms as our penitence.  As we repent and seek forgiveness, should we not also forgive those who have “trespassed against us”?

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Bishop Robert Barron’s Lenten Reflection on the Gospel reading for yesterday was very poignant.  It’s not very long, so I’ll quote it here in it’s entirety.

“Friends, our Gospel today is the scene of the Last Judgment. We hear that the specifics are a matter of love concretely expressed: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” And we know the famous connection that Jesus makes: “…whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

“There is something awful about the specificity of these demands. This is not love in the abstract, having affection for “humanity.” It is caring for that person who is homeless, for that person who is ill, for that person who is in prison.

“We do not take our money, our social status, our worldly power, into the next world; but we do take the quality of our love. You might consider doing an examination of conscience at the end of each day, and use as your criterion this passage. Perhaps put it up on your wall or post it next to your bed so that you see it before you go to sleep.” (Note 6)

I think I’m going to take his advice from the last paragraph.

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I recommend the following article for you Lenten Reading, if you are interested in furthering your reading:

“Lent, Suffering, and the Death that Brings Life”

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Finally, I wanted to quote the highlights I had from the book I’m reading for Lent, Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth Part Two, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection.

“For the infant Church, “Palm Sunday” was not a thing of the past. Just as the Lord entered the Holy City that day on a donkey, so too the Church saw him coming again and again in the humble form of bread and wine.”  (Note 7)

“The Church greets the Lord in the Holy Eucharist as the one who is coming now, the one who has entered into her midst. At the same time, she greets him as the one who continues to come, the one who leads us toward his coming. As pilgrims, we go up to him; as a pilgrim, he comes to us and takes us up with him in his “ascent” to the Cross and Resurrection, to the definitive Jerusalem that is already growing in the midst of this world in the communion that unites us with his body.”  (Note 8)

“The cruel consequences of religiously motivated violence are only too evident to us all. Violence does not build up the kingdom of God, the kingdom of humanity. On the contrary, it is a favorite instrument of the Antichrist, however idealistic its religious motivation may be. It serves, not humanity, but inhumanity.” (Note 9)

“According to his [Jesus’] own testimony, this fundamental purpose is what lies behind the cleansing of the Temple: to remove whatever obstacles there may be to the common recognition and worship of God—and thereby to open up a space for common worship.”  (Note 10)

“The “zeal” that would serve God through violence he transformed into the zeal of the Cross. Thus he definitively established the criterion for true zeal—the zeal of self-giving love. This zeal must become the Christian’s goal; it contains the authoritative answer to the question about Jesus’ relation to the Zealot movement.”  (Note 11)

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That’s all for today.  Keep faithful on the path of Lent.

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Notes:

1.  Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Lent, trans. Christopher O. Blum (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2013), 14.

2.  Bossuet, Meditations, 15.

3.  Bossuet, Meditations, 16.

4.  Cf Cardinal Ratzinger, Joseph, Homily at Mass for Electing Supreme Pontiff, 18 April 2005. Accessed at  https://www.ewtn.com/pope/words/conclave_homily.asp

5.  John Dominic Crossan, “The Greatest Prayer”  In Renewing Our Discipleship, Daily Reflections on the 2017 Lenten Readings for Mass, ed. Steve Mueller (St Louis, MO: All Saints Press, 2017), 7.

6.  Bishop Robert Barron to Mailing List, “Lenten Gospel Reflection (03/06/2017)”, personal e-mail (06 March 2017).

7.  Benedict XVI, Pope. Jesus of Nazareth Part Two, Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection (Kindle Locations 349-351). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

8.  Benedict XVI, Pope. Jesus of Nazareth (Kindle Locations 351-354).

9.  Benedict XVI, Pope. Jesus of Nazareth (Kindle Locations 401-403).

10. Benedict XVI, Pope. Jesus of Nazareth (Kindle Locations 435-437).

11. Benedict XVI, Pope. Jesus of Nazareth (Kindle Locations 494-497).

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