Thursday, February 28, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Pope Benedict is like Gandalf

A little bit of fun on a sad day-
Reasons the Pope is like Gandalf:
1) He's retiring to Castel Gandolfo, which I believe is Italian for Gandalf's Castle :)
2)He's entrusted others with destroying an important ring
3) When he took on the role of Pope in 2005, he started wearing white
4) Has a cool staff
5) Gandalf- the grey pilgrim. Pope Benedict- went as pilgrim to 25 countries.
6) Saruman=Hans Kung. Think about it.
7) Associates with the powerful as well as the lowly.
8) Blows your mind with his wisdom
9) Speaks languages most people have forgotten.
10) Stood up to the Balrog of relativism.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What to Say

I don't blog very often anymore.  Sure, I have a couple of brothers from Franciscan University's Conquer Through Love household who have some of the best blogs around (Bad Catholic and Summa) but mad bloggin' skillz aren't just given to us at induction.  (You do get a sweet bowling pin, though.) 
Not to mention the occasional apparition. Seriously, bro, come to Lord's Day!
The whole point of blogging is that, theoretically, the author has something to say.  As anyone who's spent more than ten seconds on the interwebs can tell you, however, most of the things that get said aren't worth saying.  Topics range from the absurd to the vitriolic to the ignorant to virtually anything but the truthful.  When someone manages to post something that is thoughtful and true, they are immediately attacked by the "you can't say that" brigade.

Pictured: Pre-Internet Fascism.
This is of course true of the world outside of the Internet. (Of which I'm told that apparently there is one.)  In fact, we may be even less inclined to speak the truth when we don't have the anonymity of the Internet.  We chicken out more easily when we can see the person who disagrees with us. We are so fearful of offending others, of getting into a heated argument with others, that we prefer to say nothing.  The Internet might actually be us at our best.

Please, don't let that be true.
So this is the situation in which we find ourselves today: people with something to say are silent, and people with nothing to say are shouting their nothing from the rooftops.  The question must be asked, then: do we have something to say? Something true, something real, something of substance?  If we are Christians, the answer is yes- but we aren't saying it.
Jesus is the divine Logos, the Word made flesh.  The words that Jesus spoke were indeed powerful.  "Never before has anyone spoken like this one." (John 7:46)  The disciples on the road to Emmaus recounted how their hearts burned as He spoke and unlocked the Scriptures for them. (cf Luke 24:32)  More important than the words He spoke, though, is the Word that He is.  Jesus is the Eternal Word of the Father.  Mere words can communicate ideas and thoughts; the Word communicates God Himself.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)
Which brings me back to the topic of what we should be saying.  It is not enough to simply talk about Jesus.  Many people do that, but it fails to communicate His love.  We need to speak Jesus Himself.  We need to be so united to Him in our minds and in our hearts that He is upon our lips.  The Word is infinitely more effective than our words.  "Indeed, the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword." (Heb 4:12)
This might sound a bit vague- how can we truly communicate Jesus?  We must conform ourselves to Him.  We do this through prayer, study of the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and all the innumerable ways He has given us to better know His love.  We need to fall in love with Him, and allow ourselves to be loved by Him. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was a great example- this diminutive woman would stir hearts to love and to action not because of the eloquence of her words but because the Jesus that she loved with all her heart was communicated through what she said and did. 
One last thought on this- Jesus is the Lamb of God, and as He was lead to the slaughter He opened not His mouth. (Is. 53:7)  However, Jesus is also the Lion of Judah.  Sometimes, we need to let Him roar.  I think now might be one of those times.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Life Constantly Discerning the Will of God

Every moment of every day we should be discerning the will of God.  Why?  Because God wants us to continually know, love, and serve Him in everything that we do.  Often times though this isn't easy.  We get distracted.  We fall in to sin.  Which is why we have the Holy Sacraments there as God's gifts to us to help us strive continuously for holiness.

Every day our blessed Lord is waiting, pleading, and asking us to turn to Him and accept His will for our lives.  And sometimes this can be very confusing.  I remember back to when I was discerning the Priesthood and for a time was studying with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.  It seemed that when I left to join my brothers in St. Louis the whole Church was just waiting for me to become ordained.  As a young seminarian this feeling of anticipation that your prayers are yielding a Vocation to the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ can be very emotional and overwhelming.

While my discernment went on, I discovered through ora et labora (prayer and work) and living the life that God was not calling me to be a Priest.  Rather, I discovered that God had made me for something else all together... to be a father, but not a spiritual one.  Venerable Fulton Sheen writes in The Priest Is Not His Own that a man is called to be either (paraphrased) a spiritual father or a biological father.  For me this meant that while I was called to discern and to be with the Institute, I was not chosen to be a Priest which at first was very difficult to accept.

Returning home and preparing prayerfully for the next chapter in my life was difficult.  I was met with some opposition, and even a few individuals who enjoyed the idea of me as a Priest, but for me to be a layperson was too much for them to handle.  In all of this I had to pray.  I had to pray for the people I encounter that God would fill their hearts with understanding.  Most of all I had to pray that God fill my heart with Divine Charity and patience.

One important thing to note is that in Part IV of the Introduction to the Devout Life, written by Saint Francis de Sales, he writes to us saying that in living a devout life we cannot expect to be treated in any other way than how Christ promised we would be.

So in discerning the will of God, yes some of us may have a Vocation to the Religious Life, but perhaps most of us will be called not to spiritual but biological parenthood.  To those who have the awesome Vocation to the Religious Life and to the Holy Priesthood, will do well to ignore the opinions of this present world we live in and give your focus and our attentive prayers to Christ and the Sacraments.  To those who thus have a Vocation to Holy Matrimony in the same way it will do well to focus your prayers and attention to our blessed Lord and His Sacraments that He has given to His Church.

Discerning the will of God is not easy.  It's hard.  But our blessed Lord commanded us to take up our crosses and follow Him and that we who should accept His Yoke will find the burden light.  This is a daily trial that we all must do.  Keep discerning and growing in the faith and remember that God desires us to discern His will always because He has a plan for each and every one of us.  God love each of you!

Author's Note:  Kevin Wilkins is currently a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart (the lay society of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) and a Meteorology student at Northern Illinois University.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Truth and Charity

"Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity."-Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 1.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Catholic theology is the "both...and" as opposed to the "either...or". Faith AND works. Scripture AND Tradition. Revelation AND reason. To divide these into "either...or" propositions is to miss out on the fullness of truth. One area in which I see this today is in the attempt to divorce truth and charity.

There are many in the Church today who are uncomfortable with proclaiming anything controversial for fear of offending others. They will either downplay what the Church teaches or actually seek to distance themselves from it. I'm sure from their perspective, this seems like a form of charity- to not ruffle any feathers, to avoid causing unpleasant feelings. But is this charity? "Charity" devoid of truth is little more than sentimentality. Our modern society tends to define love as being a pleasant feeling for another. But love is not a feeling, it is an action. Love is desiring the good of the other. Love is the willingness to suffer for that good. Our ultimate example of love is found in the Crucifixion- Christ laid down His life out of love for us. What He did not do was to run from the Cross, to say to the scribes and Pharisees "you're entitled to your opinion". He spoke the truth, would not deny who He was or what it meant to live in charity, and He died for it. He spoke the truth, even when it was unpleasant. The Pharisees did not want to hear what He had to say. But who loved the Pharisees more than Jesus? He spoke the truth to them, knowing it would be difficult for them to hear and that He would be rejected for it.

The Pharisees show the other side of the coin- truth without charity. In belief, Jesus was close to the Pharisees, but not in practice. The Pharisees knew they had the truth from God and sought to justify themselves because of it. But simply believing correctly is not enough. "Truth" without charity is oppressive; we see how in fundamentalist cultures, the "truth" is used as a whip. When the love of Christ is proclaimed but not lived, it does great damage to the Body- people are driven away, are turned off, and leave believing that all Christians are just hypocrites. And is this really truth? When we present a Christ without mercy, without forgiveness, a judgmental rather than a loving Christ, we are presenting a false image of Him.

Ultimately, all truth leads to the one who is truth: the Divine Logos, the author of truth. Truth leads us to a Person, and that Person is Love. Truth and charity meet in the Person of Jesus Christ; to divide one from the other is to separate oneself from Him.