Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Devil and Mr. Screwtape: Real Life verses the Reality of the Cross- choose wrong and it's Hell for You!

I am letting all you in on a secret: I never read CS Lewis in school! But our wondrous Lord has directed me toward Lewis and his wondrous wit at a the ripe old age of 31. Having discovered Mere Christianity, I am now delving into the deeper wit and story telling of Lewis' discovery of the Screwtape Letters. I am going to comment on a series of these letters in a few different articles. Lewis' "discovery" of these letters from uncle Screwtape to Wormword (two agents of the devil working on "patients" in the attempt to save them from the enemy---Heaven, or GOD!) Through this ironic fictional tale, Lewis strikes a flush blow on reality.
Screwtape focus first on his "pupil" and his wanting to distance themselves from "arguing". "Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping from the Church. Don't waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous--this it is the philosophy of the future...the trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle to the Enemy's own ground." He further points out that "arguing" awakes reason. Once reason comes into play--evil will undoubtedly loose: "even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favour, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending the universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experience." The bottom line is that Screwtape uses mans view of "REAL LIFE", to avoid "reality".
With the Presidential race about, all the buzz is inevitably focusing on the "issues". We hear the results of Screwtape in comments from candidates and voters alike. "This is 'real life'! A woman SHOULD have the right to choose'"; "This is 'real life'! 'Iraq was much better off before Bush invaded and took about a stable leader.' "This is 'real life"! 'We can't expect mothers to get off welfare--it is just TOO TOUGH out there for them'. "This is 'real life!' We can't actually expect teenagers to NOT have sex...don't be ridiculous! We have to give them condoms, HPV vaccine (because NOW sex is safe), and embrace all forms of perverted sex- because this makes us "strong...stark...courages...this is the philosophy of the future"- if we don't embrace this, we will be stuck in the past- like "old men in robes telling us what we can and cannot do".
Lewis "discovered" this book in the 1940's, but he could just have well of "discovered" it today. Obviously the absurd statements above are thoughts planted by the devil. Screwtape, I'm sure is getting great bonus checks these days. Life is tough--that is true REALITY---GET OVER IT!!! No CROSS no GLORY. Look at your calendar!! Really go get a calendar! March 21, 2008 comes before March 23, 2008! (GOOD FRIDAY- always comes before EASTER Sunday- always and forever, that is the way God made it).
Abortion is evil---no matter what the circumstances. In reality, and "unwanted" child is inconvenient- but being murdered by your own mother is much more "inconvenient". Society is infatuated with sex- especially with the idea of young people having sex. Here is a quick lesson in human anthropology---the human body will not perish if it does not have sex---it is physically possible to NOT have sex when one is young and not married (call me an OLD MAN!). I could go on and about the idea of "old men in robes" telling me what to do. AMEN, AMEN!:
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mat 16: 17-19). I say, Mr. "old man wearing a robe" "Tell me more, tell me what I need to do! I will listen, because my Lord-the only begotten Son of the Father--tells us all that this is the way to salvation! "Real life" is not salvation! "Reality" is that salvation is only achieved by going through the cross! If we avoid "real life" and embrace the "Reality" of the cross- then, in the loving embrace of our Lord, we will here the words (Father Corapi ends many of his talks with) "Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master's house". God Bless!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Is this all worth it?

My recent readings have taken me through a modern classic in Christianity: CS Lewis' Mere Christianity. Over the years, my faith journey has been anything but easy. Lewis has the ability to bring some clarity and some focus, in practical terms to what I feel, and what many people most likely feel. Before I move on, however, I will answer the question of "is is all worth it?" with a resounding YES!
The goal of all Christians is to become "little Christs", not just to pretend to be good. We strive to "die to ourselves" and let Christ live within us. Lewis explains the idea of "pretending" to be like Christ, is, in a sense, similar to the person not feeling rather friendly, forcing himself to be friendly. This is a start, because most likely, the person will become a friendlier person if he simply acts the part. This goes deeper, however, in our attempt to actually become like Christ--in affect, let Christ take us over. In his chapter entitled "Is Christianity hard or easy", Lewis makes a profound statement that encompasses all of my anxiety about my challenge to be righteous. He states, "The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier". This statement speaks directly to me! As I challenge myself to be "perfect" in the eyes of the Lord, I realize more and more that this is impossible! In fact, I realize that I am much worse (a wretched sinner) than I ever thought before I focused on my faith journey. Lewis further discusses that this journey is both easy and hard at the same time. We could simply say, "I am a good person, God loves me and he knows I love him". The problem here, however, is that this is too easy---nothing worth having is easy! Lewis shares the analogy of two school kids learning geometry. One studies hard and works hard, while the other is lazy and tries to remember everything by heart. In the end, the one who studied comes to his final exam stress free, as he knows the subject. The other must fret and stress and he has done nothing to better his knowledge of the subject. We choose one of these roads on our own journeys toward God. The road of "perfect" is rough most certainly. We are constantly humbled as we see truly see how we fail to reach the level of perfection. The easy road, however, is much more dangerous. While today we may seem happy and easy going, in the end, we will not have the assurance of grace...why take the chance? Think about this: the hardest thing, the most impossible thing to do is to hand over your whole self- everything, dreams, hopes, worries, happiness, etc- to Christ. Although impossible, it is much easier than what we all try to do when we try to live for "ourselves"- to find our own happiness! We try to center our lives, our hearts, and minds on ourselves (if we are centered on ourselves- we are not centered on Christ). We do this and hope to behave properly, chastely, and humbly---Lewis goes on to state that this "is exactly what Christ warned us [not to do]. Who do you trust more, yourself or Christ?
What is exactly the point of all this? I remember when I didn't worry about a chaste, pure, righteous, Christ centered living. I never thought about Hell! Well, maybe a little, but not even an iota of a chance that I could end up there. It was a place were only REALLY evil monsters like Hitler, Stalin, and Mass Murders go. Hell, however, is very real, and I could end up there. The genie is out of the bottle and there is no way to put it back. Maybe ignorance is bliss! Maybe all the knowledge I have of salvation, God's demands of me (to be Christ), is too much for me to handle. Maybe it would be easier to be one of the masses who don't really know. This thought, of course is absurd! Lewis, in his attempt to remain "Merely Christian" leaves out some of the most important aspects that we, as Catholics (He was an Anglican at the publication of the book), have the Sacraments. This makes the pain and suffering of "dying to ourselves" a GLORIOUS experience! While I constantly and more progressively recognize the ugliness of my sins in the mirror of my soul, I have the saving and cleansing opportunity to receive absolution through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I can be clean in the eyes of the Lord through my own contrition and the saving grace of Confession. This, is not the end, however. I then, can physically take the Lord, Jesus Christ, into my body--his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity through the Eucharist. The graces of these Sacraments SQUASH the suffering of "dying to myself".
There is nothing in life worth anything in the whole picture of things. God is everything. Remember the words from the Gospel of Mathew (Mat 7:7): "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you". Today's Gospel of the parable of the Prodigal son (Luke: 15: 11-32) is a perfect example of this in action. So YES! With this knowledge, it is absolutely worth it! AMEN, AMEN!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Let us begin our Journey

The journey toward Glory begins today. Our Lenten voyage will not be without trouble. Of course, right off the bat, we know that the Glory of Easter only occurs AFTER Good Friday and the suffering of the Cross. That is a tough pill to swallow...but do not despair, because God is with us. Our personal journeys will be met with struggle. As mere humans, our personal struggles (ie, work, bills, etc.) are much more real to us than Jesus on the cross. We can take this time to bring the cross closer to reality. We can "pick up our crossess and follow the Lord". How we do this is different for each one of us, but keeping the Lord in our FOCUS is imperative! An increase in our prayer life is a great place to start our journey. An extra Rosary, prayer befor all meals (especially in restaurants), and REMEMBER...REMEMBER to go to Mass. Maybe even through in a weekday Mass here and there. Let us also remember that the WAR is already WON! GOD does not loose- we just have to choose to fight!

God Bless,

Lifehouse's Everything Skit

As we begin our Lenten journey, let us remember that no matter what we do, our Lord will ALWAYS fight for our righteousness! All we have to do is ASK! Jesus spent the time in the desert for YOU! This video is an amazing depiction of his love. Watch it over and over...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How God Knows Each one of us- words from Chesterton: By Rocco De Leo

I came across this poem on a recent catholic podcast- Chesterton certainly had a way with words. This work shows the great power of God over all things living and not, as well as the glory of God in EVERYTHING, as everything is here...and serve GOD. I particularly like the image of God making every daisy separately. Is this unlike how he makes each one of us? Think about that. God could simply put us through an assembly line production, but he doesn't. He loves each one of us. When Jesus died on the cross, he did not just do it for human kind, he did it for ME...and YOU...and your Aunt, your Uncle, and everyone else each separately. Think about what that means. Remember the vast power of God, and remember that he is OUTSIDE of time. He is and knows all that was, is, and will be. So when he was on the cross, he knew you...he loved you...and he died for you. Here's the poem:

A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; until [the grown-up] is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is… It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy… Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg. - G.K. Chesterton