Category Archives: Religion

Laetare Sunday

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent, also called Laetare Sunday. The name comes from the first words of the Introit for the Mass, “Laetare, Jerusalem”, which translates to “Rejoice, O Jerusalem”.

Today’s Gospel reading is the well-known story of the miracle of loaves and fishes. Being raised Catholic, I’ve heard this story many many times. However, only recently since I’ve found my way back to the Church have I really started listening and thinking about what the Gospels have to tell us. Luckily at our Church we have well-learned priests to explain the symbolism and meaning, so I’m pulling from their knowledge (see our Bulletin for April 3  for guidance from our Priest) as well as that found at sites like Fish Eaters.

The miracle of loaves and fishes is many things, the first being the symbolism of the Eucharist to come (The Last Supper).  Jesus “feeds” the physical hunger of the multitude with bread, symbolizing the sacrifice to come and how He will feed the spiritual hunger of the faithful. When all are full, the fragments are gathered to fill twelve baskets, representing the twelve Apostles and their mission to go forth and feed His people.

In our homily today, we learned that another facet of this Gospel is the interaction with Philip and Andrew. We see that Jesus tested Philip’s faith:

When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Philip’s faith was weak, and he did not trust in the Lord to provide. Jesus next tested Andrew, whose faith was stronger than Philip’s. Andrew knew that Elisha fed 100 men with 20 loaves in 2 Kings 4:42-44, but to feed 5000 with 5 loaves made him doubt as well.

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

Lastly, the Gospel concludes with Jesus feeling into the mountains to be alone. He knew that the people wanted to make him their king, not in a spiritual sense, but the political leader of their country. Their enthusiasm wasn’t the true faith, and Jesus knew that they weren’t ready. Jesus knew that He needed to die on the cross in order to save us, and to be made king of Israel would have interfered with His plan.

Is your faith as strong as it could be, or is yours the faith of Philip and Andrew?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huh?

H/T Jihad Watch:

There are times when I read things and have to read them again to make sure I understood it right. There are truly some confused people in this world.

How is it possible for a reverend in the Episcopal church to think it is acceptable to pray to another god? I’m all for understanding other religions, but this guy was kneeling, facing Mecca, and praying to Allah. If he is truly praying to Allah he is violating one of the main precepts of his faith, and if he is “faking” it, he’s disrespecting those who DO worship Allah. Either way, at the very least it was a stupid thing to do, and most likely he should not be in a leadership position in the Episcopal church.

Sunday Best

I found myself in a conversation several months ago about the proper way to dress for Sunday Mass. The other person took the position that it shouldn’t matter how you dress for church, whereas I held the position that one should dress up.

What I found interesting is that I used to have the same opinion that they did. I convinced myself that God paid no attention to my clothes, that He only looked into my heart. I told myself that I didn’t need to go to a church, because I could just as easily pray to God on my own, whenever and wherever I wanted.

In reality I was just lazy in my faith. It was an inconvenience and a bother. I used logic to find reasons to avoid those things that I didn’t find important. My logic and reason made it easy for me to lose focus on God and gradually grow away from my faith. Somewhere along the way I was lucky enough to figure out what I was missing. I found my way back to the Church, and I realized the fallacy of my ways.

People used to talk about wearing their “Sunday Best” clothes. These were typically a special set of clothes that were worn to church on Sunday and on a few special occasions. In many cases, these were the only nice clothes that someone had, and they were very careful to take care of them. They wore their best clothes to church because they knew how important it was to present the best they had to offer to God on His day and in His house. Church on Sunday wasn’t just another day and party like any other, it was something special that needed special focus.

I mentioned before how my logic convinced me to stop going to Church. I didn’t need to be in a certain place at a certain time. I was wrong, of course (I was wrong about many things when I was younger). Prayer for many people is a lot like college. No one will make you go to class. You may tell yourself that you’ll make up for skipping class by studying, but really you’ll just fall behind. Then you’ll skip another class, and then another, and before you know it you stopped going altogether and failed the class. Without the structure of attending Mass, it was all to easy to neglect my faith and forget about God. Attending Mass is a lot like wearing those Sunday Best clothes; it brings our focus to God. It reminds us that we’re doing something important and momentous when we worship Him in His house. Sure, you can say a prayer here and there during the day, but to focus all your attention on Him during Mass is really a special feeling.

I’m sure many people will read this and feel like this is an indictment of how they choose to practice their faith. Please keep in mind that it is not my intention to disparage others, but to share some of my experiences and failings. I wish I had not wasted all those years, and if someone reads this and sees a little of this in themselves, maybe I’ll have done a little of God’s work.

The reason for evil.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the shooting in Arizona. Whenever something tragic happens and innocent lives are lost, it brings up the question of why there is such evil in the world.

Some would argue against the existence of a God for just this reason, that God would surely not allow such evils to come to His children. Those people fail to see the beauty and goodness in others, and only focus on the bad.

Without darkness we would not understand light. Without cold we would not know the meaning of hot. Without evil we would not know of good. We need to see both good and evil and choose for ourselves which path to follow. The path of right leads us to God and love, whereas the path of evil leads to eternal damnation. God could have made us like cardboard cutouts, simply standing where we are told to stand, but then we would be unable to love Him. We need to give our love freely to Him just as He does to us.

We are asked to avoid evil, to drive it out, to fight against it in our daily lives. Sometimes that fight is personal, such as resisting the temptation to lie or cheat on a test, for instance. We may see someone being mistreated and be hesitant to get involved. A few may be called to join in a bigger fight, maybe to protect innocents from genocide in another country, or to add our voices to challenging abortion rights.

Regardless of how significant the choice may seem, we must make it ourselves. No one can choose for us. Ultimately we will answer for that choice.

Once again, stupidity rules the day.

H/T Mankato Free Press:

Here’s another case of do-gooders doing what they do best. Pre-schoolers at a Head Start in Minnesota won’t be visited by the local Santa because someone supposedly complained that it offended their Muslim beliefs.

A private citizen (yes, a citizen, since you just never know these days) has been donating his time and money to bring a little fun to the kids at the Head Start. A couple short half-hour vists – nothing excessive. Apparently some Somali immigrants complained because they don’t celebrate Christmas.

Amazingly enough, people are surprised that the Head Start administrators gave in. I’m surprised that Santa and Christmas were being allowed there in the first place. I doubt they’re saying the Pledge of Allegiance in the mornings either.

There are several solutions to this problem that would have occurred to normal rational people. One would have been to warn the parents ahead of time so they could make arrangements for their kids to go to a different room while Santa visited. Another would have been to invite the Muslim equivalent of Santa – whatever that is – to visit the class as well.

In the name of tolerance, we avoid offending the few by punishing the many. How far we have fallen.

And we’re the intolerant ones?

We’re constantly being told how intolerant we are towards Muslims. Sites like this one post supposed “facts” pointing to increases in hate-crime towards Muslims. Of course, they get their facts from CAIR, known for it’s ties to Hamas, which isn’t exactly known for it’s own tolerance.

Recently in a Turkish cemetery, a Christian was moved to a different gravesite due to complaints by Muslims. Apparently he was too close to their departed, and was causing them grief. Somehow the dead Christian was making it hard for them to perform their Muslim prayers. Interestingly enough, he was buried with both Christian and Muslim rites, due to his acceptance of both religions and desire to encourage the same tolerance that these objectors reject.

Can you imagine if someone requested a Muslim grave be moved for the same reason? How about the grave of a homosexual or a person of another race? No, that would never happen, because WE’RE not the ones running around preaching jihad and the death of infidels. We just want people to do their own thing and leave each other alone.

Sharia law in action

H/T Jihad Watch

Could someone explain to me again how it’s the USA that’s terrible and the rest of the world is wonderful? How our customs are so offensive to the sensibilities of others?

A Saudi woman spent 6 months in jail for disobeying her father. Yes, disobeying her father, at the age of 32. She’d been married before and divorced and wanted to marry again, but the wonderful culture and religion in her country makes her completely subservient to her father. She had the nerve to disobey him and for that was thrown into jail with no formal charges or verdict. It wasn’t until a human rights group made the issue public that the kingdom was more or less shamed into releasing her.

An amazing show of faith

We’ve all followed the spectacular rescue of 33 mine workers trapped in a mine in Chile for 69 days. It was an uplifting story in more ways than one. 33 people managed to work together to survive for 17 days, not knowing if anyone knew they were still alive or if they would be rescued. People all across the world pitched in to do whatever necessary to save them. They didn’t whine, they didn’t sit around talking about it – they took action and made it happen.

The other story is about faith. The miners used their faith in God to help them through the ordeal. They didn’t sit around moaning about how God “let” them get trapped. They didn’t complain that God wasn’t helping them quickly enough. Instead they waited patiently and prepared themselves for the day when they would be saved. When that time came, they gave all glory and thanks to God for the gift of life that they were given.

This story can be seen as a metaphor for our lives here on earth. In a way, we are the miners trapped here in the darkness. We’re waiting for God to save us, but in the meantime we need to give Him thanks for the gifts that He has given us. We need to prepare for the day when he pulls us from the darkness into the light.

So many have lost their way in the darkness. They have given up hope and have turned away from God. When He comes to save us, they will be left behind. We need to be like Luis Urzua, the shift supervisor from the mine, who encouraged the men to fight to survive and prepare for their rescue. We need to encourage those around us who have turned away from God to come back to Him.

Is Obama a Muslim?

One of the big stories in the news lately has been the poll that showed almost 20% of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim. Of course, the various reports of the poll that I heard on the radio were always phrased something like this from a FoxNews article: “A new survey reports a sharp increase in the number of Americans who, incorrectly, say President Obama is a Muslim.” The interesting thing here is the assertion by the news media – even FoxNews that is supposedly SO right-wing – that Obama is a Christian just because he says he is.

When you take the politics out of this and boil it down to common sense, it’s fairly straightforward. “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” – Wikipedia Kyle-Ann Shiver at American Thinker lines out all the things that make Americans think that he’s a Muslim – and there are quite a few.

As usual, the mainstream media missed the point completely. The MSM wants to talk about how either Americans aren’t very smart, or Obama doesn’t publicize his visits to Church enough.

Whether he is a card-carrying Muslim or not is hardly important. The bigger point is what Obama’s Muslim leanings mean to this country. His “soft spot” for the Muslim faith is affecting our relationships with both our allies and our enemies. His actions are an indication that his allegiance isn’t necessarily to America, and that scares people.

If Obama keeps looking, swimming and quacking like a duck, more and more Americans are going to assume he’s a duck.