Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Super-quick post

I'm still around, I just haven't had much desire to blog. It's been too nice outside, the Cardinals are playing sluggishly, and I'm trying to get a few things taken care of around the apartment.

With that excuse out of the way, I shall now post something that's been nagging me for weeks. As much as I want to continue doing the latest political news all the time, I'm kind of burned out on it. I'll still post on the various doings of our national and state pols, but having gotten back into the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, I find that a lot of it is just kind of the same old thing, but this time with new hype.

Don't get too worried, I'm still a Republican. Though I'm sure some would say I've gotten a bit more liberal because I am known to occasionally talk about God as merciful and loving. Nah, I'm still the same pro-life, pro-gun, pro-military guy you all know and love. I'm just not quite as intense about the stuff I was all up in arms about the past few years. I'm think this is God's way of telling me to relax a bit.

Prayer helps out a lot when relaxing, and it also can bring insights into your worries. Want the War on Terror to end and have our troops return home safely and victoriously? Pray. Want to see past all the rhetoric thrown about by Democrats and Republicans about how faith should be handled in public? Pray. Want to get a better understanding of your faith? Pray.

Catholics out there: If you've got rosary beads out there, use them. Not only can you pray the traditional Marian devotion and Fatima prayers, there's also a nice little prayer out there called the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It uses the same rosary, and is pretty easy to remember. It asks Jesus to extend His Mercy to us and to the whole world. It doesn't take too long to complete, either. I think it makes for a nice morning prayer, actually.

All in all, pray for peace, but don't let your guard down. Some people might find prayer to be a sign of weakness. Those people aren't very bright.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Not-So-Secret Secrets of Good Friday

Today we remember the Passion and Death of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. From movies such as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ to simple things such as going through the Stations of the Cross, Catholics are reminded of the immense suffering that preceded the death of Jesus. We are reminded of this each time we meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane was the first injury to Jesus, but to his heart, not his body. He suffered as he saw his friends drift away in sleep, as if they had already forgotten Him. He suffered as Judas Iscariot led the mob to arrest Him. This would have destroyed the faith of many as they see their friends easily turned against them. What saved Jesus from collapsing to his knees and begging for mercy?

As Jesus was judged by Pontius Pilate, the Sanhedrin and Herod, He was beaten, mocked and spat upon. His earthly form was torn apart by the scourge. His captors wanted to break Him, to see this King of the Jews weep and cry out for relief. What gave Jesus the physical strength to endure deprivation of food and sleep as well as being scourged up to the point of death?

The answer to both questions is that He did not fight God's will. Yes, he asked it to be passed over Him, but in the end realized that man's salvation would never occur unless He gave his life as the Passover sacrifice and carried away the sins of the world. To accept God's will is to become unstoppable in purpose. When we give ourselves up to God, we become the instruments of His will. We carry out His commands, and find our faith strengthened. This is the first Not-so-Secret Secret of Good Friday.

As Jesus hung on the cross for those long hours, he was mocked by those who passed by. The only ones who supported him were his mother and disciples. He had no other comfort until the thief next to him asked to be remembered in Heaven and forgiven. Jesus forgave him even in His suffering. Upon His death, the Roman centurion who had seen to it that Jesus suffered mightily through scourging, the crowning with thorns and carrying His cross exclaimed "Truly this man was the Son of God!" Even those who may mock and harass a Christian for his beliefs may find the one thing that brings them to the salvation and Mercy of Jesus Christ. This is the second Not-So-Secret Secret of Good Friday.

The third Not-So-Secret Secret is that Jesus rose from the dead, proof that salvation would be given to all who believed. To fulfill this, Jesus realized that He must die. Not a near-death experience, not a coma, but death itself would be His next experience. Until Easter comes, we can only keep vigil over the tomb, preparing for His glorious Resurrection.

Surrender to God's will, Conversion, and the promise of Resurrection are the three gifts given to us on Good Friday. The year has reached its lowest point, but wait patiently and you will see these gifts bear fruit. We have lost our Lord for only a short while, and we shall be consoled in our mourning. Our faith has been shaken but like St. Peter, we will return to what is right once we understand what has occurred. He shall rise again. We all are saved through it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Catholic Universities: Are they losing faith?

I'm in both a mood for politics and religion, so I think I'll write today about Catholic universities and the crisis between maintaining a Catholic identity or an open atmosphere. This Catholic Online article talks about the problems that arise when school administrators make tolerance their guiding principle instead of doctrine. This is the case at places like DePaul University where the guiding principle seems to be "Don't argue with the non-white students." Thomas Klocek's ongoing case in arguing with a Palestinian student group should be enough evidence of DePaul worried more about looking "intolerant" than "engaging." Why shouldn't the students be engaged in argument about their positions, especially when those positions contradict Catholic teaching? Many of the conservative positions I hold on use of military force, economics and religion were held in contempt at Southern Illinois, but arguing with my teachers gave me a chance to defend my positions and reinforce my own knowledge of the subjects. Some of my positions were changed to becoming more conservative than they were prior to attending SIU thanks to those teachers.

Regardless of my opinions, what are Catholic schools to do? Do they ignore the non-Catholics in their midst and go to a position where they conform completely to Catholic doctrine, or is there wiggle room? Notre Dame would find that it was a shadow of its former self if the party atmosphere was removed. DePaul would have difficulty maintaining its reputation for tolerance if it started kicking socialists out of the faculty. DePaul even has a "Queer Studies" minor. Considering that the GLBT community is considered disordered according to the Catechism, it's very surprising to see such a thing in a Catholic university catalog. Ultimately, though, those who teach these classes should ask themselves if they're offering it as an alternative view or giving support against Church teachings. If it's the first, how the classes are presented are going to be very important. The second option then creates a problem where a Catholic university is standing in opposition of the Church. At what point is that position enough to remove a university from its status as a Catholic school?

I would like to see more Catholic schools reassert their identity by coming more in line with the Catechism and with the ideals presented in Pope John Paul II's letter Ex Corde Ecclesiae, but it's very difficult to do that and make sure you can keep a steady flow of students. Less money means fewer teachers and fewer ideas to toss around. Finding groups on campus who are at odds with Catholic teaching, such as Communists or pro-abortion groups, could lead people to believe that the faculty and administration have given their blessing to said groups. When that happens, those who oppose such groups also believe that the groups in question are given some kind of insulation from criticism. This is how it appears to me at DePaul in the Klocek case.

At the same time, I don't think that the schools need to remove all traces of heterodoxy from the campus. Exposing the students to people and ideas they never encountered prior to attending college is a good thing. Such exposure may reinforce their previously-held beliefs, and some beliefs may change. The students must also be allowed to make judgments about what they've seen, even if said judgments go against what the college has in mind. Catholic school administrators and faculty must be clearer in presenting material that may contradict Church teaching. The viewpoints that contradict Church teaching should be taught in such a way to clearly explain where it differs and why, even to the point of making the teachers uncomfortable. If you teach at a Catholic university, shouldn't you at least present the Catholic viewpoint as a valid one worthy of supporting above others? Doing otherwise would seem like biting the hand that feeds you. Showing mercy and charity in the academic world does not mean always allowing sanctuary for those who oppose the Catholic Church. It is high time Catholic administrators remember that. Expose students to heterodox ideas, but do not place them on the same moral level as Catholic teaching. Doing that only leads to replacing God with whatever is convenient.