Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A few questions

There were a couple of good questions posed to me regarding my last post. The first question arises from the what I wrote concerning giving up playing the childish game of imposing the punishments of a vindictive God on ourselves when things don't go the way we want them to and how that plays out on the larger scale of salvation history, specfically in the Pentateuch and, closer to our day, the idea that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment on the city of New Orleans. Such questions are common questions, I appreciate somebody having the gumption to ask them

I would begin by pointing out that the larger question is not really what my post was about. It is about the spiritual life of a Christian, one who wants to move toward Christian maturity, not pronouncing judgment on the world. Then I would say that if, as a believer, you think that every bad thing that happens to you or anybody is a punishment for sin and that you must appease God to correct the situation you are, if unwittingly, like Job's friends, who were wrong. A good frame of reference for what I am trying to communicate is the second reading, taken from Romans, from last Sunday: Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

The Presence is just that, never absence. God is present with us even in our suffering and through our sufferings. This is precisely where we must learn to depend on God and not be a slave to circumstances, it is the path freedom, which is our destiny. It is by embracing sufferings, hardships, deprivations, bearing wrongs patiently that we realize and fulfill destiny, that is, the end for which we are created.

Addressing the question a little more directly, we must note that in the Jewish Scriptures the warnings about what would happen if fidelity to the covenant was not observed also had the promise of restoration. So, God never gave up on the covenant with Israel, even if Israel suffered for her infidelities. I suggest reading Romans for more on this, especially chapters 8-11. The church is no different. I believe that what we have experienced in the church in the U.S. over these past several years is a purification, a needed correction.

Hurricane Katrina was not God's punishment and Catholics that believe such things do so on no authority but their own. I like what Capuchin friar, Fr. Raniero Cantalmessa, the preacher of the papal household, had to say: "A disaster like this is not a punishment but a warning for everybody that we should be vigilant and should not put all our trust in what can be taken away in one day, if not by the flood of water, then by the flood of time. Time passes and will take everything".

The second concern had to do with how us being the tabernacle of Christ's presence in and for the world ties in with Eucharistic adoration. I think prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is essential and a practice to which I often have recourse. I suppose it can be done in a way that is counterproductive. The Blessed Sacrament is an object of worship because our Lord is the object of worship. It is none other than he who we worship in the Blessed Sacrament. If I didn't believe this I would not lead Eucharistic Adoration on the first Thursday of every month or Vespers and Benediction 2 or 3 Sundays a month. Beyond that I'll stick with what I quoted from Sacramentum Caritatis and reiterate that just as there has to be a connection between Mass and life, there must also be a connection between Eucharistic Adoration and life.

Again good questions because they are sincerely posed. For a truly inspired post-Evangelical Protestant perspective that demonstrates the how of depending on God in Christ, please see the Imonk's The Suburban Jesus Hates Me. Besides, as Green Day astutely observed awhile ago, "the Jesus of Suburbia is a lie".

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