Confession: Common things I say

Recently, Sr Teresa Aletheia asked for a quote for me on the topic of Confession. I had returned from World Youth Day, and was a month behind preparing for the new school year, I could only come up with a sentence.

It is important to bear these things in mind:

  1. The Sacrament of Penance may be therapeutic, but it is not a counseling session.

Although I am open to give practical advice, or helpful perspective, I believe the grace of God that they receive in that Sacrament is more important than anything that I can say. I also believe that people would be happy for there to be advice or perspective that is not merely practical, but explicitly  spiritual. Finally, bearing in mind, that many people don’t want or need any advice whatsoever (often this is how I feel going to the Sacrament), I merely need the grace that the Sacrament offers.

  1. People may need moral clarity, but it is not primarily a catechetical session.

I have had a difficult time with older priests assuming that I am paralyzed with guilt over sins. Catholic guilt is not something I suffer from. In fact, I wish my contrition was deeper and more heartfelt. I don’t think a person needs to be explained that they did not in fact sin according to the theological moral criterion and definition of sin. The peace that forgiveness grant’s is more important. That doesn’t mean that the questions of a penitent ought to be disregarded.

  1. People are not forced into the Confessional these days.

Involved Catholics gripe that there is not enough talk of sin in the pulpit. I am sure there are some who would want to know that I am scolding & castigating every last sinner who comes in. The fact is, nowadays, there are no social pressures to go to Confession. Whether or not there should be is another question. What that means, is that whoever shows up, has done so freely, set aside time from their busy life, because they know what they did is wrong, and they know that they need the help of God and the Church. They don’t need moral lessons, they need God’s grace.

  1. Catholics are not encouraged to grow spiritually

I find that most of their regular sins are their own personal spiritual plateau. Faith Formation ends at 14 for most Catholics. Catholics have mistaken holy darkness for atheism or agnosticism. Sometimes a one-on-one session with a Priest is an opportunity to teach them that God’s plan for them is satisfying beyond their wildest dreams.

Now when they show up, I keep these things in mind, and it informs the advice that I give them. As I have advised often, I find that there are a things that I turn to often. People think that they are so alone and unique in their sins and struggles.

  1. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an Encounter with Christ and his mercy.

I know I can get legal minded, and I do encounter this with others as well. This is how relationships are made whole, by communication, by apologizing, by receiving forgiveness. It is personal, not just legal. Sometimes the remorse of the sin, or the preoccupation with the ritual can make people forget that Christ stands at the center of this.

  1. Strategies are not as effective as God’s grace.

I get a Confession of a sin, followed by a lengthy explanation of what they are doing to work on that sin. Maybe they are used to priests scolding them, or challenging them to think about ways to overcome that. Any strategy we make to overcome sin is entirely ineffective if we are not praying, not going to confession, not receiving the sacraments. I often find that the practical advice is inadequate. The most that I often do is ask them to find a mentor or few friends who can help with advice and accountability.

  1. Read the Scriptures

I know Catholics suck at reading or studying the Scriptures. I am not comfortable giving this out as a penance to many people, because many people look at the bible like operating a complicated and elite piece of machinery. I remind them that the Psalms are a good source of prayer, and the Gospels are how we can know about Jesus. This is also very dangerous. It can provoke them to love God and others more.

  1. The Holy Spirit seems to be working in their life

I can’t count how many times, someone enters Confession, after having to traverse many internal challenges. I really admire so many people boldly crying out to Christ in their brokenness. I am moved. As they are their wallowing, imagining that God wants to lunge and hurl condemnations, that the opposite is very true. The courage that to show up is probably an indication of the Spirit’s guidance in their life.

When Penance time comes around I usually assign a few non-traditional penances

  1. Read the Sunday Bible Readings

Every once and a while, I find that someone wants more. They have no legitimate mentors in their life to steer them in the direction of mature faith. One simple thing anyone can do is spend some time in prayer with the Readings for Mass. I started doing this my Senior Year of High School, now it’s my job to do it.

  1. Gratitude List

If someone doubts, they need to see evidence of God’s loving activity in their life. If someone sins, they need to see evidence that God will care for their needs. A gratitude list is a practical way for anyone to look with their eyes, and read aloud, the good things God does for them. Then they can thank them in a Litany. I tell them, as a penance, that they are required to do this once within 3 days, and that I encourage them to do it regularly 1-2x/week. This is very much rooted in Augustine’s Confessions: Writing down exactly how God has been good and generous in your life.

  1. Jesus Prayer

This is one of the ancient practices of our faith. Catholics are trained to see encountering God as a tedious, and often emotionally exhausting exercise, instead of seeing Christ as the source of all our new life. I find, over and over, Catholics are astounded that we have had this simple quiet meditation prayer for centuries, and that they are only hearing about it now.

  1. Offer a Mass Intention / Offer a Holy Hour

I save this one for Catholics that I have indication to believe that they are involved in their faith. I charge them to offer a Mass intention or a Holy Hour (it depends on the circumstances), in reparation for their sins, and in reparation for others who have struggled with the same sin. Sometimes I hear confessions before Mass, or during a Holy Hour. I also trust that they might be happy to bring their bibles, rosaries, and prayer books to adoration, and be set.

 

iWorship and the Analogical v Dialectic Imagination

judgmentOne time I went on a rant about iWorship. I saw the thing come up in my Google Play store. I just threw up my arms as another indication of how evangelical christian culture has for decades recycled pop culture gimmicks in order to create a family friendly bubble.

I am referring to all the media, music, books & tshirts which take an item, image, slogan, or idea in pop culture, and spin it for Jesus. While rebranding something as Christian, or Jesus, they will take the exact graphic design, color scheme, or jingle to “give God the Glory!

Nearly 2 decades ago, an LA-area rap group LPG (for living proof of grace), would spend time rapping at non-Christian venues. They went to open mics, and had a lot of street cred. On one of their records, they made the claim that you shame God with lousy art. Being prophetic while maintaining street cred, I imagine it would be difficult to gain a foothold in either the pop culture entertainment industry or the Christian media industry which had become pop culture’s hapless wannabe fangirl.

So there is, among non-Catholics, plenty of contention. The position of favor is still lopsided for superficial swapmeet knockoff media. These sort of debates just do not happen among Catholics. In addition, there are just no noticeable Catholics trying to create an alternative family-friendly media industry. Perhaps there are Catholics who like this alternative family-friendly bubble, perhaps there are self-identified Catholics without backbone who are complete sell-outs to the culture. Perhaps most Catholics don’t guess that there is a dichotomy between faith and culture, and there may be some evangelicals that presume that there is.

I have referred to the way some of these debates have played out in terms of “Whether Reform Rap Music is Valid.” There are just not debates among Catholics on what is an appropriate means to proclaim the faith. There are old Catholics who just don’t get the New Evangelization, but may still support it, and there are young Catholics looking for creative methods to Evangelize. The Dichotomy between believers and the world is not a central issue.

I do believe that some of this is rooted in Calvin. I also think some of it is rooted in what Theologian David Tracy refers to the Analogical v Dialectic Imagination. Although there are many exceptions, and things can get very complex, the Protestant Christian has traditionally put emphasis on the Proclamation of the Word of God, while Catholics (as well as Orthodox & some other non-Catholic Christians), have emphasized the Sacramental encounter with the Living God. Whereas the Analogical Imagination emphasizes the ineffable and what is beyond the senses, the Dialectic Imagination emphasizes what is immediately before you. While the Analogical Imagination keeps things open ended, the Dialectic Imagination attempts to be conclusive. The Analogical Imagination rests on a liturgical & sacramental encounter of cosmic proportions, while the Dialectic Imagination rests on a very clear and quantifiable proclamation of the Word of God.

Both have their strengths, and benefits. Set apart, the two can become problematic. Vatican II has attempted to help most Catholics rediscover the Dialectic through an emphasis on the Word of God, the accessibility of Church Documents, and the New Evangelization. Many smaller visionary non-Catholic Christian communities have attemptedto recapture Liturgy, Ritual, the Season of Advent.

One place where the chasm between the Analogical and Dialectic has reached its extreme would be Evangelical Mega-Church Christianity.

When a group of devout Evangelical non-denominational Christians get together and make a movie, they hope to create a movie with major box-office appeal. Christians gather at special screenings hosted by Churches/Christian Communities across the country. Critics of film dismiss the movie. Christians consider it the manner of the world to “hate Jesus” or “hate Christians” or whatever.

While most basic students of film know that what makes film true art is the ability of a filmmaker to tell a story with a wide variety of strong images. Instead, the Dialectic Imagination proclaims. It does not conceive of communicating itself through images, symbols and emotions as much as by explicit words. It does not imagine the possibilities that are crafted subtly and expressed with nuance on film.

Although anyone with a balanced imagination will make room for a variety of expressions, some Evangelicals might believe that it is good to proclaim Jesus explicitly. That if Jesus name, or the Sinner’s Prayer, or the right formula of the Proclamation of our Salvation is omitted, somehow people will not come into a personal relationship with Jesus. If it is not spoken, it cannot be heard. The analogical imagination will admit that there is much that can be heard without having to be spoken.

To continue, a mega Church might have a Cross. Crucifixes, Statues, frescoes, mosaics, and the like or generally forbidden. Jesus is not venerated with the eyes, therefore nothing as heartfully enthralling as the Sinai Christ could occur in a Mega Church. You might get this. But most likely, you will have powerpoint Praise & Worship lyrics over altered images of grandiose nature.

My home parish, the San Gabriel Mission has stations of the Cross painted by the local indigenous of the 18th century. Jesus had brown skin, and the Roman Soldiers wore the armor of Spaniards. A Catholic Church in Lagos & A Catholic Church in Nagasaki will look very different, but they will both attempt, with what is sensible to the locals to reflect in wonder at the possibilities of the Divine. A Mega-Church outside of Austin TX & a storefront Pentecostal community in Baldwin Park CA may appear as different structures, but are still the same humdrum structures. Neither admits a structural purpose to communicate a unique wonder of the possibilities of the Divine.

iWorship can only bud in a lopsided Dialectic world. Swap meet knock off Christianity is nourished where no credence is given to art, imagination, or poetry. That’s why there are many non-Catholics who love Jesus madly and refuse to take part in these shenanigans, while also recognizing that the Secular Pop Culture is not as antagonistic towards Christianity as they were told.

But for all the Catholics reading my post, wonder if they are in danger of getting lost in Analogical Reasoning? Hardly.

My experience is that many American Catholics have become lopsided and thoughtless Dialectics. The Analogical is so absent today, that I can’t even think of the dangers of it’s extreme unbalanced realization. Many Catholics have tossed out their Analogical Imagination, with it’s mystery, poetry, and ineffability for clear expositions of Doctrine & Morals. Many Catholics have forgotten brilliant fiction Flannery O’Conner, Graham Greene & Evelyn Waugh, and opted to experience their faith exclusively through the Catechism, Theology of the Body, or the Blogosphere. While I am glad there is still interest in Tolkien, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit has banalized the masterpiece. In the same way, most Catholics are too timid of contamination to thoughtfully engage in art, film or music.

American Catholics are desperate to have it all spelled out conclusively, and are quick to banish as heresy, heterodoxy, or vaguely suspicious anything without a preface stating absolute obedience to the Magisterium. It is as if the standard ageless profession of faith cannot be taken seriously these days, because some Catholics have failed to keep it. Likewise, they are so jaded by modern failures in art, that they imagine truth or beauty exists in some scientifically quantifiable medium that ought to be revived, such as baroque or polyphony. Unfortunately, they are not always doing so to be captured by the magnificence & beauty of long forgotten forms of liturgical worship, as much as they are looking for an objective standard by which to crusade against and banish folksy washed-up-flower-child-happy-clappy-Masses.

To an even greater extent, Catholics that dismiss dogma, are radically Dialectic. They dismiss the dogmas traditionalists defend with their own dogmas of modernism, peace, tolerance or social justice, that are primarily Dialectic. Dialectic Reasoning too often relies on antagonism. Our faith is only consequently antagonistic with the flesh, because it is primarily a love affair with the Incarnate Son of God.

Yet, the Dialectic Imagination is not in itself awful. It has become the exclusive obsession of Evangelical Mega-Church Christianity, and sometimes among American Catholics. Even in our faith, it has it’s time and place, and is not hierarchically subservient to the Analogical Imagination. The two can be mutually complementary, but the Analogical Imagination is all too often dismissed. It may very well be that an academic work by a Catholic on the faith be subject to the CDF, but it would seem a categorical error to subject an artistic work on the faith to the CDF.

I once read a quote that “Atheism is having a broken imagination.” I think that many Catholics have a broken imagination if they can only imagine Dialectical. If you find the thought of the Analogical Imagination terrifying, you might be a child who can’t swim in an ocean. No one who has masterfully explored the ocean would blame the terror exclusively on the ocean as much as the child who can’t swim or navigate it with the proper equipment. The Analogical Imagination is always a little risky compared to the Dialectic Imagination’s risk management. However, the Dialectic Imagination is still a very small world often unbalanced of wonder as the Analogical Imagination.

Reading & Studying Augustine: Why confessions may not always be the best place to start

Yesterday, I wrote about Augustine’s Confessions, today I want to write about the rest of his works. This post is especially written for anybody who has picked up the Confessions, and found it too confusing to continue. This is also for people who are interested in the Church Fathers, or particularly Augustine, but are somewhat at a loss from where to start (or go) after the Confessions. If you look at the bottom you can see which works are easier to read, and which are more challenging.

Augustine was incredibly popular in his day. Today, he is exiled from popular devotion, and left for those fancy inte-mallectuals over there. You don’t find Augustine statuettes or prayer cards in the Cathedral giftshop or your grandma’s purse. Despite his renown in his day, he is relatively untapped.

Despite reverence for Augustine among young Catholics, they dare not his literary corpus that includes a Spiritual Autobiography, the Confessions & the Retractions, Theological Books:  Trinity & City of God; Polemical Works: Against Heresies, Donatists, Pelagians, Arians, Manichees etc; 270 Letters; Pastoral Works; Many Exegetical Works on the New Testament, Commentaries on John’s Writings, and the Psalms, and 400+ Sermons.

They imagine a Monolithic Intellectual Bishop that smashed heretics to smithereens.  They look up his works, and don’t know where to start. They are allured to this succinct poetic quote. They feel drawn, they read the Confessions, their head spins, they never finish.

Augustine’s Confessions are not esoteric writing for spiritual elite, intellectually superior, or well-lettered persons, but the Confessions are not for everyone. Augustine wrote his Confessions for detractors, because he had nothing to hide. On the flipside, his Confessions were written at a time when printed works were not widely available. Therefore, it is unlikely that Augustine imagined that the Confessions would or should become his most widely distributed work.

What is behind this discrepancy of Augustine

There is an unusual discrepancy between the modern unapproachable Augustine and the popular Augustine of his time. Augustine was seized by the people to become their bishop. Before becoming bishop, Augustine would take the long way travelling between towns. He was attempting to avoid towns that he knew would make him bishop. Keep in mind, this was all before Augustine was a priest. Augustine’s intended to develop a new form of monasticism based on friendship and charity, not by becoming a clergyman, and not by asceticism and remoteness to the cities. Augustine was popular to an illiterate Church, how can he be so unknown to today’s literate Church?

It is clear that Augustine was renown for his preaching and speaking, not for his writing? Augustine has 400+ Sermons intact today. A Sermon, an Exposition on the Psalm, a Homily on a passage from the Gospel of John is packed with practical and spiritual advice that I am sure his flock cherished. Christians of Augustine’s time were not generally interested in the self-disclosure of the Confessions, as the meaning of the Scriptures for their own lives. They did not go to Augustine to hear him talk about himself, they came to Augustine to hear him talk about Christ, God’s revelation to humankind. In Augustine’s day, the starting point and ending point on Augustine’s literary works were only his works dealing with Scripture.

Browse any bookstore shelf, and you can find the Confessions & The City of God. If you are studying theology, or in part of a bookclub, or have a decent short commentary, I don’t recommend the City of God or the Trinity. I also don’t recommend them, because there are so many other better places to start. Augustine’s Sermons & Scriptural Works have not been widely available in English.

Augustine’s Works in English

An internet search of Augustine will lead you to New Advent’s archives of his writings. It is free. However, you will not find any commentaries on Augustine’s works. You get what you pay for, and you may not understand what you are reading. I do recommend taking a look over it. I especially recommend that if you have read the Confessions, and didn’t like it, to read a Sermon here, so you can see the difference. Not only is reading long term on the computer a problem for most people, but the translations of Augustine here tends to be more than a century old.

Catholic University of America Press, for almost a century, has endeavored to translate the Church Fathers into English. Most of Augustine’s works, in this series, were translated between 70 and 40 years ago. These are serious translations principally aimed at Patrology students and scholars. All Hardcover (only) starting at $35+. Missing in this series are most of Augustine’s Sermons and his commentary on the Psalms, but you may still find some of his exegetical works including the Homilies on John’s Gospel and Epistles. It should be clear that these are a reputable source for Augustine’s works, and I highly recommend them. However, I think that there is another more accessible (and complete) Augustine series available.

The Augustine Heritage Institute has set out to complete translations into English of the entire literary corpus of Augustine into an accessible and contemporary style. The Augustine Heritage Institute consists of Augustinians, and other international English speaking scholars on Augustine. The majority of his works are currently only available in hardcover, but many works that are worth looking at are also available in paperback, and a few in Kindle.

It is in this series that you find the Confessions endorsed by Augustinians: Maria Boulding’s English translation. The most recent publishing consists of Augustine’s Exegesis on the New Testament, to which I highly recommend. The City of God has been published in the past two years in Paperback and Kindle. A series of Writings dealing On Christian Belief is available in Paperback, and contains many shorter treatises on the faith that people will find accessible, particularly the Enchiridion (Handbook) on Faith Hope & Love.

You can find all five volumes of the Commentary on the Psalms in Paperback, as well as the currently available First Volume on Augustine’s Homilies on the Gospel of John. Augustine’s Homily on the Epistle of John is available in a slim volume, as well as on Kindle. Although the complete set of Sermons are only available in Hardcover, a single volume Essential Sermons is available in Paperback and Kindle.

So far, New City Press has yet to publish an anthology of Augustine’s entire corpus. There is a Vintage Classics anthology “Late Have I Loved Thee,” on Augustine’s writings on Love. There you will find some of his Sermons, Letters, Commentaries on the Psalms and Scriptures, which could be some of the best places to start. I do, however, find that the translations more convoluted then New City Press.

So, I have classified them below, from Beginner to Intermediate, to Advanced. I have placed The Confessions on intermediate, because I don’t think it is the best departure for Augustine studies for everyone. I have exclusively relied on New City Press editions of Augustine. I have placed Amazon links for print, and kindle where available.

Beginner

Works for beginners require a basic understanding of Sacred Scripture. Even reading the short introductions in most Catholic Bibles will suffice.

These selections are generally shorter. A Sermon might be a few pages. A Commentary on a Psalm may also be a few pages (or several). These would not require a long term commitment. Some of these consist of shorter treatises of Augustine.

Deeper study into Church History, Ancient Philosophy, Theology & Scripture will illumine more, but much can be received without a study of these.

Essential Sermons
|    Paperback    |    Kindle    |

Expositions on the Psalms
|    I Paperback    |    II Paperback     |    III Paperback    |    IV Paperback    |    V Paperback    |    VI Paperback  |

Homilies on the First Epistle of John
|    Paperback    |    Kindle    |

Enchiridion on Faith, Hope & Love (The Augustine Catechism)  Also available in On Christian Belief
|    Paperback    |    Kindle    |

On Christian Belief
|    Paperback    |

Intermediate

I would recommend that these works be studied after reading the short Introductions & Commentaries, or other writings / studies on these works. I also think that some initial study of Theology, Church History, and/or Ancient Philosophy should be a prerequisite.

Confessions
|    Paperback    |    Kindle    |    Study Edition    |

New Testament I & II
|    Paperback    |

Homilies on the Gospel of John I
|    Paperback    |

Marriage & Virginity
|    Paperback    |

On Genesis
|    Paperback    |

Advanced

I would not recommend reading these without becoming more familiar with Theology or Ancient Philosophy.  Neither would I recommend reading these without having first explored the commentaries from these books, or other articles about these works. 

Teaching Christianity
|    Paperback    |    Kindle    |

The City of God
|    Vol I Paperback    |    Vol I Kindle    |    Vol II Paperback    |    Vol II Kindle    |

Selected Works on Grace & Pellagianism
|    Paperback    |

The Trinity  
|    Paperback    |    Kindle    |

BONUS: If Beginner is too intimidating!

These are links to a few devotional type books. None of them actually cover an entire literary piece of Augustine, perhaps they are daily reflections. They would also help familiarize people with Augustine.

Day by Day with Saint Augustine by Fr Donald Burt, OSA

15 Days of Prayer with Saint Augustine by Fr Jaime Garcia, OSA

Augustine of Hippo by Fr Thomas Martin, OSA

Augustine Day by Day

Daily Meditations with Saint Augustine

Eschatology Part II: Resurrection, & Communion

Continuing in my serious on reflections on Eschatology, I wanted to reflect on something much more assertive and corrective in regard to how we see Eschatology. Eschatology, is a term, meaning, the theological study of Last-Thing, End-Times, Death, the Soul, and the like.

Previously, I had covered several things which remain in the Catholic consciousness, and which we may have learned overly simplified. Others, in the pop-culture subconscious, have taken Christian concepts, and taken them in another direction, thus stripping it of its power. I wanted to propose some of my reflections on Resurrection and Communion in regard to eschatology.

In the Old Testament, Pre-Christian era, there was a growing sense of afterlife. It was not specific in the Old Testament that you follow the Commandments for a better afterlife, but you find that the Hebrews came to believe that over the centuries. Up to the time of Jesus, many Hebrews were awaiting a Resurrection of the Dead, because no afterlife would be life without a soul-body union.

Therefore, the real reflection of the Afterlife has to come upon by the Resurrection of Christ. It was indeed a bodily Resurrection, signifying our on bodily Resurrection, and even a New Creation. Easter Sunday, after all, has traditionally been seen as the 8th Day. Jesus is physically present, but no physically bound in the ways we are. In fact, their awareness of who he is, only unravels gradually to Mary Magdalene and the other disciples. It is not an unraveling knowledge, but an opening awareness that happens in relationship, in other words, Communion.

This idea of Communion, that is central to our reception of Communion: It means a movement toward Communion with the Lord, and with all the Angels & Saints (including our loved ones gone before us). Joseph Ratzinger signifies that the principle of Communion developed before Christ, as people had a sense that death would begin to bring  us into Communion with the Lord and with our Ancestors. So for the Christian Resurrection will include the reality of Communion in a way we can only begin to try to imagine.

Communion is a sort of unmediated Communication. The awareness the Disciples had of the Lord’s presence in the Breaking of the Bread is not some mere knowledge, but a deep Spiritual Awareness or Comprehension. You might be having the gift of awareness of this Communion if it makes sense, principally after having received the Eucharist, or being in Eucharistic Adoration. Among your brothers and sisters, it will be as if everyone in one mind and one heart, approaches the Lord.

Our whole Liturgical Experience, on Sundays, speaks to this desire for complete communion everytime we sing the Sanctus. In the larger scheme of things, the ideas of Resurrection and Communion make sense as we progress through the Liturgical Year, culminating in the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, and eventually of Christ the King.

As I mentioned, I was stuck, and even somewhat trapped, by a more morbid sense of death, because the superficial ideas of afterlife had no power. I was finally liberated from it, by beginning to experience the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Life and Resurrection.

Eschatology Part I: Misconceptions

I have been engaging in a lot of reflection on the field of Catholic Eschatology in the past several months. I took a class in January on Creation & Eschatology, and already offered some comments on Creation Theology in reference to an assignment in the class. Over the course of the summer, I have been taking a summer chaplain training certification course, and has caused me to again reflect more tangibly on what Catholic Eschatology is about.

But, before I could offer that, I think there are a lot of misconceptions, or at least, over-simplifications on the topic. Traditionally, it was seen in terms of Hell, Purgatory, & Heaven. Often times, people conceive of these as locations or places, when they are more of a state. Conversely, people conceive of them principally as non-body places. That is, our soul, a pure thing, must escape the flesh/body, and go to the purely spiritual heaven. That is not the Catholic Tradition.

The trouble with this is, is that we, as a culture, have drifted so far from Christianity, that we no longer imagine, or conceive of ourselves as psycho-somatic unions (soul-body) unions, and in that unity we are ourselves. Instead we view ourselves disembodied, and the body as more of a hindrance, or perhaps something to be dismembered by plastic surgeries, and covered in tattoos. (Now don’t get me wrong, I personally like tattoos, but I wonder to the extant that we don’t truly value out bodies).

Even Christians, who become fascinated with the End-Times, and the Second Coming of Christ, imagine a heaven of disembodied Spirits, where the few righteous will be raptured and swept up away from all the sufferings that God’s wrath is just itching to unleash on humanity. In addition, I wonder to what extant their focal concern for Christ’s Second Coming is the result of having no theology of God’s immanence (God’s closeness). The Catholic Imagination is incredibly Sacramental, meaning God is bursting forth in so many moments in history and in the world.

Finally, in the west, Heaven has been conceived of in such shallow terms, that it looses is grandeur and power. For one, we non-challantly throw around stuff like “They are in a better place.” Which obviously offers no real consolation, because all the unjust malevallent villians will be dining with the decent people in a better place. Moreover, the better place, is more like suburban, upper class America, on an endless shopping spree, free of all imaginable inconveniences. Gone is the idea of Communion with the Lord and with our loved ones.

Therefore, your left with one other alternative, in the opposite extreme. Death is the end. Death is violent. Death is merciless. When we die, all is lost, and there is no more. I think I grew up believing in a superficial heaven, but I had not the strength, or confidence in the authority of that believe, to actually believe it. So instead, when I was confronted with death, I stuck with this morbid alternative, simply because it was the only thing that we could actually verify.

The Lost Art of Conversation (Song Lyrics)

The current incident now present unlike any other in our common recollection
Like a meaningless hustle multimedia distractions postmodernism disconnected
Concerned with the latest gimmicks and corrupt motives unsure of our intention
Without a split second to breathe in the substance and begin to ask a question
An incredible contact with miscellaneous languages dialects and expressions
While fears of overpopulation gives way to individualism sterile childlessness
A multitude of lexicons are expressed in a variety of media document systems
While every human person is busy proclaiming self all are too busy to listen
And the universe is more vast then we could imagine or even comprehend
The trivial insignificance of humankind becomes newly recognized in emphasis
Unsuccessfully mapping our humanity on statistics equations graphs and charts
Standing alone under the massive sky of stars like conversations a lost art

In the beginning was the Word one with God Christ the fullness of God’s revelation
God initiates the cosmos a spoken word to dialogue with His beloved creation
In the beginning was the Word one with God Christ the fullness of God’s revelation
It pleased God to make known his sacred will and share with us the divine nature

The people of Babylon constructed a tower to reach higher then heaven grasp
With the efforts of the communications were the makings of an experiential asp
In the midst of the massive conversation that nobody would understand
Until the Spirit breathed on Human flesh into the New Creation in God’s Land
A definitive event the Incarnation and starlight shone brilliantly over sand
God’s Divine word fully and unequivocally revealed in the one who is fully man
Two natures Divine and Human united entirely consubstantial and intact
Then the Logos recognized by Divine Assistance with an unrecognizable impact
Out of the immensity of all the World was chosen a people to carry out the act
And spread the Word across the man-made borders and speak on God’s behalf
The synthesis of the Prophetic statements in ancient times now were again cast
Spoken by the Divine Spirit written through the experience of the Apostolic hand
The memory of the Disciples transcribed where timeless and sacred truths reside
For they had seen and touched the complete manifestation of God’s Light
Made real in flesh in this gospel proclamation a hidden miracle a small child
In signs wonders and preaching the kingdom crucified and Risen to New Glorious Life

In the beginning was the Word one with God Christ the fullness of God’s revelation
God initiates the cosmos a spoken word to dialogue with His beloved creation
In the beginning was the Word one with God Christ the fullness of God’s revelation
It pleased God to make known his sacred will and share with us the divine nature
In the beginning was the Word one with God Christ the fullness of God’s revelation
God sent His only Son into specific Time and Space with us to begin a conversation
In the beginning was the Word one with God Christ the fullness of God’s revelation
So frequently preached but infrequently heard an evangelical blessed proclamation

Those caught in deception would be cured in truth if they Listen and Read
The Word God, the power, majesty and excellence of God who would achieve
Spoken and spread by himself in history for the salvation of all those who believe
Thus We come face to face with the glory full of grace and truth we have seen
Meditate now on the sacred transcribed salvation of past we enter the presence
So Christ would make a dwelling among us in our hearts this moment this instant
In the fullness of time, the Word one with God was Incarnate in flesh
In our deepest selves, Christ would establish his reign the kingdom of the blessed
So the Spirit begins to pray in us, animating God’s people edified with inspiration
So thus in a Sacred Space Sacred Revelation itself lays theologies foundation
Alive and active it must be lived and proclaimed in the liturgy prayed with veneration
Revelation incarnated today as the Word is translated and preach to all the nations
So pick up the Sacred Scriptures with extreme caution, reverence and mystery
For to hear the words proclaimed, are to hear the voice of God alive in our history
It is a dangerous endeavor that inconveniences our ignorance and common misery
When in quiet Lectio Divina we contemplate and are consumed into holy Divinity

In the beginning was the Word one with God Christ the fullness of God’s revelation
God initiates the cosmos a spoken word to dialogue with His beloved creation
In the beginning was the Word one with God Christ the fullness of God’s revelation
It pleased God to make known his sacred will and share with us the divine nature

Butterfly Effect (Song Lyrics)

I would not change a thing as I was reflecting in retrospect
For it was me who was changed to reflect heavens luminescence

I never saw things so right in my perspective
Until I was turned upside down defenseless
When my survival mechanism of independence
Was opened wide to the beautiful transcendence
I have never felt so awake not to mention
The world around me stays the same but I see a new dimension
I never had a certainty in all of my questions
Its like I step back and suddenly it all makes sense
The loss, the tragedy, the sorrow, the death,
The paschal Lamb, the Prophets, the Sacred Text,
The Sacrifice, the Day, the Life the Resurrection
The glory of the Christ, the Cross of Redemption
Every tear was not wasted but as it shed
Poured forth upon the fertile heart new strength
Every pain filled night of solitary brokenness spent
Was entirely worth it as I delight in this blessing
I never have known love until I had lost
I never was grateful until I could count the cost
That this grace cost me everything I ever wanted
And to think I cannot help but say God is awesome
Every earthquake every blizzard every deadly toxin
Every sunrise, every dew drop every flower blossom
I am renewed by every winter dark hour and evil plot
Something good would arise from the Cross

I would not change a thing as I was reflecting in retrospect
For it was me who was changed to reflect heavens luminescence

I lost every dream and desire to gain the priceless
I descended through fire to ascend to God’s presence
I lost every dream and desire to gain the priceless
I descended through fire to ascend to God’s presence
The gateway into mystery always allowed for investigation
As a hope filled child gazes into the sky with an imagination
However I gave way to terror of false exaggerations
So I was bound up within to a spiritual disintegration
A disinterested nation claimed no need of salvation
And therefore could not look forward to the transformation
I was caught down by doubtful deliberation
Until finally I would let go and cross the threshold of faith
I opened my eyes spread my wings emancipation
The beautiful colors the soothing breeze of regeneration
When now all life itself is a cause for celebration
God throughout time and space is always innovative
I was taught to not believe without explanation
But I found the will to believe provided me liberation
I was expected to not believe without explanation
But I found in the will to believe a profound liberation

I would not change a thing as I was reflecting in retrospect
For it was me who was changed to reflect heavens luminescence