Reflections on God, Life, and Everything in Between...
Awkward Catholic Moments: Flashback Edition
Hi All. In lieu of busyness and a lack o' blog reflections, I thought I'd recycle one from May of 2007. I hope it retains its freshness.
Have you ever had an Awkward Catholic Moment (henceforth referred to as an ACM)?
- Maybe you're about to make the sign of the cross in a restaurant or a diner before a meal and there's that brief second of indecision; "Am I being showy or saintly?" (ACM)
- A friend\co-worker says "You're Catholic, right?" (you swallow hard) "So what's the big hang-up with birth control? Are you guys trying to take over the world?!" (quick answer is yes, we are. See Genesis 1:28 and Matthew 28:19)
- Maybe someone at work or school drops a bomb on the table and says "they" should just let priests get married and that would solve the "problem," and in the seconds ticking between talk, you wonder if you should speak a clarifying word from Matthew 19:12 or the Catechism? (ACM)
- or maybe you're actually a little unsure about the meaning of the whole celibacy thing yourself and don't know what to say. (ACM Deluxe Edition)
- You're walking down the aisle of a massive movie theater to grab a seat and you genuflect before you enter your row (ACM Platinum Edition... and yes, I did that once.)
Everyone has a little ribbon on their car bumper or lapel these days: Support Our Troops, Breast Cancer Awareness,Save Darfur. Imagine wearing a little I Love the Priesthood ribbon?Support Our Bishops? In light of the last few years, that ain't easy. In light of some workplace/lunchtime/water cooler gatherings, it's downright embarrassing.
But when was it ever easy to believe in an incarnational Church, a Church that professes that God Himself established and is literally working through this sinful mess of people, promising a grace and mercy that can save us, even though it may sometimes seem to be flowing over dirty hands and through clogged pipes? With the episcopal shipwreck of the last few years, and the laxity in the laity, many of us still feeling "holy stuff" is what Father does, not me, I'm just a pew potato, it can be awkward to be Catholic today. As awkward as it was for a certain crusty fisherman standing outside of a praetorium, warming himself by a charcoal fire, painfully self-conscious as his Master takes a beating behind those walls.
"Aren't you one of his disciples?"
"I've seen you with the Nazarene, aren't you one of them?"
I guess the question in our ACMs these days is the same as it was for Peter.
So what will your answer be? Do you know the Man? Will you claim allegiance to Him, even as He comes to us in the distressing disguise of a sinful Church? Will you have the eyes to see through the humanity and into the divinity, to the spotless Bride of Christ that is forever wedded to the Lamb of God? For that is Her deepest identity and our ultimate end. We will all be one. And He will wipe away every tear, and He will defend us who have been fearless in our defense of Him. And if we have fallen, He will come and seek us out, saying "Do you love me?"
And then, we can enter the unending bliss of that Wedding Feast with a simple... "I do." And that love will cover a multitude of sins....
This might hurt your brain, but stay with me friends. Imagine if he came the way we wanted him to? Imagine if Jesus answered the problem of evil with a punch rather than his paschal mystery? He would've kicked the devil's butt. He would've been ripped, with muscles on top of his muscles. A combination of brains and brawn. Bolder than Bourne, slicker than Spider-Man, more convicted than Captain America and every move in slo-mo. The lance set to pierce his heart on the Cross would've bounced off and snapped like a toothpick! Nothing would break him. He'd have busted up the Romans and religious leaders in a Divine Smackdown the likes of which the world had never seen! "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" (Luke 9:54) "Yes, I do. Let's kick some taḥat!" (Luke 9:55, revised)
Yes, if God were made in man's image... we'd all be wowed, then bored to tears. "That was awesome! What else is on?” I saw the latest X-…
OK. This image is a little creepy. But I didn't make it up. I'm going to meet it this weekend, "face to face." Uh.... Let me explain.
As a teacher at Malvern, and hopefully soon a leader and mentor for the students when they go on their senior retreat, I've been invited to go on a Cursillo Retreat for adults this weekend. Now I've been on lots of retreats in my life. I love 'em! I love having the chance to squander time with God, walk the fields, sit in chapel and just BE, read good spiritual reading, eat good retreat house food, sleep in beds that are a foot shorter than I am tall. I love getting refreshed by the reminder that, indeed, all shall be well. To know again that when my life is a question mark, Jesus is the answer.
But from the little splinters and shards of hearsay, from what I know of Cursillo retreats and have gleaned from random conversations and stuff over the years, I think this weekend will be .... different.
THE FOLLOWING MAY OR MAY…
PREAMBLE: Before we even begin today's reflections, I have something to smell you, I mean tell you. One of the coolest things about Padre Pio and the way God likes to work lies in the acclaimed "odor of sanctity" that often follows the holy ones. Yes, believe it or not, when God allows miracles to pour forth from His beloved saints, they are sometimes associated with fragrances. Therese is roses, and Padre Pio is often known by the scent of... tobacco. This to me is beyond awesome. Tobacco.... brilliant.
"For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible."
Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of one of her most beloved and most misunderstood sons... St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Born on May 25, 1887, he died on this day in 1968, and today is still affectionately known as Padre Pio.
I say he was misunderstood, but more accurately I mean missed. This is simply because so much attention was given to the …