Friday, February 26, 2010

Hans Urs von Balthasar's Threefold Garland

If you have not read this little book, let me highly recommend it. I am slowly reading and re-reading the chapters covering the sorrowful mysteries during Lent and am amazed at the depth of Balthasar's thought. The book considers the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary - meditations on Christ's birth, death, and resurrection; and meditations on the Mother of God - and, while approachable, is theological meat from beginning to end. (Licit even on a Friday in Lent.) More later, I hope.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Am More Guilty Than These

The latest news of pedophilia in the Catholic Church in Ireland has left me broken. I make the kids' lunch, sweep my floor, and listen to the interviews on the radio; and in my mind I play out that on-going argument with Protestant family and friends on how this terrible sin could occur within a "holy" Church and why sin by members of the Church, even heinous sin, does not rob her of her holiness. And after I have done with my mental arguments, I sweep them into the trash. What argument is there to make? Who am I to be concerned with arguments at moments such as these?

Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.

The sin of pedophilia committed by these men and the sin of hiding their sins and passing the men on to other parishes by other men, these are my sins. And I am more guilty yet.

" 'And I shall also tell you, dear mother, that each of us is guilty in everything before everyone, and I most of all.' At that mother even smiled, she wept and smiled: 'How can it be,' she said, 'that you are the most guilty before everyone? There are murderers and robbers, and how have you managed to sin so that you should accuse yourself most of all?' 'Dear mother, heart of my heart,' he said (he had then begun saying such unexpected, endearing words), 'heart of my heart, my joyful one, you must know that verily each of us us guilty before everyone, for everyone and everything. I do not know how to explain it to you, but I feel it so strongly that it pains me. And how could we have lived before, getting angry, and not knowing anything?' Thus he awoke every day with more and more tenderness, rejoicing and all atremble with love."

- "From the Life of the Elder Zosima," The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Post-Valentine Post That Has Nothing to Do With Valentine's Day

So my pictures are old. My blog is somewhat in disrepair, to be sure, ungroomed by its master, unfed. Kicked around some. But that's just where I am. Why should I post my thoughts online when I can do the job with pen and paper, just as well? The answer, I suppose, is family and friends more than anything - those who bother, those who are interested in the latest details of my quiet, quiet life (other than the screaming children, of course). But I stand guilty of negligence - I don't deny it is true. The slideshow, by the way, is entirely outdated. My daughter Cate, the baby in the slides, is now taking steps and exploring her world. So I need an update. But before I get to it, which may take a while, let me get to updating all y'all.

This weekend started with two inches of snow. I had to drive twenty minutes up the road to the nearest toy dispensary (the evil Wal-mart) to buy toys for Jack Henry, who turned three years old on Saturday. The highway was a sheet of ice and 4WD is not much help in such scenarios. But I persisted and made it safely, with very little drifting across lanes, and acquired the toys. I had Anna, Avery and Will with me and we ate breakfast at the in-store eatery (the evil McDonald's). By the time we came home, the ice was completely gone, leaving only some spotty slush along turn lanes.

Yesterday, in case you missed it, was Valentine's Day. I went to early Mass, taught Faith Formation, and then attended a catechist meeting. My family stayed home because my wife was not about to troll around Lexington for three hours with a truck full of loud children and a belly full of a 9-month-large boy. (Our seventh child is ominously due around the Ides of March.) I got home and we had a new cat. The same cat/kitten that has been driving me nutso for over a week with his crying outside my doors, begging to be fed and let in. The crying arose after my wife fed him and because my children, when home, are outside loving on him. My wife even said a prayer to St. Francis of Assisi about the cat - and she is not in the habit of praying to saints - so while I was gone, my newly-three-year-old boy, let the cat in. And in he stayed. I named him Francis because I figured the good saint deserved it. I honestly don't know if the cat will make it, as all he does is sleep. Laura will have to take him out to the vet one of these days. (We only have one functional vehicle at the moment, if you haven't yet caught up.) But Francis is quiet and seemingly content. And he seems entirely unphased by all the hissing and spitting from our 7-year-old cat, Talullah. He just stares at her, like he would a log. So he has some chutzpah, which is laudable, I suppose. Though he could be too sick to care if an older cat rips him apart. However, he will need "tutoring" if he remains, in the Larsonian sense of the word, if you know what I mean.

Lastly, I am currently struggling through a particular teaching of the Church. Pray for me, if you will. I feel as if the Church demands something of me and is unwilling to help with the burden she lays on my shoulders. Of course, I also understand that the Church expects things of me for my salvation. But I am confused at the moment. And there are also times I feel as if God has kicked me to the curb over this one, since the issue is far thornier due to the abnormal arrangement of my life. I am weak and often find it difficult to trust. So this is a matter I am taking to prayer over Lent, which begins Wednesday. The Orthodox seem more reasonable on this issue, more in line with the spirit of the law in question, than does my own Church. Alas, I am not Orthodox. Which may be a good thing as I would not be eating any meat or dairy for the next few weeks if I were.

Perhaps in the days to come, it will be something I feel I can more freely divulge here, but I'd rather talk to flesh-and-blood people about it first. Including God. Lord, have mercy. Right now it's not a conversation so much as it is a personal struggle.