MLK, JR. Day 2011

Today we remember a man named Martin Luther King, Jr.  Mr. King was a great man who lived in a time when oppression against blacks, esp. in the South, was rampant.  For the black people it was a time of great trials and tribulations that tested the faith and fortitude of many.  It was a time when a certain group of human beings were being denied basic civil liberties and were being treated with something less than the equal dignity and respect that should be afforded to all who are members of the human race due to something they had no control over, their skin color.

But despite all this, a man rose up and fought, usually with words but I’m sure he wouldn’t have begrudged the use of force if it was necessary for defense of self and others, to bring to the black peoples the same civil liberties the rest of us enjoy.  He wanted for black people the same civil liberties that allow every one else to work, live, and play as they see fit.

Dr. King was a great man who knew what things like freedom and liberty were and that they were being denied to certain human beings by the various state governments of the South, which had enacted gravely evil laws for just such a purpose called Jim Crow laws.  And the Ku Klux Klan was the great and terrible police force commissioned to enforce those terrible laws.  And they hated and moved against ANYONE who had the temerity to stand up and say “ENOUGH!  All humans deserve the civil liberties our founding fathers set forth in the Constitution of the United States!”  Anyone who expressed those sentiments usually found a burning cross on their lawn.  So this means that a great majority of Catholics woke up to this situation, as despite a minority Catholic population that tried to use Catholicism’s teachings to justify racism, most Catholics were on the side of blacks.  This is why the KKK weren’t too fond of Catholics either.

Dr. King was a great man who probably even figured that people would move against him and seek his life because of his fight for freedom for the black people.  And he did eventually give his very life for the cause of freedom.  For that he is to be remembered with honor and integrity for as long as the human race shall draw breath.

Today, however, I see at various universities Black SU’s, Asian SU’s, Greek SU’s, etc.  I also see reports of whites being beat up by blacks just because they decided to date a black person.  I hear reports of whites being called derogatory terms like “cracker.”

I ask, is this what Dr. King fought and gave his blood and his very life for?  To watch from Heaven as his people use the same exclusionary tactics that the whites once used to such great effect?  Or to watch as his people push whites around the in same way they were once pushed around?

Dr. King wanted one thing: for all humans of all races to one day stand together and declare themselves equal in their humanity.  And what I have seen this day and age I firmly believe causes Dr. King’s soul great and terrible anguish as he watches while people say “Hey look at me I’m black!” or “I’m Greek!  Aren’t we so special?”  instead of “Hey, look at us, our skin color is different.  But let us not let skin color get in the way of the fact that we all share the same genome, the human genome.  And nevermore shall such pettiness divide us, we who are made in the image and likeness of God whose faces are as infinite as ours.”  I implore people of all races, do not let Dr. King’s sacrifice be in vain.  Let his work have some meaning.

God: The True North of our Moral Compass

In the Emmaus Men’s Spirituality Group meeting today, I was happy to gaze upon a segment of Scripture that caused me to think long and hard.  This segment is where Jesus rebukes those who did deeds in His name but committed grave sins.  Basically He rebuked them as hypocrites.  He also used the “house of sand” metaphor to illustrate the consequences of living such a two-faced life.

But it occurred to me that a compass could also serve to illustrate this concept very well, and it is a concept more readily understood by sailors, hikers, etc.  I can’t use a compass worth a darn mainly cuz I’m clueless as to how to set the bezel and all that jazz.  But my time in Boy Scouts does me well here to bring this illustration to fruition.

A compass is a tool used to give people a sense of direction by maintaining a vector lock on true North.  This is a very great tool provided one knows how to use it properly and steers clear of areas that cause the compass to lose that lock, Which is a strange but consistent occurrence in the Bermuda Triangle, one of nature’s greatest unsolved mysteries.  In the Bermuda Triangle you can forget about trying to get your compass to maintain any sort of vector lock on true North.

Our moral compass is the same way.  It can easily get lost in the mysterious and dangerous Bermuda Triangle of our sinfulness and the moral relativism that we use in attempt to rationalize it.  As with a regular compass, our moral compass can only regain a vector lock on true North (God), when it leaves the Bermuda Triangle.  This is why we must endeavor to keep our moral compass locked firmly on God, our true North, and resist the temptation to navigate the Bermuda Triangle of sinfulness and debauchery because that is the only way we can have a clear moral direction for ourselves.

This is just me though.  I don’t know about the rest of you.  But I will continue to pray to God daily for the strength to keep this vector lock straight and true.

The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Catholic Christian Faith

This blog post today is about something that brings us Catholics great joy.  It also a source of confusion for my Protestant brethren.  I love them dearly.  They have a zeal for revealing Christ to those who need it that I only wish some of my Catholic Christian brethren had.  But I can’t see how they could be so blind to this concept, which Scripture shows quite clearly.  I can’t give book, chapter, and verse like my Catholic and Protestant brethren can since I don’t have it that well memorized.  But I do know what Jesus has said and not said in Scripture.

First, Jesus said to the people: “Unless you eat of the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His Blood, you shall not have life within you.”  And the people knew what he was asking, although most thought he was preaching that the way to eternal life was cannibalism and so a lot of people, not wishing to cannibalize  Jesus, left.  Probably with thoughts along the lines of “I’m not roasting this guy’s flesh and drinking his blood like some kind of vampire!  No way!  This Jesus dude is ’round the twist if he thinks that doing so with his is the way to eternal life!”  But they left before they Heard Jesus clarify Himself.  So for those that stayed to listen to him continue, not having jumped to any conclusions, He said: “My Flesh is true Food, and My Blood true Drink.”

And then at the last supper Jesus Himself instituted what true food is to serve as the flesh of His Precious Body and which true drink is to serve as His Precious Blood: unleavened bread and wine respectively.  In the book of Matthew, chapter 26, Christ broke the bread and gave it to His disciples and said: “Take this, all of you, and eat, for this is my body….”

And then He took the cup, and gave it to His disciples saying: “Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, which is to be poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins.

He then instituted this to be a sacrament celebrated for all time by saying “Do this in remembrance of me.”

But the passage that I think gives greatest witness to the real presence of Christ Himself in the Eucharist is in St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:27,29):

“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the Body and Blood of the Lord…..for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”

Wow.  I ask, does mere bread and wine alone have that power, the power to hold people accountable to the Lord’s Body and Blood?  No.  But bread and wine being used by Christ to make Himself physically apparent to the faithful does.  After the words of consecration according to sacred Scripture itself, the bread and wine ceases to be merely bread and wine and becomes Christ Himself, present in body and blood, soul and divinity, appearing to us in the form of bread and wine.  This is why we as Catholics cannot just dump what is leftover from Mass down the regular drain which goes to the local waste water treatment facility.  Because this is Christ we’re dealing with now.  Christ’s flesh is now in every particle of that bread and His Blood in every drop of that wine.  We cannot in good conscience dispose of Him as waste.  We first rinse out the sacred vessels into a Sacrarium, which is a sink but one that drains into the ground.  THEN we wash the vessels in a regular sink with soap and water.  And, from the very words of Scripture itself, this is why it’s a grave sin to do things like defecate on a consecrated host.  I could defecate on all the unconsecrated hosts I darn well please.  No sin would be committed though the supply of hosts to be used for Masses would be in jeopardy.  But if I were to defecate on a consecrated host, that’s a grave sin.  I just defecated on Christ Himself.  That, my friends, is a whole different ball game.  To do so knowingly incurs the penalty of excommunication automatically.

The passages of Scripture itself only serve to reinforce my faith that when I gaze upon the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, that I gaze in awe and wonder at the power of God who loves us so much that not only did He die for us, but he gave us a gift that lives on, the gift of His Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine.  Such awesome power that were He to reveal His full power to us mere mortals, our physical senses would be completely and totally unprepared for processing it.  Say what you will about faith.  Call it a fairy tale if you must.  I daresay I’ve been called worse for my beliefs.  But there is one thing that faith gives us that reason on its own power cannot: the power to live not as we wish but as we ought and the power to use our gift of reason in wise and ethical ways.  I’ve seen the incredible and miraculous changes that human beings have undergone when they gaze upon that sense perceptible sign of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for such belief to be purely the signs of mere myth.  Incredible.