Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A member of a "Roped Party" with Christ

Below I have copied some of Pope Benedict's beautiful language from his Palm Sunday Homily.

I love his vision of our being on a journey with Christ towards ultimate communion with Him. At the same time, we are not on this journey with Him alone; we journey with His community -- the church.

As someone who has done some climbing in the past, I also love his metaphor of being part of a "roped party" with Christ at the lead position, also known as "sharp end of the rope," the climbing expression for the individual who leads and guides the rest of the party up the rock. Our job is not to lead, but to follow Him; to make the ascent with Him in the lead. Followers must trust the leader in a rope party literally with their lives. They rely on the leader's judgment at all times.

Benedict continues that we are not roped alone with Christ. It is not just us and Christ; we do not own Christ. Instead, we are roped up with the entire Church. We are not alone, but are truly tied together to the entire Church. This affirms the importance of the church. We are all tied together with Christ and are led on a journey that we undertake even when tired or weary because that's where our leader wants us to go. We assent to allowing Him to lead us where he wants us to go, which is a trip through the sacraments, which purify and sanctify us.

All of this is wonderfully freeing.

Here is how Benedict says it:

"Thus in the breadth of Jesus' ascent the dimensions of our following of him become visible -- the goal to which he wants to lead us: to the heights of God, to communion with God, to being-with-God. This is the true goal, and communion with him is the way. Communion with Christ is being on a journey, a permanent ascent to the true height of our calling. Journeying together with Jesus is always at the same time a traveling together in the 'we' of those who want to follow him. It brings us into this community. Because this journey to true life, to being men conformed to the model of the Son of God Jesus Christ is beyond our powers, this journeying is also always a state of being carried. We find ourselves, so to speak, in a 'roped party' with Jesus Christ -- together with him in the ascent to the heights of God. He pulls us and supports us. Letting oneself be part of a roped party is part of following Christ; we accept that we cannot do it on our own. The humble act of entering into the 'we' of the Church is part of it -- holding on to the roped party, the responsibility of communion, not letting go of the rope because of our bullheadedness and conceit.

"Humbly believing with the Church, like being bound together in a roped party ascending to God, is an essential condition for following Christ. Not acting as the owners of the Word of God, not chasing after a mistaken idea of emancipation -- this is also part of being together in the roped party. The humility of 'being-with' is essential to the ascent. Letting the Lord take us by the hand through the sacraments is another part of it. We let ourselves be purified and strengthened by him, we let ourselves accept the discipline of the ascent, even if we are tired."

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Tudors Returns on April 11!

I am a huge fan of the Showtime series, The Tudors, which follows the life and wives of Henry VIII. Season 4, the final season, begins on April 11. Only two more wives to go!

It recently re-watched the entire series (all three seasons) so that I remember where we left off. I love how this series shows in living color how the English Reformation proceeded. We get to see the villains, such as Thomas Cromwell (who lost his head in the final episode of Season 3). We also get to see St. Thomas More hold fast to Christ.

I highly recommend this series to anyone interested in historical dramas, especially concerning the history of Christianity.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Post - Happy Palm Sunday

This is my first post of what I hope will be many. I have intended to start this project for a long time, but have not had the opportunity. I intend on writing about various issues surrounding my Catholic faith, including parish life, politics, and culture.

A little about me: I am in the lower half of my thirties. I have two girls, a 13 year old entering high school in the fall and an infant. My wife, though a "cradle Catholic" like me has never had the same ardor for God as I have had. That has causes some difficulties between us from time to time.

I have an advanced degree, yet consider myself chronically underemployed. I live in one of the boroughs of New York City.

I returned to the Catholic Church, the religion of my childhood in 2001. Since then, I have had varying degrees of ardor for Christ's church. I consider myself orthodox (a term I would rather use than the politically loaded "conservative"); in other words I do not dissent from the hierarchy in Rome and believe the Church was entrusted to the Pope and his bishops by Christ himself.

Since 2001, I have come back and forth to the church, swinging between various extremes. For about a year in 2008-2009 I flirted with an evangelical church before coming home to Rome. Before that I flirted with agnosticism. Yet, during these shifts in thought, I have consistently felt the tug on my heart to come back to the Catholic Church. And so, if I leave, I always come back and I am happy I do.

This blog is my attempt, however imperfectly, to make sense of my experiences as a Catholic in the 21st century. I will focus on what I know best -- local parish life, politics as they relate to Catholic life, and our culture, which seems to despise all religion and every expression of piety.

We are living in a difficult time to be a person of faith. We are the subject of mockery by those who chafe under what they see to be too many rules that limit their autonomy. What they do not realize is that truth always sets us free, with a freedom much better and purer than that of the libertine who is determined to do whatever he or she wants to do whenever he or she feels like it.

Those who advocate a certain form of "freedom" do not understand that with freedom comes a great responsibility. Catholicism is life affirming because it preaches freedom to do what one wishes with the caveat that we are responsible for our poor choices.

I would like to wish all Christians a Happy Palm Sunday. There were many new faces in church this morning to receive their palms and I am certain there will be many more new faces in the pews on Easter Sunday. I pray that they will return every Sunday thereafter and begin worshipping God in the manner he deserves. That's all we can do and that is what I try to do.

~ A Catholic in the City