Aside from everyone else is recommending, I would highly recommend reading some of Pope Benedict XVI's writings. Not the big theological tomes, but simply keep up with the homilies he preaches on special occasions and his General Audience talks, which are given every Wednesday. The Pope is one of the greatest theologians of the latter part of the 20th century, and has a profound pastoral sense. A couple of links to some recent winners:This, for example, is a homily preached a couple of months ago at, as it happens, a Marian shrine. A portion:
The Gospel passage we have just heard broadens our view. It presents the history of Israel from Abraham onwards as a pilgrimage, which, with its ups and downs, its paths and detours, leads us finally to Christ. The genealogy with its light and dark figures, its successes and failures, shows us that God can write straight even on the crooked lines of our history. God allows us our freedom, and yet in our failures he can always find new paths for his love. God does not fail. Hence this genealogy is a guarantee of God’s faithfulness; a guarantee that God does not allow us to fall, and an invitation to direct our lives ever anew towards him, to walk ever anew towards Jesus Christ.
Making a pilgrimage means setting out in a particular direction, traveling towards a destination. This gives a beauty of its own even to the journey and to the effort involved. Among the pilgrims of Jesus’s genealogy there were many who forgot the goal and wanted to make themselves the goal. Again and again, though, the Lord called forth people whose longing for the goal drove them forward, people who directed their whole lives towards it. The awakening of the Christian faith, the dawning of the Church of Jesus Christ was made possible, because there were people in Israel whose hearts were searching – people who did not rest content with custom, but who looked further ahead, in search of something greater: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Mary and Joseph, the Twelve and many others. Because their hearts were expectant, they were able to recognize in Jesus the one whom God had sent, and thus they could become the beginning of his worldwide family. The Church of the Gentiles was made possible, because both in the Mediterranean area and in those parts of Asia to which the messengers of Jesus traveled, there were expectant people who were not satisfied by what everyone around them was doing and thinking, but who were seeking the star which could show them the way towards Truth itself, towards the living God.
We too need an open and restless heart like theirs. This is what pilgrimage is all about. Today as in the past, it is not enough to be more or less like everyone else and to think like everyone else. Our lives have a deeper purpose. We need God, the God who has shown us his face and opened his heart to us: Jesus Christ.
Then an Easter Homily:
This is the joy of the Easter Vigil: we are free. In the resurrection of Jesus, love has been shown to be stronger than death, stronger than evil. Love made Christ descend, and love is also the power by which he ascends. The power by which he brings us with him. In union with his love, borne aloft on the wings of love, as persons of love, let us descend with him into the world’s darkness, knowing that in this way we will also rise up with him. On this night, then, let us pray: Lord, show us that love is stronger than hatred, that love is stronger than death. Descend into the darkness and the abyss of our modern age, and take by the hand those who await you. Bring them to the light! In my own dark nights, be with me to bring me forth! Help me, help all of us, to descend with you into the darkness of all those people who are still waiting for you, who out of the depths cry unto you! Help us to bring them your light! Help us to say the “yes” of love, the love that makes us descend with you and, in so doing, also to rise with you. Amen!
No, Catholicism isn't Christ-centered. Not at all.
Look - what a religion is in its essence and core can easily be skewed. Let me give you an example. When I look at modern American Protestantism, this is what I see on the evangelical end (what I see on the mainstream/liberal end is a completely different story...):
*I see a landscape which is dominated by personalities - from Osteen to Joyce Meyer to Rick Warren and the scores and scores of with it/cool/up and coming megachurch and emergent pastors teaming below them. I see it everywhere - and what it says to me is...mediators. Between me and Christ. Personalities interpreting Scripture for me, Personalities giving me a reason to come to church, Personalities dominating the landscape, their faces smiling out at me from everywhere in the Christian world...but not the face of Christ.
*In Protestant Church services, I see...human beings as the center. The service dying or rising on the skills of the preachers and musicians. Church "marketing" becoming a huge element in Protestantism, a "marketing" that usually means advertising how edgy/cool/relevant the human beings who form the leadership of our church are.
Much of what Protestants decry in Catholicism actually exists in their very own bodies. There is massive kowtowing to the culture, there is a fascination with other human beings as ideal embodiments of Christianity, etc. Not to speak of the very intense human-centered discussions between devotees of Calvin, of Wesley, of Luther...all of whom formulate their theologies around a human being's particular interpretation of Scripture.
And just two other points, offered in love.
The accusation is made that Catholicism is not "Biblical." It would be great if we could compare what the Bible says about say, Baptism (as regenerative) and Eucharist (as, you know, the Body and Blood of Christ) and then really think hard as to what current expressions of Christianity are closest to what the Bible actually teaches about these things.
And then read John 6...particularly v. 66. Food for thought.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
A good comment
One of the commenters on Barbara's site left this message and I thought it was very appropriate for this blog so I'm copying it here: