Posts Tagged 'prayer'

Holiness Smackdown

If you’re thinking I’m going to be writing about Pentacostals or wrestling or Pentacostals wrestling (though somebody probably would pay to see that, I’m sure), I’m actually going to be writing about Lent.

Lent.  Those forty days when Catholics are pressured by other pew sitting Catholics into a competition of holiness.  I’m not kidding.  I hate Lent. Because that’s what I read on blogs and in articles and hear from fellow pew sitting Catholics. 

Now, most are probably just sharing without realizing the consequences of what they write and how people read their words.  But honestly it doesn’t matter.  It’s a competition to see who can do the most penances, the greatest fasting, add the most devotions.  It’s all about the external actions.  It’s all about how miserable and depressed you can be to prove how holy you really are and how much God loves you more than the person sitting next to you.

The Church talks about, well at least emphasizes, three things in Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Yet fasting gets all the hype.  It’s all about what you are giving up.  You might get a few that work on prayer.  But I’ve never heard anyone focus on almsgiving.  It’s always about fasting from some minor food (usually chocolate, sweets, or coffee) or maybe TV.  Always fasting.  Or maybe attending Stations of the Cross. 

And it’s always fasting just to fast.  There is no real purpose behind.  There is no desire to truly quit what they are fasting because they only have to give it up for forty days.  It’s not permanent.  It’s very temporary and has no real effect on the person.  The item they are fasting from doesn’t impede their relationship with Jesus.  It’s about fasting for fasting sake.  Pointless.  This fasting is never about change but about an external indicator of holiness.  There is no internal change.  People know they don’t have to change.  They just have to sweat it out for forty days and then they can go back to what they were doing.

This is how Lent becomes treated as an inconvenience and an interruption rather than as a liturgical season that is meant to help us grow spiritually.   So fasting that is done for form sake rather than as an impetus to change.  Which then becomes a competition of holiness. 

There is just too much focus on pointless fasting.  Too much focus on external behavior rather than on internal change of heart.  And one of the many reasons why I hate Lent.

I can see the point of Lent.  I just hate the practice of it, especially by many Catholics.  That competition of holiness judged by external indicators. 

As someone who can’t really fast (too many food issues aside), fasting also seems to be used as a punishment rather than an aid.  Well, Lent gets used as punishment rather than an aid.  It’s all about how you failed the rest of the year so Lent is the time to make up for those failures by fasting from trivial things so as to punish yourself to make God love you even just a little. 

Yes, punishing yourself to make God love you.  I have yet to see that work.  I should know.  I’ve tried.  I’ve tried punishing myself so that my mother would love me and stop abusing me.  Didn’t work then either. 

You can’t make someone love you.  And you definitely can’t make God love you.  He either loves you or He doesn’t.  You can’t do anything about it.

I wonder if people know that.  Do I know that?  

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Oy Vey

I keep wanting to visit that stupid blog even though I know I shouldn’t.  So far I’ve managed not to for almost three days.  I don’t need to read lies and garbage that will just make me angry.  And posting comments would probably get me banned, not because I was rude or anything but because I didn’t tow their party line.

So no reading stupid blogs. Therefore, I’ve had to write in my paper journal more to work out some anger, some towards the blog and some towards people who refuse to understand Church teaching or think that popularity pressure will change doctrine.  Just stupid stuff.

It’s spring break here in Oregon so of course that means rain.  It’s also the first spring break where I haven’t had to farmsit.  Yes, farmsit as in watch a farm.  It’s nice not being out in the rain and mud dealing with grumpy and wet animals.

Tomorrow, March 26, is an Ember Day for the Archdiocese of Portland.  An Ember Day is a day of fasting and abstinence and prayer set aside, in this case, for the strengthening of family and marriage.  Especially in the world today where families and traditional marriage are under such insidious attack by those that want to make sin, law.  And want those who oppose such sin to celebrate, worship, and embrace that sin instead.  Thankfully, the Catholic Church will not bow to such lies and demands and never will.

I know the Archdiocese also has an Ember Day in June set aside for support of victims of clergy sexual abuse and victims of sexual abuse in general.  Archbishop Emeritus John Vlazny set the day a few years ago.  I won’t know the exact date until closer to it so I’ll post it then.

Not quite three and a half weeks left of Lent.  And those that gave up chocolate are probably regretting that about now. *tongue firmly in cheek*  Don’t worry, next Lent you can give up giving up chocolate. That’ll work better for you. 🙂

Still looking for a job and today I actually looked, which is quite an important part of the process.  So I’ve heard.

Anyway, I work on that stack of books I’ve got.  And figure out the wet ingredients for my blueberry bread.  It was supposed to be orange bread but I defrosted the blueberries and so now need to use them.  Plus, not so keen on orange juice right now let alone orange bread.

Reality Sets In

With my new schedule at work, I’ve been wanting to update here more often.  So far, that hasn’t happened.  I’ve been so tired from working especially picking up overtime since my relief has been sick a lot lately (we’re all concerned about him) so I’ve been covering some of his shifts.  And don’t know what to post about.  I have ideas but I don’t know how relevant they are, how I feel about posting about them, how well I could write about them, etc.  So I’m going to ramble which I can be rather adept at, usually when it’s not necessary (I’m not much of a talker in real life and especially bad at explaining things.)

Something that has been bothering me is the need of some people to impose their spirituality and their spiritual practices on everyone else.  That their personal devotions are the only devotions that are allowed and should be followed.  I’ve seen people push the Rosary, the Brown Scapular, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Carmelite or Charismatic spirituality, St. Theresa of Liseux, St. Padre Pio on people usually by saying these private devotions will “cure” everything; that they are the only prayers one needs; that by not conforming they are being “Protestant;” that they have all the answers.  They don’t recognize that each person is unique and prays in the way that they can and that God calls them to pray in the best way for Him to reach that person.  What works for one person may not work for another person.  I don’t feel called to Franciscan spiritual though the Church recognizes it as one of many beneficial spiritualities and the Church doesn’t have a problem with that.  The Church Herself doesn’t adhere to one spirituality and doesn’t require Her children to either because She recognizes that each of us are unique individuals, not automatons.

Yet there are Catholics that believe and demand that there is only one spirituality/devotion that is absolutely necessary, usually the one that the person is trumpeting.  They refuse to acknowledge or accept otherwise.  This is a huge turn off, even detrimental if they want more people to learn about, practice that spirituality or devotion.  If someone is in my face about the Rosary, telling that just by praying it once all my problems will be cured, that everything wrong with me will be healed in a moment, that it’s the only prayer a woman needs, and won’t listen to anything I say, that’s a huge turn off to me.  I’ve had this happen to me and have seen it a lot. I would have a hard time taking this person seriously because even the Church doesn’t say this.  The Church and Jesus himself never said that prayer was magic.  Yet people treat devotions and spiritualities like this which is detrimental to not only the person being encouraged to try a new devotion but also to the devotion/prayer itself.  The Church treats its members as adults yet people like this treat fellow Catholics like stupid children who can’t be trusted to dress themselves.

Faith isn’t a feeling yet this seems to be a big problem for people who go looking for excitement, for entertainment, etc. in the Mass.  I’ve posted here about Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and the effect that TV, movies, Internet, etc. have on people.  I see this play out in the Mass not only in the Ordinary Form but also in the “young people” who seek out the Extraordinary Form.  Now, not all those who seek out the EF are necessarily looking for entertainment but I believe there are those that do go for ‘the show.”  People my age have been raised almost exclusively on TV, movies, the Internet exploded with us, etc. and that has an effect on how we view our faith.  How much of this is TV’s fault and how much is our fault? And don’t our parents play a role in all this?  People are taught to be entertained, to constantly seek out pleasure, to seek out the latest newest fad, to seek out the pretty lights and flashy clothes.  I’m not trying to denigrate the EF but I am pointing out that people’s reason for seeking out one particular Mass over another is impacted by our  excessive exposure to the media and entertainment and that people need to be aware of this.  If you are looking to get something out of the Mass, you are completely missing the point.  You are at Mass to worship God, not to be entertained by Him.

Why is it if someone hears something questionable in a homily they automatically assume the priest is a heretic?  I’ve seen multiple posts to this effect on a forum I belong to.  Why can’t it be that Father just doesn’t have the innate talent for homilies?  Or that he’s sleep deprived and he’s lucky enough to stay awake long enough to celebrate Mass? Or that he practiced his homily one way but it came out another way and he didn’t realize it until after Mass?  Or that he’s still afraid of public speaking no matter how much prayer and practice he’s said and done?  Or that he’s still a new priest and still learning?  Or that the priest doesn’t and probably won’t put things the same way you do?  People seem to be waiting for the priest to make one teeny tiny mistake so they can pounce on him and denigrate him.  Isn’t the media and the Devil doing enough of that already?  If you denigrate the priesthood, you denigrate Jesus himself.  Maybe you should think twice about what you say about a priest.  Don’t criticize unless the priest asks for constructive criticism otherwise it’s all about putting someone down to puff yourself up and there’s something very, very wrong with that.  It’s called sin.

When did Latin become the only language in the Church?  Considering there are 23 sui juris Churches, only one rite the Latin Rite uses Latin.  Greek, Aramaic, Russian, Arabic, and probably a language or two, at least, that I can’t think of are also used in the Liturgies.  Latin is only applicable to the Latin Rite and even then wasn’t the only language used in the Latin Rite.  The Latin Rite has never been uniform in it’s use of Latin in it’s liturgies.  It’s only with the Council of Trent and the suppression of other rites at that time that Latin really came to dominate the Latin liturgy.  Yet, even Latins still use Greek when we pray Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy).  And one does not need to pray in Latin to have their prayers heard or answered.  God’s bigger than that but I still see people saying that we need to pray in Latin and that only prayers said in Latin are “effective.”  Considering God is the one listening and answering prayers, I think He’s the only to judge if praying or not praying in a particular language is necessary for it to be effective.  I’ve only come across Him saying that we need to pray and St. Paul saying to pray without ceasing but nothing about all our prayers need to be in Latin.

All of us are on a journey in our faith.  We each follow the same path using a roadmap that is unique to each of us.  What works for you may not work and probably won’t work for me but that doesn’t mean that you should abandon it because it only applies to you.  God didn’t create clones, He created individuals whom He loves as individuals but also as His children.  God doesn’t pigeon-hole us so don’t pigeon-hole others in their journey and how they live their Catholic faith.  Your eyes should be on Christ.  Don’t take them off Him or you will lose your way.

The 40 Hour Work Week

You know, they don’t tell you 40 hours is long and short all at the same time.  Actually, in my case it’s just really boring but it’s a job and hence the main reason I haven’t updated here in a while.

We can spend 40 hours working.  Professional athletes spend about that much time if not more training.  Parents and kids will spend about that much time not talking to each other because of work, school, extracurricular activities, etc.  Mass becomes a chore, another thing to be checked off the list of a million things to do.  Or worse, gets completely dumped because some other secular activity takes precedence.

So where’s God in all this?  How important is God in your life?  And I don’t mean the externals.  Or I should say, not just the externals (reading the Bible or lives of the saints or other spiritual writings, charitable work, etc.).  God call all of us, not just a part of us.

Maybe that’s something that all of us need to work on.

 

 

Prayer Redux

Just in case your wondering, the two quotes about praying as you can found in italics I borrowed from poster at the Spirituality forum of Catholic Answers Forums under praying the Little Office of the BVM.  I found them rather appropriate in regards to prayer.

Prayer

“I’m gonna have to heal you. We have got to pray! We have got to pray! We have got to pray to make it through the day!” License to Wed

While I actually haven’t seen this movie, the line does spark an important part of Lent: PRAYER.  Particulary the fact that we are called to pray without ceasing, as mentioned by St. Paul in his letter to…well, I have to look up which letter.  Prayer is something we all struggle with, either trying to find the time or the words or the desire to pray. 

Myself, I just don’t pray.  Oh, I pray before Mass and after receiving the Eucharist but that’s about it.  But I should be doing more.  We all want to do more.  I know of those that believe that everyone should be praying the same devotions and prayers that they are.  I know of people who told me that I needed to do was pray the Rosary.  Sorry, I’ve tried but then I spent years in Catholic school being forced to pray the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross.  I just never made the connection.  Now, I have no problem with the Blessed Virgin and the Rosary and people who feel called to that devotion are free to pray that devotion.  But it is not a mandatory prayer.  The only mandatory prayer in the Church is the Mass.  There are those that believe if you don’t pray this prayer or don’t do that devotion you aren’t really praying and are not really Catholic. 

The thing is, not everyone prays the same or is called to pray in the same way.  We each come to prayer and pray in our own way.  One way may work for one and not for another.  Or one way may not work for one and may work for another.  Forcing people to pray the exact same prayer in the exact same way (not talking about the Mass which will eventually a whole post to itself) makes prayer ineffective and forces the prayee to view prayer in a negative light.  Prayer then comes to mean something that is a chore instead of talking with God.

Pray as you can, not as you can’t” and “If you can pray well do so. Otherwise pray badly like the rest of us.”

Just a thought.  Prayer is not something to be forced or done on someone else’s terms.  You pray as you will to do God’s will in whatever way you can.  Don’t use someone else’s way if it doesn’t work for you.  Use your own.  And if someone tells you you aren’t praying correctly, tell them to take it up with God because He doesn’t have a problem with you praying.


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