Thursday, February 27, 2003


Steven posted a comment (see below) that something I had posted made points similar to that made by deCaussade in Abandonment to Divine Providence. At first I was slightly upset (only slightly) that I might have written something that could be interpreted as plagiarism. As I began to think this over, though, I realized that trying to do an orthodox Catholic blog means that nothing I write will be entirely original.

You see, trying to write from an orthodox Catholic position means that nothing I write will be original. Revelation ceased with the Apostles and it is the task of the Church only to interpret what has already been revealed. Anyone trying to write in accordance with the teaching of the Church cannot be inventive, there is nothing new to invent.

This is the problem for those who wish that the Church to be more "progressive." The notion of progress is a human idea and applies to human activity; it signifies movement toward a goal or objective. If we believe that the Church is a divine institution, the Body of Christ on earth, and if we believe that God is infinite, eternal and perfect in all his attributes, then the Church cannot be "progressive" -- there is nothing to progress towards. The Church is already what God intends it to be. To wish otherwise is an instance of both human error and human pride.

So I, and all who wish to remain in communion with the Church, have to face the fact that the work we do as writers is inevitably going to lack originality, we can do no less.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Wonderful News from Associated Press (and the Supreme Court)

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a federal racketeering law was improperly used to punish aggressive anti-abortion protesters, a major victory for people who regularly block clinic doors.
The court's 8-1 ruling applies to protests of all sorts, not just at clinics.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, writing for the majority, said that when protesters do not "obtain" property, they cannot be punished for civil disobedience with the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, an anti-racketeering law.
The court's ruling is a victory for Operation Rescue, anti-abortion leader Joseph Scheidler and others who were ordered to pay damages to abortion clinics and barred from interfering with their businesses for 10 years.
Rehnquist said that their political activity did not qualify as extortion.
That outcome had been sought by activists like actor Martin Sheen, animal rights groups and even some organizations that support abortion rights. They argued that protesters of all types could face harsher penalties for demonstrating, if the court ruled otherwise.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Time Management

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Fides et Ratio wrote:

"God's Revelation is therefore immersed in time and history. Jesus Christ took flesh in the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4); and two thousand years later, I feel bound to restate forcefully “in Christianity time has a fundamental importance”. It is within time that the whole work of creation and salvation comes to light; and it emerges clearly above all that, with the Incarnation of the Son of God, our life is even now a foretaste of the fulfillment of time which is to come (cf. Heb 1:2)."

The phrase “in Christianity time has a fundamental importance” struck me as a remarkable statement. We human beings live in time, we are obsessed with time, we try to manage time, and we worry about wasting time. God, on the other hand is eternal. God does not exist in time even though he created time, God does not have to worry about the passage of time. However, God entered time when Jesus Christ came to live among men, thus, he became a historical figure; we can fix in history, at least within a couple of years, when he was born and when he died. We have the records made by other human beings of the events of his life and his death. We know what happened on earth as a result of his death -- the Church came into existence and spread throughout the world. For a brief period here on earth, eternity and time were commingled.

If time is that important to God, then perhaps we might want to learn how God used time here on earth. We can get some idea from a passage in chapter 5 of the Gospel of Mark:

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja'irus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, and besought him, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." And he went with him. (Mark 5:21-24) (RSV)

Now, I don't know about you, but my reaction to Jairus, if I had been in Jesus place, would have been different. I probably would have said something like, "Gee, Jairus, I know your daughter is sick, but can you wait an hour or so. See, I've got this huge crowd here waiting for me to speak and I've got this important lesson I've prepared to teach them. This stuff is going into Scripture, you know. Just give me an hour or so and I'll see what I can do." Or else, I might have said, "Okay Jairus, just go home, I'm busy here, you're daughter is healed. Now, buzz off." That is not what Jesus did in response to Jairus request though, Mark says "And he went with him." That simple. Jesus left the crowd and went with Jairus. Why? We don't know why, we can only assume that somehow this was part of the Father's plan and worked to his glory. That is the way Jesus wanted to use his time here on earth -- to bring glory to his Father. You might say that since Jesus was God that he would naturally use his time differently than any of us regular human beings. But Jesus was human and if there was anyone on earth who had a right to feel pressed for time it was Jesus. He had only three years in which to complete his earthly ministry. And yet there is no hint in Scripture that Jesus ever felt hurried. He is never bothered by interruptions. Jesus lived in time as if it were eternity.

I, on the other hand, seem to be constantly preoccupied with efficiency and planning in order to achieve the best use of my time. And I hate others to interrupt me and spoil my plans. Perhaps there is a better way. Our Lord did not have interruptions, he simply did the next thing that was at hand and he did it for his Father's greater glory. In Matthew 6:34 Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. (RSV) Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” I think this is the heart of Jesus’ teaching on time management.