Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Monday, November 29, 2010

Even Protestants need the Pope

The title of this post is not meant to be triumphalistic. Far from it. Rather, it speaks to a certain truth that I think -- hope -- my separated brothers and sisters can appreciate.

The Western world is splintering into a thousand shards of relativistic thoughts. It does not take much imagination to see where the growing tendency to see people as useful (and thus worth allowing to live) or useless (and thus not worthy of legal protections for their life) will lead.

In such an environment, only the Pope with the attention he captures can propel forward those moral questions which will lead to or away from human flourishing. Not the head of the Southern Baptist Convention, not Pastor Rick Warren (as wonderful of a man as he is), not the head of the Calvery Church non-denominational denomination, only the Pope. For instance, read this. What other world or sectarian leader could say these things and get the sort of attention he has? Again, this is not to be triumphalistic. It is, however, something of an act of appreciation for the fact that we have such a figure and an act of recognition of how much poorer and more frightening our world would be with him. And God preserve us from people without this sort of courage from ever sitting on the Chair of Peter.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tragic news out of Rome

It seems a member of His Holiness' household has perished after being hit by a car. How tragic. In the new book length interview that is causing so much furor, he spoke of how the papal household is like a family. Now one person short, alas. Read the sad story here.

Not just good for conversions

In the previous blog, I noted Our Lady's success in bringing pagan and Muslims to the Faith. It seems she's also doing a few things to bring those who are already Christian into the fullness of the Faith. See this article about the Anglican bishop who is resigning his post so that he can become Catholic. At the end of his last service as bishop, he "laid aside his crozier and mitre at the feet of Our Lady." Read his moving sermon here.

Our Lady and Advent

Our Lady's has only ever had one two-fold purpose for her existence: 1) to bring Christ to the world and 2) to bring the world to Christ.

The Philippines is a good case-in-point of this. The Spaniards had tried four times to take the archipelago, and each time the native population had repulsed them. King Philip II authorized a fifth expedition, and at first, it seemed as if it would meet with the same fate. That is until an Augustinian friar left the safety of his ship and approached the hostile defenders in a row boat. What did he bear with him that enabled this? And why is this singular, non-violent act of courage directly responsible for the Philippines being the only predominantly Christian nation in all of east Asia?

The following, although admittedly lengthy, is a fascinating retelling of this story. If Our Lady could accomplish this 435 years ago in a largely pagan and Muslim nation, can she not lead our increasingly pagan and Muslim world to her Son today? Read this piece for yourself and see what you think.

Happy beginning of Advent

Welcome to Advent! At the risk of sounding "triumphalistic," I feel sorry for those Protestant friends who effectively ignore Advent and jump right into the Christmas season. Once Christmas day is done, phhfffft. It's done.

However, when you observe Advent through fasting, alms giving, prayer, and the like, come Christmas, it's like an explosion. It's build up, build up, build up, and wham! And you get to bask in the season (which officially ends February 2) for weeks. It's awesome. I used to do it the way most of our society does it, and I would never willingly go back.

But, anyway, I was thinking today about Advent, and how alms giving is part of it. And the thought struck me that when we give alms -- even if it is the alms of our time to someone who is lonely, the alms of our hospitality to someone who is socially awkward and doesn't normally get invited into people's homes, the alms of our care to someone who is low, the alms of our wisdom to someone who has adopted a mindset that will not lead to true happiness -- we do more than simply give.

What we also do is we reverse the feeling of isolation and hopelessness that many feel. And sometimes that is more important than anything we give in any sort of material way.

And to you, I give the alms of song. Here is a traditional French Advent carol. I hope you come to love it as much as I do. Have a great day.