Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Structures of Sin

On Sunday, I got a flat tire. In the midst of all the ensuing drama, I was convicted that we really are living in a web of structures of sin. We have set up our society to embody a disorder.

For example. You go into BJ's to the back where the tires are. To get there, you pass a million things you don't need at all but are made to look so attractive. You reach the counter, and instead of a person, you encounter a screen that says "Touch to begin." So you touch the screen. You pick your car, model, make, year. The little computer tells you what tires to get. Now you get to go find them yourself in the maze. Once you have found them, you must take them up to the front, buy them, and wheel them outside and around to the place where they actually do the tire work. Yourself. The tire man asks you to fill out the paperwork about the tire you have just bought. After an hour or so, you drive it up to the door. You drive it in, you drive it out. At the grocery store, you can use screens and scanners to do the check-out on your own.
Hello, radical autonomy.
Not to mention the unnaturalness of a car and roads themselves. Think of the difference, Dr. Schindler encourages us, between a road and a path. And these are just the little day-to-day encounters with society. They are little structures, part of bigger structures discussed by John Paul II below:
"The third meaning of social sin refers to the relationships between the various human communities. These relationships are not always in accordance with the plan of God, who intends that there be justice in the world and freedom and peace between individuals, groups and peoples. Thus the class struggle, whoever the person who leads it or on occasion seeks to give it a theoretical justification, is a social evil. Likewise obstinate confrontation between blocs of nations, between one nation and another, between different groups within the same nation all this too is a social evil. In both cases one may ask whether moral responsibility for these evils, and therefore sin, can be attributed to any person in particular. Now it has to be admitted that realities and situations such as those described, when they become generalized and reach vast proportions as social phenomena, almost always become anonymous, just as their causes are complex and not always identifiable. Hence if one speaks of social sin here, the expression obviously has an analogical meaning. However, to speak even analogically of social sins must not cause us to underestimate the responsibility of the individuals involved. It is meant to be an appeal to the consciences of all, so that each may shoulder his or her responsibility seriously and courageously in order to change those disastrous conditions and intolerable situations."
~JPII, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia
This reminds me also of the movie "Super Size Me." A good movie, in my opinion. It was not Catholic and I do not think he would have named the fast food industry a structure of sin, but what he did was expose it as such, unwittingly. Individual responsibility is not mitigated completely- perhaps he wasn't so clear on this- but the culture is certainly set up in such a way that fast food is not seen for what it is. Its common existence and acceptance point to a loss of the understanding of food as not only for the body but for the whole person, eating as a social activity, and, further, its relation to the Eucharist.

Walk for Life

Check out the experience at the San Francisco Walk for life.
You know you're doing the will of the Crucified One when you're treated like Him. God bless them.

(Part III is a bit odd)

With God in Russia

by Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ
Imprisoned in Russia for 23 years as a Vatican spy
These are some thoughts on discernment (whether as a priest he should leave his post and head into Russia) I shared these quotes a while back with the wretches, but I think we were only about 20 strong back then. So here you are:

"The moment Makar spoke of going to Russia my heart leapt. I was so excited, so seized by a deep interior joy, that I had to restrain my emotions in order not to seem foolish... It was as if my whole life, in God's plan, had pointed to this moment... It was not that easy,though. The next morning brought with it a flood of second thoughts.

Wasn't I interpreting the present situation as a 'sign' of God's providence only because I wanted it to be that way?
Wasn't I merely following my own desires and simply calling them God's will for me?

Anyone who has ever wrestled with his conscience over a particular course of action has experienced what I went through then. Any young man or woman who has felt called to a vocation and then hesitated, wondering if the call is genuine, knows the agonies of such second thoughts and how powerful the counter arguments can be."

[So, he decides not to go to Russia, and to stay where he was placed because "that much of His will was certain" but then: ]

"Yet hardly had I made that decision, in all sincerity and with firm conviction, than I was again distraught. I felt no peace, no joy, noease of heart at having finally resolved my problem. Prayer became difficult, almost impossible. I felt my faith was weakened... I was distracted by the feeling I had broken a pattern that had dominated my whole life up till now. For this decision was a break with the way I had always experienced and interpreted the workings of divine providence in my life, had always striven to see God's will in everything and follow it. Most important, however, was the loss of that deep interior sense of peace, that sense of joy and enthusiasm, that strong spirit of faith in God's involvement in my life which, up to now, had been such an integral part of all my spirituality."

[So he prayed to be totally open to God's will,]

"And immediately there came flooding back that sense of peace, that feeling of joy, that confidence in the simple and direct faith expressed in trusting in him alone... God's will can be discerned by the fruits of the spirit itbrings, that peace of soul and joy of heart are two such signs, provided they follow upon total commitment and openness to God aloneand are not founded on the self's desires."
- He Leadeth Me (the other book about his struggles)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Come Holy Ghost!

My children were confirmed last night!!

Children? Yes, I have many children. They say that when you're a mother, it's like your heart is walking around outside your body. I totally and utterly believe it, because when you're a teacher, it's like there are 20 pieces of your heart walking around on their own.

9 of them received the gifts of the Holy Spirit last night and became full members of the Church. Aaaaaaaaa-men! I am so proud of them.

The Gospel they read was Mark 4:1-20, the parable of the sower and the seeds. Listening to it once again in this context was striking. My kids have received the good seed; whether it will bear its fruit is not yet certain. Some of their souls may as yet be rocky, and they will certainly face the thorns of the world in the years to come. The Bishop spoke about the courage they need to face it all. They had 3 other strong priests before them as examples of this courage. "It can be done, with His help" is what we all want them to know. At least they know that we love them.

Walking over to the church from the staging area, I couldn't help but laugh a lot. God chooses to use the human to communicate the divine. "Why on earth would You want it this way?" I thought. God wants to speak to us in these little things that have reality within them; they point us to Him. The young men and women were in red robes, and walking in two lines, talking, joking, pushing one another, nervous and excited. They were about to enter into the sanctuary in which the Holy Spirit would enter their hearts in a new way and bring them all the gifts they would need for the challenges ahead. Could they possibly understand that? No. Could I? No way. The walk over was so human. So teenager. And yet the salvation of the whole world is played out in each of them. It is played out in you and me. Part of it may be our incapacity to "get it". If I could have seen the change in their souls, I probably would have disappeared (as Spice would say)

Parish life is where the rubber hits the road. It's where all my theological studying comes into contact with actual lived experience. I can't even say how grateful I am to have been adopted into this holy parish family. Our pastor is a saint; thus his people are being made holy. And it's hard. Giussani talks about this in Why the Church? The Church is the scandal of the Incarnation all over again. God communicating His life through these people? How can this be? I know that guy, he's not holy... and that woman, man, she drives me crazy. There are priests who abuse children. There are Catholics teaching heresy regularly. Yep. Sure enough, this is the way God has chosen to reveal Himself to us.

Don't ask me why.

Monday, February 13, 2006

In the company of saints...

"I feel then that the fervor of my Sisters makes up for my lack of fervor; but when alone (I am ashamed to admit it) the recitation of the rosary is more difficult for me than the wearing of an instrument of penance. I feel I have said this so poorly! I force myself in vain to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary; I don't succeed in fixing my mind on them. For a long time I was desolate about this lack of devotion which astonished me, for I love the Blessed Virgin so much that it should be easy for me to recite in her honor prayers which are so pleasing to her. Now I am less desolate; I think that the Queen of heaven, since she is my MOTHER, must see my good will and she is satisfied with it. Sometimes when my mind is in such aridity that it is impossible to draw forth one single thought to unite me with God, I very slowly recite an "Our Father" and then the angelic salutation ["Hail Mary, full of grace, etc.]; then these prayers give me great delight; they nourish my soul much more than if I had recited them precipitately a hundred times. "
-St. Therese 'Story of a Soul'

Friday, February 10, 2006

Honorary Wretch?

On Danielle Bean's blog:

Does God want all of you on these days too? Does God want the pathetic very best you have to offer at these times too? Yes, I believe He does. Every last wretched bit.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Rest in Peace

Prayer requests from the wretched sisterhood:

The grandfather of Sr. Grass passed away last week.
The grandfather of Sr. Spice passed away this morning.

Please keep both of them and their families in your prayers!

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Little Wretches

“Woman is by nature intent on nurturing life, not simply on a biological level ...but through her compassionate interest in and encouragement of all who come within her orbit.”
~St. Edith Stein

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Fr. Shanley takes on V-Day

When Fr. Shanley left CUA to go to Providence College (as their new president), I was definitely saddened... but this makes me smile:

Message Regarding Vagina Monologues

From a man who used to tease me for going to JPII, I love that he just broke out into gift of self language:

In contrast, Roman Catholic teaching sees female sexuality as ordered toward a loving giving of self to another in a union of body, mind, and soul that is ordered to the procreation of new life. The deeper complexity and mystery lies in the capacity of human sexuality, both male and female, to sacramentalize the love of God in marriage. Any depiction of female sexuality that neglects its unitive and procreative dimensions diminishes its complexity, its mystery, and its dignity. Moreover, to explore fully the dignity of woman requires not only a consideration of female sexuality, but also of the capacity of women for intellectual, artistic, moral, and spiritual activity; none of these dimensions are featured in The Vagina Monologues.

Thanks to Jamie for posting this one. (Ad Limina)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Jesus, we long to gaze at you our Beloved!

"When we see that we are wretched, we no longer wish to look at ourselves but we gaze at our only beloved." -St. Thérèse of Lisieux

2006 Turin Olympian

I just wanted to let you ladies know about a Catholic Olympian, Rebecca Dussault, 25, who is a cross country skier, wife and mother. Her story is posted in the Denver Catholic Register and there's more information about her life on her website which is phenomenal. Just to give you a taste of who she is, this is a quote from her, "I would be remiss if I didn't share with all of you my truest love of all, the Lord Jesus Christ and his Holy Catholic Church. My faith is the most important thing in my life. It is the only thing, which I cannot be parted from and is what gives me daily hope. He is the lover of my soul and my secret hiding place. I will be restless until I rest in Him." Also posted are her ambitions, of which a few are: "to live heroic virtue and become a Saint, have several more children and educate them at home and become an oblate of the Community of St. John." Beautiful!

So if you think about it, say a quick prayer through the intercession of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati for her and her family's safety and that God's will be done with this holy woman striving for sainthood. +JMJ+