Have a Manly Lent

carry-it

It’s time for my annual Lenten pep talk. I’ve reshaped these same ideas the last few years and presented them differently. This year I’m going to speak as a man to men. Ladies, feel free to draw inspiration. (I’m not exactly leaving the women out, it’s just that this other way of speaking is how I’m presenting these ideas this year.)

Ok, obligatory, cautionary warning! We are talking about a spiritual workout. Just as you need to ease your way into physical exercise so as not to injure yourself. You also need to establish the basics and ease into the routine of spiritual exercise. We are in pre-lent right now, this past Sunday was Sexagesima Sunday which is 60ish days before Easter. Now is the perfect time to establish good form and a foundation for your spiritual exercises before increasing the intensity. You can do some mini fasts on Wednesday and Friday in preparation for a fuller Lenten fast, for example.

Ok, what sort of spiritual practices should we be planning on for Lent? The 3 traditional practices are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. To this we can add spiritual reading as well. Let’s examine these in greater detail.

    1. Prayer; How can you increase or intensify your daily prayer life? What does it currently look like? Do you pray the Rosary daily? Do you attend or privately pray any of the Divine Office? Do you pray with your family? Are there any obstacles in your prayer life, and what are you able to do about them? Do you go to confession? How often do you examine your conscience? Do you read the bible and spiritual writings? What can you change? Suggestion- audio books/ sermons can be fit in on the go.
    2. Fasting; Frankly the current fasting practice of most Catholics is embarrassing. Take a look at the fasting regulations from before 1960 (can be seen on the image below) or of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Now taking one’s health conditions into account, challenge yourself! If you are reasonably healthy you can follow the traditional fasting parameters without hurting yourself. It will be hard, you will suffer, but suck it up. Now, there are some who will claim that “people were holier back then we can’t handle these sort of fasts”. I call BS on this. It is true that if you’ve never done the traditional type of fast it’s a bit much to jump entirely into all at once, but at least use it as a goal to work up to. Besides, assuming it were true that people were holier in the past,  we have greater not lesser need of difficult penance than they did. Fasting can be done in creative ways as well, leaving cream and sugar out of your coffee or making your showers cold, for example. Take inventory of your life and figure out what you can do in the area of fasting. The one warning I will give is to not bite off too much initially but ease in, if you have a reliable confessor you may want to run it by him. I stress ‘reliable’ many priests are like other men of this age, soft. I would be selective in seeking advice, find a manly holy priest. Father limp-wrist will form you into a limp-wrist.
    3. Almsgiving; Give to the poor. This should be proportionate to your means, if you are gainfully employed then putting spange in the ‘rice-bowl’ doesn’t cut it. Generally speaking putting pennies in the rice bowl is for children (there are exceptions, the unemployed, elderly on limited income and so on). Give as you have received. This too might hurt a little for some of us. Do not neglect the spiritually poor as well. Offer up Masses, prayers and sacrifices for souls.
    4. Spiritual Reading; Really it probably belongs with prayer, but let’s break it out a little. I would encourage sound, solid, serious spiritual reading. Not mushy, sentimental stuff like ‘Guideposts’. Please, we have time tested works which are intended to help make us holy. Most, of this stuff is available digitally for free. I would particularly recommend ‘The Spiritual Combat’ by Scupoli. But writings of the dessert fathers and similar classic works are ideal for our purposes.

Ok, that’s pretty much it. Get real with yourself, be honest, stop making excuses. The spiritual life is one of struggle and combat. You will fall down, when that happens get back up. It will be difficult, so man up, and face it head on.

Fasting1

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Candlemas Day

Today is Candlemas day, the commemoration of the presentation of Jesus and purification of Mary in the temple. Candles are solemnly blessed on this feast.

I came across this poem.

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
English poem

Interesting, considering it is our Groundhog day with woodchucks predicting the weather by looking for their shadows.

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Brigid’s Day

St. Brigid of Kildare, Pray for us.

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St. Brigid’s Cross

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Buying Forgiveness

This begins the Protestant Mythology series.

Myth #1- “During the Middle Aged the Catholic Church purported to sell forgiveness for sins (indulgences).” Image result for selling indulgences

2017 is the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. This post begins my 2017 series debunking the Protestant mythology. By mythology I mean a certain set of generally accepted ‘facts’ which are believed without hesitation, at least in the English speaking world. The truth behind the ‘facts’ is usually not so simple and straightforward of course. At this point many of these myths have become secularized and one can find them in textbooks of our secular public schools, they are part of a cultural imprint.

This first myth is one I consider a gimmie.

“During the Middle Ages The Catholic Church sold forgiveness for sins.”

This claim refers to the granting of indulgences and is expanded in a number of ways, some more accurate than others. Some of the more outrageous versions of this claim state that one could purchase indulgences for things like adultery ahead of time, in other words the elements of repentance and contrition weren’t necessary one could simply buy their way out of hell. According to this myth an indulgence was permission to indulge in sin. I consider busting this myth a gimmie because I need only explain what an indulgence is.

It is true that indulgences were granted for making donations to the church and that there were abuses of this practice to the point that one could say churchmen were selling indulgences. One may debate whether granting indulgences for donations is a good thing. One may debate and object to the theology of indulgences. In either case, for the sake of honesty one must actually, as a prerequisite, know what they are objecting to.

So, what is an indulgence? An indulgence is the remission of temporal punishment due to sin. It is not a remission of sin but of punishment. It is not a remission of eternal punishment. It is not a remission of guilt. It is most certainly not a permission to sin. CCC 1471

There… done.

The underlying theology is that of satisfaction for sins, and very much a development from the public penances of the early church. Additionally, the communion of the saints and the concept of bearing one another’s burdens is involved. Of course most of those who think an indulgence is remission of or permission to sin have no idea what temporal punishment is. Eternal punishment is Hell. Temporal punishment are the other negative fruits of sin due to the sinner. The classic biblical example is that of King David and his sin of Adultery in the old Testament. He repents and is forgiven but is told he still must suffer the punishment of his child dying as a result of his sin.

More could be said as this is a complex subject but the myth has been addressed, if you’re trying to get rid of sins and avoid hell, indulgences don’t even claim to help.

(For further reading see St. Thomas Aquinas part 3, questions 86-90: and questions 25-27 of the supplement to part 3 of the Summa. I doubt anyone will actually click the links though, but I included it for those who might claim the church changed the definition of ‘indulgence’ after the reformation.)

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Year of Our Lord 2017

Well, it looks like we have an exciting year ahead of us. Socio-Political tensions here in the US are torqued to near a breaking point. Pope Francis has refused to clarify the dubia submitted to him, on the now famous ambiguous footnote in Amoris Laetitia, which implys active adultery is not an obstacle to receiving Holy Communion. The prelates who submitted the dubia have said, that if the problem isn’t resolved, they will issue a formal correction of the Pope! We haven’t seen something like this since the middle ages. There are other tensions in the Church as well, here too it is wound to a breaking point.

On the spiritual plane 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the warnings of Our lady of Fatima, the 300th anniversary of the establishment of Freemasonry, and the 500th anniversary of the foundation of Protestantism. I claim no hidden knowledge, but it seems to me that things are ripe for something big and culture shifting to happen.  I pray it be good and not evil. Perhaps we will see both. Kyrie Eleison.

On the subject of the anniversary of Luther’s 95 thesis I will soon begin my series on Protestant mythologies.

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Epiphany – Theophany

Today is the eve of Epiphany (Theophany in the East). This brings the Christmas season to a close.

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Christ is Born

Alleluia!

I have not posted in some time and have been contemplating the purpose of this blog. The future is still not clear to me.

Part of my reasons for not writing have to do with a personal struggle around certain aspects of the faith. To be clear, I am not doubting Christianity. My struggle is related, mainly, to certain ecclesial questions.

All of that said one thing seems clear; this blog was created and has been maintained in the interest of serving truth, which is a person as much as a thing (the incarnation of Truth now being celebrated liturgically). 2017 is the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant revolt. There is a popular mythology, or rather series of mythologies, which exist in the English speaking world concerning the Reformation. Historical truth is of course more complicated and interesting. In 2017 I will be posting a number of things correcting our cultural Textus Receptus concerning the Reformation.

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