CEO and NGO Catholics

Faithful Catholics have long derided what are known as CEO Catholics: Christmas and Easter Only. It is easy to conclude one is not really a Catholic if one only comes to Mass twice a year, when everybody goes to whatever church they belong to, if only to be seen going to church or because it is a nice thing to do as a family. There is another acronym-ic Catholic that is just as false: the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Catholic.

In the season of Lent, we are asked to commit to greater depth in our prayers, our fasting, and our almsgiving. Prayers and fasting are interior practices, but almsgiving rapidly shifts our focus to the recipients of our monetary gifts. That external focus may lead us away from the purpose of almsgiving: the reason the Church asks us to engage in almsgiving is to bless us, the givers. The recipient is also blessed, but that is not the primary reason to give money during Lent.

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Responding to Reality

In the Old Testament reading today, we have the famous scene known throughout the rest of the Scriptures as the waters of contradiction. The Israelites are faced with troubles: they are thirsty and they are in the desert. This reading resonates with us today because we are faced with the corona virus phenomenon, and we are concerned. When something bad happens, the question we often ask is, “why?”

The Israelites ask themselves, “Why are we here thirsty in the desert?” And they quickly come up with an answer: “Moses did it to us!” From the comfortable distance of history, we can see that they came up with the wrong answer. Moses was their savior, the man who led them out of slavery in Egypt. Moses was a prophet, who conversed with God and conveyed God’s power through the entire Exodus story. It was Moses acting as God’s agent who brought plagues and pestilence upon the Egyptians and spared the Israelites so everyone knew clearly that God loved his people and would save them from their earthly tribulations. Continue reading “Responding to Reality”

Virtuous Relationships

I’m here tonight to talk to you about how to develop and maintain holy and virtuous relationships with your beloved. The formation process for the permanent diaconate involves a fair amount of intellectual learning, but I’m also going to share with you some of the insights I have gained just through normal – maybe a bit abnormal – life lessons. I am married. I did date. I did not always approach women the way I now understand I should. I did a lot because I am a sinner. I did some because I didn’t know any better. I hope I give you some knowledge and some tools tonight so you are not doomed to repeat my mistakes.

Ignorance is a big problem for us Catholics in the world today. If you were in your school years at any point after 1960, then you were put through an educational system that was very busy rejecting the accumulated wisdom of the previous 2,000 years. So many of those concepts that the modern society rejected had to do with the relationship between men and women. Part of why we have so much trouble in this area is that our toolbox is full of the wrong tools. It’s very hard to hang a picture on a wall if you don’t have a hook, a little hammer, and a level. How much harder it is to live the vocation to holy matrimony if you don’t know how men and women are made by their Creator. That’s what I want to talk to you about tonight. Continue reading “Virtuous Relationships”