Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ave Maria and the Eternal Dance

Even as a Seventh-day Adventist, the music that made my spirit soar in a delicate, yet piercing, yearning for my Lord was Bach/Gounod’s Ave Maria. I felt such an uncomfortable spirituality in it. Yet, in defiance of even my own conscience, I sang it for my senior vocal recital at an Adventist University and promised the Lord it really was for Him. Since only a few family members showed up, it didn’t cause scandal although the song was censored for a while in the SDA church I attended. 
I hummed it for years without the “idolatrous words” or in Latin so I couldn’t understand what I was saying. Happily, I discovered a version with Protestant lyrics I sang at church  but it left my heart empty.
For decades, I wondered WHAT was wrong with me? I wept at almost all Ave Maria’s-- Totus Tuus, Shubert, Caccini, Biebl. It seemed blasphemous that the sweetest, most exquisite sounds ever dreamed were about Mary and not Jesus. I would grab my chest in agony and apologize to Him.
Then one morning, with Haley Westerna singing Ave Maria in the background, in an ascending, sublime prayer I broke out into sobs, torn between the ethereal ecstasy of the music and guilt, when He spoke.

“Fear not. You are hearing my voice, Teresa.” 
Dearest, dearest... can you be speaking? Is that Your voice to sooth my anguish?

He continued, “When you hear Ave Maria, you are hearing My love song to my mother. You are witnessing the voice of God, the voice of the creator of the universe honoring through the archangel Gabrielle, the little Jewish girl, His mother.” 
He told me that I am privileged to listen to the greatest love song of all eternity. As once long ago, a young woman led the world into disaster with her disobedience, so now in these words, “Hail, full of Grace,” Jesus honors a young woman chosen of all women who have breathed upon the earth, to bear the Savior and be the instrument of salvation to all the world with her obedience.
This Ave Maria moment was the beginning of the Mystery kept hidden from the foundations of the world. We, finally, could see the genesis of the New Covenant of grace, a new beginning for mankind. The fullness of God’s infinite love for us begun with  Mary would culminate in the cross and the resurrection of Christ. What sorrow was begun with Eve was comforted, healed and redeemed with Mary. 
“You love her so much, don’t you, Jesus?” Knowing the tender affection reserved only for my own mother, I felt somewhat left out and crestfallen at my presumptuousness that  I could enter that kind of intimate Love that Jesus had for His mother. 
He quietly explained that I can yet not handle the Love I see between Mary and Himself, but He wants us to ponder it nonetheless because in these scenes of tenderest love there is the promise of what we shall have in heaven. We will join in this love story that surpasses all shadows we play out here on earth.

We cannot experience but a mere taste of celestial love here, because of our human nature. Mary was perfect and a soul without sin has no boundaries for experience. While our physical nature simply collapses under too much stimuli either good or bad, Mary’s can withstand the power of God’s love unfiltered. What we would find unendurable, killing us, Mary’s infinite capacity for love can receive. 
God’s love of Mary, we who have accepted His love, will one day be shared by us when we have a limitless spirit. As we look upon this immortal dance of the Groom and His Bride, as we ponder it in our hearts, we learn that one day our obedience will lead to a crown being placed upon our heads, that we will share in the glorious eternal dance with our Father. Then we will hear His voice singing to us... “Hail, full of grace.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Predicting the End of the Word by Father Frank Pavone

I grew up in a sect called Seventh-day Adventists whose entire church was based upon a failed prophecy of the end of the world on October 22, 1844. This particular group of Millerite followers began to believe that the Millerite prediction had been misunderstood, just like Camping is saying now, that instead of the end of the world a judgment had come--just like Camping now! Weird to see first-hand how history repeats itself. Only this time the tragedy was contained. William Miller's 1844 prediction caused the Great Disappointment that ended up with death (both murder and suicide) and insanity as well as starvation for those farmers who didn't reap their harvest because they believed the Lord was coming. For newspaper scans of the Millerite Great Disappointment go to my other website:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

An Evangelical Meets Catholic Seminarians

I ran into this post an another blog and thought I would share it here:

A Visit to Heaven

My brother is a Roman Catholic seminarian, and I visited him at Mount Saint Marys Seminary the last couple days to see him installed in his second-to-last office (acolyte) before hopefully being ordained a priest (in about two years). I’ve been hoping to visit John for a long time, and finally got the opportunity.
My Evangelical brothers and sisters typically misunderstand and mischaracterize the Catholic Church, its leaders and theology and practices, so I felt compelled to write this to them, an “open letter” if you will.

First off, much of what Evangelicals believe about Catholicism, what they believe and who they are, is flat out incorrect. I will not dedicate any space here to that, except to say that people don’t listen to each other all that well in the 21st century, even though it’s easier than ever, technologically, to do. We should all try harder.

So let me tell you what I found among the more than 150 seminarians I spent a couple days with.

I found men who love Jesus with a passion and wholeness that I find rare among Christians of any stripe in these days.
I found men who struggle with the same kinds of things that we all do, regular guys who are dealing with what we all deal with… with the amazing support of Christ, of their brothers, and of the church.
I found men who can chuck a frisbee way farther than I ever will be able to.

I found a place where worship is very deep, even sublime, and regular and intentional and heartfelt… and amazing, and where prayer is an intentionally regular and essential and practiced part of every day. I found that Jesus was palpably present in every room and hallway.

I ate one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in forever.
I found generosity that is inspiring.
I found guys that, when it’s time to have fun… have some serious fun.
I found real intelligence, insight and wisdom being leveraged for the kingdom of Heaven. Almost any of these guys could probably lead, and lead well, in any secular company and probably make a lot of money.

I found the presence of Christ in community that I was, frankly, a little envious of.

I found a love of Christ’s body on earth that you don’t find very often anywhere.
I found that not everybody will make it, but if they don’t, it is handled with grace and love. I didn’t find any ambition, though, really.
I didn’t actually really hear anybody say anything that wasn’t uplifting and encouraging.

I met leaders and instructors who care for those under their charge with passion and charity.

I found the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit elevated and exalted and magnified in every single thing. I found some things that are not my particular practices, but even those things did nothing but lift up and exalt our Lord.

Men, what a blessing you were to me! I have news for you. Heaven will be just like this!

If these men are any indication of the kinds of people who will emerge as the priests and leaders of the Catholic Church in this new century, there are great days ahead for them, and more and more people are going to experience the Gospel in real, tangible ways.
Note: In the past few days, this post has become almost all of my internet traffic for the entire year, receiving thousands of hits. Thanks for sharing my joy in people who are passionately in love with Jesus and His Church.

But… I have received some comments (VERY few) I am not allowing to be posted here that were, in my opinion, inflammatory or negative. Sorry. It’s my blog… You’re welcome to start your own… but divisiveness among those who love and follow Jesus, especially divisiveness built on prejudice and ignorance and even past hurts, is not something I can stand any more at this stage in my life. My life’s background has included mainline and evangelical Christianity as well as Roman Catholocism (which I grew up in). I know what I speak of, and many of you that are saying the things you are saying are flat out incorrect, and I’m sorry for your hurts or feelings, but they have no place here. Blessings

Monday, May 16, 2011

What Do ALL These People Have in Common?

What do Tony Blair and Tony Snow as well as Bob Hope and “Bob” Robert Bork have in common besides a first name?
What do Doc Holiday,  Buffalo Bill and Kit Carson have in common besides the wild, wild west?
What do entertainers Gary Cooper, Faye Dunaway, Susan Hayward, Jim Nabors, Patricia Neal, Vincent Price, Jane Wyman and Sir Alex and Lady Guiness,  and Cherry Boone (daughter of Pat) all share in common? 
As well as royalty such as Charles II of England, Queen Christina of Sweden, King Henry the IV of France?
What about social activists Dorothy Day, Clare Booth Luce?
Besides being writers what do J R R Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway,  G. K. Chesterton,  and Malcom Muggeridge all share?
Or artists Peter Paul Rubens, Jacques Offenbach?
What do politicians Sam Brownback, Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich and those who comment about politics --Robert Novak, Laura Ingraham, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Brent Bozell all get together to celebrate besides political wins?
Or what about famous abortionist turn pro-life advocate Dr. Bernard Nathanson, and  Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff better known as “Jane Roe” in the Roe vs. Wade landmark court case who also is now a pro-life activist?
What about Thomas Merton and John Henry Newman....?

Do you know what unites all these people in each individual questions together and ALL of them have in common?

They ALL Converted to Catholicism when they were adults. Not that it really matters, but it is interesting....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Conversation between Protestant and Catholic

P: Do you believe homosexuality to be a sin?

C: Yes, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a sin.
P: But is that what you, personally believe?
C: I’m a Catholic, so I believe what the Church teaches.
P: So, you just give your mind over to the Catholics to make moral decisions for you?
C: Did you personally discover the law of thermodynamics or that smoking cigarettes is bad for you? Did you invent the alphabet? Since you didn’t why did you just give your mind over to your teachers who taught you this? 

P: That’s stupid. I’m talking about moral opinions. Those things you referred to are facts, they are provable. 
C: Spiritual truths are provable just like scientific laws. They have to be tested and retested and stand the scrutiny of time without changing--that what makes it a law instead of a theory. For 2000 years, the Catholic church has done that. 
P: I don’t know what you are talking about.... what “testing’ have they done?”
C: Not testing like in a lab, but observing that God’s laws really do have study-able results. Lying, cheating, adultery, disrespect of parents do have bad consequences on one’s life.
P: So what if I don’t trust the Catholic Church’s “scientific” views. The Holy Spirit uses my own brain and scripture to figure out truths for myself? 
C: I didn’t look inside my heart to discover how to read, nor to discover E=MC² or to believe men actually stepped upon the moon. When I am sick I do not diagnose, prescribe and treat my own illnesses. Like you, I believed the experts who taught me. 

So, when it comes to spiritual truths, I listen to the hundreds of brilliant theological experts within the 2000 years of Catholic history that had incredibly spiritual insights. Why shouldn’t I draw from them the treasure of their spiritual illumination? And, like them, defer my opinion to the Church?
P: Sounds very dangerously gullible. 
C: No more gullible than believing smoking hurts our lungs because the experts say so. My understanding, my interpretation, even my conscience is fallible. So, I look to experts outside of myself and the Bible to find truth. You also do it as a Protestant when you go to church and listen to your preacher and when you read inspirational books--like Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, the Left Behind Series, anything by Billy Graham or Joel Osteen.

I think it is just as dangerously gullible to believe that you can come to truth without any outside teaching.

P: But that isn't Biblical.... We get truth from the Spirit.... John 16:13...

C: Then you don't need the Bible at all, do you? Or church, or other books or anyone but yourself--that is not Biblical!  I Timothy 3:15.