Thursday, June 30, 2011

I See Naked People...... In Church!

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Mark Twain
Note: Everything I write and for that matter do, offends the vast majority of people, so just know that going into reading my blog. I don’t do it on purpose.... Within that humble, apologetic spirit--a note of full disclosure:  In 1997 when a Seventh-day Adventist, after reading Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, I began wearing a veil on my head--for the sake of the angels (at home during my personal worship at 5:30 am), therefore this zealotry wasn’t born in Catholicism, just redirected! So, yes, at mass I wear a hat or veil and I LOVE IT!  Viva la tradizione!
When I was a Protestant, I honestly didn’t care, within reasonable modesty guidelines, what people wore for corporate worship. I figured it was better to have people in church wearing street clothes than wearing church clothes on the streets.
At the Assemblies of God we attended in Fort Myers, Florida, the elders and deacons distinguished themselves by wearing bright floral Hawaiian shirts. The casualness matched the atmosphere of theater seating and two huge screens on the platform.  When the church deliberately creates a casual atmosphere, I think it is fine if Protestants show up for church appropriate to the style of the environment. 
When I taught the youth at one church, my righteous indignation would flare hot whenever some judgmental, straitlaced deacon or deaconess would comment about how the young people were dressed.
Jeans and t-shirt? “Come on in... you’re welcome!” We loved everybody here! I thumbed my nose at the old gossipy, interfering biddies.

But one day a group of college girls came in with silk teddies (or what looked like it) for blouses and one wasn’t wearing a bra! I gulped. Uh-oh, I bit my lip and checked my watch to see how old I was getting. 
No, this isn’t about my age, but about an emerging and menacing culture that silences all criticism and teaches us that nothing matters. I woke up and realized I had been part of the "nothing matters" crowd. (“It’s all good”, coexist!). Being judgement is the highs of all evils, don't you know?

What I had succumbed to was the anti-christian conviction (masking itself under the smug, self-congradulatory feeling of "love" and "tolerance") that what we do doesn’t matter. After all if we are saved by faith alone, what we do doesn't matter, who we sleep with doesn’t matter, who we destroy, unborn, doesn’t matter... what we wear doesn’t matter.....
However, I am not wanting Protestants to go back to the suit and tie, hat and gloves 1950’s church attire, but for Catholics at mass? Yeah! DARN yeah! 
There is a general confusion in the Western culture that Catholic mass is Protestant church. NO! NO! and again I cry out NO! They are very distinct services and do not correlate in any way but in the fact they are called corporate worship. 
Unlike a Protestant church where you can duck in late, sit on the back row and make a bee line for the exit during the closing prayer so that no one can see you are having a bad hair day, Catholics are there to receive the Eucharist. That necessitates leaving your seat and walking up in front of everyone.

And your clothing
does show your respect for the true presence of the Lord, God Almighty, there in your midst and in your mouth! You are standing in front of the CREATOR, the
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. No one would conceive of arriving at the White House for a state dinner in what they show up to mass in.
Recently, nestled the affluent downtown of a capital city cathedral, the congregation had the horror to behold women in their early twenties wearing t-back tank tops, bra straps fully exposed, and short-shorts. It literally looked like beach attire for many of the people there. One long-legged late teen had jean cut offs so highly folded up that a a hint of her derriere was exposed. 

No, this wasn’t a poverty-stricken third-world country with people surviving no air-conditioning. The place was cool enough for some men to be wearing suits, and the priest was in full mass cassock ensemble without breaking into a sweat. No, no one was rounded up off the streets, this morning it was the chosen and preferred attire of these people to encounter the God of the universe.
Church fashion a la Club St. Croix is becoming ubiquitous in Catholic churches during the summer months. It is common to watch men of all ages walking into mass wearing safari shorts, or casual cargo pocket shorts with t-shirts and flip flops. And it isn’t exclusively in summer as a few months back a late teen girl wearing a mini-skirt and go go boots paraded down the isle carrying the cross. At that same church a different woman, also carrying the cross into church, wore a sleeveless sundress that barely covered her underwear. Granted, holding her arms up did make the dress shorter... but someone should have thought of that.

We have attended churches where female Eucharistic ministers sported nylon spandex knee-length pants or jeans as well as as once a man wore a t-shirt (my husband refers to it as a wife beater shirt) and sweat pants. These are EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS giving us the body and blood of Christ! 
To their credit, as liberal as its reputation, St. James Cathedral in Seattle requires all the Eucharistic minsters to wear a robe with rope belt. 
And yes, I am fully aware that some people really can’t afford to dress up in a suit for church. But there was a time when we were first married my husband found a decent suit at Goodwill. 
At the same St. James Cathedral where we worshipped for a couple years, we watched mentally ill transvestites meandering around the edges of the church and homeless people setting up personal areas in the back pews; this didn’t upset me. It is those who do have the mental capacity to make such decisions and do wear nice clothes every day to work and understand the appropriateness of clothing for business, but they will then stand in front of God Almighty without regard to His Holy Presence!
You think I am old-fashioned, a judgmental legalist? Alrighty then, but I am also correct....  
What we wear does show our respect for ourselves, for others and God. Seems to me that if the Vatican has some dress codes, all Catholic churches could too.

The problem is that nobody wants to be seen as the bad guy complainer. I say, let's all do a little protesting here for the Lord!

In the end, Mark Twain was right. When members and visitors attend Catholic mass and find the congregation looking more like they are attending a backyard barbecue, they will not do much to influence them about the holiness of our Lord and
His real presence in the Eucharist.

For full disclosure here are the churches I can remember attending since becoming Catholic in 2008 and the extent of my views on the subject were inspired.
St. Paul’s New Bern, NC
Sacred Heart in Winchester, VA
St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA
St. Martin’s Fife, WA
St. Ann’s Rock Hill, SC
St. Ann’s Charlotte, NC
St. Thomas More, Lynchburg, VA
Holy Cross, Lynchburg, VA
St. Peter’s Greenville, NC
Sacred Heart Cathedral, Raleigh, NC
St. Patrick Cathedral, Charlotte, NC
St. Thomas Aquinas, Charlotte, NC
Others in Waco, Texas and one in Utah... can’t think of any others...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Similarities Between Moses and Peter

When you think about it, there are some really interesting similarities between Moses and Peter....

Moses leader of God’s people                      Peter leader of God’s people

Both were part of a brother "team" of God's leaders: 

       Moses and Aaron  
       Peter and Andrew

Both had brothers who sought after them when God called: 

       Aaron sought Moses at Mt. Horeb's desert  
       Andrew went to find Peter (John 1: 41)

Both "shepherds" of God's people:

       Moses shepherd for forty years watching father-in-laws sheep.
       Peter a fisherman called to become shepherd of Christians. ("Feed my sheep.")

Both had a miracle associated with their introduction to God: 

       Miraculous fire in burning bush  
Called with miraculous catch of fish

Both had a miraculous fire associated with their call to lead God's people: 

      Called by angel in burning bush  
Tongues of fire come upon him

Both called to go before secular leaders in behalf of God's people:

       Called to go before Pharaoh  
       Witness before governors and kings (Matt. 10:18)

Both recoiled from God's presence at first: 

      Moses said, "Who am I, that I should go before Pharaoh?"  (Ex. 3: 11)  
      Peter fell at Jesus feet and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8)

Both men represented God to the people and the world

      God told Moses that Aaron, "will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were   your mouth and as if you were God to him." And, "Then the LORD said to Moses, 'See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.' "(Ex. 4: 16; 7:1) 
God told Peter, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will beloosed in heaven." (Matt. 16:18, 19)

Both calls were in the context of understanding who God was, the "I AM." 

      Moses asked God's name and He responded, "I AM, who I AM."

      Jesus asked Peter "Who do you say that I AM?" And Peter's answer proved he understood who Christ was. Both were given authority upon the name of the Great I AM. 

After being commissioned, both were immediately rebuked: 

      God sought after Moses to kill him. (Ex. 4: 24)  
Peter was called Satan. (Matt. 16: 23)

Both were given "The Rock": 

      Moses was given the rock in the form of the Ten Commandments, the written Word of God and the Old Covenant. The law was written in stone and given to Moses to implement. 

      Peter was given the title "The Rock" and his authority was in his own flesh. The law was in the church, in humans. 

Both were given the authority to bind and loose doctrine:

      Moses loosened the divorce laws (Matt. 19:8)           
      Peter was given keys. (Matt. 16: 19)

Both publicly betrayed God: 

       Moses by hitting the rock   
       Peter by denying Him three times

Both were given the ability to perform signs and wonders!

It is very interesting to note that these two great leaders of God's people actually met each other while Jesus was on earth. During the Transfiguration, Moses came and stood beside Jesus while Peter looked on. On one side was Moses representing God's people and the Old Covenant and on the other Peter representing God's people the New Covenant. And there is Jesus bringing them together in the middle. Jesus as the center of both men and both covenants!  [Mark 9:2-8pp -- Lk 9:28-36 9:2-13pp -- Mt 17:1-13] 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Former Father Corapi

I never watched him. I don't know who his is or anything... I have just been reading the blogs about him.

When I heard his audio leaving, I cried.

Being a new Catholic, I have no opinion about Corapi as a person or priest. But it still breaks my heart that we live in such corrupt society that:

1. Anyone can falsely accuse a priest and they can ruin another person's life with little consequence to themselves.

2. That we live in a time where priests are being convicted of living a life so out of step with their religious calling. (And the accusations turn out to be true.)

3. That we all feel we can judge Corapi when we don't know anything about it. And really, we can't expect him to be perfect. He has been traumatized and doesn't have a staff of writers to polish everything to be "perfect." Sorrow is hard to hide.... it comes out victimized, confused... and often embarrassing...

4. When no one judges anyone even when they openly live an immoral life. So if Corapi DID do what he was accused of, then he did the right thing by stepping down, but he shouldn't have then made himself a victim.

It is all confusing. I can understand anyone looking at the Catholic church and wanting nothing to do with her.

I am so very happy to be a Catholic despite the fact that 75% of Catholics don't attend church or know what they believe and divorce, abort and contracept and look no different from pagans. I am thrilled to be a Catholic despite the priests scandals and the inquisition and the millions they slaughtered because of religious intolerance (I know that didn't happen but perception is everything...) I am overjoyed to be a Catholic even though to the world we are nothing but a mess.... thanks to shepherds who have fallen from their religious responsibility and laity who could care less...

I am not Catholic because of people, I am Catholic because of the words of our Lord, "Upon this rock, I will build my kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." PETER WHERE ARE YOU? YOUR CHURCH NEEDS YOU! I am Catholic because I desire and love submitting to God's chosen authorities no matter how they fail to live up to their calling, for I submit not to man but to the Lord.

I hope Mr. Corapi remains faithful even under all the stress and the pressure will purge him, humble him and produce fruits of suffering that will turn out to the glory of God.

Mr. Corapi, do not let the gates of hell prevail against you....

Yes, I am rambling.....Right now, its too early to judge. Let's just pray....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shameless Popery: An Evangelical Disproves Evangelicalism

Shameless Popery: An Evangelical Disproves Evangelicalism: "Yesterday , I talked about Scot McKnight's essay From Wheaton to Rome: Why Evangelicals become Roman Catholic , in which he explores reason..."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anthony Weiner

Mark Shea is known for his comment, "Sin makes you stupid." 
This morning as I was pondering the suffering and shame that Representative Weiner has brought upon himself and his family, I was reminded of Shea's adage.
Many people will dismiss what he did with a roll of the eyes and blame it on the perpetual Peter Pans men have become. "Boys will be boys." Some people are merely calling him stupid. I think it is a lot worse than stupidity. I not only think it is imbecility, but I also believe that our culture has brought on a mass mental illness because of sin.
Most of us are raised severed from our historical past as Americans and Christians, disconnected from our family's history and worse yet we are unable to have a cognitive connection to our future. As scientific as we claim to be, we do not personalize the idea of cause and effect. It is not as if we cannot see the consequences for our actions, we just look at them as in some forever future that will not arrive. We are so inebriated with the present moment that we live in an oblivion that is willing to take deranged risks that imperil our own future and that of those who claim to love.
 In fact, our behavior is evidence that we do not believe anything matters, that we have lost the meaning to our lives and the lives of others. And those who fit the profile are the ones making decisions about our nation's future. It is scary. 

We need to reconnect with our souls. We need to discover that we, in fact, DO matter and what WE DO matters! There is a heaven, there is a hell and at some point in our lives we need to be sober enough to care the tiniest bit about this life we were given as a precious gift.
I pray that Representative Weiner will take a LOT of time off, go into seclusion and do some contemplation about his soul. His soul is priceless as is the soul of his wife. What he does matters. He matters....