Awkward Catholic

Living my faith as the awkward man of God that I am.


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The Math of Abortion

Let’s take a break from the awkward moments for a bit. Let’s get real here and realize that the world we live in has become so corrupted by sin, i.e. selfishness, that a great many of us can no longer tell the difference between good and evil, much less distinguish between that which is utterly evil and that which, while profound, pales in comparison.

Baby in Utero

What am I talking about? Simply this: any person who thinks that abortion is not the single most important problem facing our nation and world is either fooling themselves or is a fool. The utter moral depravity that compares abortion to economics or gun control is quite simply, unconscionable.

 

There is no argument, no rationale that justifies the killing of an innocent human being in his mother’s womb. None. Nada. Nothing. The very thought of arguing with a person (this happened to me recently) about priorities makes me want to scream and shake them until they wake up. Of course, in normal human discourse, this isn’t an option and moreover rarely ever works.

 

No, I’m not flippantly brushing off the importance of a healthy, just economic system, the right of persons to defend themselves, quality education, or any other issue. Each, in its own right, is urgently important. But, come on! I mean, we’re comparing quality education to ripping a defenseless human being limb from limb who has been proven to feel pain and fights against the torturous instruments of its death. It’s as if we live in 1930’s Nazi Germany and we’re debating the economy all the while the police are rounding up Jews and invalids for extermination. Here’s a scene from “Life Is Beautiful” for an example of what I’m talking about.

Calvin & Economy

I recently read an article from David Andrusko[1] on LifeNews.com where he quoted G.K. Chesterton: “All men matter. You matter. I matter. It’s the hardest thing in theology to believe.” And in this Mr. Chesterton speaks truth. God created the entire universe and yet thought that it wasn’t yet complete until you were in it. Now, that doesn’t just apply to those we deem “wanted” or “worthy.” It applies TO EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING! God, not you, gets to decide who lives and who dies. God gets to decide which souls get created, not you, not me, not Hitler, the abortionist, Donald Trump, or the president of the United States.

 

Each time a new human life comes into existence it is a brand new act of creation. Did you realize that? God doesn’t have a giant gumball machine full of souls up in heaven waiting for couples (or scientists) to join a sperm and egg. Each time he reaches down and intentionally creates a brand new soul that will live for eternity, one whom the world has never before seen, that will never again be repeated in the history of eternity. From this perspective, God’s perspective, which do you think he cares more about… quality education, a good economy, or the life and dignity of the human person?

 

The baby matters because God has willed it into existence– from all eternity he has been contemplating that particular soul and waiting more anxiously than a dad awaits his firstborn son. That baby is wanted–perhaps not by its own mother or father–but is wanted passionately, deeply and eternally. And that baby’s right to life is more urgent than any gun laws or health care laws or immigration laws.

 

And let me just stop you now– you cannot argue against this. Well, you can try, but all you will succeed in doing is proving yourself a fool, or worse, completely oblivious to the reality of evil permeating our society.

[1] http://www.lifenews.com/2016/02/17/why-do-unborn-children-matter-just-because-they-are/


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Was Jesus a Drunkard?

That awkward moment when you are hosting a party and run out of drinks and food for your guests; really any moment when you realize that you’re on the verge of being completely embarrassed and there’s nothing you can do about it. You might search for solutions, but ultimately your only hope is a miracle and so you prepare to suck it up and deal.

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This is how I imagine the bridegroom felt in last Sunday’s Gospel reading from John 2:1-12. This just happens to be one of my favorite Gospel passages, “The Wedding at Cana.” I love this Gospel! I was so excited when the Luminous Mysteries were announced and I discovered the second Mystery was the Wedding at Cana. I’ve spent so much time meditating on this passage and have been so inspired and moved by its profound depth, by Christ’s deep concern for others, by Mary’s motherly prodding, by the humility of the servers, by the faith of his disciples, and so much more.

But more than anything else in this beautiful passage, what moves me most deeply is the overwhelming providence of God’s grace. Have you ever noticed that Mary wasn’t asked by the bridegroom to help? She simply notices that they have run short of wine, and that undoubtedly the bridegroom would be deeply embarrassed, and she asks her son to help. While Jesus at first seems to balk at the idea, she meekly goes to the waiter and tells him to obey Jesus. And what does Jesus do? He changes 180 gallons* of water into wine.  Have you ever contemplated how much wine that is?! It’s about 4 bathtubs full of wine or almost 12 kegs worth. That’s a lot of wine. And remember, that’s after the entire wedding party had already drunk all the other wine! That’s a lot of wine!Cana Wine Jugs.jpg

What’s my point; was Jesus a drunkard? Was he promoting alcoholism? Was he presciently commenting on Protestant anti-alcohol laws? While it seems that he was subconsciously declaring alcohol an acceptable drink, I think he had a more important message to send. God provides. It’s as simple as that. God provides; in abundance; filled to the brim and overflowing! God will not be outdone in generosity! I forget where I heard that last line, “God will not be outdone in generosity!” But it has stuck with me for many years.

I’ve had some hard times, a number of dark moments, such as when my mom died. Nothing can prepare you for that moment, not even 15 years of expectation as she struggles with cancer. Yet, God provided for me, sustained me, and drew me closer to him and to his most Sacred Heart. In all my life I have never known God to fail in coming through. Much of my life he provided through my beloved mother. But even after she passed into glory, he has continued to provide in many ways unseen. But here’s the really cool part: his providence hasn’t even begun to show itself in my life!

Before moving on, though, let’s clarify something… I’ve realized that as much as I deride people like Joel Osteen who preach a prosperity Gospel, I nonetheless seem to desire such a thing. I want and expect God to provide and give me all these good things such as job promotions and the winning lottery numbers. But that’s not how God works. That’s not how God provides.

God isn’t the God of affluence. He’s not Donald Trump who hires or fires us if we do a good enough job! He loves us and wants more for us than a comfortable 80 years on earth! He wants our eternal happiness, not a fleeting “successful” career.

He. Will. Always. Provide.

And what that means is that he will give us what we need, when we need it, even if–especially if–we don’t realize we need it. This isn’t easy for me to write. I want success, who doesn’t? But as God provides for us, he calls us to a success that pays out much greater dividends than any stock market. His grace fills to the brim and overflows. Meditate on that, just for a bit. His grace overflows in abundance even when we don’t ask for it!

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As I sit here and write this article, I keep coming back to all the amazing blessings he’s given me in my life, such as my astonishingly beautiful wife. But that’s not what I’m trying to express. His grace is a deeper, more unfathomable reality. It’s a spiritual transformation, a real salvation that pulls at us and nudges us into perfection through the daily grind of “real life,” through the hidden graces in each instant, in each breath. One thought continues to explode in my mind as I write and perhaps this is the only way to really express what I’m trying to say…

Every single breath you take is God saying I love you.

And that’s just the first sip of 180 gallons of overflowing, gracious love.

 

Notes
*  Whoa! I just realized that the amount of water into wine was 180… the very number of degrees that express a complete conversion, a turning point of monumental proportions! Whoa!!