142/365 – Birth of a healing movement

DSCN1871It’s not often one gets to be present at the creation of something.I had no idea when I began the conversion process to Catholicism that part of the program would include sessions on forgiveness from a professor who more or less invented the process by which angry hearts are healed and oppressors saved.  School children in Belfast and Milwaukee’s Inner Core are doing better in school and life when they learn to forgive.  Now we are seeing if a church parish can learn to be proponents of this movement.

So far, we’ve had one meeting, and I’ve set up a group site online, but the energy and enthusiasm seems sincere.  St. Michael the Archangel came to me after the meeting, and I take that as a very profound vote of confidence from the vanquisher of Satan.

141/365 – Fledgling Catholic takes flight

 

From this spartan setting were a dozens souls saved.

From this spartan setting were a dozen souls saved.

It takes nine months to gestate a Catholic convert.  No coincidence, I’m sure. My RCIA experience ended tonight with a session on prayer, and I pray we all find abundant life in following the plan.

There is  a certain wistful melancholy that accompanies such a transition.  These Tuesday nights with instruction from Monsignor Holmes and support from my fellow converts will be missed.  Yet the process worked and what I learned will always be with me.  Thanks also to the staff who devote their efforts to keeping things going.  And thanks especially to Jane Elizabeth Seton who showed the way for me to become Paul Augustine. Maybe one year I can be a sponsor to another convert.

DSCN1874

        DSCN1876

127/365 – Divine order for the community

There have to be limits as well as rights.

There have to be limits as well as rights.

In society, order exists for the sake of all.  That’s what we discussed at my continuing education class in Catholic beliefs as we explore the implications of the Ten Commandments.  My patron saint, Augustine, wrote of the “tranquility of order.” One can look at the commandments, or any system of laws, as a set of rules to insure domestic tranquility.

Ah, but the American will say, what about my rights?  I’ve got rights, you know!  And then the battle rages over the defense of these supposed rights and how to balance them against the next person’s rights.

For Catholics, Pastor Holmes said, the fundamental principle is order, and the fact that rights always correlate to duties.  We have a duty to honor our parents, a duty to be faithful to our spouse, a duty to respect life and “the dignity of persons and peoples,” to quote the Cathechism.

Going back to my theme of true communalism, the Cathechism says, “Earthly peace requires the equal distribution and safeguarding of the goods of persons,” in other words, no huge gap in wealth or power, and no piracy.  It goes on to call for “free communication among human beings, and the assiduous practice of justice and fraternity.”  Powerful words that can each be examined in future entries.

124/365 – “All the way to heaven is heaven.”

Even on the well-worn sidewalks of the student ghetto, something blooms.

Even on the well-worn sidewalks of the student ghetto, something blooms.

On Relevant Radio this morning, I heard someone quote someone to the effect that, “All is heaven on the way to heaven.”  So now I’m Googling it.  Turns out Catherine of Seinna (1300s) is the author, and it turns out to be, “All the way to heaven is heaven.”  (Because obviously, all cannot be heavenly here on earth, but the way can be.)

“All the way to heaven is heaven.”  Let it sink in.

This insight really resonates with me, that living the redeemed, redemptive life — praying assiduously, observing your conscience, and sharing in God’s love — is rewarding in and of itself.  In other words, the process of getting to heaven is already connected to heaven.  We don’t have to think of heaven as just a final reward, a break from all this mud and blood, but rather as a real part of our daily lives.  We’re already there, in effect, once we start striving for it.

119/365 – Do we know God’s name?

Here's what God feels like to me, a beacon in the randomness.

Here's what God feels like to me, a beacon in the randomness.

Interesting discussion of the second commandment at RCIA tonight. (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, my Catholic class, for new readers.) Number 2 is about not taking the name of God in vain, and I have had little trouble editing out the “G-Ds” and “J-Cs” out of my swearing and cursing. In fact, since I’ve started this religous journey, I find fewer and fewer instances where I feel like cursing. I never really liked it.  I remember as a kid a group of my buddies asked me one day, “How come you never swear?”  I let loose a couple of F-bombs and so forth just to show them I knew how, but it didn’t feel right.

Sure, later on in college and “the big city” I could hold my own, peppering my sentences with all the choice swear words of the day, but I preferred making new ones up, like “Rat farts!”  Today, when someone cuts me off in traffic, I might make a comment about their intelligence or some part of their anatomy involved with the expulsion of waste, but”cussing” really doesn’t appeal to me.  Neither does losing my temper.

Anyway, to get back to my topic, I’m not sure anyone can ever know the name of the Supreme Being — not in this life.  It would be something beyond us.  The One God is fine with me.  I don’t feel the need for some mystical name known only to the inner circle.  That’s too Old Testament for me. I feel we don’t need a name, just the intention to acknowledge and accept something greater than us who cares about us and knows our name.