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Author Topic: Feb 19, 2010: Friday after Ash Wednesday ... Isaiah 58, Matt 9  (Read 3002 times)
Alan
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« on: February 19, 2010, 03:07:19 PM »

Today's readings are at: http://www.usccb.org/nab/021910.shtml.

In the first reading, I was struck by the ideas presented as a "fast" the way the Lord wishes it was done.  I thought about how I can go about releasing people from their yokes and bondage, and came up with the following ideas.

It seems to me that the best things I can help others become free of, is the law of sin and death.  Isn't that what the whole "New Covenant" is about?  Anyway, this raises the issue of what can I do here on earth, that God cannot or does not already do?  He sent Jesus to abolish sin, by becoming sin and putting sin to death.  That said, there is so much guilt that is so deeply embedded in most of our psyches, that we may never actually experience the "Good News" in the form of a sense of freedom -- freedom from that guilt.  For sure, we still bring up children with a Santa Clause-ish view of God that He is always checking whether we are naughty or nice, so BE GOOD for God's sake.

Then we are told that none of us are good enough to enter heaven.  So what do we do?  Go around all day in guilt and fear, embracing superstition as guiding light.  For example, a "well trained" Catholic will feel terribly guilty about missing Mass once, even if there is a good reason.  Maybe they should have done more, hired a cab when their car broke down or whatever, but anyway they are scared that their reason might not be good enough for God, and heaven forbid if they die before they get to confession, they will go to hell.  I'm not saying this is what the Church teaches.  I'm saying that I bet a steak dinner that the vast majority of practicing Catholics contend with this sort of undirected, vague, paranoid, superstitious guilt on a regular basis.

OK, so what can I do about it?

Please tune in later for the rest of my story, as I have to go run some errands now.  God willing, I'll be back later today to complete my thoughts on this.

Alan

Edit:  Instead of continuing this post as I had planned, I think I'll just start a new one below.  That way it will up the message count and maybe be less confusing because I have comments about your replies.  Smiley
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 03:12:54 AM by Alan » Logged

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ncjohn
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2010, 04:42:28 PM »

What a great idea Alan. I might add, if it isn't contrary to your intentions, that the "daily readings" don't have to be biblical or "Catholic". I would think that any reading that brings out our deeper thoughts on the spiritual or philosophical would be of benefit.

Quote: Alan
I'm not saying this is what the Church teaches.  I'm saying that I bet a steak dinner that the vast majority of practicing Catholics contend with this sort of undirected, vague, paranoid, superstitious guilt on a regular basis.

Quite frankly, while the Church has done a great deal of good through its history, it has also been responsible for great evil. And I would count what you are noting here as one of those great evils. The Church--and this may be true of pretty much all churches--is likely the greatest purveyor of the "double message" around. While the theology and official statements are all about God's love and seeking to know God, the actual practice, as you note, is all about fear, guilt, and control. Rather than preaching the love of God and the gratitude we would act from if we ever really understood that, the Church gets us all wound around the axle on rules and becoming worthy, while telling us from the other side that we can't ever become worthy. That we have to earn our way into heaven by "being good" and then making it impossible to be good. By proclaiming officially that we are infinitely loved by God but then teaching by action and example that God is the Big Policeman in the Sky just waiting to catch us being naughty.

I have been blessed, for whatever reason God saw fit and most assuredly not of my doing, to have personally encountered the mercy of God. Once that happened my life changed forever in that I can no longer play the "God loves me more than He loves you" game. Can I put that into daily practice? Not by a long shot, but I sure recognize it and in my better moments can reflect it back to people whose wounds run deep.

I fully believe that it is not possible to act from fear or guilt and love God. The reaction to fear or guilt is resentment, not love. Somehow we have to get to the point of acting out of gratitude for the love shown first to us. Until we do there will be no healthy Christianity, or any other religion that teaches a wrathful God that is to be appeased. But how does one get to there when there is nobody to model that, even within the Church that proclaims itself the way to God?

I fully agree with you on this Alan. Freeing people from guilt and fear would be to release the greatest bondage we have. On the practical side though, I find that a good many people prefer that bondage that doesn't require them to think or to act with compassion, but simply to follow the rules and delude themselves into thinking that makes them "good". The perverse view that "good" equals "suffering" and the suffering that comes from guilt is as good as the suffering of laying one's life down for another.

John
 
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This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2010, 05:51:36 PM »

quote: Alan
...but anyway they are scared that their reason might not be good enough for God, and heaven forbid if they die before they get to confession, they will go to hell.  I'm not saying this is what the Church teaches.  I'm saying that I bet a steak dinner that the vast majority of practicing Catholics contend with this sort of undirected, vague, paranoid, superstitious guilt on a regular basis.

And then Rome refers to 'Holy Mother Church.'
One mixed message after another. Unhappily, I actually listened to that which
was being taught. Yet I also was taught about the sacred. And for that teaching -
and the modeling done both by religious and the clergy - for that I am grateful.
Also for being taught the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.


I'm not saying this is what the Church teaches.  I'm saying that I bet a steak dinner that the vast majority of practicing Catholics contend with this sort of undirected, vague, paranoid, superstitious guilt on a regular basis.


OK, so what can I do about it?

I will read with interest your thoughts on this, Alan.



reen




 
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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2010, 06:00:14 PM »

quote: ncjohn
I fully believe that it is not possible to act from fear or guilt and love God. The reaction to fear or guilt is resentment, not love.

Yet a question then arises, I think. God permitted the kind of catechesis that produced this guilt and fear.
Twine this, with scriptural references to 'flames that never quench,' and there doesn't seem to be
much of a reason to not fear this deity. 'Serve Me freely. Not like a bondsman.'
But so many were made 'bondsman' - bound to fear, by those who speak officially for You, God.
They say that to hear them is to hear You. It's right in the scriptures, isn't it?


reen
« Last Edit: February 19, 2010, 06:55:00 PM by reen » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2010, 08:24:12 PM »


Yet a question then arises, I think. God permitted the kind of catechesis that produced this guilt and fear.
Twine this, with scriptural references to 'flames that never quench,' and there doesn't seem to be
much of a reason to not fear this deity. 'Serve Me freely. Not like a bondsman.'
But so many were made 'bondsman' - bound to fear, by those who speak officially for You, God.
They say that to hear them is to hear You. It's right in the scriptures, isn't it?


You are very right, Reen, that many have been made bondsmen and bound to fear and guilt by those who claim to speak for God, but who actually are using God for their own agendas. I too was fed that toxic swill that so many served and called "food" when I was growing up. God's thoughts about that are very clear in this passage from Ezekiel, chapter 34:

2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, in these words prophesy to them (to the shepherds): Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?
3 You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured.
4 You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally.
5 So they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered
6 and wandered over all the mountains and high hills; my sheep were scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them.
7 Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
8 As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have been given over to pillage, and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast, for lack of a shepherd; because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep;
9 because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
10 Thus says the Lord GOD: I swear I am coming against these shepherds. I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep so that they may no longer pasture themselves. I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths.
11 For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
12 As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark.

And what will be the punishment for those who chose to lead others astray for their own purposes?

From Matthew 18:6 (Douay-Rheims version):
"But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea."

God may permit us to use our free will in horrible ways but we sure don't get a free pass if we choose to do so. There are many of the guilt-ridden bondsmen to be freed and I try to join with Alan in helping to free them.

John
 
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This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Alan
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2010, 02:50:58 AM »

I might add, if it isn't contrary to your intentions, that the "daily readings" don't have to be biblical or "Catholic". I would think that any reading that brings out our deeper thoughts on the spiritual or philosophical would be of benefit.

That would be great.  The one thing I am grappling with is how to name the articles so that maybe we can find a previous post on certain topics if we want to.  I didn't know how to do that well by adding the "subject" to the names of the topics, so I compromised and put the chapters of the Bible the readings cover.

Mostly I'm interested in some exchanges to inspire our thinking and challenge/support our beliefs.  Since I had personal interest in today's readings this is where I started.

All I ask is that when we do start topics on the Catholic Church's daily readings, we format the topic name kind of like the format of this topic.  I am, of course, open to suggestions on better naming conventions.  For other articles, choose any naming format that makes sense to you.  Smiley  Also, I'm hoping we can stay somewhat "on topic" on this board; if that becomes an issue then John or I can split the topics.

Alan
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2010, 03:54:49 AM »

The "take-away" message I get from John's and Reen's comments are:

>>> (thankful for) Also for being taught the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

>>> The Church is a mixed blessing; they have done so much good but they have participated in thoroughly infecting her "sheep" with ignorance (if not evil) and with overemphasis of rituals -- and maybe what Rush Limbaugh would call "symbolism over substance."

Reen, I agree with your comments about the works of mercy, and I think they apply totally with this excerpt from the first reading:

"This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own."


 John I share your ambivalence toward the Church.  If it were not for her, and for scores of people dying for the cause, we would not have the Good News to this day.  To preserve those writings took acts that were pretty harsh; maybe some were not necessary but I trust many of them are.  That said, the Church seems to be altogether too close to the way it was when Jesus was calling out its leaders.  They often preach good messages, but they are hypocrites and all kinds of other evil people.  It's nice to say, "none of us are perfect" but I fear for these men's souls in particular because they abused their power given by the Church and used Her name to do their evil acts.

So what about the Good News, anyway?  To me that is the part about freedom from all kinds of bondage.  One thing are the rituals we have grown to know and love/hate ad nauseum.

Here is a little thought I had earlier today that I can't get out of my head:

"The teachings of Christ are NOT religious."

Jesus told us to listen to church leaders, but not to do what they do because they are hypocrites.  How has that changed in the last two millennia?  He hung around with low-life scumbags drunks, tax collectors and the like, and did not cause them to follow the established rituals.  When called on it, he harshly criticized those who would judge his "friends in low places" for being more attentive to the rituals than to the heart.

There is one exception I can think of, to the general rule that Christ was anti-ritual.  That would be the Last Supper.  Jesus took the bread, broke it, and told others to eat and to "do this in remembrance of Me."  Philosopher and one-time preacher Alan Watts implied a context of "re-memberance" whereby Jesus sought to counteract the "dis-memberment" of His Body.

Except for Holy Communion, I see that Jesus' criticisms of church leaders still apply today.

Maybe I'm straying topics a bit, but when Jesus was teaching in the temple, people were amazed because he spoke with "authority" unlike all the other preachers.  Watts said that the word "authority" originally meant that a person is the "author" of the work in question.  So Jesus had listened to the elders and the teachers, and easily internalized the true lessons in what they said.  Easy for Him, since He was the law made flesh.  Then he spoke from his heart; something I'm sure that most of the people at the time would be terrified to do -- and probably for good reason.  I believe that if we can only learn to speak from our hearts without fear, we will experience an intense feeling of liberation.

I believe that in time, the Truth will, in fact, set us free.  That Truth is not a set of rituals, but the beauty and value and freedom that God built into every human being.  I pray that somehow, because of my existence, I and others can become a little freer from the bondage of superstition and symbolism over substance.

Alan
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 09:32:33 AM by Alan » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2010, 03:35:52 PM »

And what will be the punishment for those who chose to lead others astray for their own purposes?

From Matthew 18:6 (Douay-Rheims version):
"But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea."



WOW...I    L...O...V...E    this passage in a God fearing way meaning that i respect his ability to punnish those who will hurt or keep the wounded Lamb of God from his fold!

I think it is not only MORE important for parents alone to teach their children to learn to cope WITH gods grace in prayer so that when life deals them a dificult hand...and if you are planning to have your path moving towards the Lord, then dificulties WILL happen.

God has that much faith in you, that what is before you will bring you strength in his love, and remember this. Just when you think you simply wish he did not have faith in you this much...it is only his lambs, who truly understand suffering, that he wants at his feet in heaven...those who understand sorrow, pain, and segrigation like he has. For he wishes to be understood as well.

God may permit us to use our free will in horrible ways but we sure don't get a free pass if we choose to do so. There are many of the guilt-ridden bondsmen to be freed and I try to join with Alan in helping to free them.



And so you have John and Alan...right here!

We also have the love of our friends here with every wound they can bring forth so we can understand and grow with them by providing a shoulder and an ear!

Lana
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