Is There a Third Way?

This showed up on my newsfeed on Facebook today. It  was a post by Jason and Crystalina Evert. And my word, I wish everyone could watch this. I wish I could show this to my fledgling (failing?) youth group. It is wonderful. But I know from past conversations with the the other leaders of the youth group the mission is to make it: safe, comfortable, loving, and accessible to those who may not be Catholic. So, anything that is actually Catholic gets lost. Which is frustrating. And absolutely not the point of the post.

But seriously, watch the video, the whole thing. It is necessary.

God Bless,

Rebecca

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Judging a Pope by His Cover

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” sounds….trite.  It’s common. And overused. And a million other synonyms. Most parents, and every teacher I’ve had beats that idea into their children’s heads.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” 
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
– Mother Theresa

“Who are you to judge the life I live? I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be. But, before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.”
– Bob Marley

And yet, we still fail at it.

 

Last week I ended up in a conversation with people. People who I love and deeply respect. And some how or another Pope Emeritus Benedict came up. And it was commented, and agreed upon that he was, in fact, evil.

And I was sort of caught off guard.

Evil? That is a big word to be tossing around.

From M-W.com: a :  morally reprehensible
 b :  arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct

To say that to look in the eyes (via photos) of the head of the One True Church and to see a look of “pure evil” is a big claim. But, I suppose it isn’t hard to see how people feel that way (heck, if you had asked me any time between 2005-20013 I’d’ve probably made a similar claim)….I mean, look how he is portrayed:

Soul Stealing Pope

(from Google)

 A soul sucker, menacing towards children.

Emperor Palpatine

From Google

Evil Emperor Palpatine Pope

(Quick aside, I haaaaate Star Wars but I didn’t even have to Google which character that was. My besties should feel proud)

HITLER YOUTH

From Google

With photos like that, and the misconception that he was an evil hateful man who hated gays, who hate Jews (he was a Nazi, after all), did nothing about the sex abuse scandal, oppress everyone and is aloof and distant. I could see how the idea of him being evil would permeate when information like that is floating around. I wasn’t Catholic for the entirety of his papacy. I had no idea who this man was. I made jokes about him being terrifying, because he is kind of scary looking in the photos you commonly see.

But that is the problem isn’t it. Commonly see. If you don’t take the time to read (I support literacy, always) or research something than all you may have is misconceptions. Except for Hitler. Don’t bother Googling him. He is an evil bastard.

The same thing is happening with Pope Francis, but, to be fair, Pope Francis has been pretty good at making it really easy for people to misunderstand him. But it wasn’t the same with Pope Benedict. I’ve been reading his book Jesus of Nazareth: Part 2, Holy Week and I learned something about him.

He is really, really deliberate in his word choices. There can be no misunderstanding what he says. But the people who commonly report the Vatican’s goings on don’t care. They don’t care about context, they don’t care about translation. They know what they want (or don’t want) to hear and that is what they go with.

This is the problem with judging a book by its cover. You miss the underlying message.

You miss this: He was a Hitler Youth. Because he was a teenager in Nazi Germany and it was illegal to not be one. What they don’t tell you is that he was drafted to the Nazi Air Force and he deserted. He deserted the Nazi Party. You don’t do that if you believe in an ideology.  (Source)

You miss this: “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church’s pastors wherever it occurs… The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in work, in action and in law.” (Source) (Which, incidentally is no different than what Pope Francis has said, and is directly taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

You miss this: Pope Benedict defrocks nearly 400 priests in the span of 2 years for abuse towards adolescents. (Source) You also miss the multiple apologies he made. The stringent rules he put in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. The background checks that lay people who work in churches must get before they can work with children. The fact that he made the Catholic church one of the safest places for children. (Nearly all of the abuse allegations are decades old). (Source, Source [pdf]).

You miss this: “It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity. Through Mary, and the other holy women, the feminine element stands at the heart of the Christian religion.” (Source)

You miss so much if all you see is a face. Especially if you aren’t seeing this face:

Happy

From Google

Joyous

From Google

 And most importantly, you miss this:

No Difference

From Google

 

No Pope is perfect but the papacy is continuous. For almost 2000 years. Established is AD 33. No Pope is the same as a previous Pope. But in essence they are all the same. The head of the One True Church. The successor of Peter. The cornerstone of the Catholic Church. They are all different in style, but all the same in function.

 

But instead of judging a pope on his mainstream portrayal, our duty is to go beyond the spin and find the truth. Doing so we will find the Truth.

 

Saints John XXIII and John Paul II pray for us and for the Church.

Rebecca.

 

PS. Do not take anything that SNAP or the National Catholic Reporter say at face value. Both are nothing but anti-Catholic garbage.

Busy, busy, busy…

I have been such a poor, neglectful little blogger the past few weeks.

I wish I had pictures to show you, but I don’t. Too busy to take photos.

 

The rundown….

 

  • So, April 11th we had the ThinkFast for my youth group and to say it went underwhelmingly would be an understatement. None of my youth group teens showed up and we had a lot of leaders and some teens form a different parish. 8 teens in total. Can’t say I cared though. ThinkFast is a shoot of D&P and the only reason I was involved at all was because we didn’t do it as a fundraiser.
  • April 12th I did some volunteer work at the community kitchen which gave me some time to catch up with my friend who I hadn’t seen in ages.
  • April 13th was Palm Sunday. And it was nice. My priest didn’t do a homily about the Gospel, and instead chose to read a prayer that had been part of our ThinkFast which annoyed me to no end. Because D&P has no place in the Mass.

I flew home April 18 for a week at home and it has been non-stop ever since:

  • April 18, Good Friday. I love Good Friday. I love the feeling of despair and home for God’s fulfilled promises. I love facing my sinfulness with hope that it gets better and that we can get past ourselves. ……..But, this Good Friday I got none of that from Church. The homily was really disturbing and not in a good way.  It was entirely about the other thief on the cross (not the one who asks forgiveness), and it asked us not to judge him because he was a “freedom fighter just like Jesus” and that “sometimes religious people get in the way of change”. Ahem. I was fuming.
  • Saturday was Easter Vigil and I love it.
  • Sunday was Easter! Alleluia! Jesus is Risen! It was a wonderful day filled with joy and wonderful food and great friends. We took in some strays who had no family to visit so it was fun, fun times.
  • Monday was a much lower stress day than Sunday. We mostly recovered and visited with another friend. And my baby sister and her boyfriend got home for a visit. Both my sister and her (Scottish) boy friend had exams Easter Monday so they missed all the Easter excitement.

Today was lowkey and nice. Did a bit of shopping and bought another new book, because that is how I roll. Tomorrow will be another non-stop day, so, without a doubt I will be good and exhausted by the time I get back to work on Friday.

The busyness is a blessing. And I wouldn’t change it.

 

I hope everyone has a happy and blessed Easter season.

 

 

 

Why I love Easter Vigil

The official rundown on why Easter Vigil rocks:

  1. People are baptised and welcomed into the Church. And it is glorious.
  2. Candles
  3. The walk in at darkness with the candles. A constant reminder that we need to be the light to those who still walk in darkness. To witness when it is easier not to and to constant illuminate for the glory of the Risen Lord.
  4. The Litany of the Saints. This is possibly my favourite part. I get such comfort in knowing that there are so many holy men and holy women who have gone through life with similar struggles. Who can inspire. Who can be aspirational. Who show us that it truly gets better and the constant Earthly struggles are worth Eternal Life with the Risen Lord.
  5. Communion of Saints. The new baptisms and confirmations combined with the Litany of Saints is a living example of this communion of Saints we are blessed to be a part of. We are never alone in this world, someone has gone ahead of us and we can follow in their footsteps.
  6. All the readings and psalms. Jesus came in fulfillment of scriptures and we are blessed to be able to sit at the Vigil and listen to all of the prophecies come to pass. Our God is truly good and never abandons his children.

And last, but certainly not least,

7. JESUS CHRIST IS TRULY RISEN. What a wonderous world that God, holy above all, sent his Son. How wonderful that after 40 days of fasting, abstinence and spiritual struggle our God has sent his Son to redeem the world.

 

How womderful that even in my humanity and imperfections he has redeemed me.

How wonderful that every time I say “yes” to God and to his Holy Catholic Church I am participating in my salvation.

How womderful to know that through the holy Eucharist I am united with His Body and His Blood so that I may be always close with him.

How wonderful to know that through Confession I am given the graces needed to rebel against my sinful inclinations.

How wonderful to know that God is truly with us, after 2000 years, and His Church has stayed stong and is a beacon of safety in an upset world.

 

How wonderful it is that God chose to create life. Chose to give us will. Chose to bless us with love. And chose to send his Son to redeem us.

 

Redeem us though we reject him

Redeem us though we sin.

 

Jesus Christ is truly Risen. This Easter season open yourself to the Lord and his Church. Feel his love. Ask the saints to help in your struggles.

 

And never forget the agony Christ went through for each of us.

 

Like the candles at the Vigil, ask God for help to be the light of the world.

 

 

The Deification of Development and Peace

I am feeling a tad bit rant-y right now…so bear with me.

I just got home from Mass and normally I find Mass to be a blessing and I mean how can it not be. We get to receive Jesus, listen to his words and be with Him in the mystery of the Eucharist.

But today was a whole different ball game. Today I went to a Mass that celebrated the glory and all that was good about Development and Peace. Development and Peace got more intentional mentions than Jesus and that is not how it should be.

The Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops has declared the 5th Sunday of Lent, the beginning of the Passiontide, as “Solidarity Sunday” where we are encouraged to remember and support those living in poverty in the Global South. Which is all well and good, I have nothing against alms and charity to help those living in poverty.

What I have issues with is Development and Peace.

The Mass I went today didn’t have a homily. Instead we had a reflection on how amazing D&P is. And an awkward skit thing that involved loves of bread and “making room for people at the human table” …..whatever that means.

During the Prayers of the Faithful where we petition God for things like helping the needy and the sick we were asked to respond to a bunch of petitions about how wonderful D&P is and how much they have helped our global family.

Before the Our Father we were asked to use the time of prayer during the Our Father to discern God’s will in us as to how we are to involve ourselves with D&P.

And, of course, we were asked to donate and donate frequently.

And I got upset.

Development and Peace is a sham. I know they do some really wonderful work but I cannot in good conscience support them because the work they do has a price. And the price is the lives of unborn children.

In February I mentioned D&P to my priest friend (the one I discussed in my post on the NET retreat), and told me that back in 2009 D&P came under fire when it was determined they were supporting groups that facilitate contraception and abortion clinics in impoverished countries. The bishops have investigated and claim that D&P doesn’t do anything in contrary to Catholic teaching.

But, then I learned a few weeks ago that the bishop in my parents’ diocese is refusing to support D&P and it spurred me to do some more research.

And I didn’t have to go far.

In Afghanistan, the D&P partner is a member of the Global Network for Women Peacemakers. Who work closely with the UNFPA and proudly declare their support for abortion access ALL over their website.

In Burundi, the D&P partner Ligue ITEKA is the main contact in Burundi for an organization called Africa 4 Women’s Rights

and, in Cambodia, the D&P partner NGO Cambodia is associated with CEDAW in Cambodia that again, works for access to abortion.

That was enough for me. D&P may not work directly with the organizations that are working for access to abortion but the organizations they partner with are actively working with organizations who do.

We have no way of knowing if the money we donate to D&P is safe or if it makes its way to the other organizations.

And with out that transparency, no Catholic in good conscience should be associating with or donating to Development and Peace and their activities. Not until something fundamentally changes.

So when I go to a Mass that is deifying D&P and all their God work I find it hard to concentrate. I find it really hard to open myself to Jesus, because I can’t get the idea out of my head that if I pray those intentions with them and say those responses I am participating in the problem.

And that clouds my conscience. And it isn’t right.

When we go to Mass the focus shouldn’t be on solidarity with those in poverty and making us feel guilty because we are blessed enough to live in the first world. Mass should be about focussing on Jesus and doing his will in accordance with His teachings and the teachings of His Church, the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world. We don’t need D&P for charity or warm fuzzy feelings. Any time we serve someone in the spirit of Jesus and self giving we can get those feelings. We can find better organizations or we can volunteer in our local communities.

Building strong communities locally build stronger communities globally. Be the Church where you are now, help rebuild your local community in the way God called you. Research before you donate. Never bury your head in the sand because people try to engage your emotions to guilt you into donating.

But remember to be Christ, to do what you do out of love and full of charity.

7 Quick Takes: The Books and Things Edition

— 1 —

I have read a lot this week and I have loved it. Finding time to read makes me a happy camper. I have started reading this book/essay collection/reflections:

Style, Sex and Substance

…I’m not entirely sure how it is defined but I have really enjoyed the 2 first entries.

The first entry is written by the host of these takes, Jennifer Fulwiler, about finding yourself and finding your own way in Catholicism. How not all women are called to be perfect, pious Mary-like Catholic but we are supposed to use the strengths and gifts that are unique to us to be perfect, pious Catholics in our own unique way.

The second entry is written by Hallie Lord who blogs over at Moxie Wife. I have never read her blog, but after reading her entry I am going to toss it on to my Feedly. Her entry was on balancing style and modesty. And again, it was a really neat perspective on how sometimes when people focus on modesty they tend to go to extremes and lose their sense of self and their own unique style.

Needless to say, but I’m really looking forward to reading the next essays in the book.

The book is called “Style, Sex and Substance” and is edited by Hallie Lord.

— 2 —

The next book I read this week was Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther.

Girl at the End of the World

I actually devoured this book and I cannot say enough good things about it. I’ve already recommended it to about 6 people.

Stories about people leaving religious cults is one of my favourite genres. Even though it isn’t technically a genre.

But her story was heartbreaking, her childhood and upbringing. She leaves with her husband and children and her story of finding the Catholic Church and conversion after being raised in a way that thought her that Catholics were everything that is wrong with Christianity was both beautiful and funny.

Definitely worth a read. It isn’t a long book, but it is engaging. I’m going to have start reading her blog too.

— 3 —

I’m a third of the way through this book:

Jesus of Nazareth Part 2: Holy Week

Pope Benny XVI (my nickname for our wonder former holy father) needs no introduction but I’ve never really read much of his writing but I’m really enjoying working through this book. It is dense, but his observations and understandings are really beautiful.

I am reading through it with a few friends to heighten our own understanding and discuss the different aspects and it is definitely a good read so close to Easter.

The full title of the book is Jesus of Nazareth, Part 2: Holy Week, the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection.

— 4 —

I am also reading the Book Thief, but I’m not nearly far enough in it to have opinion of yet. But, I’m enjoying it more than Divergent.

I am also going to read Cari Donaldson’s Pope Awesome.

Pope Awesome

I am looking forward to it. I love her blog and her articles on Aleteia. Technically, I bought this book as a gift for my mother for Easter, but uh…I’m going to read it prior to give it to her. ‘Cause I love her and want to make sure it’s appropriate for my mum. 😉

— 5 —

7 things is hard. I’m losing steam… I’m going to do a quick update about my sugar detox and Lenting. Last week was a disaster. I reintroduced junk food out a serious lack of self control and I felt miserable all Friday.

So now…I’m just starting over. And I’m already feeling so much better. I have learned that unfortunately, I should probably never ever ever drink Coca-Cola again ever ever ever again. Ever.

Except maybe my last meal.

— 6 —

I’m going to toss in a photo about delicious paleo foods I’ve been eating this last week. I like to pretend my meals look fancy enough to warrant pictures (they don’t) and I think my roommate thinks I’m whackadoodle because I take pictures of all my food.

PhotoGrid_1396781229650

All delicious. Just sayin’

— 7 —

OH! And I totally forgot, I read the “Look Inside” for Jennifer Fulwiler’s book Something Other than God!

I have had that book preordered for months and….I am getting super impatient. But thankfully it comes out later this month so the wait is finally (almost) over! The Amazon.ca Look Inside was a nice tease and I can’t wait for the books release…

I love conversion stories almost as much as people-leaving-cult stories.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!