Does truth matter?

People are confused by gobs of secular group-think. At one time, folks held knowledge of truth (and living consistently with it) in high regard. Now, whatever the topic, it seems to go through a quick filter of “does it matter to me one way or the other?” If not, then go with the flow, live and let live, to each his own and who am I to judge? Truth is no longer an immutable fact, but equated with preference. What is right for you might not be right for me — so, truth is assumed to be relative.

We see this played-out in abortion politics. If a wanted child is killed in utero, that is considered murder (in most states). If that same child is unwanted and “terminated” by her mother at an even later stage, it is considered choice. The humanity of that child is true or false depending on it being wanted.

Most people today are atheists, agnostics or “nones.” Atheists at least have thought about God and have come to a conclusion, albeit an incorrect one. Agnostics and nones are more interesting because they simply do not care enough to find out. If there is a God, what could possibly be more important? The implications for everything are huge! It would seem that those who have not figured it out would spend as much effort as necessary to move themselves either to the faith or to the atheist column, yet do not bother.

There is a wide spectrum of those who claim faith. Many have confused religious belief with affirmation of whatever their fallen will desires. They will engage whatever faith community is easiest, most welcoming / accepting / affirming of their lifestyle and (current) values, involving no inconvenience and calling for no amendment of their life. It is also valued if “worship” is entertaining and fun. Social interactions with useful business or political networking is a plus. In reality, this is not so much about God as it is about themselves. Truth has little to do with it.

Moving further in the faith direction we come to those who hold a firm belief in a “higher power.” Just that, nothing more — no need to dig deeper or think anything through. Believers at this very low level are barely outside the agnostic / none camp. They move between Christian and broader faith communities with ease. Many would proudly describe themselves as “spiritual” and hold that all religions are equal. Their car bumpers typically sport “coexist” stickers.

At last we come to true Christians! By grace we are Christian believers, but have sadly landed in numerous, separated ecclesial communities. A large chunk of us believe in the Trinity and that the cross somehow saves us but know little more. There is, even among Christians, a common assumption that being a good person (just about everyone thinks they are one) is good enough (or at least not requiring much more than that). To my mind, such folks appear to be banking on their invincible ignorance to be sufficient. Like non-believers, they sadly miss lives blessed by abundant grace.

Distinct from these brothers and sisters, are those who care about and seek truth. In an ideal world, we would all be in this group! Devout Christians are open to the Holy Spirit, seek to know and understand what God has revealed, place God at the center of their lives, seek continuous conversion of themselves and a closer relationship with our Creator. This is the narrow road that leads to truth and eternal life.

Those of us who are baptized are priests, prophets and kings. We have responsibility, not only to get ourselves to heaven but to bring as many others as possible along with us. That can only be done by keeping ourselves in that last group while evangelizing in love, those in all the others. This can not be done solely by example.

Preach the gospel at all times — if necessary, use words.

Something St. Francis of Assisi never said.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the peoples his deeds!
Sing praise to him, play music;
proclaim all his wondrous deeds!
Glory in his holy name;
let hearts that seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek out the LORD and his might;
constantly seek his face.
Recall the wondrous deeds he has done,
his wonders and words of judgment,
You descendants of Abraham his servant,
offspring of Jacob the chosen one!

May you and your family had a blessed, happy and safe Thanksgiving.

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7 Quick Takes Friday (set #188)

This week: Paris suffers a terrible tragedy (that simply could not at all have been foreseen). Cute children holding portraits of their preemie selves. Three stories on people who should have been killed: Martin Pistorius (a “vegetable” for over a decade), Jeanette Hall (only months to live, 15 years ago) and family “infant members” (said Margaret Sanger, venerated founder of Planned Parenthood). What time is it (the horror of daylight saving time)? Freedom of speech quickly becoming a fond memory.

— 1 —

This tragedy was a complete shock! There is no way something like this could possibly have been foreseen. Really? — Judith Bergman takes a close look at this in How Can Anyone Be Shocked?.

— 2 —

Bored Panda has a wonderful story showing children holding portraits of how they looked when they were premature babies. The average gestation was under 28 weeks with two born at 23 weeks.

— 3 —

Martin Pistorius became ill when he was 12 and entered into what many would describe as a “vegetative state.” His eyes were open, but he was unaware of everything and would never recover. All but “brain dead” for over a decade.

Except he wasn’t.

How many people like Martin have been euthanized one way or another because they couldn’t say stop, don’t kill me?

— 4 —

In 2000 Jeanette Hall was given a death sentence of inoperable colon cancer – 6 months to live. She did not want to suffer and had supported Oregon’s “right to die” law. She asked her doctor for the suicide pills. In what some would likely label blatant malpractice, her doctor instead talked her out of it. That was 15 years ago.

— 5 —

In this coming year of mercy, we have these words on mercy from Margaret Sanger, esteemed founder of Planned Parenthood:

— 6 —

We just passed through another “time change.” Have you had enough of that?

— 7 —

Greg Lukianoff presents our vanishing freedom of speech rights for Prager University. Today, many college students (for example) demand their campuses NOT be bastions of free speech, but rather “safe places” FROM speech. You may be familiar with “safe places” to protect children from a world they are too young to navigate as adults would. Obviously, we no longer have adults running or attending many universities.

Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was begun by Jennifer Fulwiler and is now continued by Kelly Mantoan. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Kelly for hosting this project!

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Simplicity of Faith

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

Q: Who made the world?
A: God made the world.

Q: Who is God?
A: God is the creator of Heaven and earth, and of all things.

Q: What is Man?
A: Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.

Q: Why did God Make You?
A: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

Many Catholics will recognize the questions and answers above as part of the Baltimore Catechism. Originally issued by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1885, the Baltimore Catechism was used as a religious teaching document for children in Catholic schools from its’ publishing until the mid 1960’s.

As a convert to Catholicism I had never read, or even seen, the Baltimore Catechism since my baptism into the Church in 1971. I had heard of it. Mostly from those who had learned it in grade school. Most had little to say about it, so I never really looked at it until recently. I still haven’t read the entire catechism but I’m very strongly attracted to the simplicity it employed. No fancy words; no deep theological dissertations; just plain simple truth. Who made the world? God made the world. It doesn’t get much more simple than that.

For several years now I’ve been studying theology and have developed a very deep love for the subject. What better way to spend time than learning all you can about our God and Savior. I’ve read many of the early Church Fathers as well as many of the great theologians throughout history. I’ve very much enjoyed their works, even though some are admittedly quite difficult. I’ve spent many hours reading and re-reading some of Saint Augustine’s work because the depth is so great that it simply can’t be taken in by one reading. There are so many levels to his works, and to the works of many others.

The Bible is very much the same way. I’ve rarely read the scriptures without seeing something I missed the last time I read the same scripture. Or perhaps just making a connection that I hadn’t made before, increasing my understanding. There is great depth in the word of God.

Recently, a family crisis placed me on my knees before God, praying for the life and recovery of a loved one. I found that my theological studies and all of the reading I have done was useless. The words wouldn’t come. I thought of many prayers of the great theologians and spiritual writers, but they were no good either. I had to go back to the simple pleading that my heart was trying to place before God. In fact, I’m not sure the words even mattered; it was my desire for the well-being of my loved one that I, and God, were concerned with. He knew why I was before Him before I ever mouthed a word. All the fancy words and theological platitudes would have done nothing to make Him care any more than He already cared.

I’ve thought about that many times since and I’ve come to the conclusion that we are truly missing the greatest relationship we can possibly have with God if we forget the simplicity of prayer and love of God. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 18:1-4)

Jesus wasn’t saying we need to be childish, but child like. Children accept things as they are and trust totally. They don’t have the adult ideas and thoughts that we allow to cloud our relationship with God. We must overcome our urge to impose our wants and desires upon God’s will. Unfortunately we can never fully know or understand God’s will so we are operating out of a place of ignorance and arrogance when we propose to God how things should be.

Read the question again, “Why did God make you?” It wasn’t to outguess His will or to influence His plan for you. He didn’t make you to give advice and change to His will. He’s not all that interested in how you think things should be done. We, as humans, have a pretty miserable history when it comes to determining how things should or should not be done. God has the plan, we are simply part of it. He knows the whole story; we only gets to know bits and pieces of the story in this life. Remember the answer to the question; “God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this life and be happy with Him forever in heaven.”

Can you appreciate simplicity of it? We aren’t responsible for writing the entire script. We aren’t even responsible for writing our portion of the script. We are responsible to do our absolute best to understand God’s plan for us and to follow His guidance at every opportunity. We need to turn ourselves over to God’s will and let him lead this dance called life. We can never go wrong following His lead.

There is a beauty in simplicity. Jesus was not a complicated man. He was quite clear in His teachings without hidden agendas or “gotcha” moments. He knew where He stood and everyone who knew Him also knew where He stood. Whether it was driving the money-changers out of the temple or confronting the religious leaders of the time, He pulled no punches. He never hid behind ambiguity or fancy words. He told it like it was; simply and to the point.

“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, Hear O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

There is no guile or confusing language here. If you love God with all you are and your neighbor as yourself, you are close to heaven. When we consider these commandments there is a lot packed into them. Stop for a moment and consider what it means to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. It means you must turn to Him in all things and ask for His guidance. It means that you don’t concern yourself with the trivial details with which we so often clutter our lives. Disregard the unnecessary and focus on the importance of your relationship with God. There is no other relationship more important.

What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? I know there are times when I don’t love myself very much. Times when I’ve sinned, again, even though I try to avoid it. Times when I’ve let my human emotions direct my actions and have taken the wrong path. However, I am a creation of God made in His likeness and image as the Baltimore Catechism says quite simply. As such, I love myself not for my failures but for the same reason that God loves me. Because He chooses to and accepts that I am an imperfect creature burdened by the plague of original sin.

We must look as our neighbors in the same way. They will fail, just as we do. They will disappoint, just as we do. Can you imagine the disappointment of God when Adam and Eve fell victim to Satan’s temptations in the Garden of Eden? Yet He still loved them, cared for them and promised a redemption for them. We too, need to give our neighbors the same love and caring. Even when they disappoint, anger, or even hurt us. They are also Gods creations, flawed by original sin just as we are. Should we not offer them the same love and forgiveness that is offered to us”

“And you will know the way where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:4-6) Look to Jesus, He is the way. Listen to Jesus, He is the way. Obey Jesus, He is the way. Simple rules to achieve incredible results.

Don’t, however, mistake simplicity for ease. Jesus gave us some very simple rules and guidelines but He also warned us that the path would not be easy. Saying we trust and believe in Jesus and following Him is sometimes fairly simple and, at times, even easy. But there are, and will be, instances when following Jesus will be anything but easy. Heaven is filled with martyrs who shed their blood rather than give up their simple trust and belief in Jesus. We too, will most likely be asked to endure at least some hardship on our way to happiness in heaven with God. “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Live life simply; love God completely; love your neighbor as yourself; follow Christ faithfully. The way may be difficult and trying, but it will never be complicated if we focus on what is important.

Q: Why did God Make You?
A: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “The Narrow Gate”. Available now for only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and other fine publishers.

» Interested in the Baltimore Catechism? Look no further!

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7 Quick Takes Friday (set #187)

This week: The latest issue of New Evangelists Monthly invites your perusal. Bishop Barron offers solid observations on Pope Francis and mercy. An atheist professor has a life changing near death experience. Matt Fradd takes on Cosmo’s very flawed view on porn. CCHD is about to be sprung again on unsuspecting parishioners. A video on […]

New Evangelists Monthly – November 2015, Issue #35

Enjoy this month’s edition of New Evangelists Monthly – an informal, dynamic, crowd-sourced “meta-magazine” showcasing the best posts faithful Catholic bloggers. In this and every issue, you will find many different, but faithfully Catholic viewpoints, insights and perspectives.

From the archive (set #12)

Tomorrow is time for New Evangelists Monthly to begin a new edition. Today, I would like to bring to your attention 3 original, brief essays that you may have missed. If you don’t have time to read all three, I especially recommend the first one — Idolatry. The Catholic Church was certainly not perfect then […]

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #186)

This week: The ELEVENTH video documenting the evil depravity of Planned Parenthood has been released. Remembering Planned Parenthood’s “compassionate response” to 9/11. Fr. Mike Schmitz explains proper understanding of the Old Testament. Jeff Harris illustrates the false and real nature of St. Francis of Assisi. Two good video clips from the political debates. How liberal […]