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Archive for April, 2006

BRIDGE TO HAWAII

A biker was riding along a California beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, "Because you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."

The biker pulled over and said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can ride over anytime I want."

The Lord said, "Your request is materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take!  It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that would honor and glorify me."

The biker thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, "Lord, I wish that I could understand my wife. I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, and how I can make this wonderful woman truly happy."

The Lord replied, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

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V.I.P.

After getting all of The Pope's luggage loaded into the limo, (and he doesn't travel light), the driver notices that the Pope is still standing on the curb.

"Excuse me, Your Holiness," says the driver, "Would you please take your seat so we can leave?"

"Well, to tell you the truth," says the Pope, "they never let me drive at the Vatican, and I'd really like to drive today."

"I'm sorry but I cannot let you do that. I'd lose my job! And what if something should happen?" protests the driver, wishing he'd never gone to work that morning.

"There might be something extra in it for you," says the Pope. Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel.

The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 105 mph.

"Please slow down, Your Holiness!!!" pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens. "Oh, dear God, I'm gonna lose my license," moans the driver.

The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio.  "I need to talk to the Chief," he says to the dispatcher. The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he's stopped a limo going a hundred and five.

"So bust him," says the Chief.

"I don't think we want to do that, he's really important," said the cop.

The Chief exclaimed, "All the more reason".

"No, I mean really important," said the cop.

The Chief then asked, "Who ya got there, the Mayor?"

Cop: "Bigger."

Chief: "Governor?"

Cop: "Bigger."

"Well," said the Chief, "Who is it?"

Cop: "I think it's God!"

Chief: "What makes you think it's God?"

Cop: "He's got the  Pope as a chauffeur!!"

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Law of Mechanical Repair:

After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch or you'll have to pee.

Law of the Workshop:

Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

Law of Probability:

The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the
stupidity of your act.

Law of the Telephone:

If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal.

Law of the Alibi:

If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

Variation Law:

If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now (works every time).

Law of the Bath:

When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

Law of Close Encounters:

The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

Law of the Result:

When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

Law of Biomechanics:

The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

Law of the Theatre:

At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.

Law of Coffee:

As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Murphy's Law of Lockers:

If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

Law of Rugs/Carpets:

The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.

Law of Location:

No matter where you go, there you are.

Law of Logical Argument:

Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.

Brown's Law:

If the shoe fits, it's ugly.

Oliver's Law:

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

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THE OLD MULE

An old farmer had a wife who nagged him unmercifully.  From morning till night (and sometimes later), she was always complaining about something. The only time he got any relief was when he was out plowing with his old mule.  He tried to plow a lot.

One day,  when he was out plowing, his wife brought him lunch in the field.  He drove the old mule into the shade, sat down on a stump, and began to eat his  lunch. Immediately, his wife began haranguing him again. Complain, nag, nag;  it just went on and on. 

All of a sudden, the old mule lashed out with  both hind feet; caught her smack in the back of the head.  Killed her dead on the spot.

At the funeral several days later, the  minister noticed something rather odd.  When a woman mourner would  approach the old farmer, he would listen for a minute, then nod his head in  agreement; but when a man mourner approached him, he would listen for a  minute, then shake his head indisagreement. This was so consistent, the  minister decided to ask the old farmer about it.

So after the funeral, the minister spoke to the old farmer, and asked him why he  nodded his head and agreed with the women, but always shook his head and  disagreed with all the men.

The old farmer said: "Well, the  women would come up and say something about how nice my wife looked, or how  pretty her dress was, so I'd nod my head in agreement."

"And what about the men?" the minister asked.

"They all wanted to know if the mule was for sale."

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THE FOLLOWING IS A FANTASY THAT NEVER MATERIALIZED… 

One day the spin-doctors were late and George W fell off the wagon.  (Some guys when drunk are twice the men they are sober.)  He called an impromptu news conference…

"Okay, I've had enough, my own Republican cronies are recommending a $100 tax rebate to help with rising gasoline prices…hell, that would only pay for a couple of fill-ups!  Hiccup!  Tell them to stick their $100 bribes up their butts!  People are mad as hell and I am their president, by golly!" 

"Hardworking Americans can't afford to drive to work!  Food prices are soaring and truckers can't make a living!  Hiccup!  But Exxon made 8 billion dollars in profits last quarter and their other oily buddies did about the same!" 

"I am sorry, with windfall profits like that, it sure makes it hard to think the problem is just the lack of refineries or because fanatics in Iran got the bomb!  Burp!  No, I do not buuuy it, not one bit."

"Listen, you greedy no-account oil tycoons, you have been laughing all the way to the bank, but I am going to wipe those smiles off your faces."

"If prices are not back to something reasonable by tomorrow, I am going to take action, and this is no empty political jargon either.  I know you put money into my campaign, but you runny-nosed rogues gave to the other guy too, hedging your bets.  Burp!  Turn against me if you want, I am going to do what is right." 

"What am I going to do?  Hiccup!  You keep saying there is nothing I can do, well I will show you!  How about an enforced gas-price freezer, I mean freeze?  What, you would then insure a shortage and put the blame on me?  Let me tell you, just twy, I mean try and I will nationalize you sons of biscuit eaters!  Yes, you heard me right, I will do the unthinkable before letting you take this country and its economy hostage!"

"I will put a freeze on your profits too, and make that the biggest gosh darn rebate program the world has ever seen." 

"Don't worry, Hiccup, I am not going to forget your Arab friends either.  First, we will make Iraq pay us back for all we have done to make them free.  They've got oil, and now we are going to give them a bill from good ol' Uncle Sam!"

"Oh, what about your friends in the House and the Senate?  Burp!  Do you think they can stop me?  If any of that mother fuddrucker's crowd is going place the ill-gotten gain of gas barons over the American people, I'll plaster their names on billboards and newspapers across the country.  Come November, and I don't care if they are a baby-killing Democrat or a spineless Republican, we will see them voted out of office!"

"Now, let me see, I think 50 cents is a good price for gas, premium I mean, and while you're at it, make it full service!"

*** 

The elections saw the largest turnout in U.S. history, and despite legal impediments to a third term, George W was the first "write-in" candidate to get a majority of the vote over both major parties. 

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Here is another fellow ever so proud to live in the West where he can tear down our civilization with both safety and impunity.

ORTHODOXY TODAY:  Criminalization of Christianity 

No secret is made about the real meaning of ISLAM.  Can you imagine how things will become when such men are the majority?  Guess what he and his crowd would do to the ladies praying their rosaries for peace! 

Both Islam and Christianity are by their very nature, missionary or evangelistic religions.  However, they have very different views about the goal of our endeavors, divine providence and the end-times.  Christianity ultimately seeks a spiritual kingdom that is not fully realized in the here-and-now, although it is breaking into the world through the Church and by God's sovereign power.

"My kingdom is not of this world, for if my kingdom were of this world my subjects would not have handed me over…"

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WAKE UP CALL!

Dear God:

Why didn't you save the school children at…

  • Moses Lake, Washington 2/2/96
  • Bethel, Alaska 2/19/97
  • Pearl, Mississippi 10/1/97
  • West Paducah, Kentucky 12/1/97
  • Stamp, Arkansas 12/15/97
  • Jonesboro, Arkansas 3/24/98
  • Edinboro, Pennsylvania 4/24/98
  • Fayetteville, Tennessee 5/19/98
  • Springfield, Oregon 5/21/98
  • Richmond, Virginia 6/15/98
  • Littleton, Colorado 4/20/99
  • Taber, Alberta, Canada 5/28/99
  • Conyers, Georgia 5/20/99
  • Deming, New Mexico 11/19/99
  • Fort Gibson, Oklahoma 12/6/99
  • Santee, California 3/ 5/01 and
  • El Cajon, California 3/22/01?

Sincerely,
Concerned Student

Reply:

Dear Concerned Student:

I am not allowed in schools.

Sincerely,
God

             
How did this get started?…

Let's see,
I think it started when Madeline Murray O'Hare complained  she didn't want any prayer in our schools.

And we said, OK..

Then, someone said you better not read the Bible in school,  the Bible that says, "thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbors as yourself."

And we said, OK…

Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children  when they misbehaved because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem.

And we said, an expert should know what he's talking about so we won't spank them anymore.

Then someone said, teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. 

And the school administrators said no faculty member in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to be sued.

And we accepted their reasoning.

Then someone said, let's let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won't even have to tell their parents.

And we said, that's a grand idea.

Then some wise school board member said, since boys will be boys and they're going to do it anyway, let's give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the fun they desire, and we won't have to tell their parents they got them at school.

And we said, that's another great idea.

Then some of our top elected officials said it doesn't matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs.

And we said, it doesn't matter what anybody, including the President, does in private as long as we have jobs and the economy is good.

And someone else took that appreciation a step further and published pictures of nude children and then stepped further still by making them available on the Internet.

And we said, everyone's entitled to free speech.

And the entertainment industry said, let's make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence and illicit sex.  And let's record music that encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide, and satanic themes.

And we said, it's just entertainment and it has no adverse effect and nobody takes it seriously anyway, so go right ahead.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, classmates or even themselves.

Undoubtedly, if we thought about it long and hard enough, we could figure it out.

I'm sure it has a great deal to do with… "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."

Pass it on if you think it has merit!  If not then just discard it. But if you discard this thought process, then don't you dare sit back and complain about what bad shape this country is in.

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This delightful fellow posed to be photographed during a protest march and rally in London. Does Western freedom and toleration include activities that directly espouse insurrection and violence? We have surely taken the viper to our breast. 

In any case, what constitutes an insult worthy of the death sentence?  If you have been following the news, it is clear.  Cartoons and editorials, books that are critical of fanaticism, converts to Christianity from their numbers, indeed, some would argue that the mere "presence" of the Christian infidel is an offense worthy of persecution, imprisonment, torture and death.  Islam means peace, when the whole world is Moslem, and the Jew and Christian are only footnotes in history. 

Islam means SUBMISSION.  Now that the West has lost its Christian soul, it should be easy pickings for the followers of Mohammed.

FRONTPAGE: The Slow Death of Europe

What is the Christian response?  The Gospel would have us sow love and forgiveness, even if the blood of thousands or even millions of martyrs should be poured out.  We do have Islamic brothers and sisters who want to live in peace with us.  However, there is no guarantee that their fellowship with us will win the day over angry voices that hate us.  Christianity has been extinguished or forced into the ghetto in most all Islamic nations.  Even Turkey, which seeks membership in the European Union, outlaws socially penalizes conversion to Christianity.  Moslems sometimes kill their own, particularly if they are seen as collaborators with the West and with believers in Jesus.  If even citizens of England can espouse such hatred of those outside of Islam, are any of us safe? 

Who would have thought that people in 2006 could have such a mindset?  "I don't like your criticism!  I despise your religion!  Off with your head!"

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." 

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Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions in the seventh largest country in the world, Mexifornia , formerly known as California.  White minorities still trying to have English recognized as Mexifornia's third language.

Spotted Owl plague threatens northwestern United States' crops and livestock.

Baby conceived naturally.  Scientists stumped.

Couple petitions court to reinstate heterosexual marriage.

Last remaining Fundamentalist Muslim dies in the American Territory of the Middle East (formerly known as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon).

Iran still closed off; physicists estimate it will take at least 10 more years before radioactivity decreases to safe levels.

France pleads for global help after being taken over by Jamaica.

Castro finally dies at age 112; Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.

George Z. Bush says he will run for President in 2036.

Postal Service raises price of first class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only.

85-years, $75.8 billion study: Diet and Exercise is the key to weight loss.

Average weight of Americans drops to 250 lbs.

Japanese scientists have created a  camera with such a fast shutter speed, they now can photograph a woman with her mouth shut. (Hummmmmmmmm)

Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative.

Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights.

Average height of NBA players now nine feet, seven inches.

New federal law requires that all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters and rolled-up newspapers must be registered by January 2036.

Mexifornia, always a leader in education, is letting go of the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND educational format and trying out something wholly new and revolutionary. It will be called THE 3 R's. Subjects like Social Problem Solving will be required to be taught at home. The new mantra will be IT TAKES A PARENT TO RAISE A CHILD.

Congress authorizes direct deposit of formerly illegal political contributions to campaign accounts.

IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75 percent.

Florida voters still having trouble with voting machines.

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OUR WAY IS BEST

A priest, a Pentecostal preacher and a Rabbi all served as chaplains to the students of Northern Michigan University in Marquette. They would get together two or three times a week for coffee and to talk shop.

One day, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear. One thing led to another and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they're all together to discuss the experience.

Father Flannery, who has his arm in a sling, is on crutches, and has various bandages, goes first. "Well," he says, "I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation."

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts, and an IV drip. In his best fire and brimstone oratory he claimed, " WELL brothers, you KNOW that we don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear.  And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD!  But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So I quick DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus."

They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV's and monitors running in and out of him. He was in bad shape.

The rabbi looks up and says, "Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start."

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RESPONSE TO GENNA'S PAPER

The Mass in the Catholic Community

Just a few comments about the essay on the Church as a community:

Note that the many local churches are not simply viewed as the regional branches of the universal Church. Every parish community as “Church” contains within itself everything necessary for salvation– the true faith, priestly ministry, sacraments, etc. Just as every particle of the host and every drop of the precious blood is the total Christ; so too does every local faith community manifest the presence of Christ. The mystical body is spiritually whole in all of its parts. This is different from other kinds of communities.

Often the descriptive word FAMILY is used to define the Church community. Just as a human family celebrates its unity and reality with the family meal; so too does the Church express her identity in the Eucharistic meal and sacrifice. The Church is never more CHURCH then when at worship.

This community is also hierarchial, and this element is shared with families and most secular communities. Family headship might go to the husband and Father. The head of a business community might be the president or the chairman of the board. The Church finds her invisible head in Christ and the visible headship in the Pope or HOLY FATHER. Regarding the Church, paternal headship is seen on all levels: Pope, Bishop, Priest. Indeed, we call our priests, FATHERS.

The communion of the saints admits that our faith community extends beyond earth into heaven and among the souls in purgatory. It could also be said that God, who sees everything from the perspective of the ETERNAL NOW, sees all that the Church was, is and will be.

You write:

I am aware that the Church is spiritually a community, but could it really be called a human community? One of the basic fundamentals of a human community is that the people share the same values – a link which Roman Catholics seem to lack (for instance: Why is there even an issue over Catholic voting for pro-abortion candidates?). Some conservative Catholic groups are closer to Evangelical Protestants than to other Catholics. Could the human members of the Catholic Church really call themselves a community? (Remember: I cannot use spiritual things, such as the belief in the Eucharist, as the basis of my argument. I don’t think my professor would find that legitimate.)

The Church is by definition both a human and divine institution. This being the case, it must be both a human and spiritual community. As a human community, it suffers from all the imperfections and defects to unity that also plague other types of communities. Note that there are disfunctional families, conflicts between neighbors, heightened state and national political polarities, and vast dissent in the global community about basic policies and even values. Absolute agreement upon values might be ideal and yet defining community strictly along these lines might force one to contend that no true community exists at all– at least in this world. I would argue that communities need basic concurrence regarding core values, but also structures of authority that allow for dialogue and conflict resolution.

Just because there is dissent in the Church does not negate the Church as a human community. The “mea culpas” of Pope John Paul II acknowledge that the human community of the Church is not perfect and that as sinners we have sometimes perpetrated terrible evils and injustices. This is a separate consideration from the Church as a spiritual or divine institution or community. As a divine community, the Church can be regarded as perfect and infallible. The spiritual dynamic is in regard to the mystical body and the four marks of the true Church. The Church is the vehicle for Christ and may be regarded as the great sacrament of encounter between ourselves (with one another) and with the Lord.

It is in regard to the human quality of community that the Church by necessity sometimes must allow people to excommunicate themselves from ecclesial unity. Such excommunication may be canonical or juridical or even in less rigorist terms. A person in mortal sin has for all intensive purposes damaged the “communio” that should exist in the Church. A person who dissents upon a core teaching (like the Gospel of Life) also risks rupturing his or her tie to the community, even though such a person may go through the motions of faith and fellowship.

Cardinal Arinze and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope) have made it clear that a person who supports and enables the abortion of children, and especially public proponents, should refrain from holy communion. They may still attend Mass, but the reception of holy communion (our sign of unity in Christ) becomes a blasphemous act when such people partake of the sacrament of life. They take upon themselves judgment itself. The fact that many bishops fail to enforce canon law and are overly passive shepherds is indeed unfortunate; however, this does not negate the human element of the Church community– it only further witnesses to the brokenness of the human condition. Remember, there are no perfect human communities, only spiritual ones.

The fact that Vatican II speaks of many Protestants as “separated brethren” admits of a partial unity within a larger circle of Christians. Would this not be more as a human community, particularly upon shared values, than as the divine institution which is synonymous with the Catholic Church?

It should be noted that the Catholic community, as an institution, may not be as pervasive and united as in years past. Ethnic Catholics from many parts of the world hyphenated their Catholicism within the other elements of culture. Western culture is taking a serious hit today and with it the human ties of faith are also weakening. Historically, for instance, Irish and Italian Catholics mixed their faith into their ethnic identity in such a way that one would be hard pressed to separate them. This is why families like the Kennedy’s breed such scandal– for breaking the ties that bind. Everyone gets married in Church. The kids receive their sacraments and godparents are chosen, not only as a spiritual bond but as a human one. Although it is a terrible distortion, even a gangster as in the Godfather movie, is part of a fragile human bond that weaves the Church into an extended family.

Your professor would be wrong to deny the pertinence of the Eucharist in this discussion. Everything in the Church has a corporeal and a spiritual side. We even say as much in the liturgy when we refer to the bread as made from human hands, knowing that it shall be refashioned into the real presence of Christ. There is a human and divine interaction. Apart from the invisible and crucial spiritual factors of Christian worship, we also find purely human factors: common responses, singing together, familiar ritual, fellowship, welcoming or hospitality, etc. Not everyone goes to Church, but those who do develop a sense of community just through regular familiarity and interaction.

It is hard to have strong emotional responses to large communities. When strangers are hurt or killed and we hear about it on the radio, it has a muffled effect. However, if the paper boy is killed in Iraq or the next door neighbor has a burning cross left on the lawn– communities pull together, for support and for remembrance. Just as the Church community struggles because of dissent, so too does the nation– particularly when some would die for our freedoms and others burn and trample upon the flag which is the symbol of our country and her ideals.

Small churches and small communities within larger churches have been the objective of dioceses for some time now. The RENEW efforts, with all its haphazard results, was an attempt to nurture a closer sense of fellowship under common values and emotional concern. We are not robots. I suspect many philosphers err greviously in omitting human feelings from the scenerio. Parishioners, especially the old ones, identify themselves, not by their street, but by the parish they attend.

Efforts are made to visit the sick. St. Mary’s had a Bereavement group when I first came and they helped people endure their loss– by being there, helping with food or house sitting, preparing liturgies, etc. These things are part of the human dimension. We develop friendships– in our Catholic schools and parishes– we visit and call when someone is absent or sick. We help each other out with special projects. Especially in my parish, where people come from Annapolis, Laurel, Greenbelt, Forestville, and Clinton– the tie is not geography but love for a parish, its history, and its people. Again, there is nothing particularly divine or spiritual about this. It is very human, and not even unique to the Catholic community.

The other question I would like to explore is the time dimension in relation to the Catholic Church. In class we have talked about how a good community has a balance between past, present, and future. We have looked at the Jewish nation, and how they have been able to preserve all three of these time dimensions since their beginning.

Has the Jewish people really kept such a balance. It was once contended that the Jews were united more by race (or if that word is offensive, substitute "ethnicity", presumed or realized, or if it still fails the tolerance test, by shared history and culture) than by a common faith. Reformed Jews and Orthodox Jews possess a radically different kind of religion. Israel itself, not to mention New York, counts many athiests as Jews in good standing. Further, I would contend that European Jews, despite the ghetto experience, are far more European in mindset and genetically than the semites and others they have displaced in Palestine. Prior to Vatican II various Jewish scholars warned their Catholic counterparts about the dangers of messing with ritual. They had done so with the result of a bland worship and today similar concerns are raised about Catholic ceremonials. I mention this because the Catholic notion of remembrance is borrowed from the Hellenic Jews– ANAMNESIS. At their Seder they recall their past and make it present. They become the Jews liberated from Egyptian slavery. They are the people who look forward to a new Jerusalem. Similarly, the Church remembers and makes present the saving acts of Christ. Obviously, this is a spiritual and sacramental reality; however, it makes a mark upon the human person that extends beyond the liturgy. We have encountered Christ. We were with him. During Lent we celebrate this with the Stations of the Cross. We are with Jesus to Calvary and at the end are given the promise of Resurrection and a new People of God– the Church.

The human community of the Church is not as well as it should be. Many ethnic customs, saturated in the faith, have been lost. Even the staffs of churches and parochial schools threw out whole libraries after Vatican II, arguing that the old Church was dead. The Traditionalists who have separated from the Holy See even claim that they are true to the old Church and that the post-Vatican II Church is a new organism, detached from the old. Obviously, this is not my belief nor that of the living and teaching Church; however, a lot of falsehood and abuse has harmed the community all the same. Do we even teach Church history in our Catholic schools– grammar, middle and high schools? Do our CCD programs approach it? It is as if we jumped from biblical times to 2005!
“Does the Catholic Church have a balance of past, present, and future? It seems that in many ways the Church has done herself a disservice with Vatican II, cutting off what might have been essential ties to the past (in the Latin language and the Mass, for instance.) Furthermore, as more and more Catholics today lose their faith in the Real Presence, it seems that perhaps they are losing their link to the future as well.

What about the Mass? It was a major tool for the transmission of culture to the human community of the Church– now that common language (Latin) and a high aesthetic (for beautiful music and art) has been largely replaced by those things coarse. Okay, here I am critical, but I do not think the human community of the Church is completely dead. She may be on life-support, but the patient may yet pull through.

As a community the best way for the Church to remain intune with the three dimensions of history is as follows:

1. PAST – Memorial Prayer and Understanding the Meaning of the Mass; Study of Scripture (Old and New); and Church History– particularly through a revival of the Catholic cult of the SAINTS. Our devotion to the saints is a built-in way to keep in touch with our roots!

2. PRESENT – The Mass and our encounter with Christ; the Sacramental Life of the Church; and restored forms of Catholic Action (with activism as on matters like Abortion).

3. FUTURE – The Mass is here too in that it is seen as a participation in the heavenly banquet; Allowing God to use us in building up the Kingdom of God; Invigorating the membership as missionaries of the Good News.

Notice that the Mass applies to all three tenses. During the Mass, we sometimes proclaim or sing: CHRIST HAS DIED, CHRIST IS RISEN, CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN.

Both the human and the divine elements of the Church take their lead from Christ. While the Jews are a community based upon decendance from Abraham and a promise; and the Moslems are a sect hinged upon the law of Allah; we Christians define ourselves and our communities by our unity and likeness to Jesus Christ. This is not just an “other worldly” appreciation but a “meat and potatoes” one– acceptance of the truths in the deposit of faith– following the decalogue and the two commandments of Christ– realizing the beatitudes– loving one another, even the enemy– forgiving one another. While there is a spiritual dimension here, all of this touches upon the human community– where we have been (sinners), where we are (repentant), and where we hope to go (among the elect).

Of course, the Pope is the visible leader of the community on earth and unites all human beings in the human Catholic ‘community’. But this would seem to be a rather loose tie, at least in my way of thinking.

This has been the essential tie for 2,000 years. While the Orthodox churches became national groupings; the See of Peter has maintained a visible universal bond for the Catholic community, even when language, dress, even liturgy and customs differed. (Remember that there are still other rites in union with Rome, too.) The ultimate bond is with Christ. But Peter and his successors are the Keepers of the Keys. The Pope is the Roman Rite. We even celebrate the Chair of Peter as a feast in the Church. The marks of the Church are also imporatnt, but given the confines of your work you may have to distingush between the spiritual and human elements: ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC. The unity is in Christ. It is the immediate assumption that there is only one Church instituted by Christ as the community of men and women seeking salvation. The Church is regarded as the new People of God, the new Israel, the new Zion. The holiness of the Church is solely in regard to her divine character. The Church is holy because as Christ is holy. She is embued with his presence. The word Catholic means universal. The Church is the sacrament of salvation intended for all men and women. The People of God in the Old Testament was exclusive but the new People of God is open to all who would believe. Apostolic refers to the trust given the apostles by Jesus, his bestoyal of holy orders upon them, and the transmission of these orders and the apostolic message.

I don’t know; but it is important for me to add that I am not in any way attacking my Church or trying to pick a fight. I am simply honestly making an inquiry and trying to investigate it as a social scientist would. Dr. Misztal wants us to come up with something imaginative that applies what we have learned about community – to “swim in alone in the dark and find our way” as he puts it. If everything I say sounds really stupid, please let me know.

My recommendation would be to read the universal catechism in the section on the Church. From there you can branch out to books and articles on ecclesiology. Be careful of some authorities, however, like Hans Kung. He is a dangerous priest. I am not saying to avoid him, just to be forewarned.
Nothing I have written here is scholarly. Indeed, as I have not reviewed it, I may have made a few quick errors, too. But for what it is worth, here are my ramblings.

Speaking to the subject of religious communities in the contemporary Church setting, Gabriel Moran wrote a book in 1970 entitled THE NEW COMMUNITY. Most of the book explores the meaning of the word “community”. He writes:

Although one cannot dictate that a word has only a single meaning, there does seem to be a keynote which runs throughout discussion on community. Whatever else may be added to this beginning, community denotes a human as opposed to a sub-human ordering of experience. It should be noted that a definition of community begins not with a specification of the size, purpose or location of a group, but with a description of the kind of experience an individual has vis-a-vis other persons. . . . The word community designates an ordering of human life that unites without destroying, that brings out the capacities of each individual, and that forges a bond out of strikingly dissimilar strands. Thus, community means that by meeting another person at the level of our common humanity we will share the affection and encouragement, the sympathy and the intimacy, the truth and the love, that will enable us severally to become wholly and integrally ourselves. A moment’s reflection upon the definition I have just given will lead to the somber conclusion that this ideal of community is never achieved.

At this point, Christianity can perhaps throw some light on the situation. At least it does provide some clue to the imperfection and failure of every human community. I refer to the Christian belief that there can be no perfect human communities until there is a perfect human community. Without an ultimate reconciliation to creation and the creator, man’s individual projects will always be tainted with failure. The call for such an ultimate reconciliation begins to make sense in our day. The only ideal that is now worth striving after is a world-wide community in which all men are brothers.  (see pages 45 and 46)

What is the kind of experience that defines the Church community? Members have an experience of relationship and/or encounter with Christ that draws them into a union of common faith and practice.

As a community we recognize that we are all sinners who need one another and the mercy of God. A structure has been both imposed by Christ and developed by leaders in the Church for her proper operation.

Not only is the Church both a human and divine institution (community) but she is the breaking in of the kingdom itself. By virtue of the fact that the Church is composed of human beings, she is a human community. Without a human community, there can be no divine institution of the Church. One school of eschatology would contend that not only is the Church a human institution, but ultimately, she will be the only human institution. This is what Moran is implying in his book. There can be no perfect human communities until there is the perfect human community– the Church at the consummation of things– the goal of human history! This would seem to make all other human communities reliant upon the Church in a certain sense.

The primal expression of human community is the family. Christians are well aware of this and speak of the “little church” of the family. This is not just poetic license. An important quality of the Church is realized in Christian families. It is where we first learn our faith and develop a sense of identity. We become aware of ourselves as individuals and as members of a larger whole.

It should be added that the community of the family is molded in the likeness of God. A husband and wife know each other and their love generates a child. Similarly, the Trinity is a community of persons: the Father knows and generates the Son from all eternity; the Father and Son love each other and generate the Holy Spirit from all eternity. The divine imprint marks both our spiritual and our human communities.

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