Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Important Idea, Charisms, and Working With What I've Got

Being Catholic is quite simple. The rules boil down to a very simple idea.

Late in his life, Saint John was famous among Christians. He had actually known Jesus, been with my Lord at Golgotha, and had a sort of inside track where it came to understanding what Jesus had taught.

"Love One Another:" THAT'S IT?!!

Saint Jerome says that when John the Apostle was very old and weak, he'd be carried out to meet people. Then he revealed what he'd learned while at the side of Jesus:
"My dear children, love one another."
("St John, Apostle and Evagelist," EWTN)
That was the whole message.

The profound insights and knowledge learned at the side of the Second Parson of the Trinity were, at their core: "My dear children, love one another."

For two millennia, the Catholic Church has been passing on the same message:
All the rules, all the explanations, all the kilometers of shelving in the Vatican's office archive, all that boils down to "love one another:" plus the reminder that "one another" includes everybody. Even the guy who cut ahead of me in the checkout line.

As I've said before, all those rules and explanations are what happen when folks try to weasel out of the basic principles. My opinion.

A Brief Interruption: About Fortnight for Freedom

I'll get back with my reasons for acting the way I do, right after promoting something I think is important.

Today is 'Day Four' of Fortnight for Freedom. I plan to have a post focusing on that ready later today. For the moment, though, I'll just add a few links here:

Fortnight for Freedom
Some folks have more options for paying attention to Fortnight for Freedom than I do. As far as I know, there isn't a prayer vigil, pep rally, or anything else 'official' having to do with F. f. F. here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Maybe I missed the announcements: or maybe, as someone said, 'we can only do so much.'

Prayer, Pep Rallies, and Me

I could travel to the nearest town where folks get together to observe Fortnight for Freedom: but I haven't done that. I haven't even committed to sit in the Adoration Chapel down the street on a regular basis.

That's not because I think pep rallies are bad, or prayer is pointless, or that folks who keep vigil in the Adoration Chapel are wasting their time.

I think there's a time and place for pep rallies: and know that some folks seem to get a charge out of them.

As for prayer and vigils: I admire folks who do that sort of thing. I pray, of course: it's 'in the rules.' But my prayers tend to be relatively short; and often linked to particular routines, like eating.

I still experience spending an hour at the Adoration Chapel as 60 minutes of 'doing nothing:' but I'm working on that.

Being Different

I'm not upset that God didn't outfit me with abilities I haven't got. Like 1 Corinthians 12 says:
"3 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;

"there are different forms of service but the same Lord;

"there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.

"To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. "
(1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
I've found that I'm good at something that doesn't show up in the list that follows. On the other hand, "...the expression of wisdom..." and "...the expression of knowledge..." come close. (1 Corinthians 12:8) By the way, I've got the full teaching authority of "some guy with a blog." I don't speak for the Church. This is speculation on my part.

Research, Writing, and Me

I haven't 'always enjoyed writing.' Like any other skill, I had to learn my language, and how to organize ideas. But as soon as I knew how, writing was fun. So was finding information, and sorting it into something coherent.

Not everybody is good at putting words together. That occasionally helped me make a living by having someone pay me to find information and put ideas into writing. By now, I'm pretty good at doing both.

Oh, sinful pride? I don't think so.

If I assumed that I was responsible for having the abilities I do: yeah, that would be a bad idea. As it is, I recognize that God gave me a kit that includes really good language skills.

Humility is a virtue, but it doesn't mean ignoring what God gave me, or being a doormat:
I may not be a top-notch vigil keeper, and don't seem drawn to saying one novena after another. But writing is something I'm good at. I think that gift can be useful for something besides earning a paycheck.

Writing as a Charism???

Saying "I'm drawn by the Spirit to write" sounds - odd, to be charitable about it. Certainly when I imagine saying that about myself. On the other hand, there may be something to the idea. Or, not.

I found this footnote at the end of 1 Corinthians 12, in the New American Bible:
"There are some features common to all charisms, despite their diversity: all are gifts (charismata), grace from outside ourselves; all are forms of service (diakoniai), an expression of their purpose and effect; and all are workings (energemata), in which God is at work. Paul associates each of these aspects with what later theology will call one of the persons of the Trinity, an early example of 'appropriation.' "
(1 Corinthians 12, footnote 3)
I wasn't familiar with that last word, "appropriation:" not in this context. I found what looks like a pretty good definition:
"...In theology, appropriation is used in speaking of the different Persons of the Trinity. It consists in attributing certain names, qualities, or operations to one of the Persons, not, however, to the exclusion of the others, but in preference to the others...."
("Appropriation," The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907))
Okay, so there are a wide variety of charisms, but all charisms are:
  1. Gifts (charismata)
    • Grace from outside ourselves
  2. Forms of service (diakoniai)
    • An expression of their purpose and effect
  3. Workings (energemata)
    • In which God is at work
I think my knack with words is a gift, so it fits the first point.

I can write as service to others. I've written 'purely for my own enjoyment,' but that isn't as rewarding as it might sound. So I think writing can fit the second point too.

Whether or not my writing is something "in which God is at work" is a good question. I hope so: but figure that I'd better leave that decision up to God. If God is getting something done by having me write? Then what I do in the blog, and elsewhere, is a charism.

If not, well: I'll find out at my particular judgment. (Catechism, 1013, 1021) (August 27, 2011) Until I get a better alternative, I'll muddle along on the assumption that writing is one way I can serve my Lord.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.