Monday, February 27, 2006

Embracing Faith

I'd like to start off by asking for a few more prayers (or a lot more). It is with a heavy heart that I bring you the story of a little boy, Porter, who died on Friday, February 24, 2006 at the tender age of 5. His mom, Kelly, was my sister's teacher and a friend of my mom and dad. In fact, the whole family befriended us (and we them). Geoffrey (the dad), Kelly, and Porter were always together and always a delight to have around.

Porter was born with a congenital heart disease and struggled with many other physical and metal challenges in his short life. Still he was a ray of sunshine to everyone he met. This friday he went in for heart surgery and wasn't strong enough to make it through. His heart stopped while he was on the table and he was on life support until his death.

Everyone prayed for a miracle and now we pray for peace.

Porter's vigil is being held today at our church and the funeral Mass will be tomorrow. Porter will be entombed and placed in a Mausoleum. I beg your prayers for all of the friends, students, faculty and staff but most of all for his family.

Eternal Rest
grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

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My own brother struggled a lot in the beginning so I can understand the trials this family went through. My brother was projected to live until age 5 and 8 years later he is going strong and amazing us all. He is an extraordinary kid and I can't imagine the pain we all would feel if we had lost him. He still struggles with some things and has one of every kind of specialist out there but he doesn't let it get to him. He is such a miracle and I never want to let anything happen to him.

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Entering Lent I reflect on what it means to be a Catholic. Many times when I do this I turn to the words of a dear friend of mine. Nick was conversing with a protestant interested in the Catholic faith. The protestant, Adam, asked him this:
"Why should we become Catholic?" ((referring to him and his wife))
Nick replied with this:
I have really been struggling with how to respond to this question, not because the answers are not abundant, but because it is hard to articulate into words the love I have for Jesus Christ and His Church. plus, I don't want this to just be a list of the usual stereotypical responses. I want this to come from my heart; I feel like you will appreciate that the most. I guess the best way for me to do that is to just tell you what the Catholic Church means to me. You can glean from that the reasons to be Catholic.

To me, the Catholic Church means....

1. a mother who loves me so much, that any words used to describe it are incomprehensably inadequate. This is a love indescribable, a love for the body of Christ, typified in the love that Mary has for THE body of Christ. Notice in The Passion of the Christ, how she runs to Him, how she longs to take all of his pain away. She just loves Him so much. We are the child in the flashback, we are the Body of Christ, who stumble and fall. Yet we have a mother who is always there, who will wipe away our tears and set us back upon the path to righteousness.

2. a Blessed Mother, a Mother of perfect piety and purity, a Mother who looks upon us, lowly and broken in this valley of tears, and brings our heartfelt cries to the Lord. She is the Mother to the motherless, to the abandoned, to the homeless, to desperate and the heartbroken. She is there, caring for us, unceasing in her love and affection. Oh Blessed Mother and Immaculate Queen of Heaven, pray for us!!

3. a father, a priest, my guardian, my shephard, who loves me as his son. A man who has given himself to the Lord to be an instrument of forgivness and sacrifice. "Bless me father, for I have sinned." Humbled and humiliated I come before him. Yet he is not rebuking, not horrified, not aggravated or apathetic. He is loving, understanding, forgiving. It has made his day that I have come to him, and sought that the Holy Father should work through him in reconciling me to Himself. Before I leave the confessional, and walk back into the harsh, cruel world he hugs me and assures me that he is always there for me, just as our Holy Father in heaven is forever at our side.

4. grace unabounding, grace that pours forth like water, that cleanses us and unites us to Christ Jesus. Grace from baptism, which wipes away all impurities, that seals us with the indelible mark of the Holy Spirit and makes us a new creation, a child of God, a member of His Holy Family.

grace from confession, the Lords merciful forgiveness that lifts every burden, that reconciles us with God and man, grace available to every wicked man who ever walked this Earth.

grace from the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Grace that fills us, so that we hunger and thirst no more. Grace that unites us to the one sacrifice for all mankind, for every generation, until the end of time.

grace from confirmation, grace that fits us with the armor of God, with which we are protected for the good fight. Together with the mighty archangels we wage the war against evil and set ourselves apart as sons and daughter of God, and warriors for Christ.

grace from matrimony, grace through which two become one flesh and share in God's role as Creator and Sustainer of Life, grace through which two people call to mind the perfect love that exists between the persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, grace through which man and woman work to aid and protect and guide each other to eternal bliss in heaven.

grace from Holy Orders, in which men, who are called to be set apart for the Lord and servants of His Church, are given power and authority by the Holy Spirit to stand in the person of Christ, to appropriate His unending blessings to His children, to celebrate the perfect Sacrifice of the Mass, to live a life singularly devoted to the work of God on this Earth.

grace from the Anointing of the Sick, grace that strengthens us in our final hours, when we are inundated with fear and despair, grace that comforts us when we need it the most, grace that prepares our souls to be with God, and heals ever infirmity if it is His Perfect Will.

grace, everywhere and all around me, grace to cleanse me, grace to forgive me, grace to feed me, grace to arm and protect me, grace to love me, grace to make me a man set apart, grace to strengthen me until my final breath, grace that pushes me, guides me, points me in the right direction. Without it i would be lost. I would be dead.

5. Truth, perfect and unadulterated. The spirit of truth that casts our fear, protected by the Holy Spirit and the Real Presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. truth incorruptable, impervious to the scandal and the imperfection of men. Truth, that sure guide and only way towards perfection in Christ Jesus. Truth that never contradicts itself, truth that never lies, truth set on a pedastle and of which there is only one.

6. One body, united in One profession of faith, in One sacrifice of the Holy Mass, in perfect Communion, in One shepherd on Earth, One Vicar of Christ, One Rock, One sure foundation, One Church, One Body of Christ, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One Spirit that is through all and in all.

7. a Holy Body, empowered by the Holy Spirit, filled with Grace, made Holy by the appropriation of this grace through the Seven Sacraments, glorified by the Saints, that clowd of witnesses who have come before us and show us what it is to be Holy, to glorify the Lord and his Church through every word and action. A Holy Body, a spotless lamb, a perfect sacrifice brought before the Lord.

8. a Catholic Body, a people everwhere, spreading the word of God and making disciples of all nations, feeding the poor, providing clothing and shelter for the homeless, nursing the sick, protecting the neglected and abused, everwhere and to everyone saying, "here you have a home." A Catholic Body, universal yet visible, hierarchical, with bishops, priests, and deacons, a body set apart from all others, a body of which the earliest christians provide witness, the only body that deserves the title "Catholic"

9. an Apostolic Body, sprung from the 12 apostles themselves, a body with a perfect line of succession, a body which continuously perpetuates the power, authority, and teaching of the first followers of Jesus, and of Jesus Christ himself. A body for which martyrs have died, and the greatest apologists and theologians in all of christianity have given witness, perfect unity with the One True Church, Christ's Church, from the VERY beginning, a claim that no other Church would dare to make or ever substantiate.

10. the communion of saints, those witnesses in the stands who cheer for me as I run the race, as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. Saints, made perfect by the saving grace of Jesus Christ, who live in the presence of the Beatific Vision, who are alive in Christ, who have fought the good fight and finished victorious, who know my trials because they have lived them to. Saints, our holy brothers and sisters in Christ, who bring rightious prayers to the Lord on our behalf and plead that we may be showered with grace.

11. resiliency, the longest-lasting institution on the face of the planet, the Church that will never fall, never be defeated, never be corrupted, never be overcome, never be overcome by the gates of hell, by the devil and his minions, by the sinfulness of man, and every force that is brought against it. Resilient, finding redemption through suffering, growth in times of scandal, light where there is darkness, healing where there is pain, lifting every burden and healing all wounds. Resilient, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic until the end of time. The Last Man Standing.

12. ST. MICHAEL, captain bad-ass, Mr. who's-your-daddy, Mr. "WHO-IS-LIKE-CHRIST!?!?, Mr. bring it on, Mr. you-cant-hold-me, Mr. foot-on-your-face, Mr. don't-make-me-use-my-sword, Mr. get-the-hell-outta-here, Mr. the-devil-aint-shinobi, the Prince of Heavenly Host, our defender in battle, our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil, the ultimate warror, the soldier of Christ, our bodyguard from temptation and sin, the protector of the Church and enemy of the Devil. St. Michael, the archangel, pray for us!!

13. only the Catholic Church can and does make such lofty claims. It's the only Church that claims to be the One Church of Christ--and can prove it. It's the only Church that is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic--and can prove it. It's the only Church that can say it came BEFORE the Bible--and can prove it. It's the only Church that claims to be infallible in matters of doctrine and morals--and can prove it. It's the only Church that claims direct succession from the Apostles and Jesus Christ--and can prove it. It's the only Church that gives Her believers SEVEN SURE WAYS to receive the grace of Jesus Christ--and can prove it. It's the only Church that shows the Blessed Mother of Jesus Christ that honor and reverence that she rightly deserves.

You know, as I re-read my response, I despair over how supremely inadequate it is. Uggh! I think I could re-write and revise this 100 times and never be happy with it. I hope this is what you are looking for, and I am sorry if it is not. Actually, a part of me fears that it will turn you away, as my zeal has done so often in the past. I am remined of my ex-girlfriend, and how my response to the same question by her actually destroyed all hope of her becoming Catholic. However, I must remind myself that it is not all my fault that she has decided to reject Catholicism, and it is equally prideful of me to assume that your initiation into the Church hinges upon my response here.

So, there's my answer. It is what it is.
From this basis I form my own thoughts and opinions but I can assure everyone that it comes so close to Nick's own response that sometimes I wonder if we have the same brain. But I of course know it is simply that we share the same love of our wonderful faith. As I enter Lent I wish to remember always the things that are so wonderful about my faith. I wish to hold fast to things I know and to offer my sacrifices in thanksgiving for Truth. I reflect often on the Mystical Marriage and recall the words of my friend Matt who so eloquently described it. I only wish I could reproduce those words that moved my heart in a way that I can only begin to describe.

I wish for everyone a most blessed and holy Lenten season. May our sacrifices and offerings be united and offered for the greater glory of His name. May we be blessed abundantly and may our growth be lasting. Amen!

3 Comments:

Blogger Daughter of St. John said...

THAT is one of my all time FAV posts on PM. Thanks for highlighting it!

2/27/2006 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Matt1618 said...

Wow, for some reason I've never kept up with the Phatmass stuff that Nick does so I've read very few of his posts. I'm so proud of him, what a "bad-ass"! :)

2/28/2006 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger Laura H. said...

Yeah, he really blows me out of the water sometimes. This is definitely one of my favorites.

3/01/2006 12:14:00 AM  

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