Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

It is Consummated

It is Consummated

The Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man…That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh. – Genesis 2:21,22, 24
‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I speak in reference to Christ and the Church. – Ephesians 5:31,32
One of the most important truths that so many people miss is that Christ and the Church are wed.  Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is the Bride.  Oftentimes we hear that said, but we fail to contemplate what it really means.  It is so important to grasp this reality because if we miss it, we miss the heart of our relationship with God.
In the Old Testament, God constantly refers to Himself as Israel’s husband, so forcefully that, when the people fall into idolatry, He accuses them of adultery.  Consider the following passage from the prophet Hosea:
So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart…She shall respond there as in the days of her youth, when she came up from the land of Egypt.  On that day, says the Lord, she shall call me, “My husband,” and never again, “my baal.”…I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you will know the Lord.—Ch. 2
The Old Testament is filled with nuptial language to describe God’s relationship to His people.  So, when Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ challenge about fasting by asking, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” –  Luke 5:34; or when John the Baptist responded to questions about being the Messiah with the statement, “The one who has the Bride is the Bridegroom; the best man…rejoices greatly at the Bridegroom’s voice…He must increase and I must decrease;” – John 3:29, 30; the implications are clear.
Jesus, the God-Man, is the Bridegroom, and we, the Church, are His Bride.  It is so critical that we understand this, not only because when we do, so many of His teachings fall into place (the prohibition of contraception and the all-male priesthood being two that many people deride), but because without it, we do not have a complete understanding of who we are, or what marriage is.  (Archbishop Fulton Sheen reminds us that our relationship with God does not image human marriage; rather human marriage images our relationship with God.  Ephesians 3:15 says the same about fatherhood.)
Today, Good Friday, is the day that covenant between God and Man was consummated.  It was from the Cross that the Divine Bridegroom gave His Body to His Bride so that she might bear fruit.  As He did, he cried out, “It is consummated!”  And the new and eternal covenant between Christ and the Church was established.  The sign of that covenant, which provides for a renewal of the vows, is the Eucharist.
When God provided Adam his bride, He put him in a deep sleep, and from His side came Eve.  On the cross, Our Lord entered the sleep of death, and from His side flowed water and blood, symbols of the Church.
Water represents baptism, the sacrament by which we are incorporated into the Church, the Bride.  Blood is the Eucharist, that most Blessed Sacrament through which we and our Beloved become one flesh.  This indeed, is a great mystery, and it refers to Christ and the Church.
This Good Friday, as our insane culture debates the definition of marriage (as if any political institution has the power to redefine something defined by God), let us contemplate the true meaning of marriage, and that divine marriage of which every Christian marriage is a sign, and may we bear fruit.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What is the Common Core?

What is the Common Core?

          As a teacher, one thing that has been dominating our professional development that last two years has been the Common Core.  For those not familiar with what the Common Core is, it is a set of national standards for K-12 math and language arts instruction.
          It seems very non-threatening, and it certainly hasn’t been presented to us as anything controversial.  Even for someone like me, who believes in local control of education, since our standards are already created by the state, it seems like it wouldn’t be problematic for different states to be consistent regarding what skills they are teaching in math and language arts.
          So it surprised me to learn that there is a movement to stop the Common Core.  There are a series of five videos on Youtube encouraging people to oppose the plan.  I have the first at the bottom of this post so people can hear the other side and make up their own minds.
          I find some of the concerns a bit overblown, while others seem quite reasonable.  The most serious concern, in my mind, is that what we are now receiving with the Common Core is the camel’s nose in the tent that will lead to a host of other national regulations on our schools, including a liberal rewriting of history, permissive sex education, and social engineering with regard to gender and sexuality.
          That may seem conspiracy theorist, but I believe it is quite realistic and demands vigilance.  Opponents of Common Core claim that much of the support behind it is from liberal social engineers who are unable to nationalize their agenda in one major step and see the math and language arts standards as a non-threatening first step to an incremental grand plan.
          Whether or not that claim is true, and whether or not Common Core grows beyond this initial stage, the controversy should serve as a reminder to all of us that we must remain engaged in education policy.  As Abraham Lincoln noted, the culture in the classroom today will be the culture of the nation in a generation.

Monday, March 25, 2013

More on Solidarity Health Share

More on
Solidarity Health Share

          Interest still seems to be high in Solidarity Health Share, but all has seemingly gone quiet in terms of news about the program.  The following is the outgoing message from Immaculata Management Group, the parent company behind the plan.  I sent an email requesting further information a few days ago and have not yet heard back.  If you have any more information, please contact me and let me know.

          Thank you for calling Immaculata management group, the creators of Solidarity Health Share.  I’m sorry we can’t get to your call right now, but you can leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.  If you’re calling for more information on individual or group plans with the Solidarity Health Share Catholic health sharing plan, the alternative to insurance, please note that we are fast at work to finalize this plan and to have it up and running very soon.  As such, we are unabole to share very much information at this time, but we will begin publishing that as soon as it’s available.  If you have signed up for the early access program through our Web site, you will be the first to receive emails and information.  If you’ve contacted us through email, we will also be contacting you as soon as we are able.  If you have further questions, you can feel free to email us at  For the time being, we will not be able to answer so many of those emails but we will as soon as the information is finalized and arrangements are made to begin the plan. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Francis and Benedict

Francis and Benedict

Image from Catholic News Agency

          Here’s a newsflash to the world: Pope Benedict and Pope Francis are both Peter, and they are also different people.  (I speak, of course, of when Benedict was pope, not pope emeritus.)  Obviously the readers of this blog understand what that means, but much of the world seems to be struggling with it.
          First, there’s the secular American media, who see everything in terms of American politics and think that everyone else does, too.  The first questions they asked upon the election of the new pope were: “Will Pope Francis change Church teaching on contraception?  What about abortion?  How about gay marriage?  Ordination of women, perhaps?”  They do not realize that Pope Francis is Peter, with the charism of infallibility when he teaches the whole Church on matters of faith and morals.  To save the secular media the trouble, I can easily answer their questions for them: no, no, no, and no.
          None of those issues are changeable or negotiable.  They are part of the Deposit of Faith, given us by God, who will not change His Mind on them.  Watching the American press scramble for answers to these questions provides comic relief, but nothing of real substance.  Of course, it gets dangerous when they use lies about our pope to further a political agenda.
          Case in point: the suggestion that as a cardinal, Pope Francis supported civil unions for homosexual people.  This, of course, has been soundly denied, and Cardinal Bergoglio’s statements on gay marriage included stronger condemnations than anything I ever heard from Pope Benedict.  But, the Supreme Court is about to take up the case of California’s Proposition 8, which found its strongest support among Catholics and Mormons, so we should expect the media to try and weaken the Catholic case in the public mind.
          What’s worse is when even Catholics start buying into this stuff.
          What I’ve been hearing more of from some Catholics, unfortunately, are complaints (even suspicions) about the pope’s liturgical style.
          I should first say that I appreciate anyone’s concern with the protection of our liturgy, and the lessons we were taught by Pope Benedict, and especially his famous motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, are precious and should not be forgotten.
          But Pope Francis is a different man, whose style is simple.  That is who he is, and the Holy Spirit gave him to us.  Perhaps there are more lessons we can learn.  Liturgical abuse would be one thing, but we should not panic because of his simpler style.  Just as Pope Benedict told us the Novus Ordo Mass and the Extraordinary Form should work together to inform each other, and to deepen our love of the Mass, so too should the lessons of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis complement each other to inspire a deeper love and understanding of the liturgy.
          As a Church, we have embraced our new Holy Father, and the few concerns that I have heard raised have, for the most part, been raised with charity and sincerity.  We all need to remember, however, that vigilance in protecting our liturgy from abuse is certainly a virtue, but suspicion is not.  May faith and charity guide us all.