Saturday, July 29, 2006

Incorruptibles

In 117 A.D. St. Cecilia was martyred after refusing to sacrifice to false gods. She had been arrested for giving her husband and his brother a proper burial, both of whom were also arrested and killed for giving proper burial to other martyrs. Although Cecilia had vowed her virginity to God, her Roman parents went ahead and married her off to a guy named Valerian anyway. Of course, he wasn't too pleased to learn that his new wife wasn't going be-- interested. She told him that she was accompanied by an angel whom he could see only if he is baptized. Um, yeah... sounds like something a crazy Catholic would say, but he went along with it and probably crapped his pants when he returned from the baptism ceremony to find his wife and an angel praying together.

So needless to say, he probably gave up on trying to get some at this point. Instead, he asked the angel for a favor -- that his brother would be baptized, and eventually he was. They started a ministry of giving proper burial to martyrs (to think there was a whole ministry for such a thing!). During their own martyrdom, they even converted their executioner.

800 years later, her body was found incorrupt during the process of moving it from its original burial place to the altar in the basilica of St. Cecilia in Rome. And in 1599 her coffin was opened again and her incorrupted body found lying on her side like she was sleeping. Dating back to the first century of Christianity, her body is the oldest known Incorruptible. There are supposed to be over 200 other saints whose bodies suffer little decay. St. Bernadette might be on of the most impressive examples. Doctors reported that her veins were still visible, muscle tissue was firm, and her liver was basically in normal condition 46 years after her death.

...I'll admit, this stuff is a bit creepy, but that's exactly why it's so freakin' cool :) Even Wikipedia has an entry on Incorruptibles. And if it works, try reading the link to "Saints Preserve Us" from about.com since they address the phenomenon from a secular perspective, including the possibility of Buddhist and Hindu Incorruptibles.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

One Difference Between Catholics and Protestants

(This one is not a serious post, by the way.)

Dating the Church: Among Protestants, this refers to the practice of someone who never makes a commitment to join a particular congregation, either because they attend two or three churches at the same time or they go to one church for a year or so before moving on.

However, among Catholics this refers to a man discerning for the priesthood. Should he go on to the priesthood, we might even say he is exclusively dating the Church. And just like in a real marriage, once he makes his vows he'll be broke until the day he dies; unlike real marriage, he'll be getting exactly as much sex as he's expecting.


ba-doom ching... aaand that's all I got for now.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Messianic Prophecy in 2nd Samuel

This week's Scripture readings in the Divine Office are going through 2nd Samuel and Friday's reading (7:1-25) includes the prophet Nathan's messianic prophecy. To summarize the passage, King David doesn't feel right about living in a house of cedar while the Lord dwells in a tent, so he approaches Nathan about it. That night, God speaks to Nathan, giving him a prophecy that reveals part of the plan God has in store for Israel, the seat of David, and one of his descendents. There can be no doubt this is about Christ:

I will raise up a heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. It is he who shall build a house for my name. And I will make his royal throne firm forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.

I figure the "house" is what we call the Church today, and obviously you've got two members of the Trinity mentioned right there by name, though informally. What throws me for a loop though is the next sentence:

And if he does wrong, I will correct him with the rod of men and with human chastisements; but I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from your predecessor Saul, whom I removed from my presence.

Well... um, that can't be about Christ. Maybe the prophecy (or just this part) is speaking more broadly about the Church as a whole, or from a Catholic perspective it could be speaking about the pope as the earthly head of the Church. I think the latter is a little more logical since Christ was the Church's earthly head following the Resurrection and that seat passed on to Peter and on down the line after the Ascension. Obviously, Christ didn't need correction, but I'm pretty darn sure there's never been a sinless pope. (Although I'm amazed that some Protestants point out Paul's correction of Peter as evidence against the papacy. I wouldn't expect Peter to have never sinned, but I would expect to find in him the humility which is displayed in his ability to handle Paul's direct confrontation.)

Anyway, I'm not trying to say that my interpretation of this is correct.... it's just the best I've come up with :) Through prayer and meditating on passages like this one that stump me a first, God almost always reveals something new about himself, so maybe something more is waiting 'round the bend.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Praying to Mary Should be More Than Just a "Hail Mary"

I've been on a blogging hiatus for the last month or two, although apparently my blog is only halfway down the Christian Bloggers blogroll, so there must be a bunch of other folks who are even lazier than I am :) So, us Catholics and the Orthodox and a few other scattered Christian folk have this prayer to Mary thing goin' on, which makes most Baptists almost as uncomfortable as going to a bar and seeing another Baptist there (ha ha... nothing like crackin' on them Baptists).

Anyway, this friend of mine was talking about how she talks to her mom about whatever's going on with her life (one of those girl things, I'm sure :) and to draw an analogy she remarked that "you guys pray to Mary" (I guess "you guys" must be referring to the Catholics, huh?). Well, I realized that pretty much the only prayer I say to Mary is a Hail Mary or the Rosary, which is fine except that it's like only praying the Our Father to God. Why not break out of the mold a little bit and just be honest with our spiritual mother? After all, she surely experienced all the emotions we have... uncertainty, fear, heartache, the loss of her son's death, anger, and of course the joy and happiness of raising Jesus and the witnessing his resurrection. I've always wondered what was on her mind when Amos prophesied that "a sword shall pierce your heart." We hardly pause while reading those words today, but to Mary it must've been disconcerting at the least. I imagine she wasn't even sure if the words were literal or metaphorical, not mention what exactly would happen to her? And she waited 33 years before Amos' prophesy was fulfilled.

Anyway, I guess the point I'm making is that Jesus along with Mary and all the saints are real people alive in Heaven who take joy in hearing our prayers and praying to God for us in return. We don't always have to use the standard prayers because we can talk to them like anyone else. In all likelihood, you won't get the verbal response that you get from a face-to-face conversation. Still, I think our prayers are often answered through those conversations with friends or relatives... and the more people you got prayin' for ya, the more likely the Cubs are to finally break that curse -- I mean, um, you get the idea.