Sunday, August 20, 2006

What's so Catholic About Picnics?

A few weeks ago one of my roommates said something about watching the drunks stumble home from the Catholic picnic that took place down the street from our apartment. Then last night I was hanging out with some people at a cookout when one girl there got to talking about how they couldn't stand the St. Joseph's picnic (the biggest Catholic picnic in Louisville) because of the old men following around the barely-teenage girls strutting around with their ass hanging out of their little skirts.

It's got me thinking... I know most parish picnics are pretty well civilized, but sometimes I wonder just how much we're selling out to make a buck. The only time I've been to the St. Joe's picnic was a couple of years ago and the one thing I remember most is watching some lady so drunk she could barely walk stumbling down a ditch. I know some people will say that these people are all making their own decisions, but I'm starting to think that's an irresponsible attitude. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I feel like something isn't right when a major source of income for Catholic churches and charities is associated with drunkeness, pedophilia, and slutty middle school girls.

Anyway, I'm off my soapbox for now.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Miracles

Just finished C.S. Lewis' Miracles. I got this book for Christmas a couple years ago and it sat on the shelf for a while before I finally got around to starting it about six months ago... and I"m finally finished. Takes me a long time to read a book since I tend to put it down for weeks at a time, pick it up and read a few chapters, then put it down again. This one is pretty "intellectual," but seemed much easier to read than Mere Christianity. I gave up on that one, but I should try and tackle that one again. Hey, no sense in giving up.

I really liked how this book ended:

"Miracles and martydoms tend to bunch about the same areas of history--areas we have naturally no wish to frequent. Do not, I earnestly advise you, demand an ocular proof unless you are already perfectly certain that it is not forthcoming."

In other words, careful what you wish for. :) Speaking of miracles... the other night I saw Pulp Fiction on the big screen. Here you've got Jules "God came down from heaven and stopped these motherfuckin' bullets" Winnfield and Vincent Vega, the skeptic (no, I didn't forget to bleep that... this is my blog and I ain't bleepin' sh**). Both witnessed exactly what happened, but came to opposite conclusions about whether a miracle saved Jules' life. Their conversations mostly revolve around this argument, at least when they aren't preoccupied with cleaning up brain matter from the back seat of a car.

Miracles revolve around faith; to prove a miracle would cause it to cease being a miracle, stripping it of it's power and purpose. And who really wants to emasculate a miracle? You emasculate a miracle, you emasculate God... and I'd have to ask... What does God look like? Does He look like a-- just kidding. (And if you haven't seen the movie, I'm sure I lost you there, which probably for the better. :)

It all boils down to what Jules' says here near the end: "Whether or not what we experienced was an 'According to Hoyle' miracle is insignificant. What is significant is that I felt the touch of God. God got involved."

(By the way, after a little 'net searchin', I figured out that "according to Hoyle" basically means referring to the rule book, as in the Hoyle rule book of card games. Don't act like you already knew that... I was curious, so I looked it up and, hey, I learned something.)

Going back to the C.S. Lewis quote, I would hesitate to say that miracles are so rare. I believe Lewis was referring more to the "According to Hoyle" miracles, like the splitting of the Red Sea and the healings performed in the wake of Peter's shadow in the Book of Acts.

However, I can think of at least two specific times I've been healed of colds which I've chosen to attribute to God, if for no other reason that knowing that all good things come from God. The first time was following a charismatic conference where my throat had grown scratchier and hoarser throug the weekend. After seeing all this charismatic stuff, but not experiencing anything personally, I was hoping for some small "touch of God." So I prayed for my cold symptoms to be healed and even made a little sign of the cross on my throat as a form of blessing. Next morning, the cold was gone for good. The other time, I was already pretty sick and a friend of mine prayed over me. Again, the next day I felt fine.

Of course, cold symptoms can come and go like that on their own sometimes, especially with a good night's sleep. But God could have chosen to keep you sick if He wanted, so I figure it's best to stay on His good side and give Him the credit. :) Besides, the proof of miracles is not in the mind, but in the heart.

And when it comes to the Eucharist (and all the sacraments), those are miracles occuring literally millions of times every day around the world. I know ordinary bread changes to Christ's flesh and blood, but not because it tastes any different or some tingly spiritual feeling. And when it comes to martyrdom, this is something we strive to do every day in the spiritual sense. All Christians are martyrs because the old life--which as no life at all--is dead.

Hmm... I'd try to bring this to a neat closing, but I've rambled on long enough and I'm tired... so this blog entry is ended; go in peace.