Theology Lite

The crazy real meaning of Easter

Easter reminds us of the essential truth, that Christianity is a weird cult centred on escaping death by means of death.

We believe that one historical man was so fully alive, that life burst forth wherever he went. And that He was so fully alive, because He was always ready and willing to give Himself/His life away. But Life will always have enemies, because it destroys the control that comes from death and violence. And so this man Who was Life itself, was brutally put to death. Yet even in His own death, He gave His life so freely, that He brought life to death itself, and in dying, was only made more alive.

And we, by accepting and living by the gift of His life, that gives itself freely even to death, may be united to Him, and live and die and rise again in Him.

Christians, when they realise what they are, are an uncontrollable people, who will live fully even if that means dying, and will even rejoice to “give” their lives.

That is the crazy religion we call Christianity.

God bless you! Christos anesti!!!

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Nothing to say

I really like writing my various thoughts on this blog, but often, including now, it doesn’t feel like I have anything to say. I want to reveal something profound, or deep, or life changing, but it all seems to be simple to me for once.

The gospel is the gospel. The faith is the faith. God is God. There’s no need for my insight. All we need is right in front of us.

It’s nice to realise that my religion doesn’t need me. I don’t need to add anything new. There is no secret ingredient.

This isn’t to say I won’t be writing again. Just that I have no need to write anything new or original.

In fact, if I were to be new or original (regarding the faith), I would only be diverging from the truth, and bringing about corruption and confusion and misery. On the other hand, if I merely stick with the faith, I may end up being swept up in the eternal newness of the Beauty Ever Ancient, Ever New. Like every sunrise, breaking out as though it were its first time. Or every blossoming flower in every new spring. Or every newborn’s first cry.

The gospel is simple. Don’t overthink it. Just listen to it, live it, and let it transform you.

God bless you!

The Solution

I saw a book on tidying recently, and it set me thinking about how we keep seeking solutions to fix our lives, and answers to the mysteries of our lives. There are a lot of books like this today, and I suspect the genre must be growing. And of course, most of them will be very helpful. But they’re never enough. The problems and riddles remain, and we buy another book soon after.

I couldn’t help feeling the solution to it all should be incredibly simple. And it is.

It’s Jesus.

It’s the cross.

It’s love1.

Of course, problems remain. The cross won’t teach you how to tidy your house. But it does make the problems and riddles no longer of ultimate importance, and provide the way through them all. And it will lead you to find the solutions too.

So, there you have it. The secret to life. It is completely free, but will cost you everything. And it will also give back even more.

God bless you!


1But we only know what love is because of Jesus and the cross (1Jn3:16)

Self-destruction on the other hand…

‘Self-improvement is masturbation. Self-destruction on the other hand…’

I’ve written before about my love for this Fight Club quote. Now, it’s coming to my mind again as we begin lent.

There’s a common tendency to view lent as another chance at New Year’s resolutions, and with it self-improvement. An opportunity to diet and/or save. To become a better version of yourself.

But originally and traditionally and essentially, it is about self-destruction over improvement. That is, it is about uniting ourselves to Jesus upon the cross. It is about putting yourself to death.

Why do we do this? Why have many saints down the ages gone to extreme lengths for lent? Because our selves are prisons to break out of, into the freedom of divine love. Because true life is not a matter of preservation, but of giving ourselves away, even to death. Because God Himself lives in this way, dying and giving Himself away.

If we are nourished and taught and loved by such a God, we will come to imitate Him. God expresses Himself to us in love, and therefore His image is impressed into us. We love, because He first loved us.

So I just want to encourage you to destroy yourself this lent, because God loves you.

It is true that we can only destroy ourselves and take up this freedom because we have received His love. It is not possible in ourselves, but only in Jesus Christ, by the power of His death. And yet also, the more we willingly submit to the consuming fire of the divine love, the more freely His love will enter us and transform us into Itself.

God bless you!

What’s the point of monks & nuns?

I was thinking recently about the contemplative life – the life of those who give themselves up entirely to prayer, night and day – and had those common, critical thoughts about it: Isn’t it cowardly, abandoning the world? Why don’t they do something good and useful for the world instead? Isn’t it selfish, to leave the world in its misery, and go to seek your own heavenly bliss?

It troubled me, because I know the Church teaches not only its goodness, but (at least traditionally) its superiority to the active life. Jesus Himself said, Mary chose the better part, and it will not be taken from her.

And then (thank God), I realised that I was judging the contemplative life not even by the standards of the active life, but by the standards of the world. The contemplative life is on a different plane, and can’t be comprehended by the world. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot grasp it.

The contemplative life weds Heaven to earth, marries God to creation. That is why it is linked to celibacy (that, and practical concerns). In the Contemplative, creation is surrendered and offered to the Father, through and with and in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through the Contemplative’s prayer, she is divinized, and all of creation with her. In her prayer, we are being brought to fulfillment in Christ.

The contemplative life appears cowardly, because we miss the true battleground of life. To a communist, the wars of the capitalists are stupid, not brave, because the true war, the war that will resolve all others, is the class war; to the Catholic, both are foolish, and every other human war too, because the true war, the one that will resolve all others, is the spiritual war.

It appears useless, because it is the very meaning of life. And how could the ultimate meaning be recognised by those who set their minds upon the use of things, rather than their final ends?

It appears as selfish, because in our selfish worldview, we wrongly assume that happiness and the desire for happiness are selfish. We assume that happiness comes from the self, when in truth, it is from the death of the self, and the Life of God. Contemplatives are happy insofar as they die to themselves, and no further. We have died, and the life we now live is hidden with Christ in God.

So what shall we make of the active life? The active life must be brought to entirely serve the life of the Spirit. Our work is not its own end, however good it may be, but is there for us to encounter and adore God in it.

The contemplative life is superior to the active as the end is superior to the means. Yet, if the active is a servant to the contemplative, it may thereby not only participate in the contemplative, but even fulfil and supercede it by humility. The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

God bless you!

Sacraments

The sacraments contain the reality that they signify.

They are like onomatopoeic words. Buzzzz. Fizzzz. Sizzle.

Click. Crackle. Snap.

Whallop! Crash! Kaplow!

They don’t just talk about something, they recreate the moment, re-present the truth contained. They draw us into the story, place it in our ears, before our eyes, and on our tongues. A sudden BANG! can make the listeners leap, just as if they were there.

But the sacraments are so much more than onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia makes a reality only almost present, but sacrament makes a greater reality truly present. The sacraments are God’s words, and as St Teresa of Avila said, “His words are deeds.”

The sacraments make God intimate with us. We don’t just speak about the gospel, or the kingdom, or Jesus, we touch them, consume them, are immersed in them. It’s not history, it’s our story. We are invited to live Jesus life and death and Resurrection and Ascension into heaven.

And this touch of God, speaking His word over us, feeding us, makes us different. We are initiated into God’s love/life, and can now live by His logic and in His power. And if we don’t, we are truly rejecting His life in us.

God bless you! Have a blessed advent!

We’re forgiven before we ask

‘Then Jesus said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’” So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.’ [Luke 15:11-24]

prodigalson

Did you notice, that the father actually ignores his son completely? He doesn’t hear a word he’s saying. He doesn’t even let him finish, but starts talking to his slaves.

The father forgives his son, when the son hasn’t even dared to ask forgiveness. And it couldn’t be any other way. We couldn’t ask forgiveness, if we were not already forgiven. We have no right to ask forgiveness, nothing to appeal to. Except that the Father loves us, and rushes out to embrace and forgive us. His grace always comes first.

An excellent prayer of repentance: Say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” And then feel the Father put his arms around you and kiss you, tears of joy running down His face.

God bless you

Leo XIII: How must one’s possessions be used?

monopoly-man

‘Private ownership, as we have seen, is the natural right of man, and to exercise that right, especially as members of society, is not only lawful, but absolutely necessary. “It is lawful,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “for a man to hold private property; and it is also necessary for the carrying on of human existence.”” But if the question be asked: How must one’s possessions be used? – the Church replies without hesitation in the words of the same holy Doctor: “Man should not consider his material possessions as his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need.”`
-Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum No.22