This is from a couple of years ago – pre-K work.
This is from a couple of years ago – pre-K work.
..even with me and my Lent Pinterest board and all…
Anyway, don’t think I am suggesting you read the Office everyday. It’s just a good thing to know about, I say Prime in the morning and sometimes I say Compline at night but usually I don’t. But anyway I like parts of my prayers to stay the same and part to change. So many prayer books are awful, but if you stick with the liturgy, you are safe. - Flannery O’Connor, to Betty Hester (“A”)
The truth of this struck me this morning (again) in praying (parts of) Morning Prayer and the Office of Readings, and reading the Mass readings…
..often my thoughts about “what I’m going to read (or do) for Lent” are guided by what I think I need – which can be a complex mix that might include its fair share of solipsism and rationalization. God? He needs to be led to me and my needs, right? But when I put the prayer of the Church front and center, the dynamic shifts just a little and I’m living and praying in way that trusts in God to lead me where I really need to go.
Today we contemplate Christ in the desert, fasting, praying, and being tempted. As we begin our Lenten journey, we join him and we ask him to give us strength to fight our weaknesses. Let me also thank you for the prayers and support you have shown me in these days. May God bless all of you!
By the way – you might have missed it, but on February 8, Pope Benedict spoke to the seminarians of Rome – his topic was Peter. So his thoughts – on Peter, the Petrine ministry – given when he knew he was resigning, but before the rest of us did – are worth a look.
More from With Mother Church: The Christ Life Series in Religion. (First scan here.)
Posted in Amy Welborn, Books, Catholicism, Good Friday, Lent, Pinterest, Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion, Saints, Writing, tagged books, Lent, Pope Benedict XVI, Reading on February 12, 2013 | 1 Comment »
…hard to believe, isn’t it?
I’ll make this short and not-sweet and contrarian and mildly incendiary.
If you grew up (as I did) in the 60′s and 70′s and were formed (as I was) by newfangled Catholic catechesis, you know very well what being Catholic is all about, because there apparently isn’t much to it:
1) God is love
2) The reason - the reason! - you’re here on earth is to use your unique, God-given gifts ‘n talents to build up the Kingdom of God.
Those of us who’ve found that newfangled and groovy catechesis wanting (like me) have usually focused on #1, pointing out how very true and yes, fundamental it is, but how the simplistic formation we receive couldn’t begin to touch the depth of that truth, and left us wondering…and?
In recent years, though – really, ever since I wrote Here. Now. – I’ve given more and more thought to the weaknesses and assumptions of #2.
That is, the more I immersed myself in Scripture and really tried to listen to Jesus in the Gospels without blinders or an agenda (and what’s the agenda most of us have when we encounter Scripture? It’s basically…tell me something, but tell me something that won’t hurt too badly. Or maybe that even won’t hurt at all. Tell me something, but don’t tell me to change.) ….the more I wondered. The more I didn’t hear that.
Listening to the voices that speak through two thousand years of Catholic spirituality – in our prayers, our liturgy, our saints – only made the gifts n’ talents mission statement more sketchy as a focus of discipleship.
Oh, stop. Yes , we all have our gifts. And talents. And charisms. Yes, we’re supposed to use them. Yes, I want insanely smart and tenacious scientists designing 3D paper jaws. Yes, I encourage my kids to use their, er, gifts and talents. Yes! Yes, want companies that make good stuff and services that serve the needy to be managed by people who have a gift for management, not living embodiments of the Peter Principle. Apply the same Yes to churchy people. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Is that the point of discipleship?
And: what happens when we let gifts n’ talents take center stage?
The point of discipleship – of belonging to Christ, is holiness. That means, as Paul tells us over and over, letting Christ live in us. Letting ourselves be consumed by the love of Christ.
Dying to self.
What happens when gifts n’ talents take center stage?
Maybe it deepens our temptations to not die to self.
A couple of points:
1) I’ll generalize here and speculate that the centrality of gifts n’ talents during the past decades is a reaction – as so much of what we swim in in our Church waters – to some aspects of pre-Conciliar life. Specifically , a reaction to the shape of religious life , which put a premium on obedience as the most important evangelical counsel.
2) Using your gifts n’ talents for building up the kingdom is nice, and has some support in Scripture and in the tradition, but really, it is such a #WealthyFirstWorld21stCenturyProblem. If we were going to do an historical survey of Catholic spiritual trends, it would be pretty obvious that this mode of spirituality – especially as a defining, central motivation and goal – is the product of an era and culture in which people have freedom, opportunity and choice.
Which is fine. It’s real, and there’s truth in it.
But it’s not the deepest truth of Catholic spirituality. I don’t think.
The Cross, of course. The Cross, which is that profound expression, not of gifts, talents and treasure, but of Love. Sacrificial Love that is stripped of everything for the sake of that Love.
It’s a mix, isn’t it? It’s a mystery and a complex soup, this life. Each of us is a beloved, unique being, created by God, each uniquely gifted with creativity, reason and freedom.
But whose gifts ‘n talents take them to wiping up an elderly Alzheimer’s patient?
There’s a few, that’s true. But it’s also true that the scales aren’t exactly balanced. There is a lot more sad, difficult, messy, unpleasant and even tragic work to do out there than people who feel jazzed and fulfilled in the doing of it.
Even in my own house, every day. My gifts ‘n talents are irrelevant to most of that. What matters is if I am loving and serving as Christ did.
If that call to love as Christ does means engaging what I think are my gifts?
But as the saints teach us, if that call to love as Christ does means putting aside what I think are my gifts for the sake of Christ in the person in need – and putting them aside either for the moment or perhaps forever?
All I’m saying is that as a central paradigm for Catholic spirituality, the “the purpose of your life is to figure out your unique, beautiful gifts for the betterment of the kingdom” is not only inadequate, but actually….maybe…foreign to the deepest traditions of Catholic spirituality? That it’s more an expression of the priorities of a prosperous social setting than of the actual Gospel? That if you presented this to any saint of any era as a central component of Catholic spirituality, they might just stare at you blankly and ask you – either politely or bluntly, depending on their ..er…uniquely gifted personality…where,exactly, the Cross is in all of that?(Oh…and I didn’t even get to the “building up the Kingdom of God” part…) Update: Love this from the comments:
Some of the holiest people I know seem bereft of ‘gifts ‘n’ talents’.
By immersing ourselves into the death and resurrection of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are moved to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the “world” that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor.
(Not of course directly concerned with fasting but the entire life of a Christian. But still applies to the question often asked today.)
The full English text of today’s General Audience is not on Vatican.va yet but AsiaNews has a summary.
The Power of the Cross was originally published back in 2004. Michael was working on a revised edition when he died – one which would be more explicitly designed as a Lenten devotional. Because of that loose end, OSV went ahead and put the book out of print a couple of months after he died.
I have been intending to self-publish it for two years now, and am finally getting serious about it. I have a Kindle edition in process – should be available tomorrow, I hope. (And those of you not familiar with the whole Kindle thing – you don’t have to actually own a Kindle to buy Kindle editions and read them. I don’t own a Kindle, but I have the (free) Kindle app on my Android phone and on my computer, so I can buy Kindle books and read them that way. I believe there are also Kindle apps for Apple products? Am I right? Wrong?)
I am working on doing a print edition either through LuLu or CreateSpace or both, but I need a larger version of the cover (that is front & back) before I can proceed, so I am waiting on that.
Anyway, the simplest form of ebook is the pdf file, so that has been my first line of attack. I have the pdf of the final galley proofs (in case you are wondering I have the rights to the content, naturally, but also to the interior design – I checked!).
Brandon Vogt, who blogs at The Thin Veil and who has a book coming out from OSV in the fall on Catholics and new/social media – kindly volunteered to clean up the pdf a bit. Thanks, Brandon!
Andy Kurzen, who did the original interior art for the book, designed a new cover. Thanks, Andy!
The pdf ebook is available through my Big Cartel store. It costs $3.00. Dorian Speed of Scrutinies has done a test-run through of the buying and downloading process for me and reports that it went smoothly. Thanks, Dorian!
Michael did a series of interviews with KVSS about the book. Here are those interviews.
And *do* let me know if you run into any problems in payment/downloading, etc.
Update: I will be publishing the book on Smashwords as well – hopefully later tonight if I can remember how to do it. That should work for the Nook as well as for IBooks if it is accepted into the IBooks catalog.