Tuesday, January 31, 2012

De-Baptism: Is it possible?

Check out this NPR article.

This topic is fitting given all of the discussions on the HHS mandate, religious liberty and conscience. 

Here, we have the French government clearly imposing itself in the sacramental matters of the Church.  While we could discuss Church and State, I think it's worth providing a few comments elsewhere:
John the De-baptizer?
  • Even though a person has been baptized (we may presume that in LeBouvier's case, he was an infant), human freedom remains intact.  One can walk away from the faith at any time.  
  • The Church cannot un-invoke, un-effect a sacrament's happening.  When the sacrament happens, it happens.  Grace is effected.  This is not unlike the name you were given at birth (which, though altered, nick-named, or even renamed, can never be entirely revoked).  We could also liken it to the family you are borne into.  One does not have a choice (he does not will himself into a certain family) in this regard.  We are born.  We are given a family, an identity.  No matter how much one pushes back, rebels against, or even divorces his or her family, the fact still stands.  You came into being through in this particular family.  The article speaks of French law stating that one can leave an organization if he wishes.  This seems to be what LaBouvier did.  Why should an organization need to strike that person (who was initiated) out of all records?  If I were to leave my job, which I am free to do, certainly my employer would not act as if I was never there.
    • Annulling a marriage is only possible, annulment is only granted, when it is determined that between the two parties involved, not all of the necessary elements for the sacrament of matrimony were present.  Divorce is the dissolving of a marriage - once married, now not.  Annulment says that one was never truly married in the first place.  In other words, the marriage was not valid (validity boils down to free consent, vows of validity, permanence and openness to children, freedom from impediments to marriage, and necessarily following the sacrament properly).  
    • In the case of Baptism, presuming that it was indeed valid and therefore a sacrament, one cannot nullify this saving action.  It happened.  Grace was imparted.  Man can be transformed.  But, man remains free. 
  • It is also curious to ponder who LeBouvier, the free thinker, cares so much about "dissolving" his baptism.  Why does one who reportedly no longer believes in God care so much about some silly ritual that took place at the dawn of his life?  Unless, of course, this is not merely a silly ritual. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Risking a Question or Two

I'm going to risk sounding quite depressing, pessimistic and maybe even nihilistic with the questions I want to pose today.  But, ask I must.

Here are some facts about life that many would agree with (or so I presume):

-Life, as we know it, ends with death.
-A human being faces suffering.  Typically, this happens on a daily basis.  Suffering tends to come and go given the seasons of life and the coming of old-age and the deteriorization of the body. 
-The deaths of people we love are incredibly painful events (unless one is perfectly apathetic).
-Throughout life, one inevitably encounters a variety of factors, influences and circumstances that may prove to be beneficial or painful.  Life is certainly a mixture of both, and not purely one or the other.  (The economy, relationships, politics, etc).
-Life is filled with joyful moments, though they often appear to be blips on a screen that is tremendously ordinary (some would even call it boring) and often seem to be outweighed (at least in quantity) by struggle, pain and suffering. 

Given this list of conditions (that is by no means exhausted here) that a human life encounters, why is that life worth living?  Why, especially given the emptiness of death and the oft-injustice of suffering, is your life meaningful?

I realize this opens into an ocean of questions.  My hope is that they are answered personally.  I also hope that we can entertain just one more:

-Why, given the facts of life (listed above, amongst many others) do human beings seem to desire parenthood (which is a phenomenon I've seen in more and more of my friends in their 20s, both religious and non-religious alike)?  Why is it worth bringing life into a world so cruel and filled with pain?  Why watch your children experience the same/similar struggles, sins, fears, hurt, etc. that you went through?  Why, in light of the apparent finality of death, is life continuously worth bringing into the world?  (Because it doesn't always just happen that...poof!  Here is a child!  Leaving the parents scratching their heads...While certainly this may happen often, we cannot dismiss this desire for children, and the reality of the fact that a natural end of sex is procreation). 

I pose these questions on the eve of our journey to DC in an attempt at some serious thought throughout the weekend.  God bless!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian - What?!

Back in 1990, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the arm of the Roman curia that oversees the doctrines of the faith, released On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian.  The title may sound daunting, but the purposes of the document are quite simple - What is the role of a theologian?  What is the role of the Magisterium?  How does theology fit within the framework of the Church's Magisterium?

I intend to provide some commentary on this document, which I had to read for one of my grad courses.  But why would/should high schoolers (primary audience of this blog) care about this?  Because most of them have had religion courses, and not all religion courses are equal.

In my own Catholic school experience, I have had teachers who blatantly taught against the Church, teachers who started off tangents by saying, "The Church says x, but in my opinion, I think y should be okay," and teachers who had phenomenal intellects and were faithful to the Church.  I imagine that I am not alone in this.

I hope a brief commentary will help Catholic students (past, present and future) to better discern classroom situations and respond appropriately and in charity.

More to come over the next few weeks!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jesus > Religion

The newest viral sensation is a video entitled "Why I love Jesus but hate religion."   

Although I am sure I don’t have to tell you that.   As this was posted three whole days ago, to most of you this might already be old news. 

Be careful to only click on the original.  They will put anything on the internet…

Pros: Good cinematography.  Well filmed and dramatic music.  The kid makes SOME good points in which the humanity of the Church is apparent.

Cons: The majority of what he says are heretical one-liners wrapped up like candy.  It becomes pretty apparent that by religion he actually means Church, our Church. 

Before you go sucking down this stranger-candy, take a moment to think about your relationship with the person of Christ.

Does your experience of encountering the person of Christ through the Roman Catholic Church line up with what he is saying? 

After you have used your OWN reason to form an opinion about this video, check out what Marc Barnes from Bad Catholic has to say on the subject.  I think you might find that he puts words to the tension you feel after watching this video.

You can access Barnes' article HERE.

Let's be cautious and prudent about sensation. 

-Post by Katie Bursa

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Future of the Blog

Yesterday I received an invitation to write for a new blog site operated by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  I am happily accepting as a regular contributor to that site.  This is all fine and good, but, as you may have noticed, my time is becoming stretched and posts are becoming more and more scarce.  So, I have a new plan...

I intend to use this blog for three purposes:

-Youth Ministry updates (for example:  you can access the talk from Sunday's Youth Night by clicking HERE).
-Guest posts from teens and adult Core members.
-A place where I can provide commentary on the materials I am reading for my grad Theology work.

You can access my work for the Integrated Catholic Life here.  This site is more of an e-magazine, which asks for longer pieces.  I intend for these pieces to have a slight philosophical bent.

I will be getting information soon about the Archdiocese of Cincinnati site.  My presumption is that those posts will be on living out the faith/teaching the faith.  This is yet to be determined. 

For the time being, you may enjoy thinking about this quote in today's New York Times:  "I definitely think in 2012, what was good enough even five years ago, is no longer good enough."  This is from Michael Duffy, the former director of New York City's charter school office.

While he is referring specifically to schools, the question is applicable across the board.  Very few things we have, hear or see that are 5+ years old are still "good enough."  Technology has had a dramatic influence.  My question in response to Mr. Duffy's poignant observation is simply is anything timeless?  Is there anything lasting in this world of transition and obsolete material?  Are those "things" really worth anything nowadays?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I'll share a quick reflection my wife and I had yesterday.  First, read yesterday's Gospel:

Gospel Jn 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God."
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
"What are you looking for?"
They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher),
"where are you staying?"
He said to them, "Come, and you will see."
So they went and saw where he was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
"We have found the Messiah," which is translated Christ.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
"You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas," which is translated Peter.

Katie asked me why these men might have been so quick to recognize Christ and follow him.  By no means did I provide a complete answer, nor do I provide one here. 
I think it is important to note the longing of the nation of Israel.  They were waiting and waiting for the Savior.  People were looking for him all over the place.  Surprise! 

Interestingly enough, the early Church (read from Acts on) also had this sort of anticipation or expectant waiting - for Christ's second coming.   And...surprise!...that still hasn't happened!  

This eschatological approach is actually quite central to Christianity, though often overlooked, forgotten or conveniently put on the back burner because death and end times make us a little nauseous.  But, let's not forget this necessary sensation of expectant waiting for our final destiny, and the amazement ("We have found the Messiah.") that results.