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Monday, July 22nd, 2013
4:39 pm - Wow, you take a break
...from livejournal for a couple years and catholicism goes all heterodox on you. ;)

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Monday, August 31st, 2009
9:52 am - On the passing of a Kennedy
I know this seems an odd way to pop up, but...

We have just seen the passing of a great man. Because of the work of Senator Edward Kennedy, the lives of millions of people were made better. However, because of the work of Senator Edward Kennedy, the lives of millions of people were ended before they could really begin.

Jesus calls us to be saints, not great men or women. And this is the consequence of striving for greatness, of compromising good in order to accomplish good. In the end you might accomplish great things, might do tremendous good, but even then the good may not outweigh the ill of your compromises. Much better to live a life of uncompromising fidelity to goodness, to live a life of light undimmed by compromises with the dark. A small light on a lampstand does far more to light the world than a blazing light in a soot-encrusted lantern.

Despite all the very good things that Senator Kennedy accomplished in life, despite all of his shows of faith, we on the outside are still left in doubt as to the state of his soul. Because of all of his very public and very grave sins, we are left with doubt as to whether his outward displays of faith had any real inward complement, are left in doubt as to his very salvation.

So, while the nation attempts to canonize this great man, Christian compassion responds instead with prayer. And while detractors focus instead on his sins, Christian compassion responds instead with prayer. In prayer we can thank God for the good He worked even through so flawed a man, in prayer we can pray for the mercy that He has promised to all of us flawed men and women.

And we should also pray for ourselves, that the sum total of all the good done in our lives will not leave others in doubt as to our salvation and the state of our souls. For if it does, we have been little Christ-like indeed.

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Thursday, July 24th, 2008
1:59 am - Letter to the Chancellor
In case you haven't heard, a professor at the University of Minnesota has promised to desecrate the Most Blessed Sacrament

so I emailed the chancellorCollapse )

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Sunday, May 18th, 2008
4:49 pm - blessed
One girl is asleep in bed, the other in my arms .. I am truly blessed.

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Saturday, May 17th, 2008
3:41 am - Elizabeth Grace
As many of you know, our little Elizabeth Grace has spent the last month in breech. In our state, breech presentation means no natural birth, not even a ******l birth, but straight to a C-section. After agonizing over whether to wait to labor before going in for the C-section or going in for our scheduled C-section on the 21st, and deciding just last night that it would be best to go in on the 21st, annabellissima's water broke this morning.

Elizabeth Grace was born at 1:02 this afternoon, weighing in at 7 lbs, 14 oz, 18 and 3/4 inches .. she is perfect.Collapse )

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Tuesday, May 6th, 2008
10:17 pm - A bit closer
I've been concentrating on the kitchen lately, trying to get the countertops and appliances in. We decided to go with stone tiles for the counters. $10/sf sounded a whole lot better than >$100/sf for solid stone. I milled the wood trim myself since I couldn't find anything that I liked. I am thrilled with how the whole thing turned out .. well, so far anyway, there is still a bit to do.

Read more...Collapse )

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Thursday, April 17th, 2008
8:54 pm - The Trinity
A friend of mine has been struggling with the Trinity. This of course, should not be surprizing, anyone who *really* thinks about the Trinity struggles with the the idea. She has found her own concepts resembling Modalism, the belief that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not three persons, distinct yet consubstantial, but rather that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are but three different manifestations or "modes" of the one God. The realization that her own concept deviates from the classic theology of Christianity is causing her distress at the least, and it seems perhaps even pain. She asked:

Who have I been loving?

And I think that question is actually her answer. The question is Who is it that we love? not what is it that we love? (Well, at least hopefully it is.) God is not an idea. We do not worship an idea, we do not love an idea. We worship a Being, we love a Being. (That is where the atheists over at challenging_god go astray, they do not disprove a being, they disprove an idea.) We may not completely understand God, but we are in relationship with God.

When we think about our other relationships, we see that they are all like this. Even in marriage, one of closest - if not the closest - relationships that a human can have, our love precedes complete understanding. Or that of a child, one of the closest - if not the closest - relationships a human can have. Elizabeth Grace is still happily floating in her mommy's womb. I have not seen my little Elizabeth, not really met her, I know almost nothing about my daughter, I do not understand her, but I am in relationship with her .. she is my daughter and I am her Father and I do so love her. And that is because it is not knowledge, but love that is at the heart of our relationship. Greater understanding will come in time, but that understanding will come *because* I love her, and greater love will come with that greater understanding.

This is the thing that truly sets the the God of Christianity apart, that God is inherently relational, and that reality is how our God can be three persons, Trinity. Scripture tells us that God is Love. The Holy Writ does not tell us that God loves, and that love is perfect - though both are true - it tells us that God actually *is* love. And what is love? Love is the total gift of self to another, the total reception of that self by the other, an utter giving and an utter receiving. And that is how God can *be* love. Perfect love is not just perfect loving, but perfect being loved. God loves us perfectly, but we certainly aren't receiving God's love perfectly, nor are we giving God a perfect love that He might receive, so if God's love is perfect, if God is love, who is receiving it perfectly?

Only God is perfect, so only God's gift and reception are perfect. God the Father loves God the Son perfectly, God the Son receives that love perfectly; God the Son loves God the Father perfectly, God the Father receives that love perfectly. In loving perfectly, the gift of self is perfect, utter and total. And therefore the gift is God, the Holy Spirit. A mode does not love another mode, a mode is not in relationship with a mode. It requires a person to be in relationship, and that is why God is three persons and not merely three manifestations.

And that is why we do not need to fret too much about not completely understanding God. We do not need to understand God to love. We were made for God, made to love God and be loved by God, at our core is a longing for God. God's love and our longing will lead us to God, and that love will lead to greater understanding .. which will in turn help us avoid trying to stuff other things into that God-shaped hole in our selves and love God even more. We do not understand completely, and that is fine. If we love, we will strive for greater understanding. The idea is important, but only because the striving for understanding is important. God Himself is more important, our love is more important. God does not ask us to understand Him, He asks us to *love* Him and to allow Him to love us.

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Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
9:31 pm - tiling madness
Thank you all for your input on the tile design. Here is the winner!Collapse )

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Monday, March 10th, 2008
2:05 pm - Kung
I just read an old interview with Hans Kung, and I must say that my respect for his dissent just dropped a couple of notches.

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Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
2:07 pm - More options!
I updated my last post with two new options and replaced #7 with a more accurate image of what it would actually look like. So, tell me dear friends, which do you like best. :)

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Monday, February 25th, 2008
9:30 pm - Polycarp Poll!!
So, we are getting ready to tile the master bathroom. We have the tile all picked out, but are still deciding on the pattern. We have accent tiles and want to do some kind of accent pattern in the middle of the room.

So tell me dear friends, which do you like best? (Not behind a cut so that you are all forced to look at it. Mwahahahaha!!!) >:-]

Option 1:

Option 2:

Option 3:

Option 4:

Option 5:

Option 6:

Option 7:

Option 8:

Option 9:

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Friday, February 22nd, 2008
2:17 pm - Some Graces?
I was a little surprized at the responses to my last post here and in catholicism. Absolutely no one favored the dogmatization of the titles. I wonder what that says about the demographic that supports such a theological development and conversely about the demographic that posts in online Catholic communities. I guess there isn't a lot of overlap.

Also, no one answered my question. (Although I kinda buried it, so I guess that isn't so surprizing.) Do all Graces come from the Incarnation/Passion/Resurrection? I can accept that they do. I have a highly atemporal sense of cause and effect when it comes to the actions of God, so I have no problem with the idea that all grace entered the world at that historical event and flowed forward and backward in time. I have no problem with it, but I also have no reason to believe it. Except for a need to explain "Mediatrix of All Graces," I would not have even thought of it. So it is kind of circular I guess.

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Sunday, February 17th, 2008
9:21 pm - All Graces
I'm sure that many of you have heard the news that 5 cardinals have petitioned the Pope to make an ex cathedra pronouncement declaring a fifth Marian dogma, that Mary is Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces.

annabellissima and I spent yestserday evening doing a bunch of web-reading on the subject. We're both ok with the title of Co-Redemptrix when understood properly*, and the title of Mediatrix of Graces is in Lumen Gentium and we are ok with that, also when understood properly*. However, it is the "All Graces" part that had left us both feeling uneasy. Most of the articles that we read really fell short for us. Most of them (even Fr. William Most's arguments) seemed to employ a certain amount of theological hand-waving to make theological and rational support for "Mediatrix of Graces" mean "Mediatrix of all Graces." The others seemed to be rather heterodox to us, talking about Mary's suffering at the foot of the cross as a co-Passion. They seem to practically or actually make Mary's role causative of Grace, a source of Grace, not just participatory.

However, there are a couple of ways to look at it that make a certain amount of sense.

The first is that when Jesus gave Mary to the disciple, He made her the spiritual mother of all the Church. As our spiritual mother, she pleads in constant intercession on our behalf, and therefore all Graces that we receive are, in a way, touched by her intercession, her particular role in Christ's mediation. There is one weakness in this way of thinking about it though. When you look at the ordinary magesterial support for Mary's motherhood, it speaks of Mary's motherhood of the *Church.* But if this way of thinking about Mary as Mediatrix of all Graces is correct, it must mean that only members of the Church receive Grace. But we know this doesn't work. It is baptism that joins one to the Church - whether of water, blood or desire - and even the desire for baptism is a Grace (interestingly enough, it was Fr. Most's writings that made this clear for me). So, Mary must be mother to *all the world*, not just the Church, for this understanding of Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces to work.

The second is that as Theotokas, as God-bearer, Mary brought Christ into the world, and with Christ came all Graces. In this way, Mary's participation in the Incarnation, and thus Christ's Mediation, means that she participates in the mediation of *all* Graces. However, of course, there is a hangup to this way of thinking about it as well. It is dependent on the idea that all Grace entered the world through the Incarnation and Passion, that there is no Grace in the world but that Grace which was merited by Jesus' infinite sacrifice. I could accept this idea, that Grace entered the world through the event of the Incarnation/Passion and flows forward and backward in time. All Grace, even that which proceeds the historical event of the Incarnation/Passion, comes into the world through that event. I can accept this idea, but I don't see anything in scripture or tradition that proclaims this.

Of course, this is all apart from whether or not a pronouncement should actually be made. Just because something is true does not mean that it merits being elevated to the level of dogma and the obligation of belief that accompanies it. Personally, I don't think it should. I don't see the doctrines as being particularly central. I also think that such a dogmatic declaration would create Ecumenical, inter-religious and evangelical problems. Also, I think that Mariolatry is a genuine problem in the Church and such a pronouncement would just exacerbate the problem. Even if the doctrines are what is defined and the titles simply applied to those doctrines, people are going to misunderstand it, both non-Catholics and Catholics (I've already seen it all around, there is already wide-spread misinterpretation of this ideas by Protestants who believe that these titles essentially make Mary the fourth person of the Trinity).

* Co-Redemptrix is a pretty simple. The idea is that Christ's Passion is the source and cause of our redemption; however, God used many people to play a role in that historical act of salvation of the world - some laudatory, some quite not - and God uses many people in all ages to play many roles, great and small, in salvation. These roles are not causative, they do not bring about salvation, but merely play a subordinate role in Christ's redemption. In this way, many people could be called Co-Redeemers ("One with the Redeemer"), but since Mary's role was so exemplary and singular, it merits an actual title. So, Mary does not actually save us, but God, in His mercy and love, had her play a role in what *does* save us.

* Mediatrix is a little more difficult given Timothy: ("There is but one Mediator between God and man and that is Christ Jesus.") She is a mediatrix of graces because of her unique role in the Incarnation and because of her singular intercession as spiritual mother of the Church. She mediates, but in a subordinate way to the one Mediation of Christ. Christ is the *one* mediator, and there is no other mediator, but Christ's mediation *includes* others in a subordinate role. Some writers used the term Co-Mediatrix rather than Mediatrix and that seems to make this somewhat more clear.

cross-posted to catholicism

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3:24 pm

That echoing cry of despair you heard on Wednesday? Yeah, that was me.

A fitting came off at Polycarp and the cascade of water destroyed about 1/3 of the dining room. (This pic is after I took out all of the water-damaged drywall) It will take about a week to fix the damage and do all of the cleanup. It's quite a feeling, to see something that you put so much effort into simply destroyed.

But it's ok, I'll fix it and get back on track. It sucks, but it is not the end of the world.

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Wednesday, November 28th, 2007
8:52 pm - Feeling Grinchy
What??!! "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"? In November??!! This has gotten out of hand .. way, way out of hand.

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Friday, November 2nd, 2007
11:37 pm - Polycarp on parade
The exterior is almost finished!! It's come a long way since the the last time I posted about it.

come and seeCollapse )

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Monday, October 29th, 2007
11:29 pm - Global Warming
OK, what is American Papist's deal with global warming? It seems like he links to every little article out there that is contradictory to or dismissive of claims of the existence of global warming and its consequences or that it is human-caused. This is the kind of thing that really bugs me, when Catholics integrate their political ideologies into their theology, when they make their politics a part of their religion.

Read more...Collapse )

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Wednesday, October 24th, 2007
11:44 pm - Rain and Confusion
Last week I took a small construction job for one of my neighbors, a fifty something medical retiree. His house is directly across from Polycarp and is its mirror image. He had a leak coming through the little roof of a bay window. I wanted to take a look at it from the window above and at first, he didn't want to let me in his house.

I soon discovered why. His house is in worse shape than Polycarp was before we began the rehab. He has had endemic roof leaks and the water damage was extensive. Plaster has failed and fallen out in chunks, the third floor has severe efflorescennce, there has been so much water infiltration in the walls on the third floor that the wall-paper has just flaked off, there is wood rot to the secondary structure severe enough that the bay window is slumping and pulling away from the house, chunks of architectural woodwork have been falling off the house because of dry rot for years. The room in which he and his wife sleeps has huge chunks of plaster missing, water stains, and the plaster walls are even bowing and slumping because of all the water damage.

And they are living in this house. Now, I've seen worse. I went into a house once that had waterfalls coming through the roof, a gutted kitchen and an open sewer line in the basement (and Jerry Springer on in every room). But the guy across the street is just a normal guy. He doesn't look destitute, he doesn't look a late Social Security check away from the underpass like the guys in that other house. He's on a fixed income, but they have DirectTV. He has just let things go because labor here is so unreliable, so poor and so expensive. For every 2 people who tell me about hiring someone to do some work for them, 1 of them had the guy take their money and disappear. He said that if he can't find someone good, he'll just wait. Waiting has turned a couple thousand dollars of repairs over the last decade into a couple tens of thousands now.

It just astounds me though. His health is not good, I can understand him not being able to get way up on a ladder to fix things. I can understand a fixed income and not being able to afford to have things fixed. But they buy bottled water intead of just getting a Brita water pitcher. They have DirectTV. They had one room stuffed to the seams with clothes. And yet their house is falling apart.

I'm conflicted. They spend their money on non-essentials while their house falls apart. They have kids - I saw their pictures on the mantle - and they let their parents live like this (oh how my brother would kick my ass from his grave half-way accross the country if I neglected my parents like that). But labor is so bad here that they are more afraid of being ripped off than having their house fall apart. I .. I just don't quite know what I think about it all.

So I fixed the leak. It's just temporary though, he is supposed to have qualified for a grant that will replace his roof, but it is hung up in beaurocracy. No more water will come in, and if it does, I'll fix it. The source of the leak wasn't where he thought it was but I was able to find it .. my Building Pathology class came in handy.

And now that my neighbors have seen me do work for one of them, the requests are starting to come in...

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Tuesday, October 9th, 2007
6:23 pm - What I've been up to
We've been rebuilding the mud-room at the back of Polycarp... Read more...Collapse )

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Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
12:09 pm - old post
I am stuck at the repair shop and they have wireless, so my usual "never get online, I got too much to do" MO is on hold for a moment. Going through my computer, I found a brief, but old, post so I'm putting it up now:


Now this is the Catholic faith: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor separating the substance; for one is the person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit; but the divinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one, the glory equal, and the majesty coeternal. What the Father is, such is the Son and such the Holy Spirit: the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, the Holy Spirit is uncreated; the Father is immense, the Son is immense, the Holy Spirit is immense; the Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal and nevertheless there are not three eternals but one eternal, just as there are not three uncreateds or three that are immense, but one uncreated and one that is immense. Similarly, the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent; nevertheless there are not three omnipotents but one omnipotent. So also the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord; and nevertheless there are not three Lords but one Lord: because, just as we are compelled by Christian truth to confess that each person is individually both God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say that there are three Gods or Lords. The Father is made by no one, neither created nor begotten; the Son is from the Father alone, neither made nor created but begotten; the Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. Therefore, there is one Father, not three Fathers; there is one Son, not three Sons; there is one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in the Trinity there is nothing prior or posterior, nothing greater or less, but all three persons are coeternal and coequal. So in every way, as was said above, unity must be worshiped in Trinity and Trinity in unity. He who wants to be saved must believe this about the Trinity.

--Athanasian Creed

How have I always missed this? How many times each year do I read this? I've struggled so much with the nature of the Holy Spirit, East-West controversies just confusing me all the more, jumping through theological hoops to try to make sense of it in my mind .. and never coming to even an incomplete understanding that was at least comfortable. But this simple, very straight-forward way of stating it just seems to align everything. I still don't understand of course, not even to the inherently limited level that the human intellect *can* understand the Triune nature of God, but at least things are starting to fit.

I swear, I am such an idiot at times.

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