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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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  1. [POSTED COMMENT DELETED]

    FATHER JOE:

    It is wrong to plagiarize others and to post the material as your own work. You purloined a whole section of the late Alan Watts from his work, THE BOOK: ON THE TABOO AGAINST KNOWING WHO YOU ARE: “An ardent Jehovah’s Witness once tried to convince me that if there were a God of love, he would certainly provide mankind with a reliable and infallible textbook for the guidance of conduct. I replied that no considerate God would destroy the human mind by making it so rigid and unadaptable so as to depend upon one book, the Bible, for all the answers. The book I would like to slip to my children would itself be slippery. We think of God as King of the Universe, the Absolute Technocrat who personally and consciously controls every detail of his cosmos. Sophisticated Hindus do not think of God as a special and separate superperson who rules the world from above like a monarch….”

    While divine providence cannot be thwarted, I would hesitate to call God a “technocrat.” As for Scripture, it is not a manual of either science or ethics; however, there are moral teachings contained within the Scriptures, a book that is inspired by the Holy Spirit and which transmits necessary salvation truths. Further, while the Bible grants us a view of God’s progressive revelation to mankind; there are immutable teachings and values given by Christ and the apostles.

    While certain Hindus regard all the various apparitions of deities as a single God, this religion is not traditionally regarded as within the umbrella of monotheism. While many religions, even false ones, sometimes stumble upon profound truths, they do not give us a clear picture or revelation of the one true God that created us and calls us to forgiveness and new life in Christ. I would very much disagree with Watts’ assessment that the Christian God stands outside the world or creation. Indeed, much more than a Hindu phantasm, our is the God where the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word, takes to himself human flesh and is born into the human family. God comes down to earth so that we might go to heaven. There is no inner dynamism posited by the oriental religions that can compare to the intimacy of the incarnation. The almighty God makes himself weak and small. He is born to die. God takes to himself a human nature so that by grace we might share in the divine nature. We are not saved from “outside” as Watts expresses it, but from within, on our side of the equation.

    The sources of revelation in Scripture and Tradition are gifts given us by God. Divine gifts are not capricious or disposable. God challenges us to live and to think in a new way. The human or earthly man is often selfish and self-seeking. He subscribes to the “eye for an eye” mentality that increasing promotes violence and hatred. The Decalogue reminds us of our responsibility to one another. The Beatitudes challenge us with a positive list, not simply things to avoid. Christ’s two-fold commandment of love calls us to be a parable people. Given the heart and mind of Christ, we become signs of contradiction to the world around us. There is nothing about Watts’ approach that would raise us from the mire. The Christian life and discipleship is essentially recognition of dependence upon God and a response. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot move upwards or towards God by our own power. The mystery of faith is that God comes down to us. The pattern for discipleship is seen first in Mary. She says YES to God and to the message given her by an angel. God essentially asks her, “Will you give me a man?” Her “fiat” signifies her role as the handmaid of the Lord. Essentially, she responds for all mankind, “Let it be done!” We respond to the redemptive Cross and the saving works of Jesus.

    Catholics are not puritans. Ours is not simply an “angry God” but the God that loves us and the Lord of mercy.

    We do not as Christians subscribe to the so-called oriental principle of Yin and Yang. We do not believe that all things exist as indivisible and contrary opposites. Ours is a God of absolute perfections— all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, all-loving, etc. Evil is a privation and is not an equally balanced principle to that which is good. The devil is a fallen angel but he is not God. Suffering and death come into the world because of primordial sin. They do not emerge from necessity or as the work of a good God. While God is a great and unfathomable mystery, he has given us reason and revelation to know him. The terms Watts mentions are not as nebulous as he makes out. God is the Creator and he sustains all creation. He is “esse” or “to be” or “existence” itself. He gives existence to beings like us in a participatory fashion. The God of the philosophers which must by definition exist is shown be revelation to be a personal God who cares about us and has made men and women into the stewards of material creation.

    We subscribe to the notion of intelligent design. We view the universe with wonder, not merely as parts of a “big machine.” As for heaven, Watts (a fallen-away Episcopalian) reveals a profound ignorance of what we understand as the home of the saints. I suspect his caricature is the result of a person who has either been poorly catechized or not formed at all by the authentic Gospel. There is nothing grim or boring about the mystery of heaven. The saints of God literally live within the mystery of the Trinity and rejoice in the beatific vision. The saints swoon in the face of a mystery that cannot be consumed or exhausted. We were made for God and the posture of the creature is to give him glory. It is Satan that says NO to God and refuses to sing “alleluia” forever. I suspect the false deity fashioned here reflects the dim light of this fallen angel and not the brilliance of almighty God.

    The images employed by religion are not entirely symbolic, but rather are analogies to discern the truth. We may only scratch the surface but what we know is not fantasy but regarded as truth.

    The quotation from watts jumps next to childbirth, which Scripture denotes as painful due to original sin. God does not punish his children for the joy that he had attached to the desire and need to find union in another and to have children. Sexual relations between a husband and wife are not sinful but rather constitute a divine gift. The pain like all suffering was the result, not of following the proper orientation of nature but for a profound disobedience. God had fashioned for himself creatures of spirit and flesh. Man was called to be the steward of creation with a special friendship with God. Humanity could respond in kind to God, by knowing and loving him back in return. But there was a great responsibility to this charge that our first parents rejected. It was easier to fall back upon all fours— to be a beast instead of a creature fashioned in the image and likeness of God. The fault is our disobedience. A trajectory we were on shifts because of sin. It will only be corrected by the redemptive work of Christ.

    Our hope for eternal life and restoration “body and soul” is not a “pie-in-the-sky” fiction as the Marxists proposed, just so that we will tolerate disappointment and suffering in the here-and-now. We really do believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, revealed himself to many witnesses and established a Church to sustain his message and presence for the ages. While religions often employ the language of myth and symbols, this must not be equated with the fanciful or fraudulent. Christianity, while true religion, signifies (in a sense) an end to magic and religion as popularly understood. The veil is lifted. The fog has passed. Jesus is the revelation of the face of God, of the Father. God has kept his promise to intervene. The breach between heaven and earth is bridged by Christ who is the great pontifex.

  2. Father, once I asked a priest to bless a rosary, and I was told that he would do it, but that it was unnecessary because the act of praying with it blessed it. Now I have a rosary app on my smartphone for times when I am traveling and don’t have my rosary or am simply in in another part of the house, or maybe sitting in a waiting room. I know you can’t sell blessed objects, so if I have been using my rosary app does that mean I can’t use my current phone as a trade in when I get a new one? I’d like to be sure before that comes up.

    FATHER JOE: Things can take upon themselves a special spiritual meaning through usage, but when we speak of blessed sacramentals, we are still talking about objects formally blessed by a priest. Your phone or tablet is not a blessed sacramental.

  3. My mother says it is time for advent soon , not Christmas and we shouldn’t decorate for Christmas because the season has not begun. The catholic churches don’t decorate for Christmas yet.

    FATHER JOE: The Filipinos anticipate Christmas with a novena of Masses called Simbang Gabi. It is approved by the Church. The liturgical season of Advent is followed by the Church but not by society. I think it is great that your mother wants to observe Advent. However, God is not offended by those who commemorate the true meaning of Christmas, regardless of the calendar.

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