Thursday, May 30, 2013

Atheists: Redeemed Or Not? Saved By the Blood of Christ Or Not?

These are important questions, that only God can answer and God alone. Who can know the "mind" of God or the depths of God's mercy?

It seems that Pope Francis who tries to be inclusive and pastoral (which is good) opened "a can of worms" recently when he gave a homily to Vatican employees in the chapel of the Domus Santa Marta residence inside the Vatican grounds, where he chooses to live. These controversial remarks made headlines, "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics, Everyone! 'Father the atheists?' Even the atheists. And this blood makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good".............This was not the first time I heard this idea. I heard it before and I believe the idea comes from Karl Rahner, that brilliant Jesuit theologian and it's called the "anonymous Christian." According to Rahner, we are all saved by the blood of Christ, by his redemptive act of love for humankind, whether we accept it or not, or profess it or not.  So Pope Francis obviously knows about the writings of Karl Rahner and was influenced by them in what he said.
The Vatican has tried to clarify the Pope's remarks. Pope Francis is doing such a good job, is much loved already and is so well liked but  he has to be careful what he says, after all he's the Pope and every word he says is scrutinized.
When I was in college I took a psychology course and I did a research paper on near death experiences. Even then there were thousands of accounts of people who were pronounced dead but were resuscitated and brought back to life.  Many had a story to tell. Their experiences vary but there are similarities. They tell of feeling their souls leave their bodies, seeing the doctors and nurses trying to bring them back to life, feeling themselves at total peace, seeing a bright light, a tunnel, deceased relatives.............some people hear soothing music, feel being drawn towards God. No one ever wants to come back to life, each person feels like they must live a more fulfilled and meaningful life after the near death experience. Of all the accounts I've read, not one person,  claimed to go to Hell, see or feel anything evil or have a negative, unpleasant experience.
So who knows? I'm sure hell exists for the very evil and our Church teaching says that it does. But will atheists go to hell, because they question God's existence, would a merciful God do that? You can answer that for yourself.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tornado Alley Schools Need Safe Rooms

How many warnings are needed before responsible action is taken? How many lives have to be lost in Tornado Alley before people say enough is enough. We have been given human intelligence by God to use it wisely and yet it is incomprehensible to me that schools in "tornado alley" do not have safe rooms or shelters built beneath their schools to protect children and teachers in the event of a monster storm. I don't care what the consistency of the soil is, it is doable with modern equipment and it's absurd that the schools in Oklahoma that were destroyed or damaged during the recent horrific EF 5 tornado didn't have safe rooms or shelters.
We live in a fallen world and as beautiful as this world is, there are dangers from violent weather, why that is no one knows, but the reality is, we have to find ways to lessen dangers from storms. Many climate scientists believe that the future holds more violent and unpredictable weather because of global warming. The time to take action is now, in my opinion but the experts are saying that exact thing.
According to a HuffPost Green online article, "The two elementary schools leveled by the deadly tornado that swept through the Oklahoma City area Monday lacked designated safe rooms designed to protect children and teachers despite state warnings that the absence of such facilities imperils lives.
And what's more important than protecting the lives of children and teachers during a monster storm, especially in an area of the country that is prone to tornado activity. Children don't understand politics, school budgets, the bottom line, too expensive, too difficult or other excuses. They want to feel safe in school away from their parents. They deserve no less.
There has been enough tragic loss of life, enough trauma and now it's time to act.  Let's hope school budgets and politics don't get in the way of responsible action.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Latinos Switching to Evangelical Churches-Catholic Church Address This..

According to a recent online article I read at Fox News Latino, titled, "Switching Sides: Latinos Ditching Catholicism for Evangelical Churches," by Lauren Green, the situation of Hispanics leaving the Catholic Church for evangelical Churches is a more serious "problem"for the Church than I imagined. I knew it was happening in great numbers in Latin and South America, but I didn't realize it was also happening here in America too, in large numbers. What's the reason? I'm sure it's more than one reason, it's never one thing. An evangelical pastor whose own congregation has grown from 120 members in 2000 to over 17,000 today (on different campuses) believes that evangelical churches are doing a better job of putting people in relationship with Jesus. Now that should be a wake up call!
Pastor Alfredo de Jesus said, "It's the relationship between worshipper and God that each denomination affords its respective followers.....What I have seen, at least in my own experience is this encounter with God that we didn't experience in the Catholic Church....A system that was so rigid and God seemed so far."
God far? It doesn't make any sense to me. When I receive Holy Communion, when I pray God is very near to me. What's a more intimate union then receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus?
Maybe it's the charismatic type prayer and services that appeal to Hispanics but we offer that in the Catholic Church, so there is more to it.
Whenever I give a talk, I always tell the participants that according to Church documents, the bishops state that the "goal of all catechesis is to put adults (and children, of course) in communion with Jesus Christ." I explain that through intentional actions and a variety of prayer experiences this can be achieved, it's doable.
I love this quote from St. Teresa of Avila, "So many problems arise from imagining Jesus as far away when He is near." Jesus is near to us, in the Catholic Church, we have to convince people of that and give them prayer experiences and liturgies which help them to "feel"and experience that reality.  If any denomination can put people in close relationship with Jesus it should be the Catholic Church with our ancient liturgies and traditions, variety of prayers and devotions that are offered, the sacraments and most especially Holy Communion. So what's wrong and what can be done? I'm convinced, good music is crucial to uplifting liturgies. And inspiring homilies as well. But obviously this situation should be addressed by the New Evangelization-practical solutions that work are needed. Committees that get to the bottom of the problem and address it in a timely and realistic way.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Charles Ramsey-"I'm a Christian and an American"

I watched the interview that CNN's Anderson Cooper had with Charles Ramsey, who is one of the heroes who helped Amanda Berry and other women escape from a "hellish" imprisonment after being kidnapped over 10 years ago. The story is almost beyond belief. Charles Ramsey was eating his McDonald's when he heard yelling for help. He responded with quick action that probably saved their  lives. I read that the run-down, hellish house the girls were imprisoned in, was in foreclosure. I can't even think of the horrible things that the alleged kidnapper was thinking of, if he had to vacate that house.
Amanda Berry, it seems, acted at the right moment to save her child and the others.
And someone was listening, someone heard her pleas for help.  Someone was willing to interfere, to get involved, even though it might not have seemed the wise thing to do. But Charles Ramsey, a restaurant dishwasher from Cleveland, did the right thing. He's not a perfect human being, but hopefully he's growing into a better person and improving, as we should all strive to do. At that moment in time, he acted nobly. And he should be given credit for that. People always want to tear down heroes, but he deserves praise for what he did.
When Anderson Cooper asked him if he was a hero, he responded, "No, no, no. I'm a Christian, an American. I'm just like you. We bleed the same blood, put our pants on the same way. It's just that you got to put that-being a coward and I don't want to get in nobody's business. You got to put that away for a minute. You have to have cajones, bro."
I just loved that he was calling the famous Anderson Cooper, "bro" it was so real.
McDonald's got some free good press from Charles Ramsey so I think he should get free McDonald's, at least for a year or maybe longer. In a tweet McDonald's praised Charles Ramsey and said he would be hearing from them. Let's hope they give him some reward.
"Do unto others and you would have them do unto you." ....."Love your neighbor as yourself."The Golden Rule and the Great Commandment were acted out, on a street in Cleveland, Ohio saving lives of the innocent. Yes, that is a true mark of a Christian in action.

P.S. Accused Cleveland kidnapper and tormentor (and possible baby-killer) is eligible for bail?? How can that be?

UPDATE: Charles Ramsey will be getting free burgers for life in Cleveland, for his heroism, as reported below