December 2008 Archives

The Cardinal Sin

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(Bea, you may want to give this one a miss until you're gotten through it)

Reading The Shack as a book group book. I had little to no interest in trying this alone, but I figured that it might be fun to discuss it with some like-minded individuals.

You may or may not be aware that when it comes to literature and/or writing, I am not much bothered by various heretical speculations, thoughts, or postulates. The DaVinci Code did not bother me nearly as much as it did some parts of the Catholic World, perhaps because none of it was particularly original or "news" to anyone who had spent time in Arthurian studies. What was MOST distressing about DVC was its deplorably bad writing and half logic. In sum, the cardinal sin of any bad novel isn't it's flawed theology but it's uncanny knack for saying precisely the wrong thing at every turn and saying it poorly.

Similarly with The Shack--the writing is so deplorably bad, I'm hard-pressed to know whether or not anything heretical is being espoused because I'm too busy trying to force myself through the congestion of terrible prose and rod McKuen-like evocations of landscapes that were better left in someone's travel diary. Consider this indigestible Tolstoy-history-lecture-like lump that introduces a chapter

from The Shack
Willaim Young

There are times when you choose to believe something that would normally be considered absolutely irrational. It doesn't mean that it is actually irrational, but it surely is not rational. Perhaps there is suprarationaltiy: reason beyond the normal definitions of fact or data-based logic; something that only makes sense if you can see a bigger picture or reality. Maybe that is where faith fits in.

To which, I must respond, thank you for that commercial advertisement Professor, now can we get back to the novel? These delightful digressions stud the prose like pebbles in an oatmeal cookie.

The sensation thickens as I continue through it and as I try to choke down theology lectures disguised as dialog.

So, if I make it through, I'll let you know what I think. Don't count on some rigorous theological analysis--for one thing, I lack the wherewithal to undertake such an analysis--for another, it would be like a semiotic analysis of the Bobbsey Twins novels.

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The Immaculate Conception


I composed this mediation for another site, but I knew at the time it was overwhelming for the purpose. And so that it should not go to waste but perhaps serve some of the purpose for which it was initially composed--mostly to remind me and those like me what we celebrate today, I reprint it in its original entirety here. (My deep thanks to the patient soul who was so kind to craft the original to better fit the purpose it was supposed to fill.)

The Immaculate Conception

from the 1854 dogmatic constitution Ineffabilis Deus:

"The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul.

"The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam -- from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death."

In a dramatic confirmation of the validity of this dogmatic pronouncement, in 1858 Benadette Soubirous, a young girl who was to become known to us as St. Bernadette, had 18 visions of the blessed virgin during one of which the Blessed Virgin Identified herself: "Que soy era Immaculado Conception" (I am the immaculate conception.)

The Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced the Birth of Jesus. Mary's yes to the angel, spoken in Eternity and not in simple linear time worked through the sanctifying grace that was always with her to bring us that most wonderful of saviors--the One Thing Necessary.

And so today we celebrate the one born truly without original sin who gave birth to the One born without Sin. Her simple "Be it done unto me according to thy will," resounds now for us in that we have a Savior to turn to, to worship, and to love. In this season as we await his Advent, it is good to remember that He was long promised, and were it not for the yes of a young girl in a backward town, we might still be waiting.

"O most Holy Virgin, who was pleasing to the Lord and became His mother, immaculate in body and spirit, in faith and in love, look kindly on me as I implore your powerful intercession. O most Holy Mother, who by your blessed Immaculate Conception, from the first moment of your conception did crush the head of the enemy, receive our prayers." From the Novena to the Immaculate conception, Day 1.


O God, who by the Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son,
we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain,
so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You.
Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, world without end.


May you be blessed this day by the intercession of the one born without original sin. May your eyes see more clearly and your heart be lifted and may you be inspired to help all who are like this young woman was--alone, frightened, burdened by mysterious and wonderful life.

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Times have been difficult here, and I thank you all for your prayers. Below is a summary I extracted from one note I've written in reply to some of the kind thoughts that have been sent to me:

With regard to me personally, I am all right. All went well with me and I've been assured that I am valued. With regard to the business, it was less bad than predicted--something like 10% rather than the rumored 30%. With regard to my department, it was much worse (in percentage) than predicted. We suffered something like a 40% loss. While that number is big, we were a small department, so few people were released and there are only two that I'm seriously concerned about financially--one a single mother of four with a husband who breaks into her house and steals things; the other a single woman in Boston. Please keep these women in your prayers. While the others all need prayers, as well, these are the two that weigh on my heart the most.

Please continue to pray for all of those, some of whom have been noted in the comments to my previous post, who have lost their jobs and who struggle to find work in the difficult economy of today. May God bless them and help them through the difficult times through the agency of people like ourselves. May He bless me and all the willing the the means and the desire to help those around us.

Thank you all for your concern and prayers, they carried me through a difficult time.

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Prayers Implored

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Please pray for me and for all of those who work with me. A critical event is looming that may mean the loss of jobs for many. Pray that it is as few as possible and those released soon find their way to safe harbor. Thank you.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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