Friday, August 22, 2003

Feast of the Queenship of Mary

Back when I was in college, I got into an argument with a fundamentalist about Mary. Needless to say, he was against the whole business. He thought he had the clincher for his argument. He said "You Catholics say that Mary is the Queen of Heaven, right?"

"Right," I agreed.

"Well, is Jesus the Lord and King of Heaven?", he asked.

"Of course," I answered.

"Well, then," he said triumphantly, "you Catholics can't be right about Mary. If she was Queen and Jesus is King, then they'd be having an incestuous relationship!" The sad thing was that he really thought he "had" us.

I have to admit I was flummoxed for a moment. How do you respond to someone whose imagination is at one and the same time so pinched and yet so bizarre? But I explained that, even on earth, King and Queen are not always husband and wife.

I explained that Mary was the first disciple of Our Lord, and by her fiat, which was given not only once at the Incarnation but characterized her whole life, she is the exemplar of discipleship. Not only that, but by the privilege of her Immaculate Conception she enjoys a unique place among all created beings.

Mary's Queenship is not one of rulership: Rulership belongs to Christ alone. He is Lord and Master, by virtue of His Divinity and His sacrifice on the Cross and victory over sin and death. But in earthly courts the mother of the King is given honor and first place in dignity. She is honored with the title of "Queen Mother".

By celebrating Mary's Queenship, we are acknowledging the foremost place among the saints and angels of she who is "more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim...".

Quote For the Day

I'm beginning a new feature on my blog, the "Quote For the Day". This will be semi-regular: Not necessarily every day, but perhaps 2-3 times a week.

Back when I was in graduate school at Catholic University, I lived in the graduate residence hall for two years. I began putting quotes up on my door almost every day. It became a popular feature of dorm life: many people made a point of checking my door every day to see what I'd put up. Sometimes people would take exception to it, which is fine.

But I'll say now what I always said then when someone would berate me for putting a particular quote up: These quotes do not necessarily represent the opinions of Fr. Rob Johansen. My posting of a quote does not mean that I endorse or agree with the opinion expressed therein. (You'll have to guess whether I agree or not - unless I happen to say so...) I post the quote because it seems to me thought-provoking, challenging, interesting, or sometimes merely entertaining.

It's my hope and intention that these quotes would spark conversation and/or debate. So weigh in!

Here's today's quote:

Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion.

Mark Twain

Thursday, August 21, 2003

When Worlds Collide!


RadTraddyLand Meets St. Blogs!

If you've been following Mark Shea's blog of late, you'll recognize this latest fracas:

The scene: a typically quiet evening in St. Blog's. Mark Shea has been poking gentle fun at Leftists and self-appointed Hollywood arbiters of moral opinion. He turns his attention to the latest depredations of the RadTrad Alliance, and they unleash their fury!

Mark Shea: Will you look at these wacky RadTrads! Nuptial language as an analogy to God's relationship with us? "Eww! Gross!" Never mind that it's scriptural... "And how dare that Greg Popcak advocate that horrible Theology of the Body! We RadTrads all know that Theology of the Body is just an effort to open the floodgates of lust!"

Curious Girl: So if I wonder about some things Greg writes does that mean I hate the Pope?

Mark Shea: No, but those RadTrad Freepers do hate the Pope and are using this distortion of Greg's writing as their latest excuse to beat up on him. And they don't even know what they're talking about.

Curious Girl: Well, that Greg Popcak has said some strange things. Maybe those Freepers are just raising good...

RadTraddy-Daddy [jumping up and down, shouting]: All those NFP people are WEIRDOS! Everyone knows that! Greg Popcak is a PERVERT who practically advocates incest! How could a sicko like that get on EWTN?

RadTraddy-Laddy: And Popcak is friends with Scott Hahn! And Scott Hahn has written bizarre stuff comparing the Trinity with the family. Can you believe that! I don't recall reading that in the Decrees of the Council of Trent (Family Edition [TM]).

RadTraddy-Daddy: Sounds like Heresy to me! You know [whispers], Scott Hahn is still secretly a Protestant... Do you see the connection?

RadTraddy-Laddy: Yeah! Pretty sinister stuff...

Mark Shea: That's crazy! I know Greg Popcak, and his family...

Happy-Zappy: Oh, right, you knnoowww Greg. Is that somehow supposed to make up for his weirdness and perversity? Let's wait and see how his great-grandchildren turn out before we credit him with being a good husband and father.

NotTraddyEnough: I'm not really comfortable telling teens about all that NFP stuff, charting and temperatures and whatnot...

RadTraddy-Daddy: Well, of course not. If they start thinking about their sister's menstrual cycle or cervical mucus they'll want to have sex! Besides, we know that it's best to tell kids about sex after they've graduated from High School.

Fr. Rob: Mark, just ignore these Freeper RadTrad kooks. There are only 9 people involved in this "discussion". I used to pay attention, but then I realized I was reading the ravings of the same small group of nutjobs.

RadTraddy-Laddy: Ha! Got you, Fr. Rob! There are 10 people in this Freeper thread. [sticking his tongue out] So there! Besides, you're just a Novus Ordo priest (and therefore a dupe of Karol Wojtyla) so we don't have to listen to you!

Mark Shea: Sure, Happy. Why bother to find out what Greg actually said before condemning him?

Happy-Zappy: Mark, do you feed and clothe your children or do you send them out to panhandle and wander the streets, and find what food they can in dumpsters? Will you have your children chart each other?

Ichabod Bayer: Once we have a Catholic Monarch, we won't have to worry about this NFP nonsense anymore! Okay, just kidding. But seriously, did Greg actually advocate brothers and sisters helping each other chart? That sounds kinda icky.

TraddyBard: Dead skunk in the middle of the road

Dead skunk in the middle of the road.

You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road,

Stinkin' to high Heaven!

BigGunnTraddy: Hey, don't you make fun of Catholic Monarchy! Look at the wonders it's done for Monaco and Lichtenstein. Just you wait till we stage our coup and establish the Duke of Orleans here as King!

GwynnDiesel: Look, these RadTrads just can't deal with any of the mystic imagery in Church Tradition. I mean, in the Middle Ages the Virgin Mary was sometimes depicted barebreasted, nursing the Lord.

RadTraddy-Daddy: Don't you eroticize the Blessed Mother! She didn't have breasts. The Lord was nursed by a bird which gave him to drink milk from a Blessed Coconut. I read about it in the visions of Grunhilde of Thuringia. I have a deep devotion to the Holy Coconut of Nazareth.

RadTraddy-Laddy: Speaking of breasts, you know, when Karol Wojtyla (the erstwhile "Pope" John Paul II) visited Papua, New Guinea, he actually received a native woman there in native garb, bare-breasted! That proves that the Theology of the Body is evil!

RadTraddy-Daddy: And she wasn't wearing a mantilla, either... Modernist!

RadTraddy-Laddy: Heretic! [whispers] Do you see the connection?

RadTraddy-Daddy: Wow! It's worse than I thought.

NonTraddyMommy: In my experience as a parent, I've found it's really important to be open with your kids about sex, so that they learn the true Catholic understanding of it before they hear the world's corrupted version...

RadTraddy-Daddy: Some subjects are better not discussed. The next thing you know, you'll be talking like that pervert Popcak who says we should teach kids that sex is something good and pleasurable and holy.

RadTraddy-Laddy: God Save Us! We all know that all that nonsense about the "unitive" dimension of sex is just giving license to lasciviousness. It's really only holy to want sex when you intend to conceive a child. And even then you should close your eyes and try not to enjoy it too much.

Maddy-Traddy: I always insist that the room be pitch-black and that we be under the covers, so as to preserve modesty.

RadTraddys: A virtuous Catholic woman!

Fr. Rob: Happy, why couldn't you just ask Greg to clarify himself before passing judgment?

Happy-Zappy: Once someone has written something, his statement is what it is. A person always writes exactly what he intends to convey and I am always able to discern fully what he meant. Therefore further conversation is pointless. If you don't want me to pass judgment on your thoughts, then keep them to yourself.

Mark Shea: Will you people please READ what Greg wrote? Look, Greg didn't advocate that brothers chart their sister's cycles, he simply described that some NFP families taught their kids how to do it, and that some families objected to that on the basis of modesty.

Happy-Zappy: Well, then it might not be so bad. But I'm still suspicious. That Popcak is a slippery character.

Maddy-Traddy: All those NFP people are slippery. I'll bet the mucus has something to do with it.

RomanticTrad: Doesn't all that charting and mucus-checking seem unnatural? I mean, how is that stuff a prelude to sex? I prefer romance.

RadTraddy-Laddy: Romance is OK, as long as proper decorum is observed. I've even been known, when in an amorous mood, to dance the minuet or gavotte with my wife.

Happy-Zappy: I've been re-reading Popcak, and he doesn't unequivocally condemn charting between siblings. He must be tacitly endorsing it, then! It is an unfailing rule of logic that whatever you do not completely condemn is at least partially approved. So Popcak really is advocating sexual experimenting on kids!

RadTraddys: You finally have seen the light! We've been saying all along that Popcak is a sicko, and so is his friend Shea.

RadTraddy-Daddy: They're doing it under the banner of JP II's Theology of the Body! And JPII wouldn't do anything about the pedophiles. Do you see the connection?

Rad Traddy-Laddy: Wow! It's worse than I thought. You know who we need here now? Joe D'Hippolito! He'd see how it all fits together!

Cauldron Pyre: And what's all this sunshine-and-lollipops Popcak and Shea are spreading about joy and happiness and love? Doesn't he know that our scowls, frowns, and sour-faced grim looks are just as pleasing to God as smiles and light-heartedness?

ShellyJelly: Could someone explain to me why it would actually be morally wrong for a brother to help his sister with charting?

RadTraddys: Feuh! How dare you try to force us to make an argument! We have expressed our repulsion at such behavior, because it is ICKY. We have condemned such goings-on as WEIRD. There is no provision for anything like it in the Catechism of Trent or in the writings of Marian Horvat, Ph.D (Peace Be On Her!). Our disapprobation is sufficient moral censure. To the Outer Darkness with Popcak, Shea, Johansen, and all the other Neo-Catholic stooges of the false Vatican II regime! Anathemata sint! Damnatae memoriae eorum sint!

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Homily for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel: John 6:51-58

Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life...

In the New York Times a few days ago, an editorial appeared in which the writer dismissed several beliefs that Catholics and other Christians hold as "pious legends". Among the beliefs that he ridiculed were things like the Virgin Birth of Our Lord, and the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven, which we celebrated just this Friday. He said that the Church needs to jettison these pious legends because they're not reasonable; that no modern, up to date person can believe in such things...

No doubt, if the author of that New York Times editorial had been around at the time, he would have been among the crowd who said "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" I'm sure he would dismiss our belief that Our Lord is present really, substantially, under the appearance of bread and wine, as "insufficiently intellectual." I imagine he might analyze our belief in what Jesus did at the last supper as a "myth", something we enlightened moderns no longer "need" to believe in.

But the problem is that it is Our Lord Himself who utters these words: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. If you reject these words of Jesus, on what basis can you accept others? Why would you take Jesus at His word when He says "Love one another, as I have loved you", and not believe Him when He says "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world"? Because what Jesus says fits in with your own opinions in one instance, and doesn't fit with your opinions in the other? That's hardly very "reasonable", or "intellectual". It's really not even honest.

No, Our Lord meant what He said. He meant it when He said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." He meant it when He said, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit." And He meant it when He said "take and eat, this is My body," and "take this and drink from it, this is the cup of My blood." He meant it because the same life that He gave for us on Calvary is the life He wants to give to us in the Eucharist.

Jesus said "I came that you might have life, and have it in abundance." Well, the only true source of life, the only One who has life in and of Himself is God. For us to have abundant life, eternal life, we must have God's own life. And Jesus, God-become-man, has that divine life. The flesh that He subjected to the cross carried God's own life. The blood that he shed on Calvary coursed through His veins with God's own life. It is God's life, living in the flesh of Christ, that He gave for the life of the world.

So when Jesus says, "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life", He is not talking in a metaphor; He is not using a figure of speech. He means what he says, and what He is saying is that by partaking of His body and blood we partake of the Divine life, the life of God Himself. We no longer live our natural lives, we live a supernatural, eternal life, because we have partaken of the life of God Himself.

Jesus said, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in Me and I in him." Again, this is not a figure of speech. God desires to reunite ourselves to Him, to restore communion between Himself and us. So Our Lord gives himself to us as food and drink: food and drink that contains Himself in all completeness: His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Just as He gave Himself for us completely on Calvary, He gives himself to us completely, every time we receive from this altar. And in giving himself to us completely, He intimately unites Himself to us: Body to body, Blood to blood, Soul to soul, Divinity to humanity. He becomes closer to us than we are to ourselves.

Jesus meant what He said. He meant it when He said "I am the living bread that came down from Heaven." He meant it when He said "the one who feeds on Me will have life because of Me." He offers us life, His life, the superabundant life of God. By eating the Bread He gives us, we will live no longer our own lives, but His life, and so we will live forever.