Monday, March 18, 2019

The Papacy: What the Pope Does and Why It Matters-- A Review

As Steve Ray received his first Holy Communion tears streamed down his face. I know because I was a Eucharistic minister, facing the congregation, at the Mass at Christ the King in Ann Arbor when he and his family were received into the Catholic Church. I remember thinking, “Now there’s a convert!” (Read more about Steve Ray’s Conversion story HERE)

Steve Ray was raised as an evangelical protestant and came to the Catholic faith through reason and study of the historical church. Deacon Dennis Walters has a rich background in Scripture and theological study and numerous years of ministry experience including directing RCIA programs. Together they have written a book, The Papacy:What the Pope Does and Why It matters. It just might answer every question you have about the pope.

What is particularly interesting about this book is that it is not written with the assumption that the reader is already a faithful Catholic who understands and accepts papal authority. In an interview with Al Kresta on Ave Maria Radio, Steve described his book as a job description of the pope or an A to Z of the papacy. It is exactly that. All aspects of the papacy are covered including the Scriptural and historical underpinnings of the Catholic understanding of the pope’s role.

The first chapter starts with the birth of the Church at Pentecost and three different scenarios that could have happened after that earth shaking display of the power of the Holy Spirit: 1. Everyone could have gone home filled with the Holy Spirit and with enriched personal lives 2. The apostles could have divided the people into groups, each having their own following and interpretation of what happened. Or 3. Peter could have explained to the crowd what had happened and how it related to the death and resurrection of Jesus and urged that everyone be baptized. Those thousands would make up the infant church and under Peter’s leadership the faith would spread all over the world. The third possibility is what happened, Steve explains, and thus Peter’s leadership dates back all the way to the birthday of the Church.

From there we learn how the pope is the defender and teacher of Catholic moral theology, the unifier of the church. He is a reconciler, an evangelist, leader and teacher. I particularly appreciated the details about how the pope teaches and the differences among such familiar terms as encyclicals, papal bulls, apostolic constitutions and apostolic exhortations. There are also a number of references to infallibility and discussions about when the pope is infallible and when he is not. To be infallible is not be impeccable (unable to sin.) The authors remind us that not everything the pope says or does is infallible.

The reader will also find rich biographical information about a number of our greatest popes, the history of the conclave and the selection process today. There is also a discussion of the pope as brother and how he is a leader to all religions. The pope is the successor to Peter and not just to the previous pope.

I think my favorite chapter is “Ten Common Attacks on the Papacy.” Included are the following accusations. The pope can change doctrine. The fact that popes have said things that are incorrect shows that they are not infallible. The sinfulness of some popes shows that they are not infallible. The authors deftly refute all of these attacks.
Steve Ray, in the aforementioned interview with Al Kresta, said that he remembers his evangelical protestant father saying, “Why would Catholics let some old man in Rome tell them in America how to live their lives and what to do?” In many ways this book is the answer to that question. Between the lines you can almost hear Steve Ray the convert talking to the protestant he once was, explaining the legitimacy of the papacy and the evidence of papal authority from the earliest times.

The Papacy is a wonderful resource for a Catholic family to have. It’s easy to read and well written. The appendixes include a chronological list of the popes, a glossary, recommended citations from Scripture and the Catechism, recommended reading, a subject index and a Scripture index. You couldn’t ask for anything more to add to this book’s usefulness.

If you have protestant friends who are asking questions about the authority of the pope, this book will provide you with every answer you might need. Maybe your teens have never understood how the pope is the successor to Peter. (This book would make great required reading for high school students.) Or maybe you yourself would like to be better informed about the church’s teaching on the papacy.
The Papacy: What The PopeDoes and Why It Matters would be a valuable addition to any library. I highly recommend it. You can purchase it at    www.catholicconvert.com

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

It's morning on what looks to be another gray day. It's the middle of March so we know the cold weather won't last TOO much longer, although we will sometimes get a random snowfall even in April. Thanks to a couple days of above freezing weather the sidewalks have mostly lost the occasional icy glaze that we have to watch closely for. And most of the sidewalks are even dry. Makes walking my dog a lot easier and a lot safer.

Just saw my neighbors kitchen light turn off. It's early. Not quite 7:30. We need to get blinds up in our new room soon. Just waiting for sample colors to arrive.

It's quiet. My daughter has just left for work and my husband is not up yet. It's a good time to write.

Well, as far as neighborhood news goes...there was a murder just about a block away from us. It's been several weeks now and there has been no arrest. The only thing the police will tell us is that it did not appear to be a random murder. I hope all their secrecy will lead to an apprehension of the perpetrator. All of us neighbors are a little on edge about it. A murder, for heaven's sakes!

He was a man who grew dahlias all over his front yard. They were lovely. He kept vases of water at the end of his driveway and would put cut dahlias in each vase with a note to take one. Such a simple thing. He brought a lot of joy to everyone in the neighborhood who walked by. Then someone killed him. Lord have mercy. Please pray that the killer will be found soon!

We've used our new room a lot since it's been built. I think I'm counting 15 times for large groups. 16, if you count our family Christmas celebration. We had an Alpha class here for our parish Christ the King. We had an open house, just to show our neighbors what all the construction was about. We've had 2 or 3 neighborhood meetings about a proposed new apartment complex that would be built right along the backyards of many of our neighbors. (Totally inappropriate for the site.) And we had a gathering of neighbors just to mourn the loss of the man who gave away flowers. I'm happy we've been able to use the room like this. It's been a great blessing and has helped to build the community of our neighbors.

How is your day going?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Ice Everywhere!

We always have snow and we always have ice.

But back to back is a real mess. These are how the branches looked a couple days ago.

Then it all melted and everything was just wet. Then it all froze again.  Yikes, it's a mess.

And it's going to happen again tonight. There's been a lot of snow covering all the ice from before. But now it's around 40 degrees. Everything is melting. Nice. And during the night we will even have rain. So it will be real wet everywhere. Then, just before rush hour, the temperature will again drop below freezing. Come on! Prayers for everyone's safety on the road!! Be careful!

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

New Blog Alert!! "Catholic Librarian"

I was blessed, after home schooling my children for a numbers of years, to be able to send them to a very faithful Catholic elementary school. My friend Barb was the librarian there.

 How I appreciated being able to ask Barb about any of the youth books and their conformity to Catholic values. She is a devout Catholic mom and entirely reliable in her recommendations.

Barb, who is now retired from library work, has started a blog!! Www.catholiclibrarian, She is writing reviews of books she recommends and will have ongoing lists of these books by category. (She will also write an occasional warning about books she does NOT recommend.) You can count on Barb to let you know if there is even an implication of objectionable content. She's attentive even to nuances, pro that she is.

What a fantastic resource this blog will be for all moms raising kids.

Barb IS the Catholic Librarian every Catholic mom ought to have as a resource. Now you have access to her extensive knowledge from a very faithful Catholic perspective.

I would bookmark it!

Thank you, Barb, for sharing your experience with the world! It's crazy out there. You will be a light in the darkness!!

Monday, February 04, 2019

God's Crazy Love

I'm reading Doors In The Walls Of The World by Peter Kreeft for a book club I'm in.

There are a number of wonderful passages in this book, but yesterday this one really struck me.
The good news is not just that God loves us but that he is crazy in love with us. Us, who are not only stupid and shallow and silly but morally insane (that is, immorally insane), who choose the fearful over the cheerful, the misery of selfishness over the joy of selflessness, despite our universal experience of the results of that experiment. God is not just proper and correct and philanthropic in His love. He is crazy. He is super-rationally insane as we are sub-rationally insane. We are crazy-bad, but God is crazy-good. He is madly in love with his severely brain-and-heart damaged children, and we cannot know the reason for that because that reason is not to be found in us but only in Him.
What a beautiful and amusing passage.

Yes, he loves us crazily. I can hear the atheists asking "How do you know that?" Well, there is enormous Scriptural evidence. And, yes, Scripture IS historical evidence. It's much more verifiable than many other examples of historical evidence that no one ever questions.

But for those of us who believe, the evidence is in our lives, in the way we see His hand in everything-- sometimes in hindsight, I will grant you. But it is always there. In every sunset, in every sunrise, in every lovely bird that brings a smile to our faces. He is always there. Every child's adorable expression speaks of the creator.

Could each molecule on Earth have coincidentally fallen into place in exactly the ordered position to support life and unspeakable beauty all at the same time? I think not. That is too hard to believe.

The creator is lavish. He is crazy Love itself.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Polar Vortex (Sounds terrifying, doesn't it?)

It's bitter cold here today in Michigan. Scary cold. The high is supposed to be -6. Yes, the high. Real feel is 38 below zero right now.

The power companies asked the manufacturing facility where my husband works to please turn off anything they can because the Midwest is experiencing a power shortage. Yes, it's that cold.

I have not been outside. The Adoration chapel at my church is closed. The Pilates class I usually attend has been canceled. All the schools are closed.

Even the University of Michigan is closed which hardly ever happens.

Blame it all on the polar vortex. Learn more about it HERE and HERE.

It seems that polar vortexes are not new. They occur fairly regularly but the term has only recently been popularized. I like the term. It sounds powerful, just like the drama of these dangerously cold conditions.

Mu husband enjoys feeding and watching the birds. He has a heated bird bath for them. Clearly this is the only liquid water around.

But I haven't seen a bird all day. They must be in shelter, poor things.

Just checked the Audubon website where it says that birds have varying techniques to cope with frigid weather, that is the birds that decide to tough it out here in the North, rather than fly south for the winter.  Learn more about it HERE.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Ties That Bind

There are many ties that bind but one of them is surely blood. Here I am with my brother and sister.

I know not everyone gets along with their siblings, and some sibling relationships not only do not bind but aren't even healthy. Life is complicated.

But I love my brother and sister and I credit my parents for having made it so. We had our squabbles. We still do occasionally. But our parents set the example of forgiveness. If you mess up, you apologize. If you disagree, you try to understand the other's point of view and apologize for whatever part you played in the conflict. Rarely does the blame fall entirely on one person.

We also were never allowed to be intentionally hurtful in our disagreements. You couldn't go personal. And there was a line past which no one ever crossed. Respect for each other had to be maintained. Did we ever yell? Sure. But we did not attack. We stuck to the issue at hand.

As a result, I don't think any of us hold any grudges against each other. (Watch, one of them will call me and bring an incident up. Remember that one time.....Hehehe. Well, nothing comes to mind.)

When I'm having a bad day I call my sister and she lets me vent. I do the same for her. We both know that, for the most part, we will always be on each other's side.

My brother can always make me laugh. Regardless of the circumstances, he will be able to find something funny about it-- and something that I will think is funny as well. We seem to have exactly the same sense of humor. Sometimes just a look from him can crack me up. And when the three of us are all together, sometimes we can hardly stop laughing.

So today I'm feeling grateful for my siblings and for parents who taught us well how to get along.

Stay warm. We're getting a lot of snow in Michigan. Guess I better call my sister and find out what the weather is like in Missouri. :-)