Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Christian Spirituality

24 Jul

    Every once in a while, someone will ask me if I consider myself a spiritual person. It is a strange and challenging question. I am a Christian. But am I spiritual? What does that even mean for a Christian? There are all kinds of spiritualities out there today, what is Christian spirituality?

Terence Sweeney - The Pentecost Sadeo Watanabe

The Pentecost Sadeo Watanabe

The general understanding of what it means to be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ. This is true (or at least should be true). There is another meaning to the word Christian. Christ means ‘the anointed;’ Jesus was the Christ because he was the anointed One. The Holy Spirit descended on him when he was baptized in the Jordan and anointed him the Christ. A few years later, the same Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and Mary on Pentecost, anointing them too.

This is all good and nice, but how does this relate to being spiritual? In baptism and confirmation, Christians are anointed with the Holy Spirit. We become christs. What does this mean? It means the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts. In calling ourselves Christians, we are not just saying we try to follow Christ, we mean we have been anointed as follower of and witness for Christ. For a Christian, to be spiritual primarily means that the Holy Spirit lives in our heart. The Spirit fills us to overflowing giving us the gifts we need to follow Jesus and to be christs to our brothers and sisters.

This is the heart of Christian spirituality. It isn’t something we do, it is something that God gives us and that we must be receptive to it. We must allow the Spirit to totally transform us as the Spirit transformed Jesus, the Son of God, from a carpenter to the Messiah. Of course, as our Christian and non-Christian readers will clearly recognize, many Christians are often not very Christ-like. We block the Holy Spirit’s actions in our hearts; we are not spiritual because we do not follow the Spirit. Nonetheless, to be a Christian is a calling from God which can only be fulfilled if we allow the Spirit to overflow out of us in acts of love.

Am I saying that only Christians are spiritual? You mean to tell me that a Buddhist monk spending years in meditation is not spiritual? No. The Holy Spirit moves where it wills. The Holy Spirit is alive in spiritualties that are oriented to the good. However, it is in and through baptism, confirmation, and the prayers of the Catholic Church, that the Spirit is especially at work. The Spirit is at work in the hearts of all people: leading all people to Christ; calling us into relationship with God; calling us into relationship with each other; calling us all into the spiritual communion of the Church. So let the Spirit fill her heart, let the Spirit draw you into the communion, into the Church whose very soul is the Holy Spirit.

– Terence Sweeney

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Pope Francis – There’s More Here than Politics

26 May Pope Francis Internet Memes - The Heart of the Matter
 I was struck during the events leading up to the election of Pope Francis. I got zero work done
the day the white smoke went up. I was glued to the streaming video feed from the Vatican. The
time between the white smoke and the actual announcement of exactly who was chosen to be the
new pope was almost unbearable. I was filled with so much anticipation and I just wanted to see
who it was. What was interesting for me and my friends was how much our experience contrasted
that of the recent presidential elections in our own country. We didn’t have the same sort of worry
or anxiety about who the next elected official would be, and where his ideologies would lead his us.
Our lives can change drastically depending on which civil politician is elected to office, and there is
a lot of uncertainty. It could go either way, if the wrong person is elected, it could damage this
country; and all my hope for a new beginning of the new age of prosperity, whatever, rides on the
right guy getting elected.
Pope Francis - There’s More Here than Politics
On the other hand, during these recent events in Rome, no one campaigned or tried to impress
us or dissuade us from liking his opponents. We weren’t swept up into the speculations between
the popular categories of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative.’ To us, it didn’t matter who was elected. In my
friends who have met Christ and are changed by Him, I have found something exceptional,
something that provokes me and promises fulfillment and this is irrevocable. Images of Saint
Peter’s Square from that night come to mind. It was filled with Romans and pilgrims from across
the globe with signs that read “viva il papa”, long live the pope. It didn’t matter who would come out
those balcony doors. All those people were there and so excited and so happy to meet the new
pope, which means ‘papa.’  The words, “We have a pope” were such beautiful words to finally hear.
When Pope Benedict XVI announced he was stepping down, I was confronted with a unique
situation, and I was first confused and saddened. But it wasn’t the end of me, nor of my
religio-politcal leanings or ideologies. I was sad to see Benedict go, but I was certain the people of
the world would be guided well by the new pope. And indeed, I think we will be guided very well by
Pope Francis, I already feel an affection for him. His concrete gestures of humility and poverty, as
one of if not the most influential figure on the planet, really stick in my imagination. Its enjoyable to
watch the popular media scramble to squeeze him into one of their preconceived political
categories, “is he conservative or liberal?” Neither. He is pre-political. He proposes Christ to us;
reminds us of who loves our destiny truly. It’s not Obama and its not Romney.

– PJ Butler

In other news, Pope Francis internet Memes:

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New Articles for Terence’s Corner

21 Feb
Here at Terence’s Corner we are keeping a fresh revolving group of artcles that we find interesting in our continual search to define and rediscover our Catholic Faith.  These are helping us in our search and we thought they may touch on issues, questions, or fresh Catholic topics that you may be thinking about as well.

Have some articles you found interesting and you’d like to share them here as well? Send them over and we’d love to start up a conversation and maybe post them here too! Email us theheartofthematterblog@gmail.com

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Why I Call Myself A Gay Christian new!
by Joshua Gonnerman 

“Why would a Christian identify as gay?”

That was the question posed by many who read my previous piece for First Things, “Dan Savage Was Right.” Of course, there are many gay people who identify as Christian. But commenters were particularly confused because I am a gay man who accepts Christ’s teaching that sex is to be reserved for marriage, and that marriage is between a man and a woman.

This question has been addressed a few times, most recently by my friend Eve Tushnet. But identity questions are nuanced enough that every answer can only be to the question: Why do I identify as gay? Before I can touch on that, I will address some common objections—or rather, one objection that, on being answered, tends to shift its shape and come again.…More>>

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Dan Savage Was Right  
new!
By Joshua Gonnerman
Dan Savage spoke, and the Internet exploded.He rejected the Bible as “bullshit” in a keynote address to high-school journalists, and then described students who chose to walk away as “pansy-assed.” Since being uploaded to YouTube on April 27, the video of his speech has received over 600,000 views. In describing those who had the courage to take a stand as pansies, Savage flouted his prominent “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign (started in the wake of the suicides of Tyler Clementi and other gay or gay-seeming youth), as well as his less well-known stance against effeminophobia within the gay community. His hypocrisy is painfully evident.

And yet, in the rush to (rightly) condemn, conservative responses have often overlooked the fact that Savage was on to something. In the past year, commentators including Elizabeth Scalia, Melinda Selmys, and Mark Shea have written articles to present the gay community as something other than simply an enemy. Each made clear their adherence to orthodox sexual ethics, but each nonetheless received a venomous response from many of their Christian readers.…More>>

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Homosexuality: A Call to Otherness?  
new!
By Elizabeth Scalia
At this past weekend’s 65th Annual Tony Awards, the prize for “Best Revival of a Play” went to Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart about the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Upon receipt of the award, Kramer said, “To gay people everywhere, whom I love so dearly, The Normal Heart is our history. I could not have written it had not so many needlessly died. Learn from it and carry on the fight. Let them know that we are a very special people, an exceptional people, and that our day will come.”
Those of us who have lost loved ones and family members to AIDS certainly understand the note of sadness and regret. A childhood friend of mine, a boy who at age 5 was girlier than I ever thought of being—and who at even that tender age knew what it was to be rejected by a parent and regarded by his peers as an “other”—moved to San Francisco in the late 1970s, ostensibly to be a dancer; he became an early victim to what was then referred to as “the gay men’s cancer.”…More>>

January is the Cruelest Month

29 Jan

   If, as T.S. Eliot says, April is the cruelest month, then January must be a close second. Family celebrations, gifts, parties, and holidays have come and gone. We are left with the chilling, brute facts of winter: it is cold, dark, and quiet. January is the great existential month marked by its silent anxiety, the month where we come to terms with our own mortality, our own sense of purpose and place. It is the month that we wonder not only what resolutions we should make, but what, really, is the point of making all those resolutions anyway?

Winter Lonely Tree Photograph by Larysa Luciw

Winter Lonely Tree Photograph by Larysa Luciw

   I am struck by the quiet of this time of year. We are led to think of how little quiet we ever have, and we do not know what to do with it. This thought struck René Pascal, who wrote, “I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.” We do not know how to face our own self. If we did face that self, what would we find? A substantial whole, a known entity, a being whose questions are easily answered? I think that we would be confounded by greater mysteries and deeper questions.

  Are you really always yourself? Were you born to be who you are today, with all of your character traits and identities? Even if we cannot answer these questions with certainty, there is meaning to be found in this dilemma. By recognizing our problem, perhaps a transcendent solution will present itself, somewhat unexpected and wholly other.

   Thus, we reach our January angst. Thus, the abyss of the self. One of the remarkable things about our Christian faith is that we believe that Jesus Christ faced the heart of this very abyss before his crucifixion. While in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is “alone on earth,” Pascal writes, “not merely with no one to feel and share his agony, but with no one even to know of it. Heaven and he are the only ones to know.” In other words, the Christian faith is realist to its core. It believes in a God who became like any one of us in order to take on the greatest human suffering imaginable. God does not take us out of our sufferings but stands there with us, grasping our shoulder as we shake in fury and despair.

  God does not promise a paradise on earth, but rather something altogether different: a real fellowship with him and his people. It is a fellowship of radical abandonment and otherness. When we encounter Jesus, we are not simply encountering a wise teacher, but rather he who has plunged the depths of our greatest suffering, of all life and death, and who promises to transform their very meaning. When Pascal experienced Christ, he did not necessarily come any closer to understanding his own self, but he found something perhaps more important and meaningful:

“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certainty, certainty, heartfelt, joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ….Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.”

 -Tim DeCelle

Who is Your Neighbor?

19 Jul
Jesus in the Bread Line -Fritz Eichenburg

Jesus in the Bread Line -Fritz Eichenburg

“For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3: 26

The first question I get after from returning from our annual mission trip is, “So, where did you go? Mexico? New Orleans? A reservation in North Dakota?”

It’s not uncommon to witness a look of surprise when I tell him I was with 100 teens in North Minneapolis serving Ascension Parish and the people within the community. Yes we stay local. The week is filled with repairing fences, painting kitchens and cutting down trees. The evenings are spent in reflection, Eucharistic Adoration and socialization.

I always tell parents when they drop their children off the first day, that they will most likely have a changed teenager coming home to them at the end of the week. It’s an interesting transition as the week progresses, most of these teens on the mission trip are from the Western Suburbs and have no clue that North Minneapolis exists.

I often tell the teens that through this service, you are going to come to realize who you truly are, and who those are around you are as well. This week becomes a lesson in identity. You truly cannot help your neighbor unless you know who you are. If you don’t know who you are, then you do not know who is your neighbor. This mission trip is in proximity helping our neighbor, but it stems to a familial, local and global perspective.

As Catholics we are so incredibly blessed to be tied to one another through the Eucharist- through Jesus Christ. If God is our Father, then that makes us His children. If God is the Father to all, then we have a ton of siblings. Nothing makes our Father smile more than us helping out our siblings.

This is why we help, this is why we go on mission, and this is why we love. We are all one family under the protection and reign of our Heavenly Father. So always remember you are a child of God, and the next time someone needs you, don’t ever forget to serve them as anything less than your brother or sister.

-Kari Elsen

A Whole New Meaning to “Taking a Knee”

16 Jan

A Whole New Meaning to "Take a Knee"

Tim Tebow lives! Even if he couldn’t lead his Broncos past the Patriots; he still led the Broncos on a great run. On top of that, he was voted America’s favorite athlete by the ESPN Sports Poll. What does it all mean? “It tells me they have a lot of crazy polls out there,” says Timmy himself. Touché. But it also means that America’s obsession with the charismatic quarterback continues for another chapter. What exactly is so fascinating about this devout dude.

After all, it’s not like we’ve never seen a comeback victory before and we’ve seen spiritual sports figures. We’ve certainly seen better quarterbacks. Hell, Tom Brady’s still probably better looking. Maybe it’s just the combination? Or is it something else?

It’s totally something else. How about this: when has the American public had a more authentically likeable, remarkably articulate, and socially compelling celebrity who was also unabashedly Christian, since… ever? Isn’t it ironic? A nation founded in part on Christian principles has never had a pop icon who was as Christian as he was relevant. And I’m not sure it’s ever really wanted one. This is also why Tebow might be as polarizing as he is popular.

It’s easy to see why; Americans like to keep their faith private. But Tebow likes to tell people about Jesus Christ. All the time. And yes, some people will say that it just seems a little over-the-top, and there might be some merit in that. But I’m not sure the volume of his Jesus references is what bothers and/or intrigues people the most.

As Christian as America is in a lot of ways, I’m not sure that most of these Christians really believe in Jesus Christ. Sure, they believe in God, and they like what Jesus stands for, but are they convinced that Jesus Christ is God? And are they prepared to take responsibility for what that reality entails?

Maybe not, but here’s why I think they are so fascinated by Tebow: they want to believe (even if they don’t necessarily want the responsibility!). They want a reason, and to them, Tebow is a reason. And not just because he’s winning in unlikely fashion, but because he is so absolute in his faith and yet at the same time so authentic.

That kind of absolute authenticity demands a response. And boy, is he getting one.

– Isaac Huss