A number of years ago, I participated in a debate at Harvard on embryonic stem cell research which also included a Jewish rabbi, an Episcopalian clergyman, and a Muslim imam. The debate went smoothly and cordially, although I was the only voice in the group who defended the human rights of individuals who happen still to be embryos.
Inside and outside
It is important for those who are committed Catholics – especially those who have never known anything else – to remember that a threshold [or stage of conversion] usually looks and feels very different to “insiders” than it does to someone approaching from the outside. As evangelizers, we need to make a real effort to imagine; to see Christ, the faith, and the Church through the eyes of outsiders. The same threshold can seem overwhelming and insurmountable to them while looking very simple and obvious to us.
The kitchen is my “calm in the storm.” I’m happy when I’m whipping up some food for someone who is hungry, sad or needs a little love. Recently, I was making a batch of cinnamon rolls for a friend who needed a lift. It was at the end of a hectic day, and I was trying to cram one more thing in. The dough was rolled out and smeared with butter and brown sugar. In a quick twist to the cupboard, I grabbed, and was about to sprinkle on the cinnamon. Thank goodness I paused an instant to realize that I was about to plaster the buttery, sugary dough with CHILI POWDER instead of cinnamon.
If God is good, why does God permit suffering? This question presents a primary stumbling block to faith. It is a question that each and every person will most assuredly confront at some point or other, as suffering in its various forms finds us all.
Of course, there is no easy answer to this question as we are ultimately dealing with a great mystery. Even Christ was not spared the hurts of living in a fallen world. Perhaps, this is why it has often been said the final word before the mystery of God is muein, an ancient Greek word meaning “to close the mouth.”
Prayer: When I attended the second diocesan assembly, Bishop Earl Boyea pointed out the two postures of prayers of evangelization – the outward posture of St. Ambrose, who taught and instructed, and that of St. Monica, who prayed without ceasing. It took both. And it takes both.
Every night, I pray for those close to me, that they will have an evangelist in their life. I also pray in a special way for my three godsons. They are young now, but I pray now that when they are older they have people in their lives who support a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Dear Father Joe: I’ve heard a lot of things and seen a lot of pictures about heaven and I wonder if that is what it will be like. Will there be mansions and streets of gold, and will we become angels?
This is such an important issue for all of us – death affects all of us indirectly and will obviously affect all of us personally at some point. We try, as a Church and even in society, to describe the ideas of death, resurrection and heaven because that is important to us. heaven is our goal, but if we forget our goal, we get lost.