I happened upon a blog post during a recent and rare trip to New Advent; a Catholic site with an amazing assortment of subject matter and an archive of wonder. I say “rare” only in that I do grow tired of its futile emancipation of things incredibly shallow in nature. I can read only so many times, “9 Reasons Why Pope Francis Likes Vegetables”, before I want to throw up my vegetables.
Anyways, having gone through the Catholic RCIA program in 2013, that’s the Rite of Christian Initiation for all of you non-Catholics, I found this post of good interest. I’d have to say in regards to my own experience with RCIA, that it was far less frustrating than the type of one imagined in this post. It was, nonetheless, similar with the writer’s experience in the fact that the program I went through seemed to offer up nothing as an examination of why I ever came to RCIA and the Catholic Church to begin with. What was my motive? Why the Catholic Church and not the Latter Day Saints or the Assembly of God? Had I been called or was I searching? Was there any metaphysical substance within me that sought the here-and-now, just as much as the there-and-later?
Continue reading Is There a Christian Way?
In the modern, secular world, the average citizen has lost the appreciation of just how fundamental religious identity is to our basic existence. The secularist – remote to the religious experience all about them each and every day – sees religion as a membership in an organization; a simple choice that can be flipped with an opportunistic lifestyle, a change in schedule, or a little enlightenment. The results of such a naiveté is just beginning to roost like gargoyles on the growing discord we call diversity.
But religion is not an organization with a human leadership that shops for designer bargains at a factory-outlet store. Religion isn’t just tucked neatly within the prefrontal cortex of the brain; ready to be affected by neuroplasticity brought about by human events. Religion has demonstrated that it is much more pervasive and prevailing in all human cultures; signaling that it is embodied within every cell within every human body. It is not likely to go away with a “shoo”, or retreat to its dog house with a “bad doggie”.
Continue reading The Commonality of Faith
Three days prior to reaching Santiago de Compostela, I received an email from a friend of The Way of St. James. We had walked together for a day early in my journey, and shared quite a bit of conversation on matters of meaningful existence. I’ll let you read his email, as I’m sure he will not mind.
One thought: Could you think of a final post after your arrival in Santiago, stating your “main lessons learned“?
I believe there are so many key thoughts within all these quiet, long posts, and therefore it’s difficult to catch them all.
There is no doubt in my mind that my blog on “The Way” is literally the shipyard and graveyard of a thousand essays on the meaning and purpose of life. I see all kinds of boats and ships of various class; under construction, set to be launched, secured to the dock or resting in the harbor, and many set out to sea. Some are simply a speck on the horizon. And some others are wrecked on reefs of errant thinking, or at the bottom of the sea; sunk by ships faster and more deadly. Continue reading Faith and “The Way of Saint James”
Not Where I Want to Be
As I start this post early in the morning this past Saturday, on the eleventh of May, I should be sitting in my reclining chair on a high-speed train to Pamplona, where I will board the 4:00pm bus for Roncesvalles, a monastery town on the western slope of the Pyrenees Mountains. Instead I am sitting in my home office in Naples, Florida; hobbled by bandages wrapping my right arm and leg.
The tenth of May, was my take-off date for Spain, and a pilgrimage to the bones of St. James. It was to be the beginning of my walk on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I was to fly to Philadelphia in the afternoon and catch another flight to Madrid early that evening. By 8:25am, the next morning, I would land in Madrid, Spain, where my goal was to get to the Puerta de Atocha Train Station quick enough to catch the train to Pamplona. From there Roncesvalles and then over the Pyrenees to St. Jean Pied de Port in France; my starting point for the Camino pilgrimage. None of this was to be – at least not yet – in my “compostela”(constellation). My stuffed backpack was set out on the dining room table, my collapsible walking sticks nearby, euros were crammed into an envelope along with a charge card or two, and I wasn’t around to carry any of it. No. for me, the tenth of May was my day to be lying in a hospital bed at the Kendall Regional Hospital Burn Unit. The night before had brought me much adventure, a lot of pain, a few revelations, a large dose of peace-of-mind, and a certainty of purpose in life as God has set out before me. Continue reading One’s True Pilgrimage
“Without individuals, nothing happens; without institutions, nothing survives.” Talleyrand
This quote cracked some eggs in my budding life as a new Christian and missionary. (As a side, it is of some humor to me that this quote came from the mouth of a man of royal background, priestly inclination, a diplomat at heart, a Prime Minister of France, a womanizer, a voluptuary, and the “lame devil”.)
By Who’s Authority
My first three years at New Hope Ministries were spent in praise & worship of a God whose call finally overcame all of the obstacles I had placed between us. During that time a theological education became the order of process to shape my faith, and the challenging world of missionary and evangelical efforts became my realization of what real faith produces; work. In this process I slowly discovered that I was increasingly on an entrepreneurial path – more of a voluntary association with New Hope Ministries, or a sodality as the Catholic Church would call it – rather than in union with the church; a union where the Pastor and church administration was clearly involved, and any volunteer role was clearly defined as secondary and not primary to the mission’s survival. In truth, though, my church engaged little through its own efforts to pursue mission and evangelical work that had to be reached by walking out the doors of the church. “Efforts” were the enterprise of individuals and small groups that defined needs, initiated plans, and executed activities independent of, but with the sanction from the church administration. If I, or some other volunteer, did not do “it”, “it” would not get done. In a word, I found this “depressing” and somehow lacking in what my theological education was shouting at me. Continue reading My Road to the Catholic Faith