Being anti-abortion is easy. Being pro-life is hard.
Ever since I found out the truth about abortion, I was against it. I have always believed that life begins at conception and that any force of man to end the life of another was nothing short of murder. To many of you reading this, you are likely to be quite familiar with the pro-life, pro-choice debate here in the United States. As we approach the anniversary of Roe V. Wade this debate will only intensify. On one hand you have the mostly Christian, mostly conservative pro-life establishment that seeks to overturn Roe V. Wade and all similar legislation. Most people who claim to be of religious affiliation or even claim to abide by some moral code will likely stand with the pro-life camp. The correlation between being religious and being anti-abortion rests in the belief that all life is sacred. Even if you aren’t fighting abortion due to certain religious convictions your stand against abortion probably comes from some innate feeling inside you that tells you life is worth preserving.
Previously, I had written about the first precept of the Church. The first precept of the Church is actually quite simple to remember: Go to church! Primarily, I addressed the precept of attending mass regularly and precepts in general through the lens of being ‘rules of engagement’ that the Church imposes onto all Catholics. The conclusion we arrived at is that whether these rules take on a legalistic definition or are viewed as efficacious signs of our love for Christ and His Church depends significantly on us. Our relationship with Christ determines what our relationship will be with these rules. I wanted to clarify some imagery, as well, because going back I noticed that I used both the “Church-as-Mother” analogy then went on to employ the “Christ-and-Church-Spousal” analogy and that might have gotten confusing. Quick summary: Christ seeks to sanctify His Church, as a husband does (or should do) for his wife. However, within the Bride (the Church) there exists a unique dynamic that mirrors a mother & child relationship in that certain teachings and ‘rules’ have been established so that the Church might examine her own conscience. Overall, one could say that Christ seeks to make His bride holy but, she must be a willing participant in this journey as well.
It’s been said that church can be boring and that going to church is usually an hour that a person will never get back. Many of us have had feeling comparable to this relating to the mass. It certainly doesn’t help if the homily is lack-luster, the readings are long, and the music is off key. There are countless reasons that we can decide for ourselves that mass or just church in general isn’t worth our time. The question remains; however, what is it exactly that we’re going to church for anyways? If we’re walking in the doors because the preaching is good or because the music is on point then leaving when one of these areas suffers makes a bit more sense. What if I told you that neither of the aforementioned elements are the point of mass?
The idea of God having a mother is a relatively novel concept to me. Before joining the Church, my fundamentalist beliefs limited the realm of familial possibility to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And, of course, we are all God’s children in the spiritual sense but that was it. I guess the first and second person of the Trinity, the Father and the Son, might give way to the ability of God’s nature to be communicated to another. God having a mother is different; especially when His mother is a human. When we speak about the nature of God being communicated in such a way we err on the side of Greek mythology and that’s where we begin to lose people. Some might look at Jesus and compare him to the demigods that we’ve read about in school or in Marvel comic books. The truth about Jesus and his human family, more specifically: Jesus’ human mother, is a bit more involved than what we might think. The salvific plan of God took on a whole new meaning when God became man and the implications for us are quite significant.
This post is a bit different than what you might be used to finding on here. For starters, this will be my final post for 2014. Ever since I started this site back in April of this year, I have toyed with several possible directions to take my writing. I’ve experimented with different angles and perspectives in an attempt to develop my ‘voice’ as a blogger. Looking forward into 2015, I think you will find more posts related to what I have written recently.
As a Christian, my faith plays a significant role in my life. Faith affects the decisions I make for myself and with my wife concerning our family, how I approach friendships and other acquaintances, even in how I exist as a productive member of society. I think that everyone who writes with strong religious convictions determines at a certain point whether their work will take on a more theological/philosophical approach or perhaps a more pastoral/popular audience direction. Composing pieces that serve primarily catechetical purposes is when my writing feels most natural. Tackling everyday issues and current events through the lens of Church teaching will find itself as the focal point of my blogging from this point onward. I am not a blogging expert, in many ways I am still new to all of this.
With that said, here’s what you can expect from RobertBarbry.com in 2015:
2-3 posts per week
an active/updated speaking schedule (as dates become available)
weekly podcasts (aiming to begin by Summer 2015)
chapter excerpts from my first book (currently in-progress)
Homosexuality is an issue that, still today, divides the Church. Many congregations and ecclesial movements are struggling to strike the balance between fidelity to the truth and ‘loving all people.’ Some groups have even come forward and stated that living the gay lifestyle isn’t sinful. I recall listening to a radio interview that Rob Bell (author of Love Wins) gave where he stated that the Christian family needed fidelity and not necessarily heterosexuality. Statements, such as the ones made by Rob Bell and the like, are undoubtedly spot on from a pastoral standpoint. The Church and all Christian movements need to open wide the doors to all people and meet them in the midst of their journey. But what about the theology? What is the objective truth concerning the topic of homosexuality? The primary question that remains is simple: Is Christianity changing its teaching?
A few months ago, I was at a friend’s house for a celebration of his college graduation. [I should provide some context in saying that my friend isn’t Catholic, so when I say Pastor I am not referring to a priest or any ordained member of the catholic clergy.] He was making the rounds, thanking everyone for coming, etc., and I was looking for familiar faces to chat with. I ended up speaking briefly with his pastor, a great and humble man who knows me from my days as a protestant (and as a former attendee of his congregation). So, naturally, we began to shoot the breeze and the conversation ventured towards topics of church and faith. I can’t quite recall how but, we reached a point where Pope Francis became the focal point of discussion. I noted how the new Catholic Pontiff was making quite a few positive connections, both within the Church and ecumenically. A statement was made that deeply puzzled me and effectively killed the conversation. This pastor said, “I don’t agree with [Pope Francis’] stand on homosexuality.” At that point, I just thought to myself… “Does he mean the Christian stance?”
One of the most commonly played sending forth hymns I hear at mass, at least in my home parish, is ‘Go Make a Difference’. It is a very catchy tune; one that brings about a third of the parishioners to some form of synchronized clapping. I wonder, though, has this particular hymn become something of a mindless habit rather than a call to action?
One of the most common hang-ups against the Catholic Church from an outside perspective is that it is “too ritualistic” or “too rehearsed”. Comments like these lead people to the idea that the Catholic way of worship is completely and utterly man-made. I used to be on the other side of the fence so I do have a bit of perspective to offer on this subject.
First off, it is the understanding of most evangelical Christians that the manner in which we worship should contain a certain degree of spontaneity. Is this spontaneity for its own sake? Not at all, in fact, spontaneity isn’t even the point of evangelical worship, although it is viewed as somewhat necessary. Whether you attend a “service”, a “mass” or the newly-termed “gathering,” the end by which you justify your means rests in the encounter. How might we encounter God? Much of the differences in worship that we find from denomination to denomination depends greatly on a particular group’s interpretation of Scripture. (p.s. Scriptural interpretation is not where we’re going, that’s another blog, or book, altogether…) Believe it or not, the Catholic liturgy is primarily concerned with an authentic encounter with God, as well.