Archive for October, 2010

Virtue Vs. Vice

Our little homeschool began the day yesterday with a story on the wisdom of work and striving for virtue instead of seeking pleasure. This story was taken from a book written by former Secretary of Education William Bennet.
The title of the book is “The Book of Virtues.” We are currently using stories from this book to try to instill in our children the character traits that lead to successful living. I remarked to my wife after reading one of the stories that our present day culture in many ways discourages the very principle set forth in the story – namely, that seeking short term gratifying pleasure does not lead to TRUE happiness. It might lead to fun or a good time or ease of life – but it does not produce true, lasting happiness. That type of happiness is a product of living according to the will of Almighty God and the dictates of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To read the Gospels and come to the conclusion that life is supposed to be an endless seeking of comfort and pleasure is to miss the entire purpose and scope of the teachings of Christ Himself. After all, he spoke constantly of self denial, carrying crosses and sacrificing for the good of others. These activities are not always fun but they will produce joy if our intention is right and we act in true humility. The enemy knows our insatiable desire for the fulfillment of selfish desires and our need for comfort – he is only too happy to watch us blindly go off on the road to vice and enslavement.
Jim Rohn passed away last year. He was a world renowned motivational speaker and he changed the lives of thousands of people. He said the following, which fits well with this discussion: “discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs a ton” If we discipline ourselves to seek virtue through hard work and self denial we will not live with the painful and burdensome regret of mediocrity and wrecked lives. It is our responsibility to find out the duties of our state in life, seek out people who are successfully doing their part, learn from them and then set out to actually be faithful to whatever God wills for us.
The story in the book concludes with the image of two roads, one smooth and easy with birds singing on both sides – and the other road shrouded in mist with many curves and unknown perils ahead. A lady awaits at the entrance to both roads – the lady on the misty road promises no easy ride or comfortable trip – but she does promise a beautiful blue sky at the end of the road which satisfies the soul through and through. The lady at the beginning of the smooth, picturesque road just winks and says “trust me, it will be alright” and a feeling of dread fills the soul. It’s virtue or vice – one is work, one is easy. Let’s have the good sense and moral compass to work for virtue and reject the temporary pleasure of vice. God Bless.

A 40 Year Old Mistake

While attending Holy Mass at one of our local parishes, I noticed literature
in the pews for the weekly Life Teen Mass. I must admit that the first time I even heard the term Life Teen, my suspicions were aroused. That was several years ago, and my suspicions were well founded. The intentions might be good but this approach to spark some interest or devotion in young people reveals an ignorance or lack of understanding which in the end can cause more damage than good. The lack of understanding of which I speak is a lack of appreciation or knowledge of the absolute divine beauty of traditional, authentic worship in the liturgy. What we are actually saying or implying is that young people cannot or will not be profoundly affected by the Church’s ancient, traditional and dare I say – mystical order of worship. This is a gross underestimation – a selling short – of the power of traditional Catholic worship and of these young people as well.
I unknowingly attended a Life Teen Mass approximately 12 years ago and I was horrified – sickened – by loud drums, Protestant sounding music and a very casual atmosphere. So I have witnessed first hand this silly attempt to lure teenagers to Mass. It demeans them and the Mass itself. What a shame.
If we have to lure them to Mass with these gimmicks, will their faith – built on emotion – be able to survive the temptations raging all around us? Why do we lower the bar and strip the Mass of it’s mysterious, mystical power that the Holy Spirit invests it with? Do we believe that these young people are so shallow and superficial that they won’t appreciate a liturgy that is permeated with reverence, silence and awe of the miracle happening on the altar? We give them casual, silly, PROTESTANT liturgical innovations and then we wonder why they leave the Church for the same rock n roll atmosphere a short time after the Life Teen experience ends. This actually happens – I spoke to someone the other day whose friend’s FIVE children left the Catholic Church in search of the same emotional lift they THOUGHT they recieved at Life Teen liturgies. We are not edified and made holy in our emotions – we are edified and made holy in our hearts and souls – places where emotions are oftentimes never detected.
Approximately 40 years ago, the Mass of All Time, the Mass according to the missal of 1962-was discarded in favor of the Novus Ordo – New Order of Mass. This event has resulted in the creation in the minds of millions of Catholics a Protestant mind set. We are losing our Catholic identitiy and the Novus Ordo – while valid – has contributed to this sad development in the Church. More on this next time. God Bless.