Cleansing Fire

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Our Lady of the Flakes

June 4th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

     Some people must have an itch which is only satisfied when they re-create the Roman Church into something of their own making. Such thoughtless tinkering can be seen in the topics for discussion in the upcoming lecture series hosted by Our Lady of the Lakes. The program scheduled for Wednesday June 9th is particularly seditious. Keep in mind, this will be held at a winery – so we can have both heavy-handed communion metaphors and get plastered at the same time. Looking at these topics, one is led to the conclusion that the creator of the program was already a little inebriated when he/she/it put pen to paper.


Anthony Rd. Wine Company, Penn Yan
Deacon Tom Driscoll
?Remnants of a Medieval Church in the 21st Century?
? Do Ordained Men Have More of the Holy Spirit?
? What Does the Vow of Obedience Mean Today?
? Is Heaven Really Up and Hell Really Down?
? How Do We Look at Fear and Punishment Today?

Now, for all we know, the answers to these questions could be in accordance with Church teaching. However, asking a question like “Do ordained men have more of the Holy Spirit” tends to make one think that these are geared more towards a “reform-minded” crowd.

In the spirit of Christian charity, I think we should address these points one by one, and let the good people of Our Lady of the Lakes discern the difference between reality and flakiness.

1. The Church naturally does have remnants of its medieval past. It’s called “Gregorian chant.” You know, the thing that the Second Vatican Council declared to have “principal place” in all Latin Rite liturgies. The Church is not about the here and now – it is about eternity. The use of Gregorian Chant, incense, Latin, beautiful vestments, and other similar things, makes us grasp a sense of timelessness, not immediacy. If the Church changed from year to year, there would be no difference between MTV and the Mystical Bride of Christ, the Roman Catholic Church. Now, I’m not trash-talking whorishly-dressed girls hurling themselves at each other in musical ecstasy. However, I am gently reminding our dear readers and friends that the Church exists to move the world, not to be moved by it.

2. St. Paul tells us in the First Letter to the Corinthians the following:

Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministries but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who works all in all. And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit. To one indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit.”

This means that everyone is filled with the Holy Spirit – there are no degrees. The only possible degrees one can imagine would be those dealing with external showings of sanctity, but that’s not what is being discussed. God is wholly present in each and every person, but in a different way. Holy Orders is not Holy Matrimony. However, both the priest/deacon and the husband and wife are filled with the same Spirit, but with “diversities of graces.” The Holy Spirit is not any more or less present in a priest than He is a little child. 


3. “What does the vow of obedience mean today?” It means the same thing it meant when described in the Acts of the Apostles. It says,

The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”

We must be obedient to the faith, letting ourselves be ruled, not dealing in matters too lofty for us. Humility means letting ourselves be conquered for Christ. Indeed, it means letting our souls be conquered by Christ, that He may drive out any profanations and sacrileges that may dwell therein, doing harm to our immortal souls. The priests “were becoming obedient to the faith.” They did not add to it. They did not take anything away. They did not over-analyze it. They embraced it as it was, for it was as Christ gave it to them. We have the same Faith, but apparently, we lack the same humility. Who are we to question what obedience really is? The Church exists to give guidance to the people of God, not to let people submit their ideas as to what would be “really cool” or “in the interests of diversity.”  Obey the Church. Don’t try to make the Church obey you.

4. Is Heaven really up, and is Hell really down? Well, the Apostles’ Creed states, “He descended into Hell” and that He also “ascended” into Heaven. That seems to give a pretty clear indication that Heaven is indeed above, and Hell, truly below. While we may not have the same cosmology as Dante did in the Middle Ages, all Christian prayers and scripture and Tradition holds that God is up, Satan is down.

5. Regarding how we look at fear and punishment, I should like to say that religion does not exist to scare people into doing the right thing. However, the Church exists to tell people the Truth. And, if we are at all aware of our sinful inclinations, there should be a damnably frightening realization that our actions result in our judgment. While God’s mercy is infinite, He is not stupid or dense. He knows the secrets of our hearts, and if we desire sin over Him, then we deserve no part of His mercy. He may still grant it, of course, but we are undeserving of such unfailing love.

We are punished if we do wrong, even as little children. We fear that punishment, of course, but there is a higher goal of the reprimand and penalty. We are to love grace, and to find in humble consent to righteousness an inexhaustible source of joy and contentment. Only God can fill our souls, and whenever we turn to something else, such as money, licentiousness, gluttony, we embrace imperfection, and are thus in desperate need of correction. God, our all-knowing Father, realizes this. He punishes us out of Divine Love and Divine Mercy, not contempt and derision. How does a little boy learn that stealing a bike is wrong unless his parents make him realize that what he has done is a sin against his family, his friend, and, ultimately, against God? Again – we must humbly submit. We know nothing compared to God.

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6 Responses to “Our Lady of the Flakes”

  1. avatar Anonymous says:

    I pray, that like most goofy presentations, put out by the DOR and it's parishes, the Holy Spirit will operate and there will be little interest in this.

  2. avatar Bernie says:

    Excellent post, Gen.
    Excellent!

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    Pope John Paul II, in a weekly audience address (21 July 1999) stated that heaven "is neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit,"

    And in the next week(28 July 1999) , Pope John Paul II said "hell is the ultimate consequence of sin itself… Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy".

    Heaven and hell are not places and, therefore, not spatial. They are neither up nor down.

  4. avatar Gen says:

    I didn't think it possible to descend or ascend into an idea.

  5. avatar David says:

    Just thought of this: We believe in the resurrection of the body. If heaven and hell don't exist as spatial places, there is no place for the resurrected body. Matter must occupy space, and cannot cease to be – it just changes forms. So there MUST be a heaven and a hell in order to incorporate the teaching of the Church and the laws of physics.

  6. avatar Matt says:

    Welcome to my life, summer parish baby!


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