Category Archives: Christian Living

New Reality Show Idea! “Fact Or Faked: Bible Files”

There are a lot of “reality” shows on TV about people investigating strange or paranormal occurrences.  There are shows about ghosts, monsters, Bigfoot, aliens, UFOs, etc.  One in particular is called “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files.”  The investigators attempt to recreate and debunk alleged paranormal events.  Sometimes they uncover a hoax and other times they label the event “unexplained.”  The viewer can form his or her own opinion based on the “expert” analysis of the investigators.

Sometimes it seems like people take a similar approach with the Bible.  For example, Jesus said a lot of strange and disturbing things like, “If your hand offends you, cut it off,” and “If your eye offends you, pluck it out.”  He called himself a door and a vine.  He said we must be born again of water and of spirit.  He said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days.  He talked about Hell and eternal damnation.  He told his followers that they needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life.  He held up bread and called it his body.  He held up wine and called it his blood.  He said lots of wild stuff, some of which caused his followers to walk away from him.  He also raised the dead, healed the sick, walked on water and controlled nature.  And, of course, he was killed and came back to life.

So, fact or faked?  Which of Jesus’ statements and actions are real and which are hyperbole?  Are any of them real?  Are all of them metaphor?  For example, did Jesus “fake out” his followers and then let them walk away from eternal life in John 6?  What would a panel of “experts” say?  What would your Bible study group conclude and why?  Would your opinion match the others in your study group?  What would your Sunday school teacher conclude?  How does he or she know the answer?  Would your preacher agree with the preacher down the street?

People get together and draw their own conclusions about Scripture.  “Oh, Jesus didn’t really mean that, he was just ‘faking us out’ to test our faith or to prove a point.”  That may be true some of the time.  Parables are designed to have an impact and make a point.  However, some people have actually maimed themselves because Jesus said to cut off their offending body parts.  Were they wrong in doing so, or were they being extremely holy?  When is Jesus being serious and when is he just being metaphorical to make a point?  He wasn’t always metaphorical, was he?  Is it just bread or is it really him?  Fact or faked?

All the confusion demonstrates the need for the Spirit-led, teaching authority of the Church.  When Christ’s Church authority is rejected, we are left with the opinions and conclusions of whoever wants to be an “expert.”  Without the authority that Christ gave to the offices of the pope and the magisterium we are left to our own devices.  Conflicting opinions rule the day.  Not a good situation when eternal life is on the line.  We might as well rely on a television reality show called, “Fact or Faked: Bible Files” to guide us in matters of faith and morals.

Conversion: A Work In Progress

Humans are spiritual creatures.  It is written into our DNA to look beyond ourselves to spiritual truths.  History demonstrates our desire for spiritual connection.  Although many these days claim to be “spiritual but not religious,” we all have religious tendencies.  Left to our own devices, we will find something to worship.  We will create our own, individual belief systems by assembling our opinions, our values and our principles into “little religions.”  Therefore, none of us are really “spiritual but not religious.”  Either we follow God’s religion or we follow our own.

I put together a list that illustrates my own journey of awareness about God’s revelation to humanity.  It’s sort of what I perceive to be a “growth chart” of spiritual awakening.  There was a time when I considered myself to be “spiritual but not religious.”  That changed around number 11 or 12 on the list when I realized that religious people behaving badly did not make “religion” a bad word.  I realized it was not only possible but desirable to be both religious and spiritual.  It is a both/and proposition, not an either/or one.

I believe lots of people get stuck somewhere on this list.  For example, agnostics might be around number one to six.  Lots of Christians stop around number eleven.  Some may be at number thirteen without knowing they need number 11.  Really, we can get stuck anywhere on the list.  I’m not claiming to have personally reached the ultimate place in a journey of faith.  We’re all works in progress.  This list is just a sketch of where I have been and what I’m striving for by God’s grace.  It’s not perfectly chronological in order.  I’m far from where I need to be.  The point is, as soon as we think we’ve “arrived,” we haven’t.  Conversion is a lifelong process, not a single event.

Here is the process:

1)      Look around at creation and realize it couldn’t have “just happened” without an intelligent designer and call that designer “God.”

2)      Realize that God transcends us.

3)      Understand that we are eternal beings, but imperfect beings (sinners).

4)      Realize that we can’t fix our own imperfection and become like God.

5)      Wonder if such a God cares about what happens to us and the rest of creation.

6)      Wonder if God knows how it feels to be human, or if God is aloof.

7)      Realize that Jesus is God in human flesh.

8)      Realize that God does know how it feels to be human because God became human.

9)      Realize that through Jesus, God came to seek us out.  We didn’t need to climb up to God.

10)  Realize that the perfect life, suffering and death of Jesus is the answer to humanity’s imperfection (sin).

11)  Realize that Jesus (God) desires us to trust him with our eternal souls and lives, not our own efforts.

12)  Understand and accept that, because he loves us, Jesus did not want to leave us to our own devices, so he made sure there would be an antidote to conflicting opinions.

13)  Realize and accept that Jesus called his antidote “the Church” and gave its hierarchy his own authority.  Accepting Jesus includes accepting the Church, because they are the same authority.  The Holy Spirit guards and controls the hierarchy’s teachings and also preserves the written Word.  To accept Christ and reject the Church is contradictory.

14)  Realize that Jesus did not want to leave us orphaned and promised to be with us.

15)  Understand that, in order for Jesus to actually “be with us” he has to be completely with us, not partially with us “in spirit” as if he were on the telephone or a video conference.  Jesus still has a physical body and still wants to literally “be with us.”  His love for us is that profound.

16)  Understand and accept that the way Jesus chooses to keep his promise to “be with us” is by humbling himself in the form of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist.  The power of the Holy Spirit accomplishes this.

17)  Realize that the religion of Catholicism is actually about being with and loving Christ and each other.  God is love, and Catholicism is the fullness of God’s religion when lived out in holiness and love as Jesus intended (not as a set of rules to earn Heaven apart from God’s grace).

Do You “Really” Want To Spend Eternity With Me? That’s A Mighty Long Time!

I think it was Mark Twain who said that Christians are trying to get to a place where they will spend eternity with people they can’t stand to be around.  He also said he would choose Heaven for the climate and Hell for the companionship.  Well, take a good look around Christendom or even your own congregation and ask yourself, “Do I really want to spend eternity with these people?”  Now, certainly there are a lot of nice folks around, and some of them are a joy to be with (most of the time).  But seriously, eternity is a mighty long time.

Of course, such thoughts reveal a hard truth about most of us.  We have not yet been perfected in love.  On Sunday we can sing, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God” and on Monday we can gossip and complain about some other Christians.  Not exactly the pinnacle of holiness.  More like a dysfunctional family.  So, why exactly do we want to go to Heaven?  If Heaven is just an eternity of “more of this,” I really don’t see why anyone would desire to go there.  I seriously doubt that anyone wants to spend eternity with me and my messy self, either!

One might respond, “Well, God will be there.  Being with God is what it’s all about.”  Ok, but everyone else will be there, too.  “Well, we’ll all be so focused on God that we’ll ignore each other.”  Then there’s no point in having a family of God if we spend eternity ignoring each other.  “Well, God will take care of all those issues.  We will be different in Heaven.  We won’t be petty and sinful and we’ll love each other.  We’ll be like Jesus.”

So, when “exactly” do we become like Jesus?  We can’t get into Heaven until we are perfect like Jesus.  If I died today I can’t say I have reached such perfection.  I don’t know any Christians that would claim to be as perfect as Jesus in thought and behavior “right now.”  Yet, that is how we must be in order to enter Heaven and enjoy Heaven.

None of us intend to live in eternity in the same condition we are today.  We all expect that we will be “better” in Heaven than we are on the day we die.  So, how and when does this “change” take place?  For most of us, it has to take place between our death and our entrance into Heaven.

Most Protestants expect this “change” to happen, but they don’t have a name for it.  They simply say, “God takes care of it.”  Catholics also expect the change to happen, but they have a name for it.  Catholics call it “Purgatory.”  It is a state of being.  It is what happens between death and entrance into Heaven.  It is a “purging” of all the leftover “stuff” that would cause you or me to mess up Heaven by being there.

Sure, there were Catholics that exploited and abused Purgatory in order to manipulate people and get their money.  The abuse of a truth by bad Catholics does not make the truth untrue.  The fact still remains that I don’t want to spend eternity with you as you are today, and you don’t want to spend it with me as I am today.  God has to get us ready for Heaven and strip us of all the attachments that would hinder us from entering and enjoying Heaven.  There may be a few people who are able to achieve perfect holiness in this life, but most of us are not there yet.

Purgatory is not “a third choice” or a “second chance” at salvation.  Everyone in a state of purgation after death is undergoing the process because they are already on their way to Heaven.  Purgatory is for people who are already saved.  It is not a way to save the lost.  It is that state of being between death and entrance into Heaven.  It’s like when your mom says, “Come inside for dinner, but take your muddy shoes off  and wash your hands first.”

Saying, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” does not negate Purgatory.  You still have to acknowledge that “somehow” “some way” at “some time” God completely cleans us up for Heaven and makes us “different” than we are in this life.  Whatever you want to call it, however you want to “spin” it, it’s still a state of purging.  Hence, “Purg”-atory.

We’re in big trouble if there is no Purgatory.  Without it, all we have to look forward to is “more of this” for eternity.  “More of this” is not what Christ died for.  Presently, we need to strive for holiness and perfection of love.  It’s not an easy process.  It requires sacrifice and dying to self.  The process doesn’t end until we enter Heaven.  That’s why those in Purgatory are called “The Church Suffering.”  They are undergoing the necessary yet painful detachment of all that might remain as a barrier to perfect love.  Purgatory is God’s merciful continuation of the process of conversion to holiness.  It’s just more of God’s grace.

Shhh…Listen…

When doing counseling sessions, I place a noise machine outside my office door to facilitate confidentiality.  The “white noise” prevents anyone standing in the hall from hearing what is being said inside the office.  Most people would not intentionally eavesdrop, but a passerby might accidentally hear our voices.  The noise creates a barrier.

Our world is full of noise.  Recently, I was in a state park far from the sounds of traffic and industry.  As I got out of my car and closed the door I was immediately struck by the silence around me.  The sound of my car door closing seemed swallowed up in the quiet air.  The slightest breeze passing through the trees sounded loud.  The songs of far away birds could easily be perceived.  A sense of the sacred awakened my mind and my soul.  I knew that God was speaking through his creation.

The psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.”  It can be hard to be still.  It can be hard to find silence.  The “white noise” and activities of this busy world can create a barrier between us and God.  As we walk throughout our day we can miss God’s voice amidst all the distractions.  Sometimes it’s difficult to listen to each other, much less God.  Silence may even feel uncomfortable and awkward because people become so accustomed to all the noise.  When that happens, we tend to avoid silence and seek comfort in the familiar noise.  We avoid the stillness.  We forget how to communicate with God.  Even when we do pray we may talk more to God than listen as we try to fill the “awkward silence” with words.

Some people are better at silent contemplation than others, but we all need it.  We all need to “shush” the world around us so we can focus on the whispers of God.  God does not always speak with rolling thunder.  One of the things I love about the Mass is that it includes periods of silent contemplation.  I like when the priest takes an extra long time sitting in silence after Holy Eucharist and people begin to squirm in their seats.  They want Mass to be over so they can get on with the noise of their day.  It’s never more than a minute or two, but it can seem like longer when we are chomping at the bit to return to the “comfort” of the world’s noise and activity.  It shows how even holy Mass can become just another thing to check off of a list of busy activities.  We have so little silence these days.

Sometimes, we think we’re not worshiping God unless we’re making noise or being animated.  There is a time and a place for such worship and praise, but we need not think we are worshipping less when we are still and quiet.  We are told to make a joyful noise, and we are told to be still.  Both forms of worship have merit.  I like that the Mass includes opportunity for everyone to share in the outward praise and inward contemplation.

This Summer I was struck by the vision of three and a half million Catholics, most of them youths, quietly worshiping on the beach in Rio during Eucharistic adoration with Pope Francis.  They were silently reverent for quite a long time.  It was a rare sight to see that many people being still and knowing God together.  World Youth Day was a blend of jubilant celebration and quiet contemplation.  It was inspiring to see that spiritual balance, especially in youths.

We need to find silence and stillness in daily life.  It is part of being spiritually healthy.  It is also physically and mentally beneficial.  We must find ways to turn off the “white noise machine” of life and hear the still, small voice of God.  There is no shortage of competition for our attention.

What Friends We Have!

“What a friend we have in Jesus…”  In John chapter 15 Jesus tells his Disciples that he does not consider them servants but friends.  Afterwards, he commands them to love one another.  The love and friendship of God is both vertical and horizontal, like the cross.  This is why Jesus can say, “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do it to me.”  So, while a relationship with Jesus is obviously paramount, it in no way excludes the importance of other relationships.  On the contrary, a relationship with Jesus must include relationships with others.  Such is the nature of the Church, the “family of God.”  Being a Christian is never only about “Jesus and me.”  Whether we sin or behave righteously, it affects others.  We are one Body.  We are to be friends with Jesus and with each other.

Who among us would hesitate to confide in good friends when life is difficult?  Would we think twice about asking friends to pray for us?  People commonly post prayer requests on Facebook to “friends” they hardly know.  It can be even more consoling when we know that a close friend or a holy person is praying for us.  A close friend knows us well and can empathize.  A holy person’s prayers are very helpful, according to Scripture.  When the person praying for us is both a close friend and a holy person, it is a powerful combination.

Enter the Saints.  They are ready and willing to pray for us.  They are as holy as can be, and, through Jesus, they know us well.  They are family.  The fact that they have departed from this life does not exclude them from the family of God, it seals their place in the family.  Their love for humanity has been perfected.  They are not dead but are more alive in Christ than we are.  They are not aloof or disinterested in our present lives.  Nor are they secluded in some heavenly, sound-proof chamber that prevents them from knowing our plight.  They know our plight, have endured it, and have been victorious through Jesus Christ.  They are in Christ, not compartmentalized from him somewhere.  Hence, they know us because Jesus knows us.  The Saints are friends of God and they perfectly obey the command, “Love one another.”  They love Jesus and they love us.

To believe that praying to the Saints is idolatry is like saying that asking your friends to pray for you is idolatry.  To “pray” is simply to “ask,” as in, “Pray tell us, how will they fare while you are away?”  Just because it is an old use of the word “pray” does not mean it is “idol worship.”  We ask (pray) the Saints to pray for us because they are righteous, because they are part of the Body of Christ and because we are commanded in Scripture to pray for one another and to love one another.  Nowhere does the Scripture teach us to stop loving and praying with those who are in Heaven.  Scripture does tell us it is wrong to participate in the occult practice of conjuring up spirits.  Catholicism is not a big séance.  The Church does not condone superstition.  We do not ask Saint So-and-so to ring bells or make knocking sounds to communicate with us.  We simply request their prayer intercession.

We can “know” many Saints and relate to them by virtue of the lives they lived and the writings they may have left behind.  We can know of their struggles, their weaknesses, their strengths and their victories.  There are Saints from all walks of life and of all ages.  Whoever you are, there is a Saint that you can identify with on a personal level.  Obviously, Jesus knows what we go through.  Because he knows us, he has also provided other friends for our journey.  These are friends who have run the race, fought the good fight and won the victory by God’s grace.  They have much to teach us.

I encourage you to find a Saint whose life you can relate to on a personal level.  While it is inspiring to reflect upon the Saints as great heroes of the Faith, it can be even more helpful to learn how God helped them with their human vulnerabilities and weaknesses.  Jesus wants us to know that his command to “be perfect” is not out of reach.  Saints are not the exception.  Saints are the standard we are called to.  We are all called to be Saints.  Being more personally acquainted with one who has endured familiar struggles and “made it” is a tremendous spiritual help.  That’s what friends are for; to help each other be Saints.  If you haven’t done so already, become personally acquainted with a Saint or two.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens the countenance of a friend. (Proverbs 27:17)

What I Hear Pope Francis Saying

There’s been some controversy surrounding recent comments by Pope Francis.  I don’t know why, other than maybe because of people trying to spin his words to fit their political agendas.  But, like it has been noted elsewhere, there is no left or right, there is only Catholic.

Nothing the Pope has said even remotely suggests a departure from Church teaching.  He has said, “Heal the wounds.”  The only thing that heals the wounds caused by sin is the Gospel.  Spreading the Gospel is the Church’s primary mission.  Always has been, always will be.  Pope Francis is simply calling the Church to focus on the Church’s primary mission so that other desirable outcomes will follow.  He is essentially saying, “Don’t put the cart before the horse.”

How can we expect the world to understand certain moral principles if their hearts have not been transformed by the Gospel?  We can’t.  To use the Pope’s medical analogy, it’s like spiritual triage.  The hemorrhaging needs to be stopped first.  Then other treatments can be applied.  If a person is bleeding to death, the other treatments don’t matter.  If a person has not been saved and transformed by the Gospel, it does little to reason with them about morality.  When we don’t help people to see the Gospel we come across as legalistic moralizers.  Legalism does not heal wounded souls.

I also believe the Pope’s comments echo the old adage, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  He is calling Catholics to a higher standard of love and compassion that looks beyond the wounds and sinfulness and sees the face of Jesus in each person.  Each person needs the Gospel to heal their wounds.  Then each person can become another healer.

Pope Francis just wants every Catholic to be like Jesus.  Jesus loved people first and then helped them see what they needed to do better.  Catholics have faith.  Catholics have hope.  Catholics need to make sure we have godly love before all else, for it is the greatest of the three and the only one that remains for eternity.

I love Pope Francis.  There’s nothing wrong with a loving kick in the pants to keep us on track.  The Gospel is what the human heart fundamentally craves.  The Gospel is what will draw people to Christ and his Church.  Then, with transformed hearts, their lives will be open to Church teachings.  Thank you for your shepherding, Pope Francis.

Catholics And Bibles

I’m currently reading through the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  It’s a great way to learn what the Church actually teaches rather than what it supposedly teaches (or doesn’t teach).  Too often we hear inaccurate things about Catholicism from people that either misunderstand Church teachings or deliberately distort those teachings.  It is always best to go directly to the source rather than rely on hearsay.  It is particularly dangerous to rely on sources that obviously oppose the Church, since such information is likely to be tainted in favor of the opposition.

As I read through the Catechism, I intend to post thoughts and reflections on certain topics that impress me the most.  Here is my first Catechism reflection about Scripture:

Why am reading the Catechism instead of the Bible?  Actually, I am reading the Bible.  That is one of the things about the Catechism that I find impressive.  It is very rooted in Scripture and refers to it often in support of the Church teachings.  It is, in effect, a Bible study.

One of the things Catholics often get accused of is not studying Scripture.  There are even folks who believe that Catholics are not allowed to read the Bible.  Most Catholics may not be able to quote memorized Scripture chapter and verse.  However, if they are faithfully attending church they will hear nearly the entire Bible read to them over a three year period.  The Mass itself is loaded with Scriptural references.  All it takes is listening.  If you go to Mass and actually pay attention, you will be studying the Bible.  The problem isn’t the Mass.  The problem is people not paying attention.

So, does that mean that the Catholic Church doesn’t want Catholics to read the Bible at home?  No.  The opposite is true.  Paragraph 133 in the Catechism says, “The Church forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures.  Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”  That is the teaching of the Catholic Church.  Read and study your Bibles, Catholics!

Now, the fact that many Catholics would rather watch television or play video games than read their Bibles says nothing about Church teaching.  The fact that many Catholics leave Catholicism for other churches out of a desire to study the Bible also says nothing about Church teaching.  What it says is that Catholics need to wake up and learn what their Church actually teaches and then follow the teaching.

Catholics also need to stop letting non-Catholics teach them about their own faith.  Think about it.  How many non-Catholic Christians are going to tell a Catholic to study the Bible because the Catholic Church says they should?  Not likely.  Non-Catholic Christians are typically going to say, “Hey, you Catholics don’t know the Bible and you don’t study the Bible, so come to my church where we study the Bible all the time.”  Imagine what would happen if every Catholic could respond with, “What do you mean?  We hear the Bible at every Mass.  The Church also exhorts us to study the Bible!  I don’t need to leave Catholicism to study the Bible!  I already go to a Bible study!”

Catholics, if your parish doesn’t have a decent Bible study, then either start one or find a parish that has one.  No more excuses.  Just because many non-Catholic churches have thriving Bible studies does not mean that they are teaching what is right and accurate.  Catholics may need to work on developing better Bible studies, but that does not mean the Catholic Church does not have the truth to teach.  It simply means that this is an area where Catholics need some improvement.  So, let’s do it.  It’s time we started inviting non-Catholics to our Bible studies so that they can learn all about the fullness of the Christian Faith found in the Catholic Church.  Of course, it certainly helps if we ourselves know about that fullness and what it means.

The Bible And The Promises Of Christ

Most of my Christian friends would agree with me when I say that the Bible is God’s Word.  They would also agree when I say that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and that his promises are true.  I would like to consider the connection between some of the promises of Jesus and the origin of the Bible.

There is a misconception among many Christians that the Church springs forth from the Bible.  However, if we use the Bible as a guide for starting a new church, we are doing things backwards.  The historical reality is that the Bible came from the Church, not vice versa.  The Church was started by Christ and thrived for 400 years before the Bible was even assembled.

Consider the promise of Christ, “I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”  Jesus promised us one Church that would never fail.  It makes no sense, then, to conclude that the Church started by Jesus somehow “failed” and needed to be “rebooted” or started over at some point.  Jesus also promised to be with his Church “until the end of the age.”  In other words, Jesus doesn’t “leave” his Church, cast it aside and start a “new church.”  The Holy Spirit sticks with the original Church until the very end of the world.

Most Christians would agree that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of Scripture.  There were a lot of writings from the time of the early Church, but not all of them were inspired.  Not all of them belonged in the Bible.  Not all of them made it into the New Testament.  Who decided which writings made the cut?  Whoever it was, they must have been guided by the Holy Spirit, right?  It was the Catholic Church that decided which writings were inspired and which writings did not belong in the New Testament.  This is not a matter of opinion, it is simply history.  The Bible was assembled by the Catholic Church nearly 400 years after Christ.

Would Jesus start his Church, have members of his Church write inspired Scripture, guide his Church in assembling the Bible, and then “leave” his Church to start a “new” Church?  No, because Jesus does not break his promises.  The Catholic Church today is the same Church started by Jesus 2000 years ago.

Catholics are Christians.  The word “catholic” simply means “universal.”  The Catholic Church is the universal Christian Church.  In other words, it’s for everyone everywhere, including you and me.  It is wrong to assume that a Catholic is something different than a Christian, or that Catholics are not “saved” according to the Bible.  The Catholic Church wrote the New Testament Scriptures and assembled the Scriptures.  The Church has studied, preached and taught the Scriptures for 2000 years.  Make no mistake, the Catholic Church knows all about salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!  Read the Catholic Catechism!

Incidentally, those who claim that the Catholic Church is “The whore of Babylon” from the book of Revelation, or that the pope is the antichrist, are using the same New Testament produced and authorized by the Catholic Church!  And for those who claim that the Emperor Constantine “started” the Catholic Church, notice that the New Testament was assembled and approved by the Church (A.D. 382 at the synod of Rome) after Constantine converted to and legalized Christianity in the early 300s.  Those who say, “Constantine started the Catholic Church!” are using the same New Testament produced and approved by what they consider to be a “false religion!”

I submit that most Christians are simply not aware of the historical and spiritual origin of their Bibles.  It took me nearly 40 years to learn it and I was raised Catholic!  The fact is, if you accept the God-given authority of the Bible, you are also accepting the God-given authority of the Catholic Church, whether you realize it or not.  Jesus did not give authority to his Church only to strip it away at some later date.  The Catholic Church is the original Christian Church.  It is only the protection of the Holy Spirit that has prevented the Catholic Church from self-destructing for 2000 years.  No mere human institution holds up under such pressures.  All other churches have been started by someone other than Jesus Christ.

If we love Jesus and the Bible, it only makes sense to love the Church from which the Bible flows.  It is inconsistent to accept Christ, accept the Bible but knowingly reject the Catholic Church.  All three of them go together.  They are intimately linked and cannot be separated from each other.  Jesus is God’s Living Word made flesh among us.  The Bible is God’s written Word.  The Catholic Church is God’s authoritative Body of Christ that preaches and teaches God’s Word.

It is important to prayerfully consider the following questions:  If the Holy Spirit guided the Catholic Church to be right about the New Testament, what else is the Catholic Church right about?  What is your authority?

*Warning* This Post Is Rated PG-13! (Contains bathroom and Spiderman references, but not too many)

This morning I was sitting in the bathroom minding my own business, so to speak, and all was quiet and serene.  (TMI? Hey, I need to create the proper effect here.)  Anyway, the calming silence was broken by an unsettling “plopping” sound in front of me on the somewhat dark, earth toned, vinyl tiled floor.  (Not the location where one would expect such a sound to emanate from in that context, so you can imagine my surprise.)

The intricate thought process I am about to convey was completed in less than a second, thanks to the marvelous capacity of the human brain.  “What the heck was that?  Water?  Is there a leak?  Couldn’t be a leak, there’s no pipe up there.  It hasn’t rained, either, and besides, I’m on the lower level.  What on earth…?”  After that brief second, I noticed that part of the dark, earth toned, vinyl floor was moving.  Water does not move that way on a flat surface.  In a nanosecond my eyes finally focused on a rather large centipede making its way towards me from about two and a half feet away.  When a bug hits the floor with a loud “plop,” you know it has substantial mass.

Now, being a boy who grew up in the woods, I’m generally not freaked out by bugs and such.  There are those rare occasions when a particularly large spider or snake suddenly appears in very close proximity that my natural fight-or-flight survival instincts kick in and I reflexively react with some odd noises and/or body spasms.  But usually, I’m cool.

This time I was cool, although I did feel a sense of urgency beginning to come upon me because those darn centipedes are fast.  There was no way I was going to let this one live to ambush me another day.  Who knew, maybe the next time it dropped from the ceiling it would be a direct hit to the top of my head.  Then there would really be some odd noises and body spasms.  I could not allow that to happen, especially in the bathroom where one is most…well…vulnerable.

So, as it made its way towards me, I stood up and my brain began another thought process at warp speed.  I looked around for my weapon of choice.  Toilet paper?  No.  This one was too big for toilet paper.  Might chew through it and sink its little teeth into my finger.  Step on it?  No, too messy.  I have three year old twins.  Didn’t need more mess to clean up.  Suddenly, my eyes fixed on the used washcloth that was draped over the edge of the sink.  Eureka!  It was thick enough to protect me from the beast and already in need of a washing.  I grabbed that washcloth and began stalking.  The hunted had become the hunter.  I thought I could hear ominous music playing in the background.

I monitored its movement around the base of the toilet and waited for the right moment to strike.  I congratulated myself on the calking job I had done around the baseboards, the toilet and the sink when I remodeled the bathroom.  There were few crevices it could seek refuge in.  Now, I’m usually a slow moving, easy going kind of person.  That’s because I save up all my speed and energy for important moments like this one.  In one, swift motion I lunged, scooped and threw that monster into the toilet…along with the washcloth.  Oh well, like I said, it needed to be washed anyway.

When the monster and the washcloth parted ways I rescued the cloth and flushed the bug.  Then I waited and flushed again.  No way was that thing going to swim back up and get on my six o’clock.  I flushed a third time.  Third time’s a charm.  By then it was probably sitting on a piece of debris, floating out to sea and kicking itself for trying to play Spiderman on the ceiling.  I’ll bet that centipede kicked itself at least a hundred times.

As for me it was back to business as usual with the sounds of silence to accompany me.  I looked up at the light fixture on the ceiling and remembered the old fighter pilot adage, “Beware of the Hun in the sun!”  Then I heard someone calling, “Daddy!  Where are you?”