First watch the clip of Governor Cuomo from New York:

Then watch Bishop Baron:

Read a bit of metaphysics by Aquinas if you like.

Appreciate how instructions to build a bike are written.

Understand that every moment of human existence is not merely a game about winning and losing.

Now read on.

I doubt that Cuomo is in the midst of a Christian existential crisis. Baron takes him on, but that is too easy for him.

The rest of us may tremble on the shaky theological ground underneath our own feet, though.

Surely we all can sympathize with and credit those who have suffered and recovered, as Cuomo does. His words are not a treatise on God as the prime cause, nor should what he said be held up to quibble with Aquinas. As fun or difficult as that is. He sends his words of comfort to citizens that cry out in despair. The intent I understand. Give credit to those who are feeling the pain of “social distancing” – the curve is going to flatten – and keep doing what you are doing.  Since he can chart man’s work in curves on graphs, the context has everything to do with data-driven curves and graphs. It was an encouraging speech.

The “What did God do?” question he provokes is not new. Our relative experience of a global crisis is new. We test each other and collect the data. I know of no test of God that could return data that looks like a curve.

There is no test of God during this pandemic, no data to chart. Man tests man. Man collects his own data, man interprets his own charts. What data does God collect when he tests himself, what would his chart look like?

In a crisis, our choice is not binary: faith or despair. God is with us in our suffering, yet he does not will suffering, despair, or death upon any of us. “How much did he do?” to keep us from suffering and death? Well, we are still here. So that is something.

Reminds me of when I joke with kids at school, “How many times has God saved your life? All of them.”

God is with us in our recovery, and he does will life, healing, recovery on us all. “How much did he do?” He is the source of life, the power to heal, and the desire to love. No one can put that in a graph either. My faith is that in the midst of our deepest darkness, God wills that there be light. When we are then bathed in his light, of course we give thanks to God. When we wish for healing, recovery, love; we are doing God’s will. When we wish for the end of suffering, disease, pain, and death; we are also doing the will of God.

The virus, remember, does not have this will.

God is not on the graph, God’s contributions were not included in the data collection. That’s fair. No credit to God in this graph today.

Where do you even begin to create a chart of God’s impact on our world? You can’t start God’s data at (0,0) – and where would you put the first dot for infinite love?

God and man are together in this fight. In faith one day we will say gloriously, “we did this together.”

Still looking for God’s data on the graph? Look up, way, way up. When we see light, after so much time in the dark, it does hurt the eyes, though.

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I want a Church that is poor and for the poor. People with nothing have so much to teach us. In their difficulties they experience the suffering Christ.

Scripture
Though he was rich, our Lord Jesus Christ became poor for your sakes, so that through his poverty you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

Prayer
This is Pope Francis’ dream, O God – that we let go of our attachment to material things and focus on those who have very little of this world’s goods. I am so attached to what I have that this prospect makes me nervous and afraid. I need to travel so far to get a new mindset, and for this I depend on “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He became poor to make me rich in ways beyond my understanding. Amen.

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Mary, Virgin and Mother; help us to bear radiant witness to generous faith, justice, and love of the poor; that the joy of the gospel may reach the ends of the earth.

Scripture

I am the Handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word. Luke 1:38

Prayer
Just as Pope Francis looks to Mary as an example of gospel living, so may I, gracious God. May she help me to bear “radiant witness” to my faith, to my practice of justice, and to my love and service for the poor. I want to say to you as Mary did: Be it done to me as you want it done. May I reflect the joy of the gospel in every aspect of my life. Amen.

Practice
I will pray often today: “I am at your service, O God; be it done to me as you will.”

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How can God be good, but allow bad things to happen? Fr. Mike Schmitz tackles one of the toughest questions religious believers must answer.

 

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There are many similarities and differences between the Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations. In this video, Fr. Mike Schmitz narrows the differences down to one thing that really sets Catholicism apart from other Christian Churches: authoritative teaching.

 

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What is meant by the final purification? Understanding the Catholic notion of purgatory requires knowing the difference between a temporal consequence and an eternal consequence; this difference has nothing to do with damnation and salvation. Some people reject the idea of purgatory because they misunderstand its purpose. In this video, Fr. Mike explains why purgatory is needed and straightens out some of those misunderstandings.

To learn more about purgatory, check out these articles on Ascension’s Great Adventure Blog:

Furnace of Divine Love: The Biblical Roots of Purgatory (http://bit.ly/2pQQv80)
A Fiery Faith for All Souls (http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/souls/)

MORE FROM ASCENSION:

Ascension Press main website: http://ascensionpress.com
Ascension Presents website: http://ascensionpresents.com
The Great Adventure Blog: http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/blog

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Did you know that in addition to the 10 commandments there are an additional 5 “Commandments of the Church”. But there used to be more, or less.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commandments_of_the_Church

Read about the history of the “Commandments of the Church” and write a short post emphasizing your understanding of the current commandments, make mention of any other details in the article you find relevant.

Bonus: see if you can find a source online that specifically lists the holy days of obligation in the Canadian Catholic Church. In Canada, only two holy days of obligation sometimes do not fall on a Sunday. What days are these?

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Skim these Scripture passages. Pick one that appeals to you and

  1. summarize its main point,
  2. tell how it relates to the theme “Understanding Conscience”,
  3. list one or two thoughts that entered your mind when you read it.
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Saint Paul wrote that the difference between what we will know in heaven is as great as the difference between what we know now and what we knew when we were children:

When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child; now that I am a man, I have no more use for childish ways. What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete – as complete as God’s knowledge of me.

Meanwhile these three remain: faith hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:11-13

As a child gradually emerges into adulthood during the period of adolescence, more and more opportunities arise to form – and test – a personally validated self. Deep within our human consciousness, God has implanted a hunger for the truth, for goodness, for love – all of which are at holy war with the unevolved beast in us, the Id. Human dignity lies in conquering that beast and discovering God’s law, written right into the way God made things and people.

All creatures deserve proper treatment simply because of the way our Creator made them. According to Vatican Council II:

By conscience, in a wonderful way, the law is made known which is fulfilled in the love of God and one’s neighbour. Through loyalty to conscience, Christians are joined to other [persons] in the search for truth and for the right solution to so many moral problems which arise both in the life of individuals and from social relationships. Hence the more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by the objective standards or moral conduct. The Church in the Modern World, 16.

What guides you in making important choices, such as the way you deal with your family, friends, and strangers? With animals, food, the environment? Do you treat each consistently or haphazardly: as the mood strikes you or by what you can gain or lose? Are you, honestly, more of an altruist or a utilitarian?

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I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

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