Sunday, September 7, 2014

Remaining Catholic by Fr. Martin Pable: Non-Apologetic Reasons for Remaining in a Flawed Church

In looking for literature that reaffirms Church teaching in a "realistic" way, Remaining Catholic presents a clear, non-apologetic argument that explores six reasons to remain in the Church.  Initially I quickly read it, absorbing its content while searching hungrily for reaffirming answers. Currently, I am re-reading Remaining Catholic.  And I love the simplicity and non-apologetic approach Fr. Marty takes in outlining the Roman Catholic Church, Her imperfections, and Her graces.  The non-apologetic approach of this book is refreshing, and Fr. Marty's honesty about the imperfections of the Bride are as comforting as his emphasis (and clear reminders) on Her graces, especially those found in the sacraments. Any Catholic reader who questions orthodoxy will find comforting wisdom in Fr. Marty's book.  I only wish the book would dig deeper into the frustrating feelings most Catholics have with "big ticket" doctrines like contraception and papal infallibility, but I understand that most non-apologetic Catholic authors who honestly question these matters are considered heterodox. Fr. Marty clearly believes and lovingly teaches orthodox understandings in Remaining Catholic.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Luke 19:1-10: Accepting the Invitation of God's Grace

"For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)

This passage has a deep, significant meaning for me.  When I received my first Holy Communion, I was a lector at the Mass.  The passage I read was this selection from Saint Luke’s Gospel.  As an eight-year-old, I remember vehemently reading and memorizing the passage so that my delivery would be poised and practiced.  Reflecting on those times, I vividly remember a picture of the small man Zacchaeus perched in a tree in order to see Jesus among the crowd.  That vision made a lasting psychological mark on me.  

Why does this tax collector want to climb a tree to see Jesus?  Being a child myself, I was “short in stature,” so I was mesmerized by Zacchaeus’ act of ascension to see the Son of Man. The meaning, then, clicked for me.  Zacchaeus had to rise above who he was, a loathed sinner, and accept the invitation of our Lord.  But it was our Lord who sought Zacchaeus first, not the other way around.  Even more, Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name.  He already intimately knows this seeming stranger, as he does every one of us.  And if we listen carefully, Christ calls us all by name and desires to shed His mercy and forgiveness on our sins. We have to accept that grace-filled invitation, however, as Zacchaeus does, and truly repent in our hearts. 

Jesus invites all of us to faith in Him. He wants us to embrace his love and forgiveness, just as Zacchaeus does, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.” Let us thank God daily for offering us His mercy and forgiveness and, by His grace, raising us up from our low, sinful state.