Culture Matters, Very Much So

Most PRecious Blood

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As I listen to  anglican hymns and am moved, and even as I watch the images of Mass and procession of the San Gennaro feast, and at the same time come across stories on FB about young academia tweeting about dead cops and so much other crap, I realize why the faith and culture of my ancestors matters, why the Italian-American, Christian faith matters.

It matters because it has taught me respect for family, God, and Country.  Does that mean that I don’t have my arguments with God, tweet my very sometimes undiplomatic thoughts to church hierarchy including the Pope, or politicos? No, of course I do.  Does that mean I suffer fools, wither liberal progressive or fanatic conservative evangelical? No, let them have it to, not diplomatic about it either, no sugar coating there.  However, whatever faults any individual might have within the family, faith institution or government, I still respect the unit and institution of family, faith and country, federalist, constitutional etc…system  of my country to the best of my ability, expect others to as well.  There is a core identity of which I spoke in a previous post, core beliefs that can never be taken from me, including gifts of the Holy Spirit and each of us has different ones.  They are the core of who I am and I also have a clear sense of honor for the Hebraic roots of the faith of my ancestors, for Israel, and my Italian heritage.  Am I fanatic about any of it, will I stand in front of let’s say an abortion clinic with kids along with me, graphic pictures, yelling screaming in women’s faces words like murderer, NO.  Do I think disciplinary action has to be taken against any military chaplain or persons who says that tolerance of atheism, or Islam or Christianity, any faith in the military is prohibited, makes anyone feel scared to pray, or not to pray anything like that? Yes.  Jesus whose face was on the coin and then said to render on to Caesar his due.  If the government violates strict Constitutional rights, that is different, not okay or overtaxes stuff that is egregious.   Then the people have a right to react as peacefully as possible.  The problem with today’s society is that there is not anchor, nothing to anchor in identity, respect, in boundaries, in anything.  That is very dangerous, as is an identity that is so rigid, there is no room for anyone to have any identity other than the one you say they ought to have and only your way or the highway as is the case with ISIS.  Standards, particular standards, boundaries, clear identity of faith and culture matter, bring a sense of self I realize, and that sense of self is important, even if people within the group can sometimes frustrate the heck out of you.  Still, it matters, matters very much.

Amen

Respect, Esteem Not Automatic

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The Journey That is Life.

Life is a process, relationships, all a process, a journey with goals and lessons, maturity levels gained along the way, thick skin too hopefully.  You wouldn’t know it would ya, not these days.

Now, life is all about give me, give me now, make me happy now, make me feel good now, give me respect just because, give me love in whatever way love means to me and now.  It’s about instant self esteem, instant this, instant everything, instant respect, but there’s a problem with that, doesn’t and must never work that way.  I don’t care if you are the friggin Pope, or the CEO, the office and the authority it carries, the authority those positions of authority carry yes, even the fact that each of us is a creation of the most high merits basic human decency.  However, blind adulation, blind anything, automatic self esteem to the hilt, everyone rewarded as special is narcissistic and this is why we have youth “traumatized” by a simple election result, the Bill of Rights, the Flag, the Anthem, the Constitution, a low grade so deserved because of their lazy ass, a smack right across the check for being disrespectful toads to mom and dad, or consequences for crashing the car etc…, not talking out of control discipline, but boundaries created and enforced.  I am talking healthy competition, show us what you got heart, spirit and soul, not mean spirited, challenge yourself, think critically, deduction, induction, all that.  If you do something you were supposed to do in the first place because it was the right thing, no fanfare, good for you, but no big ticker tate, it was the right thing to do, good for you and if you violate rules and laws, your tukkus gets kicked with Agape love, but it gets kicked and mom, dad, you don’t make excuses for your kid, bail them out or cover for them, let them take it, stand tall and accept it.  Self esteem is a slippery slope.  Should you respect yourself enough not to be treated like a doormat and such? Sure, or treat your body with disrespect? Yeah.  Self respect and recognition of your gifts for vocation, nurturing them and today’s narcissistic, OY self esteem thing are two different animals.  We need health competition and no one child is more special than the other or less special, but each has different talents, excels at different things, levels and the only way to figure that out is through competition and the only way for them to develop a thick skin and coping mechanisms for life, is through healthy competition at school and then at work. Overall self respect, liking who God made you to be, identifying your talents, abilities, vocational path and all that stuff, yeah.  The self esteem craze and the notion that life, anyone owes you anything including respect and adulation just because you exist, or you are you, no.  You want respect show your grit, show what you are made of heart, spirit and soul, in agape love, as necessary tough love if you’re a parent, when necessary.  Be a productive member of society, be a person of faith okay, also of inductive and deductive reasoning, of humility, all these things, pass that on to your children, grandchildren.  Make sure they understand there are no entitlements in life, not really.

Amen 

Can’t Regulate Thoughts, So What To Do?

a dark room

There are dark places in some people’s hearts, minds and souls that make for some very dark thoughts and feelings.  From these you get some vile ideologies, even some very stupid ideologies, ideologies of entitlement, of victim mentality etc… For a lot of people, the thought is make it illegal, put a gag in these people’s mouths, pass hate speech laws, make these ideologies illegal. Sounds great, let’s make “dangerous, offensive” and such ideologies illegal, literally.  Great idea, right?

Well, no.  Don’t get me wrong, I loathe communism, marxism, nazi and all such ideology, Alinsky ideology, Marxist Liberation theology.  Even Christian so called Social Justice ideology gone amok, harboring undocumented immigrants, stuff like that, OY!!! No, none of it is in any way something I can or would ever say is a good thing.  However, if one is a spiritual person, one realizes a very important point,  Law is important, yes, and we must have law and order, that is crucial,  The Constitution, the Republic form of our government, seeing to it that is all honored as is our Capitalist foundation, crucial, the spirit of all men are created in God’s image, all that encompasses as a nation , crucial.  Not everyone is going to have positive healthy thoughts, inclinations of the mind and heart, and yes in some cases medically it can be treated, taken care of.  However in others such as certain world views, Facism (my mum grew up under the time of Mussolini and knows facism well, so let me say for all that think Trump and the Conservatives are that, you have no clue, get one, so far from the truth, not even close to it), Communism, Nazi mindset, you can’t erase that with laws.  That will take lots of spiritual prayer, educating, not sure what else, good smack upside the head, maybe.  If you decide to pass hate speech laws, well who decides that? Who decided what hate speech is, how do you measure that?  What i view as hate speech as a Christian isn’t to someone else and vice versa, so who decides, how do you decide?  It can get awfully messy and sticky that road of passing laws to curb speech.  A threat to assassinate, to dismember, that is a whole other level and that is a direct threat.  Regulating thought through law and law alone, regulating anything, solving anything by just passing laws is never the solution.  Healthcare is a prime example.   Can we curb action, and reaction, yes to an extent, but thought, unless you  plan on electroshock for all of us and making us all zombies, good luck with that.  Also, best we know what the other person is thinking in a sense so we can address issues and bring them to resolution, constructively, perhaps.

Amen

Love Means Also Chastise, Rebuke

Most PRecious Blood

I love it when progressives and those living certain lifestyles talk about how Jesus was all about love and how he forgave the woman, stopped her being stoned, he ate with sinners all that, yeah, ok, but…Yeah, there’s a crack in that whole philosophy of love is just let it all be whatever, whenever, however etc…Jesus, the apostles taught that it’s all just about love and forgiveness, it’s bunk.

A parent who has that attitude, what do think is going to happen with their kids, think Fleiss, Hollywood Madame, dad thought there should be no boundaries, kids should be equal to adults, no discipline, no boundaries nothing. Everything goes, just love and forgive it all.   Don’t question what your kids do or anyone in your life does or feels etc…, hey freedom, love, acceptance, right, all good, right? Do you seriously think that any parent with even a quarter of a brain and wisdom would think that a anything goes philosophy is a loving one, or a spouse who truly loves their partner would also have that attitude of not caring what the spouse does at any time?   What of Jesus, let’s see hmmm? Jesus said the woman should keep on sinning, the apostle who then became Mathew tax collector, he just kept stealing people blind right?  No, wait the opposite happened.  Jesus said that those of Sodom and Gomorra who had lived lives of perversion, no consequences to their souls right? No, wait not what he said.  Didn’t Jesus say marriage was whatever we felt it was, or ought to be based on “feelings, woo oooh feelings”?  Wait, no, he referred back to the Old Testament to define it and the rules for divorce etc… Paul thought socialism where you just get everything for free was just dandy, you just stood back and took and took and took was great, right? No wait, he did the opposite.  God can’t be a good parent if he doesn’t have clear rules, guidelines etc… for our actions, and clear consequences at some point in time for there to be consequences to those actions, for crossing boundaries he set for us, whatever our “feelings” swept up in the moment might be.  There are very clear boundaries etc… set forth that when violated must have consequence by natural law of cause and effect including second causality.  No parent in their right mind or spouse says “yeah sure okay, whatever love means anything goes anytime, anywhere, no boundaries nothing, just whatever, so long as you always have a smile plastered on your face.  Seriously, there would be something very wrong with that picture and it would be and already is a disaster for society.  

What is the job of The Church in all of this?  It is there, though the people may not be perfect, to make sure they convey those boundaries, those very clear, distinct, boundaries of the teachings of sacred scripture.  Whether we choose to honor that is an individual choice, but the job of the church and those in the church is have enough common sense, courage, and love to never compromise the truth of scripture, no matter what, to stand against government and all who would try to compromise that truth, stand strong in that truth, same with the members of the faith, not in a mean or cruel way, but firmly.  This is the true love society and all generations require of the Church and of us.

Amen

 

Faith, Belief, Holy Spirit, Powerful Team

Holy Ghost

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As I look back on my life I always had the Holy Spirit trying to guide me, Christ trying to work with me, so why so long to get to such a great place?

I had a certain level of faith and at times,  without true contemplation and understanding, moved forward with things when my spirit was stirred to something.  When I felt a call to ministry and the artistic, I really didn’t take the time to pray about how to prepare and so I went around in circles.  I also had a hard time believing God could really love me and want to bless me, since as I saw it my earthly father didn’t fight to have me with him, didn’t think I was worth having around, and my mom, she loved me, but she just couldn’t understand the artistic and intuitive empath gifts, so there was a lot of tension there growing up, lots of discouragement etc.., so I had a faith in a creator that I think i was born with since at not even the age of four my parents one night found me kneeling at the edge of my bed hands folded prayer style and me looking up at the sky smiling eyes closed whispering to someone.  When they asked I said I was saying goodnight to our big daddy in the sky.  They were speechless.  When they divorced, that whole nasty thing take away my ability to believe, not my faith, but my ability to believe that I could ever have security, happiness etc…  It has taken a very long time to shed all the negative baggage from that part of my life, from my childhood and one or two not so wise decisions in my adult life. God is very wise, so is Christ and of course the Holy Spirit.

Now that I have shed most of that baggage, they have been able to bring me to a place where I can put forth my gifts, talents, my skills etc…not only for my own personal development etc.., but also for the good of community, fellowship, faith, so much more.  Now I can hear the Holy Spirit stirrings and step back to process, seek to discern the whole picture of what God wants done, not for my own desires, but for a broader good, one that will also of course be a benefit for me in the long run, teach me, help me grow.  The combination of faith, belief that I am worthy, and the stirrings of the Holy Spirit are a very powerful team to work with, when done rightly.  I am glad that I have a great faith structure, Roman Catholicism and a great church Shrine of the Most Precious Blood in lower Manhattan to work with, to grow and develop in my faith life and my life in general.

Amen

My Culture and My Faith Intertwined

Catholic

Sunday at Shrine of the Most Precious Blood, my parish, The Society of St. Anthony of Padua celebrated the Mass in honor the saint.  Tuesday the church itself will celebrate a Mass in honor of the saint, as Tuesday is the actual feast day of St. Anthony.

As the mix of Italian and English was filling the church, the statue of St. Anthony with lights all around it at the entrance visible when you first came in, the bread blessed and distributed at the end, everyone greeting everyone, even if they did not know each other, and people introducing you to others, it was beautiful.  It also brought home a very important point, maybe more than one.  It brought home to me that Catholicism is a major part of who I am, culturally whether I agree with all of the theology of the faith or not.  It is a very important part of me, what shapes me, who I am, the conservative side of me, also the spiritual side of me.  I have no problem saying I am of Christ, I am Christian, and yes I have had my crisis moments, my questioning moments, but I never turned my back on Christ.  The core of who I am remained the same throughout my journey and my connection the Trinity, the core of the Catholic faith never wavered, ever.  I have been also aware that as was pointed out last night in a Catholic anniversary program there has to be a periodic examination and renewal, so questioning is not problematic within itself.  However one thing I have realized is that the core principles of the faith are perfectly sound, logical and serve me well in my life should I adhere to them.  Appreciation for them and my culture is a true blessing, the church does and has recognized when it has faltered, even if not right away, but then do we immediately realize when we falter?  What are those principles that have guided me, that the saints have shown me?  There are a few:  

  • Make the journey of faith, really explore the Judeo-Christian faith from all facets, come to it and God with an open and willing heart, spirit and soul, and love
  • It’s okay to stumble along the way, just get up and keep going
  • Stand strong for and in who you are, a child of the Creator, and in Christ who gave his life for you
  • Discover your gifts, talents, purpose in that and how to best apply them for the good of society
  • Value family, cultural traditions, while still valuing progress and moving forward
  • Be a shinning example of faith and strength through faith, no matter what
  • Don’t ever be anything but who you are and are meant to be in Christ
  • Celebrate that every day of your life and help others to do so

As I continue in my work as an artist, and music coordinator for the church, I hope to learn more about myself, my faith, my culture all of that and grown in my relationship with the Trinity, as well align my own trinity in harmony, my heart, spirit and soul.

Amen

Culturally …., Spiritually…,OY!

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The Journey That is Life.

Culturally I am Italian, and of course big part of that is being Catholic with the feast days, and all that being Catholic entails. So far so good, but…

Here is where being human is a bit more complex because though I grew up Catholic, and appreciate aspects of the faith, as I was watching The Watchman this week and a few other programs I realized, not that simple.  Yes my cultural context of faith is Catholicism and I am respectful of that, will always be there to preserve the heritage.  However, yes there is a however, though I do go to Mass, I don’t pray the prayers, the rosary of the Church.  I don’t look to theology to understand the Bible necessarily, but to the Bible itself, common sense and if I can do some research on the culture of the time, context, as well as nature, the world around me.  I pray by meditating, by chanting certain Biblical related affirmations perhaps, and by talking in a prayerful state to the Trinity.  On social issues and such, I lean more with I guess Conservative Evangelical Protestants again based not on any hierarchy theology or anything like that, but common sense sense of natural order, of sovereignty of nations, separation of powers, law and order, respect for authority, for God’s natural order as he intended.  Culturally I am Catholic because I grew up with the traditions, but when the RCC takes certain stances regarding immigration and such, then I can’t align myself with that because I believe in strong law and order, borders etc….  Then I see the difference in energies between the two and it is also an interesting thing to watch, where you have often the Catholic Mass very somber, and the people in the pews not engaging, or if they are it’s robotic, mechanical, no fire in the belly so to speak.  With this culturally Catholic, but in other ways much more aligned with Evangelical Protestant what the heck is one to do?

I can handle it by appreciation.  I can appreciate the Catholic faith, part of my culture, go to Mass, help to preserve that part of my culture, the Italian churches, things like that, appreciate the Mass for its’ structure, all its’ different qualities.  However, I can still pray how my soul is called to pray because it is still praying to The Father, Son and Holy Spirit for my gifts to expand, for me to be able to have a life of abundance, creativity and make a difference in the lives of others, in society.  I can be culturally Catholic, honor the faith and culture of my ancestors because it aligns with the Bible, though some might disagree, but that is another issue, and still be true to my Conservative Evangelical True self as well.  As long as it does not violate The Word, and it helps me stay connected to the Trinity,  core that is Christ, and helps me in my life journey, then I can reconcile both.  To add to this cake of layers, I can also appreciate the Jewish holidays and such because Jesus was Jewish, the apostles were a number of them Jewish, so I can also appreciate that.  As long as what I am appreciating, a part of aligns with the Bible, not my own whims to live life as I please, doesn’t twist anything into a pretzel, not that I have anything personally against pretzels, but when it comes to the faith, no pretzels.

Amen