Silver and Gold

“We often feel that Christianity is not all it’s cracked up to be. This Pentecost, the Church provides a beautiful antidote to that sinking feeling, but it is easy to miss it.” Tom Hoopes


Today as we meditate upon the incomparable gift of the Paraclete, I was blessed with yet another gift, an answer to what I as a Catholic have long thought of as “Bono Syndrome” – you know, Bono, as in U2. The group will always be associated in my mind with the lyrics to their hit, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For:


I believe in the Kingdom Come

Then all the colours will bleed into one

Bleed into one.

But yes, I’m still running.

You broke the bonds

And you loosed the chains

Carried the cross of my shame

Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found

What I’m looking for….



Sadly, this has been the experience of many a believer. When Marx famously slurred religion as “the opium of the people,” he missed reality by a mile. For so many of us, our fervent belief in Christ and in His promises can be the source of a world of pain, as our hopes and dreams collide with His very human body.


To this, Tom Hoopes at The Gregorian Blog replies with a little-known prose version of the prayer many of us have been praying for the last 10 days:


Come, Holy Spirit, and from heaven direct on man the rays of your light.


Come, Father of the poor, come giver of God’s gift. Come, light of men’s hearts.


Kindly Paraclete, in your gracious visits to man’s soul, you bring relief and consolation. If it is weary with toil, you bring it ease; in the heat of temptation, your grace cools it; if sorrowful, your words console it.


Light most blessed, shine on the hearts of your faithful — even in their darkest corners; for without your aid man can do nothing, and everything is sinful.


Wash clean the sinful soul, rain down your grace on the parched soul, and heal the injured soul.


Soften the hard heart, cherish and warm the ice-cold heart, and give direction to the wayward.


Give your seven holy gifts to your faithful, for their trust is in you. Give them reward for their virtuous acts, give them a death that ensures salvation, and give them unending bliss.


Tom contends that Christians suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of God the Holy Spirit and of the grace He bestows. God, according to Tom:


…is not a narcotic and he is not a means of escape and he does not interfere with man’s freedom. …what he brings isn’t an artificial relief, but grace. Grace is not a peace drug…”


Go read it for yourself. May the Spirit rain down His grace upon our parched souls.



On the solemnity of Pentecost


Deo omnis gloria!

Thar’s gold in them thar blogs!

Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give you: Other people’s blog posts!

These are three posts that have really made an impression on me recently, to the point that I felt compelled to link to them. This is highly impressive stuff.

You’ve probably sensed by now how much I appreciate a good conversion story, right? Well, the one recently posted at the blog over at Called to Communion is one of the best. While we usually hear the conversion journeys of Presbyterian seminarians and pastors over at C2C, this one’s a little different. This one’s written by Beth Turner, a seminarian’s wife, and she tells the story of her anguished search for a loving God within Reformed theology:

Barrett grew in his faith, and we both learned more together about the Reformed tradition. Barrett became more and more convinced, and though I tried very hard, I became more and more confused. What I seemed to hear from many a sermon and lecture on the topic was: “Nothing you do is ever good enough to even bring a smile to God’s face. You are culpable for all your sins, but God is responsible for all your good deeds. Everything good that appears to come from you is, in fact, something bad dressed up to look good. In fact, God is so disgusted by you and your sin that He placed Jesus in front of you, like a curtain, to avoid having to even look at you (*or maybe not, if you are not one of the elect, in which case His angry gaze is upon you still).” Yet I also heard that God loved me, and that I was not to abandon myself to despair. For some reason, I was even still supposed to try to live a moral life, despite the fact that utter failure was inevitable and it wouldn’t matter to my salvation anyway. Only God’s election could save me and no word I spoke with my lips, no good deed I worked with my hands, and nowhere I could go with my feet would affect my salvation one bit.

If you’ve ever fallen into despair, thinking that you could never please God, read Beth’s story. There is light and hope in the Catholic Church!

The other two posts aren’t conversion stories; they are posts that have been gnawing at my brain ever since I read them days ago. Russ Rentler at Crossed the Tiber has written another in a long line of “nail-on-the-head” hitting posts, this one based upon the words of Mr. Humility, Martin Luther himself. Russ describes an all-too-common ailment among Catholics: Lutherism. No, not Lutheranism – Lutherism.

Lutherism occurs when individuals in the Catholic faith, (assuming they have agreed to the tenets of the faith) believe that they know more than the pope and understand better than the magisterium the direction the Church should be going.

Especially timely as we near the anniversary of the election of Pope Francis! Read “The Great Pope, Self the First,” and then look in the mirror and tell me what looks back at you.

And finally, some guy calling himself “Joseph Moore” over at Yard Sale of the Mind has written a post with the heretical title, “Government is a Positive Good.” Say that again – government?

The title of this post is an obvious truth that many Americans – very much including me – have a very hard time accepting. We see the corruption, the commandeering of the machinery of government for all kinds of evil purposes, the spying, the wars of distraction, the torture, the murder of civilians around the world, and have a hard time accepting that even a government such as ours, run by people such as our leaders, could still be a good thing – nay, a very good thing. Yet….

If your “default attitude toward government is some combination of despair and contempt” as Joseph puts it, you NEED to read this piece. It has preyed on my mind ever since he posted it. I suspect some Holy-Spirit-involvement in the whole thing, especially since I’m getting ready to do my taxes….

And that’s what I love about blogging – God setting up a direct line to my heart through the scribblings of my fellow bloggers, and then me, leaning back in an easy chair, forwarding you the product of their blood, sweat and tears. Pretty sweet deal, I’d say. I hope these speak to you as they speak to me!