Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

The Arrogance of Free Will Christianity (Reblogged)

I started out wanting to disagree with the author of the post, http://wp.me/p3Ptcl-9W, but I ended up agreeing with his view.  I guess I was caught up with the word “free will.”  That made the title more controversial than if it was “The Arrogance of Individualism Christianity.”  Then again, if that was the title, I would’ve agreed and not bothered to read his post.

I’m not sure I agree with his last sentence, though: “Instead of preaching your personal testimony, preach the Gospels and the good things that Christ did for all of us—that is the definition of evangelism.”  There are times where our personal testimony is a good way to evangelize.  If an acquaintance or friend asked me why I converted to Catholicism or how I came to believe in God when I was a vocal atheist, my personal testimony would be important.  Yet, I can see how my personal testimony out of context wouldn’t be effective.  Then again, talking about the Gospels out of context and without establishing a relationship first with the people you’re addressing is also ineffective.  That’s why Pope Francis said in a recent interview that “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.”

I feel a call to evangelize, but not standing-on-a-soapbox-in-the-street-corner type of evangelization.  I remember reading Scott Hahn saying that we should live our lives as if it was a billboard.  Do I live a life full of joy?  Or do I look grouchy because I always have to be good & moral all the time?  It is especially during the times of stress and difficulty that I can be a great witness to God.  Maintaining my peace and joy during a hectic trade mission, or finding the time to counsel others while going through a personal crisis… this is how I can live out a life of constant evangelization.  Be a good father.  Be a good husband.  Be a good officer.  This is a higher calling because it is more difficult; I actually have to live out daily what I want to preach and internalize what the Gospel teaches.  And the only way I can do that is by changing my heart, work out my interior self.  I can’t just cover myself with Bible verses.  I have to let the Holy Spirit do open-heart surgery.

Just as a bodily open-heart surgery is scary for people, a spiritual open-heart surgery is even scarier.  You can physically see a doctor and look up her credentials.  You can’t see the Holy Spirit and her scalpel of wisdom gently revealing the soul.  This brings to mind a current friendship.  I’m trying to be a good spiritual big brother to another diplomat.  He’s having a tough time coming back to God.  He knows he has wounds as has admitted as much.  He acknowledges that he has a God-shaped hole in his heart that he tries to fill up with other things.  He knows he needs to pray, to go back to church, but he still drags his feet.  Just like a person would if he had to go into surgery.

How did I consent?  At what point did I say “yes” to the Holy Spirit’s knife?  Contemplation, self-reflection.  Is that the secret?  I’ve never been afraid of just sitting and thinking about the fuzz on my navel.  If I can only pick one thing that I’m good at, I’d say I’m good at thinking about myself (haha).  I have high intrapersonal intelligence.  Normal men, according to Richard Rohr’s book “From Wild Man to Wise Man,” don’t like to be introspective and think about feelings, emotions.  It doesn’t come naturally.  I remember what a breakthrough it was for my aforementioned friend to just accept moments of solitude to self-reflect.  He had previously filled his life with many empty-calorie social engagements.  It was a long road, but at least my friend now has a diagnosis.

From Prodigal God to Wild and Wise Man

The men’s prayer group that I’m a part of finished “Prodigal God,” by Tim Keller and is now reading “From Wild Man to Wise Man,” by Richard Rohr.  The switch from a Protestant theological book to a Catholic pastoral book has its challenges, but I think the Holy Spirit is with us.  My discernment could be wrong, but I see an emerging “picture” of what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us.

From “Prodigal God,” we were shaken from our comfort zones.  It made us see that we were the “elder brothers” in the parable, comfortable in our faith, secure in our own righteousness.  We realized that “if [we] have not grasped the gospel fully and deeply, [we] will return to being condescending, condemning, anxious, insecure, joyless, and angry all the time” (Chapter 4, page 70).  We learned from Tim Keller that the parable of the prodigal son was not primarily to assure “younger brothers” of God’s unconditional love.  It was a warning to moral insiders: “we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right” (Chapter 5, page 78).  The true elder brother is Christ.  We need to go through our own crucifixion, die to our self so that Christ can work through us.  Then, we can answer the question, “Well, who should have gone out and searched for the lost son?” (page 80); the answer would be “Christ through me.”

“The Prodigal God,” by Timothy Keller

Keller’s book left us asking for more.  How can we become more like Christ?  How can we die to our self and let Him live through us?  The Holy Spirit helped us vote for Richard Rohr’s book.

While nearly everyone in the men’s group only has negative things to say about Rohr’s book, we all agree that the conversation is very enlightening.  Again, I could be wrong, but I think that’s a sign that the Holy Spirit is with us.  How can so much disagreement be productive?  How can so many men’s egos be kept in check if not for the Holy Spirit giving us the grace to be humble?  It’s Emmanuel, “God is with us.”

Putting aside the poor writing style and weak Scriptural references, “From Wild Man to Wise Man” is already leading us on the male spiritual journey it purports to do.  Just this past Saturday, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning with a personal revelation about my journey.  Another man in the group is currently a lot closer to God because the Holy Spirit is making him face a mental anguish that he would rather avoid.  The first ten chapters of the book led our rag-tag group of men to a precipice.  Whether we decide to jump and experience the frightening fall to self-awareness is our choice.  But it’s certainly exciting to see the Holy Spirit working among us!

“From Wild Man to Wise Man,” by Richard Rohr

A Drop of Agony

A Catholic acquaintance of mine mentioned on Facebook how none of the mainstream media were covering the murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell.  At first, I thought it was just another doctor on trial for abortion.  Then I found the Grand Jury report.  (Apparently, a lot of people are trying to access the PDF document, now.  Fortunately, I got a copy of the report before the server crashed: Copy of Grand Jury Report on Kermit Gosnell Case.)  About an hour before I started writing this post, The Atlantic was the first mainstream outlet to write an article.  It’s tagline?  “The dead babies. The exploited women. The racism. The numerous governmental failures. It just is insanely newsworthy.”

An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in...
An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon, and like The Atlantic author, Conor Friedersdorf, I felt nauseated.  Yet, I felt compelled to continue reading the 281-page report.  It was written like a horror story, except it was non-fiction.  I kept asking God, “Why did you permit this?”  And as I was praying, I started thinking about Christ’s Agony in the Garden.  The night before he was crucified, Jesus prayed to God to let the cup of suffering past from his lips.  Tradition teaches us that Jesus, at that moment, was taking on the full weight of all of humanity’s sins onto his shoulders.  He saw all the atrocities men and women would commit throughout all of time, including the ones by Dr. Kermit Gosnell.  Christ was so distressed that he started to sweat blood.  The nausea I felt, the injustice, the sheer horror and incredulity that I felt about what Gosnell and his employees did was just a drop in a bucket compared to what Christ saw.  In my own small way, I felt united to Christ at that moment.

All afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of the babies in that report as my own children.  When I came home from work this evening, I went straight to my children, picked them up and hugged them.  I thanked God for them.  I thanked God on behalf of my children, that they were born to Anne Marie and I instead of to parents who have been brainwashed by society to view children as a burden.

As I rocked my baby to sleep this evening, I started to pray the rosary.  Being Friday, it was the Sorrowful Mysteries.   The first mystery was the Agony in the Garden.  My natural reaction to this case is disgust for Gosnell, his employees, and the whole pro-choice movement.  Praise Him, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I ended up praying for the murderers, instead.  As I went through my “Hail Marys…” I realized that the women and babies who died are now in a better place, but the souls of these murderers are still up for grabs.  The real enemy aren’t the people on trial, or the government officials who turned a blind eye, or people who advocate for abortion rights.  The real enemy is Satan.  The devil wants the souls of these murderers, the officials, and the people whose passion comes from love.  These souls are in greater danger than the victims.  So, I prayed for them.  I admitted to God that I felt they didn’t deserve it, but I also didn’t want the devil to win.

The evil that took place at the Women’s Medical Society will continue to haunt me, but now I can unite the drop of agony I feel to Christ’s agony when he prayed for all of us.