Monday, June 22, 2009

On Keeping Holy the Sabbath Day

Growing up, I never really contemplated the idea of keeping holy the Sabbath day. We went to Mass every Sunday, and normally we would spend the rest of the day at Grandma's, which included spending time with the extended family, football and/or swimming for us kids, and TV, cards, cooking, and cleaning for the adults. While there was nothing explicitly holy or religious about this, I think through family custom we did a decent job of fulfilling God's decree, keeping in mind that man was not made for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man.  

However, as an adult who is a perpetual student and who has been a teacher, I now frequently procrastinate throughout the week and use Sunday to complete any remaining homework, grading, or lesson planning. Yesterday as we were to driving to see family for Father's day, I was reflecting on those who were working: truck drivers in particular, but also waiters and waitresses, cooks, cashiers, etc.  How difficult it has now become to refrain from participating in the "social sin," for lack of a better term, of violating the sabbath! 

What do you think it means to keep holy the Sabbath? How much are we/you willing to sacrifice (convenience stores, Monday deliveries, gas stations, etc.) to enable others to have the freedom to rest on the Lord's Day? 

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sunday Snippets: a Catholic Carnival

Greetings and Peace to all newcomers.

My wife AB and I are grad students in theology and new parents too an adorable 5month old boy. Most of our blogging focuses on Catholic theological or social issues.

We aren't able to post on a daily basis, but our most recent one, On Hobbies and Pursuing Holiness, has had some decent discussion, which was probably better than the post itself. I'd love to hear any further thoughts you may have.

Other older posts of interest include the following:
- A theologically dense post on the Anthropological Structure of Faith
- An interesting post by my wife on Going Green and the Pill
- The first of an 8-part series on Being a Faithful Catholic in America
- Our baby boy

Enjoy and let us know you stopped by.


For more Faith-Filled Posts please go to the Sunday Catholic Carnival over at This and That.

Monday, June 15, 2009

On Hobbies and Pursuing Holiness

“Faith comes from what is heard”, says St. Paul (Rom 10:17)…The assertion “faith comes from what is heard” contains an abiding structural truth about what happens here. It illuminates the fundamental differences between faith and mere philosophy, a difference which does not prevent faith, in its core, from setting the philosophical search for truth in motion again…

“In faith the word takes precedence of the thought, a precedence that differentiates it structurally from the architecture of philosophy. In philosophy the thought precedes the word; it is after all a product of reflection that one then tries to put into words…Faith, on the other hand, comes to man from the outside, and this very fact is fundamental to it.” (Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, 90-92)

St. Anselm defined theology as “faith seeking understanding,” however, it ceases to be so when one ceases to listen, to receive that word which is the foundation of faith. This essentially turns theology into some sort of philosophy of religion. It makes it dead and private, rather than living and communal.

A danger which I have had to face as a student of theology is the temptation to turn theology into mere thought. Sometimes I find myself thinking about some theological precept, abstracting, attempting to figure it all out, and doing so without turning to prayer, without listening to the Logos. Sometimes I find myself abstracting about how to love in relationship rather than asking for the grace to love.

In this regard, as my wife and I are preparing for significant changes in our lives, we are attempting to re-evaluate some of our habits, choices, hobbies, leisure activities, etc. The questions we are posing to ourselves I now pose to you our readers, all four of you:

If every person is called to be a saint, to strive for holiness, and if I claim to place my faith in Christ as my savior, as the second-person of the Triune God who became man so that I may be divinized, what leisure activities are…permissible, nay, prudent, for a person striving to grow in holiness?

Perhaps specific examples would be helpful: Are video games merely a waste time? What virtue do they cultivate?

In this past I rationalized that when I played video games I was socializing with and occasionally even evangelizing those with whom I was in competition, but I can no longer make that claim. Can I still justify spending time on video games when I could be praying, playing with my son, studying, etc.?

What about television? Certainly some shows have more merit than others, but generally speaking can one make the claim that TV is a neutral media?

As someone who is more educated than most of my family (I do not say this with pride, it’s a mere fact), who is more interested in theology, and who, at the very least, at to appear to be living a life consistent with Catholic social doctrine and morality, I sometimes find it difficult to engage in small talk or other social activities that many of my loved ones engage in. I obviously have little to no interest in beer-pong or going to hooters, activities which in my opinion seem contrary to growth in holiness. However there may be more neutral activities in which I could have an interest in order to aid small talk which could hopefully turn to more meaningful conversations. Therefore, I have reasoned that television shows can offer some common ground about which to converse without my feeling uncomfortable or the other party feeling bored. On the other hand, now that we have a child, to what extent are we willing to expose him to television? How much should we shelter him? If we abstain from television are we not more likely to spend our time cultivating virtue and teaching our child to cultivate virtue? Or, if we are the virtue-cultivating type, we would do so regardless of whether or not we watch television?

What about sporting events as entertainment? Intramurals as hobbies or exercise routines?Etc. Etc.?

What hobbies or leisure activities do you find assist you in your slow journey to holiness? What hobbies have you resisted because you find they hinder your sainthood?