Laid low and lifted high: On Reconciliation, and awards too!

Murillo, Return of the Prodigal Son 1670

The Return of the Prodigal Son (1670), by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (

It’s been a pretty brutal couple of weeks. I am pretty beaten up and beaten down. I haven’t had the energy or the motivation to write. I’m forcing myself even now. Because I don’t want to abandon this thing.

There is a lot of negative I could be focusing on right now; but this blog is meant to be about the positive, the beauty and the majesty and the glory of Christ and His Church. So all I will say is that I am hurting too much on my own right now to engage in the kind of knock-down, drag-out apologetic debate that I was courting before. I am tired, very tired, of spilling my breath and my words for Christians who are still living the battles of 500 years ago, still cultivating those ancient, festering wounds; who are more about division and separation in self than union and communion in Christ; who would rather reject their fellow believer in rancor and hate than love and forgive their neighbor in charity. I am tired of liberal friends and acquaintances misunderstanding and misrepresenting and deriding my faith; I am tired of a secular culture determined to call the black white and the twisted path straight; I am tired of politics in which even the lesser of two evils still looks pretty evil to me. I am really weary of this world.

But I am thankful for a Lord whose grace is sufficient for my every need, Whose strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9); Who even when I am most broken down abounds in the power to forgive and heal and save; Who is faithful and just to forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). I am thankful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where His grace will always meet me at my lowest; for His Penance which guides me to restoration. I am thankful for His Eucharist, His daily, most intimate Presence; His blessed Bread of Life to nourish my soul. I am thankful for a pastor and confessor who will hear me, who is unsparing in his discipline but overflowing with Christ’s mercy.

I am thankful for my dear blog-friends, who have presented me with another award: the Reader Appreciation Award, to mark the appreciation of my readers:

Reader Appreciation Award

Both Foraging Squirrel and Jessica of All Along the Watchtower nominated me for this award; and for both of them I am very honored and grateful.

The rules for accepting this thing are that I thank and link back to those who nominated me (done), and pass it along to some other fine people. I have been detached from the blogosphere for a couple of weeks, but I will try to determine who hasn’t already received these; maybe even introduce someone new to our circle of blog-friends.

These blogs and bloggers are some that I genuinely appreciate and recommend:

  • The Reluctant Road – Somebody has probably already given him this, and I don’t think he posts these things anyway, but I always enjoy his blog. Before my conversion, evangelicalism was increasingly foreign to me; Anthony, as a fellow evangelical convert, tries to make sense of it and gently demonstrate some of the misguided paths it has taken. He’s a man after my own heart, in that he still loves the people and places he’s left behind and isn’t lashing out in anger.
  • Thoughts from a Catholic – Chris has many insightful things to say from the rational perspective of an engineer (God love the engineers; they keep us liberal artists from floating away). If you haven’t read his blog, you ought to check it out.
  • SatelliteSaint – A fellow pilgrim on the road to God, Tucker has deep and valuable and sometimes piercing insights into Christianity. He is a Protestant with affinities for history and tradition and the wider Church. I still haven’t quite figured out where he’s going, but that’s part of the enjoyment in reading.

I’m not supposed to say something else interesting about myself, am I? Good, because I’m afraid that tank is running a little dry right now.

Please pray for me, my dear friends.

Charles Colson’s “Ecumenism of the Trenches”

Charles Colson

Charles Colson (1931-2012)

This morning in the National Catholic Register, I was saddened to learn of the death of Charles Colson a few days ago. (The NCRegister piece is moving and worth reading.)

Even in the far orbit of the evangelical sphere I’ve been in for so many years, I knew and admired Chuck Colson. He was one of the most vivid examples in our society of the radical, life-changing, revolutionizing power of the Gospel of Christ. Once Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man,” known for his political ruthlessness, and implicated in the Watergate scandal, Colson gave his life to Christ after reading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. After a term in prison, he devoted the rest of his life to Christian service and advocacy.

A few months ago, in one of my many thrifting runs and book hunts, I picked up a copy of Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission, a collection of essays edited by Colson and his friend Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus (who, I see, was also a convert, a former Lutheran pastor). The message of the ecumenical document they together helped draft: that in the face of the challenges of the modern world, Catholics and evangelicals should stand together as witnesses.

I applaud these efforts. Now more than ever, we Christians should strive for cooperation and understanding if not unity. It is my hope that through my conversion and witness, I can reach out especially to my evangelical brothers and sisters to dispel mistaken ideas about Catholics and foster a spirit of acceptance and accord.

Requiescat in pace, Charles Colson. May God guide you to your reward.


So, it is thirty days until Easter. Once I enter the Church, will I still be nascens, or will I be novus?

Things have been moving quickly, and I’m sorry I haven’t felt like posting, and haven’t had time. I am always having thoughts I think of sharing, but then they pass before I have a chance to sit down and write them, or my motivation flags. I’ve started and deleted this post three or four times in the past week.

Last week at RCIA, we had a lesson on sacramental marriage and Natural Family Planning with a couple in the parish, and it was amazing and invigorating and worldview-changing. I find that the more Catholic I become, the more and more my worldview changes — the more and more I feel at odds with the rest of the world.

Jesus said that the world would hate us on account of His Name; that we would be reviled and persecuted. Never before in my life as a Christian have I truly felt that pain of rejection. But in this heated political and cultural debate, I feel all of a sudden that I’ve placed myself on the front lines of the culture wars — or sometimes, before a firing squad. Many of my closest friends are very liberal. Always in the past I’ve been able to find common ground with them, and we were able to respect each other’s divergent turf. Never before have I been decried for maintaining my own, private, traditional, conservative views; but now, if I’m not openly in favor of abortion or homosexual marriage (or “women’s rights” and “gender rights”) — then I’m labeled a misogynist and a homophobe.

The Catholic Church stands, self-consciously, against the values of the modern world. Critics charge that the Church is antiquated or “out of step with the times” — but this is how it has to be; we follow Christ and not the times. We are called not to conform, but to be transformed. I’ve heard this rhetoric all my life as a Protestant, but never before have I found myself holding positions — on marriage, on contraception, on the death penalty, on service to the poor, just to name a few — that go against even most Protestants. More than any other brand of Christianity I’ve been a part of, I feel that I’ve stumbled upon radical Christianity.