Letter 33: Pavlov and Virtue

 

My Son,

 

I think about Pavlov’s dog experiment nearly every week. That sounds strange, and you probably think your ole man is crazy, but let me explain.

Ivan Pavlov pioneered research on how people learn through classical conditioning by experimenting with dogs. Dogs naturally salivate when food is brought to them. Food is an “unconditioned stimulus” and salivation is the dog’s “unconditioned response.” Pavlov would feed his own dogs each day, and each time they would see food they would salivate. Eventually, whenever Pavlov would simply walk in the room, the dogs would salivate. He was curious about this and decided to do some experimenting. He gave some dogs their food, but every time the food was given he would ring a bell. The dogs eventually learned to associate the bell ringing with food being brought to them, so even if the food didn’t come the dogs would still salivate if they heard the bell ring. A natural response could be triggered by an unnatural stimulus by having that stimulus associated with a natural stimulus.

Why am I sharing this with you, my son? Although people are more than mere animals, we often learn in a similar manner when it comes to classical conditioning. If someone has a flood of positive associations with a given activity, they will probably be more inclined to do the action. For example, if you were given a cookie while you did homework, you could associate your enjoyment of the cookie with your homework. Maybe you would get to the point where the original stimulus of enjoyment, the cookie, could be taken away and you would be left with the sheer enjoyment of homework (a somewhat unnatural stimulus for many kids). This was a very basic example, so now let’s turn our attention to how we can use classical conditioning to aid in our journey of godliness and virtue.

I was once told that virtue is a habit of doing good. Faith, hope, and love are chief among Christian virtues, and there are many others. How do we live a life of virtue? The key is habit. How do we develop habits? The key is discipline. Some basic “disciplines” of the faith include praying, reading the Scripture, meditating, adoration, fasting, almsgiving, etc.

For many, including myself, these disciplines do not involve positive associations and seem quite unnatural at first. How do we get an unnatural stimulus to bring about a natural enjoyment? Pavlov’s dog experiment! If you naturally find enjoyment in eating chocolate, then perhaps you should eat chocolate while reading Scripture for a while until you can have that same enjoyment with only Scripture. If you naturally feel peace wash over you when you light a candle, then light a candle before morning and evening prayer; you may find yourself feeling that same peace through the natural rhythm of prayer with or without the candle. Experiment with this yourself. Find out what seems to naturally give you those positive feelings and add a discipline to make the discipline enjoyable. Your enjoyment of the discipline could be key in you sustaining the discipline for the long haul. Vices (those things opposite of virtue) are normally practiced because they “feel good.” Vices can be destroyed by negative association and virtues can be established through positive association. I myself am still learning how to use this method of classical conditioning to form virtue and destroy vice in my life.

May we, as creatures of habit, learn to practice the good and shun the evil. May faith, hope, and love become our knee-jerk reactions in every situation. May we become more and more like Christ as we learn to enjoy the virtue-forming disciplines he has given us.

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 32: Sowing and Reaping

My Son,

 

“Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will, from the Spirit, reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:18).

You will reap what you sow. This language may be unfamiliar to you since we didn’t raise you on a farm in the country. Let me explain. Every year, farmers sow seeds into their fields. If they plant corn seeds, then at harvest time they will have corn (barring a terrible drought). If they sow seeds for wheat, then they will reap wheat. What you put into something is what you will get out of it.

What do you invest your time and energy into? If you do your homework, then you should get a good grade. If you spend your days watching TV instead of doing your homework, then you probably won’t get a good grade. If you play video games, then you will become good at video games (but what value is there in that?). If you spend hours playing the guitar each week, then you will be able to play the guitar better. This principle applies especially to your spiritual journey. If you invest your time into reading Scripture, then you will become more knowledgeable about Scripture. If you pray every day, then you will become better at praying and opening yourself up to hear God’s voice. If you focus your attention on things that are pure, then you will reap pure thoughts. If, on the other hand, you invest your time into watching pornography, then you will reap a life of perversion. If you wake up late every day and neglect the disciplines, then you will reap a life of laziness. If you focus your energy on just making money, then you will reap a life of greed. What you sow is what you will reap.

Sometimes people I encounter are surprised that their life is a spiritual and emotional train-wreck. They are surprised when they find themselves eating out of a pig-trough, even though they were the ones that turned their back on the Father and spent their inheritance on sinful living. They are surprised when God feels distant after sowing years of watching TV rather than praying. They are surprised that they always feel anxious, when in reality they are constantly busy and never take the time to rest on the Sabbath. Why are people so surprised when they finally get what they’ve been investing their lives into? We must not be a people who are surprised, but a people who own up to our sin and zealously repent. Repentance means that we stop sowing into sin, and start sowing into the Spirit. Give, pray, fast, meditate, read Scripture, spend time in adoration, and practice other such disciplines. The disciplines of the faith are good ways you can start sowing in the Spirit.

This is my appeal to you my son: sow in the Spirit! Draw near to God and he will draw near to you (James 4:8). My hope is that you will live a life filled with love, joy, peace, and all of the fruit of the Spirit. Now is the time for you to plant seeds of the Spirit so that you may enjoy a fruit-filled life.

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 31: Entering into the Larger Story

My Son,

 

The grand narrative of humanity is centered on Jesus Christ. You and I get the chance to participate in this larger-than-life story about his work of redeeming the world for God the Father. When Jesus started his public ministry two thousand years ago, he proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus inaugurated the reign of God in his ministry and opened the door for humanity to participate in this new government of God through his death, burial, and Resurrection and by sending the Holy Spirit upon his Church. Renewed by God’s grace to sonship, and filled with his power, we are able to proclaim Christ’s message and follow Christ by carrying our own crosses daily in hope that we too may attain the Resurrection from the dead. Jesus is the Forerunner into the Resurrection and we get the privilege of participating in his way of doing things; namely loving God and loving people with sacrificial and hope-filled love.

When we begin to understand that God’s story of redemption is ongoing and that we have the ability to participate, then our lives are filled with purpose. We aren’t just here to get an education, find the perfect job, make money, retire, and die. We are here to declare the kingdom of God is now here, and show others the Way to eternal life through the Way of the cross of Christ. In each stage of our lives, we point others to the greater reality that is still yet to be fulfilled in the New Heavens and New Earth. Each day, we have the opportunity to grow closer and closer to God, until one day we see him face-to-face. We get to co-labor with Christ through his Church to renew this world for the glory of God!

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 30: Daily Mass and Acts 2:42

My Son,

 

One of my deepest desires in college was to be a part of the Church in the book of Acts. I wanted to re-live what they did. I wanted to be part of a group of people that was all about getting back to what it meant to be the early Church. This desire led me to a house church and then to a discipleship school, both of which focused on Acts 2:42 as a theme verse, but did not engage in all aspects of what that verse and what that book meant. It was not until I became Catholic that I finally felt my desires to be a part of the early Church fulfilled. When I went to daily Mass a few times in a row, I realized that it was in fact a fulfillment and extension of what I had read in Acts 2:42. Here is what that verse says:

 

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

 

There are four aspects of the early church listed here: Apostolic Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread, and Prayers. During the Mass all four of these are manifested.

In the Catholic Church, the bishop traces his apostolic succession back to the apostles, particularly in the line of Peter through the Bishop of Rome. The priests and deacons of the church are delegates of the bishop that carry out that apostolic anointing to local parishes through their teaching and the Sacraments. Thus, we can truly say that we are under apostolic teaching not only during the homily, but also whenever the apostles’ letters are read to us in the Mass.

The Fellowship is present by virtue of us Catholics being gathered together for the Eucharist as a community. In each Mass, there is time spent “passing the sign of peace” where we greet one another and say “Peace be with you.” Before and after Mass is also a great time to engage in conversation, but it is during the Mass where we truly engage in fellowship around the Eucharistic Feast.

The phrase “Breaking of Bread” almost always refers to Holy Communion in Sacred Scripture. The early Church devoted themselves to the Sacrament of the Eucharist because Jesus was “known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35). In every Mass, the central part and climax is the “breaking of the bread” where the bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Lastly, throughout the Mass, we offer up prayers to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. In particular, we pray for God’s mercy at the very beginning of Mass, and in between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist we ask God to hear the many prayers we have for the universal Church, for our Diocese, and for our local parish community. Prayer is really the heartbeat of the Mass, and so we are devoted to it.

Each of these aspects of the Mass were carried out by the early Church on a daily basis, so we also participate in these things during Mass on a daily basis. It is incredible to me that what we read in the book of Acts is still being lived out in the Catholic Church today. May this serve as an encouragement to you to go to daily Mass and realize how ancient and how amazing it is that you get to be a part of the early Church right now.

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 29: The Pond and the Gathering

My Son,

 

Our relationship with Christ must be personal and communal. As I’ve mentioned before, there was a time in my life, when instead of going to a church service on Sundays, I would spend time with Jesus at a pond. It was actually a great time with God and a necessary step in my spiritual journey. I did this for about a year, until the Lord started speaking to me of the importance of gathering with other believers in a worship context. It was an older friend and mentor who really convicted me of this and I’m thankful because our lives with Jesus are meant to be shared.

When Jesus came and started his ministry, he gathered twelve disciples and lived in community with them. He also had times where he would retreat by himself and pray to the Father. In our lives, we need “the pond” and “the gathering”; we need time alone with God and time with others with God. This is a simple message, but vitally important to your spiritual health. I encourage you to spend plenty of time alone with God out in the nature he created, and also to share in the blessedness that comes from encouraging others along the journey and sharing in the Eucharistic feast together.

God is not just saving individuals, but is gathering a people unto himself; namely his Church. May God refresh you in your private time with him, and may he embolden you with charity in your time with others. In all things, abide in him.

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 28: Church Shopping vs. Church Submitting

My Son,

 

When I was growing up, my experience whenever my family moved to a new home was to shop for the church that most suited our needs. I do not blame my parents for this, because this was the normal experience for a lot of Evangelical Protestants we knew. My parents had a pure intention of wanting us to be taught the Bible, but with so many options to choose from in the “Bible belt” of Texas it was difficult to find the best fit for our family. We usually had about a 40-minute radius from our house from which to choose the right church. We would sometimes go years visiting different “non-denominational” churches, finding something we liked about the church and something we critiqued. Generally, the conversations following a visit to a new church revolved around what each person thought of the sermon and the music. If the pastor made us laugh a lot, that would be a good thing, and if the music was modern enough, then that would also be a plus. Sometimes we would go to the same church over and over again for years without really committing because our hesitations would still linger. This, my boy, was what church shopping was like. It was a never-ending journey to find the church that matched our needs and desires, while leaving us restless.

Looking back on these experiences, it saddens me to think that we were church shopping without even understanding what church really was and is and what it is for. Once again, this was not my parents’ fault, but this was the culture we lived in. The Church is not primarily a place we simply choose to satisfy our own wants, but rather the Church is something that was started by Jesus and given to the apostles and their successors to lead. It is primarily for the worship of God as expressed in the Eucharistic feast. Church cannot be shopped for, but only submitted to. Rather than seeing which denomination or church to join, the journey becomes more about finding who Jesus appointed over the area we reside to gather his Church around himself in the Eucharistic feast. Who is the pastor in a given area who can trace their own consecration to the episcopate back to Jesus appointing Peter and the apostles to lead his Church? It would be the Catholic Church because the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, is the one who holds the keys Jesus gave to St. Peter. “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’” (Matthew 16:15-19)

Jesus appointed Peter for the special task of shepherding the flock by giving him the keys of the kingdom. The Catholic Church is the Church Jesus started and leads. The “diocese” is essentially the Church in a given region and the parishes within a diocese are united together under their bishop and in the Eucharistic celebration. If this would have been my family’s understanding growing up, then we would simply have submitted to the apostolic authority of the bishop (overseer) of the Catholic diocese and gone to the parish closest to us.

This means that shopping is out and submitting is in. Choosing what fits us is out, and yielding to who God has chosen is in. If there are problems at the local parish, then we don’t just find a different church that we think is better, rather we would try our best to improve the parish God has us in by serving and getting involved.

I wanted to make you aware of this so you could be at peace knowing that the Church Jesus started still exists and is being guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth. The search for the “right” church is over. This truth about Church has given me peace and simplicity and I hope it will do the same for you.

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 27: Is It about a Sermon? Is It about the Worship Music? Is It about Community?

My Son,

 

What is this whole Church thing about? Why should we even go to Mass or go to a church service? I started pondering these questions nearly two years before becoming Catholic. I had just finished a discipleship school at a somewhat charismatic non-denominational church where I had pretty much lived at the church that entire time. I enjoyed the school, yet I was greatly troubled with these big questions about church after I had left. As I spent time with God out in nature at a pond on Sundays instead of going to a church, I was wrestling with these questions. I thought to myself: If church is about some guy’s sermon, then I can podcast that and I don’t need to go. If church is about the worship music, I can listen to that on my iPod and I don’t need to go. If church is about Christian community, I have that with my friends and I don’t need to go to church.

At most church services I had attended, the climax of the service was usually the pastor’s sermon. The service seemed to be centered more on the pastor than on Jesus, even if the sermon was about Jesus. As you can imagine, I became quite disillusioned with this kind of approach to church.

As I was pondering the question (why go to church?) at the pond, I suddenly thought of communion or the Eucharist. It was a passing thought that I didn’t understand, yet it jolted me enough to catch my attention and stick with me. Though I had been a Christian for some time, I didn’t know anything about the Sacraments, and I certainly didn’t view communion as actually partaking the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, but the thought crossed my mind, “perhaps I need to go to church for communion.”

About a year later, I actually discovered what the Church taught about Holy Communion, the Eucharist, and began to be drawn by it. The Eucharist is the thank-offering of Jesus and the Church to the Father. The bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus and is lifted high for all to adore and then consume. Thus, the service or Mass, reaches its climax in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

So why go to Church? Jesus Christ manifests his presence and you get to commune with him in such a way that would be impossible for you to do on your own. God is everywhere, but just as in Moses’ day with the burning bush, the Eucharist is a special manifestation of Christ’s presence. Partaking in the Eucharist puts the burning bush inside of you. It is the intimate union of the Bride and the Bridegroom. The better question becomes: Why would you ever not go to Church? Jesus Christ is there!

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 26: What Is the Church?

My Son,

 

What is the Church? This is a big question, and it is this very question that drove me to the Catholic Church. A whole library full of books could not exhaust the answer to this, so my letter to you will barely scratch the surface.

Before digging into definitions, let me ask you this, my son; why is this question about the Church so important? It is important for us because it is important to Christ. This question has to do with the Bride of Jesus, and even an ordinary man is quite zealous for his bride. If Christ and the Church are one, then it would be hard to follow one without the other. Separating Jesus from the Church is like separating a person’s body from their head. Remember, this is a profound mystery: the two becoming one flesh refers to Christ and the Church (see Ephesians 5:32). As St. Joan of Arc said when she was on trial, “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter” (CCC, 795).

So what is this Church that is so important? For starters, “the word ‘Church’ means ‘convocation.’ It designates the assembly of those whom God’s Word ‘convokes,’ i.e., gathers together to form the People of God, and who themselves, nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ” (CCC, 777). As the old colloquialism goes, “You are what you eat,” and so it is with the Church. We eat the Body of Christ in the Eucharist and in turn become the Body of Christ. The Church “exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body” (CCC, 752). This is why the Eucharist has always been so central to Christian worship. It makes the Church who she truly is: the Body of Christ.

The Church, as spoken of in the Nicene Creed, is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. These are the four marks of the church.

Saying that the Church is one is difficult to say in our modern context. For the first thousand years the Church was essentially and visibly one, though a growing distance between the Eastern Church and Western Church had been forming. Then, in 1054 A.D., the Great Schism between the East and West was made evident. The effects of this split are still being felt to this day. About 500 years later, the Reformation happened and many groups began breaking away from the Church to start their own. Fast forward to our current times and there are now over 30,000 different Christian denominations. Despite all these rifts, there is still just one Church that can trace its history of consecrations back to the consecration of Peter by Jesus Christ himself, and that is the Catholic Church. This is why the Catechism says, “The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it…. This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him” (CCC, 816). Jesus Christ is the head of his Church, and the Pope, successor of Peter, is Christ’s vicar who serves as the “visible head” of the Church leading the visible unity of the Church. Thus, the Church is still one because the successors of the apostles still in communion with the successor of Peter (i.e. the Catholic Church) form one cohesive whole.

Those outside of the visible unity of the Catholic Church, but who have been baptized into Christ, are then part of the invisible unity of the Body of Christ, since Baptism sacramentally initiates them into the Body of Christ. The Church teaches, “All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church” (CCC, 818). In other words, anyone who has been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is Catholic in a certain sense (though not yet confirmed and receiving the same Holy Eucharist). This does not mean that being separated from the Catholic Church is okay. The Catholic Church is the fullness of Church and thus God’s primary instrument to transmit his saving graces in Christ Jesus to the world.

The Second Vatican Council said, “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God” (CCC, 816). I believe it grieves the heart of God to see so many divisions and denominations in Christendom today because it inhibits our witness to the world. When we are one, the world will believe that the Father has sent the Son (John 17:21). I believe God is calling every Christian to come back into visible unity by coming back to the Catholic Church, because it is the Church that his Son Jesus started, leads, and will ultimately marry. It is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

May Paul’s words continue to ring true unto the ages of ages, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 25: One Flesh with Christ

 

My Son,

 

The grand narrative of Scripture points to the Bridegroom and his Bride; namely Jesus and his Church. When man first met woman in Genesis, Adam declared, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” and therefore, “a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24). And Paul testifies that this “is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:32). For just as the man and woman become “one flesh,” so now Christ and the Church become “one flesh.” How can this be? It is simple: the Eucharist.

Before Jesus instituted the Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian faith at the Last Supper, he prefaced it in John 6 where he said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:56). Our flesh partakes in the flesh of Jesus, and we become one flesh with Jesus. This is the marriage supper of the Lamb. This is the union between the Bridegroom and his Bride. This is amazing!

Before I became Catholic in my mid-twenties, although I was a Christian, I did not know what sacraments were and certainly did not esteem the Eucharist, or Communion, as anything other than symbolic. As I journeyed toward the Catholic Church, I started reading what the early Church taught about the Eucharist and was blown away to discover that they took Jesus’ words quite literally. In fact, the Eucharist was central to Christian worship and life. One of the earliest Christian writings we have is by St. Justin Martyr who said, “We do not consume the Eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving” (First Apology in Defense of Christianity, St. Justin, 157 AD, excerpt from Liturgy of the Hours, v. II, p. 694). St. Irenaeus echoes St. Justin’s remarks around the year 180 AD when he said, “[Jesus] declared that the chalice, which comes from his creation, was his blood, and he makes it the nourishment of our blood. He affirmed that the bread, which comes from his creation, was his body, and he makes it the nourishment of our body. When the chalice we mix and the bread we bake receive the Word of God, the Eucharistic elements become the body and blood of Christ, by which our bodies live and grow” (St. Irenaeus, Against heresies, 180 AD, excerpt from Liturgy of the Hours, v. II, p. 727). Thus we see that Jesus, the apostles, and their successors taught that the Eucharist was truly the flesh and blood of Jesus. That being the case, the Bride really becomes one flesh with the Bridegroom each time the Holy Eucharist is consumed by the People of God. For as the husband and wife are one all the time by virtue of their being sacramentally joined together in marriage, so we are one with God through the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism. And just as the oneness of the husband and wife culminates and manifests in the act of intercourse, so we manifest our oneness with Christ through partaking in the Eucharist. Christ and his Church are one. As our Lord Jesus taught us, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).

Oh what sweet depth of intimacy we get to have with the Living God! My prayer is that every Christian would come to realize the union between Christ and his Church as celebrated in the Eucharist. Every time you partake in the Eucharist, my son, do not take it for granted, rather ask God to unveil this mystery to you more and more. May you come to cherish this intimate union with your Savior!

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 24: Either/Or vs. Both/And

My Son,

 

The truth of a matter is not always to be seen in terms of an either/or construct, but a both/and construct. The Catholic Church has long taken the both/and approach to most matters of theology.

 

It’s not either “Jesus is fully man” or “He is fully God,” but that Jesus is both fully man and fully God.

 

It’s not either “God is One” or “God is three,” but that God is both one essence and in three persons.

 

It’s not either “I follow Jesus” or “I follow the Church’s Teaching,” but in light of the fact that Christ and the Church are one, we follow both Jesus and Jesus’ Teaching through his Body, the Church.

 

It’s not either “Jesus built his Church on Peter by calling him Cephas (Rock)” or “Jesus built his Church on the faith Peter confessed,” but it’s both Jesus built his Church on Peter and he built his Church on the faith Peter confessed.

 

It’s not either “Jesus is the head of the Church” or “the Pope is the head of the Church,” but that both Jesus is the invisible head of the Church and the Pope is the visible “head” of the Church who represents Christ’s headship.

 

It’s not either “the sacraments are symbolic” or “the sacraments actually accomplish something,” but that the sacraments are both symbolic and they do the very thing they signify.

 

It’s not either “Scripture” or “Tradition,” as authoritative for Church Teaching, but both Scripture and Tradition are necessary for developing doctrine.

 

It’s not either “predestination” or “free will,” but both God initiates his calling on our lives to be predestined into the image of his Son and we freely choose to cooperate with his grace so that this sanctification occurs.

 

It’s not either faith or works, but faith and works expressed together are necessary for the salvation process (James 2:14-26).

 

It’s not either “the kingdom is here” or “the kingdom is not yet,” but both the kingdom is here through the Church and her Sacraments and is not yet fully realized because we are waiting for Christ’s return.

 

As usual, I could go on and on with such a list, but I think my point is clear. Whenever you encounter a dichotomy try to see where there can be harmony.

I will leave you with this quote by A.W. Tozer, a prominent Protestant theologian, who said, “The various elements of truth stand in perpetual antithesis, sometimes requiring us to believe apparent opposites while we wait for the moment when we shall know as we are known. Then the truth which now appears to be in conflict with itself will arise in shining unity and it will be seen that the conflict has not been in the truth but in our sin-damaged minds” (Knowledge of the Holy).

 

Love,

Dad