Monday, 18 August 2014

7QT:Catholic-Protestant Interactions and Thoughts

Aren't you so excited that I'm going to touch such a sensitive topic? Well, it's one that I think about a lot, so you just get to get into my head a little today. Something that people around me LOVE to do. (Not.)


I very rarely find a balanced approach to ecumenism in the Catholic world. Either it's the obsessed  crazy focused Catholics who are so convicted of the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith that they can't believe that there's anything good outside of it, who seem defensive, or offensive when anything 'Christian, not Catholic' is mentioned, who see the Protestant as 'the other'. Or it's the people who aren't too jazzed about the Catholic faith itself, or don't know that much, who are all like 'Nothing matters, in the end we should all do the best we can, there's no real difference between Catholic and Protestant belief', etc. Even though I leaned toward the first half for many years, I've reached a place where I KNOW that neither extreme reflects the truth or the beauty of God's love and plan for His people.

And so I feel sad when I hear of a prominent Catholic speaker who comes to speak at my parish and does some Protestant- bashing. Or when Catholics take offence at the phrase 'personal relationship with Jesus' because it sounds too Protestant'. What?


I know that one of the problems is that people's opinions are so much influenced by their personal experiences and interactions. If you've constantly been mocked by Protestants for being Catholic, I can understand being defensive about it. And if you've been put down in Catholic school for being Protestant, well, duh. And of you've never discovered the truth and beauty of Church teaching, of course you feel 'What's the big deal?'

Here's one of the truest and loving-est lines about ecumenism I've heard- 'There's far more that unites us than divides us.'

Ah ha. Quite the shocker for Catholics and non-Catholic Christians, both.


Pope Francis seems to be quite the example of how to relate to Protestants, in so many different instances:



In my own experiences, I have been getting many opportunities to work at Christian unity.

For example, a few days ago, I preached at a Protestant church.


Yeah, that probably sounds cooler than it was. We actually spoke to the youth of the church for an event on Indian Independence Day, but several pastors were present. I was surprised at their openness to having my team (as Catholics) speak, since many Protestants too have misconceptions about Catholics, and find it hard to believe that we are 'real' Christians. But it was so cool- I spoke on 'Freedom in Christ', and quoted JP2, and we were completely united on everything I shared! There were quite a few 'Amens' during the talk, not something I hear often when I speak to Catholics. :-)


Growing up with the charismatic renewal has definitely helped with being comfortable with Protestants. I can imagine many Catholics stiff with discomfort at the vocal praise, the music style, the preaching. But for me, it felt like a prayer meeting (which is not surprising since the Charismatic renewal started in Protestant churches), which made it easier to relate to them as brothers and sisters.

I remember one of my friends telling me after I attended a charismatic prayer meeting, something to the effect of "It's more Catholic to pray silently in Adoration, more like Mary." And I retorted "How many times does it say in the psalms 'Shout to the Lord'?" There are so many instances where the Jewish people sang and danced and shouted to God. How often do we Catholics do that? And let's not get into Acts 2 and 'tongues' which I'm sure most Catholics would be happy to vote out of the bible, which thankfully Catholics don't do. (You see how I'm digging at both Catholics and Protestants? Now that's the spirit of ecumenism. Not really.)


Favourite person to hear talking about ecumenism is Dr. Peter Kreeft. Some 'Ouch/aha' quotes from him:

Why should God let Protestants become Catholics when many Protestants, perhaps most, already know Christ more intimately and personally than many Catholics, perhaps most! How can God lead Protestants home to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church until the Catholic Church becomes that fullness that they knew as Protestants plus more, not any less! 

When Catholics know Christ better than Protestants do, when Catholics are better Protestants than Protestants, then Protestants will become Catholics in order to become better Protestants! When Catholics are evangelized, Protestants will be sacramentalized. But not before! Evangelizing comes first.

Read the rest of the article/transcript:  Ecumenism without Compromise by Dr. Peter Kreeft or listen to the audio. (P.s. He's really easy to listen to.)


And just because memes make great addition to blog posts, here you go:

Over to Jen's for more quick takes.

(Oops, looks like posting Seven Quick Takes Friday on a Monday is not acceptable, link up closed. Guess I'll just link it next Friday.)

Monday, 11 August 2014

What Makes You Beautiful

Can you believe that I'm writing about One Direction? Better believe it, baby. I listened to this song and it echoed in my dreams as I took a nap this afternoon, and then sang it non stop while riding my bike on the streets of Pune today... all preparation for this blog post. The sacrifices of writing.

So first listen to the song....

Doesn't it make you want to be a 16 year old boy in a boy band? Or is that just me? Okay, moving on.

So there's some stuff that I think is true, and then there are some lines that don't ring true for me. And because I can, I'm going to write about it on my blog.

So, first the lies.

You're insecure... blah blah blah... that's what makes you beautiful. You don't know you're beautiful... that's what makes you beautiful.

Wait, being insecure makes you beautiful? Girls who have a bad self-image are more beautiful? Well, there's truth and lies all mixed up in that song.

Being insecure does not make you beautiful. Thinking you're ugly does not turn on the Beauty Switch. Usually, quite the opposite. I've seen many pretty girls who DON'T believe that they are, who keep comparing themselves to others and never measure up. And it shows.

What does make someone beautiful? It's all rather confusing. But here's what I think (you don't have to wait long to hear what I think.)

I think when a woman KNOWS that she's beautiful... she looks beautiful. When there is beauty within, she taps into that and it flows to the outside. But then of course I also think knowing you're beautiful is connected with knowing you're loved. When you know someone loves you, you glow. You KNOW that that person thinks your beautiful... and so you are.

I think about women that I've admired, women who I've thought are beautiful, and not just the first time I see them. They are of different ages. Some wear make up, some don't. Some wear fashionable clothes that fit perfectly, some wear simple but pretty clothes. Some wear heels, some wear slippers. Some wear earrings, some don't. Some are loud and funny, some are quiet and unassuming. What do they have in common?

They usually hold themselves well. They have wonderful posture. They are confident and sure of themselves. They know who they are.

They sparkle with self forgetfulness.

They are joyful.

They are looking outside of themselves.

And that's where the song almost gets it right- the women who are not looking inwards obsessed with their own beauty are truly beautiful. Humility, the best makeup. So women who are cocksure (not the right adjective?), who are aware of their power to charm, and are always ready to use it to manipulate, women who say or feel 'I could get any guy I want', women who are constantly thinking about their own beauty... lose it. And you can often see it in their faces. (Although guys often can't.)

I think all women have the potential for beauty. The more they are themselves, the more beautiful they get. The more they allow Love to soften their hearts, the more they glow. The more they love, the more beauty shapes their face, their eyes, their smiles. And the paradox is that when they allow true Beauty to clothe them, they are not thinking that much about it.

I've seen in myself the fascination with my own beauty. You know, when I look at every mirror I pass when I know I'm looking my best, when I wait impatiently for people to upload photos where I know I look good, when I untag myself in pictures that don't make me look good (of which there are many). What, you don't do that? I've had so many bad hair days, acne-ridden awkward days of my youth, that I value every good hair day (and the wonders of conditioning with coconut oil), and clear skin is a joy to my heart.

Speaking of narcissists

And I don't think that's all bad. Beauty is something to take joy in, whether it's in yourself or someone else, or a sunset, or a baby's perfectly formed features, or a beautiful piece of music.

BUT. When beauty turns one to narcissism, then it sours you on the inside.

I don't want to be insecure, unsure about whether I am really beautiful, self-consciously telling the world through my posture and expression 'Nothing to see here'. Neither do I want to be so full of myself that all I see is ME as I worship at the shrine of my own beauty.

I want to know I'm beautiful, and that I'm loved, and then with that confidence to FORGET ABOUT ME and see the beauty in the people around me and love THEM!

I want to be something like this beautiful woman, who knew who she was and Whose she was:

The Virgin in Prayer, Sassoferato