Friday, November 1, 2013

Once Saved, Always Saved

I have heard this expression most of my life growing up in the South.  It refers to the unearned, unprecitented, meritorious gift of Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross that opened the doors to heaven and how one's acceptance of that truth, combined with a contrition of the heart, will grant eternal life.  It is a beautiful reality of all Christians that we should all give thanks for everyday.  The next question is what happens next? Well, there is one tiny little declaration added to that reality that causes many a debate amongst theologians and neighbors alike.  My discussion have all been in the latter category from the perspective of a common sense Catholic, thus I am on the side of Tradition that has always taught that our salvation is a gift that must be cherished, protected, and practiced else it will be lost.  Why follow Christians reject this idea is baffling to me because it just makes common sense.

What other club, institution, or organization will allow its members to behave however they want once they get in?  What other group allows you to stay a member when you become inactive?  I was once a member of St Vincent de Paul Society within my parish and was very active in planning, participating, and promoting the group.  After years of volunteering and my responsibilities increased elsewhere, my activity diminished within SVDP to the point that I was no longer considered a member who could be called upon.  No one saw my past participation as justification for thinking of me as a current member. I went from being active, to associate, to contributing, to has anyone heard from him lately?  If not, shorten the membership list.  I may feel like I am a member and still have the Vincentian spirit, but I am still not a member.  To belong, you have to regularly invest in it.  Getting the invitation to join, having people welcome you at the door, and even having a benefactor pay your dues is a great start.  Sitting on your duff, missing all the meetings, and doing nothing with what you have been given is not a proper response and is more than just frowned upon.

Getting back in can be as simple as answering the call.  Refusing to answer the door or pick up the phone blocks the invitation, no matter how earnest the desire for your return.

How much more of a gift have we received when we get invited, welcomed, and dues paid that we were incapable of paying ourselves?  We did not even ask for the dues to be paid, yet they were.  All we had to do is show up.  Show up and then listen to what the Club President would have us do as good participating members.  It only makes sense.  It is just common sense.

When Jesus condemns to hell those in Mt 25 who were looking for their reward, He is saying that not only will you be judged for what you did do, but also for that which you neglected to do. Even though they knew him and He knew them, Jesus says depart from me you wicked. He did not judge them as much as gave an accounting for their actions, or lack thereof.  His Church is going out into the world to change it and you have to keep up or fall behind.  Get too lazy and you are lost altogether.  Our Lord will not be neglected, abused, and taken for granted by a false doctrine that claims immunity.

Calling upon Scripture quotes such as "
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" is a good defense of once saved, always saved.  The common sense Catholic says, "Yes, and… there is more good news" not either or, faith or works; it is faith and works through Grace.  

Why else would Paul say I have fought the good fight, have finished the race?  What race? Weren't you saved way back when with your face in the dirt drenched in shame, humility, and repentance? Why all the anxiety and endurance of a race?  Because, Paul knew his conversion was just the beginning of his spiritual walk (sometimes run) with the Lord. He had to make the journey to strengthen his relationship and love of Christ.  His course was salvation and he was competing against the evils of the world to persevere in it. St. Paul was interested in little else. Comparing salvation to a race may not be the best analogy, but it is what he chose and I believe him over my neighbor.

There is so much to say on the subject and more proof-texts in scripture on this particular subject than just about anything else.  I come across such references regularly and I hope to fill in more here over time.  Until then, let Matthew 16 be the standard: "The Son of man will repay everyone according to his conduct"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Our Lady's Shrine

As part of an American Heritage Girls badge earning exercise, my daughter, E, was doing a report on our local shrine, Our Lady of South Carolina - Our Lady & Mother of Joyful Hope.  She asked the reasonable question about its location: "Why did they put it in Kingstree?"  The question had occurred to me over the years, so I paused a few minutes before answering.  Kingstree is a small town of approximately 3000 that is not really on the way to anywhere else, much less a destination.  I have lived in SC for over 30 years and never had an occasion to pass through it until our family pilgrimage to the shrine there.

Of course the answer as to why Kingstree was chosen as the site for the one and only shrine in the diocese of SC may be as simple as that it was the only place where a suitable location was available.  The common sense Catholic in me thought it might be just that, but more.  I told E that if we thought about three main reasons a shrine is built, that ought to shed light on why the Diocese chose such an out-of-the way location for its own shine.  

First.  A shrine is a sacred place and/or building set aside to worship, honor, pay particular tribute to some aspect of our faith that we identify with as sojourners on earth.  Honoring Mary as Our Lady of South Carolina and Mother of joyful hope, helps us to identify with our Blessed mother as an intercessor for our home state, while she offers us a model for a Christ-centered attitude which must necessarily be rooted in joy and hope.  Such a shrine would be suitable anyplace in the world.

Second.  Our European forefathers gave us the ancient custom of setting out on a pilgrimage to strengthen their faith, making a deliberate analogy of the spiritual journey with the physical journey.  A shrine provides a good destination for both when it is in a tranquil place, apart from the noise of life.  Making a journey to such a place reminds us that is not only desirable but necessary, even if it means retreating to a quiet room in the house or a porch swing.  One finds a beautiful peaceful setting in Kingstree that is in itself a worthwhile pursuit.  But even more worthwhile, and ultimately the real purpose of the pilgrimage, is (even if somewhat obscured by the natural challenges that can make the physical journey of six children and two adults in one vehicle a bit stressful) to find an opportunity for spiritual enrichment and renewal.  The Shrine of Our Lady of Joyful Hope does this by immersing pilgrims in a quiet space that references our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, while recommending meditation on the life of Christ through the prayers of the Rosary.

Third.  A shrine ought to be a spiritual center for the local community.  In SC, there are communities that have no Catholic presence.  A shrine can be a quiet beacon of light, proclaiming the Gospel, without mentioning a word.  Sometimes in rural Evangelical SC, that is the best approach.

On the Shrine's webpage, it contains a lengthy mission statements which includes the following: 

As for a Marian approach to the Word, the Rosary is a practical means to help concentrate on the mysteries of our faith. The extended seven-part Rosary following the pattern of salvation history, is a litany of the “mighty works of God” (The Shrine 18), from creation to glorification. This is similar to the method our Lord used to prepare the two disciples for the celebration of the Mass at Emmaus, which in turn made them the first Eucharistic evangelizers in the original Church. 

The paschal mystery is a recurrent theme in the teaching of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, “The whole life of the Christian must be paschal... every priest, at any level, in any area of work, is the servant and minister of the paschal mystery accomplished on the cross and lived anew on the altar for the redemption of mankind... help us to understand the meaning of your Son’s death and resurrection, and teach us to reflect it in our lives... embrace the paschal mystery and proclaim your salvation with joyful praise."

“May these days bring you to her who is the most perfect teacher of that love which enables us to be untied in the deepest way with
Christ in the mystery of his Eucharistic presence. Let Mary lead us to the Eucharist!” 


To you, Our Lady of Joyful Hope, we entrust the priests, deacons, seminarians, religious men and women, and laity, and all the people of the State of South Carolina, in their joys and their sorrows, their triumphs and their defeats, their successes and their failures. As Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, you are also Mother to all who call upon you in their need. You are the Mother of all races and all people.

Help our universal human family and all our families to draw closer together; help our youth to find meaning, purpose, and direction in life; help our fail elderly to know you are with them; help our sick, poor, abandoned, addicted, and unborn to be rescued by your love for them, reaching our through us.

Lead us all closer to your Son, our Lord, our Savior, and our God, who is present with us in the Most Holy Eucharist. Through our prayers to you, Mother of Joyful Hope, especially the prayer of the Rosary, help us to become people of hope and of joy, radiating God’s love for us always, in your Son, Jesus Christ. In His powerful name and with your special intercession we pray. 

Bishop Robert J. Baker, S.T.D. Bishop of Charleston October 7, 2003

“I wish to place you under the protection of the Blessed Virgin. May she, who for many years could profit from the visible presence of Jesus and who treated her Divine Son with the greatest care and delicacy, accompany you always to the Eucharist. May she give you her own sentiments of adoration and of love.”    Pope John Paul II 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Lady of South Carolina - Our Lady & Mother of Joyful Hope

Under the patronage of Our Lady of South Carolina - Our Lady and Mother of Joyful Hope, I present these expressions of my experiences and reflections as a spouse, father, and friend -- but most of all as a forgiven child of the living Triune God.  You are my king Jesus and I pray your Holy Spirit will assist me in honoring the Father of amazing grace in all that I do.

Our Lady of South Carolina