019: The Kenosis Of Christ As Model For Us…What?

catholic_FINAL_150The entire Catholic faith boils down to one thing – be like Christ. That’s the point of prayer and the purpose of the sacraments. It’s the whole enchilada.

And if you want to know what it means to be like Christ, look no further than Philippians 2. The opening verses of St. Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi are the key to unlocking his inner life; the self-sacrificial, self-emptying, life-giving love of of Jesus Christ.

Of course, St. Paul wasn’t alone in his discussion of the incredible, loving humility of Our Lord. Another beautiful description is given by St. Leo the Great. These days they’re joined by theologians with lots of letters after their names who call this self-emptying of Christ kenosis. 

I just call it hard.

In this episode of The Art of Catholic, we’ll go through this important and beautiful passage of Scripture, showing how it provides the foundation for the way we are supposed to live.

God bless!

Matthew

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Is It Okay To Complain To God?

Children have a reputation for being complainers. “John wrecked my fort!” “Why can’t I have more ice cream?” “There’s too much jelly on this sandwich!”

little boy grouching in front a plate of crepesBut before you pull a muscle nodding your head in agreement, don’t forget that we’re all children of somebody. Which means we’re all complainers. And the older we get, the bigger our complaints tend to be. In fact, we don’t just complain to other humans, we even complain to God.

Is it wrong?

On one hand, there is the principle that we need to try maintain peace in all circumstances in life. If God allows something bad to happen to us, He has his reasons. After all, He’s not just concerned with our current well-being. He’s concerned with preparing us for eternity. But does that mean we can’t pipe up about these issues in our lives? Can we not voice some displeasure?

Scripture seems to indicate we can. Turn with me to the Psalms.

Psalms is the one book of the Bible we read pretty much at every Mass. And it’s full of complaining. In fact, more than 40 Psalms are actually categorized as songs of lament or complaint. Psalm 142:2 unabashedly declares, “I pour out my complaint before him, I tell my trouble before him.” 

Of course, complaining to God is one thing. Grumbling against God Psalmsis another.

Case in point, the Israelites in the wilderness. They were a constant pain in the keister to Moses and God. “We need more food!” “We need more water!” “Why did you make us come here?” (Sound familiar parents?)

It got so bad at one point that they even grumbled against the manna – the miraculous bread God provided every day – calling it “worthless food.” Not a good idea. In a scene reminiscent of Indiana Jones descending into the tomb containing the Ark of the Covenant, God sent fiery serpents among the Israelites. Many died.

St. Paul makes reference to this scene when he warns against grumbling in 1 Corinthians 10:9-10. “We must not put the to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”

So what’s the difference between complaining and grumbling?

While grumbling pits us against the other person, we complain to people who we think want to take care of us. The psalmist can complain because he knows God the perfect Father loves him. It’s a relationship grounded in love that confidently believes God will ultimately take care of him. It’s the same with us.

In fact, it’s even better.

Joined to Christ through the sacraments, we are “sons in the Son.” We can approach Almighty God in complete confidence – even when complaining – knowing that He loves us as children.

Of course, we all know that parents respond better to gratitude than complaining. And to be honest, we don’t deserve any of the good things God gives us. Strive to be grateful in all things, but have the security and confidence of a perfectly loved child.

God bless!

P.S. Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of my quick guide to deeper prayer 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life! It’s an easy step-by-step guide to help you rocket to God!

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018: The Bible & the Church Fathers (Part 2)

catholic_FINAL_150Do you believe in the Trinity? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is both all God and all man at the same time – consubstantial with the Father? Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?

Most of you are nodding your internal head, saying “Yes, Matt, of course we do.”

These are issues most Christians take for granted. We believe them because they are fundamental to our faith. We believe them because they are what have been taught to us, handed down from generation to generation.

But why?

The quick answer is very simple: Because of Christ. He founded the Catholic Church and gave the Apostles authority. But then what? Acts 1:20 tells us: “His office let another take.” In other words, their authority was passed on.

And many to whom they passed the torch were the men who, through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, formulated many of the doctrines and beliefs we now take for granted. The belief system of Christianity didn’t drop down out of the sky in a catechism. The truth that existed in its fullness in Jesus Christ was unpacked over the centuries.Ikone_Athanasius_von_Alexandria

And many of the guys that did that unpacking were the Fathers of the Church.

In this episode of “The Art of Catholic”, we’re going to finish what we started in Episode 17. (This is part 2 of “Introduction to the Fathers”, which is the first lesson in the Journey Through Scripture Bible study titled “The Bible and the Church Fathers.”)

We’ll discuss the development of doctrine and start to get to know a few of these towering figures of the faith. What you’re going to start to realize is that these men are not just historical figures. We call them “Fathers” because that’s what they are. They “father” us in the faith, leading us to Our Father in heaven.

Enjoy!

Matthew

  • If you’d like to leave a rating and review of the show (which really helps!), click here.
  • The Fathers were huge on prayer. Much of what I put in my FREE pdf 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life, originates with them. Grab it and watch your prayer life take off!8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life Cover Image