Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Where Theology Ends and Christianity Begins

On my journey towards the Catholic Church I have come into a bit of conflict. Several of my friends and family members are greatly concerned about me and it has caused a few rather heated discussions about theology and the faith.

 I have a rather ferocious need to study and study and study some more, to find the answers to every little point and then to be able to defend that point with a well formed argument. As I have studied and studied, I still have yet to scratch the surface of the church's teaching although for now I feel I have a good handle on the basics and even a few of the more obscure.

 That being said I have recently felt a great need to just set the theology books down and to simply focus on living out the words I have been consuming.

 As Thomas a Kempis writes in his masterpiece "The Imitation of Christ"

 If I knew all the things that
are in the world, and were not in charity, what should it help me
before God, who is to judge me according to my deeds?


...we ought to read books which are devotional and simple,
as well as those which are deep and difficult.

 I feel that my need to be right about the Catholic Faith (though I feel it is right and true) has become something that I need to pull back from and simply live in love in charity with my friends and family who have expressed concern. To live by example and to devote myself more to "books which are devotional and simple" rather than the "deep and difficult".

 I could learn every little detail of the faith, but the question would be, would I have loved as Christ loved or did I spend my time arguing with and belittling my fellow believer. I stand on the truth of the Church but it must always be in love.

 Apologetics are wonderful, but there is a time and a place. I feel I am reaching a time to simply give  myself to devotion and prayer and to cut back on the theology. I will still be going through the RCIA process, so it will be a balancing act, but one I think will be helpful in maintaining the bonds of friendship.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Our Home Chapel

 It has been a vision of mine for quite some time to have a home chapel on our future farm. This will not only be a place for our personal use, but for anyone to come and pray and meditate. We plan to offer our farm as a place of retreat while people can come and learn old farming practices, get dirty and most of all have a quiet time with the Lord.

 Currently our home chapel or oratory is in the corner of our living room, which we will always have even when we build a specific building for prayer in the future.

 Our current oratory looks something like this although updates have been made (I'll add additional photos later).

Today, I was also given a beautiful gift! This antique holy water font. (Thank you Father Charles!)


We are excited to see our house have a specific place to go for prayers and devotions to God. We set aside spaces for all sorts of things. Kitchens for preparing food, bedrooms for sleeping, living rooms for gathering. It is wonderful to see a space devoted to the daily offering of prayers and for meditating on the things of God and it's even more gratifying to see our children come to us and ask to use the space for their prayers. 

 Someday, we hope to offer a place of rest and reflection of prayer and meditation to those who are in need. 


Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Posture of Prayer: Intentional Clothing for Devotions

 I love history. I love historical clothing. Anyone who knows me that my daily wardrobe has become almost exclusively that of the late 19th and early 20th century. Clothing in my mind is an underestimated force. It really shapes how the world sees us and how we see ourselves in relation to the world. Clothing can give us a basic understanding about a person upon the first meeting, making the old "never judge a book by it's cover", although still true on a deeper level, maybe not as true initially.

 In times of prayer, especially at night, I find myself sometimes distracted by my appearance. Often times when I arrive home late at night from work, I take my work clothes off and could throw on my tshirt and shorts, do my prayers and then head to bed. But, as someone who really feels that appearances matter, tshirts and shorts don't strike me as appropriate when entering in to a time of prayer and contemplation.

  I should note, that I am in NO way suggesting that God would not accept my prayers  if I wore a tshirt and shorts, however it is important to me to be intentional and reverent before the Lord.

 Since I started studying the early church I have always been very inspired by the monastic tradition and the dress of religious life. The intentional and simple nature of their monastic habits have always struck a chord in my mind.

 So, in my desire to create a posture of prayer and devotion I've adopted my own sort of prayer "habit" if you will consisting of a plain white linen shirt and a medieval hood. (see above photo)

 I think as I have mentioned, I am a lover of history and doing things in an old way. It's a strange thing for people to understand, but ever since I was a kid I've had this desire. A simple trip to the woods had to be carefully planned as I put on my 18th century clothing in imitation of my favorite movie "Last of the Mohicans". Now that I have matured and "living history" has become more or less my lifestyle, I end up relating this same intentional way of dressing into my prayer life. Like the clothing I wear for living history, the clothing I'm experimenting with wearing during my late night devotions helps connect me to the ancient roots of my faith while also presenting myself in a humble manner of dress.

 This may all seem silly, but these are the things I think about. I hope to do more research into what kinds of religious clothing options there could be for men in the laity who wish to create a more intentional posture of prayer.