Friday, July 29, 2011

Who Wrote the Book of Love?

If John wrote Revelation, and Paul wrote most of the Epistles, who wrote the Book of Love? Pat, ND

What a great question! Pat, your Biblical knowledge is acute. John is believed to be the author of the Book of Revelation. As you might recall, I am finishing up a class on Johannine Literature, which studied his Gospel and Revelation in depth. It was excellent! Sorry for the advertisement!

Paul is the author of most of the epistles. Coincidentally my next class is Pauline Literature. What are the chances! (Pretty great considering I choose when to answer your questions.)

The Book of Love? Well by that I assume you mean the Bible. I mean it is a love story from start to finish. God’s love is evident from “In the beginning” to “It is finished.” If you want to read a great love story that stands the test of time, this is it. If you want to read about a man who loves his Bride enough to die for her, this is it. If you want to read about the ultimate “happily ever after”, this is it.

So I think you are asking me, “Who wrote the Bible?” The answer is….God. God inspired human authors to record His message. The authors were able to use their own skills and talents, but the message belongs to God.

The Monotones had it right:

It was someone from above who wrote it. And it goes a little something like this:

In the beginning God tells us He loves us

He invites us to live in paradise where we will never be apart from Him

He shows us the meaning of romance by offering us everything we truly need

We break up with Him…through sin.

But He always gives us just one more chance.

That is who wrote THE book of love.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ask Ellen: I'll go with the silly...What's the deal with the incense? Is it only for "special occasions"? Steph, PA

Thanks for the question, Steph.  When you grow up in the Catholic Church, as we did, it is hard not to run into incense at some point.  It is interesting how the minute I smell it, it reminds me of Church.  Of course it also reminds me of college.  People used incense to cover the smell of pot.  But that’s another story.

Incense was an important part of Jewish liturgy.  The altar of incense was before the Ark of the Covenant.  Therefore, incense is associated with God’s Presence as God’s Presence was thought to be contained within the Ark.  The smoke that arises as incense is burned is said to be our prayers ascending to heaven.

That is a beautiful picture.  As we pray our thoughts and intentions are lifted up to heaven.  The liturgy is meant to engage all of our senses.  We see the candles, vestments, stained glass etc.  We hear the Word of God and prayer.  We touch each other through the sign of peace.  We touch Jesus as we receive Him in the Eucharist.  We taste heaven as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ.  Our sense of smell is engaged with incense.  The liturgy should be a feast for the senses.

Nowadays it is used for special occasions such as “High Mass” and funerals.  I hope next time you smell incense it is in Church and not to mask the smell of illegal substances!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why is Mass so boring? Bob, TX

Ouch!!!  That one hurts but may be deserved in some respects.  In general, people find Mass boring because they have no clue what is going on.  We go to Church….stand, sit and kneel and respond with stuff we memorized but were never told why.  We know something significant is going on but we have no idea how to plug ourselves in!

First, let me say that I am sorry that it was never explained to you.  Let me also add that I wish we were given more opportunities to understand the Mass piece by piece.  This is exactly why I advocate Bible study for Catholics!  Everything about the Mass is Biblical!!!!  Every response and gesture..everything.

Let me pause for this commercial break…and tell you to get “A Biblical Walk Through The Mass” (Ascension Press) by Dr. Sri.  As an aside, he happens to be teaching me the Gospel of John in the Augustine Institute DE program and it is nothing short of fabulous.  And no..that is not brown on my nose.

If you read a book like his or maybe “The Lamb’s Supper” by Scott Hahn you will begin to see the depth and significance of the Mass.  You will understand what liturgy is and how much we owe to the Jewish faith for its tradition and beauty.

If you study the Mass, you will have many “aha moments”  You will even understand vestments and incense. Mass will become like a Bible treasure hunt..sorry, I get carried away.  I can guarantee that Mass won’t be boring…but I cannot guarantee that your priest won’t give a boring homily from time to time.  But cut the guy some slack.  It is hard to share the stage with something as awesome as Mass.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ask Ellen: I'm interested in being a saint, what's the application process? Paul, DE

Congratulations on setting the bar high for yourself.  I commend your aspiration.  Let’s see…the application process is quite lengthy, your whole life in fact.  Your resume would need to include faith and good deeds. Your educational experience should probably include studying the Bible as well as many other good reads like the lives of the saints and such.

Your application will come under review shortly after your expiration.  You will probably have to sit in the waiting room until Saint Peter calls you for your interview.  An important thing to remember is there won’t be any call backs or second interviews here.  Peter will review your resume and decide if you are in, if you have to sweat it out for a while until you make the cut (kinda like the minor leagues) or if you’re fired..literally.  If you find yourself in the waiting room, know that generations of Catholics have been praying for your release.  If you’re fired then I guess you should have changed the font on your resume or had better references.  If you’re in, then congratulations you’ve achieved your goal of sainthood. Please pay it forward by putting in a good word for the rest of us.

As for me, I really hope St. Peter is in a good mood and doesn’t check all my references.