Stay in the Ring, and Fight!

I went to confession earlier this week, ending what had been for me two weeks of bitter spiritual warfare. I had felt drained and defeated – a result of my weaknesses, obviously – so I dragged myself to the sacrament.

Perhaps “ending” is the wrong word. Maybe “giving me brief respite” is more apropos. The battles don’t really end, they just ebb and flow, wax and wane. It depends on how open I am to God’s grace, and whether I respond accordingly.

While chatting with a friend a day or so later, I compared the Christian life to a boxing match. St Paul compared the Christian life to that of a race, and while I won’t dispute Scripture, for me, I better relate to where he wrote he has fought the good fight. Notice Paul didn’t say he fought well – he said he fought the good fight. In other words, he fought the only fight worth fighting. It was good, because it led to what was good for him, and pointed towards the ultimate Good – life in Christ, and everlasting Life in Heaven.

It’s a constant battle, between flesh and spirit, between pride and humility, between good and evil. And most times, we take hits more often than we block them. Let’s face it – our adversary is bigger, stronger, faster, better trained, and fights dirty. When I retreat to my corner after each round, more often than not, I’m battered, bloodied, bruised, and broken. My eyes are half-swollen shut, my lips are split, I have a couple cracked teeth, and my kidneys feels as if they’ve been tenderized by Gordon Ramsey on a good day. That’s how I had felt heading to confession the other day. And crazy as it sounds, my injuries were mostly self-inflicted. Yes, I battle “powers and principalities”, but they’re so dastardly, not only do they get their hits in, but they deflect and direct my own swings back onto myself.

And when I finally stumble into my corner, Christ is there. He doesn’t merely tend to my wounds – He heals them. Completely. That’s what confession does – Christ removes every sin’s stain, refreshing me and getting me ready to go back out and fight. He provides strategies on how to avoid direct hits – the grace to avoid sin – and sends me back out there.

Sometimes, it’s tempting to jump the ropes and leave the ring. It’s enticing, because if I’m not in the ring, I avoid the fight, right? Well, not really. What happens is, we still get the crap kicked out of us – we just don’t have Christ in our corner anymore, waiting to fix us up. On top of that, the whooping is more subtle. It’s not the barrages of right hooks and left jabs like those we get in the ring – it’s more a culmination of pokes in the ribs, or slaps to the face, given in a way we barely notice. Small things which break us down over time, until we either ignore them – that’s when we’ve lost the sense of sin – or accept them as a way of living – that’s when we’ve been given over to our sins – or blame others for our problems – that’s when pride has established its roots within us. All done in a way that appears inviting and pleasurable – because compared to getting the snot beaten out of us, anything else seems better.

Satan is sneaky like that. It’s part of his dirty tactics. While inside the ring, he tempts us and goads us to jump out. Then, when we’re out of the ring, he does all he can to stop us from climbing back in, dragging us down to Hell. Nasty piece of work he is.

Some people straddle the ropes, or try to stay in the ring while avoiding the fight. Neither tactic works. Straddling means not standing upon solid ground – there’s the risk of falling out. And running around the ring to avoid being hit? Eventually you tire out, left with no strength or energy to resist, and see no point in returning to your corner. That’s when the KO punch smashes into your face, laying you out like a side of beef – but even then, the fight’s not over. It doesn’t have to be, if you don’t want it to be. Christ is still there, in your corner. You only need to crawl over, and He will restore you. Completely. Without question.

Now we fare better in some rounds than in others – perhaps we last a little longer, defend ourselves a bit more successfully. But eventually, we have to return to our corner. We have no ability to solely sustain ourselves – we must go to Christ to renew our strength. We must continually go to Him if we want to survive the Final Round.

So stay in the ring and fight! Stay in the ring, because Christ is in the ring with you. The angels root for you, while Mary, the saints and martyrs continually support you. No matter how many times your nose gets broken, or your ribs get bruised. No matter how many times you get knocked down or trapped against the ropes. Just stay in there. Get yourself into your corner where Christ waits to heal you for the next round. He needs you to fight – the Church needs you to fight. You need to fight.

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PARISH REPORT: Worship Committee Chair Nominee Alleged to Binge Drink Sacramental Wine as Altar Boy

[ACMPress] – BETHESDA – What began as a simple confirmation process for a new Worship Committee chairperson at Sts Bartles & Jaymes quickly turned complicated yesterday, when allegations arose that the nominee was a sacramental wine binge drinker as an altar boy more than thirty years ago.

Bob Mondavi, known for having originalist interpretations of Redemptionus Sacramentum, was considered a shoo-in for the position, despite objections by some liberal Parish Council members. However, the day before the confirmation vote, Council member Susannah Balbo produced a letter written by a man who claimed witnessing Mondavi drinking bottles of sacramental wine when he was a teenage altar server. Balbo received the letter, from a Mark O. Abella, in August, in which he stated he was an altar server with Mondavi.

“This needs to be fully investigated,” Balbo told the council. “The Worship Committee’s integrity must be preserved, and choosing an alleged drunken alcoholic to lead it sends a terrible message, and sets an awful precedent. And while Mr Abella can’t recall which church this happened in, or in what year it occurred, his claims are credible. I believe him.”

Mr. Mondavi has vowed to fight the allegation rather than voluntarily rescind the nomination. “This is a blatant attempt to keep orthodox Catholics off the Worship Committee, so liberals can do what they want with the Mass. I’m neither quitting nor letting my good name be smeared by baseless, false accusations. I mean sure, I liked wine. I still like wine. But not sacramental wine. C’mon – everyone knows that stuff is awful.”

Parish Council President Ken Dahl-Jackson reluctantly agreed to hold an investigation, but left no doubt this development displeased him. “These last-second theatrics on the part of Ms. Balbo denigrate the distinguished, venerable role of the Parish Council. This is ludicrous. It’s not like Mr Mondavi is being considered for, oh, I don’t know – a seat on the Supreme Court. It’s just the Worship Committee.”

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Vatican Archivists Find Unfinished Papal Encyclical on the Rosary!!

(ACMPRess) Calling it the “most exciting archival discovery in the post-Reformation era”, two Vatican archivists announced they discovered what is believed to be the unfinished 13th Rosary Encyclical penned by Pope Leo XIII. Pope Leo XIII, who had a strong devotion to our Blessed Mother, issued 12 encyclicals on the rosary between the years 1883-1898. It is believed this incomplete one was started several months before he died in July 1903.

The two archivists, Frs Hugo Thistleway and Igor Dattavay, held a press conference yesterday, announcing the discovery.

“The encyclical is titled Decursu Saeculorum,” Fr. Thistleway said, “taken from the first sentence of the encyclical: ‘Decursu saeculorum, sanctissimam Matrem pietatis manifestatio per fideles in recitatione a sanctissimo Rosario nuncupatur’, which translates to: ‘Throughout the ages, devotion to our Blessed Mother has been expressed by the faithful in the recitation of the Holy Rosary’.”

The encyclical totals six and a half pages, and is clearly unfinished. Its content, however, is causing some controversy, as Pope Leo XIII indicated in very precise language how the rosary is to be prayed. Namely, the only means by which to receive grace and indulgences from recitation, is to pray the rosary in a counter-clockwise direction. According to the encyclical, praying the rosary in a clockwise direction would ‘bear no fruit and Heaven would be closed to the petitioner and his pleas’ (‘…fructum nequaquam facient, quod caelum claudatur, et preces eius et actori.’).

“Due to its incompleteness, there is uncertainty as to the encyclical’s binding nature upon the faithful,” Thistleway said. “But make no mistake, this is huge.”

Fr. Thistleway demonstrated Pope Leo XIII’s instructions to those gathered at the press conference. “If you hold your rosary at the crucifix, and let the beads hang down, what the encyclical says is, the first decade must be the one to the crucifix’s left, the second decade to the left of the first, and so on, until returning to the crucifix. Starting to the right would be wrong – not sinful, at least according to several moral theologians I’ve spoken to, but wrong nonetheless.”

He went on to state that the encyclical did not declare whether the decade had to be prayed left to right, or right to left. “Perhaps the late pope meant to define that on page eight, but he died halfway through page seven.”

So what happens next? According to Fr. Dattavay, it’s up to Pope Francis. “He’s seen the partial encyclical, and is in consultation with members of the Curia as how to proceed. This is rather unprecedented.”

And could there be greater implications beyond the Holy Rosary? “Well, the rosary is also used to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, among other devotions,” Dattavay explained. “Would the same instructions apply? Perhaps saying the Divine Mercy in a clockwise manner will incur Divine Wrath – of course, that’s merely my opinion. It’s up to the Holy Father to determine that.”

In the meantime, Dattavay said, the faithful are encouraged to continue praying the rosary as they always have, and wait in prayer and silence until the Holy See formally responds.

Video coverage of the news conference is here.

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Originally published at ‘Acts of the Apostasy’, January 2012

Posted in All The News That's Misfit To Print, Catholic, Humor, News That Could Be True, Rosary, Satire | Comments Off on Vatican Archivists Find Unfinished Papal Encyclical on the Rosary!!

PARISH REPORT: Vegan Leaves Catholic Church upon Hearing Eucharist Is Jesus’ Body

[ACMPress] – PORTLAND – Corey Ander, a 22-year old lifelong Catholic and vegan, announced on Facebook he was leaving the Catholic Church because “I heard my priest say the Eucharist is Jesus’ body and blood, and I promised myself I would never eat anything that had a face.”

“This is like, kinda heartbreaking for me,” he wrote. “I love Sts. Abercrombie & Fitch. I love the music, the community, the felt banners, the soft landing of low expectations – but when our new priest preached this past Sunday the bread becomes Jesus’ body, and the wine becomes His blood, I was like woah. I never heard that from our previous pastor. If that’s true, I can’t do this no more.

“I mean, I already don’t go to coffee hour because they use real creamer, and the donuts have eggs. I suddenly feel so disoriented and untethered. Where am I gonna go, where I’m not eating something that used to have a smile, have feelings, and all that?”

Several friends responded to Corey’s post, clarifying Church doctrine on the Eucharist, but he promptly blocked them for using “hurtful language”.

“Listen,” he responded to one, “if all you’re gonna do is tell me I’m misunderstanding stuff, well, hurtful language like that makes me very uncomfortable. Good-bye!”

As of this report, Corey was considering joining the local Unitarian Veganism Church, where they’re removed all meat references from the scriptures, they refer to Jesus as “The Yam of God”, and offer sliced vegetables for their communion services.

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Posted in Catholic, Humor, News That Could Be True, Parish Report, Satire | 2 Comments