Monthly Archives: August 2015

Which Blockbuster Movie Reveals Our Catholic Worldview?

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Do you know what is considered the “Catholic worldview”?

We see it illustrated in this Sunday’s readings:

  • Elijah, fed while wearily journeying through the desert
  • St. Paul urging us to love one another, since we were sealed by the Holy Spirit “for the day of redemption”
  • Jesus’ allusion to the Hebrews’ weary journey through the desert, fed by manna — and declaration that He is the Bread of Life

The Catholic worldview is also illustrated by one of my all-time favorite movies, based on the writings of a Catholic fantasy author.

(photo by fleno.de)

(photo by fleno.de)

John Ronald Ruel Tolkien carefully crafted perhaps the greatest of all literature’s fantastical worlds: Middle Earth, wherein a small, humble ‘nobody’ from a place no one had heard of, was chosen to carry the Enemy’s most dangerous object, on a treacherous journey, to cast it into a fiery pit and forever destroy it.

While bearing his heavy burden on this most difficult journey, Tolkien’s hero meets a mystical race of people—tall, beautiful and wise—who entrust him with gifts to aid his journey: protection, defense, medicine, and a supply of their bread.

This ancient bread is called Lembas, which in their language means “Waybread” or “journey bread”.  It is also called Coimas, meaning “life-bread”.

For me as a Catholic, watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films is like watching life’s most important truths in poetic motion.  Tolkien tells a fantastic tale with his Catholic imagination, revealing our faith’s ultimate worldview:

“The Church … will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,” at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day, “the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world’s persecutions and God’s consolations.” Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will “be united in glory with her king.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 769)

Embodied in Tolkien’s hero, we see both a Christ-figure and our own selves.  The Catholic worldview is this: like Christ before us, we are pilgrims on a journey.

Do each of us, Catholics, while going about our daily tasks, view life as a pilgrimage – a journey, filled with obstacles and joys? Do we see life as a tiring yet invigorating adventure; with the Eucharistic “waybread” to sustain and strengthen us; with the sacraments and sacramentals to protect, defend, and heal us; with a mission and a destination, on which the entire world depends?

What would happen if we all lived like pilgrims?

One of my greatest joys of working at the Pilgrim Center of Hope is awakening individuals to this awesome reality: you are a pilgrim, and together we are a pilgrim people. May this reminder bring you hope today.

Watch a powerful clip from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Beyond Which We Cannot Go

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We are all creatures of routine and that is not a bad thing. Order is of God and therefore working within a pattern of tasks and schedules helps to guide us, focus us and direct us.

Since routine is defined as a sequence of actions regularly followed, it can also be defined as a type of journey. Literally, routine can be a journey as when we travel the same road at the same time each day to work. But it is also a journey if routine means changing twenty-five diapers a day, preparing dinner every night, exercising every other day or grocery shopping once a week. We are, through our tasks and chores, traveling from one thing to another: dirty bottom to a clean bottom, no dinner to dinner, unfit body to fit body and no food in the house to a stocked pantry.

Imagine walking a path and realize you have no idea where you are going. If you do not know the destination, then you will have no idea if you are headed in the right direction or when you have arrived. This same lack of purpose can happen when we see no end to the diapers, the meals, the drives to work, the work-outs and the grocery aisles.

So how do we find purpose to our routines? How do we keep them from becoming tedious?

For a journey to become an adventure, it must have a reason for doing it; a purpose. In other words, it must possess the why. For a life to have direction, a reason for even bothering to get out of bed in the morning, it must also possess the why.

We live in a culture that does not encourage our whys, preferring to tell us instead. Through education, politics and the mass media, our culture dictates what we should think, say and do. To question is frowned upon.

When I returned to the Catholic Church, I did so because my encounter with Jesus Christ brought me back to her doors. I did not understand how the One who lifted me up from my despair would want me to enter back into a place where I was convinced held no place or respect for me as a woman. So I dared to ask God, why?

In my heart, I heard my Savior answer, “I will tell you why, just come and see.”

What I have discovered over the last 15 years of my earthly journey is that the Catholic Church is full of generations of thinkers who dared to ask why. I have also discovered that no question is not worth asking and if we persevere in seeking and searching within the Truth, no question will go unanswered to our satisfaction.

St. Thomas Aquinas, born in 1225, discovered the same. He dared to go to the teachings of a Greek pagan born in 384 BC to search for the truth of God. In studying Aristotle, St. Thomas learned how to ask questions and how to discern truth. Though Aristotle did not believe in God, he did believe in Truth and was convinced there is a satisfactory answer to every question and an end to every seeking. He traveled the road of interrogation and this journey had an ultimate destination which he called, “Beyond which we cannot go.” It was at this destination, we found rest satisfied in the answer reached, and this satisfaction provided our purpose: eternal happiness.

Following the routine of questioning forged by Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas discovered that Aristotle was correct. There is a “beyond which we cannot go,” it is our eternal happiness, and this destination even has a name: Jesus Christ.

So what does Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas and Jesus Christ have to do with you changing twenty-five diapers a day and bothering to get up and go to work each morning?

For our routines to have a purpose, we have to ask why.

Why am I doing what I am doing?

Why should I care for this baby?

Why should I go to work?

Why am I living this life?

Why I am the person I am?

Why should I even bother?

And you should ask these whys of the One who has all the answers, our Eternal Happiness and Beyond Which We Cannot Go —and why would we even want to!?

Every year at the Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Catholic Women’s Conference and Catholic Men’s Conference, many opportunities are provided to encounter Jesus. My favorite is the Benediction and Healing Service.

Our Lord, in the Blessed Sacrament, comes to us. He comes to answer all our questions, heal all our wounds and give us the purpose to our lives; the whys of who we are. He invites our questions, no matter how small or how great, He desires our whys, He thirsts for us!

I invite all women to come join us in four weeks on August 28th and 29th at the Catholic Women’s Conference and experience this encounter for yourself!

O Jesus, King most wonderful!
O Conqueror renowned!
O source of peace ineffable
In whom all joys are found.

When once you visit darkened hearts,
Then truth begins to shine,
Then earthly vanity departs,
Then kindles love divine.

O Jesus, light of all below,
The fount of life and fire,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
All that we can desire.

May ev’ry heart confess your name,
Forever you adore,
And seeking you, itself inflame
To seek you more and more!

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

To register for this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference, go to CWCSanAntonio.com.

To find out more about our 2016 Catholic Men’s Conference, go to CMCSanAntonio.com

To find other ways you can encounter Jesus Christ, go to PilgrimCenterofHope.org

Click here to watch one of our conferences’ regular speakers, Father Nathan Cromly, CSJ, as he offers a series of short, interesting and easy to understand videos on why we should ask why.