The plan for tomorrow, Stan, is that I host a nine-course dinner party for twenty people. And I’m super pumped. I’ve got flowers, fine china, all kindsa food, little name tag place cards for people…everything. I even made RSVP cards.
My youngest brother, Josh, who is coming and even helping me prep food for this party, gave me this as his RSVP:
Speaking of the dinner party and Josh, one of his responsibilities is to help me make the hors d’oeuvres for the party (don’t worry, he volunteered. I didn’t just trap him).
Cue a lot of Pinteresting and a lot of Facebook “Tasty” video watching and on and on.
One hors d’oeuvre that we keep seeing and cracking up about is this stupid “shrimp and a grape” one. To the point where this is basically inside-joke big-family-lore status.
If a straight-faced member of my family offers you “shrimp on a grape”…odds are….we’re joking.
I read two really interesting articles this week that I wanted to share/ talk about/ discuss.
OK, so, the first one is about a concept called “Prosperity Gospel.”
The thought that we sell this as theology is bogus and fist-shake worthy but anyway.
What is “prosperity Gospel?” OK, so it’s this idea that, if you do good things and be a “good person” and essentially try to please God and stay on His good side…then good things will happen to you/ come to you/ etc.
The flip side also holds in prosperity Gospel, then. If something bad happens to you i.e. illness or accident or tragedy or death…you must have done something wrong.
It’s rife with theological error, I know, but that’s what it is/ says.
I feel like my first, personal encounter with Prosperity Gospel was when I was in high school, and a good lady I know whose husband had very tragically died young and left her with a young family started talking to me about it.
“Do you think,” she said to me softly, “that all of this pain is my fault?”
And I was ready to shake the liar who told this woman that this deep, sorrowful suffering was probably due to her personal mistakes/ sinfulness.
Also, I adore what the Catholic church teaches about suffering to virtually no end, so there’s that. I could talk about it for a long, long time, so I’ll spare you, but, basically: there is meaning in suffering. There is growth in suffering. God is with you in suffering.
Also, we talked about last Sunday’s reading at youth group this week. Satan is such a stupid liar. Forever. But, this week, after reading this article and last Sunday’s Gospel (which is the real-deal, as far as Gospels are concerned) I’ve realized that: subtly, this overarching theory of “I deserve good things, I’m such a holy lass, wahhhhhh God why are you making my life harrrrrd,” does sneak into my mind a bit. Like, daily, almost.
Compare and contrast this with the saints who pretty much outline, “Yeah, no. More important is loving until it hurts.”
Cut to St. Damian staring at Molokai, knowing that if he committed to serving the lepers there, he could never leave again. (And, he didn’t. He contracted leprosy himself and died there).
Cut to St. Maximilian being told by the Nazis that unless he cut out his anti-Nazi propaganda, he would be punished. And now his ashes are mingled with the millions others burned in Nazi ovens.
Cut to all of the Chinese bishops ordained over the past fifty or so years who are just…gone without a trace.
Prosperity gospel? Ha.
So, yeah, thoughts on the article? It’s about a lady who was studying prosperity Gospel in the U.S. and was diagnosed with cancer. Super intense stuff.
NYT wrote a piece about guys who are bachelors and trying to find stable, committed relationships, but feeling like they’re aging out of the bracket.
Feels kind of like:
But, interesting, no less.
God bless our hurting, broken culture. I was doing researches last week. Wedding numbers are down in our Archdiocese from 2001 to 2013 by 47% ay yi yi.
Obviously, that is closely matched with baptism numbers and other sacraments (funerals, though, stay constant? That’s not consoling, is it?)
I remember studying in Feminist class (favorite! classes! So! much! fun! So! much! learning!) that today people often feel torn because they’re told they can do anything and, maybe they can but, they can’t do everything and that’s hard for people to accept.
I’m rambling. Someone stop me. The article is interesting, though, and an easy read.
(Also!!! Sneaky Father Ryan quote that maybe will tie it all together for this point. I think he was at WYD Australia. I think he was listening to Archbishop Chaput (maybe??) who said that, “One decision is better than a thousand options.” I.e. Commitment, yo. My age bracket (I’m there, too, guys, I’m there) doesn’t so much like commitment. But, I think the article points out that, without commitment, you’re only just ever floating about (kind of like these dudes in the article seem to feel).)
Because tomorrow is a massive party, I’m trying to plan Sunday’s youth group meeting now instead of tomorrow (or Sunday morning, which is also sometimes when planning happens don’t judge it ).
Anyway, I was thinking about talking about suffering in the life of a Christian (maybe because of the Prosperity Gospel article? Huh. Not sure).
I remember that once, when I was in high school, I was in a Bible class where Mrs. G. played an audio clip of a doctor explaining the medical anguish that would accompany a crucifixion. And since I have a vivid imagination, fueled by that audio clip = a pretty memorable and not particularly pleasant experience. In fact, I remember that my mom was like, “Hey, are you OK? What’s going on?” when I got out of class. Probably because I was kind of physically ill just hearing about the passion of Christ.
But, I think that it’s good to remember it this time of year.
Also, this week my podcast frands at Three Dogs North were like, “If Lent isn’t the time to talk about suffering/ Jesus being in pain…then when will you do it? The Resurrection doesn’t make sense without everything else.”
(Also, hey Fr. C., I know you said that you see when I link these URLs. If you come to Detroit to hang with me, I’ll make you a shrimp on a grape. Appealing, I know).
(Also, people literally approach me and say, “Hey, uh, do you have any podcasts that you like?” And I’m like, “OBVIOUSLY THREE DOGS NORTH OBVIOUSLY.”)
Here I am, hammering out my to-do list for Sunday’s youth group and I’m like, “Hmmmmm…do I include the thing about Jesus suffering? Yes or no? Is it too much for them? Should I tell their parents first?” so, yeah.
But, I do want Sunday’s topic to be about suffering.
Even though the Sunday Gospel is about the Transfiguration and those are, like, literal spiritual opposites. But, a short day on consolation vs. desolation never hurt no one.
St. Ignatius, pray for us.
That is all.
(Guys, before you google–this has to do with monthly cycles. Now you know.)
(Not a paid advertisement).
(Not sure if they fund sketchy orgs like PP or not).
I’m throwing down a 30-day novena for some friends. Comment/ email if you need anything. For real.
I’ll love you forever.