Love and Baloney
Imagine a young man and a young woman. They have very little money, but he goes out into the fields and collects some flowers. He makes them baloney sandwiches and puts them in a paper bag. He spreads out the picnic on newspaper, and says to her, “I love you more than the sun, the moon, the stars, brook trout and the Green Bay Packers. Will you be with me for the rest of our lives?” She melts.
Now, it is their fiftieth anniversary. Even though they live in an upscale condo in the center of a large city, he drives to the country and picks wild flowers. He makes baloney sandwiches, and puts them in a paper bag. He spreads newspaper on the table, and says to her, “I love you more than the sun, the moon, the stars, brook trout and the Green Bay Packers. Will you be with me for the rest of our lives?” She melts.
Someone who didn’t know the history might say to him, “Are you crazy? Your fiftieth anniversary, you could easily afford roses and catering, and you do this?” It is the connection to the history of the relationship that gives it meaning that it would not otherwyse have. In relationships, rituals, signs and symbols can have a power beyond what they are because of what they mean. (I suspect he also took her out to a nice restaurant, but that is another story.)
In religion, there are a lot of signs, symbols and rituals. Many who don’t know their meaning will disparage them and say they have nothing to do with God. Many times they are practiced by those who don’t know or don’t care about their meaning, and then they fail in their purpose, and can even do harm (see I Corinthians 11).
There are many who say that a personal relationship with God is something separate from religion, and that they love God but have no use for religion. I suggest that they either do not understand how ritual, structure, sign and symbol can be a key part of a relationship, have never been taught the meaning of these activities, or experienced people who went through the motions without attending to what they meant. A kiss is meant to be a sign of affection and caring. If someone gives you a kiss and then treats you like garbage, that sign is worse than useless. It even does harm.
Many have left the Catholic Church or are minimally connected because they have not experienced it as a powerful encounter with the love of God. However, if they could only understand that every aspect of the Catholic faith is about encountering, walking with, and loving God.
A next step is with the book A Biblical Walk through the Mass by Dr. Edward Sri, or even his video study program:
And that’s no baloney.
I love this explanation of symbolism in the church. I wrote down the name of the book and I will buy it today. Thank you, It was a nice thing to read in the morning. Anne Christensen
Everyone has their own belief system. Regardless of who may be preaching and or lecturing, people are going to live their lives with their own choices. You could write books, you could lecture people and instill fear. Rather than lecturing and using language like:” Id like to save people”. Maybe try God is love.
The Fire and fear Will Not entice anyone into submission. You can’t tell people how to think , feel and behave based on your belief system and your “ Have to” philosophy.
I can’t tell people what to think, but I can share my thoughts. I agree that Fire and fear are generally not effective tools. How do you see fire and fear in what I’m saying? Perhaps you are venting about bad experiences with someone else?
Is this an invitation to debate? The Catholic Church is all about fire and brimstone.
Spin it however you like . Your dismissive labeling of people’s upbringing and the way in which they were raised regarding the catholic faith is very demeaning. Re- read your own words.
I’m confused about what sort of debate you’re looking for. I’m not seeing how making statements like “The Catholic Church is all about fire and brimstone” (in spite of so many positive teachings, optimistic theological anthropology, and countless hours of gentle and encouraging pastoral care that so many Catholic ministers do) is less dismissive than anything I said. I have heard many people’s stories, and it is clear that many have been taught different perspectives on the faith than others. That is the only way I can imagine someone coming up with the perspective that the Catholic Church is all about fire and brimstone.