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Trip Around the Sun

 

44 of 52 – The Church of Saint Timothy (Roman Catholic)

Thoughts during the week:

 

This paragraph comes from the Buddhists:

“In the search for truth there are certain questions that are not important. Of what material is the universe constructed? Is the universe eternal? Are there limits or not to the universe? ... If a man were to postpone his search for Enlightenment, until such questions were solved, he would die before he found the path.”


Response:

Of course - but he will die anyway before he finds a trillionth of anything. Any little bit of the immense knowledge available from the universe may come to serve mankind.

Look at these lines from Sir Isaac Newton - by some judges, the greatest scientist who ever lived:

I seem to have been only like
a boy playing on the seashore
and diverting myself in now and
then finding a smoother pebble
or a prettier seashell, while the
great ocean of truth lay all
undiscovered before me.

        - Sir Isaac Newton

Yet from these little bits of knowledge came a man who invented the calculus - who made some sense out of the force of gravity - who measured and formulated the three main laws of motion, still used today in nearly all functional calculations that involve motion.

- Chuck

 

This thought from an atheist:

 

"I don't think we're for anything, we're just products of evolution.  You can say "Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don't think there's a purpose," but I'm anticipating a good lunch."

---  Dr. James D. Watson

 

The name didn’t ring a bell – I’m not in the biological sciences – so I looked him up:

 

Dr. Watson is known for the shared discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule.  His colleagues Maurice Wilkins and Francis Crick shared in this discovery and all were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine. 


(My biology teacher at BYU told me that RNA – the discovery that came before
DNA – was a discovery shared by a BYU researcher. I think the double helix – the two strands that make up DNA are two RNA strands.)

 

Response to this:

I think there is a reasonable probability that this is true.

Consider his reason for writing it, however. He anticipates much more than a good lunch. I also write sayings I have come up with and like. I do it for attention - and to have the feeling of making a contribution. It makes me feel that my life has value. The same is true for Dr. Watson.

 

(From the net, I find he has written many books – it’s evident he has purpose – don’t misinterpret what he says. It has only to do with ultimate realities – which he recognizes he does not know – and believes none of us do.)

It doesn't really matter if "purpose" is a pretense in the ultimate sense. We may have purpose in a small portion of the universe and for a small time - our world - our country - or our family - whatever - purpose that gives us pleasure and a sense of worth – and real worth to others who also have purpose within these “smaller” parts of the universe. If this time is the whole time for us, then it is still the most important bit of time there is.

Anyone who uses his belief that our existence is an accident - to believe he then has no purpose - will lose much of value "during" life. It doesn't matter if life ends and is not eternal. It has worth during its short existence right here right now.

 

Races in track and field end, and we cheer. Ending is no evidence of failure.

 

The age of the dinosaurs ended, but they lasted far far longer than humans have, and they certainly were not a failure. We think that the aves (birds) may owe their current existence to them. Endings are not failures. The greatest successes still generally have endings.

It may easily be scientifically proven (and has been over and over) that a "sense" of purpose adds much to the statistic for happiness for people.

And if it turns out that, contrary to anyone’s best thought, there is some kind of consciousness later - all the better - it would be like winning the lottery. I don’t believe for a moment that “getting it all right” – in the here and now - will have anything at all to do with the eventual outcome. If it’s over, it’s over. If it’s not – our beliefs here won’t have much effect on it all. It won’t be about punishment for “not believing” something or other. If old wives’ tales like that were true, I would have been stone blind long before I was twenty.

- Chuck

 

The Visit: The Church of Saint Timothy (Roman Catholic)

 

After last week’s visit with another vision of the “One Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church,” this morning’s meeting was wonderful. In perhaps two dozen exposures to the Catholic Mass, this was without question the finest for me.

 

First there was highly talented big organ music as prelude time.

 

“Good Morning!” declares the Priest (One of two), in a booming voice. Then the congregation: “Good Morning!” in modestly 400 booming voices.

 

Welcome Church!”

 

“This is the wonderful building,” gesturing to the parts of it – “but, You - are the Church!”

 

“You come to be with us; we are imperfect, just as you are also. We are the same – coming together to bless one another.”

 

Congregational Singing: “Sing a New Church.” All hymns are written in one part only, but the two Priests were singing other parts – both had large powerful and well-trained (or practiced) voices.

 

These folks sound about as good as we do at conference – and that is unusual for Catholic congregations.

 

One of the reasons I chose to visit this church – was because of the turnout they produced at the interfaith counsel’s yearly multi-religion meeting. Several of the choir of this church were in the combined choir – led by three different leaders – Mormon – Catholic – and one other. I was looking forward to hearing their choir. No such luck – no choir this Sunday. But the regular singing was also very nice.

 

One of the brochures available in the foyer was “Interfaith Community Services,” in which this church is very active.

 

I also picked up a brochure titled, “Sexual Misconduct – Preventing – Responding – Reporting”

 

When people think of the Catholic Church today, that is often on their minds – both the suffering and the growth has been substantial.

 

There is a sentence in that brochure I want to share. It is completely consistent with Catholic history – and with the newer Catechism that came out about fifteen years ago. Catholics have always had a more liberal view of sin and how to deal with it than most people have. (He who is without sin – cast the first stone.)

 

“Sexual misconduct can have devastating consequences above all for victims and their families, but also for Church ministers and for the Catholic community at large.”

 

The Catholic view of criminal behavior has always been partly one of caring for the wrong doer. There is a desire to help, fix, and go on. This might appear self-serving within the current environment – so many revelations all at once. But in context, this is not unusual for Catholics, even when the sin is committed by others.

 

“Have you visited the prisoner?” asks the savior?

 

We forget sometimes that some of the past’s “criminals,” defined so by “convictions,” were John the Baptist, Jesus, Joseph Smith, Moses, yet we often assume today that conviction defines evil, and that those convicted are guilty. All four of these were to have the death penalty. Three of the four did have the death penalty.

 

Many innocent people are in our prisons, because our fears have outstripped our care.

 

If repentance is not the goal, then we should change the name of the penitentiary to the revengeary. I promise you, repentance is our goal if it is our own loved one – but only then. That form of selective “charity” seeketh her own, and is not real charity.

 

We should treat every “criminal” as though it were our own son or daughter or dad or mom. We would want it fixed – even if punishment were part of the process that led there – but we would not want revenge.

 

From the Catechism:

 

There is no theft if the

taker has been refused

contrary to reason and

the universal destination

of goods. 

 

        - Catechism 2408

-----

When we attend to the needs

of those in want, we give

them what is theirs, not ours.

 

 

        - Catechism 2446

-----

Not to enable the poor to share

in our goods is to steal from

them.  The goods we possess

are not ours, but theirs.

 

        - Catechism 2446

-----

Everyone should look

upon his neighbor

(without any exception)

as "another self."

 

        - Catechism 1931

 

 

It actually explains that if a person takes bread when hungry, he is not guilty of breaking the commandment “Thou shalt not steal.” Instead the person who denies him the bread is guilty of breaking that commandment. (a message of Le Miserable? Even the original crime would not have been a crime in that story – he took bread when hungry.)

 

There were some of the familiar words from the gospel - where the Priest says some – and then the congregation knows what they are supposed to say – back and forth – ending with the Lord’s Prayer.

 

A woman reads, “It is not written of ink – but of the spirit. It is not written on tablets – nor upon pieces of stone – but upon the hearts of people. For the letter brings death – but the spirit brings to us life.”

 

(These words from Paul – have always been favorites for me.)

 

(That was a new interpretation of this for me – that the letter is written to be shared by force of interpretation – while the spirit is in our memories – one by one – each feeling it in his own way.)

 

The Priest spoke of the words about new wine not going into old wine skins. He compared it with a chamois – that we dry our cars with. After use – it sits in the trunk and dries out. It becomes brittle. Using it as it is would probably scratch our car rather than be any use to it.

 

But he said, “I take that chamois to the kitchen where I can put it under warm water, and it restores – becomes as new.”

 

We must always be willing to become new – and then we may contain the law of love. We must become new over and over – for we become dry and brittle and unyielding.

 

I have been a Priest now for 30 years – 17 at this church. But I was not only a Priest those years. My dad from age 69 to 76 was an invalid. Mom and I took care of him. Mom worked until she was 68 – to help pay expenses. After that was over, I took care of Mom. Earlier than all this, Mom and I took care of an aging aunt. Mom put her shoulder to the task.

 

(We say wheel, Push Along.)

 

It was from my Dad’s side I got my music. At the convalescent home, Dad always made me play the piano. I don’t know if it was because he wanted all the others to hear it – or if he just wanted to hear it himself, but every single visit, I had to play. I also always took a box of See’s chocolate candy – the only kind he would accept with gratitude. He said that if it’s not chocolate, it ain’t candy. (Laughter)

 

As Lent comes to us – I am praying: “Speak Lord – Your servant is listening.” And when He speaks, He is not asking me to take the easy way.

 

I don’t know what lies ahead for me. I have committed to obedience. You all commit to respect. As I become 65 years old, I will have some options. I will be called in and informed that I now may “retire.” They will probably ask if I might continue for a few more years.

 

For a Priest in the Church today, there is a pension of $1550. But if I continue for a few more years, I get both the Pastor’s salary and the pension for that time. We Priests call that “Double Dipping.”

 

Laughter.

 

(Hey! – as a physicist for the United States Navy – I could continue to any age – but no pension until the actual retirement. But then, it was an easier job than the job of a Priest. And – I was allowed to be married the whole time. What a sacrifice they make, these Priests – and the Nuns.)

 

The Priest told the starfish story – about the little girl (or boy?) who was picking up starfish that had missed the high tide – and throwing them into the ocean. Someone said, “You can’t possibly save all these starfish.” And the boy, tossing one in, said, “Yep – but I just saved this one.”

 

It’s easy for a Priest to get self aggrandizing and think he can save everyone, but maybe he is only supposed to help one here and one there.

 

We may get seat “B” on the airplane – you know not “A” on the window – and not “C” on the aisle – but in the middle one. Other times, someone else may have a turn.

 

I’m entering Lent with this question: “What will you speak, Lord? Your servant is listening. You have the words of everlasting life.”

 

He asked us all to repeat that – first with him – and then a moment of silence for each to speak it him or herself.

 

The collection – It was announced that this was for those who were not making their contributions in other ways – or for those who wanted to give more. After they had gone through all the rows – it was gathered together in one larger basket – and then a family – Mom – Dad – Son – Daughter – brought up the one big basket to the Priests. One Priest then said, “This - is a family.” And he spoke of some family values and of the importance of caring about one another.

 

The Liturgy: As we have all seen in Catholic Masses – Priest speaks – people speak – back and forth – the savior’s birth – the sacrifice – the resurrection - and then -

 

Holy Communion: 11 seemingly random people went to the risers (small stage) – and lined up behind the two Priests. They received the emblems from the Priests. Then row by row, the congregation went to the front – but not to the risers – and received first the wafer from one of the Priests – This is a very thin almost white perfectly formed circle about an inch and a quarter in diameter.

 

Oh – I forgot – I asked the lady next to me if the Communion was to be taken only by members. She said, “Oh no – by everyone.” This is different from Catholic meetings of the past (Even just the past week). So I participated.

 

Since this was the first time in a Catholic meeting for me – it was the first time I tasted this thin wafer. The nearest I can come to describing it from anything I remember is – that flat thin goldfish food – that you break off a little piece of and put it in the fish bowl. I ate that when I was a little kid – you did too. It was a little like that – same texture – dissolves in your mouth about the same - a little less flavor than the fish food.

 

Then each person steps to the right or to the left – to a woman who holds the cup. About two hundred people drank form each cup. It was real wine – mild – but not just grape juice. They continually refilled the cup as needed. Each time someone partook, the rim was wiped – and the cup was turned just a little to expose perhaps a part that had been used eight or so people ago.

 

This brought the thought of a belief I’ve had almost as long as I can remember – that we are unreasonably paranoid about “drinking after” another person. I doubt if Catholics are any more diseased than the rest of us as a result of this practice. I remember at the movie shows of the past – when they let them smoke in there – the minute anyone lit up, I could smell it no matter where in the theatre I was seated – in just a matter of seconds. This means: “In a few seconds, I breathe the same air as has gone through the lungs of every single other person in that theatre – over and over – every few seconds – for two hours.” And I’m supposed to worry about drinking out of a glass that someone else’s lips have touched? When I see a free tub still half full of popcorn - just sitting there and going to waste – I get that too, much to the chagrin of my children (not to mention poor Leona.) It has nothing to do with being “cheap.” Well – it does bother me that popcorn is five bucks. For we seniors, that’s as much as a whole nother show ticket.

 

Anyway, I partook from that cup – and it was reminiscent of the original – more so than the little individual safety cups. The taste was also better than Escondido water. The wafer, however, was less like the original than I think our little pieces of bread are. I have enjoyed some of these visits – when we break a piece of our own from a large loaf.

 

Announcements: Game night tonight. The Pope has asked that we all pray for peace in Iraq. We do not want war.

 

I was impressed by that official position – and certainly believe it matches the savior’s teachings far better than wars not led by prophets. (Ensign – June 1976 – First Presidency Message – President Spencer W. Kimball)

That is a wonderful article to read and recognize as scripture.

 

After the Holy Communion, there was another song:

 

“Sing of the Lord’s Goodness.” It was very upbeat – and I recognized the tune – probably classical. And then there was applause – the only applause during the meeting. And then the Priest excused us all.

 

 

In an email communication in answer to a question this morning:

 

I don't know what we can do about the child brainwashing. In our society, parents
essentially "own" children - with respect to religion and other beliefs. I
don't know how to fix that.

I visited a large Catholic Church this morning. Outside playing - before the
meeting - were two little girls - identical twins - cute as a button – probably nearing two years old. I had the thought, "These sweet little girls are "doomed" to
be Catholic - they have no choice in the matter - because they will be
brainwashed so thoroughly that a change later is unlikely."

One of the Popes said, “Give me a child until it is six years old, and I will give you a Catholic forever.” He was correct.

 

It's not because it was a Catholic Church - it could have been any other, and
I would have felt the same - or it could even have been a group of you non-believers, who also fear your children will grow up not feeling as you do, and you want to “protect” them from other beliefs – or as you think – from any beliefs other than those supported by repeatable and transmittable data.

Yet, to fix this - we would have to allow society, schools, etc., to teach
these things - and we probably do not want that either. As I admitted, I don't
know how to fix this.

 

It appears to me that freedom of religion is not afforded to individuals in this country, but to families. Families are allowed to brainwash children any amount they like.

In
Russia, under Communism, they attempted to fix this by just not allowing the teaching of religion. Their constitution always guaranteed free individual liberty of thought – with respect to religious beliefs - but no sharing of them with others. As a “more like our form” of freedom of religion is now developing, the vacuum is obvious. There have been needs unmet for a long time – and the people are obvious targets for many different versions of Christianity now. The Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and others are having great “success” in effecting conversions among the people of Russia. Will they be better off? There are tradeoffs between the two different kinds of freedoms. One, the freedom to teach and proselytize – sharing one’s religion with others, the other, the freedom of thought that may come from not being brainwashed in one’s youth. I think the so-called “scientific atheism” adopted socially, if not officially, was a mistake – a kind of proselytizing for non-belief. No sharing at all would have been better than one-sided sharing, in the interest of free thought.

 

- Chuck

 

44 of 52 – The Church of Saint Timothy (Roman Catholic)

 

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