…and so to my first blog entry. So what’s the point of this blog? Several years ago I blogged fairly regularly about whatever was on my mind, but then Facebook came along and almost overnight I stopped blogging.
Facebook was an infinitely more convenient way of sharing news and photographs with my friends, but my blog served other purposes too. I wrote about my work in software development and about things going on in my spiritual life and, of course, life in general. I intend to re-launch my old blog at some point to write exclusively about technology, but what about everything else?
The title of this blog is “This Restless Pilgrim” and it describes well how I’ve felt over the last few years. These years have certainly been interesting ones, filled with uncertainty, adventure, frustration, heartbreak and excitement. I moved to London for the first time and moved around a lot before ultimately leaving England and travelling 5,489 miles away to live in the United States. Living a rather rootless life like this tends to teach you some important life lessons and the whole experience has left me with the feeling that they should be shared.
Also over the last few years I have also found myself increasingly called upon to explain and defend Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. Pope Benedict recently spoke about the use of technology to proclaim the faith and search for truth. As a consequence, I would like to share some of my exchanges regarding the faith.
It has been said that a wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others. So, if you would like to learn from my mistakes and get a little wiser (or just feel like having a bit of a laugh at my expense) please feel free to stick around.
I’ve been mulling over the best way to start this blog. There’s so much to say about my decision to quit my job and to start working for an American company; so much to say about my nomadic life and eventual move to the United States…but I’m getting ahead of myself. As Glinda, the Good Witch Of The South, would say, it’s best to begin at the beginning…
Begin the beguine
Although in some ways the seeds of this adventure had been planted earlier, things started to come to the fore in 2006. I had been living in Cheltenham for about four years. I had moved there following university, after a brief, false start in Salisbury (my employer went bankrupt three days after I joined). There was nothing wrong, per se, with my life in Cheltenham; I had good friends, a lovely church and a great place to live, but I couldn’t shake my feeling of unease. Life just seemed a little bit too….predicable and, well, comfortable. There was nothing in my life which was pushing me out of my comfort zone. I had recently passed into my mid-twenties and it felt like I was just getting old and boring before my time…
I was at a loss as to what I should do to get out of this funk. I considered changing careers. I thought about becoming an IT trainer (I’ve always enjoyed telling people what to do). I also gave serious consideration to resurrecting my sign language and training to be an interpreter. I considered moving to another town or city in England. The trouble was, after living in Cheltenham, pretty much everywhere else appeared ugly, boring or had limited job opportunities. I did consider moving abroad, but that just seemed far too scary!
I thought I’d write a brief entry on today’s Gospel, the parable of The Good Samaritan. The interpretation I’m going to give may be one you’ve never heard before. It comes from St. Augustine, bishop of fifth century North Africa in his work “Questions on the Gospels”.
I had never heard of this interpretation of the parable until I started studying the Early Church Fathers where I found this explanation also offered by others such as Ireneus and Origen.
I’ll talk about the Early Church Fathers specifically in another post, but for now, let’s look at one of the ways St. Augustine explained this parable:
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’“
As I wrote in my very first post, recently I have been called upon more and more to defend my faith – Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.
The continued questioning by others about my faith was actually one of the main reasons I started this blog in the first place. Sometimes, in an attempt to provide someone with a satisfactory explanation, I had to do quite a bit of research. A blog will now allow me to share the fruits of my hard work with more than just that one person! Also, as time has progressed I’ve noticed that much of the discussion has been around similar issues so I intend to use this blog to publish my explanations to some of the more commonly-asked questions and invite feedback.
However, before I can start addressing some of these issues, I feel the need to write about a tension that I find within myself, the tension that comes from being an “Ecumenical Apologist”…
The other day I wrote about the trials of trying to be an “Ecumenical Apologist“, so today I would like to write a post about something rather controversial, or rather someone rather controversial – Jesus’ mother, Mary.
Mary is something of a source of contention between Catholics and non-Catholics. At best, Catholics are told that the attention they give to Mary draws glory away from God. At worst, Catholics are charged with unbiblical doctrine, necromancy and idolatry.
In this post I will not attempt to try and convince any non-Catholics of the veracity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, her Assumption or any of the other particularly Catholic Marian doctrines. I would simply like to show you a scriptural perspective on Mary of which you may be unaware. My aim is that after reading this post you would be awed at the cohesiveness of God’s master plan and declare that Mary truly is “blessed” (Lk 1:48-49)
The readings in this Sunday’s Lectionary speak to us of hospitality.
In the First Reading we hear recounted Abraham’s reception of the three strangers to whom he offers his choicest food. In the Gospel we hear another story about the hospitality offered to Jesus in the house of Martha and Mary, the two sisters whose brother, Lazarus, Jesus had raised from the dead (John 11).
The Gospel this week is as follows:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:-28-42
I’m currently in the middle of writing an introductory post about the “Early Church Fathers” and I came across a wonderful quotation from one of my favourite Fathers, the great preacher, St. John Chrysostom:
“An intelligent, discreet, and pious young woman is worth more than all the money in the world. Tell her that you love her more than your own life, because this present life is nothing, and that your only hope is that the two of you pass through this life in such a way that, in the world to come, you will be united in perfect love” – St. John Chyrsostom
Wonderful stuff! But how exactly does one find this woman?! Unfortunately, this amazing preacher and Father of the Church does not tell us! Do not fear! I have stepped into the breach and have compiled my definitive list of the “Top Ten, All Time, Catholic Pick-Up Lines”!
Please feel to add your own suggestions in the comments 😀