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What’s the Glass of Water and How Do I Drink It?

April 2, AD 2014 102 Comments

March 2014 001

Now it’s time to pour some real life into the metaphorical essay, “What Does Christian Marriage Guarantee?” This is how it started.

A friend of mine recently asked: “What graces are promised in sacramental marriage? Is the guarantee and promise something that we give or something we expect to get?”

The answer is: The grace to do the work of marriage is promised to a baptized man and woman who unite in matrimony. What they do with that grace is another story, a wily story that goes by the name of free will. Christian marriage does not guarantee a diamond-gleaming fairy tale. It guarantees that God is faithful to set the glass of living water on your counter, as much as you will ever need. But for that water to permeate your entire being, you have to drink it.

The water is like grace.

The Holy Spirit gives us grace. Grace is Christ’s life in us. Grace is a mystery and in our culture today so many people are not comfortable talking about the supernatural. Here’s the thing: Even though you cannot fully comprehend the mysteries of God, you can grow in knowledge and love by pushing into the mystery further. Here are the basics from one of my favorite sources for simple explanations, my kids’ St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism.

There are two kinds of grace.

Sanctifying grace: 1) makes us holy and pleasing to God; 2) makes us adopted children of God; 3) makes us temples of the Holy Spirit; and 4) gives us the right to Heaven. (St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism, No. 1, Question 54-58)

We are offered gifts from the Holy Spirit called actual graces. Actual graces enlighten our mind and strengthen our will to do good and avoid evil. Actual graces are called special helps and we are given them when we need them and as long as we need them. (Questions 56-57)

All the Sacraments offer both kinds of graces, but to accept these graces, we have to receive the Sacraments properly. (Questions 140-142) We also receive graces through prayer and serving God. We have to want the graces and we have to strive to conform our will to the will of God.

So sanctifying grace is like being given the ability to drink. Actual graces are the glasses of living water that God is faithful to set on your counter. Receiving the Sacraments properly and praying sincerely are the ways you drink the living water.

This is how I visualize it in real life.

If this visual doesn’t work for you, then don’t use it. Someone once told me to visualize grace like a rope from Heaven, something I could grab when I was desperate. That didn’t work for me. I needed a visual that involved more than clinging to something, a visual that involved allowing grace to permeate my inner disposition. Besides, drinking “living water” together sounds more like how it feels—happy.

A Christian marriage with both spouses striving together to do God’s will, participating in the Sacraments and the life of the Church, and praying together is a happy marriage indeed. It is a happiness that is above the routines of daily life, a happiness that is still there even when you have a bad morning, you are late to work, you forget to pay a bill, or even when you have disagreements with each other. It is something deeply and intensely joyful.

However, because “drinking the living water” is a matter of free will, there will be times when one or both spouses will turn away from God. It is helpful to learn to recognize these times for what they are, especially in yourself.

About demons

Demons will tempt you in a Christian marriage. Do not ever think you are spared such temptation. Remember the last part of the Our Father prayer? “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil?” That is a prayer for protection from demons. Evil is a person. Pray prayers of protection often. If you feel insecurity, resentment, fear, or anxiety swelling up inside you, before you even try to figure out where it’s coming from, pray that prayer for protection. Demons can influence your imagination. They cannot control your thoughts, but they can cloud your thinking.

When you are experiencing these negative emotions, you can go through the motions of going to Mass without sincerely worshiping God, like holding the glass but not drinking it. Praying without really meaning it is like holding the glass without drinking it. We all go through such times, but it is helpful to learn to recognize when you are doing it, especially if you are also tempted to pride.

On other days, demons may tempt and insecurity and resentment may fester, and one day the wife may decide not to swallow the water, but instead to raise her hand high, toss her hair back, and show off her tall glass of goodness. Some days demons may oppress and anger and jealousy may slither in through the cracks and the husband may smash his glass against the wall because he’s had enough.

If you have a major fight in your marriage, and you probably will, first pray for protection from demons. If your spouse has a flash of anger or passive aggressive behavior, pray for protection from demons. You have to clear your marriage of such temptations and oppressions before you can deal with whatever disturbs your marital union. Sound a little too mystical and weird? Did you ever consider that perhaps demons want you to think that? To underestimate their presence? Don’t just take my word for it. Try praying. You’ll see what I mean, but pray like you mean it. You will know the clarity when it comes.

About despair

Despair may blow in and even though God in his infinite mercy keeps setting more full glasses on the counter, for years they may go undrunk.

This can happen. Sometimes you just can’t drink even if you want to. If it happens in your marriage, the first step to finding your joy again is to acknowledge that something is wrong. One of the hardest things to do when you are in despair is to actually voice the words of a prayer with conviction. If you feel like you cannot pray because you are too hurt, then force yourself to say them anyway. Through tears, through anger, through numbness, move your lips and pray even if the only word you can form is “Jesus,” a most powerful prayer. In that willingness to at least try, you will be granted those special helps called actual graces. It is like putting the glass to your lips, but it’s an effort in the right direction. Once you try a little, you’ll find that you can try more and more and eventually your heart and mind will pray sincerely. The key word is try.

Alone and broken, the wife may one day reach again for her glass. She may only cling to it, unable to bring it to her grieving lips.

When you try but your spouse does not

There may be times in your marriage when you try but your spouse does not. When this happens, you have to accept that you cannot force water down his throat. You cannot control his mind and heart. You can influence him or her, and to influence the right way, you have to ask for the graces yourself to enlighten your mind to know your spouse better so you can see the world through his or her eyes. Only then can you start to lead and guide your spouse to drink in the graces. Sometimes all you can do, in gentleness and patience, is stand there and hold out the glass while drinking in the graces yourself.

She may take her husband’s glass to him, and she may stand there the rest of her life, one arm outstretched offering water to his back and the other hand pouring water into her soul as she gulps to sustain herself.

Every married person should consider the extent of his or her commitment because if it is not unconditional, it is not really a commitment. Maybe you cannot know the answer unless you are in the situation, but would you remain faithful to your spouse even in the worst circumstances? Even if she cheated on you? Even if he abused you? Note: Faithfulness does not always involve living under the same roof. A wife can leave and take measures to protect herself, and still be faithful to her marital vow. The same goes for a man. Sometimes abuse is not physical. These are hard and painful questions, but thinking about them during calmness is easier than navigating them in turmoil.

Or if you’re like me, maybe it whacks you when you least expect it. One day at the end of a miserable three-day-long screaming fight, I heard myself say: “You know what? You know what? I am your wife, and you are stuck with me. Even if you stop loving me, even if you hurt me, even if you leave me, even if you civilly divorce me and disappear for the rest of my life, I will be married to you in the eyes of God and not even you can take that away from me. Ever!” Although I probably sounded crazy, I meant every word of it. Talk about diffusing a fight.

On fidelity

Marriage requires the virtue of fidelity, faithfulness to the other spouse, which can only flow from a first faithfulness to God. People do not talk much about virtue any more, but here’s the radical truth to remember. When you practice a life of virtue, you find freedom. A woman who heroically honors her marital vows even in the worst circumstances is freer than the woman who violates them and chooses a life of sin and anger. Just think how many times you felt free when you knew you did the right thing and had a clear conscience.

In marriage, to practice the virtue of fidelity, you have to commit, and your commitment after receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony has to be unconditional. You have to be ready to stand there with your arm outstretched, even to his or her back, for the rest of your life if that’s what it takes. You may not be happy in the moment, but the deep interior happiness of being united with Christ will sustain you if you let it.

On hope

One day the husband may turn around and see her, or one day she may give up.

You can hope. You can hope for the rest of your life. You can hope that your spouse returns to God. You can hope that your spouse returns to you. You can hope that you never give up, and if you do for a time, you can hope you find your way back by opening yourself back up to grace, by receiving the Sacraments properly, by praying sincerely, by trying. There is something significant to realize here. Virtue without God is not authentic virtue. You, a person, are made to be united with Christ and if you view virtue—even the virtue of fidelity—as oriented to the end of your life, you will fail to be authentically virtuous. You have to orient your life toward Christ, toward getting to Heaven and leading your spouse to Heaven. That’s why the cardinal virtues, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude all need the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. It’s all about love, a love bigger than the world, bigger than your marriage, bigger than you. You are made to love God. Don’t ever expect to be perfectly virtuous, because you cannot achieve that. Commit to practicing virtue, to trying.

One day they may drink together anew, and having returned day after day to drink what they need, in abject humility before God, on their final day the husband may caress her head as she receives her last sip.

We all are going to suffer in life. We suffer every day in small ways and in big ways. By practicing virtue, you’ll grow strong and confident, and the best way to practice virtue is to place yourself before God in abject humility, even if your spouse never does. Read the Sermon on the Mount if you have not quite grasp this concept. Read it even if you think you have.

Learning about your spouse

The beauty of marriage is the relationship between man and woman, and with Christ. You are individuals, but you become one. It takes work. It means that instead of loving an idea, you learn to love the real person, weaknesses, faults, sins, and all. You study the other person. You learn, for instance, that you don’t have to say everything that enters your mind. You can learn to triage what goes on in your mind and decide what ought to come out of your mouth. Does what you say help your marriage grow? Maybe keeping some thoughts to yourself will help you grow. One of the best things I ever did for my marriage was learn to shut up and listen.

Learn to appreciate the goodness in the other. If you stop fixating on the faults, you free yourself to discover the talents in both of you. It’s in the little things, and you’ll find them if you look.

I’ll give one example. I mistrusted my husband in the beginning of our marriage, for years. I feared that he would be unfaithful because men had been unfaithful to me before. When I quieted my fear by accepting grace, my eyes were opened to see something I’d never appreciated before. My husband calls his parents every day (even still). What faithfulness! In clouded vision I thought he called his parents to avoid me. What selfish nonsense! Something beautiful was right in front of my eyes. My husband, at the core of his being, is fiercely loyal to the ones he loves.

Supernatural peace and joy

By learning about your spouse this way, you will learn how to lead him or her to God. There are few memories more precious to me than the times I was able to remind my husband of all the good I see in him, when he needed to hear it most. I brought him grace, I communicated grace, I believed in him because I believe in God. He’s done the same for me more times than I deserve. This is the marital life that is beyond fairy tales, even when it’s hard, it’s so far beyond anything this world has to offer for it is about your own salvation and the salvation of the one you love.

Is it possible for a wife to come know her husband so well that she trusts him to drink? I think so, but that trust can only be known within the consecrated union. I even think it’s possible for one to love the other so much that he or she suffers for the beloved and never gives up hope because God is faithful. Therein lies a transcendence beyond days and glasses on counters. Therein lies a crystal peace beyond fairy tales. Therein lies the mystery of authentic fidelity.

I know this crystal peace today. It doesn’t mean my marriage is perfect, or even easy. It means that I have grown and I have a confidence and courage that I gained by doing the work of marriage, by being vulnerable, by being prudent, by learning to truly love my man for who he is, by realizing that fidelity was up to me because I have that power if I accept the graces that are offered, over and over and over again. Did you catch that word? Power. Don’t take my joy to mean that we do not suffer, or that I think we will not suffer in the future. Take it as a sign that what I say is possible, and true.

Hello, and thank you for reading. I am a wife, mother of seven, and joyful convert to Catholicism. I write from my tiny office in a 100-year-old restored Adirondack mountain lodge. Read more about me here, with pictures. Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. "Like" my Facebook page Science Was Born of Christianity to follow updates about my book. God bless you!

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  • Jeff_McLeod

    Your article is wonderful as always. It made me realize that what differentiates Catholics from many others is that we are supposed to *actually believe* we have been given the power (grace) to become saints.

    What if I said that I fully intend to become a saint? (Which by the way I do and so should you). Which of the following is the general form of the response of the Holy Spirit?

    [A] “That’s not realistic.”

    [B] “Get on with it.”

    Spoiler, the answer is [B].

    • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

      “Get on with it.” Love that! Exactly. Thank you, Jeff.

  • bill b

    Janis Joplin had two sides…..the erroneous free morals…and the incredible existential depth. You’ve got her second side. And you’ve got her “Ball and Chain” looking more Christian than more prosaic blogs would allow…and weighing lighter than Joplin would allow because grace was outside her thoughts. Jacques Maritain once said that in such wayward artists ( as Joplin) and in an imperfect work of theirs, their sheer unusual depth may still be uplifting to a person who has the morals right and is safe through continence thereby. Heavy stuff you laid down Stacy…Jonny Lang comes to mind too….” I know you wanna quit me baby….but a quitter never wins.”

    • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

      Bill, thank you for that encouragement. Thank you! My pre-conversion days were more like the first side of Joplin, the erroneous free morals. I get her, I do, but I’m so happy I left all that behind.

      Also, I spent yesterday with “Freedom’s just another word for…nothin’ left to lose…” stuck in my head! :-) It’s still there too! Haha.

      • bill b

        Well that lyric that is stuck in your mind can have a perfect Christian meaning and it can have a non responsibility hippy meaning as can Ball and Chain. St. Benedict Joseph Labre lived that poverty of “nothing left to lose” but carried out the work of prayer as he lived begging on the streets…and died in his thirties of malnutrition…the most unusual saint ever canonized in Catholicism.
        Black Dog by Led Zeppelin starts out as though it’s from the anti Christ or Penthouse but ends up with the Christian view of love…I often wonder how many Christians never stayed with the song until the turning point and beyond.

    • Bill S

      I saw Janis Joplin at Harvard Stadium just before she died.

  • Karen Denney

    Good article, Stacy. Mr. T has always been very faithful to his parents. He’s a good man.

  • amina

    It has been some weeks now since the Dr Eziza bring back my husband back. Our reunion happened ‘suddenly.’ There is no secret what Dr Eziza can do! I thank you again for the the spell that were cast for us as well to bring back my lover.email him via:ezizaoguntemple@gmail.com or +2348058176289

  • amina

    It has been some weeks now since the Dr Eziza bring back my husband back. Our reunion happened ‘suddenly.’ There is no secret what Dr Eziza can do! I thank you again for the the spell that were cast for us as well to bring back my lover.email him via:ezizaoguntemple@gmail.com or +2348058176289

  • Bill S

    “Sound a little too mystical and weird? Did you ever consider that perhaps demons want you to think that? To underestimate their presence?”

    Stacy,

    You are an inspiration, BUT, you are superstitious. A person with a science background should not be taking metaphors like angels and demons and making them out to be real.

    You have done much to dispel myths that science has in some way been hamstrung by Christianity. It hasn’t. But you should try not to be so superstitious. You’re better than that.

    • Howard

      Bill S, I am fascinated that you have gone out on a limb and declared with certainty that angels are not real. Can you support that position?

      • Bill S

        I’m not aware of any clear evidence of the existence of gods, angels, demons, etc. As for me providing evidence that they don’t exist, I can’t prove a negative in terms of anything not existing including UFOs and the other usual suspects. We have Nature and the Cosmos which are wonderful and unexplainable but there is nothing supernatural anywhere.

        • Howard

          “.. there is nothing supernatural anywhere. ”

          Do you at least understand the reason you seem to be stating the negative with the conviction of a proven fact.

          • Bill S

            Those who state the positive don’t really have much proof either. They accept it on faith.

          • Howard

            So, you are saying that you only believe that there are no angels, your faith in something unnamed gives you this certainty. What is that something that has addressed the question of angels for you?

          • Bill S

            My faith is in science because science has earned my trust. Religion has not. The way you might place your faith in religion, I place mine in science.

          • Howard

            I trust science as well, if it is accurate and represents physical reality. For example I can fly trusting that the discovered laws of aerodynamics will hold me up. What scientific study has proven your contention that “there is nothing supernatural anywhere?”

          • Bill S

            I’ve made a leap of faith to believe only in materialistic naturalism. I think scientists would have discovered evidence of the supernatural if it were real. If they can prove the existence of the Higgs Boson, finding signs of the supernatural should be easy by comparison.

          • Howard

            I can understand faith, or a leap which I take to mean very little substance. So we have concluded that you really don’t know if angels exist or not, it is sort of a desire or feeling? What is confusing me is that you seem to have defined your belief yourself, not discovered or reasoned it. If you only accept natural or physical existences, then by definition the SUPERnatural (beyond the natural) cannot possibly exist. It is a declared position not a scientific one. If only material things exist then it is an impossibility for scientists to discover by the use of their tools the supernatural. Again we are dealing with definitions not reality. Words not truth.

          • Bill S

            Yes. I have come to the conclusion that the supernatural does not exist in any way, shape or form that anything can possibly exist. It is my own personal worldview. I don’t feel that I have to provide proof that it is correct, but I know that it is. There is Nature and the Cosmos which it seems we will never totally comprehend no matter how much we learn. But, unless we want to think of Nature and the Cosmos being from the supernatural, there is nothing else that even remotely qualifies as being supernatural. Stories of the supernatural involving gods, angels, demons, ghosts, souls, etc. are all untrue, which means they are delusions or lies. I can’t prove this but I am sure of it.

          • Howard

            Well Bill if it is your own
            personal worldview and you are unwilling to share or do not know what
            brought you to this conclusion and argue for it’s correctness, then why the
            admonition for others who have a different worldview. Seems to me that you are
            not very secure in your position and are creating a worldview that you prefer
            but don’t really know why.

          • Bill S

            You are right that I shouldn’t “admonish” Stacy or anyone else for their worldview since mine also requires a leap of faith. We all have to come to our own conclusions. I just put mine out there to see if it survives the scrutiny of believers.

          • Howard

            A very good attitude to take. I would encourage you to examine your own beliefs outside of your supporters. I always love to talk to or read those who are against my beliefs because they can bring up thoughts others would pass over because a decision has been made already. Your positon can be strengthened or weakened by doing this. I draw the line at bad manners though.

          • Bill S

            Yes. I draw the line at bad manners too. I am trying to determine if my worldview should be based on materialistic naturalism or something more metaphysical.

          • Howard

            My advise, which I am not charging you for of course, is to understand the nature of truth and base it on that.

          • Bill S

            The problem with that is that the Gospel of John turns truth on its ear. Jesus says to Martha “I am the way, the truth and the life” and people have come to see what John wrote, along with calling him “the Word” and having Pilate asking Jesus “What is truth?”, as meaning that there is no other truth than in Jesus, who is “The Truth”. So, when you say truth, I have to ask as Pilate did: “What is truth?”

          • Howard

            Bill, I had looked up John 14 for those very words. I was going to say that Christ is the truth I believe in. This probably has little meaning for you so next I was going to ask you, Do you believe in objective truth?

          • Bill S

            I believe in many objective truths. I believe that two and two is four. I believe the pope is in Rome. I believe the world is round. Etc.

            I don’t believe that birth-control being intrinsically evil is an objective truth. I don’t believe that homosexuality is objectively disordered. In fact, I don’t really accept the objectivity of any religious “truths”.

          • Howard

            If a particular statement is true it can often be investigated. Pilate was a very confused man. He asked Jesus, “What is truth”, but he also acknowledged a truth by declaring that “I find no case against him.” (john 18) A clear understanding of a truth. He recognized it but did not want to define it. If Jesus had no case against him this was true for everyone in the world no matter what they wanted. Truth is always binding on everyone. Truth itself is objective. All truth. An understanding can be wrong but the truth of it is always outside of us all. It’s existence is not dependent on ours. The question to ask is where did this come from and why is it so?

          • Bill S

            People put their hand on a Bible and swear they are about to tell the truth. The Bible is the symbol of the truth. We say something is Gospel truth. Jesus is portrayed as the Truth.

            Yet, it is just as likely that none of it is true. There are some who question if Jesus was even a real person. There is a good chance that God did not walk with Adam or talk to Abraham. It’s almost certain that there never was a flood, an ark, a parting of the Red Sea, etc. Yet, not only is the Bible true, it is the symbol of truth. Catholicism is the one true faith. All others only have bits of the truth. It’s as if Christianity tells you to forget about what you think of as true. This is Truth with a capital “T”. Yet. It is possible that not only some of it is not true, but that none of it is true. And yet it is presented as Truth.

          • Howard

            When you get tired of trying to chop down all the trees maybe the forest will become visible.

          • Bill S

            I’m just saying that Christianity not only presents itself as true, but as the “Truth”. You have to believe in it even in the absence of evidence that any of it is true, let alone all of it.

          • Howard

            You are working at it from the wrong end. Placing your faith in men and accepting their claim of perfection will never get you past the lowest wrung on that ladder. Christianity does not present it’s self as an ad for the latest lager does or an offer for a dream vacation. Start at the top. If God exists then what He says determines your fate not your pleasure on earth. Your understanding of truth then has a different reference. Those thousands of doubts based on other men go away.

          • Bill S

            If God exists then what He says determines your fate not your pleasure on earth.

            We both have presuppositions. Yours is that the supernatural exists, which allows you to believe that God exists and that he makes himself known to us through one particular religion (more so than through any other.)

            Since your presupposition can’t be disproved the rest that follows is logical.

            My presupposition is that there exists Nature and the Cosmos, but not the Judeo-Christian God. Nature and the Cosmos are revealed to us through scientific discoveries and not through any current religion.

            We are both thinking logically. Only our presuppositions are different. For me to reconvert, I would have to accept your presupposition, which I can’t get myself to do.

            I guess that’s as far as we can get with one another.

          • Howard

            Bill you almost have it!
            It is not MY presupposition that you must accept it is the proposition that God exists. Look to the evidence not the men. Follow the argument not the authority.
            I am incapable of convincing you of His existence.

          • Bill S

            A long time ago, someone compiled the writings of at least four scribes (J, D, P and E) and it became the Torah. It told the story of a god who went by the name: “I Am”.

            Ever since then, people have decided to believe or not believe the Torah regarding this god. That’s what it comes down to. The Torah is either true or false. I don’t see how it can be true.

          • Howard

            This is a perfect example of what I am saying.

            If you start with the proposition that God exists then judge the value of the Torah you will have a different perspective.

            This highest level must be faced first before anything else makes sense. St. Paul is probably the most dramatic example of that. His conversion story was told to the apostles (Acts 9:26).

            God has given us a marvelous capability. Free will allows us to be free of other men who would make us their slaves. Slaves to their thought and their will. He has allowed us think for ourselves and even deny Him. How much freer can you be?

          • Bill S

            If you start with the proposition that God exists then judge the value of the Torah you will have a different perspective.

            Of course I will have a different perspective. I will forfeit the option of saying “this is nonsense”. I will have to suspend any critical thinking and accept the Bible as the Word of God. That’s exactly what the writers hoped would happen.

          • Howard

            That’s exactly what the writers hoped would happen.

            You always have the option of rejection before you come to any conclusion.
            It is illogical to assume that acceptance and rejection will exist at the same time.

            Think about it. If God exists and is your maker and has laid out a plan for your existence, then where does critical thinking take you? Towards Him or away?

          • Bill S

            Critical thinking prompts me to ask if the Torah is true. And if it is not true, can the rest of the Bible still be true? Critical thinking prompts me to ask if the Gospels are true.

            I can either accept the Bible as being true or I can apply critical reasoning to conclude that it is not. That is where critical thinking leads me.

          • Howard

            Critical thinking
            is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully
            conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating
            information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience,
            reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and
            action.

            http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/410

            Although this entire attempt to define it is long winded, there is nothing there about a need to reject the existence of God.

          • Bill S

            Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced.

            One should neither accept or reject God prior to exercising critical thinking. For many people who read the Bible, their minds are already made up that it is true and God exists, so the Bible makes sense to them. It does not make any sense to me.

          • Howard

            Everyone thinks;
            it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is
            biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the
            quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends
            precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly,
            both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however,
            must be systematically cultivated.

            You do not give up your right to think because you accept the existence of God or that the bible is divinely inspired. You are not God’s puppet. You are given life and the ability to do your own will. The question is how hard are you pulling away from what you know to be true and for what reasons?

            They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked. They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies.

            In today’s western world egocentric and sociocentric ideas are dominant.

          • Bill S

            The thinking of someone who already accepts the existence of God and believes that the Bible is divinely inspired is biased. It is not truly critical and unbiased. Jesus pretty much insisted that we believe and preferably without seeing signs of his power over nature. He demanded faith and admonished doubt. Doubt is an essential part of critical thinking.

          • Howard

            No one can think and come to any conclusions without having satisfied themselves on thousands of questions. If this were not so we would never ever conclude anything.

            Why do you believe that the existence of God is the only one that should not ever be answered? To reject the correctness of being able to come to a conclusion on this question is most certainly a bias without a recognized cause.

          • Bill S

            Why do you believe that the existence of God is the only one that should not ever be answered.

            I suppose if one were provided proof of the existence of God, that would be the only way that the question could be answered. Proof of the opposite is impossible. You can’t prove that something or someone does not exist.

            If someone asked for and was given a sign, that would be enough proof for that person. My wife believes that the Holy Spirit knocks her out at healing masses. That is proof enough for her. I believe it is a hypnotic suggestion, but she gets insulted when I suggest it.

            I supposed I could pray for a sign and then choose to believe if I receive it. Hmmm.

          • Howard

            …the only way that the question could be answered.

            You have concluded this, must everyone else accept it or are we allowed to think also?

            You have posed a vague question about the bible then insisted that possible answers to that question be eliminated at the start. You
            also conflate Jesus and the book itself.

            I am afraid that you still are avoiding the most pressing question. The “why” is what you are not revealing.

          • Howard

            I am always hoping that some new idea will appear when God is rejected in conversation It never does. It is always the same try at dominance over ones own existence that drives the person. Reason is abandoned and objection to giving up ones self importance is asserted.

            Thanks Bill.

          • Bill S

            How else can the question of God’s existence be definitively answered? There is no way to prove that God does not exist. We can believe that he does, which might make us feel good and give us a more positive attitude, which then in turn would bring about positive results. But it would be difficult to know whether it were our positive attitude or God that brought about the positive result. The only sure way of answering the question would be to ask for a sign and then receive it. You can take that opinion for what it is worth.

            As to the way, I believe it is good to really know the real truth about what this life is all about. I do not want to be deluded into believing something that is proclaimed to be true but is really anything but true.

          • Charles C

            How can blind faith even be in your vocabulary, being you only accept physical provable events. Science has massive amounts of speculation awaiting some sort of proof that may never come. Hmm! Sounds like your personal definition of religion.

          • Bill S

            …being you only accept physical provable events.

            Not everything I believe has to be physical or provable. I can believe just about anything you can and be right or wrong about it, except that I choose not to believe things that we all know are unbelievable. To believe the unbelievable is to have a faith that I choose not to pursue.

          • Charles C

            “I choose not to believe things that we all know are unbelievable.”

            It is quite interesting that you above all the men who have ever lived, know what is believable and unbelievable. You sir, flatter your rather ample ego. I am not sure what that says for us believers? It is obvious you are the highest authority in these matters. How can you possibly know what all men know is unbelievable?

          • Bill S

            It just says that believers believe that God can do the unbelievable. Part the Red Sea, make the walls of Jericho crumble, become human, rise from the dead, ascend to heaven, become physically present in bread and wine, etc. These things are unbelievable by natural means.

          • Charles C

            Bill, You have set yourself up as the ultimate authority. The one who decides what is and is not. In truth we all do not know what you know until you tell us.

          • Bill S

            I put this response in the wrong place.

            How do you get that from what I said. All I am saying is that there are certain beliefs in the Christian faith that an objective observer would consider to be unbelievable. It takes faith to believe the unbelievable. I prefer to place my faith in science.

          • Charles C

            “Yes. I have come to the conclusion that the supernatural does not exist
            in any way, shape or form that anything can possibly exist. It is my own
            personal worldview.”

            You cannot understand many Catholic perspectives because you totally reject the spiritual dimension or if you prefer the supernatural. You should remind yourself that many of us, especially on this blog, might not share your worldview.

            “How do you get that from what I said.”

            Your tone and innuendo speaks volumes, especially when disputing things you don’t accept. You get condescending sometimes.
            I am not bothered by your unbelief. I would note that you accept multiverses and spontaneous creation of life with no evidence other than someone saying it’s so. Your lack of belief has no bearing on the Almighty, I am sure he understands you even if you choose not to believe in him. I believe that Church is a force for good. Science provides many answers but actually fails to resolve more than it provides answers. I think there are many things that are unknowable that Science or Religion cannot address adequately.

          • Bill S

            Sorry. I don’t mean to be condescending. Stacy does present this blog as being about science and religion.

          • Bill S

            You cannot understand many Catholic perspectives because you totally reject the spiritual dimension

            Yes. That is the basis of all my arguments. I just feel that if there were a spiritual dimension, science would have discovered it by now.

          • Charles C

            What method would you recommend Science use to determine the existence of God and the spiritual dimension? Even the Church uses indirect means to determine this. The things Science cannot explain are usually in the spiritual realm. Do you have a specific?

          • Bill S

            Scientist would have to totally rule out all natural explanations including pious fraud and prove that a miracle could only have occurred by a supernatural means.

          • Charles C

            With your mindset, I would expect that you would not accept it in any case. Events occur that defy scientific analysis. The Church is extremely sceptically in all of these events.

          • Bill S

            I know. I’ve read about many reported miracles. They do seem to disprove my worldview.

          • Charles C

            I am by nature a skeptical person but I find that there are many things in the physical and metaphysical world that I do not understand or ever expect to. I believe someone should never say never or always.

          • Bill S

            I have no problem with people admitting there are things that we don’t understand and that science can’t explain. But that doesn’t make religion any more believable. And I don’t take it to be evidence of a spiritual realm, which is based on people’s imaginations.

          • Charles C

            What would you classify a miracle? An imaginary event?

          • Bill S

            Many stories of miracles are pure fiction. The parting of the Red Sea, Jesus walking on water, etc. Some reports of miracles are nothing but pious fraud. Padre Pio was my great grandmother’s cousin. There are a ridiculous number of so called miracles attributed to him. These, along with the use of carbolic acid to produce the stigmata are all pious frauds. Can I disprove every reported miracle? No. But it is very unlikely that these all happened and yet scientists can’t really confirm a single one with certainty enough to publish the findings.

          • Charles C

            Your personal perspective and dismissive nature is showing again. It is established that Science cannot disprove a real miracle. Yet you dismiss all, even those which have not or cannot be evaluated. Eg: Jesus walking on water. I don’t see any purpose in continuing this thread. Peace.

          • Bill S

            If you believe that Jesus walked on water instead of that it is just a story, then we really can’t see eye to eye on any of this.

          • Charles C

            I expect you are right. You probably have a problem with transubstantiation as well. It is easy to see why you don’t do well as a Catholic. We are not going to see eye to eye on much. I already knew that, so what is the purpose?

          • Bill S

            My purpose is to see if anyone can give me a reason why I should believe what they believe. What am I missing?

          • Charles C

            What am I missing? I do not know.
            Triune God, Scripture, Faith. You choose to reject the bulk of what Catholics believe.

            “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”–Stewart Chase

          • Bill S

            For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.

            You have to choose to believe. No one is going to prove it to you. If I’m going to choose to believe in something, it’s probably not going to be something that someone tells me I must believe in order to receive a reward and avoid a punishment.

          • Charles C

            Belief and faith is much more than your simplistic reward and punishment. I do not know how to explain it to you. You have chosen not to believe.

          • Bill S

            I know how well belief and faith work. I’ve experienced the benefits in the past myself. But now I see it as an “ignorance is bliss” experience. My life is much worse now that I don’t believe. I’d give anything to feel like I did when I believed. As Bob Seeger sang “wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then”. Unfortunately, there seems to be nothing anyone can say to make me change my mind. Closest I have come is reading a book called Nothing Short of a Miracle and I think I will read more books like it.

          • Charles C

            I accept the existence of God. I cannot confirm that. I see God in the creation and was reared Catholic. I have never felt a need to doubt miracles or metaphysical events. There is no scientific method to validate the veracity of these accounts. If scripture is the inspired word of God, this does not require a literalistic view. Faith is the root of Christianity. Without it, it doesn’t work. There are a multitude of mysteries in our realm of existence. Science explains some but not most of them. Not understanding everything is not a deficiency for the individual as we are not capable of being omniscient. There are a great number of things I will never understand, both in the physical and metaphysical world. Of that I am sure. There is no requirement for me to totally understand everything. “For we walk by faith, and not by sight.” –2 Corinthians 5: 7 You have chosen you path and I have chosen mine.

          • Bill S

            I envy your faith. As for me, I just can’t do it.

          • Charles C

            “As for me, I just can’t do it.”

            It’s up to you. God doesn’t pull away, we do. God is waiting, even if you truly believe otherwise. You should talk with your wife.

          • Bill S

            My wife says that I won’t change unless something bad happens to me and I need God’s help or when I am on my death bed. To me, that is an immature way to look at life.

            My biggest problem with not believing is that I don’t know that many others who don’t believe and the ones I do know, like my brother, my wife thinks they are a bad influence on me and she would be upset if I hung out with them. It is tough for me being surrounded by believers. I feel like I know something that they don’t know but it does me no good.

          • Charles C

            Your wife has a point. Most people ignore God, until something serious happens in their life and then they realize that they aren’t the smartest person they know. Of course, if one thinks they are God then they should have all the answers. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who are atheist or agnostic. We don’t discuss belief often and I understand the
            non-theistic point of view. Most of the prominent atheists have been refuted centuries ago and continue to be. I am not looking to debate that point. Hanging out with believers only benefits you if you believe. Most unbelievers assume that believers are superstitious idiots. There is the beginning of the belief problem. The modern atheists appear to hold Religion in contempt, at which point they close their minds to anything a believer might say. You would have to admit the possibility of a God before you can believe. Scott Hahn and Fr. Dwight Longenecker have written some excellent books on the subject.

          • Bill S

            I do believe, unlike some atheists, that there is a god-like intelligence behind all this. I don’t see how everything could just happen by random. If I would call that intelligence “God”, I would have to say that this God has been misrepresented by religion. Scientists who believe in this kind of God are more qualified to identify its attributes them men writing stories during the Bronze Age.

          • Charles C

            Why would these “Scientists” be more qualified than the biblical writers? Is this more of bronze age people are naive, and stupid. These bronze age writers perceived their world differently than we do in this technical age. I think is is foolish for modern men to condemn what they don’t understand.
            How does one determine that the bible is a misrepresentation of God? You have got me there. Since when did you, me or the scientist become expert in theology? The bible is written from a bronze age perspective which no modern human can understand. I believe it is sincerely written even though there are some flaws and change over the last 4000 years. There is no attempt at a mass conspiracy to deceive us in the 21st century as some of the militant atheists assert. Much of the bible is still relevant to us today, unless you choose to throw out all but 21st century science as your guide. I don’t think you can explain why modern scientists are better equipped to
            resolve all the sticky “God” issues than the ancients.

          • Bill S

            We know more today than we did thousands of years ago. The most current information is the most reliable. Ancient information is less reliable. It is a sort of evolution of information.

          • Charles C

            Bill, We have more information easily available. Why would you think ancient information is less reliable? What great breakthroughs in theology and metaphysics have occurred in our lifetime? Science and Technology is the achievement of our age. You appear to think this trumps everything. What does Science and Technology have to say about God? Not a lot.

          • Bill S

            Why would you think ancient information is less reliable?

            I don’t understand why you would ever think that ancient legends and manuscripts copied hundreds of times would not have more errors than modern information. That is highly irrational.

          • Charles C

            Where do you find modern manuscripts? Modern translations of the bible are derived from the earliest manuscripts.

          • Bill S

            What I’m saying is that the old manuscripts with copies of copies and stories from thousands of years ago are not the best source to understand what this life is all about.

          • Charles C

            In your opinion, I suppose. You seem to forget that all of what exists today is supported by these ancient documents. Society, Religion, Science Legal Systems. The ancients were pretty sharp. Their designs are still in place today throughout the world. The Greeks, Egyptians, Macedonian, Romans,
            Babylonians and yes, even the Hebrews have all made contributions to what we call civilization. If this is all so flawed, why has it survived? All the great thinkers and philosophers do not live in our time. I suppose we should live our lives based on what some half baked biologist in England thinks or what some punk posts on the internet from his mother’s basement. You should read a good history of Civilization before you dismiss 5000 years of human thought. All that we know is built on the shoulders of those who have gone before. Life was figured out long before you and I came along.

          • Bill S

            Knowledge and information is cumulative. There is more now than at any time prior. To learn what life is all about, consult current sources.

          • Charles C

            I suppose if it’s not on the internet you don’t believe it. Most of human thought is not available on Wikipedia. You are being stubborn as usual in your dismissive way. You’re too smart for me Bill. Peace

          • Bill S

            You are being stubborn as usual in your dismissive way.

            Yes. I suppose I am. Thanks for your insights.

          • Howard

            Friend, “Do you just assume that you are always right?”

            Sheldon, “It’s not an assumption!”

            – Big Bang Theory

          • Bill S

            I like that. It sounds like me.

          • Charles C

            You are right. I suppose you would have problems with transubstantiation as well. I see why you have difficulties with being Catholic. We are not going to see eye to eye on much. What is the purpose?

  • Howard

    I can surely see how fortunate you are to have discovered our faith (me too).

  • Newman

    I didn’t see Stacy’s article as weird or mystical. Temptation is real, Satan and his ministers are real. And the use of metaphors and figurative language is a ligament style of writing to help people understand certain ideas and concepts; the Bible is replete with figurative language, similes, etc. The Christian marriage is an earthly representation of the union of the Christ and the church. The apostle Paul put it this way:

    Eph 5:22-33
    Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (23) For
    the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church,
    He Himself being the Savior of the body. (24) But as the church is
    subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in
    everything. (25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also
    loved the church and gave Himself up for her, (26) so that He might
    sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
    (27) that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having
    no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and
    blameless. (28) So husbands ought also to love their own wives as
    their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; (29) for
    no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ
    also does the church, (30) because we are members of His
    body. (31) FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER
    AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
    (32) This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ
    and the church. (33) Nevertheless, each individual among you also
    is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she
    respects her husband.

    • Bill S

      Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (23) For
      the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church,

      My wife is my equal. She is not subject to me any more than I am subject to her. It is a partnership.

      You talk about figurative language. I agree. But you say before that that Satan and his ministers are real. That is superstition.

  • Bill S

    How do you get that from what I said. All I am saying is that there are certain beliefs in the Christian faith that an objective observer would consider to be unbelievable. It takes faith to believe the unbelievable. I prefer to place my faith in science.

  • Howard

    I really do not like the approach to understanding the reality of God via miracles or events that take a scientific approach to this question. It is much simpler than that and frankly I think there is something much too sociocentric about having to resort to that method. But in a rare moment of compassion for the spiritually challenged I post this:

    Today many believe that the living spiritual truths of religion have lost their power, and that science, not faith, is the road to truth. Before my experience I strongly suspected that this was the case myself.

    But I now understand that such a view is far too simple. The plain fact is that
    the materialist picture of the body and brain as the producers, rather than the
    vehicles, of human consciousness is doomed. In its place a new view of mind and
    body will emerge, and in fact is emerging already. This view is scientific and
    spiritual in equal measure and will value what the greatest scientists of history
    themselves always valued above all: truth.

    http://www.newsweek.com/proof-heaven-doctors-experience-afterlife-65327

    The source for this story and many others at http://www.magiscenter.com/life_after_death_mc.html

  • David Peters

    Stacy, I went back and read this again. I think I got more out of it the second time, it is very profound and well said. Thank you.

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