Christians Not Immune to Ruts

A lot of Christians follow a specific pattern when they either convert into the faith or are born into it but make it their own. They embrace their faith with great enthusiasm, continue along that path for awhile, then they get bored.

Once they get in a rut there are a couple of possible outcomes. The first is that the person overcomes the rut and tries to make the faith more fresh and meaningful. Or, they find their faith so boring and meaningless that they give up and move onto other things, or nothing.

We often fall into the trap of thinking that being Christian and having the Holy Spirit somehow makes us immune to ruts. I’ve heard it probably hundreds of times from new Christians or those who made some sort of intentional re-dedication. They swear that they’re never going to lose the fire. Until, that is they do.

Being in a rut is normal. We get into ruts with jobs, families, friends, and even lives. There’s no reason why our faith, which is earthly too, should be any different. They key lies in getting over the rut.

Once we get in a spiritual rut, I recommend finding a way to break out and become spiritually fresh again. Read a good Christian book, try a new prayer practice, visit a new parish for a couple of weeks. Or take up a new daily practice like the rosary or an early morning mass.

Perhaps the best solution is to recognize that being enthusiastic all the time is unrealistic. We’re going to have ups and downs in our faith, especially when it comes to be being bored. We just have to learn to accept that the mundane is a part of spiritual life and growth.

So, don’t get too worked up about that rut. Christians aren’t immune to them.

Faith Is Sometimes Risky

red roseWe humans are naturally risk averse. In other words, we prefer our comfort zones to going out on a limb and taking risks in life that make us uncomfortable.

It’s not a surprise because even the phrase going out on a limb implies a bad result. When you get to the end of the limb, they break or you fall. Either way you hit the ground with a thud.

Think of the person who wants to pick a beautiful red rose. He first needs to brave the thorns.

But, taking risks in our faith is extremely important. All the great leaders and saints in the Christian traditions have realized this. Jesus himself took great risks that ultimately led to his death and resurrection for our sins. St. Francis reformed the Church through his risks. John XXIII took a risk with the Second Vatican Council. Even today, Pope Francis is showing a risky faith can create controversy.

Our faith is sometimes risky. We may have to stand up for it in ways that make us fundamentally or unpopular. Or maybe our beliefs will end up losing us friends or money or influence. Faith is always a risk or at least it should be.

Sadly, in many cases faith isn’t even a real risk. Being a squishy Christian isn’t really risk. Going with the flow poses no threats. But, is that a real faith? Or is a real faith one that goes out on a limb frequently to find new and creative ways to serve God?

In this way, Pope Francis is a role model. He has already changed many conventions, but has also won over detractors and others who fail to see the love and compassion of Christ in the Catholic Church. So, by taking risks he’s furthering God’s kingdom.

So, go out and start taking more risks in your faith. I think you’ll find it’ll strengthen your faith and increase your success in building God’s kingdom.

We Have A New Pope

I interrupt this Per Christum hiatus to mention the election of a new pope – with the name Francis. He is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the bishop of Argentina.

This is a “first” for a variety of reasons. He is the first Jesuit pope (it only took 500 years right?), as well as the first pope from the Americas, and of course the first pope in a long time to be around while a former pope was alive. He was also a bishop over both Latin and Eastern Catholics!

So far, I am really excited about what Pope Francis is doing. He seems to care deeply about the poor, and so far his papacy has been an exercise in humility over ostentation.

I think the world needs a pope like this. Unfortunately, the Church’s reputation has been damaged worldwide for a variety of reasons. A pope that reaches out to people in quiet humility is just what we need.

Habemus Papam!

Two New Pages Related To Prayer

As many of you know, we operate a sister site, ChurchYear.Net.

We have been adding prayers and other resources since we began in 2004 to that site. Now we get over a million visitors a year that are looking for resources related to prayer, worship, and – most of all – Christian holidays. Our collection of resources has grown significantly and we are happy so many people enjoy the resources provided.

We recently added two new pages, chock full of prayers. They are prayers for healing and prayers for strength. These prayers are based on Scripture, and some come from The Book of Common Prayer (re-appropriated for Catholics as The Book of Divine Worship). We hope you enjoy these pages.

Also, have a great last day of Christmas, and a blessed New Year from ChurchYear.Net and us.

What is Gaudete Sunday?

We are almost finished with Advent and the Christmas season is upon us soon. I am not sure how many days left until Christmas, but just pull aside the nearest child, and they can tell you!

Today is the third Sunday of Advent, which is also called Gaudete Sunday. The liturgical color is rose (pink), and many Catholics wonder what has changed during this third week of Lent.

Be sure to check out the article What is Gaudete Sunday for more information.

What’s Up With Per Christum?

As many of you know, we have not been keeping this blog up very consistently  As a result, we have pretty much closed it down, even though it is redesigned a little. We recently switched hosts, and because of that, it was a good time to get our blog off of WordPress.com, and onto something that we host.

Just a note, there will be no more comments to prevent any spam. If you have any questions, please contact us.

A New Blog…

As many of your know, Per Christum has pretty much become defunct. I know that when we began in 2006, I was excited about the possibilities of Catholic blogging. Eventually, I tired of the polemics of the Catholic blogosphere, and I honestly only read a handful of Catholic blogs these days. I am very grateful for all that have contributed to Per Christum.

However, our sister site, ChurchYear.Net has started a ChurchYear.Net blog, which offers about 3 posts a week related to spirituality and Christian holidays. Stop by if you get a chance.

The Passing of a Giant . . .

I’ll comment more later when I can. Ralph was a friend and mentor. For now, his obituary can speak for itself.

Blessings,

Papa Z.

Ralph Gerald Del Colle
October 3, 1954 – July 29, 2012

57, of Milwaukee, passed into eternal life on July 29 preceded in death by his loving parents Flavia and Alfred Del Colle and survived by his beloved wife Lee Coppernoll, children Josh and Zoe Del Colle and dear confidant, twin sister Flavia. He is also survived by in-laws Sue and Dean Coppernoll, brother-in-laws Doug, Jeff and Kelly, sister-in-law Connie and many devoted cousins.

Ralph was born in New York City on October 3, 1954 and was raised in Mineola, Long Island. He attended Xavier High School in Chelsea and received a B.A. in History and Literature of Religions from New York University, and M.Div, M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Union Theological Seminary. Ralph taught for 17 years in the Marquette University Theology Department, prior to that he taught at Barry University, Miami Shores, FL and St. Anselm College, Manchester, NH.

Ralph’s lively Christian faith and interest in church unity led to his participation in ecumenical dialogues. He served as a representative to the International Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue for the Pontifical Council on Christian Unity for 12 years and also served on the Catholic-Reformed Dialogue and Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue, both for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was invited by the Pontifical Council to serve as a representative to the World Council of Churches Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1998. In 2002-2003, he served as the President of the Society for Pentecostal Studies and in 2003 Ralph received the Archbishop’s Vatican II Award. Ralph’s scholarly work, especially his work on the Holy Spirit, made significant contributions to the field of Systematic Theology.

Ralph and Lee met in Manhattan in 1978 and after an extended courtship were married in Morningside Heights on August 10, 1985. Ralph deeply loved his family and devoted time to exploring the United States with Lee, Josh and Zoe, often traveling with dear friends Suzi Schriar and Loren Iglarsh and their son Danny. As a New Yorker, Ralph relished life in that city but he quickly became a huge fan of Milwaukee upon moving here.

Ralph was a voracious reader and loved to engage in vigorous discussion and debate on issues ranging from religion to politics to arts and culture to military history. He was a lifelong athlete who ran cross-country and was a black belt training at the Kempo Goju Karate Fudoshin on Vliet. More importantly, Ralph’s gift for friendship was strong and he leaves a trail of friends across the US and beyond.

The family is grateful to the Mustard Seed Community for their care and feeding of the family over the past weeks, to the Marquette University Jesuit Community and to family, friends and colleagues who have been present in many remarkable ways during this time.

Visitation Wednesday, August 1, at the Funeral Home from 4 PM to 7 PM with Vigil Service at 7 PM. Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday, August 2, at 10:30 AM at THE CATHEDRAL OF ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST, 812 N Jackson St. A light luncheon will be held immediately following in the Cathedral Atrium. Interment at Holy Cross Cemetery, 7301 W. Nash St., please meet at cemetery entrance at 2 PM for a Gravesite Committal Service. Memorials gifts may be given to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs, 3211 N. 4th St., Washington, DC 20017; Our Lady of Grace Catholic Spirituality Center, 2604 N. Swan Blvd., Wauwatosa, WI 53226; or Angiosarcoma Awareness, Inc., P.O. Box 570442, Whitestone, NY 11357.