The Truth About Oikonomia and Cardinal Kasper

October 20, 2014

Five cardinals banded together to write Remaining in the Truth of Christ in which they address various aspects of marriage and the family according to Church teaching and practice. This book, published by Ignatius Press, was supposed to be out before the recent Synod in Rome, but many who ordered it ahead of time have yet to receive it. However, it seems to have been available to the Synod participants. In any case, it looks like the Kindle edition is ready at Amazon and I think that Catholics should get a copy to read and pray about. It could easily spark conversations that might lead fallen away Catholics back to Christ as well as strengthen marriages of practicing Catholics. Certainly it would be a book parishes could use in study groups to spark ideas on how to reach out to those in troubled situations.

I, personally, am glad of the lio at the Synod. It made perfectly clear in word and action who the wolves are. It brought into the open the mistaken thinking of some in the approach to solving many problems we must address. The Church, that’s we in the Mystical Body, will err in our approaches if we allow the world to define the issues and propose solutions.  We can’t be lazy and buy into those solutions rather than defining our orientation to those issues within the context of Christ’s teaching and the truths of the Faith. I’ll be writing more on that after I pray more.

Meanwhile, it is counterproductive to give into anxiety and fearfulness about what the bad actors will be up to in the coming year before the 2015 Synod. That weakens us. It is, in fact, a demonic trap. We know their tactics, but the Holy Spirit will not allow any teaching or practice that contravenes faith and morals to become official. If they pursue their current path, while it causes a lot of unrest and confusion, they cannot help falling. Instead of worrying about what they are doing and saying and fighting with them, we should take time to arm ourselves with facts and the true teachings of the Church so that we can think with the mind of the Church and articulate Christ-like solutions. We need to be thinking about what we can legitimately do, not what others propose that can’t legitimately be done. We need to be sharing our thoughts with our bishops.

To this end I post an interview of Raymond Arroyo with Father Robert Dodaro, OSA, editor of the book I recommend above and President of the Patristic Institute (Augustinianum) in Rome. Enjoy, and grab a copy of the book!

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Monday, October 20th, 2014 Catholic Church 2 Comments

Cardinal Pell on the Synod of the Family

October 18, 2014

Faithful Catholics the world over have been deeply concerned about the machinations going on at the Synod these past weeks. I am no exception. While I firmly believe that Jesus meant it when He said in Matt. 16:18: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, I, nonetheless, am horrified to see a very small group of bishops conniving to control the outcome of the synod in the favor of secular desires. Visit Father Z’s blog to read more details on the Synod.

The midterm report, called the Relatio (full text here), was a scandalous piece of work and caused the Synod hall to erupt as faithful Cardinals reacted against its contents. The Kasperites and gay ideologues in attendance must have thought they could shove their agendas down the throats of the majority, but fortunately that failed. What I noticed was a complete lack of quotes from Sacred Scripture, the CCC, and Fathers of the Church to bolster their secular nonsense in this document, precisely because no such quotes exist. Nevertheless, Kasper has been the darling of the media and has given numerous interviews in which he continues to claim that the majority of the Synod backs his approaches and that he has the backing of the Pope.

One interesting event this week was the release of an interview Kasper gave to Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register and published at Zenit on Wednesday, October 15. Pentin recorded it on his iPhone and Kasper seemed only too happy to promote his views. When severe criticism erupted over his remarks, not only on the Synod atmosphere concerning divorce and remarried Catholics being admitted to Holy Communion, but particularly on the African Cardinals of whom he said, “they should not tell us too much what we have to do,” Kasper denied that he had ever given the interview in the first place and Zenit removed it from their site. Read the entire interview at Pentin’s site.

Claiming that “this is the spirit of the Council”, Kasper is the poster child for why Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had to declare repeatedly that the Second Vatican Council had to be interpreted with the “hermeneutic of continuity”. That a Pope would even have to make such statements shows that skullduggery is, and has been for the past 50 years, afoot on the part of key Church leaders. These men are well educated in theology, Scripture, and the Catechism but we’d never know it by their utterances. It’s obvious that they want to court the adulation of the world and that Christ appears not to be the center of their lives. They seem to truly want to change Church teachings through subterfuge bit by bit.

I was thinking this morning of Judas, the betrayer of Our Lord. Jesus loved him and kept him with the rest as His closest companion. Even up to the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the sacred priesthood, Judas was there. He saw all the miracles Jesus wrought, His compassion and mercy towards sinners, the sick, and the dead, His unwavering expression of the truth, but still he persisted in his evil ways. Did Judas remain in Jesus’ inner circle because he believed that one day he would have even greater power and control over money to feed his greed? Surely it couldn’t have been because he believed and took to heart all of Jesus’ teachings and admonitions, or that he had a commitment to the truth. Jesus must have known all along what Judas was up to and his motivations, yet He permitted him to stay close.

I am sad to say that in our Church today we have a frightening number of apparent Judases among the clergy. How else can we interpret the words and deeds of bishops and cardinals that are in clear opposition to the words of Christ? These past couple of weeks surely show that we laity must pray and sacrifice for our bishops, and keep them close as  Jesus did even when they are up to questionable behavior.

God never asks a person to live a particular vocation without giving that person abundant graces to fulfill his calling. That would be utterly cruel and against His nature. Therefore, we must assume that when a person acts contrary to his calling, and in this case the bishop’s calling is first and foremost to teach the faith clearly,  he is betraying his vocation and repulsing the graces God is giving him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church #888 couldn’t be more clear about the preeminent task of bishops:

Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task “to preach the Gospel of God to all men,” in keeping with the Lord’s command. [Mk. 16:15] They are heralds of the faith who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers” of the apostolic faith “endowed with the authority of Christ.”

Attempting to introduce new practices that undermine the teachings of Christ is a betrayal. Refusing to reach out with the truth in charity yet not compromising with the world is a betrayal. Peace of heart and life in union with God is only found in staying true to the teachings of the Church which we received from Christ and the apostles. To downplay or deny these teachings when ministering to those in pain from their mistakes and sins is the height of cruelty. The bishop who does this will be accountable to Christ on judgment day, less so the flock he has deceived.

Fortunately, Cardinal Pell has some comforting words concerning the outcome of the Synod for faithful Catholics everywhere. You can also find today’s Bulletin from the Synod here, which places the focus where it belongs. Take a few minutes to listen to Cardinal Pell, who is one of Pope Francis’ advisers on the council of eight cardinals.

 

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

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Saturday, October 18th, 2014 Catholic Church 13 Comments

Divorce, Remarriage, Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Burke

October 11, 2014

It’s a shame when members of the Catholic Church launch epithets such as “fundamentalist” at others within the same Church. However, maybe we should re-think whether the term really is an epithet, i.e. an abusive, defamatory, or derogatory phrase.

The user, in this case Cardinal Kasper in reference to the five bishops and cardinals who wrote a book called Living in the Truth of Christ in preparation for the Synod on Marriage and the Family taking place in Rome this week, certainly intended it to be so. However, I’m not in favor of anyone defining who I am, and as you will see from Raymond Arroyo’s interview with Cardinal Burke, neither is the good Cardinal. If taking Jesus at His word means I’m a fundamentalist, call me that all you like. I’ll consider it a compliment.

I hate to say it, but I personally believe Cardinal Kasper is promoting weasel Catholicism. As in “weaseling out of the difficult job of teaching and living the truth.” The solutions to helping families become strong in Christ need to be innovative the world over, but never at the expense of the teachings of the Church which come from Christ. And never discounting the role the grace of God plays in helping us live our vocations either.

Please relax and enjoy this interview with Cardinal Burke on the Synod. I’ve admired him greatly because of his firmness in the truth and his compassion for the sinner. A worthy successor of the Apostles to be sure. I learned a few things from him and maybe you will, too.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

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Saturday, October 11th, 2014 Catholic Church 6 Comments

Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Benignity

October 9, 2014

St. Gregory the Great, Titian, via Wikimedia

St. Gregory the Great, Titian, via Wikimedia

In a recent post, Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Continency, I opened the door to discovering a deeper meaning than self-control for continency. Today I am opening the door to considerations on benignity, which is frequently translated as “kindness”.

St. Paul tells us in Galatians 5: 22:

But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity.

I favor the translation of the Douay Rheims Bible because it forces us to look beyond the mere word, “kindness”, which limits the true meaning of the Greek chrestotes (khray-stot’-ace). The Greek means “usefulness, i.e. morally, excellence (in character or demeanor) — gentleness, good(-ness), kindness” according to Strong’s.

Chrestotes is different from the next word, agathosune  (ag-ath-o-soo’-nay) in the same passage: meaning goodness, i.e. virtue or beneficence, translated as “goodness” in many Bibles, which we will take up in the future. The Latin Vulgate translates chrestotes as benignitas, from which we get the English word, “benignity”.

In today’s world moral excellence in character or demeanor is not prized, nor do we see much goodness and kindness from public figures who have the most influence on our lives whether in government, media, sports, etc. I am not sure whether teachers preparing children and adults for the sacrament of Confirmation are delving into the meanings and application of this fruit of the Holy Spirit either. Therefore, in the spirit of living the Gospel, let’s walk a little way with the Church Fathers and learn a fuller meaning of benignity.

The Fathers invariably use this word in the context of a person of power exercising this fruit with regard to someone of lesser stature in the social order of things, or someone who possesses something generously giving it or its use to another regardless of stature.

The benignity of rulers

St. Gregory the Great in his letter to Romanus, Guardian (Book IX, Letter 26):

Although the law with reason allows not things that come into possession of the Church to be alienated, yet sometimes the strictness of the rule should be moderated, where regard to mercy invites to it, especially when there is so great a quantity that the giver is not burdened, and the poverty of the receiver is considerably relieved.

And so, inasmuch as Stephania, the bearer of these presents, having come hither with her little son Calixenus (whom she asserts that she bare to her late husband Peter, saying also that she has labored under extreme poverty), demanded of us with supplication and tears that we should cause to be restored to the same Calixenus the possession of a house in the city of Catana, which Ammonia, her late mother-in-law, the grandmother of Calixenus, had offered by title of gift to our Church; asserting that the said Ammonia had not power to alienate it, and that it belonged altogether to the aforesaid Calixenus, her son; which assertion our most beloved son Cyprian, the deacon, who was acquainted with the case, contradicted, saying that the complaint of the aforesaid woman had not justice to go on, and that she could not reasonably claim or seek to recover that house in the name of her son; but, lest we should seem to leave the tears of the above named woman without effect, and to follow the way of rigor rather than embrace the plea of pity, we command you by this precept to restore the said house to the above-named Calixenus, together with Ammonia’s deed of gift with respect to this same house, which is known to be there in Sicily—since, as we have said, it is better in doubtful cases not to execute strictness, but rather to be inclined to the side of benignity, especially when by the cession of a small matter the Church is not burdened, and succor is mercifully given to a poor orphan.

To John, Archbishop of the Corinthians St. Gregory the Great writes (Book V, Letter 52):

Yet, inasmuch as it is fit for us to incline to mercy more than to strict justice, it is our will that the same Euphemius and Thomas be restored to the rank and position, but to that only, from which they had been promoted to sacred orders, and receive during all the days of their life the stipends of these positions, as they had been before accustomed. Further, as to Clematius the reader, I appoint, from a like motive of benignity, that he is to be restored to his rank and position.

We can see in both of these cases, benignity is associated with both justice and mercy.

The benignity of God

The Fathers often refer to the benignity of God. St. Cyprian of Carthage in his treatise on the Our Father says:

He who made us to live, taught us also to pray, with that same benignity, to wit, wherewith He has condescended to give and confer all things else; in order that while we speak to the Father in that prayer and supplication which the Son has taught us, we may be the more easily heard.

Saint Irenaeus.jpg

St. Ireneaus, engraving, public domain

St. Irenaeus in Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 24) writes about those who bring in false doctrines:

Wherefore they also imagine many gods, and they always have the excuse of searching [after truth] (for they are blind), but never succeed in finding it. For they blaspheme the Creator, Him who is truly God, who also furnishes power to find [the truth]; imagining that they have discovered another god beyond God, or another Pleroma, or another dispensation. Wherefore also the light which is from God does not illumine them, because they have dishonored and despised God, holding Him of small account, because, through His love and infinite benignity, He has come within reach of human knowledge….

Daily life illustrations

From these examples we can see that benignity is always exercised in the context of relationships, whether they be between ourselves and others or God and ourselves. Parents, bosses, owners of property, government officials, civic leaders all have the chance to show this fruit in their everyday actions. Whenever we use our power or authority in favor of someone without causing harm to others, we exercise benignity.

For an example, a company’s policy says that hourly workers are to be docked wages to go to doctor appointments. However, hardworking single parents struggling to make ends meet who need to take sick children to the doctor cannot afford to be docked. A supervisor who offers make-up time to the employee rather than docking wages is exercising benignity. The company loses nothing because the time off is made up doing work that needs to be done. The employee gains by keeping wages that would otherwise have been lost, and the boss gains from greater commitment on the employee’s part. Whether the supervisor will escape punishment for acting with benignity is another story, depending on the atmosphere of management. Clearly, though, St. Gregory the Great shows us by his actions that in small things the exercise of benignity is warranted.

Another example would be of a parent who has established a family rule that everything in the house must be picked up and put away – toys, clothes, etc. before going to bed. But Johnny has taken sick. Benignity and common sense says that he take medicine and go to bed without regard to toys strewn about. When Mom, Dad, or a sister or brother picks up Johnny’s things, benignity is shown.

Then there’s the farmer with a small grove of fruit trees. He has no use for the fruit so he allows a friend to gather it for his own use. Nothing obligates the farmer to permit someone to come on his land and take what he owns, but benignity governs his permission.

Whenever a judge exercises discretion in sentencing, he may show benignity. A criminal may deserve a life sentence, but a judge, considering circumstances, chooses to hand down a lesser penalty. As custodian of the law, he shows benignity. The same applies to the police officer who lets a speeder off with a warning ticket.

Benignity can never be such when a ruler allows a situation destructive to the common good of the people he is responsible for to continue unabated. Allowing illegal immigrants to pour across a nation’s borders may look like benignity, but the ruler has no duty or obligation to the illegals. He does, however, have a duty and obligation to the citizens of his country to protect them from diseases and violence brought in by illegals. He has an obligation to maintain order in the economy and daily life of citizens which is disrupted when people willy-nilly flood across borders. Moreover, he is enabling the governments of illegals to get off without practicing benignity to the people they are obligated to care for.

A parent who fails to enforce house rules and lets Mary Sue get away with all kinds of laziness, disrespectful language, sarcasm and bullying of siblings is not exercising benignity but raising a horror, abdicating a God-given responsibility to raise righteous children for the kingdom of God. Such a parent is not behaving in a morally upright manner.

Let us ask ourselves these questions:

What do I have power/authority over and how can I use it with benignity?

Do I conduct myself in a morally upright way with excellence of character and demeanor, or do I fail in justice and mercy towards others?

Do I rationalize sins by telling myself that nobody is getting hurt from my secret actions, thus going in the opposite direction from benignity into malignity?

If someone offends me, can I cut him slack without falling into the enabling category? Not make a mountain out of a mole hill?

God exercises constant benignity towards us in the graces He continually gives us; graces we neither merit nor deserve. Should not benignity be one of the ways we pattern ourselves after God, bringing the light of Christ into our world?

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

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Thursday, October 9th, 2014 religion, sacraments, spirituality 6 Comments

Living in Todays Chastisement

September 27, 2014

Winged demon, Exterior Relief, Catedral Nueva de Vitoria-Gasteiz. Wikimedia Commons

Winged demon, Exterior Relief, Catedral Nueva de Vitoria-Gasteiz. Wikimedia Commons

It seems likely that every demon in hell has been loosed upon this world. How else are we to make sense of the hatred and chaos all around us and the unconscionable suffering of our fellow man but to recognize the hand of the evil one stirring hearts against one another and the Lord? Make no mistake about this; we are in a major chastisement for the sins of all nations. Moreover, we delude ourselves if we think we will be spared the consequences of the sins of the world and our own nation just because we are personally doing our best to follow Christ.

A couple of years ago someone asked me where in the Bible does God show us that wars, bad weather, plagues, etc. are His punishment on us. After all, a lot of good people are hurt by these events. I gave the answers in a simple way, not going into much depth, but this past week I read an excellent post by Rich Maffeo explaining it all, complete with Bible quotes. Please read his commentary because it’s quite clear and convincing and then come back here for my thoughts.

No Escape

We gain nothing and garner greater pain by denying what is right in front of our eyes and in our own back yards. The beheading this week, and not a one off case, of an employee at Vaughn Foods in Oklahoma City by a follower of Islam who reportedly shouted the Muslim cry repeatedly as he attacked her is a prime example of the bloodshed coming our way unless we as a nation perform a Nineveh (Book of Jonah) and embrace the Lord. But how likely is that to happen? The murder of innocents is enshrined now not only in Roe vs. Wade, it’s in the Obamacare laws, and I’m speaking not only of abortion, but the denial of care to those most in need, especially the elderly, that has and will have the effect of their premature deaths if not outright murder. We could show many more examples of laws and rulings touching our everyday lives that not only produce evil effects materially, but also violate our freedom to choose God before mammon.

We are not going to be able to escape these evils any more than most Jews were able to escape Hitler’s death camps because the depth and breadth of personal sin results in deathly harm to all. When enough people push an ungodly agenda it inevitably becomes law, and the law is used to justify expanding the sin by force. St. Paul minces no words in Romans 1:28-32 in describing the sins and the fate of those who persist in them:

And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are disgraceful; Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.

What to do

Unfortunately, living in a nation where these evils are now forced upon us shows how personal sin tortures the corporate body of society. So what shall we do, given that we who follow Christ are the anawim Zephaniah speaks to in Chapter 2:3? St. John Paul II gives us a hint in his General Audience of May 23, 2001 where he expounds on Psalm 149:

5. There is a second term which we use to define those who pray in the Psalm:  they are the anawim, “the poor and lowly ones” (v. 4). The expression turns up often in the Psalter. It indicates not just the oppressed, the miserable, the persecuted for justice, but also those who, with fidelity to the moral teaching of the Alliance with God, are marginalized by those who prefer to use violence, riches and power. In this light one understands that the category of the “poor” is not just a social category but a spiritual choice. It is what the famous first Beatitude means:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). The prophet Zephaniah spoke to the anawim as special persons:  “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of wrath of the Lord” (Zep 2:3).

First, we must embrace the suffering that comes from living in a Godless world the same way that Christ embraced His suffering for the sins of the world. Why? Father F. J. Remmler tells us in his book, Why Must I Suffer? that

Public and national sins must be expiated in this world for the very simple reason that they cannot be expiated in the next. In the world to come families, cities, provinces and nations will have no continued corporate existence. There, men and women will exist merely as individuals, without being united by those social, civil, political, and national bonds which are necessary in this life for the welfare and preservation of the human race. In eternity, they will individually enjoy the fruits of their life on earth – the good will possess the kingdom of God in Heaven, while the wicked shall suffer for their evil deeds in the unquenchable fire of Hell. But public sins require public expiation, and as this expiation cannot be made in this next life, it is clear that it must be made on this side of the grave….

The sufferings endured by the good have a much greater atoning value than those endured by the wicked. Hence, the more good persons there are to join in making the required atonement, the more quickly will it be made. Besides, God is easily moved , out of consideration for the sufferings of the good, greatly to mitigate His punishments, and sometimes even to cancel them altogether.

Such sufferings afford the good an opportunity of making full atonement for their personal sins. For there is no one so holy and so confirmed in grace that he has not committed some sins, such at least as are venial. “Even the just man shall fall seven times,” i.e., frequently. But it is an unchanging law that every sin, even the smallest, must be fully expiated either here, or hereafter in Purgatory. But expiation made here is vastly more profitable than that which is made after death.

Second, we must constantly study God’s teaching in the Bible and its truths in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Knowing and accepting God’s truth gives us the power to call out and refute evil. It enables us to speak and live as a good example to others according to our state in life.

Third, we must frequent the sacraments and nurture the grace from them just as the good servant made the talents the Lord gave him grow from five to ten (Matt. 25). The Sacrament of Confirmation strengthens us through the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit to do what we ought and not shrink from necessary controversy.

Fourth, we must prepare ourselves to weather the onslaught through prayer, fasting, and self-denial, performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. If we are to die directly from the evils we face, we must make sure that we are in the state of grace and the confession of Christ is on our lips.

Finally, we must trust in God’s mercy and care for us personally, always seeking to see as God sees and to love others as He loves them. These are the ways that we can bear victoriously the onslaught of evil and join our King for eternity.

Psalm 149

Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: let His praise be in the church of the saints.

Let Israel rejoice in Him that made him: and let the children of Sion be joyful in their king.

Let them praise His name in choir: let them sing to Him with the timbrel and the psaltery.

For the Lord is well pleased with His people: and He will exalt the meek unto salvation.

The saints shall rejoice in glory: they shall be joyful in their beds.

The high praise of God shall be in their mouth: and two-edged swords in their hands:

To execute vengeance upon the nations, chastisements among the people:

To bind their kings with fetters, and their nobles with manacles of iron.

To execute upon them the judgment that is written: this glory is to all His saints. Alleluia.

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Saturday, September 27th, 2014 Catholic culture, penance, psalms, spirituality, suffering 9 Comments

Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Continency

September 19, 2014

Fresco of Basil the Great in the cathedral of Ohrid. The saint is shown consecrating the Gifts during the Divine Liturgy which bears his name. Wikipedia

Fresco of Basil the Great in the cathedral of Ohrid. The saint is shown consecrating the Gifts during the Divine Liturgy which bears his name. Wikipedia

The other day I stumbled upon a letter St. Basil (329-379) wrote to a monk about continency. We know from Gal. 5:22-23 that this is one of the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity

The root of the word comes from Latin; con, meaning “together” and tenere, meaning “to hold”. In today’s sex saturated society, continency is most often taught to mean refraining from indulgence of the sexual appetite, especially from unlawful indulgence. Certainly that is true, but it is also much more. The CCC(1832) calls it “self-control” in the English translation. But what exactly is self-control? To what does it extend or what does it encompass?

St. Basil, one of the great Fathers of the Church fleshes out the meaning of continency for us and in doing this causes us to examine our lives for areas where we may not be exercising self-control to the extent that we should.

You do well in making exact definitions for us, so that we may recognize not only continency, but its fruit. Now its fruit is the companionship of God. For not to be corrupted, is to have part with God; just as to be corrupted is the companionship of the world.

Continency is denial of the body, and confession to God. It withdraws from anything mortal, like a body which has the Spirit of God. It is without rivalry and envy, and causes us to be united to God.

He who loves a body envies another. He who has not admitted the disease of corruption into his heart, is for the future strong enough to endure any labor, and though he have died in the body, he lives in incorruption. Verily, if I rightly apprehend the matter, God seems to me to be continency, because He desires nothing, but has all things in Himself. He reaches after nothing, nor has any sense in eyes or ears; wanting nothing, He is in all respects complete and full.

Concupiscence is a disease of the soul; but continency is its health. And continency must not be regarded only in one species, as, for instance, in matters of sensual love. It must be regarded in everything which the soul lusts after in an evil manner, not being content with what is needful for it.

Envy is caused for the sake of gold, and innumerable wrongs for the sake of other lusts. Not to be drunken is continency. Not to overeat one’s self is continency. To subdue the body is continency, and to keep evil thoughts in subjection, whenever the soul is disturbed by any fancy false and bad and the heart is distracted by vain cares. [Today we could specify, not to give in to drugs, pornography, being a shop-a-holic, inordinate watching of television regardless of the subject, being a work-a-holic, excessive expression of emotions such as anger are all continency.]

Continency makes men free, being at once a medicine and a power, for it does not teach temperance; it gives it. Continency is a grace of God….If only there be a little continency in us, we are higher than all.

We have been told that angels were ejected from heaven because of concupiscence and became incontinent. They were vanquished; they did not come down. What could that plague have effected there, if an eye such as I am thinking of had been there? Wherefore I said, If we have a little patience, and do not love the world, but the life above, we shall be found there where we direct our mind. For it is the mind, apparently, which is the eye that sees unseen things. For we say “the mind sees;” “the mind hears.” I have written at length, though it may seem little to you. But there is meaning in all that I have said, and, when you have read it, you will see it.

We can see the fruit of continency in our detachment from all earthly things except what is necessary for living and for loving our neighbor, especially those closest to us. Our purpose of doing all for the honor and glory of God requires a daily crucifixion of inordinate desires opposed to continency. It means not throwing away this fruit God has generously given us. Rather, we should bite into it and taste its sweetness – the companionship of God as St. Basil tells us.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Against the Black Mass in Oklahoma City 9/21/14

September 18, 2014

Archbishop Coakley

Archbishop Coakley

Archbishop Coakley of Oklahoma City has been fighting a valiant fight for nearly three months now, and has been unsuccessful in halting the celebration of a Black Mass by a group of Satanists at the civic center this Sunday. Needless to say, if a bunch of people mocking Mohammed were scheduling an event in the civic center, most likely they would have been prohibited. But since Christians don’t run around beheading people right and left when God is mocked, or for any other reason for that matter, they are, and the Catholic Church in particular, fair game for this kind of abuse and neglect by public officials who are permitting this “event” to go forward.

Would all my readers join me by doing something in reparation for this evil taking place this Sunday? Here is Archbishop Coakley’s latest letter to the Catholics of his diocese published in the Sooner Catholic. Emphasis is mine.

On Sunday, Sept. 21, a local satanic sect apparently will be allowed to conduct a public act of blasphemy in the form of a so-called black mass at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City. In spite of an overwhelming outcry of alarm from around the world, our city leaders will allow this outrage to take place in a publicly supported facility. They will not accede to the reasonable requests of local citizens to stop this outright mockery of the Catholic Mass nor the reasonable concerns of so many that this satanic ritual invokes powers of evil and invites them into our community.

Even though our city leaders apparently do not take this threat seriously, I do. As a Catholic priest and bishop I have witnessed in my ministry the battle between forces of good and evil in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. It is not merely a struggle rooted in human weakness and ignorance, though these are certainly the source of much suffering and mayhem in our lives and in our world. Demonic activity and the chaotic forces of evil are very real. The madness of war accompanied by increasingly brutal acts of terror, the violence in our schools and communities are all evidence that something is terribly wrong.

The crucial battleground for the forces of good and evil is the human heart. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ came to conquer the power of sin and to cast out demons. This was an essential part of his mission and ministry. It continues in his Church. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has gained the victory. He has destroyed the power of Satan, the Prince of Darkness and Father of Lies. The war has been won, though skirmishes will continue until Christ comes again in glory. As people of faith we dare not lose hope. Victory is assured.

This ordeal in our community has been ongoing for nearly three months, since we first became aware of the scheduled black mass. In spite of our apparent inability to prevent this sacrilegious event from taking place, I am grateful for a number of blessings that have accrued through this trial. I am grateful for the significant legal victory that allowed us to regain possession of the consecrated Host that would have been desecrated during the black mass. I am deeply grateful for the strong response to our appeal for prayer throughout the Christian community. People across Oklahoma, throughout our great country and around the world have responded with prayer and fasting. We have been given an opportunity to express our faith in the Lord and our profound gratitude for his gift of the Eucharist through acts of devotion. Many of our Catholic people have been appealing to St. Michael the Archangel for heavenly protection against the powers of evil in our world.

On Sunday, Sept. 21, we will gather for a public act of worship at St. Francis of Assisi Church. I invite all Catholics as well as other Christians and people of good will to join us for a Eucharistic Holy Hour, an outdoor Eucharistic procession and Benediction beginning at 3 p.m. We will prayerfully bear witness to our faith as an expression of our solidarity and in reparation for acts of blasphemy.

I am aware that other groups are planning to show their opposition to the blasphemous event that evening at the Civic Center. I urgently ask everyone to avoid confrontations with those who might oppose them. Our witness ought to be reverent, respectful and peaceful. I urge those who might plan to attend the black mass in order to pray or to protest not to do so! Please do not enter the venue. It would be presumptuous and dangerous to expose oneself or others to these evil influences.    

Finally, let us demonstrate our faith in the power of the Lord’s grace by praying for the conversion of those who are perpetrating this sacrilege and are bound by the Evil One. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5:44,45)

Please join the Archbishop and Catholics of Oklahoma City in prayer this Sunday. Part of the demonic ceremony will be the casting out of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is not in us, who do you think will move in and take up residence. Very scary.

This post is linked to Sunday Snippets.

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever! Amen.

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Thursday, September 18th, 2014 Catholic Church, Catholic culture Comments Off

I Thirst for Your Love – Book Review

September 14

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Pope with Broken HostAll of us need reminders of how much God loves us and how much He desires that we give Him our hearts. Our weak and distracted human nature all too often is pulled in many different directions at once and we forget that the invisible, immortal God took on flesh, suffered in all the ways we suffer except for sin, and remains by our side right now ready to sustain us, console us, and quicken us.

Michael Seagriff has written a book full of little reminders as eye-opening as they are stimulating and, in some cases, conscience pricking. We are taken on a journey of considerations surrounding our behavior and attitudes toward Eucharistic Adoration and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the effect of stirring us to spend more time with Our Lord in Adoration and being more focused and attentive at Mass.

I’m sure all of us know what it is like to desire love and attention from someone we love and to be disappointed when we don’t receive it, or when we don’t get it to the extent we desire it. Jesus truly does thirst for our love, to have us choose Him above all other things for the purpose of giving us Himself fully and filling us with joy and peace no matter what our circumstances are. He has a personal interest and care for each one of us, no matter how gravely we have sinned nor how insignificant we may be in the eyes of the world. This book shows us that truth in varied ways.

Each section contains short essays easily read and meditated on, provoking resolutions resulting in ongoing conversion of heart and greater unity with Jesus, most especially resolutions to spend more time with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. The Appendices contain the Litany of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Acts of Reparation, and the Litany of Reparation, all moving us to a deeper reverence of the Treasure many of us all too seldom cherish. Moreover, the content made me consider not only how much our individual souls profit from making an effort to give more time to Jesus, but also families and parishes as well.

Everything in life comes down to priorities. How different would family life be if, before rushing off to shop or to attend some form of entertainment or other activity, the entire family went out of their way to stop in for a short visit in front of the Blessed Sacrament? What if the pastor on Sunday regularly encouraged parishioners to do this? How revitalized could a parish become? How much less under the thrall of the world could a family become?

I think this book needs to be promoted in every parish for the sake of evangelizing ourselves and others. It would be great to use in a parish spiritual book club discussion group, and to prepare a parish to institute or maintain a regular Eucharistic Adoration program. Even children can read and be inspired by this book, especially if it is read out loud in a family setting.

The price is reasonable and the print is suitable for even old eyes like mine. I highly recommend it for everyone, especially those who want to do a little bit more for the Lord.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Sunday, September 14th, 2014 Book Review 2 Comments

Trusting God with St. Therese – Book Review

September 10, 2014

St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of Lisieux

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us can readily admit that we have a problem with trust in God. Unless we examine our thought patterns and behaviors in light of trust, we may unknowingly be counting too much on our own native abilities and ambitions to solve our problems in everyday life and not enough on God’s power. Connie Rossini’s book is not only one of the best I’ve read on St. Therese, it is a practical guide to developing greater trust in God by patterning ourselves after her.

St. Therese is a great example of a Christian who strove mightily to live a Christ centered life. She had many faults and struggles to overcome, and was not born a saint from the womb as some syrupy biographies would have us believe. Rossini reveals her to be the valiant woman she became, on fire with the greatest charity, a great warrior victorious by the grace of God over selfish tendencies most of us can probably relate well to.

Our final destination is heaven and we aren’t going to make it there unless, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:3, we convert and become as little children. St. Therese, although she spent many years being severely tempted against faith and trust, took the idea of becoming a trusting little child and turned it into a powerful drive to reach for Christ. She knew she could not do great things to get to heaven, but she also knew that whatever Jesus asked of her she could do by His strength (Phil. 4:13). Ironically, her “Little Way” was a very great thing and something we can do too.

This book gave me a much greater appreciation of St. Therese and great respect for the author, who reveals her own spiritual journey into greater trust in God. Many readers will be able to identify with her personal struggles. It is well organized, researched, and written with questions at the end of each chapter that help us to discover and examine our own blocks to trusting God. It’s a book to be kept and read again over time for the new insights it can provide. In fact, it provides a blueprint for solving a problem St. John Chrysostom wrote about in his Homily 2 on Matthew (9):

Indeed, the things of this life are like smoke. And this is why someone once said, “My days pass away like smoke” (Ps. 102:3). He was referring, of course, to how short they were, but I’d say we should take what he said not only in that sense, but also referring to their murkiness. For nothing hurts and dims the eye of the soul so much as a crowd of worldly anxieties and a swarm of desires. These are the wood that feeds the smoke. (Translation by Mike Aquilina in A Year with the Church Fathers.)

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 Book Review 4 Comments

St. John Chrysostom on Understanding Scripture

August 18, 2014

Mosaic, St. John Chrysostom, Hagia Sophia, via Wikipedia

Mosaic, St. John Chrysostom, Hagia Sophia, via Wikipedia

“There really wasn’t a real Adam and Eve.”

“Noah? I don’t believe there was a Noah. Way too far-fetched.”

“Jonah and the big fish? Hah! Could never have been.”

“Jesus didn’t really mean it when He said ‘This is My Body’. He was just speaking figuratively.”

These are typical comments I’ve heard from fellow Catholics who easily dismiss Old Testament characters as fictitious inventions of the writer to tell a story, and difficult passages in the New. However, this attitude points to something we all need to be aware of. That is, humility in our approach to Scripture study. If any one part of the Bible isn’t true, then doesn’t that call into question every part? Would it not be better to start with the premise that everything in the Bible is true since God can’t lie? I may not understand what God is telling me, or I may be confused about certain passages. That is the fault of my limited intellect, not God’s Word. Then, should I not seek understanding by following Jesus’ instruction to ask, seek, and knock?

We have one no less than the great St. John Chrysostom to tell us a thing or two about seeking understanding of Sacred Scripture. He was not only the bishop of Constantinople, he is revered as both a Father and Doctor of the Church and is one of the four great Doctors of the Eastern Church. Born in 349 in Antioch, he earned the appellation Chrysostomos, “golden-mouthed”, because of his eloquent preaching, especially on Holy Scripture. In Discourse Three of his Four Discourses he contrasts the worldly scholars with the straightforward exposition of the truth by apostles and prophets.

3. For those without—-philosphers, rhetoricians, and annalists, not striving for the common good, but having in view their own renown [I naively thought this phenomenon was restricted to our times]—-if they said anything useful, even this they involved in their usual obscurity, as in a cloud.

But the apostles and prophets always did the very opposite; they, as the common instructors of the world, made all that they delivered plain to all men, in order that every one, even unaided, might be able to learn by the mere reading. Thus also the prophet spake before, when he said, “All shall be taught of God,” (Is. 54: 13.) “And they shall no more say, every one to his neighbor, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least to the greatest,” (Jer.31: 34.) St. Paul also says, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the mystery of God,” (1 Cor. 2: 1.) And again, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” (1 Cor. 2: 4.) And again, “We speak wisdom,” it is said, “but not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world that come to naught,” (1 Cor. 2: 6.) For to whom is not the gospel plain? Who is it that hears, “Blessed are the meek; blessed are the merciful; blessed are the pure in heart,” and such things as these, and needs a teacher in order to understand any of the things spoken?

But (it is asked) are the parts containing the signs and wonders and histories also clear and plain to every one? This is a pretense, and an excuse, and a mere cloak of idleness. You do not understand the contents of the book? But how can you ever understand, while you are not even willing to look carefully?

Take the book in your hand. Read the whole history; and, retaining in your mind the easy parts, peruse frequently the doubtful and obscure parts; and if you are unable, by frequent reading, to understand what is said, go to some one wiser; betake yourself to a teacher; confer with him about the things said. Show great eagerness to learn: then, when God sees that you are using such diligence, He will not disregard your perseverance and carefulness; but if no human being can teach you that which you seek to know, He himself will reveal the whole.

Remember the eunuch of the queen of Ethiopia. Being a man of a barbarous nation, occupied with numerous cares, and surrounded on all sides by manifold business, he was unable to understand that which he read. Still, however, as he was seated in the chariot, he was reading. If he showed such diligence on a journey, think how diligent he must have been at home: if while on the road he did not let an opportunity pass without reading, much more must this have been the case when seated in his house; if when he did not fully understand the things he read, he did not cease from reading, much more would he not cease when able to understand. To show that he did not understand the things which he read, hear that which Philip said to him: “Understandest thou what thou readest?” (Acts 8: 30.) Hearing this question he did not show provocation or shame: but confessed his ignorance, and said: “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (ver. 31.) Since therefore, while he had no man to guide him, he was thus reading; for this reason, he quickly received an instructor. God knew his willingness, He acknowledged his zeal, and forthwith sent him a teacher.

But, you say, Philip is not present with us now. Still, the Spirit that moved Philip is present with us. Let us not, beloved, neglect our own salvation! “All these things are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come,” (1 Cor. 10: 11.) The reading of the Scriptures is a great safeguard against sin; ignorance of the Scriptures is a great precipice and a deep gulf; to know nothing of the Scriptures, is a great betrayal of our salvation. This ignorance is the cause of heresies; this it is that leads to dissolute living; this it is that makes all things confused.

It is impossible—-I say, it is impossible, that any one should remain unbenefited who engages in persevering and intelligent reading. For see how much one parable [The rich man and Lazarus] has profited us! How much spiritual good it has done us! For many I know well have departed, bearing away abiding profit from the hearing; and if there be some who have not reaped so much benefit, still for that day on which they heard these things, they were rendered in every way better. And it is not a small thing to spend one day in sorrow on account of sin, and in consideration of the higher wisdom, and in affording the soul a little breathing time from worldly cares. If we can effect this at each assembly without intermission, the continued hearing would work for us a great and lasting benefit.

I can truthfully say that every time I have asked God to help me understand particular verses of Scripture He has eventually given me the light. Sometimes it is in a sermon I hear, sometimes in a conversation, and sometimes it comes from reading a commentary such as Discourse Three or the notes in my study Bible. In all cases, I had to do something to receive the understanding. I had to ask, seek, and knock, sometimes for quite awhile. But when the flash of light came, it was worth all the trouble.

We can never sit back and complain that it is too hard, or dismiss what we don’t understand as fictions, or say we don’t have time to seek the truth. If we do we will never be as holy as God wants us to be because we won’t be letting Him completely into our hearts.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Falling For the Pomps of Satan in Entertainment

August 16, 2014

Tertullian, woodcut, via Wikipedia

Tertullian, woodcut, via Wikipedia

Is the entertainment of today as depraved as that of the times of the early Christians? I never gave this much thought as I often avert my eyes from billboards, newspaper and computer ads, and the sight of women and men walking around in broad daylight obviously influenced by the clothing and mannerisms promoted in books, movies, plays, sports events, video games, etc. Then, in reading daily meditations from A Year with the Church Fathers by Mike Aquilina I saw that what we battle today regarding the promotion of impurity and violence is nothing new. There’s just a lot more of it available to a lot more people.

The level of perversity is pretty much the same as Tertullian of Carthage (c. 160-225) condemned in his sermon On the Shows. However, the saturation of our culture with foul language, behavior so perverted and violent that we make ourselves lower than the beasts, and the dissemination of all kinds of non-Christian thinking tends to deaden our consciences and blind our eyes to the fact that we are often stepping into a spiritual sewer that is likely to carry us to a final collection pool we will never get out of. We are not being the Christian witness we vowed to be when we made our baptismal promises if we attempt to dance around in this miasma of depravity.

Tertullian contrasts the heathen, as he describes the non-Christians of his time, with the Christian in chapters 21, 22, and 24 of On the Shows.

The heathen, who have not a full revelation of the truth, for they are not taught of God, hold a thing evil and good as it suits self-will and passion, making that which is good in one place evil in another, and that which is evil in one place in another good. So it strangely happens, that the same man who can scarcely in public lift up his tunic, even when necessity of nature presses him, takes it off in the circus, as if bent on exposing himself before everybody; the father who carefully protects and guards his virgin daughter’s ears from every polluting word, takes her to the theatre himself, exposing her to all its vile words and attitudes; he, again, who in the streets lays hands on or covers with reproaches the brawling pugilist, in the arena gives all encouragement to combats of a much more serious kind; and he who looks with horror on the corpse of one who has died under the common law of nature, in the amphitheatre gazes down with most patient eyes on bodies all mangled and torn and smeared with their own blood; nay, the very man who comes to the show, because he thinks murderers ought to suffer for their crime, drives the unwilling gladiator to the murderous deed with rods and scourges; and one who demands the lion for every manslayer of deeper dye, will have the staff for the savage swordsman, and rewards him with the cap of liberty. Yes and he must have the poor victim back again, that he may get a sight of his face— with zest inspecting near at hand the man whom he wished torn in pieces at safe distance from him: so much the more cruel he if that was not his wish.

What wonder is there in it? Such inconsistencies as these are just such as we might expect from men, who confuse and change the nature of good and evil in their inconstancy of feeling and fickleness in judgment.

Everything Tertullian describes we can attest to in today’s world. Whether it is merely a drama or night club act, or whether it is in fact events actually occurring such as those ISIS and Hamas exult in and broadcast to all, we can’t say that most of what passes for entertainment today is all that much different from his day.

In how many other ways shall we yet further show that nothing which is peculiar to the shows has God’s approval, or without that approval is becoming in God’s servants? If we have succeeded in making it plain that they were instituted entirely for the devil’s sake, and have been got up entirely with the devil’s things (for all that is not God’s, or is not pleasing in His eyes, belongs to His wicked rival), this simply means that in them you have that pomp of the devil which in the seal of our faith we abjure.

We should have no connection with the things which we abjure, whether in deed or word, whether by looking on them or looking forward to them; but do we not abjure and rescind that baptismal pledge, when we cease to bear its testimony? Does it then remain for us to apply to the heathen themselves. Let them tell us, then, whether it is right in Christians to frequent the show. Why, the rejection of these amusements is the chief sign to them that a man has adopted the Christian faith. If any one, then, puts away the faith’s distinctive badge, he is plainly guilty of denying it. What hope can you possibly retain in regard to a man who does that? When you go over to the enemy’s camp, you throw down your arms, desert the standards and the oath of allegiance to your chief: you cast in your lot for life or death with your new friends.

Those of us baptized in the pre-1969 liturgy renounced “Satan and all his pomps.” Tertullian gives us a good idea of what some of those pomps look like regarding the theater and today’s manufactured theater we witness in the exercise of politics. What we could rightly ask ourselves is the following:

  • Have I become blinded and accepting of the entertainment, manner of dress, and conduct of what passes as OK in the judgment of today’s world?
  • If I have, is it because “everybody else” is going along with it and I don’t want to be viewed as different?
  • In setting priorities and managing my time, how much do I allocate to developing a deep relationship with God versus passively feeding myself with worldly entertainment? In the first instance we must move out of ourselves toward God, such as making an hour of Adoration, going to Confession, attending Mass, studying the Bible, doing spiritual reading, meditating, etc. That all takes effort on our part as we reach out to the hand God extends to us. In the second instance we amuse ourselves by wandering through shopping malls for no real purpose, parking ourselves in front of the TV, sitting in dark movie theaters not discriminating what is dished up for us, or heading off to night clubs with ribald entertainment. It’s equivalent to lying on a hospital bed with a poison IV drip in our arm. We don’t need to put forth any effort. We just take it in.
  • Would people who meet me or those who know me have any idea that I am a Christian by how I live my life?

Living in this world while not being of this world is our daily challenge. With the grace of God we can always do better defying the pomps of Satan.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Summer Vignettes

August 12, 2014

Sharing the Harvest

Between a wonderful two week vacation staying with my sister in northern Michigan and managing the garden, this has been a busy summer. God has been very good to us with our harvest of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers and beans. Best of all, a neighbor and I have gotten together a couple of times to make salsa and tomato sauce. The conversation over chopping, scraping, mixing and seasoning has been joyful and grace-filled. The secular world would never understand how freeing it is to be able to thank God directly and out loud when we get news that her daughter and husband have arrived safely from a day long drive home. It would not appreciate our acknowledgement in conversation of how God has been so generous this year with the harvest. Most people would think we are stupid Bible beaters. But somehow I think the kitchen is filled with angels and saints rejoicing over the praise and good example we are giving her children.

Reading the Bible

Reading the Bible

A trip with the Bible

On the way up to Michigan and on the way home my husband and I listened to Steven Ray and Scott Hahn Bible presentations. I particularly liked Hahn’s discussion of the “Our Father”, and how it is a prayer we offer within the context of being members of the Father’s family. Moreover, his comments about how we are not home until we join God and the rest of our family in heaven highlighted for me the fact that we are surely in exile here.

I also took my Ignatius Study Bible with me on vacation so I could keep up with the online New Testament study I’ve been doing. Both the Bible and the sacred liturgy of the Church are God’s ways of continually drawing us to Himself and making us long for the day when we can leave everything behind and come to our true home.

Hell in Africa and the Middle East

With those ideas as a backdrop, consider the plight of the many Iraqi Christians and Yazidis driven from their earthly residences by ISIS. Consider that both Iraq and Syria, also in turmoil with ISIS, have been the home of continuous Christian communities since the beginning of Christianity. Facing the choice of converting to Islam (the ISIS version of it), paying the penalty tax for being Christian, or dying, these Christians made a fourth choice – to flee and affirm Christ. How many of us could abandon all we have and leave with only the clothes on our backs to go to a strange place, not knowing where we will eventually end up? This forced detachment can only be met with peace of heart by understanding that heaven is our only home. Not minimizing the hunger, thirst, exhaustion, and illness that people are suffering in the heat of the desert, only by focusing on our final destination can we survive should the same thing happen to us here. Let these events and the suffering of those affected by war be a lesson to us. Meanwhile, those of us who are temporarily exercising stewardship over what God has given us must pray fervently for all those courageous Christians in the Middle East that they will be cared for and remain steadfast in the Faith, and that all the others will find Christ amidst the chaos.

It’s tempting to make political comments as to how the world got to where it is today, but I won’t do that. Instead, I’ll say that I know that God has blessed those of us who are not being driven from our homes, sold as sex slaves, beheaded, crucified, and mowed down with bullets as our fellow men are. His gift of our being unmolested at this point carries with it a heavy responsibility to live up to our calling as Christians, behaving morally responsibly and unhesitatingly speaking God’s truth when we are called upon to do so.

The atrocities in Africa and the Middle East have distracted me from writing this blog. I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend that things aren’t as awful as they really are. Because I feel connected to all on earth and see every person as someone Jesus died for, I feel guilty about writing on spiritual matters when men, women, and children are being killed right and left by a satanically inspired bunch of completely degraded people. This is not what God has called us to be as human beings. This is the 21st century. Aren’t we supposed to have advanced beyond all this? But today’s comments here are to acknowledge the uproar and devastation so that I can move on and return to my spiritually oriented writing. I’ve learned that it’s easy to get side-tracked by the violence and lose focus on my mission. Wars will always be with us because men will always be motivated by greed and power to set themselves up in the place of the one, true God and to act as though power exists so as to destroy all who won’t submit to it rather than serving, as Jesus said at the Last Supper, all. It is in faithfully serving that we make ourselves last and thus be made first in the kingdom of God. So now I will get back to posting more often. Jesus rules and that will never change.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 Catholic culture, jihad, spirituality 4 Comments

Inside the Cloister

June 27, 2014

Every now and then when we were children our Mother would exclaim in exasperation, “I should have gone into the convent!” It was always because our behavior had gotten her to the breaking point of frustration. I’m sure every mom reading this can identify with that. Whenever this happened all of us would break out in peals of laughter because Mom didn’t become Catholic until she met and married our Dad. We would say, “But Mom, you couldn’t have done that because you weren’t even Catholic.” Her point was well taken, however, and we immediately amended our conduct.

The rigor of convent/monastery life must be experienced, be lived, to fully appreciate it, yet for those of us called to live in the world but not of the world, the lure of the cloister often beckons our hearts. We are fascinated by the mystery of silent living in prayer and work, and not a little curious about how people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and continents can manage to live under the same roof without becoming dysfunctional as so many families are today. Of course the answer is the integration into the culture and charism of the particular institute without losing the individuality of each member.

In 1999 Bishop Slattery of Tulsa welcomed 13 Benedictine monks from Fontgombault in France to establish a priory in his diocese. In an astonishingly short period of time, the flourishing priory became a full-fledged abbey. This latest video from Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek gives us an insight into the cloister. In the interest of promoting religious vocations I am posting it here.

Also, as is usual since St. Benedict began establishing monasteries, wherever Benedictine monks are flourishing cloistered nuns are sure to follow. In 2005 Bishop Slattery approved the foundation of the Benedictine Sisters of Clear Creek and the Mary Queen of Angels Convent. If anyone has daughters considering contemplative religious life with the Benedictine charism, this convent, which has taken over the grounds where the Clear Creek monks first lived, is worth contacting. They accept applicants up to age 35.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Friday, June 27th, 2014 religion, spirituality 8 Comments

Corpus Christi Sermon from Fontgombault Abbey

June 19, 2014

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/11/Mrzezyno_Corpus_Christi_procession_2010_B.jpg/640px-Mrzezyno_Corpus_Christi_procession_2010_B.jpg

Corpus Christi Procession in Mrzezyno, Poland, June 3, 2010, courtesy of Wikimedia


Today is the feast of Corpus Christi, observed in most of the world, but not in the USA which transfers it to this coming Sunday. Dom Jean Pateau, Abbot of the French Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Fontgombault delivered this sermon to the monks and visitors at Mass this morning. Thank God for the internet which makes it possible to read it the same day it was preached.

Tantum ergo sacramentum veneremur cernui.
(Hymn of the feast of Corpus Christi)
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
My dearly beloved Sons,
 
In the wonderful Sacrament of His Body and of His Blood, Jesus gives Himself as a food and a drink, so that we may abide in Him as He abides in us, so that we may live for Him, and that we may live forever.
 
In the tabernacle, the holy Eucharistic species receive the homage of our worship. Although the Gospel does not mention any adoration of the Blessed Eucharist, it tells us of the first Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the history of mankind.
 
In Bethlehem, whose name means “House of the Bread”, in a poor crib, a place of silence and of peace, Jesus receives the adoration of Mary and Joseph, a few shepherds and the Magi, the wise men from the East, while the angels in Heaven proclaim the glory of God and announce to men the peace which comes from God.
 
Would we not be brought back by every adoration, every Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament to the holy stable? Would Jesus perchance have been so deeply moved by the prayer of a few poor people near Him that He would have wanted to be able to receive throughout the ages the poor that we are? The sacramental Presence grants us to be associated with the worship of the inhabitants of the Crib and its visitors.
 
In the school of the shepherds, let us learn how to adore, let us renew our presence near the Blessed Sacrament. The first monstrance was a crib, because there was no room in the inn. What is a crib? What is a child? All this is small, all this is quite devoid of interest. In this place, God hides Himself. Under the figure of a little child, He awaits the shepherds. Today as well, His sacramental presence reaches us under the appearance of a bit of bread.
 
The shepherds receive the invitation from an angel. We too are invited to visit the Lord. We therefore need to be watchful. We need to take the time to encounter Jesus and to allow ourselves to be fascinated by His face. The shepherds live in the fields. They spend day and night watching their flocks. They are contemplative. As soon as the angel has spoken, they do not tarry and start for Bethlehem. They come, they find and they return, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen” (Lk 2:20). “But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).
 
Like the shepherds and Mary, let us not tarry but let us go to Jesus. Let us gladly visit our churches, the Bethlehem of our cities. Let us gladly spend time in front of the tabernacle or the monstrance. Jesus, God with us, is awaiting us and breaks the bread of His Word and of His Flesh for us.
Amen, Alleluia.

 

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Thursday, June 19th, 2014 Catholic Church, spirituality 3 Comments

Chaplet for the Conversion of Priests

June 18, 2014

Sermon of St. Martin, c. 1490, unknown Master, Hungarian, Tempera on wood, 101,5 x 89,5 cm Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest*

Sermon of St. Martin, c. 1490, unknown Master, Hungarian, Tempera on wood, 101,5 x 89,5 cm, Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest*

 

Back in 1999 when I spent an hour in Adoration one day, I was contemplating the sad state of orthodoxy in our diocese. The bishop at that time so strongly discouraged the preaching of Church teaching against contraception that any priest who dared speak the truth in the confessional or the pulpit was moved that very week to the opposite side of the diocese, sentenced to a small out of the way parish because of vicious complaints by parishioners.

Liturgical abuse was rampant. No traditional Catholic devotions were encouraged, and at one parish, the pastor forbid his priests to attend the three hour Sunday afternoon Adoration the laity had requested. It was left to the Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers to repose the Blessed Sacrament when it was over at 3:00.

Bizarre doctrines could be heard from many pulpits on any given Sunday, such as, we can argue with God after we’re dead so as to justify our sins. Seminarians were screened so prospects who did not believe in women priests were never accepted. The lighting of the Easter fire was concelebrated with an Episcopalian “priestess” at the church next door in one rural parish, and the event was touted as great “ecumenism” in the diocesan paper. That publication was where I first learned that there were two Jesuses. The Jesus of History and the Jesus of Faith. That’s when I found out about the Bultmannian heresy.

The Extraordinary Form of the Mass was forbidden on the grounds that “it would confuse the Protestants and we Catholics had to present a united front to them because we live in the Bible Belt.” However, it was just fine with the bishop for us to drive three hours one way to attend it in nearby dioceses. And it was fine with him that we laity could educate others about the Extraordinary Form, but only because under canon law he couldn’t stop us from doing it. When Pope Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the bishop had no choice but to provide the Traditional Mass, but he picked the most vocally opposed priest to do the job, and we were insulted from the pulpit every Sunday for one reason or another.

Things changed under a new bishop, who is orthodox but inherited a tremendous mess. All these years since that day in Adoration when the Lord inspired me to pray a chaplet for the conversion of priests, I’ve done it quietly and privately off and on. At first it was daily, but I fell prey to discouragement over the years. Sure, things are changing for the better but it’s too slow for me. I thought maybe my prayers weren’t doing any good and prayed that chaplet less and less often. Oh me of little faith!

This week I learned that the very popular pastor of a nearby parish was relieved of his duties a couple of weeks ago for embezzling money for quite some time. That parish was almost dead before he came there, and in the past four years since he has been there, it revived with more and more people joining. Everyone knows that his personableness, enthusiastic preaching and devotion to the suffering played a big part in the revival. This priest was also one of the best confessors I’ve been to which proves that no matter how much a sinner a priest may be, God can still use him to guide us wisely in Confession. Although I am not a parishioner, his loss leaves a big hole in my heart. I did not think about how much he could need my prayers and, for the most part, I rarely hear priests ask for prayers for themselves.

Our priests are always in danger of sinning big. Satan hates them with a vengeance because he knows the Mystical Body of Christ needs them. In Zechariah 13: 7 we read, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn my hand to the little ones.” Indeed, last Sunday when we attended Mass in that parish, we saw that many people were gone – between 1/3 and 1/2 of the congregation. It won’t be until some time in August that a new priest will be assigned to the parish.

I am now resolved to return to praying my “Chaplet for the Conversion of Priests” regularly and want to share it with readers who may find themselves drawn to doing the same.

Explanation of the chaplet

First though, in case anyone is thinking, “How dare you imply that priests need converting?!!!”, I must say that everyone of us needs conversion of heart, priests included. As Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”, and they all slunk off in shame.

To convert our hearts means to repent of our sins and be determined to follow that narrow way to the narrow door (Luke 13: 24). That narrow way is made of God’s instructions to us which we find in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, in obedience to the laws of the Church whether liturgical or canonical, in constant purification of our desires so that Christ becomes the center of our lives in all things.

David cries to God in penitence, “If thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; with burnt-offerings thou wilt not be delighted; a sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit; a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 1: 18). “Thou wilt not despise” is a way of saying, “Thou wilt love and cherish and gather to Thyself.”

Moses said to his people, “Now, when thou shalt be touched with the repentance of thy heart – and return to Him – the Lord thy God will have mercy on thee” (Deut. 30: 1-3).

The prophet Joel tells us, “Now, therefore,” saith the Lord, “be converted to Me with all your heart in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning, and rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, patient, and rich in mercy” (Joel 2: 12).

Second, this chaplet also links the priests directly with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The primary purpose of the priest is to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary to the Father. He stands as an Alter Christus, a mediator in the place of Christ as Christ has ordained, and is the only one who can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, confect the Holy Eucharist. He is also the mediator in place of Christ when he administers the other sacraments. Our belief in the Blessed Sacrament is central to the Catholic faith. Without the priest, we would not have the opportunity to receive the great graces from receiving the Holy Eucharist, going to Confession, the Last Rites, etc.

Third, the Blessed Mother holds all priests dearly as her special sons. While we are all sons and daughters of Our Lady by virtue of Christ’s words in John 19: 26-27, the priests are especially dear to her. They are her children in the most danger all the time because without them the Church could not exist. (See the link above.) Satan seeks to destroy the Church any way he can.

When I pray this chaplet I am fully aware that I myself need conversion daily, and it becomes an earnest prayer not only for priests, but also for my own spiritual growth. It has no approval of ecclesiastical authority, just from my pastor at the time, but I have been thinking about seeking approval so that others may have a wide access to it.

Chaplet for the Conversion of Priests

  1. Using the Rosary, begin with the Crucifix and say the Anima Christi.
  1. Offer the next four beads for the welfare of the Holy Father and his intentions: Our Father and three Hail Marys.
  1. On the “Our Father” beads say: O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.
  1. On the “Hail Mary” beads, say: O my Jesus, truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar, I beg Thee, convert Thy priests.
  1. Continue the chaplet through the 5 decades in this manner. At the end say three times: O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.
  1. After saying this say 3 times: Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us and on Thy priests.
  1. Then say 3 times: Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us and for our priests.

*About the art: There are two related panels, painted on both sides, in the Hungarian National Gallery which once were the wings of an altarpiece dedicated to St Martin and St Nicholas. One of the wings represents St Martin and the Beggar (outer side) and the Sermon of St Martin in Albenga (inner side). The other wing depicts St Nicholas and the Daughters of the Nobleman in Pataria (outer side) as well as the scene St. Nicholas Resurrects Three Deads.

The panel represents a legendary scene from the life of St. Martin. The Bishop, having given his clothes to a needy man, celebrates mass in poor, hastily acquired garments. At the elevation of the Host angels descend to cover his bare arms.

The altar table in the sanctuary, shown in great detail, is decorated with a picture within the picture: a horizontally arranged retable with a scene of the Crucifixion. This is of special importance in the history of the development of winged altars in Hungary, for it demonstrates that this early type of retables of which very few examples have survived, was still in use at the end of the fifteenth century. Seen against the embroidered white altar-cloth the shadows are effective. The artist’s representation of the missal is most realistic; also the representation of the mitre and the Gothic style objects made of precious metals, the ciborium between two candlesticks, the chalice and the paten, the latter only just visible under the edge of the communion cloth. Realism was not, however, an end in itself; the painter introduced these details to create an atmosphere of wonder before the legendary scene. The realistic characters are also imbued with piety. The portrait-like features of the male figure kneeling on the right suggest that it was he who commissioned the altarpiece. The painter’s endeavours to represent the interior in perspective, the sharp folds shown almost in relief and the subtle colour effects all place the master of this panel among the finest Hungarian painters active in the late fifteenth century.

-          Courtesy of the Web Gallery of Art

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