Catholic culture

Ite ad Joseph!

August 5, 2015

ite-ioseph3It all started last fall with an interior urge to ask St. Joseph to help us find an affordable newer car. Our 16 year old jalopy was approaching 190,000 miles and we knew we were on borrowed time. How we were going to replace it was up in the air, but considering that St. Joseph was the devoted foster father of Jesus, faithful spouse of Our Lady, and excellent provider for the Holy Family, it seemed the right thing to do. Surely he would arrange with God the Father for a brother and sister of Christ to obtain what we needed.

This is what I love about being part of the communion of saints. It pleases God that we supply each other’s needs through Him, and it must be especially pleasing when we turn to the two people closest to His beloved Son because honoring them honors Him. These thoughts motivated me to start a 30 day novena to St. Joseph last fall, which went on for months as Old Nellybelle gave us trouble off and on. However, when we ask for help, it often pleases God to give us a great deal more than we request in His own good time, and such largesse is always for His greater honor and glory as readers will see.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

While the spiritual interpretation of this passage refers to eternal life, it’s clear that when Jesus said  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-8), he underscored the passage from Jeremiah; our temporal welfare is precious to God. And so began a series of events and encounters that not only brought us a new car, but much more besides.

Struggling with health issues

Although I had lost 25 lbs. in the Weight Watchers program, by mid October numerous niggling issues were tiring me out. Allergies were the worst ever, fibromyalgia pain was up, and I was fed up with the side effects of a couple of drugs. By February, I felt like I was 90 years old without being able to put my finger on a reason. To show how God looks after us, though, at my primary care physician’s office the only professional who knew of Dr. Ken Sharlin happened to be the one in charge of me. She suggested I see him for a neurological evaluation and I agreed even though I have no love for neurologists. That visit proved to be life changing.

Dr. Sharlin founded the Functional Medicine clinic in Springfield a couple of years ago. The field itself is about 20 years old and represents a new approach to dealing with chronic illness starting at the cellular level, exactly the approach I had been looking for for years. The upshot of my dealings with him is that within four months of following his recommendations, drinking a daily green smoothie tweaked for my needs, and taking supplements custom-tailored for my exact deficiencies, I had more mental and physical energy than I have had in over ten years, and felt confident enough to begin an entirely new career at almost 70 years of age.

My new career

A year ago a dear friend suggested that I apply to be a teacher assistant at Mother of Divine Grace homeschool company. When I saw the hiring process, I knew that at that time I was not up to it, so I didn’t apply. After a couple of months on my new regimen this spring, I felt good enough to go through what was the most rigorous hiring process of my life. In June I signed a contract to provide on-line and telephone teaching assistance to parents who have enrolled their children in the MODG curriculum. It will be part-time work that I can fit into my current schedule and the majority of what I will be doing is what I love to do: editing and coaching students in writing skills as they demonstrate subject mastery. For me, no nobler profession exists than to share in the formation of future saints and I am deeply honored that MODG considered me worthy of that sacred trust.

This job is a Godsend for us in our financial situation, giving us the money we need to pay for a car and to upgrade our food quality to more organic fruits and veggies and pastured meats which is important for our continuing health improvement. The guiding hand of God through the paternal care of St. Joseph is evident to us in this series of events. But the story isn’t finished yet.

The new car

After driving numerous used and new cars and doing our due diligence, we determined that a 2015 Subaru Legacy was the best choice for meeting our criteria of good gas mileage, reliability, safety, and comfort. It was not as comfortable as our old jalopy, but we could live with it. The only problem was how to afford it. I was praying to St. Joseph to pull some kind of rabbit out of a hat when the salesman suggested leasing rather than buying. We are old school types: you buy and maintain an asset, you don’t rent and have no asset. However, after running the numbers on maintenance, repair and gasoline costs on the current car, it was clear that our cash flow would benefit from leasing, so we did.

Of the colors available in the model we chose, silver was my preference, with twilight blue my back-up choice, but the dealer had neither. In fact, in a five state area only one car could be found, and it was twilight blue. We agreed to accept it sight unseen. When we arrived to pick up the car, we saw the beautiful, medium toned blue with hints of gray, a color that reminded us of Our Lady’s mantle. It was as if St. Joseph was saying, “Your Mother had a hand in this, too.”

Conclusion

Some people would say that these events are merely coincidence, but as a person of faith, I know that God, in His generosity through the care of St. Joseph gave us far, far more than what we asked for or even dreamed of. My health continues to improve even though the allergies and fibro remain to be contended with, car worries are over, and I am blessed to be doing work that is a joy. What more could we want?

Ite – imperative of the Latin eo, “to go”

Ad – to, toward

Joseph – Joseph.

For an interesting article about Joseph and his forerunner who served the pharaoh, read this. The Church has good reason to admonish us to go to the patron of the Universal Church. He comes through big time for the glory of God.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 Catholic Church, Catholic culture Comments Off on Ite ad Joseph!

Thinking and Speaking According to the Mind of God

November 3, 2014

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

At the recent synod on the family we saw how language was used to promote a secular agenda on certain topics rather than supporting God’s will for His people. In The Language of the Devil I wrote about how ambiguity in language serves the purpose of confusing others and leading them away from truth. Clarity in language is only one aspect, though, that we must adhere to in order to bring others to Christ no matter how difficult their life situations may be, without compromising with the world.

How we think is reflected in how we express ourselves. If we are thinking according to the mind of God, we will engage the world on His terms, not on its terms. Our language will reflect this. Make no mistake, strengthening families is an evangelization challenge that must be thought and expressed according to the mind of God.

One of the most compelling speakers who sets evangelization challenges in language from God’s perspective is Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church. On October 17, 2014 he addressed the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in a speech titled: THE THEOLOGY OF FREEDOM. CHRISTIANITY AND SECULAR POWER: FROM THE EDICT OF MILAN TO THE PRESENT. The talk is quite long and worthy of being read in its entirety because we can learn a lot about how the Church engaged the world and how we must do it today.

My purpose isn’t to present a history lesson here, but to show the framework we need to use in thought and word if we are to address the challenges families of today face in acting as a leaven of Christ and a spiritual force in the world while fulfilling the duty to join God in heaven one day. Here are some paragraphs from the speech, my emphasis:

Thanks to the Edict of Milan, Christians were faced with the necessity of thinking not only of their own salvation and the welfare of their small community. Their new position in society obliged them to think of the quality of this society, of their role in it – the role of active citizens, of men of prayer for their homeland and people of good will.

Contrary to widespread opinion, Christianity did not simply become a substitute for the decayed paganism of the Roman Empire; it entered its life and structure as something principally new. It was not subject to the dictatorship of secular authority, it influenced this very authority, at times embarking upon an unequal conflict with it. [Do we see our mission today like this?]

In other words, the Church, upon entering the structure of state power, did not merge with it….

In my view our era – the era of the Church’s revival [he is speaking of the Russian Orthodox Church post 1988] – has something in common with the era following the publication of the Edict of Milan.

The link in time is the concept of freedom. The principle of freedom of conscience proclaimed in the Edict of Milan lies at the foundation of the new attitude of the authorities to its subjects. The Edict of Milan presaged sixteen centuries ago that which was possible in full measure only in the twentieth century after hundreds of years of wars and discrimination. In a whole series of international documents at the basis of the modern legal world (such as, for example, the International Bill of Human Rights and the European Convention on the Defence of Human Rights and Basic Freedoms) the freedom to confess one’s faith and live according to it – the main idea of the Edict – is postulated as one of the most important freedoms of the human person….

Certain events in the Church’s history cannot be explained other than as a divine miracle. Such a miracle was the era following the Edict of Milan in 313. No less a miracle happened in our country at the end of the 1980s. Could people, who only a few years before this risked their welfare for their faith, and in some instances their lives too, evaluate the freedom that had unexpectedly fallen on their heads as anything other than a divine miracle? Could they have hoped that the godless ideology would collapse and be replaced by another worldview in which the Good News of the Church again will be viewed as one of the foundations of society and the pledge of its success in the future? Numerous believers, who had gathered at the festivities in July 1988, would be able to repeat the words once uttered by Eusebius of Caesarea on the occasion of the general church festivities that heralded a new era: “All the fear in which our tormentors had held us hostage has evaporated. Now the joyful and triumphant days of popular festivities have come: all has become filled with light.”

In both instances it is precisely the gift of religious freedom that preceded the gift of other civil liberties, viewed in our time as one of the main achievements of a democratic society. And it is not fortuitous, for it is in the Christian system of values that the concept of freedom acquires its special content. We Christians believe that the gift of life is a gift from God, and that human life is not under the power of anyone other than the Maker of the human race. This belief renders Christians free from the oppression of any political power and any ideology. It makes them capable of being martyrs and confessors when the Church is persecuted; and witnesses to the truth and heralds of the Kingdom of God when the Church is recognized. No other religion or ideology characterizes such a reverential attitude towards freedom. The great Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev said that “freedom, above all freedom, is the soul of Christian philosophy and this is what cannot be granted by any other abstract and rationalistic philosophy.”

Christian freedom does not tear us away from our families, from our social ties or from our country. On the contrary, within the Christian understanding of freedom, in the recognition of an absolute and living connection of the human person with God there is embedded a moral potential of great strength. [This is the mindset we need as we consider how to build strong families and resolve problems that have arisen today because of injustice, wanton hedonism, and rejection of reason.] 

Being the creation of a beneficent God, sons and daughters of the Maker, we are called upon to plow the garden that has been entrusted to us, thereby bringing the Kingdom of God closer to humanity. It is precisely this moral potential, rooted within the free human person, that the emperor Constantine saw in Christianity when he allowed this powerful positive creative energy to be released and act upon all of society….

In recent times we have more often been able to observe how in the West another type of freedom has been proclaimed: freedom from moral principles, from common human values, from responsibility for one’s actions. We see how this freedom is destructive and aggressive. Instead of respect for the feelings of other people, it preaches an all-is-permitted attitude, ignoring the beliefs and values of the majority. Instead of a genuine affirmation of freedom it asserts the principle of unrestrained gratification of human passions and vices remote from moral orientation…. [Sounds like Pope Benedict XVI, doesn’t he?]

That which is happening today in the West is the gradual restoration of the Pax Romana, of global international hegemony.

Along with this, if Roman power at certain periods was indifferent towards immorality, then today that immorality is being proclaimed as the norm. The modern-day democratic state is even viewed by some as the role of guarantor of the legal status of immorality, for it protects citizens from the encroachments of “religious sanctimoniousness.” The role of religion, as in Rome, is seen in an exclusively utilitarian light – it is the servant of the state without any claims to truth, the “personal affair of each individual.” And yet the state must be recognized unconditionally and we must obey its laws, including those that undermine its foundations.

Nevertheless, Christianity in its very essence cannot renounce its claim to truth – that is her eschatological nature, to seek out the City of the age to come. The Kingdom of God, as preached by the Church, fills the contemporary secular state with fear and is a threat to the kingdom of men that cannot bear competition….

To possess freedom for the Church means to be the “salt of the earth,” the yeast of the Gospel, a spiritual force and the conscience of the people. [This is precisely why the Church is hated by those who want to kill their consciences and keep them dead.] To realize freedom means to act and use those opportunities that the Lord has given us for serving and preaching. The world is so constructed that freedom is the condition of a decisive, yet well thought out action. Freedom is the means, the condition of creative work. And creativity is engagement in the life of society with all of its inner contradictions. [Lack of divinely inspired creative work is at the heart of compromises with the world as we saw among some at the synod.]

We have been judged to live in times when in our hands, in the hands of Christians, is the precious gift of freedom – the same gift which Christians received in the era of emperor Constantine the Great. This gift of Divine Providence opens up before us great opportunities. The ability to dispose of the gift of freedom demands from the older generation of people in the Church a special wisdom, and from the young workers in God’s field colossal self-sacrifice…. [Self-sacrifice is necessary, the colossal kind, to preserve and heal the family. This is the message we have to adhere to, not instituting practices that make a slide into hell certain.]

The freedom to confess Christ as Lord and live according to his commandments will remain constant in the life of the Church and the life of every Christian until the moment when “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3: 10).

I would like to wish you all, and in your person the future generation of Western Christians, to preserve the spirit of the Christian freedom which considers as vanity all that which does not incline its head before the living God and the Saviour of the world Jesus Christ. 

In preserving this freedom, do not be afraid of creativity, do not be afraid of the risk of creativity. For God calls us to be his co-workers in this world and co-workmanship cannot but be creativity in the loftiest sense of this word. [Each Christian is in a partnership with God to bring about His kingdom. Do we discount His grace to help us and those we are seeking to bring to Him to act in accordance with His will?]

And there is another wish which I would like to convey to you all: in bringing into the world the word of Christ, let us not forget that the best testimony always has been and always will be the example of our own lives.

Often when I read Metropolitan Hilarion’s talks, I feel deeply the schism between Rome and the Orthodox, so obviously the work of Satan. Both in the words of our Eastern rite brethren and in the Orthodox we see a godly spiritual orientation that lights the way for a decadent world, more so than what we too frequently hear from the USCCB and other Church leaders. We must keep our purpose in mind, as Hilarion expressed in many ways here, as we go about bringing the Good News of Christ to a world bent on self-destruction. If we do not frame the issues in relation to God, we can never find the solutions we need based on truth. Can you imagine what would have happened at the synod had Hilarion been a participant? Fortunately we had Cardinals Burke, Pell, Napier and others.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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Monday, November 3rd, 2014 Catholic culture, spirituality 1 Comment

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.

This post linked to Sunday Snippets.

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

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

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

Sermon From the Second Annual Nellie Gray Mass

February 1, 2014

Icon Mary reaches for boy JesusSome people believe that the contemplative religious life is irrelevant to the conditions of the world. But here we have proof that such a viewpoint could not be more wrong. The men and women called by God to withdraw from the world are not hiding from it and the evil that abounds in it. Instead, they bring a perspective to it that shared, as in the sermon preached by the Right Reverend Philip Anderson, Abbot of Our Lady of Clear Creek, strengthens those of us who are on the front lines of the battle with the powers of darkness. We cannot do without this fruit of contemplation or we are likely to grow weary and fall. We complete one another in our witness to the Gospel. With permission of the Abbot the text follows.

St. Mary, Mother of God Church
Washington, D.C.
January 22, 2014
Feast of Saints Vincent (of Saragossa) and Anastasius (Magi, monk)

Your Excellency,
Dear members of the Paulus Institute,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially, dear Marchers for Life:

It has all been said.  The case for the protection of the unborn against the evil of elective abortion, sanctioned by laws purporting to justify this social crime, has been clearly, articulately, forcefully, and coherently set forth.  Popes, such as Blessed John Paul II, kings, like King Baudouin of Belgium, scientists, for example Professor Jerome Lejeune, who discovered the genetic cause of Down Syndrome, poets, artists, men and women of every walk of life, have proclaimed to the very ends of the earth the Gospel of Life, in all its richness and power.  It has all been said, not only by Catholics and by other Christians, but also by people of different religious convictions.  It has all been said. But the world did not listen.

Perhaps that is why, already forty years ago, Nellie Gray saw that, in addition to this proclamation of the cause of the unborn, the defenders of life needed to “vote with their feet” and come to the nation’s capital in order to seek respect for the sacred right to life, inscribed in the United States Declaration of Independence.  Perhaps the message had to be brought to the very steps of the White House and of the Supreme Court. And so it is that many of you are here, having participated in this year’s March for Life, four decades after the very first one in 1974.

Sadly, despite the millions who have made the March for Life, the law of the land continues to sanction abortion.  In describing in more recent times the dismembering of an innocent child in its mother’s womb as ‘healthcare,’ we have taken the art of the euphemism to a level never before imagined. Why is this?  What more can we do?

Sometimes in our more solemn moments we have to lift our minds and hearts above the scene of this world in order to get a perspective on what happens here below.  This is the way monks view the world.  The Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse of Saint John, unveils for us something of the state of the Holy Innocents, who await the Judgment of God.

“When the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?’  Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (Apoc. 6:9-11).

On this feast of Saint Vincent the Deacon and of Saint Anastasius the Magus turned monk, both martyrs of Christian antiquity, these perspectives are all the more poignant. They tell something about the souls of the victims of abortion.

We too must bear witness to God – perhaps as martyrs – we too must wait for God’s hour.  But, unlike the souls described in the Apocalypse, we have work to do in the Lord’s vineyard.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, is suggesting we add another dimension to the Pro-Life Movement.  The reality is easy enough to verify: it is precisely in those societies where greed and arrogant ambition impel people to grasp after material goods beyond reasonable measure, where the so-called “quality of life” means quantity of possessions – especially of money, amassed to a very large degree – it is precisely in such societies that abortion becomes, as it were, something necessary for the maintaining of a high standard of living in terms of material wealth.

Thus we need to reinforce the Gospel of Life with a strong reaffirmation of the Gospel of the Beatitudes.  The poor in spirit love the family and cherish children.  The poor in spirit content themselves with the good things that God sends them, with their “daily bread.” The poor in spirit have a horror of abortion and of every sort of practice that destroys or endangers the family.

But there is more.  If the essential work of the Gospel of Life, strengthened by the Gospel of the Beatitudes – in a word, if the New Evangelization, the continuation of the very work started by the Apostles and handed down from generation to generation – is to have any effect on the world, it must spring from the same spiritual source that moved the Apostles to conquer the world for Christ.  Here is what I mean. One day Our Lord, having been left alone by His Apostles, who had business elsewhere, gave Himself to the work of preaching the Gospel, one-on-one, to a Samaritan woman He met by Jacob’s well.  He showed us, as we read the account in the Gospel according to Saint John, how the process works.  The story is familiar to you.  Once Jesus had shown this woman that He was a prophet and more than a prophet, knowing the rather troubled story of her life, He proceeded to underline a most essential thing, saying,

“Woman, believe me, that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father.  You adore that which you know not: we adore that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and truth.  For the Father also seeketh such to adore him.  God is spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4: 21-24).

The practice of abortion is based on a lie.  It kills both physical life, that of the unborn child, and spiritual life, that of the mother and of all who directly bring it about.  Satan is the father of lies, as Our Lord tells us (Jn. 8:44).  Satan is the father of abortion too and of the entire “culture of death” denounced by Blessed John Paul II.  So, this is spiritual warfare as well as a matter of political and social justice.  In seeking to correct this evil it is most important to start at the beginning, with adoration, which is the worship of the one true God in spirit and in truth. In a word: contemplation must precede action.

Let there be no doubt: we have won.  Christ’s blood poured out, more eloquent than that of Abel (cf. Heb. 12:24), has redeemed the world, consecrating for all eternity the Gospel of Life and condemning to the exterior shadows the pretensions of the culture of death.  But in order for the victory to be given its full extent there is still work to be done. We must continue to work and to walk.

There would be much more to say.  We are celebrating Holy Mass this evening in a beloved church dedicated to Our Lady, Mother of God, Mother of Life, Mother of Hope.  The Marian dimension of the Catholic faith waxes ever stronger and more vital as the centuries go on.  This dimension is essential to all our pro-life endeavors.

Finally, in order for the March for Life to have its maximum effect, the marchers must conserve that most precious legacy of the faith which is authentic Christian joy.  This is not the superficial joy of a “party culture”, but the deep-seated gladness and sense of celebration that comes from belonging to God.

So go forth, go out to proclaim with joy the truth.  Keep marching; keep walking, not only to the White House, but all the way to the new and heavenly Jerusalem, where abortion and euthanasia and the entire culture of death will be no more. It has all been said, but like Nellie Gray we have to keep saying it.  Keep loving – for God is Love, true Love. Keep walking. As Saint Paul says, “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).  Amen.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Saturday, February 1st, 2014 Blessed Virgin, Catholic culture, pro-life 8 Comments

Pillar of Cloud

November 12, 2013

Portrait of John Henry Newman by John Everett Millais, 1881 via Wikipedia

Portrait of John Henry Newman
by John Everett Millais, 1881 via Wikipedia

Lead, Kindly Light

“Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
 I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

This profound poem by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) was written in 1833, a plea for docility to God’s will at a time when he was frustrated by not being able to get back to England and to his work after a sojourn in Italy. Its original title was “Pillar of the Cloud” with a fourth verse added by someone else later.

Various composers through the 1800s set it to melodies suitable for traditional congregational singing, but in the 21st century something new happened that elevated this poem beyond the usual church service to something even more compelling to a meditative listener, and this is exactly what sacred music should do – make the words and music inseparable as a cry of the heart to God.

"He led them by a pillar of cloud", illustration from a Bible card published between 1896 and 1913 by the Providence Lithograph Company, via Wikipedia

“He led them by a pillar of cloud”, illustration from a Bible card published between 1896 and 1913 by the Providence Lithograph Company, via Wikipedia

It was prior to his entering into full communion with the Catholic Church that Newman already, unbeknownst to him well on his way to embracing the entirety of Catholicism, wrote this poem. This fact is important to understand along with his situation when the poem was written if we are to appreciate fully the irony of God working in our lives.

Newman had fallen seriously ill in Italy and was burning intensely to get back home to continue his work at the time. Who among us has not felt that kind of burning?  In his own words he wrote:

Before starting from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bitterly. My servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could only answer, “I have a work to do in England.” I was aching to get home, yet for want of a vessel I was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to visit the churches, and they calmed my impatience, though I did not attend any services. At last I got off in an orange boat, bound for Marseilles. We were becalmed for whole week in the Straits of Bonifacio, and it was there that I wrote the lines, Lead, Kindly Light, which have since become so well known.

How often are we single-mindedly pursuing ends we have defined for ourselves, even considering them as holy purposes, assuming that what we are focusing on is within God’s will for us at this exact time? Blind to the loving roadblocks God places before us and not understanding what He is doing with us, we itch to get moving towards our goal, deceiving ourselves into believing that we are ready and that what we seek to do is what He desires for us.

Look at Newman, a great saint and gift to all seekers of the Truth. This is what I love about the saints – their humanity, their imperfectness, yet desiring above all to spend themselves for God and needing to conform themselves to the will of God.

First he becomes deathly ill while in Italy. God is saying, “Slow down, stop, listen to Me. I want to prepare you for My intentions, the salvation of many souls. I have work for you, indeed, but you are not yet ready.”

But Newman does not see the gift of his illness. God persists by delaying him for three weeks at Palermo. Then when he gets on the ship to Marseilles the poor man is stuck in the middle of the sea for a week going nowhere. At this point Newman turns and looks at God and makes a full act of submission. He sees that he is like the Israelites in the desert led by the pillar of cloud and out of this reflection he composes what has become a pillar of cloud for many Christians. Moreover, that pillar eventually led him, a devout and committed Anglican clergyman, into the Catholic Church with one of the greatest and most inspiring conversion stories of recent times to come out of England.

The full irony of this is that Newman had no idea at the time that he was leaving words of peace and consolation to many who are just like him. He did not know that in the frantic madness and ungodly pursuits of the coming centuries one of his great gifts to Christians would be a heartfelt poem of submissiveness to the will of God, a reminder to reorient ourselves to our Maker. He did not know that God’s plan for him was to lead him to Catholicism and that he was to be a formidable witness for the Faith. He simply poured out his heart to God and the Lord used him and his gift for his time and ours, and probably ages to come.

Newman also does not leave us on earth amidst our woes. The eschatological dimension of the final four lines remind us of our final destination. All we need do is follow that pillar of cloud fearlessly even though we cannot see what is in it just as Newman could not, and we arrive at the purpose for which we were created. As humans, we need constant reminding of it in as many ways as possible.

Let us stop and listen for a few minutes amidst the fracturing demands of the day. Invite the children and the grandchildren to hear this prayer. Consider its meaning for ourselves and our family, our friends walking with us on the way of salvation. Let us ask ourselves once again, are we watching for God’s intentions in our lives? Are we seeking His will? Are we looking fearlessly at the Pillar and willing to follow it docilely no matter where it takes us?

The embedded video is the premiere on April 5, 2012 of Dan Forrest’s composition, commissioned by the Tennessee Tech’s University Chorale conducted by Dr. Craig Zamer.  That it was the second premier of music set to this poem in six months, a composition by British composer Alex Patterson having debuted at St. Barnabas Cathedral on December 11, 2011, attests to the continuing inspiration of  Newman’s words.

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Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 Catholic culture, conversion, spirituality 4 Comments

Living Christian: It’s All About Integration

October 11, 2013 – Feast of the Maternity of Mary (1962 liturgical books)

File:San Hugo en el Refectorio.jpg

St. Hugo in the Refectory by Francisco de Zubaran (1598-1664) via Wikimedia

The ever practical St. Benedict in Chapter 35 of his Holy Rule prescribes a ritual for the changing of  kitchen servers that involves Bible prayers. In fact, upon reflecting on this practice I wished that my parents had known the Rule of St. Benedict and adapted it to our family because it likely would have prevented some very silly arguments among us children and further instilled the kind of God orientation so necessary to build the virtues of generosity, self-sacrifice, humility, and kindness. That aside, this portion of the chapter gave me the idea of integrating the same verses before and after anything I do.

Here is the portion of Chapter 35 I’m writing about:

Immediately after the Morning Office on Sunday, the incoming and outgoing servers shall prostrate themselves before all the brethren in the oratory and ask their prayers. Let the server who is ending his week say this verse: Blessed are You, O Lord God, who have helped me and comforted me” [derived from 1 Chron. 29:10 and Ps. 86:17]. When this has been said three times and the outgoing server has received his blessing [from the Abbot], then let the incoming server follow and say, “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me” [Ps. 70: 1]. Let this also be repeated three times by all and having received his blessing let him enter his service.

Feeding a monastery full of monks can be compared to feeding a family. The table is often the place where complaining about food, the taste, how fast it gets to hungry people, arguments about who got a bigger share of a popular dish, etc. occurs. In the monastery the servers must be prompt, clean, observing of etiquette, and gracious because, even with silence observed during the daily readings that accompany meals, a brother can be non-verbally obnoxious if he wishes and the server must bear with it. Accidents such as spills and breakages may happen or a server may be late getting food to the table due to a problem in the kitchen. Clearly God’s assistance is needed and thankfulness is due Him when servers complete their scheduled week.

Father G.A. Simon remarks:

St. Benedict wants the monk’s whole life to be permeated with the thought of God, and he wants everything in that life to minister to sanctification and progress in charity. “A duty of a very material kind and one often grievous to nature,” remarks Dom Delatte, “was consecrated by prayer. It became from that moment a religious and meritorious work, accomplished for the glory of God.”

There is nothing in the truly Christian life, then, that escapes the supernatural spirit. It is not a life partitioned in which more or less large rooms are reserved for God. Everything is for God. The daily toil, whatever be its nature, becomes matter for humility, matter for sacrifices, matter for imitation of the Lord Jesus; it becomes a holy thing, it becomes prayer. And in this sense it is true to say: He who works, prays….

St. Benedict has the invocations repeated by the choir. The idea is that we are not isolated individuals. All those who belong to Christ, especially all those who belong to the same family in Christ, ought to help one another by prayer, call on the aid of the Most High for one another, give thanks for one another. “The prayer of all,” says Dom Étienne, “fuses with the prayer of each; and that of each, with that of all. Wonderful commerce of exchange in charity!”

Whether we are engaged in physical or intellectual labors, we, in addition to calling on our Guardian Angel, the Blessed Mother, our patron saint or whoever, may ourselves recite this phrase from Psalm 70: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.” When we finish the job, we may recite, “Blessed art thou, O Lord God, who have helped me and comforted me.” Although we most likely won’t have an entire community to pray these words with us, in a way we are joining with Christians everywhere who recognize that nothing is possible without God and that all things are possible with Him. And are these verses not a good thing to teach our children as they approach their school lessons and chores? I can see more peace in the family and in the world by taking on this practice from the Rule of St. Benedict.

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Friday, October 11th, 2013 Catholic culture, spirituality 4 Comments

Modesty is Power

September 11, 2013

Msgr. Charles Pope wrote a blog post about beachwear last week and included the video I’m embedding here. He inspired my post today.

It’s fair to say that most girls and women, even faithful church goers, are clueless about the message they are sending to men (and women) by the manner of their dress. Immodest non-coverage of the body is not just at the beach. It’s everywhere. Fashions are deliberately scanty, tight fitting and low cut to show off the body. I’m convinced that the dresses and tops women wear these days are intended to display the results of breast enhancement surgery, a very popular operation which nobody knows the effects of as people move into their 50s and above. If ever there was an unnecessary surgery, that is it. And will it help us get to heaven? More likely to hell.

The good Lord gave us the sixth and ninth commandments not to deprive us of fun for our uncontrolled concupiscent nature. As in every law He gave us, it is to protect us from our own stupidity. If we don’t understand why, we must pray and seek the answers. He is very happy to give them to us. The sixth and ninth commandments exist to protect the family unit and to promote, if you want to get to the bottom line on this, charity and justice between the sexes.  That is, a right relationship with each other which entails valuing the other person as a human being created precious by God.

From all I’ve read, and from my own life experience, many women don’t realize that scanty clothing invites men to see them as objects, not precious human beings. Some women think that dressing like this gives them power over men of all ages who are visually stimulated easily to impurity. They couldn’t be more wrong. The greatest power a woman has is to call men to a higher degree of virtue, to direct men to the good, the true, and beautiful by her actions and dress. By dressing immodestly they are tacitly saying that they are powerless and the only way to take power over a man is by flaunting their bodies. That may work for a fleeting moment, but it’s an obstacle to a genuine relationship and an insult to both men and women for many reasons.

If we are created equal in the eyes of God and cherished equally by Him, why can’t women and men meet each other as human beings who must help one another to heaven? For sure, women inviting men to view themselves as an object perpetuates non-personhood, an idea that becomes deed in its most destructive expression through abortion and euthanasia.

The fashion industry hooks into every little insecurity an earthbound woman has with false promises of attractiveness that really aim at degradation of both men and women. Finding modest clothing that, in a sense, veils the body (not burkas, OK?) in an artful way is difficult to find on the racks at clothing stores. They, after all, are in the business of making money off the sheeple that follow whatever the latest popular icons say is the way to look. They are also de facto promoting lust. The situation is not hopeless, though. A number of entrepreneurial women have started their own design companies to produce attractive yet modest clothing. You can find many examples on the internet. Just search for “modest clothing” and all kinds of becoming items are there, some more modest than others.

So why do I say “modesty is power”? Because a modestly dressed woman can stand before God and the world without shame and be taken for a human being with skills, talents, and abilities to act for the common good if she so wills. Try that in the ordinary fashions of today. The video below, while relating the history of the bikini, mentions the results of studies done on men and what happens in their brains when viewing modestly and immodestly clad women. I would have liked Miss Rey to have worn a little jacket over the sleeveless dress, but overall she makes a good impression. If you just want to hear the results of the Princeton University study, skip to 4:16.

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Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 Catholic culture 4 Comments

Life, Dignity, and Disability Conference

September 10, 2013

Pro Life Conference Ad

Today I received an email from Human Life International promoting a partnering with the Nebraska Bishops’ Pro-Life Office and the Archdiocese of Omaha Respect Life Apostolate to present a timely and important conference October 18-19 in Omaha, Nebraska: Life, Dignity, and Disability: A Faith that Welcomes. Thank God the plight of the disabled is being brought to the fore in the pro-life movement. The disabled are more than babies in the womb with faulty DNA in danger of abortion. They are those who have been afflicted through accident, disease, and aging, or who are experiencing the debilitation of faulty DNA that makes its appearance later in life. 

The email notes:

Persons who are disabled are prime targets for abortion and euthanasia. A negative prenatal diagnosis is frequently a death sentence. Families who raise children with disabilities are often isolated and lonely. In both developed and developing countries the disabled are killed or discarded. These, our brothers and sisters, are dehumanized regularly by society so much so that many would claim that the dignity of the disabled is not even a “pro-life issue.” 

It is also true that many organizations, agencies, and people of good faith have come together to support persons with disabilities.

Most Rev. James D. Conley, D.D., S.T.L., Bishop of Lincoln, will give the keynote address at the conference, and Most Rev. George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, will be the main celebrant at the conference’s opening Mass.

Besides myself, other featured speakers include Peter Kreeft, prolific author and professor at Boston College; Joseph Pearce, editor of Saint Austin Review; Omar Gutierrez, manager of the Office of Missions and Justice at Archdiocese of Omaha; Sr. Terese Auer, O.P., chair of the Bioethics Department at John Paul the Great Catholic High School; Patty Franke, Be Not Afraid Ministry; Sarah and Jeff Schinstock, Family Life Office of the Diocese of Lincoln; Martin Cannon and Andy Bath, Saint Thomas More Society; and Arland K. Nichols, director of education and evangelization at Human Life International. 

There’s still time to register for the conference, and please invite your friends, family, and co-workers to attend as well by forwarding this email or sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

This sounds like a great conference with well-known speakers. Perhaps readers will notify their bishops and parish priests so this can be publicized in bulletins and diocesan newspapers. I wish I had both the monetary and physical capacity to attend myself, particularly because I am concerned about where bioethics is going in the Catholic Church.

Kudos to the Nebraska bishops and the Omaha Respect Life Apostolate for sponsoring this with HLI. Bishop Conley, successor to Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, seems to be carrying on the legacy he inherited as Lucas of Omaha carries on from Curtis. This is just the kind of leadership we need from our bishops with much lay involvement. Teamwork between clergy and laity witnessing to the Gospel is a beautiful sight.

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Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 Catholic Church, Catholic culture, pro-life 2 Comments

Audio Sancto Sermons Series

September 9, 2013

Copyright free image from morgueFile

Copyright free image from morgueFile

Today I added a new link to my Blogroll, Audio Sancto. This site has sermons by various Catholic priests in good standing with their bishops and the Church on Catholic dogma, doctrine, and devotion dating back to 2003. You can subscribe to the podcasts through iTunes if you wish. I am listening to them on my computer.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the Sunday sermons just don’t grip me. Sometimes I want to explore a subject of the Faith in greater depth or to learn something new. There’s always something new to learn about our Faith, yes?

Audio Sancto has been mentioned at some blogs I visit and in some comboxes so I decided to check it out. If you’re looking for sound Catholic teaching you will not be disappointed. Some sermons are longer than others, up to one hour, but some are a mere 6-10 minutes. We can always make better use of our time in waiting rooms, traveling, or taking a relaxing break by punching up one of these sermons. That is, unless we have 4-5 kiddos to keep track of. Perfect for those Sabbath Moments Colleen hosts at Thoughts on Grace.

I plan to be a regular visitor to Audio Sancto myself and hope my readers will find value there, too.

This post is linked to Catholic and Living It blog roundup.

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Monday, September 9th, 2013 Catholic Church, Catholic culture, spirituality Comments Off on Audio Sancto Sermons Series

Francis Cardinal George on Jesus

July 31, 2013

Jesus is merciful, but he is not stupid; he knows the difference between right and wrong.

–Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago

 

Today I ran across an article at CNA concerning Cardinal George’s response to an attack by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. It seems that this group has announced its support for same-sex marriage so, while holding out its hand to receive huge amounts of money from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) it has allied itself with the militant gay movement and is promoting something it knows is against Catholic teaching.

It seems that some allegedly Catholic politicians were fired up over George’s cancellation of CCHD funds for their organization – after all, who wants to give a lot of money to somebody who has just spit in your eye – and they published a half page newspaper ad in the form of an open letter condemning George and “accusing the Church of turning her back on the poor.”

laughingPardon me while I pause for a moment to recover from laughing hysterically at this accusation. A 500 page book wouldn’t be enough to record all the things the Catholic Church has done for the poor since the beginning of the twentieth century alone, let alone since the time of the first Pentecost.

In response to the open letter Cardinal George had the Chicago Sun-Times publish his response on diocesan letterhead. I am including most of the letter here and would have linked to the Sun-Times pdf file but the address was too long to be accepted by my hyperlink tool. If you go to the CNA article you can access it at the bottom of their article. Emphasis is mine.

On May 23, the ICIRR board broke faith with its member organizations when it publicly supported so called “same-sex marriage.” For its own political advantage, it introduced a matter extraneous to its own purpose and betrayed its own members, who were not consulted.

The CCHD had no choice but to respect the unilateral decision of the ICIRR board that effectively cut off funding from groups that remain affiliated with ICIRR. Without betraying its donors or the Catholic faith, the Catholic Church’s long-standing work for immigrant groups and for immigration reform remains intact. This record speaks for itself and is well known. It is carried locally by Priests for Justice for Immigrants and by Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants, in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education, led by Elena Segura with my complete support.

It is intellectually and morally dishonest to use the witness of the Church’s concern for the  poor as an excuse to attack the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage. Four weeks ago, Pope Francis wrote: “…marriage should be a stable union of man and woman…this union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgement and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh and are enabled to give birth to a new life.” In other words, when it comes to marriage and family life, men and women are not interchangeable. The whole civilized world knows that.

Those who signed the open letter in the Tribune proclaimed their adherence to the Catholic faith even as they cynically called upon others to reject the Church’s bishops. The Church is no one’s private club; she is the Body of Christ, who tells us He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Because the signers of the letters are Catholic, they know that in a few years, like each of us, they will stand before this same Christ to give an account of their stewardship. [People, this is the truth. This is why the Church teaches us to meditate on the Four Last Things. We will stand before Jesus right after death and we will be judged in the light of His crucified Person. We will see ourselves as He sees us and we will account for our lives.] Jesus is merciful, but He is not stupid; He knows the difference between right and wrong. Manipulating both immigrants and the Church for political advantage is wrong.

 –Francis Cardinal George, OMI
   Archbishop of Chicago

 

St. Francis Meditating, El Greco, c. 1595, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

St. Francis Meditating, El Greco, c. 1595, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

The CCHD has been a very sore point for many years for many Catholics who are asked to contribute yearly to fund it. Think of the CCHD as a financial holding tank funded by all the dioceses of the USA that doles money out to organizations that are supposed to help the poor. Instead, as American Life League published in a detailed report in 2011 and has continued to document, the CCHD, run as an arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been proven to support groups that advocate abortion, contraception, same sex marriage, and other causes contrary to Church teachings. In recent years the head of the CCHD, Ralph McCloud, helped a notorious pro-abort woman, Wendy Davis, get elected to office in Texas while claiming he had no idea where she stood on abortion. He is still employed as Director of CCHD. This scandal has not gone down well with serious Catholics who take our doctrines of Faith seriously.

It is a very big thing that Cardinal George has cut off funding from the CCHD to ICIRR. As a Catholic, I am very grateful to him for taking action and not mincing words. Now if all the bishops of this country would oversee CCHD activities in their dioceses with vigilance and scrub the radical Marxist Alinsky ideologies from its operation at the USCCB, the knowledgeable Catholics in the pews would likely be willing to open their wallets again. Until then, I personally stand with Cardinal George. Jesus is merciful, but He is not stupid; He knows the difference between right and wrong. I can give my alms elsewhere.

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Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 Catholic Church, Catholic culture Comments Off on Francis Cardinal George on Jesus

Catholic Bloggers and the “Like” Button

May 6, 2013

Ever since a friend sent me a note a couple of weeks ago that prompted me to consider putting a “Like” button at the end of my blog posts, I’ve been mulling it over.

As Catholics, we have an obligation to be faithful to the Magisterium, Tradition, and be unified under the Pope. It really doesn’t matter if we blog about race cars, Sacred Scripture, gardening, family life, spirituality, television, art film, the liturgy, crafts, beer, or whatever, Jesus has to be the center of our lives. We blog in the service of truth and Truth whether we mention the name of Jesus or not in our writing.

For sure, though, whatever we blog about, when we show our authentic Catholic culture permeating our writing, the demons of hell let loose in the form of trolls, spammers, and promoters of pornographic or illicit sex or anti-Catholic propaganda. And this is where that “Like” button comes in.

Thanks to author Ellen Gable Hrkach at Plot Line and Sinker for alerting me to what can happen. Although many of us would like to make it easy for those who don’t want to comment on a post to still participate at our blogs, in the process we can unwittingly become party to some evil stuff. Ellen told me,

… there have been times when other bloggers have “liked” my posts, then I go and see their blog and it’s perverse stuff.  Once the button’s there, you can’t stop people from liking your posts.  It bothers me that their blogs are directly connected to my faithful Catholic blog and there’s nothing I can do.

This is something I never considered and I am deeply grateful to Ellen for pointing this out. Short of removing the “Like” button altogether, you can’t block anybody from using your blog to promote sin. You also can’t prevent a visitor from clicking on the links after the “Like” button and accessing the anti-God’s-teaching sites.

What does somebody get out of “liking” a post? The answer lies in the Google Search Engine Optimization function among other things. The more links you get to your blog, the higher ranking you get in searches. The more hits you get at your site, the more likely you are to attract advertisers, which means income for you. Link building is a big deal for people wanting to make money off their blogs. What better, easier way to do this than to visit a gazillion blogs every day and click on a “Like” button that links to your site or will pull people to your site? We have also the downright perverse enjoyment some people take in seizing an endeavor that contributes to the salvation of souls and redirecting it to the eternal destruction of them.

My impressionist digital painting of the mimosa in our yard. © 2008

My impressionist digital painting of the mimosa in our yard. © 2008

I view my blog as a virtual pergola in a lovely garden alongside a busy, tree-lined street with sidewalk access. Passersby are welcome to notice and wander in. They are welcome to come taste the refreshments, have a sip of tea, coffee, or lemonade, luxuriate in a fine glass of wine and relax among the flowers.  It’s my job to keep it clean, attractive, and well maintained. That means I won’t make it possible for visitors to stink up the place, harass other visitors, or peddle their nasty wares on my property. This is why I require registration to comment, and if I don’t know the registrant, I send an email asking the person to tell me a little about himself. So far I’ve had only one person respond. All the rest, and they are legion, with letter salad for names and very weird email addresses are automatically denied and deleted. This is also why I’ve decided not to put a “Like” button on my blog. No perversion or anti-Catholic links will be served along with the regular fare.

It’s a shame we have to be so cautious these days, but evil seems to have completely overtaken the world. As Catholic bloggers, we must protect ourselves and our readers from exposure to the wily agents of Satan. It’s a nuisance to contend with, but it’s also one more aggravation we can offer up for the salvation of souls.

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Monday, May 6th, 2013 blogs, Catholic culture 9 Comments

Pope Francis and Our Lady of Fatima

April 18, 2013

OurLadyofFatimaLast week Pope Francis asked the head of the bishops’ conference of Portugal to dedicate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2013. Only a few peeps about this were heard on the internet. I kept watching to see if many caught the significance of this but it doesn’t seem so. Other items from and about the Holy Father have been given more notice.

Why Fatima?

We live in the most debauched age ever. Purity is openly ridiculed, marriage is being shaken at its foundations, and people seem to be trying to outdo each other in depravity. The ugly consequences of this are, among other things, the horrendous acts of the Kermit Gosnells of this world and the incessant screeching for gay “marriage.”

Our Lady is the purest creature of God, chosen to bear His Son. She is the most pleasing of all to the Holy Trinity, the most favored, most loving Mother to our Savior. It has become de rigueur in some parts to blaspheme her in portraits of elephant dung and impure images. She with the purest heart is dragged daily in the gutter.

Fatima is centrally about building devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary with all the implications for living a pure life, strengthening the family, converting sinners, and making peace in the world. An element of this message is Our Lady’s emphasis on hell, which many people don’t believe in any more, nor the devil.

Blessed Lucia wrote about the first secret, the vision of hell:

She opened Her hands once more, as She had done the two previous months. The rays appeared to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire. Plunged in this fire, we saw the demons and the souls. The latter were like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, having human forms. They were floating about in that conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames which issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke. Now they fell back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fright (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me).

The demons were distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. That vision only lasted for a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother, who at the first apparition had promised to take us to Heaven. Without that, I think that we would have died of terror and fear.

We then looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and so sadly: “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

In a later appearance to Jacinta, Our Lady said, “The sins which lead the most souls to hell are sins of the flesh.”

The Consecration of Russia

In 1929 Our Lady came to Blessed Lucia, then a nun in the Dorothean convent at Tuy, and asked that the Pope in union with the bishops of the world fulfill her request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. The promise? If the consecration was done Russia would be converted, many souls would be saved and the world would experience a period of peace. If the consecration was not done, Russia would spread her errors throughout the world, war would bring about the annihilation of entire nations, and the Church and many good people would suffer great persecution.

Pope Pius XI was the first Pope with the opportunity to make this consecration. He did not do it, nor has any Pope since. I am not criticizing (judging) the Popes because I don’t have the right to do so. I’m simply stating facts. For whatever reason, no Pope has fulfilled her request.

The most recent three Popes have placed a significant emphasis on Fatima. In 1984 Pope John Paul II consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but it was not done in union with all the bishops of the world and did not specifically mention Russia. He attributed his survival of the assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square to Our Lady of Fatima.

Pope Benedict declared the Fatima messages to be relevant for our times saying:

Yes, I have read [the Third Secret]. [It refers to] a radical call to conversion; the absolute seriousness of history; the dangers which threaten the faith and the life of the Christian and therefore (the life) of the world (Jesus, November 11, 1984).

Both Popes visited Fatima. Now Pope Francis is dedicating his entire pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. I believe this is why he is speaking out straightly and strongly about the devil so early in his reign. It is also an earmark of Ignatian spiritual warfare as well. The call to conversion and rejection of modern errors have been themes of all three Popes, as has been and continues to be the emphasis on the family and life.

Is this dedication of his pontificate by Pope Francis a sign that the consecration of Russia will be made as Our Lady requested? At the very least it is a sign that the Fatima message will be a driving force in his leadership.

The 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions is coming up in 2017. Will the bishops of the world be strong enough by then to join the Pope in a public consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

If we want to get the job done, we laity have to do what Our Lady said, which is nothing other than what Jesus said throughout the Gospels and preached silently from the throne of the Cross. Pray, do penance, convert. Our Lady told the children at Fatima to pray the Rosary every day, one of the many methods of prayer available to us. Blessed Lucia said:

The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Holy Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.

It is by the daily Rosary we will obtain the graces our Holy Father and the bishops of the world will need to make the consecration of Russia publicly and freely. The results of this act will be an astonishing outpouring of grace upon the world that we cannot even imagine. And we will experience a genuine period of peace, something which none of us has ever known in our lifetimes up to now.

God bless Pope Francis and may he be with us for many years.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Thursday, April 18th, 2013 Catholic culture, conversion 5 Comments

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