Saturday, December 16, 2006
A Friend of mine sent me this; thank you Chris:
Dear Family and Friends,
As we try to get through all the “hoopla” that has become the Christmas season, I wanted to share with you a reminder of the true reason for the season. This reason is not found in a mall, in a present under a tree or on the internet. It is found in Jesus Christ: the Incarnation of God, the fulfillment and joy of all the prophets, the long-awaited Messiah. He truly is the Firstborn of all creation. Amen.
The following passage was written over eighty years ago but it is sorely needed for all people during these busy days.
“The Sufferings of Jesus Began with His Birth”
The Son of God became Man to suffer for us, to make satisfaction for our sins, and to redeem us from sin and hell.
All His life He suffered unspeakably for us, and His sufferings began with His Birth. He came into the world in a state of the utmost poverty and humility. For the Son of God to take to Himself human nature at all would have been an infinite humiliation, even had He been born in a royal palace, and laid at His birth on silken cushions, in a golden cradle. But He wished to humble Himself still more, and therefore was born into the world in a poor stable, and laid in the rudest of cribs.
The Lord of the universe, the son of David, of whose kingdom there was to be no end, could find no home in the city of David! Shut out from the dwellings of man, rejected by human society, He was driven to find refuge among the beasts, and, wrapped in the coarsest of swathing bands, was laid in a manger belonging to the shepherds. “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head” (Luke 9:58).
He had no comfortable little bed, no soft, warm pillow. His tender body lay on the hard straw, in a narrow crib, and was exposed to the damp, raw winter-air. A piece of wood at His Birth and a piece of wood at His Death, that was all that Jesus received from this world!
Truly the Divine Infant was poorer than the poorest child! Our Lord chose for Himself this extreme poverty and humility to make satisfaction even from His Birth for our many sins of pride, for our concupiscence of the eyes and of the flesh, and to give to us an example of humility, self-denial and mortification. Man fell by pride, desiring what was impossible, namely to be as God, and his fall was so deep that he fell into the bondage of Satan and the concupiscence of the eyes and of the flesh, and into sins and crimes of the basest description.
In order to free us from sin and hell, God the Son became Man, and was like to us in all things, sin only excepted, so that we might become once more the children of God. He humbled Himself that we might be exalted. He became poor that we might be rich in grace here, and richer still some day in heaven.
Let us thank Him as we kneel before His crib, and renounce all pride, all avarice, and fleshly desires!
From A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture
by Bishop Frederick Justus Knecht, D.D.
first published in 1923
And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother. And falling down they adored him. And opening their treasures, they offered him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
John was in the desert, baptizing and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins.
And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.
Mark 1:4, 7
And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them and the brightness of God shone round about them: and they feared with a great fear.
And the angel said to them: Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people:
For, this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying:
Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will.
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I ran across this poem “prayer” in the little booklet called the Catholic Devotional. As you can gander from some of my previous writings, Pro Life is an issue that is very close to my heart. When I found this poem, I was really struggling to put words to paper that really express my feeling toward the absurdity of abortion. Here is the “New Morality”:
You didn’t make it, Unborn Child.
They wouldn’t let you be.
To your bud of life, they took a knife.
It’s the “New Morality.”
They didn’t mean to hurt you, Love!
You have to understand.
Forgive them for what they did.
Their life was so well-planned.
They couldn’t take you with them
up the ladder of success.
Money meant more to them
than a child, heaven-blessed.
Tell me little Unborn Child,
what did the Creator say?
Did he wrap you in His love,
and wipe your tears away?
You hover on the edge of time.
I see your faceless form.
You laugh whenever children play,
Oh, God, for you I mourn!
He sent His only Precious Son
to teach us all “the way”.
Still we kill the unborn ones.
It happens every day!
You didn’t make it, Unborn Child.
They wouldn’t let you be.
They just expelled a blob of cells.
It’s the “New Morality.”
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
(http://www.noon85.com/multimedia/2006/10/30/sen-clinton-against-prop-85/). Remember that Prop 85 was the doomed proposal that would require parental notification and a 48 hour waiting period for a minor to receive an abortion. Please go to my July, 8, 2006 article to see more about my thoughts on Abortion and some resources for those who are considering or have had an abortion and are looking for some reconciliation and healing. The Church, by no means, wishes to damn anyone to Hell; it in fact is an agency of forgiveness and love…unfortunately all too many people can’t open their eyes to it. They instead call “pro-lifers” “religious extremists” and “Anti-Choice”… Anyhow, I figured the usual suspects of Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and leading liberal Democratic officials would be behind the crusade to stop Prop 85 (I was right), but I was surprised to find “clergy” behind the “abortion crusade” as well… “strange bedfellows”…:
…As people of faith, we are called to consider the well-being of the most vulnerable in our communities. One of the primary teachings of the world's religions is to love our neighbors as ourselves and to care for each other in times of need…. for entire text and signatures of those clergy involved, click on article title above).
I noticed a lot of “Rev” which is not always Catholic, but I did see one Father on the list. The ridiculous argument of these people is that mandating a child to “notify” (notice it omits the word “consent” as the law in no way even mandated consent, just notification) a parent of an impending abortion would put children in “troubled” homes at higher risk. They would have to traverse the dangers of the “Big City” and battle the legal system to get a waiver from a judge in order to get an abortion. This is an absurd argument. The politicians sound the same, “for most of us, we communicate with our children and would be there for them, but for the less fortunate…” or some similar load of junk…the statement above refers to the “most vulnerable”. Who is more vulnerable than a baby inside the mother’s womb? I realize that there are a lot of young girls who feel (or legitimately cannot) speak to their parents about an unplanned pregnancy, but at what expense do we go to pave a golden pathway for them? Society seems to want everything at the “lowest common denominator”. When we think about it practically: What child would actually feel comfortable going to a parent in this situation? I certainly would not have at a young age. It certainly reigns true, though, for a majority (a vast majority) of families, that the parents have the GREATEST concern for the child. But because some parents are “TERDS”, we have to concede these decisions to Planned Parenthood? God save us!! Does anyone REALLY believe that this organization (of course partnered with NARAL and the ACLU) has in mind the best interest for our children? This argument has nothing to do with our children and everything to do with keeping abortion on demand legal. Hear me know, I believe that abortion is wrong in EVERY CASE, including rape and incest…ok…you know where I come from…now let’s hear where others come from…(Please read about St. Gianna Berreta Molla http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintgaq.htm) . She was a pediatrician who was given a choice of aborting her child or dying, she chose life for her child. St. Gianna’s death is an eye opener about sacrifice and living for something more than ourselves. Prop 85 in no way, would have eliminated any of the Pro-Choice movements “greatest achievements” such as Late Term Abortions, Partial Birth Abortions, Mid-Term Abortions, Early Term (1st trimester) Abortions, or any Abortion whatsoever. It simply attempted to put parents a little closer to being in the driver’s seat. Of course, don’t let anyone attempt to give a child an Aspirin for a headache, or some Pepto for a tummy ache…that of course would be WRONG and would violate our rights as parents. The law does concede many legal rights to the parents (such as for schooling, contracting, medical, etc.), so why is it so difficult to think that a child should have to talk to a parent before having an abortion. An abortion will most certainly have a lasting affect on the child…absolutely emotionally and likely physical as well. As we all know, Californians spoke out against Prop 85 by a 46% to 54% margin (Hurray for Southern California Inland Counties who seemed to be the only ones voting yes on it).
What do we do know? The nation seems to be leaning toward a Democratic (as opposed to a Republican) point of view. Say what you will about “blue dog” Dems, or “moderate” Dems, they are shifting the leadership to the older-school liberal Democrats like Nancy Pellosi (who is a San Francisco liberal). The tide is not good for the Pro-life movement. No one should disagree with the following:
“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority…among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death” (Catechism 2273).
Remember this when voting next time. Remember what your politicians stand for. Are they against life, or for it? Don’t buy into their lies. Think carefully before voting Democrat, and certainly don’t assume a Republican is Pro-life. Be smart and informed. Do not forget the most important thing, PRAY…PRAY…PRAY…Oh, yes, if you have not figured out yet, “I am an anti-choice extremist”...because the only choice we can make is the choice for life…GOD BLESS!!
Text of Prop 85
Proposition 85: 1186. (SA2005RF0132, Amdt. #1-S) Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Proponent: Paul E. Laubacher, R.N. (916) 381-7094Amends California Constitution to prohibit abortion for unemancipated minor until 48 hours after physician notifies minor’s parent or legal guardian, except in medical emergency or with parental waiver. Permits minor to obtain court order waiving notice based on clear and convincing evidence of minor’s maturity or best interests. Mandates various reporting requirements, including reports from physicians regarding abortions performed on minors. Authorizes monetary damages against physicians for violation. Requires minor’s consent to abortion, with certain exceptions. Permits judicial relief if minor’s consent coerced. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Potential unknown net state costs of several million dollars annually for health and social services programs, court administration, and state health agency administration combined. (SA2005RF0132, Amdt. #1-S)
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I wanted to write this article, somewhat “tongue in cheek”, but also as a reinforcement of the power of the rosary, and my growing devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As I wrote in an earlier article, my church has put together an Edge group (
…from the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,” to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…this very special devotion…differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word [Jesus Christ] and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration…
The Church teaches that Mary helps us, through “liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayers, such as the rosary” to know her son. She can help take us to a deeper sense of the “adoration” mentioned in the second part of #971. She can also help those with their needs…such as strength, courage, peace, etc. She, of course, does not create, or give these things on her own. Mary “continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ” (#975). She is not only Christ’s mother, she is OUR mother, and delivers our petitions as only a mother would.
What does this small lesson on Marian Theology have to do with my Edge class? We move to the Gospel of Matthew for the analogy:
When he came to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Some distance away a herd of swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “if you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go then!” They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned… (Matthew 8: 28-32)
While the analogy of sixth graders and demons is not a perfect one, we all know that middle schoolers can be little tough to handle, especially 20+ on the first night of youth group. Before the children arrived, I walked to the Church and prayed the Rosary, meditating on the Joyful Mysteries in front of the Tabernacle (the tabernacle is the “container” in which consecrated hosts are preserved for adoration and future Masses). Our Church has the tabernacle in the center of the alter (against the back wall) with a statue of Our Lady on one side, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the other, with the large crucifix above the tabernacle. The placement of these items is perfect juxtaposition to the rosary. We keep the body, blood, soul and divinity, and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as our focus. Mary points to all of this, and strengthens us in our faith.
After praying the rosary, the children began to show up. Our class went as well as it possibly could have. The students were much easier to manage than I could have imagined. This, of course, was only one night, so I am not declaring a miracle yet! The point of this article comes to fruition as the youth director directed me to the story of the demons and the swine (which I was not familiar). We were discussing how the other sixth grade class had some disruptive students that posed some challenges to their discussions. I did not get the impression that they were truly demons, and that they were overly chaotic, but in any case, somewhat challenging. We laughed at the notion that the demons left the children from my class and went into the children of the other class. We also agreed that it may be a good idea to have both of us pray the rosary next week and send the demons to the seventh grade class! We of course were able to learn a little scripture through our humor and challenges.
Let us not forget our Mother. God had the benefit of eternity to choose a woman among all women. St. Luke tells us in the annunciation; as the Angel Gabriel tells Mary:
Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you…do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus… (Luke 1: 28, 30-31)
He chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God. Mary tells us, “…he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed” (Luke 1: 48). If Mary is good enough for God, she certainly is good enough for me! There is so much symbolism throughout scripture that drives the importance of Mary. One, of course is Mary as the Tabernacle, carrying Jesus in her womb. Just as the tabernacle in every Catholic Church has Jesus inside of it, Mary carried him, to deliver him to mankind. Remember your Mother, Mary in your prayers. Give her your prayers; she will take them to Jesus as a Mother petitions for her children.
“Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art though among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour death. Amen.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
What are the Beatitudes? What do they mean for us today? How can we “seek” being “blessed”. Our Lord opens the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mathew 5: 3-10)
Some people claim that the Beatitudes are the new “10 Commandments”. The Beatitudes are not so much a replacement as they are a continuation of the New Covenant. Jesus says:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven…(Mathew 5: 17-19)
The bottom line here is that with salvation, more is required of us in our lives. Our purpose in life, of course, is to get to heaven, and hopefully bring those around with us on our journey.
New Advent does a great job summarizing the beatitudes
(http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02371a.htm) . They do a great job, so I won’t spend too much time doing this. I would suggest taking a brief look at the webpage though.
The Lord is telling us, through his teaching, how to gain heaven. Is this not what we want? I certainly hope that this is our ultimate goal. If the 10 commandments are the traffic rules, the Beatitudes are the road map. Beyond directions to heaven, they provide HOPE. If I am poor in spirit (simply stated as being humble before the Lord), I will gain heaven. How about for those who mourn…to be comforted…not by a friend, or a priest, or a spouse, but by ALL the Angels and Saints in Heaven; and God himself. If that’s not comforting, I don’t know what is. We see an underlying theme here as turning oneself completely to the Lord. Is this easy? NO WAY JOSE! The great saints struggled with this, and we are most certainly going to struggle. To live perfectly by all of these, all of the time would certainly be a feat. I don’t believe, however, that that is the point. The point is to make the journey. Whether one follows St. Francis of Assisi with a hair shirt or joins St. Therese of Liseuxe’s “little way”, we all struggle. Throughout the journey, we must offer our struggles to the Lord. “Lord Jesus Christ, only son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”. This little prayer from the Eastern Church packs a big punch in a little package. If we struggle on our journey to heaven, we show that we are human. The only perfect human being was Mary, the mother of our Lord. God stopped making perfect people after her. The beauty, however, is that Mary will help us along the way (please refer to Your Mama Wears Combat Boots in the Archives for more). If we keep the map out, focus on Christ, we will get to our final destination. We will someday be in that Beatific Presence of God and hear the beautiful words, “Well Done!”
The Catechism certainly is not silent on this. 2548 states:
Desire for true happiness frees man from his immoderate attachment to the goods of this world so that he can find his fulfillment in the vision and beatitude of God. “The promise [of seeing God] surpasses all beatitude…whoever sees God has obtained all the goods of which he can conceive.
St Augustine is quoted in #2550:
There will true glory be, where no one will be praised by mistake or flattery; true honor will not be refused to the worthy, nor granted to the unworthy; likewise, no one unworthy will pretend to be worthy, where only those who are worthy will be admitted. There true peace will reign, where no one will experience opposition either from self or others. God himself will be virtue’s reward; he gives virtue and has promised to give himself as the best and greatest reward that could exist…”I shall be their God and they will be my people…”This is also the meaning of the Apostle’s words: “ So that God may be all in all.” God himself will be the goal of our desires; we shall contemplate him without end, love him without surfeit, praise him without weariness. This gift, this state, this act, like eternal life itself, will assuredly be common to all.
Our struggle to let go of the world; of our “worldliness”, will bring us to happiness. Remember the first disciples had to leave everything behind; family, boats, nets, etc. They depended on these things to survive, to make a living. They traded these things in for Jesus. Does this mean that you must stop reading this, take the computer you are on and take it to your local church…no! It means that you must not be attached to these things. Don’t live for your house, your car, your IPOD, vacations, etc. Live for Christ. Use your material things for good. Live moderately, be happy, and remember that everything you have is on loan from GOD. Peace and Love of Christ be with you.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Most of what I have read on this subject seems to have an underbelly of fear, appeasement, and misinformation so familiar with today’s media. It seems that most of the commentaries I read actually agreed with the Muslims or in some way showed an unreasonable amount of sympathy. Yes, the same militant Muslims that threw fire bombs into churches, murdered an Italian nun, and yes, those same people that plotted to blow up the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and who knows where else. These same “civil and peace loving” people who bellowed with anger and rage in attacks against non-Muslims when a “rag” published a story alleging that the American military was flushing the Quran down toilets (which is actually not possible to do…you try it at home with any book…not going to happen) http://www.amilimani.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=34&Itemid=2
These comments, of course, make be a bigot. Because of the fear that many people have about being seen as a bigot, the truth seems to be hidden somewhere, never to be seen. I tell you, I am no bigot. When I say “those people”, I do not mean it in the sense that people would refer to black people 50 years ago, or what Asian Americans heard about themselves after Pearl Harbor…or what Militant Muslims would say about any non Muslim. Only they don’t say “those people”, they say “infidel”. It seems that Islam has an inferiority complex, and the “soft” liberal media only feeds into it…like giving a Great White Shark just enough flesh to wet its appetite.
The world seems so backward in many senses. The “Hippies”, “Tree Huggers”, “Women’s Rights”, and “Civil Rights” activists seemed to always be on the wrong side of right. The same people that hem and haw at the idea of a cross on a memorial, or a Nativity Scene at Christmas Time (or should I say X-Mas), or cringe at the sound of a graduate thanking God for helping him through school, do not hesitate to support the “rights” of extremist Muslims, or in so many ways share much sympathy for them. We are not referring to “John Doe Mohammed”, who lives in Anytown USA and happens to be Muslim. We are talking about the people that live for one purpose, and one purpose only, to KILL anyone who is not Muslim…that is probably most of you reading this article…and your children…grandchildren…friends…co-workers…get the point!!!
So what does a “Birkenstock” wearing hippie have in common with militant Muslims? It seems, through the comments I have read, and the attitude of the media, that the Pope should be replaced by Osama Bin Laden (ok, maybe a little exaggeration, but I hope you get my point). Many comments have suggested that an apology that falls short of the Pope submitting to Islam will not suffice. The Pope makes comments, about comments (he did not make) made 500 years ago. These comments by a Byzantine emperor referred to SOME of the teachings of Mohammed as “evil and inhuman,” particularly “his command to spread by the sword the faith”. Because of these comments, the Muslim world seemed to go crazy. MSNBC states that an Iraqi insurgent group threatened the Vatican with a suicide attack over the comments. A website frequented by militant Muslim groups quoted the Mujahedeen Army as saying “we swear to God to send you people who adore death as much as you adore life”…it was addressed to “you dog of Rome”, and threatens to “shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home”. The Islamic world seemed to come unglued, both verbally and physically. It seems they have proven the point made by the Byzantine Emperor. Of course the “militant Islamist” will walk into a Chuck E Cheese with a vest made of dynamite, and claim himself peaceful, all the while directing shrapnel and a killing fire into the bodies of innocent children. Sounds like “pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining”. I don’t see the Christian world burning any crescent moons over any of the Islamic reactions, nor would I would condone it. Those who try to justify attacks on the Church are simply acting as “useful idiots” for Islamic terrorists. They call them “freedom fighters”, or “Martyrs”. “Useful Idiots!” Maybe Osama will save some of the 70 virgins for “useful idiots”…don’t count on it.
Here is a link to further support what I mean by “useful idiot” in this sense:
Ironically, those fringe groups mentioned earlier (hippies, etc.) would be the first to suffer a reality change under an Islamic rule. They can also trade the Constitution for the Sharia (Islamic Law). They of course, would get to keep the Birkenstocks…but trade in the t-shirts, skirts, jeans, and baseball caps for a burka (www.alhannah.com $12.99 internet special). What about women’s rights? Yeah right!!
With all the talk about Christianity and Islam, no one has mentioned a huge difference between Christianity and Islam when it comes to ecumenism. The Catechism (842) states: “The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race: All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God”. Muslims are specifically mentioned in Catechism 841. The Church is saying that it God’s plan is that ALL go to heaven. It seems as though the Islamic view is that all non Muslims should simply DIE and go to Hell. Please correct me if I am wrong. This does not come from a scholarly study or theological education, just simply from watching the world since September 11th. No large or impactful group of Muslims have stood up in front of the world against the barbaric actions of Islamic terrorists and nations. Instead, they brainwash their people with the following:
[Only three days after the Pope’s speech, Iraq’s Mujahidin Shura Council issued its own very Islamic response, inadvertently substantiating the Pontiff’s comment. Here is a part of what the Council posted]:"After the stupid and obeyed bearer of the cross flag, Bush, declared a few years back the start of a new crusade on Islam and its people and launched his crusade with the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the servant of the cross, the Vatican Pope, appears before us, orbiting around Bush, to continue in Bush's footsteps with his flagrant assault on Islam and its prophet, Muhammad, may God's peace and blessings be upon him, especially with his remarks on 'the duty of jihad in the name of God' -- a duty that flowed through the body of the nation and terrified crusaders the world over."The self-appointed custodian of the religion of “peace” continues with its superb logical reasoning by warning the “worshippers of the cross”: “You and the Romans are on a date with the defeat you see every day in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere." The Council promises to "Break the cross, spill the wine, and enforce the al-jizyah (tax levied on non-Muslims in return for protection), leaving people with a choice between Islam and the sword." The statement vows, "For we will press forth with our jihad and will not stop until Allah enables us to cut your throats, and until the banner of monotheism is raised and Allah's law prevails over all lands and all people."
So what do we do? We either sell our souls to Osama Bin Laden, or we stand up for what’s right. This idea of standing up is rather vague. We must not give into temptations to hate. Hate is what defines our enemies. St. Therese (The Little Flower) tells us to be different than sinners. She tells us that it is easy to love our friends, even sinners love their friends. What separates the Saints and the sinners is that the Saints also love their enemies. We must be willing, however to fight if necessary. First, we must learn to read with our brains not just our eyes. We need to know the facts behind the stories we read. We must possess the ability to think “Critically”. We must also pray for peace! We cannot surrender our ideals and our love for Jesus Christ. September 11th made Martyrs out of many of the 3000 Americans who died. We may have to martyr ourselves in a sense of leaving our comfort zones. This may involve writing articles such as this, or to the editors of major papers, or on a higher level, continuing to support legislation that does not “cow tow” to political correctness. We shall continue to look to Christ as a guiding light toward right and steer clear of the darkness of evil. Remember, most importantly, that there is a difference between being “open minded” and a “useful idiot”.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Christ tells Peter “ I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:19) . Surely, the confessor must have an “interior repentance”: …at the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life (1431). God knows truly what is in your heart, so a confession of words alone is not enough, the confession must be true and from the heart. Catechism #1432 tells us that “God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him”. It is only by his grace that we even feel the guilt for our sins, and of course the grace to seek absolution. St Augustine tells more about the need for confession:
“When you shall have been baptized, keep to a good life in the commandments of God so that you may preserve your baptism to the very end. I do not tell you that you will live here without sin, but they are venial sins which this life is never without. Baptism was instituted for all sins. For light sins, without which we cannot live, prayer was instituted. . . . But do not commit those sins on account of which you would have to be separated from the body of Christ. Perish the thought! For those whom you see doing penance have committed crimes, either adultery or some other enormities. That is why they are doing penance. If their sins were light, daily prayer would suffice to blot them out. . . . In the Church, therefore, there are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in baptisms, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance" (Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed 7:15, 8:16 [A.D. 395]).”
Augustine talks about the ability to have venial (or lesser) sins removed through prayer. We see these sins removed through the Mass as well. The grave or “mortal” sins must be confessed for forgiveness. St Paul in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 5: 18-20) explains, “ and all this is from god, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
The intention of this article is not to be a thesis on the justification or deep theological basis for the sacrament of reconciliation. It can only scratch the surface. There are some great resources available on the Net, as well as Catholic Bookstores. The remainder of this article will explore some practicalities and my thoughts of this great gift.
The Church tells us that “Penance requires…the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction…contrition is ‘sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again” (1450-1451). 1454 tells us to make a good examination of conscience (http://www.scborromeo.org/confess.htm) before going to confession. It may surprise you how you may have broken one of the Ten Commandments and not realized it. I have attached a link to a simple examination of conscience document that will enlighten you and allow you to truly dig deep into your interior and give a GREAT confession that will allow you to start changing and begin to reflect Christ in your life. The Catechism further states that “confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret… (1456). First and foremost, the sins MUST be confessed to a priest. We may find this uncomfortable (but I assure you that, at least in my case, it gets easier with experience) at first. We must also remember to confess all the sins we have committed (particularly the mortal sins, but may also include any venial sin you wish to confess as well). We are not expected to remember everything we have done (particularly for those who have not confessed in many years). We are expected; however, to do the best we can to remember whatever possible. You may remember a sin you forgot to confess and wish to confess this as well. I would not get hung up on this, as you did not remember to confess this particular sin by no fault of your own. I would recommend, however, confessing the sin at your next confession…why not? You must remember that if you have any grave or Mortal Sin on your soul that you CANNOT TAKE COMMUNION! This is grave sin and separates the offender from God.
Most Parishes offer confessions once a week (Usually before the Saturday evening Mass) and by appointment. Some have the option to use a “confessional” for private and anonymous confession or to use sit down “face to face” confession. My opinion is that “face to face” is quite therapeutic and adds a “spiritual counseling” dimension to it, but the anonymous confession allows for a much more open and honest confession (especially for people new to the sacrament). Another point to share is that many people go to other parishes if they are uncomfortable confessing to a priest they know at their own parish. Keep in mind, however, that most priests have heard it all. Nothing you are going to confess is going to make him blush. He is there in the “person of Christ” and not there to punish you, or belittle you. He is there for your SOUL. Find a way to get to confession at least once a month (or the very least once per year). You will find that the oppressive weight of sin will start to lessen and you will become less of a slave to sin and more of a servant to the Lord. God Bless.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving to his disciples said, “Take and eat, this is my body” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26-28)-
These awesome words are the words repeated every day in every Catholic Church during the consecration. To further understand what this means, we must look to the Bread of Life Discourse. If there is any doubt as to Jesus meaning “eat” his flesh, or as many of our protestant brothers and sisters believe to mean “eat his words” in a symbolic way, read John 6: 22- 65. This leaves no doubt. “I am the bread of life” (John 26: 35). “ I am the living bread that comes down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 26: 51). “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (John 26: 53-54). Did the disciples automatically say yes to eating him? Did they want to eat him like cannibals? “This saying is hard; who can accept it?’(John 26: 60). They wanted to make sure they understood him. Jesus, being Jesus, knew exactly what they were thinking: “Does this shock you…the words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 26: 61-62). He assured them that what they were thinking (which is what we still think 2000+ years later) was correct. Jesus would not have let them build his Church on a misunderstanding.
With this being said, what is it that we, the normal Catholic get from receiving communion at our Masses? The Catechism states that “Holy communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ Jesus” (1391). This physical and spiritual joining is similar (but on a much higher level) to marriage, and the full giving of one to his/her spouse. While the marital embrace between a man and a woman is truly a beautiful giving of oneself completely for the glory of God, Christ’s giving is to all of mankind for the SALVATION of mankind. It could be, and has been said that the gift is actually to God the Father from the Son. Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharista” stated:
“The Eucharist is a sacrifice in the strict sense, and not only in a general way, as if it were simply a matter of Christ’s offering himself to the faithful as their spiritual food. The gift of his love and obedience to the point of giving his life is in the first place a gift to his Father. Certainly it is a given for our sake, and indeed that of all humanity, yet it is first and foremost a gift to the Father.”
I heard it said once that God loves man so much, that we are “almost like Gods to him.” Please don’t misunderstand this statement. It is hyperbole used to show how much God truly loves us. John 3:16 says, “for God so loved the world that he gave is only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” This gift, first to the Father, and to us as beneficiaries, is so that we can be joined with God in heaven…this is the primary fruit of communion. Paragraphs 1393-1398 in the Catechism further state fruits such as “separating us from sin” (1393), restoration of strength and “preserving us from the future mortal sins” (1394-1395), the Church (1396)…and so on…The grace we receive from one communion is enough to make everyone of us great saints, yet we receive him every Sunday (or even everyday), and struggle to simply keep our heads above the tide of sin. We must be open to the graces and ask the Lord to make us saints on a daily basis. “Lord, with the graces received from communion, make me a saint.” Pray for it, he is God and can do anything. Don’t be fooled, this is Christ, “in the flesh.” John Paul II said of this, “…in order to be in accord with the Catholic faith, [we] must firmly maintain that, in objective reality, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the consecration, so that the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus from that moment on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine” (EDE 15). The doctrine of transubstantiation is confirmed by John Paul II; the bread and wine no longer exist, Jesus now exists. The Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, which means that it is bread/wine and Jesus together. Be careful to read and understand this doctrine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transubstantiation#Theology_of_transubstantiation
Pope John Paul II further wrote” the worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church…it is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the beloved disciple and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the ‘art of prayer’, how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation, and support?”(EDE25).
Take advantage of time with our Lord. Sure, you can pray anywhere and have an “ear” from our Lord. But there is something special about the “…presence in the fullest sense: a substantial presence whereby Christ, the God-Man, is wholly and entirely present” (Mysterium Fedei, 39). It is very difficult to get an audience with the President, the Pope, or even your boss, but the Lord of the Universe, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ is present in every Tabernacle in every Catholic Church in the world. If your Catholic Church does not have a tabernacle present for adoration, go to another Catholic Church. Most Churches do, however have a tabernacle, some will have a monstrance (he is exposed for exposition and adoration). Either way, he is present, for YOU! How lonely he must be, when people don’t come to see him, don’t believe that he is actually present, or defile him as an object. Give reverence to the BLESSED SACREMENT: “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Philippians 2.9-10)
“We genuflect to the tabernacle, and bow to the altar of consecration. Receive him only in a state of grace (if in doubt, go to confession before receiving him). Honor, glorify, and thank him for coming to YOU/US in the Eucharist. People have been Martyred defending this believe and TRUTH. Long for the Eucharist, for he is the “bread of life”. For more sources see:
Saturday, August 05, 2006
So turn from youthful desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart. Avoid foolish and ignorant debates, for you know that they breed quarrels. A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness. It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth, and that they may return to their senses out of the devil’s snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will.
This is some basic “biblical” teaching on how to approach teaching others, particularly in matters of faith. This is especially true with our youth. While many of them would not “return” to the devil’s snare (since they are quite young to be culpable for sin), they may be on their way to a sinful life. Many of the children are brought to youth groups as a “social” event. Their parents’ may think they are fulfilling parental duties (of teaching the faith) by dropping them off once a week to a youth group. It is our duty, to give the children a safe, loving, and caring environment, where we can hopefully plant a seed of faith into them.
We are following a method of teaching developed by St. Don Bosco. John Bosco was born in 1815 in Italy. His father died when he was only two years of age. He was raised by his mother Margherita , who taught him to see God in others such as the poor and homeless. At the age of nine, Don Bosco had the first, great dream which marked his entire life. He saw a multitude of very poor boys who play and blaspheme. A Man of majestic appearance told him, "With meekness and charity you will conquer these, who are your friends". And a Lady, just as majestic, added,"Make yourself humble, strong and robust. At the right time you will understand everything." In 1841, at the age of 26, he was ordained a priest after 6 intense years of seminary. He immediately hit the streets to find and help young boys such as the ones he dreamed of. He discovered many of the parish priests in the area understood the problem with the young boys in their town, but expected them to follow traditional parish catechism classes. This was the industrial revolution, so it was a dynamic time of change that was not always conducive to traditional catechesis. It was necessary to try new ways, to invent new schemes, to try another form of apostolate, meeting the boys in shops, offices, market places. Many young priests tried this. Don Bosco met the first boy on December 8, 1841. He took care of him. Three days later there were nine, three months later twenty five and in summer eighty. They were pavers, stone-cutters, masons, plasterers who came from far away places, he recalled in his brief Memoirs. Thus was born the youth centre (which he called oratorio). This was not simply a charitable institution, and its activities were not limited to Sundays. For Don Bosco the oratorio became his permanent occupation and he looked for jobs for the ones who were unemployed. He tried to obtain a fairer treatment for those who had jobs, he taught those willing to study after their days work. The oratorio, or as we call it: The oratory, is what we are trying to emulate in our youth group.
The Oratory is not just a place. It is not just the classroom, or the church, or the home, job, school, etc. It is all of these. The children will learn to LIVE the life of a Catholic. The method is actually of “lifestyle” of pastoring, mentoring, educating, and creating a spiritual heritage. As we begin to learn our new positions as catechists (we have until November when the kids will join us), we learn to understand that we are not spending a lot of time in front of the class lecturing. We need to get on their level, learn what interests them, what they are all about, and incorporating a simple cathecetical message into our interactions. While the kids may be not be able to rattle of huge chunks of the Catechism of the Catholic Church after a year, they may be so inclined to come back and open up a little more next year. If we can, by the grace of God, help to plant a seed of interest and love for our Lord and our Church, we can help to change their lives.
I hope and pray that we don’t forget our children in today’s fast paced world. Many households are forced to have Mom and Dad both working. With that, traffic, school, and everything else in life, we can loose our children in the mix. Pretty soon, we will realize that we never stopped to smell the roses. My Catholic church did not have much of a youth group when I was in Junior High. My parents probably would have had to drag me to it anyway. I joined a High School Group at a Community (protestant) Church at one point. God Bless those people, I made some great friends there during some rough times in High School. It did not, however, do anything at all for me spiritually. Apart from a few renditions of “Our God is an Awesome God”, we did not have much faith development. Probably a good thing, because it was not a Catholic Church. The point I am making, is that we have a duty to our children. We are responsible to put them on a path of righteousness. We can have a direct impact on their salvation. I don’t want to explain to St Peter, or even my wife a hundred years from now, why we a hanging out in Purgatory, and our children are in Hell…because we forgot to set them straight. Don’t let this happen. Be active in your church, or at least catechize your children. Do it for real! Not just a “token” dinner prayer, and a few trips to Mass. Talk, pray, make it a LIFESTYLE. Be Catholic first, then be American, a worker, a PTA mom, etc. 100 years after the death of John Bosco, Pope John Paul II conferred the title of "Father and Teacher of Youth" upon him. We could all take a lesson from him, and maybe ask him for help. For more information of St. Don Bosco go to http://www.dbpc.org/ABOUTSALE.html.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,my spirit rejoices in God my Saviorfor he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:the Almighty has done great things for me,and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear himin every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israelfor he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,to Abraham and his children for ever. (Luke 1:46-55)
So much is said about Mary throughout the Catechism, scripture, and the Church Fathers. This short article cannot do justice to this topic. Pick up a Catechism, Google search, find what you can about Mary and begin learning. Pope Paul VI had some eloquent words about Mary:
The Church indeed, contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father's will, by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By her preaching she brings forth to a new and immortal life the sons who are born to her in baptism, conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God. She herself is a virgin, who keeps the faith given to her by her Spouse whole and entire. Imitating the mother of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she keeps with virginal purity an entire faith, a firm hope and a sincere charity. http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/v2church.htm
You absolutely will not short change Jesus by loving his mother. Jesus loved his mother. He, in fact, is the only Son to ever choose his Mother. He in fact, throughout all ages, knowing all men and women who ever was, is, and ever shall be, chose Mary to be his mother. Jesus is never wrong, so Mary must be special. Jesus last words before his death on the cross included instruction to us all:
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son. The he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”(John 19: 26-27)
Jesus was telling his Mother to treat the disciples (and us all) like her son, AS her Son. He was also telling his disciple to treat Mary like his Mother, AS his Mother…as we all should.
The point of this article is not to “prove” the Church’s teaching on Mary. There is much out there on that, and I will address that at another time. Today, I am simply taking for granted that you are reaching for help in glorifying the Lord. While there are many ways to start “strapping up your army boots” with Mary, might I suggest a few. First, get a rosary (www.rosaryarmy.com: request a free one), a guide to the Mysteries and instruction on praying the rosary ($.85, or free on my rosary webpage) and start praying it everyday. If you think you don’t have the time, find some. I takes me about 15 to 20 minutes. I will sometimes do mine on my commute with the aid of a recorded version on my IPOD. Invoke Mary’s intercession in times of temptation, sorrow, pain, etc. You think you have struggles, pain, sorrow…”you ain’t seen NOTHING!” Mary “feels your pain”. She will wrap your prayers in diamonds and gold, and present them to her Son, Jesus Christ…and he will answer as he did at the Wedding in Cana (John 2: 1-2). For further reading see:
May you be blessed with health, happiness, and holiness. Until next time:
Sunday, July 23, 2006
First and foremost, we don’t worship Mary, the Saints, statues, flowers, grass, clouds…or anything the protestants may try to convince us that we worship. We worship GOD in the form of the trinity, just like most protestants (excluding those Jehovah’s). For some very detailed (and free) talks, check out John Martignoni at
http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/download. The long and the short of it is we venerate Mary and the Saints. It is just like keeping a picture of grandma in your wallet (regardless of whether she is still alive). Looking at the picture reminds us of weekends and grandma’s house, homemade pie, and Christmas dinners long ago. Why not remind ourselves of those who lived saintly lives (as did Mary and the Saints). They remind us how to live. The other aspect, of course, is praying TO Mary and the Saints. They are in heaven, very close to GOD, especially Mary. If you would be willing to ask your friends to pray for you before surgery, for example, why not ask those close to God in Heaven to pray for you?
The reality of praying to Mary and the Saints is a very important part of the Communion of Saints. James 5:16 says, “therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” Who is more “righteous” than someone already in Heaven? The catechism tells us that “the communion of saints is the Church” (946), reminding us, of course, that “the most important member is Christ, since he is the head.” (947). As members of this Communion of Saints we are in one of three camps. The first is where we all are (unless you are reading this in heaven, in that case, please pray for me, Oh Saint). We are a part of the Church Militant on earth. As “pilgrims” (954), we are vulnerable to attacks from evil, since we are not yet in an eternal position of salvation. The second group is those “being purified” (954) in purgatory (see my last article). The final group are “[in the] glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is’”(954).
Scripture tells the story so poetically:
“We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the , who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.” (1 Thes 4: 13-18)
Why wouldn’t anyone want access to this gloriousness? The glory of praying for the intercession (which simply means having them pray to Jesus for us) is immense. Think of praying to “Our Lady”. Pope Paul VI said of Mary, “we believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ”. Mary takes our prayers, like a protective mother, however imperfect those prayers are, and wraps them in her glory and presents them to Jesus for us. Remember that great moment in John’s Gospel (John 2: 1-12) at the Wedding Feast at Cana when Jesus turns the water into wine at the request of his Mother (our Mother).
Jesus has given us a great grace in the Communion of Saints. We have, at our behest, the prayers of all living, dead (in purgatory), and those “righteous” souls in Heaven at the side of Christ. Words cannot express what this truly means. We, in our state as sinners, can reach out to Saints who suffered just as we did, but overcame worldly temptations. Check out this sight for some of the patron saints to pray to for certain causes, (http://www.catholic.org/saints/patron.php). Remember, too, that we have a duty to pray to God for those souls in Purgatory as part of our role in this communion. Your rewards will be great from those you have helped get into heaven. I think they will be grateful. For those who tell you that the Church is wrong in her belief of praying to Mary and the Saints, pray for them (to Mary for their conversion). While we all certainly agree on praying to the Lord, they are missing out on so much. Praying to Mary and the Saints takes nothing away (even time and prayers) from Jesus. He is the head of the mystical body of Christ (which is the Church= Communion of Saints). He hears all of our prayers even if we are asking for an intercession . John Martignoni does a great job simplifying this. He uses the analogy of an injury to your hand; while your hand feels the pain, it is only because the brain sends signals for that to happen (Jesus). Martignoni does it much better than I. Get the free talk for more. Bottom line, never feel you are “short changing” Jesus by praying for intercessions. For more, check out www.catholic.com.
Monday, July 17, 2006
I have heard many people (both inside and outside the Church) explain away different beliefs and dogmas of the Church. I recently wrote about “Cafeteria Catholics” and my frustration with them. I certainly get frustrated (maybe even a little sad) when non Catholics tell me why my beliefs are wrong or that we “don’t believe in that anymore”. I am even more frustrated when it comes from within the Church. Just like the typical Cafeteria Catholic, people will tell you that a certain belief has been changed. I guess Pope Benedict must have missed a few memos! We have a lot of “Popes” running around today, and these “Popes” don’t have a clue what they are talking about. It certainly may be a result of the “disease” of “political correctness” that causes these people to give in to certain modern and/or protestant beliefs. This article will briefly point out a huge target of unbelievers: Purgatory.
The simplest form of explaining purgatory starts from Revelations: “Nothing unclean shall enter heaven” Rev 21: 27. Most of us are not great saints. We live our lives in an attempt to be holy (some of us falling more short than others…myself included). When we die, we are not so EVIL as to be damned to Hell for eternity. We may also not be so PERFECT (as all are in Heaven) as to go to Heaven. Where do we go? Purgatory. We are “purified” in this place/state. All of our earthly temptations and urges are removed through this cleansing of the soul. Catechism 1030 states:
All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of the eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
While Purgatory has only 2 paragraphs out of nearly 3000 paragraphs of the Catechism, this says all I need. But it also refers to biblical references as well as early Church Fathers.
St Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians tells us, “ If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but as only through fire.” (1 Cor 3:14-15). St Paul tells us about the “purifying fire”. By fire, we often think of Hell, but he tells us that “person will be saved”. You’re not saved in Hell…so he must be referring to another place. That place is not Heaven, because he refers to suffering “loss”. No one suffers or looses in Heaven, it is Heaven after all. St Augustine in his classic City of God states that “temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both now and then, but all of them before that last strictest judgment”(found on www.catholic.com) . In the Second Book of Maccabees, we read of how Judas Maccabees offered sacrifices and prayers for soldiers who had died wearing amulets, which were forbidden by the law; "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out," (2 Mc 12:43) and "Thus, (Judas Maccabees) made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin" (2 Mc 12:46). Mathew’s Gospel tells us that certain sins will not be forgiven “in this age or the age to come” (Mt 12: 32). This is suggesting a certain purging of the soul after death (the age to come). Furthermore, Luke talks about the final judgment wich deserves its own article. Briefly, Luke 12: 2- 5 talks about the revelation of all sins in the final judgment and ends the same chapter with “I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
With all this being stated, why do we as Catholics seem to be alone in our belief in purgatory. First, Martin Luther, in his “removal” of sacred texts ( 7 books of the old testament) removed some foundations of purgatory; primarily the account of Judas Maccabees in the book of Maccabees. Also, In the Book of Sirach, "Withhold not your kindness from the dead" (Sir 7:33), was interpreted as imploring God to cleanse the soul. Luther removed Sirach from his “bible” as well. Seemingly convenient to remove these books. Certainly, there is still enough biblical reference to support the existence of Purgatory without these, but Luther laid the foundation against the Church’s teaching on this. Calvin’s notion of predetermination basically states that we lost our freewill to choose God because of original sin, therefore, we are not capable of accepting him and earning heaven. God, therefore, predetermines some for heaven and some for hell. Those chosen for hell, cannot gain heaven, and those chosen for heaven, can only loose it. Calvin’s notion, therefore has no need for purgatory. Also, there seems to be a rebellion against “all things Catholic” in certain protestant circles.
Let us wrap up this article by enlightening the beauty of purgatory. God longs us to be with him in his “beatific vision”. John 3:16 states “for God loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” He gave us free will to choose him (or not to choose him). We are given this immense responsibility in life to achieve great holiness. In our lives we strive to become a perfect reflection of God, but ALWAYS fail to achieve this fully. Through contrition, confession and absolution, and the much need graces from God, we are able to say “yes” to God and his infinite love and mercy. It is his mercy that gives us purgatory. It would be unmerciful to fill Heaven with imperfect souls…it would therefore not be Heaven. It would also be unmerciful to send us all to Hell because we are not perfect (since that would be impossible). Heaven would be very quiet. It is his mercy that allows us to be “cleansed” in purgatory. While a non-stop one way ticket to Heaven would be ideal, a stop-over in purgatory is something that most of us strive to attain. Achieving this stop-over means that we have made it. We know that with some work, we will achieve the ultimate goal of the “beatific vision” of Heaven.
God Love You.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Lord Jesus, have mercy on the poor innocent souls who are with you in heaven. Please also let me pray for the conversion and repentance of their mothers so that they may some day be reunited with their child in heaven. Amen
I would be remiss if I did not include resources for women and men (as I will change my prayer to include the fathers) who have had an abortion and are reaching out for an understanding heart, who will not try to justify the abortion, but lead one to healing. Try Rachaels Vineyard by calling 877 HOPE 4 ME (877 467 3463) and checking out http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/.
Why do people have abortions? Why not adoption. In the year 2000, approximately 1.3 million children were killed through abortion, and approximately 1.3 million people were waiting to adopt children. The number of children released for adoption was a mere 35,000 (statistics by National Council for Adoption; see Randy Alcorn, Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments, 2nd ed., p. 122). Is it because of selfishness? Does society tell us that it’s ok. 2000+ years ago, before The National Organization of Women (http://www.now.org/) or Planned Parenthood (http://www.plannedparenthood.org) (click on the choice mag drop down and click on eye on extremists as the link would not fit in my blog) started their propaganda, calling PRO-Lifers “Anti-Choice Extremists”, our Church fathers told us about abortion and the importance of life (even before birth): “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I consecrated you…” Jeremiah 1:5. The Catechism tells us in #2271:
“God, the Lord of life has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”
Catechism # 2272 orders excommunication as a penalty. It further states that this is not an attempt to restrict mercy, rather “make clear the gravity of the crime committed…” While not an expert on this, I would assume the church would offer absolution for those who asked for it as an alternative to excommunication. Beyond judgment from the church, the unabsolved and unrepented soul will have much more to face at his/her judgement. 1 John 3: 7-8 says “Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil.” I say to you, the “Left Wing” organizations that support, demand, and welcome abortion are misleading the world.
Please check out the link to the planned parenthood website (reference above). The link take you to the “Extremists” section. No, not Osamma, not Sadaam, Hilter…LEX LUTHER? NO! Father FRANK PAVONE of Priests for life (http://www.priestsforlife.org/). Father Pavone, the so-called extremist, is the founder of Priests for life. [Now Blessed] Mother Theresa, hardly a figure of violence in the world wrote this:
"I hope that many priests and deacons will join the Priests for Life.."(Blessed) Mother Teresa of Calcutta, January 24, 1995 letter to Priests for Life
Planned Parentood lumps him in with clinic bombers and would be assassins of Abortionists. This is propaganda to lump any and all pro lifers as “crazy” and “backwards”. You can label me as an “anti-choice”, but that does not change the fact that abortion does not offer choice. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILD. Please check out a story about one of these children (http://www.tedharvey.com/gianna.htm) and a hero who brought out her story, Ted Harvey. Think a little closer to home, very close. If the “fetus” is only tissue, look in the mirror. You were once “tissue”. If your parents had gone to an “aborturary” and had you “removed”, you would not be reading this article.
What are we, as Catholics to do. We have an OBLIGATION to talk with our VOTES. I am a registered Republican, so, of course, I must start within my own party. While it is my impression that the Republican party is much more Pro-life, it still has many “Fence Sitters”, who dance around the issue. As for the Democratic Party, what can I say? John Kerry almost became President. What would a PRO-CHOICE Catholic president who receives Holy Communion say about the state of the Catholic Church in America? God save us. President Bush, who is always welcomed to join us in coming home to the Catholic Church, has done much for the PRO-LIFE movement. Of course, all he get’s is flack. Enjoy it MR. Bush, bear that Cross, and let us help you carry it. Let’s keep pushing the issue when it comes to abortion. Pray, vote, and stand up for our rights and the rights of our children (born or unborn).
As this article is going way too long, I will wrap up with a few words from the heart. People will call me names, persecute me, and even wish me harm for thinking this way and writing this article. To them, I say, I love you and pray for you.
“Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him” 1 John 3: 14-15.
I will not allow you to make me hate you. No one on earth is worth giving up my soul for. To the children of the world and especially my children, I say: “I love you more than life itself. I would GLADLY suffer and die for you!” I look at my children, and cannot come up with any reason why they are not ABSOLUTE BLESSINGS to my life. They are why I was put on earth. I weep, at the thought that I could have easily walked into an “abortuary” and eliminated any or all of them—for a small fee of course. Amazingly enough, you can kill your unborn child, but don’t think of killing a Kangaroo Rat. Person vs Rat (Rat wins)!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
I will start with the Church’s official reason from the Catechism # 1577:
“Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of twelve an ever present and ever active reality until Christ’s return. The church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.”
Simply put, Jesus chose men. He could have chosen a woman as he had the perfect candidate in his mother (Our Blessed Mother, Mary). As the Queen of Angels, born without sin, Mary most certainly had the qualifications; but Jesus chose men. As so did the apostles moving forward in time. Jason Everet of Catholic Answers (www.catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0201sbs.asp) has written on this subject. He states a popular argument that Jesus was bound by cultural norms of his era to suppress the roles of women---of course there is no real evidence to suggest this. This actually would imply that first, Jesus was sexist, and second, that Jesus actually cared about cultural norms. That is absurd. Many instance in the Gospels we see Jesus going against cultural norms:
“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And he said to them, ‘it is written: My house shall be a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves’”. Mathew 21:12-13. I often think of this scene as the definition of righteous anger. This is only an example, as Jesus’ entire ministry really went against many norms of the time.
Scripture shows us that Jesus had roles for men and women alike. Everett’s article further points out scriptural sources. Note that the first verse of First Corinthians is: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”. St Paul (as the author) points out his authority from Christ. That same chapter (1 Corinthians: 11: 1-16) is referenced to point to the fact Jesus specifically allowed women to pray in church but could not assume the role of teaching (which is as a priest). 1 Timothy 2: 12 specifically addressed this: I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet.
Another argument that makes sense is that of tradition. 2000+ years have must not have been wrong. That, in a world such as ours is a challenge, because one could argue that 100+ years of slavery could not have been wrong…or some other absurd argument…but wait just a minute…That argument would be absurd. Jesus did not teach on slavery. 1 Corinthians 11:2 states “ I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you. This, of course is not an article on the authority of the Church, but the church has authority—given directly from Christ to rule on these matters. Just as the church must not change forms (such as the bread and wine) it cannot change ordained priests from men only to both. The priest acts “in persona Christi” or in the person of Christ. Christ was a man, and well, a man represents him…in fact, he becomes him: “this is MY body…this is MY Blood”.
With this all being said, we must keep in mind, that although we are living today (at least at the time of writing this article), we are not the center of time and the universe(God is). So many people think that NOW is the time. I hear things like “things are different today”, “the church is stuck in the dark ages”, “We know more today”. Can we honestly say that this is a more “moral” age than years past. In certain ways, yes. In so many other ways, no. Who are we to say that because we have technology and scientific knowledge, that we should change the church and Christ’s teachings? If the Church were to change simply based on “political correctness”, then we would be in trouble. When all is said and done, God is above “political correctness” and earthly urges to be “progressive”. For more on my feelings on “progressiveness”, see my article titled “ The Cafeteria is Closed”. I say to you, who are YOU (Me included) to question my Master and Lord.? Any time someone says that the Church is sexist, just Google “Marian Devotions”…that accusation is hardly worth heresy…God Love You.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
When I got my first IPOD 2 years ago, I never thought that it would bringing me closer to God. It gave me the freedom listen to different albums in different order without switching CDs, and without worring about carrying $2000 worth of CDs in the car. I also liked the photo option, although I think I never showed anyone the pictures because I always left my IPOD in the car. Unfortunately, my first IPOD was stolen in from my car in my driveway. I actually went several months without even worring about a new IPOD. I figured that it was just as easy to listen to the radio. You can only take so much music mixes of Queen/Zepplin/Pink Floyd!!!Maybe not, maybe you can handle more, but not me!!!
After a few months, I decided to look into another device. A smaller, cheaper one, was on my mind. I actually bought a $99 special from Walmart, but took it back because the software was a pain. I decided to go back to the IPOD Video (30Gig).
After hearing a soundbyte about a local radio talk show podcasts, I thought about checking out other podcasts. Baseball, politics........RELIGION...WOW! Googling "catholic podcasts" changed the face of my IPOD life. My first discovery was the disciples with microphones and the Saint Cast (www.saintcast.org). I also discovered several shows on EWTN and EWTN radio from the www.ewtn.com website that are archived for podcasting. This was before the discovery of another great evangelical tool (the DVR or TIVO). I never had time to listen or watch my shows on EWTN, so I was able to download them on my IPOD. I now have a DVR, but still find it easier to listen in the car as I do have 4 hours per day in the car.
My day starts with a downloaded copy (purchased from ITUNES Music Store) of the Rosary on my IPOD. I then usally go to an hour of either EWTN Open Line or Catholic Answers. I can pick and choose what I am in the mood for. I also have a slew of different podcasts with different levels of spirtuality, fun, and heavy topics. The beauty here as well, is I don't miss a thing, because I can pause, rewind or relisten to each podcast. If my phone wrings, I put the IPOD on pause (except the Rosary, because I don't want to put Our Lady or Jesus on hold). Just an FYI, I am listening to the Daily Breakfast Podcast as I write this while grabbing a WI FI signal in front of one of my accounts).
The power of technology has its downside...but in his infinite wisdom, GOD turns evil into good. We all know the problems with the anonymity of the Internet and the dangers that poses to our children and our sanctity, but these podcasts are harnessing the goodness from this technology. I have heard homilies, prayers, and many other ministristries on these podcasts. It is not a giant leep of faith to believe that we are only seeing the beggining of this great tool. The Rosary Army (www.rosaryarmy.com) mentioned that the diocese of Atlanta is communicating information (I am assuming cathecisis and diocesean anouncements) through podcasting. Each diocese should start thinking about this tool. We want to reach as many people as possible. It is our DUTY to save souls. When you think of IPODs, and visualize people roaming around with earphones, who do you picture...TEENS...Just drive by any school around 3 pm. At least half of these kids are walking around with headphones on...WOW...Maybe this can by a tool to reach teens and get them thinking about how COOL being Catholic can be...Churches can archive homilies for teaching and for accountability for priests. I am a salesman, my presentations get better when I observe myself through feedback and video presentation. Maybe priests can get better by listening to there homilies. We are just scratching the surface of IPODing, with the improved technology of VIDEO IPODS and VIDEO CASTING.
Let's start filling up those IPODs with the message of God. Google "catholic apologetics", "marian devotions", "Catholic PodCasts"...or whatever you would like to see/hear. My site also has some links, and I will add more as I get more. Be careful on the NET, as it is not all innocent, but with some careful searching, you find the answers you seek.
GOD Bless in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Before discussing the types of prayer, we see the Catechism talks about the mindset of the person praying. We see the theme of humility throughout the discussion of prayer. We must always be aware of the “target”. Jesus Christ is our “Template” for many things, prayer included. If we compare ourselves to Him, we will always be lesser, thus striving to get better. This type of humility can surely improve many things in our spiritual life, especially prayer.
Jesus teaches us about prayer throughout the scripture. In the Gospel of Mathew (5: 5-7):
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogoues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
The theme of humility in prayer is continued in paragraph 2562, where it states that it is the Heart that prays. The words are meaningless without the heart, and God knows what is in our hearts.
The Catechism points out different types of prayer: Blessing and Adoration, Prayer of Petition, Prayer of Intercession, and Prayer of Praise.
These different types of prayer all have a place in our lives. Through the different expressions of prayer (Vocal, Meditation, and Contemplative)
Through vocal prayer, we voice (internally and externally) our love and longing for God. “Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number of words, but on the fervor or our souls” 2700.
Meditation takes our prayers to another level. Mediation is a form of prayerful reflection on scripture, icons, circumstances, that bring us closer to God. The Rosary is a perfect example of meditation.
The final type of prayer is Contemplative prayer. This can be a struggle with distraction of today’s world. Paragraph 2711 states that “entering in to contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we ‘gather up’ the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us.”
These are very advanced concepts from a wonderful book (The Catechism of the Catholic Church). It is important through growing our prayer life, that we continue to revisit these issues and learn how to pray better…and guess what…we can pray to pray better!!!
The bottom line here is that prayer feeds the soul. It does not always have to be a memorized poetic set of verses (they are nice though), it can be as simple as “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner”. Just remember to pray early and often. Spend time to thank God, to exalt God, and remember to ask for forgiveness. Stay humble, and remember that God loves you. There is so much power in prayer. I will go into the power of intercessory prayer at another time in the discussion of the Communion of Saints, but the remember that we have our prayers, prayers of others around us, and the prayers of souls in purgatory and the amazing prayers of the Angels and Saints already in heaven. We pray for their intercession because they are close to God, in fact they are in the presence of God. As I said, this article has already gone too long, so I will go into further detail in a later blog. For now God Bless you in the Name of the Father…the Son…and the Holy Spirit…Amen…
For more information on prayer go to http://www.catholic.org/clife/prayers/
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
"Keep watch over yourselves and cover the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he aqquired with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. Acts 20:28-30.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed. As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one you recieved, let that one be accursed. Galatians 1:8-9
Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please peple, I would not be a slave of Christ. Galatians 1: 10.
Anyone who is so "progressive" as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoeve remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:9
Were do we fit today in relation to these teachings? Christ is telling us about our world 2000 + years ago. We have plenty of wolves out there telling us that Christ's teachings (the teachings of his Church) are "Old Fashioned". "Why can't we use birth control?" "It is better for society to have children we can handle. " "Abortion is fine, it reduces crime, and unwanted children who are a burden on society". "Ms. So and So has lived a good life, but now she can't feed herself. She broke her hip...and does not have health care... she is ready to die...maybe she would be better off" These are arguments the secular world (wolves) want you to listen to. If you keep hearing this, they hope, you will start to think they "have a point". The Church has direct authority from Jesus Christ in questions of morality. This article is not indended to be a point by point debate on these issues (that would take much more time than I have now), but instead an argument against the popular "Cafeteria Catholic".
The points here, birth control, abortion, euthanasia, are all political hot buttons in today's world. It seems as though the birth control issue has completely fallen away, abortion is very hot today, and euthanisia (I'm afraid) is comming soon to a theatre near you. There are many aspects of the Church that people seem to make light of. They seemingly elect themselves Pope for their own convienience. As Catholics, we have a moral obligation to obey the Pope. We are given such wonderful gifts in the sacraments.
Through Baptism, we are washed clean of original sin. Through Confession we are forgiven (absolved) of any sin...ANY SIN...that we truly are sorry for...understand this, GOD loves you so much...all you have to do is ask for forgiveness through the sacrament of Confession. Lesser, venial sins, are normally forgiven through prayer and the Mass, but Mortal sins need the sacrament. Through Confession, we are able to be in a state of grace in order to properly recieve Jesus through his greatest gift: HIMSELF! You must love the Eucharist. You MUST believe that he TRULY IS PRESENT in the HOST. If you don't, you truly commit sacreliege by still recieving. The other sacrements are Holy Orders, Marriage, Annointing of the Sick.
We find in today's world, many people trying to justify living in sin. Not attending Mass, Confession, Birth Control, no prayer, Failure to defend the faith, are all things many people (Catholic people) who are good people do everyday. These types of things don't seem as evil as adultery, abortion, murder, etc. The problem is that they can do just as much damage to one's soul as any other sin. When one convinces himself that these seemingly "harmless" things are ok, the Devil starts to smile. Electing yourself Pope is very dangerous. Instead of changing the rules, one can ask for forgiveness and try their best to change. Go to Confession, recieve the Eucharist. The forgiving power of GOD is amazing. Believe the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Strive to live up to the faith, knowing that we are all sinners. Utilize the loving forgiveness Jesus through the Church to stay in good standing with GOD.
Please understand that the Church has authority from GOD. We are lay people, and most of us are not theolgians. We have such as wonderful tool in the Church. As Catholics, we do not have to interpret the Bible for ourselves. We do not have to decide tough moral questions for ourselves. Jesus lives through the Church to do this for us. We must be humble before the Lord and realize that we need the Church and all of it's wisdom, however "old fashioned" it may seem. Please read on my Divine Mercy Page Sister Faustina's vision of Hell (http://www.divinemercysunday.com/vision.htm) . Read this and decide if you want to take the chance that you know more than 2000 years of the Church. Eternity is...well...eternity...and in Hell...well...it's Hell...
Remember that GOD Loves each one of us more than we can imagine. I recently heard an analogy (not to be taken literally) that God loves us so much, that we are like Gods to him. While not taken literally, because we are not Gods, it gets the point accross on the love GOD has for us. Take advantage of this. God Bless you...
God have mercy on me, a sinner.