Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Faith 101 or How to Bake A Cake

Today we say au revoir, adios, arrivederci, sayonara, and goodbye to 2008. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and the time we ring in 2009. My prayer to all who read this now and each and everyday is that you are blessed with the loving touch of God's grace. This is the day that we get all the recaps of the big events of the past year. When we read of the horrible and not so horrible things that happened. We will reflect on the celebrity, politician, artist,or world leader who passed away, whether tragically or not. One thing that is a common denominator from a plumber to a prince, from a high school student to a nursing home patient, from a rapist to a grandmother, from a soldier to a baby, from friends of mine to friends of yours, there will come a day maybe even in 2009 when somebody will wake up on a given day and end up breathing their last breath on earth. Their eyes will close for one final time and their heart will no longer beat. It will happen to me and it will happen to you. One may be aware its coming and another may have no clue. Death will show up at your doorstep that is a certainty. There is a choice that we all have. There is no escaping this choice. We either believe that when we breathe our last breath that it is over, that we will fade into an abyss of nothingness. We will be like the last page of a good book when the cover is closed. End of story, end of us. Most people on this planet do not think that way. Why is that? Why do we hope? What logical, intellectual reason can you give that explains why we hope? It is a choice and don't give me that agnostic " I don't know" nonsense. You have to believe one way or another, it is like breathing you have to. Anyway, if you are the majority and are hopeful, I would like to make a case for Catholicism. We have to start with some presumptions, first belief in God and next that God became man, and that Jesus Christ was God, and finally that He died for our salvation. Basic premises of Christianity. Now this is what I hear from some believers, "I have a relationship with God, why do I need the Church"? While I don't believe in sola fide, that is, it is faith alone and only faith alone that is necessary for salvation. I do believe in the same vehicle for salvation that the Protestants believe in " we are saved by one and only one thing - God's grace". Contrary to some of your misguided beliefs or misrepresented propaganda, that is what Catholics believe. Salvation cannot be attained without God's help. God gives us the gift of Faith but we are insufficient in of ourselves. But don't despair for Jesus Christ left us the Church. What Church you ask? The one He started and has remain constant since its inception over 2000 years ago. The one that has followed the traditions of the Apostles, the one that most resemble what the Early Church looked like. For any Protestants out there get a copy of any of the Early Church Fathers, Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, Clement, and many more and see what beliefs they held. You will find the Mass, the Holy Eucharist as it is today, in the belief in the real presence of Jesus, the priesthood, the universality of the Church, the papacy and on and on. I have thought of this corny analogy while taking my morning walk. Faith is like a cake, or rather the idea of a cake. God has implanted in your heart this idea of a cake. You know the concept of it, you know what it looks like, you may even know what it taste like, what you don't know is how to make it. Salvation is making your own cake. You go to your cupboard and start pulling out ingredients in the hope you can put a cake together. The Church is a Bakery that contains on it's shelf the Divine Cookbook with cake recipes (grace from the Sacraments), the Saints are master chefs, doing good works leads to attaining tips on better cake making, sin is misplacing the cookbook, mortal sin is throwing away the cookbook, confession is ordering a new cookbook. Without the Church you will use too little flour or none at all. Without the Church your cake will be hard as a rock or taste like a pin cushion. Faith (the concept of the cake) is necessary, without it you couldn't make a cake, but your chances of baking one worthy of salvation requires God's grace. The Catholic Church, founded by the Holy Baker Himself , through a sacramental life gives you the means. It is a treasure waiting for you. God Bless.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Marley & Me

This is my Sweet Betsy Lu also known as Bette. She is a 20 month old Springer Spaniel. Every morning (well almost every morning) we take a 30-35 minute walk together. She is beautiful. My wife & I went to a movie Saturday night. That in itself is a rare event, primarily because most movies today are lousy. Marley & Me made the most sense because any movie starring a Yellow Labrador Retriever can't be all that bad. I am not writing about the movie's worthiness only to say that yes I cried along with most of the audience when Marley's time came. I am a dog lover. I can't live without a dog. That's a fact. Actually I am an animal lover and have fed and taken care of countless cats on a daily basis for over 20 years. I just rescued a kitten from a tree outside my house. The poor thing had been there for a couple of days before I could coax it down. It now is a member of my feline family. Ok, let me take you aside here and whisper something to you (I AM SETTING YOU UP). There has been a preponderance of stories in the media about animal abuse. I guess they polled the audience to see what stories are news worthy. Night after night we find out that some yokel has 50 dogs and is starving them to death, some lady has a house full of cats with a house full of poop. A horse is found under fed and animal shelter found under funded. Then of course there are the SPCA commercials with some celebrity such as Jason Alexander acting better than he ever did in Seinfeld with tears in his eyes speaking for all those abused animals out there. I watched one last night that had some music about angels coming down and caring for these poor creatures, dogs and cats with bandages, and bloodied eyes. So where's the problem you ask? Let's start with this. We are a materialistic and disposable society who has little respect for human life, so what the hell do you expect? The problem is not that we need to rescue these poor creatures, the problem is that we need to raise human beings that respect all life, seeing all God's creatures as St. Francis of Assisi did." My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you…you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains for your thirst, and mountains and valleys for shelter, and tall trees for your nests. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore… always seek to praise God." Another problem I have is this. There is an order in the universe. God is the creator and source from which all life begins. Man is created in the image and likeness of God, his soul is eternal. In my humble opinion animals do not have rights, at least not human rights, those were given to us by God. When I see the day that PETA and the SPCA and the local tv station is marching at an abortion clinic or speaking out when a person like Terry Schaivo is starved to death, or plays the angel music with these pictures plastered on the hd screen, then I will give them some respect. When we think that it is wonderful, passionate and even noble to rescue animals but we allow human beings to be starved to death and ground up before they are born, well that tells you everything you need to know about this Culture of Death.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Nut vs. the Priest

In my earlier blog I discussed the idea of fog being paradoxical. I wanted to add this little tidbit. I was visiting my father-in-law last Saturday. He's 93 going 94 (really going on 16). He's an amazing guy. I think he subscribes to every major magazine out there. He saves his issues and stacks them everywhere but mostly on the kitchen table. He asked me if I wanted to take any of them home with me. I told him yes just to get rid of them. I don't read magazines. No real surprise there. The internet has so many outlets for news that most of the articles are outdated by the time you read them in print (and oh yea there is a subscription to pay too) The other reason is that the media is so biased in many ways and of course anti Christian and anti Catholic. I was scanning the December 8th issue of Newsweek when I came across an article about the movie "Doubt". The title of the article is "The Nun vs. the Priest" They interview Meryl Streep who plays the nun , Viola Davis who plays the mother of the alleged abused boy and John Patrick Shanley the writer-director.. Isn't it so refreshing to see these great Catholics being portrayed in the media. Priests are always murderers or sex crazed offenders. Nuns have some secret sex life and are always victimized by the evil Father Tom. I haven't watched any trailers on this movie but I betcha the priest did it. What intrigued me about this article was the interviews. Ms Davis says: "For me, Catholicism was such a sense of community and belonging and identity. We were the first black family in our Rhode Island town. We were on the periphery. And to see all my friends in their white little first communion dresses, looking so cute and going to catechism -it was fabulous to me." John Patrick Shanley the writer director adds " I think the great attraction that Viola is feeling, to be presumptuous, is community - she needs community, and I think that is one of the great deficits in modern life. Now the Catholic Church has its faults, but these diocese, these church schools, these centers, provided a gravity which kept people from flying off into outer space. And we haven't really yet come up with a great substitute. The best we have is the Internet, that's the new community. I mean Meryl do you suffer from a lack of community yet"? Streep: "I don't know" Davis says "Or is it just that you don't care." Streep says " No I mean I guess I'm in awe of what I don't know. All the uncertainties that are embedded in doctrines - I understand the solace they provide, but in a way, they also for me form a kind of fence that divides us from each other. I am pulled towards the ineffable and I am trying to conceive why we exist and is there a greater purpose. But I'm a mother, and I have a purpose, and I have a place, and I deeply resent the idea that if you're not a member of a church, temple, ashram, synagogue or- what else is there? - that you are somehow denying your children the meaning of life. I have a deep reverence for life. I feel I'm a deeply moral person. But often religion is a club of which people are excluded." Do you realize how retarded her arguments are? She is what 60 years old and she's trying conceive why we exist and is there a greater purpose... ok, so aren't a lot of people. She says she's in awe of what she doesn't know (which was the most intelligent thing she said) but suddenly abandons that thought to proudly proclaim that she's a mother and "I have a purpose". The Catholic Church applauds your motherhood, Meryl. She also resents that any organized religion (please notice the conspicuous absence of a Mosque, cannot offend the Muslims that would not be politically correct or as we see in many cases dangerous to your health) would force themselves on her. And I'm sorry but I don't get the part about denying your children the meaning of life - you are 60 years old and haven't discovered it yet and I'm dam sure Hollywood isn't contributing to the cause. Meryl please get to know the Catholic Church. We don't build fences, we don't exclude people, and we do have a reverence for life, so much so we respect all life even the unborn. We are against abortion unlike yourself. You sound like a person who doesn't care. I know you are intelligent and a darn good actress but would this church work for you?

Things that Go Bump in the Night

This past month has brought several days of morning fog. I woke up last night and began to think about fog. Fog is paradoxical, in its cloak which we often think of it hiding things or at the very least limiting our visibility, yet it can reveal things that are hidden. Spider webs come to mind and tidy little hideaways that insects have built. I think fog is a paradox of life, in fact for the Christian life. I am speaking for myself when I say that my faith is like a fog. Often I'm not sure what lies ahead. There are times when I can't even make out the landscape and have to rely on things that are close and familiar. Spiritually speaking I feel like I am constantly coming in and out of the fog like the view from a airplane that is flying through the clouds. I believe our country is in a fog. Like a fog that creeps in from the sea very slowly engulfing everything, similar to one seen in a fright night movie. Yes, the overwhelming number of people who can only see a material life of excess, who can't see the poor, or that a baby is living in the womb of the mother. I also believe that the best opportunities for faith come when we are blanketed in a fog. Dark nights and tragedies often leave us alone and wondering just who is out there. It is in this struggle of fear, loneliness and sense of abandonment, precisely when this fog that envelopes us that we find the ray of light. We can live our faith in a fog, not realizing the depth of beauty and riches that our Church has from the lives of the saints to the sacraments....Today is the feast day of St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and martyr.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What Do You Want of Me Lord?

One of the most difficult things for myself is expressing my emotions. I came from a family that rarely showed any. My mother was a very complex and mysterious woman. After years of analyzing and reanalyzing , I gave up trying to understand her. My mother was loving and kind, she showed up at the hospital when I broke my leg playing football, comforting me as I cried. She taught me in a way, that I am just now realizing, how to enjoy simple moments. For whatever reasons only she knows she would recoil and the wall would come up. Unfortunately I learned that behavior and found myself incapable of expressing my thoughts and feelings even when they were present in my mind. The primary motivation behind writing this blog was to express what was deep in my heart. The love of God and of others is the most important feeling you can express. I have traversed many roads, and have witnessed a personal transformation within myself that affirms what I already knew. I was after more, something beyond all that this world was telling me. I found it in Christ and the secret is that Christ is in everyone you meet. It helps to understand the theology, it helps to understand the Church, it helps to understand the Saints and their spirituality, it helps to live a pious life and sacramental life. It helps to be nourished by the Body of Christ. Do these and you will grow. Pray that God answers the one question you need to ask. "What do you want me to do Lord"? Start with your family and like the Holy Family say yes to one another. Serve each other, be patient, kind, forgiving, putting their needs first. Then take it to the streets. John Milton was one of my favorite poets. He started to go blind and began to ask if his life was purposeful now that he would no longer be able to write. Here is what he wrote:

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present,
My true account lest he returning chide,
'Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?'
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur soon replies,'God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who stand and wait.'

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Full of Grace & Truth

Biblical scholars tell us that St. John the Evangelist, "the disciple whom the Lord loved" wrote his Gospel when he was living on the island of Patmos. He was 90 years old or so. John wanted to make sure that the people really understood who Christ was. His Gospel is more personal, he was in the inner circle, he was speaking as an eyewitness. In being that eyewitness he has a closer view to Jesus' divinity. From that he saw the love which is God. The very beginning of John's Gospel makes it clear who Christ was. He now emphatically states that the Logos was God, and furthermore that the Logos became flesh and made his dwelling among us. This shatters all previous philosophical understanding of this notion of a "supreme being". If you want to really know who Jesus is, read the Gospel of John. It is poetic and beautiful and reveals "the light, life, darkness, truth, Lamb of God, Light of the World, Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd, The Vine, the Bridegroom, and the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I personally believe also in a sense it argues against "sola scriptura" because it ends with John saying after His resurrection that " Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" I guess since those things did not end up in the Bible they were not important. St. Thomas Aquinas once said, "Hold firmly that our faith is identical with the ancients. Deny this and you dissolve the unity of the Church"

Friday, December 26, 2008

St. Stephen

Today is the feast day of the Church's first martyr St. Stephen. His name first comes up in the Acts of the Apostles in chapter 6 in describing the ordination of seven Deacons, "And they chose Stephen , a man full of faith and the Holy Ghost" It further states that "And Stephen , full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people." St. Paul who formerly persecuted Christians is described at being at his death. “The scripture says that Saul, a young man, was present and that he ‘was consenting unto [Stephen's] death’ (Acts 8:1) The Church honors the first martyr a day after the birth of Jesus to send two messages. First ,that early Church was on fire with the Gospel of Christ, and next that His message is worth dying for. We too after the precious gift, the real Christmas gift of yesterday should kindle the fire of our faith. After all the time shared with family and friends, the gatherings at the office, or at church with fellow Christians, the concerts, the shopping excursions, the love that surrounds this wonderful time of the year be carried over to each and everyday. We truly have Christmas everyday if we live it. St Stephen lived it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Joy to the World

A Joyous and Merry Christmas to One & All! Another beautiful and uplifting Midnight Mass at St. Joseph's Cathedral. Truly the splendor and majesty befitting the King of Kings. The Gospel tells us the the infant Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothing. The one who puts the stars in their proper order, who sees to it that the sun rises, that the rain falls, who knows every single hair on your head is placed in a manger, a trough where animals feed from. He is bound up, tied, restricted, in the clothing that he wears. His love and mercy however are boundless. He will one day be stripped of his clothes and given a crown of thorns. He came to seek and save what was lost. On this day we remember the timeless story of a Mother and Child that is etched into our minds forever. We recall the 90 mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, that there is no place for them but a stable, where the animals are kept. A child is born, angels proclaim his glory, shepherds kneeling in reverence. ...for today a Savior is born... Have a Blessed and Happy time with friends and family.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Light that Penetrates the Darkness

In the movie " It's A Wonderful Life" the main character George Bailey wishes he was never born. The angel Clarence Oddbody consults with God and his wish is granted. George Bailey sees the results of his absence. The brother who dies because he was not there to save him, the wrong prescription that is sent out and resulting ruin of the pharmacist, the town being taken over by the
greedy Mr. Potter and so on and so on. We have no way of ever knowing how our lives affects those we come across in this journey. I have been touched by people the most during tragic events. My own son who was severely injured in a boating accident that transformed his life. The funeral of a parishioner who had taken her own life. The love and support for a young lady, who also is a parishioner, after she had been in a serious car crash. It could be that I am a stoic in terms of my emotions. The jolt that comes from seeing the outpouring of love during these most tragic of times may be powerful enough to penetrate the walls that surround my heart. But it does penetrate and leaves it with a lasting impression. In today's mornings paper I read about a most horrific tragedy. A man had accidentally driven his car over his own two year old daughter. I can't begin to fathom the range of emotions that has befallen this person. The wrenching guilt, the sadness, the regret, and the countless time that horror plays over and over again in his mind. All the what ifs and whys in the world cannot ease his pain. It is at this time that I ask all and anybody out there to pray for them. This can be our Christmas gift and even if this person may never know, Our Loving and Merciful Father will hear our prayers and bring healing. There is an end to the darkness, "In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us"

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light triumphant breaks,
When beauty gilds the eastern hills
And life to joy awakes.

Not as of old a little child,
To bear and fight and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun
That lights the morning sky.

Oh, brighter than the rising morn
When Christ, victorious, rose
And left the lonesome place of death
Despite the rage of foes.

Oh, brighter than that glorious morn
Shall dawn upon our race
The day when Christ in splendor comes
And we shall see his face.

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light and beauty brings.
Hail, Christ the Lord! Your people pray:
Come quickly, King of kings.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

John is his name

We have put up the painting of "The Naming of John The Baptist" by Fra Angelico. In today's Gospel reading Luke 1:57-66 we are told that when it came time for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Everyone thought that they would name him Zechariah after his father. But Elizabeth said, "No, He will be called John" The Advent season begins with the Gospel's telling of John the Baptist, the odd character who wore camel hair and ate locust and wild honey. Recall too, that John the Baptist was actually the first person to recognize Jesus in the world "when he leaped for joy" in Elizabeth's womb. I wonder what babies did when they heard the President-Elect tell Pastor Warren that he quote " deferred to a higher pay grade " but I digress...
John of course was preparing the way for Our Lord's arrival. He was preaching of repentance and making straight our paths. The Church in her wisdom goes back to John the Baptist reminding us that although the day nears that we are yet to repent and prepare. We reflect on one birth looking towards the birth of the Word Incarnate. In today's meditation from the Magnificat Father Julian Carron, a professor of theology at the University of Milan writes in a piece called "The Baptist is Born to Help Us Beg for Christ" The true protagonist of history is the beggar. If we wish to live this moment as protagonists, that is, without being formal, by following the manner in which we are educated, each of us must become, or better recognize what he is: a beggar" " It is easy : each of us must realize his need. The beggar is the one who is aware of his own human need."
John remind us to be willing to accept and welcome everything that will be given to us on Christmas morning.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Collection of Christmas Videos

The King of Glory

Gates, lift up your heads! Stand erect, ancient doors, and let in the King of Glory. Psalm 23:7 Thoughts always seem to run rapidly through my mind. Sometimes I can hold on to them, other times they are so very fleeting, yet other times they are like a link in a chain that has slipped through my hands, not knowing what happened to them. We had a wonderful visit with our son yesterday and we are grateful that our Lord has blessed us with him. Our prayer for him and the other novices is that they grow in their love and devotion, and that they reach the spiritual azimuth necessary to be true disciples of Christ. The message of Advent is an important message. The Church waits in anticipation for the King of Glory to arrive but heeds that we prepare ourselves. We are in need of daily conversion all the days of our lives. Have we examined ourselves and asked if we truly are ready to receive this greatest of gifts? Are the doors of our lives only partially opened? Have we forgotten to place a spread out for his arrival, a spread from our very hearts? Do we exhibit the joy and hospitality required for such a special guest? Does this hospitality pour out to all those we meet, especially those in need? Have we gone to our father and confessed our sinfulness and allowing for his love and mercy to absolve us and renew us? There may be work to do yet. I know there is for me. Let us stand erect like those ancient doors and "Let in the King of Glory"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Sun of Justice

Malachi 3: 19-20
Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and evildoers will be stubble, And the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the Lord of host. But for you who fear my name, there will rise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Revelation of the Mystery

Tomorrow is the Fourth Sunday of Advent - The First Reading form the Second Book of 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a,16: "Thus says the Lord: Should you build me a house to dwell in?" The Second Reading - The Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 16:25-27..."the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations"...
The Holy Gospel According to St. Luke 1:26-38
"Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call him Jesus'

Faith, Jesus & Christmas

Greetings! My heart beats just a bit faster as we near the birth of Our Lord. I have much to do this weekend including visiting my son Caleb who is a novice with the Society of Jesus. Much of what I will post today will come from more brilliant minds than myself. (that will be very easy) But before I begin I would like to make a plea to help a young lady who is working on a mission to help the poor. I met her once through my son, the novice. At that time she was going to Mexico with other students from LSU. I was impressed at her love for Christ and her love for the poor. If you read my post from a day ago you will see that she is light years ahead of me compared to when I was her age. Anyway if you can donate anything to help her in her work she would appreciate it. Here is a link to there sponsorship program: . A one time donation would be appreciated you can email me at to make arrangements. Father Servais Pinkaers is Dominican professor at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He was written extensively on moral theology. He has written a number of books including ; Morality the Catholic View. In a piece he wrote about faith he says "The advent of faith effects an original and substantial transformation in the moral life. It centers the moral life on a particular person: Jesus the Christ. In his historical particularity - in his body that suffered and was resurrected- Jesus becomes the source and cause of justice and wisdom" He further adds: In short he becomes the source and cause of moral excellence for those who believe in him. Jesus is not merely a sage or a model." He adds "It is appropriate to note that it is here that faith acquires its full force. Faith does not signify, as it often does today, merely a certain opinion about life or a mental adherence to a creed. Faith is a vital act; it commits one person to another forever." This brings me to a point I would like to make. At this time of the year we get all those stories on The History Channel or Discovery or NBC or The Animal Planet for all I know, that attempts to tell us and the non-believers who Jesus is. It annoys the hell out me because unless you get what Father Pinkaers just said you don't know Jesus and you can't explain him. Jesus is not some extraordinary guy like Michael Jordan was an extraordinary basketball player.... Finally I would like to quote my favorite all time thinker G.K. Chesterton from The Everlasting Man: The God in the Cave. "Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether he likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of an unknown strength that sustains the stars. His instincts and imagination can still connect them when his reason can no longer see the need of the connection; for him there will always be some savor of religion about the mere picture of a mother and a baby; some hint of mercy and softening about the mere mention of the dreadful name of God. But the two ideas are not naturally or necessarily combined. They would not be necessarily combined for an ancient Greek or a Chinaman, even for Aristotle and Confucius. It is no more inevitable to connect God with a kitten. It has been created in our minds because we are Christians: because we are psychological Christians even when we are not theological ones." He adds, " Omnipotence and impotence, divinity or infancy, do definitely make a sort of epigram which a million repetitions cannot turn into platitude. It is not unreasonable to call it unique. Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet." See you there soon...God Bless

Friday, December 19, 2008

As Wrong As Wrong Can Be

Near the end of the movie The Spitfire Grill, there is a scene at the funeral of Percy Talbott, when the minister asks if anybody has anything to say. Nahum Goddard who had mistrusted Percy from the very beginning laments that although he thought he knew Percy... "but I was wrong....", he repeats the line over again "...but I was wrong", finally he laments ...I was wrong as wrong could be". I was born in a quiet New England town. That place seems so far away from me both in time and nature. It was a town interestingly enough found by a woman and settled at first by the English Puritans. In the turn of the 20th century there was a mass influx of immigrants, Irish, Italian, and later Portuguese. I am telling you this because with those newcomers from the old country came the churches. There were a great deal of Catholic churches and later schools in my little town. I was an altar boy and stayed after school to clean the backboards for the nuns. So you see Catholicism was as a great deal of my life. I grew to know and love many of the religious and priests who served in our community. In many ways I long for this idyllic life that I had growing up in the 1950's and early 60's. I would often ride my bicycle for hours investigating all the corners of the city. My bicycle was my freedom and it flew like the wind. I was the master of this new found land I had conquered, and life had many such Don Quixote moments. My parents never knew where I was, nor were worried, the fact is the did not have to. I was raised in Catholic schools and never set foot in a public school. Even with this background, life changes and it did. I fell into the same traps, went down the same empty roads, did all the same foolish things and much of it I would be very ashamed to tell you. I read all the books on nihilism, existentialism and the atheistic dribble, followed all the wrong people, lost my way and forgot about God. Of course you know now that the story changes and perhaps I will write on my conversion in the future but the real story is about this. Without the aid of any intellect of my own, in other words I did not rationally deduce these things - this point is very important to note, I realized by God's grace that I was wrong. Do you know how beautiful those words mean to me today? I was never wrong before. In my foolish mind I was the center of this cosmic universe. I was the master control. Life boiled down to pleasing me. Everything I did was for my gain, my advantage, my pleasure. I sized up every situation like a general on the battlefield to see what territory I could seize. The person I became was a sorry, sinful and selfish, rudderless, a sail without a breeze in this ocean of life. But, I was wrong. Thank God I was wrong! I cannot, possibly describe the joy that I have in my surrender to God. There is no greater joy! He is my true love. In Him I see such beauty that surpasses my imagination. I desire to kneel before Him, to praise my Lord & King. I find myself in tears at Mass, when reading scripture and spiritual writings, at moments when I can't believe myself of His incredible, awesome and bountiful love & mercy. I am a genuine fool for Christ because I was wrong as wrong could be.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

God's Pursuit

From here in Louisiana we have some great news recently Anh Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese immigrant defeated William Jefferson in the 2nd Distric Elections that had been delayed by Hurricane Gustav see the story this coming from Catholic Dads Blog. He is the kind of person, a genuine story of America and it's opportunites that I personally believe bests represents all Americans. Father Robert Barron is one of my favorite priests. His DVD Three Paths to Holiness is awesome. This link will bring you to a number of video presentations he does on his website Word On Fire. There are some wonderful discussions from Bob Dylan to Movies like Dark Knight and No Country for Old Men. Do yourself a favor and get to know this incredible man. You can find a link to both Word on Fire and Catholic Dads at the Websites You Must see on the left hand column towards the bottom of this page. I have a wonderful Spiritual Director who in a brief amount of time has taught me something very valuable. In my quest to know and better understand God, I have taken to a variety of activities from Scripture meditation to daily prayers. I have read and used techniques in different spiritual exercises. I spend an hour a week before The Blessed Sacrament at our church's Adoration Chapel. She taught me this: make quiet time to allow God to come to you. She said something that brought tears to my eyes upon reflection, "that after preparing this time and place that God would be there waiting for me". We discussed finding the right time and place and working towards just being. It hasn't come easy but I managed to do it once this week. I found a spot in my house and shut the motor of my mind off and He did indeed come to me. I felt an overwhelming peace even though for only a brief moment. Many years ago I found this book at a garage sale Francis Thompson "The Hound of Heaven" I had remembered hearing about Thompson in high school but had forgotten about his poem. Recently I was watching a rerun of Bishop Fulton Sheen's Life is Worth Living when he began to describe Francis Thompson and his life. Francis Thompson (December 16, 1859 – November 13, 1907) left his home in Preston, Lancashire for London to become a writer. He was unsuccessful and began selling matches and newspapers to support himself. He lived out in the street and started taking opium as a remedy for his bad health. This lead to a downward spiral of living in the streets as an opium addict. In poor health and a destitute, in 1888 he submitted some of his poetry to the magazine Merrie England whereupon he was discovered and rescued from the streets. It was during his time on the streets in the most dire condition as a human being that Thompson realized that no matter what he did, God was pursuing him. His poem "The Hound of Heaven" is a literary masterpiece. In the copy I found at the garage sale which was printed in 1953 there is a forward written by a Jesuit priest. Unfortunately I haven't the copy with me right at this moment so I am paraphrasing what was written. The Jesuit priest speaks of how he was reviewing dissertations written at a Japanese University. One student had decided to do his on Francis Thompson. The dialogue between the priest and the student goes something like this. Again apologies for paraphrasing, " So you've decided on Francis Thompson, why did you choose him?" "Why sir he's an excellent poet" "Well what is his finest work?" "Why that would be the Hound of Heaven" "Hound of Heaven, well then who is this hound?" " Is it Thompson is he the hound?" "No sir" "Well who is it?" "Why sir it's God" "God?" "How is it that God's a hound?" "Well sir He's in pursuit of Thompson" "In pursuit of Thompson?" "Doesn't Thompson believe that God is everywhere?" "Yes sir he does" "Well then what is he in pursuit of?" "He is in pursuit of Thompson's love" Thompson realized something we should all realize that God is really after you. He doesn't need your prayers, your good works, you faithful service, your praise and adoration. He wants those things but what He is really after is your love. He desires that love. We should all desire to come back to the Lord with all our heart. We can start this Christmas by reflecting on the Infant Jesus and God's marvelous plan that begins in a manger.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Don't Disturb Me

What a wonderful mystical morning walk I had today. The bare winter trees were silhouetted against the fog with drops of dew revealing spider webs and things normally hidden from view. The sun was feebly attempting to make its presence known but had not the strength yet to be victorious. Reflecting on the Great Artist , our Creator & Lord, I am constantly in awe over the palette of mornings He presents to me. In the past week we have had cold rainy mornings, warm humid ones, bright & sunny, cold & snowy, brown leaves and dead grass, frozen ice and snow covered landscape, and during the course of the year many more wide varied mornings and even one with hurricane winds. My first entry into this blog spoke to how greater evils are on the horizon. Check this story out from Boston. This kind of attitude that government can force the Church to do immoral things is going to spread in many directions. The agenda of the Culture of Death is to make us killers, all equal participants in their evil deeds. Then I turn to two items that were in the local paper that speak to our materialistic and narcissistic culture and Teens are going to keep on spending. Ain't gonna let a bad economy get in my way and with apologies to Ms. Dugas but 20 handbags including her $400 Coach is too much. I'm sure she is a good kid and I am not trying to single her out, for all I know my daughters probably have twenty handbags. I would like to see some of that money go to feeding the poor. When you see the conditions that others live in this world a bad economy may not deter our spending but it means less and less for the neediest of the poor. We are a materialistic society on this conveyor of consumption. Children feel entitled (not be left out with the rest of us Americans) to goods and services and we parents feed the beast with $400 handbags and the latest cell phones. It's time to quit and return to a simpler life, get off the conveyor. In T. S. Elliot's poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock of which I can still to this day after 40 years from my English literature class, recite. Prufrock laments "Do I dare disturb the universe?" " In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse". I don't wish to get into analyzing Mr. Elliot's great work but I rather think that in our current day and age it seems to me that we don't want the universe to disturb us. We no longer belive as Socrates once said "the unexamined life is not worth living" but rather the examined life is a pain in the rear. Morality - too much trouble. I mean why let that get in the way. I live a very busy life. I work hard and then I have to deal with...economic struggles...what purse to will I be entertained... what will I wear...what am I doing this weekend...decisions and plate is full...I don't want a God who...interferes with my sexual relations...will create moral dilemmas...wants me to part with my money...wants me to carry my cross and follow Him...wants me to live a pious and virtuous life... I don't think so! My idea of God and religion is one that has a peaceful coexistence with everything I do. It doesn't weigh me down. It doesn't make me examine my conscience, look at the moral issues going on, talk of sin and sinning, remind me that I'm a sinner. I want a feel good God. I deserve it along with everything else don't I? It's that or no God at all. This is where we are in dealing with the majority of Americans and many of them are Catholics. In 1910 G.K. Chesterton wrote "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." Catholicism requires an examination of your life. It requires you to be disturbed at times. It requires you to make sacrifices and to considers others more important than you. It requires giving time to God to better know Him and love Him. Beware when you make God out to be what you want Him to be, you will be left with a world devoid of love and men will making decisions to the demise of all of us.

The God of Peace institutions going under...billions lost in the market.... jobs lost....uncertainty...
The state of of our current economy is troublesome at best. It is easy to get caught up with things you can't control. I am not suggesting that it should not concern you but rather it should not consume you. Our faith teaches us that our eyes should be on the prize; the many rooms that have been prepared for us. The things of this world are transient. St. Paul wrote many times on the tension between the things of this world and the spiritual life. Paul also tells us: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:6-9). Trusting in God, we can take life as it comes. Jesus does not deny that we have troubles. He just tells us to deal with them one day at a time. Each day, God will give us the strength we need for the challenges of that day. I am reminded of a hymn of evening prayer that can be sung to the tune of "There is a Wideness in God's Mercy" It goes like this:

As we worship grant us vision,
Till your love's revealing light,
Till the height and depth and greatness
Dawns upon our human sight:
Making known the needs and burdens
Your compassion bids us bear,
Stirring us to faithful service,
Your abundant life to share.

In times when our burdens grow remember there are those who struggle every day, whose crosses are weighed down, whose suffering never ceases. We can take this time to be there for those in need through prayer, support by being present, and monetary support. Set aside your fears and take this opportunity to grow in faith and in service in building the Kingdom of God. Keep you eye on the prize for
"Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what things God has prepare for those who love Him."

Monday, December 15, 2008


A few years back I discovered something called the Chaos Theory or Butterfly Effect. I'm no mathematician or physicist but here's how I understand it. Certain things or rather certain systems in nature that on the surface appear random, chaotic or disordered actually are not. It seems that minute changes in the initial formation of these phenomena cause such wide variations to appear that it seems they are random when if fact they are not. Got that? Any way it goes to show two points that I would like to discuss. First, things are not always as they appear. The second point is that you usually get to the truth when you discover the simplest part of something. One of the things that strikes me about these new breed of atheist scientists and what I call modern liberalism (it may be called something else by others) is how sure of themselves they are. It appears to them, that for at least the past few thousand years that man has been getting it wrong and that finally they have it right. There is this intellectual arrogance that seeks the debate only on limited terms and considers many things that believers do as folly. This mindset has permeated and anchored itself in our education systems. There are many things we take for granted in the recesses of our mind as true. Here are a few. Science is the only real source of truth. If you can't prove it scientifically then it can't be true. This belief is second nature to most of all of us. Miracles can't really happen. Faith, religion, and philosophy are not to enter in the arena with science. A book I would recommend is by Anthony Rizzi, The Science Before Science. Science left unbridled will venture into areas that can be destructive and dangerous and leave us with unthinkable moral dilemmas. We are producing little scientists from an early age who have been taught that God is outside the realm of the scientific. If we continue on this path the world is going to become a scary place. Catholicism has produced great minds throughout the ages who have ventured into all the realms of science and philosophy. They continue to do so today. Have we become so smart that we can eliminate God from the equation? I once went to dinner with this extremely successful salesman. He was in his 70's, had been with the company for over 40 years and was now in this role of an ambassador traveling to meet neophytes around the country to share his knowledge and skills. My wife and I sat at the dinner table while he querried us about Louisiana. He moved the conversation to the topic of the "Bible Belt" and about our belief in Christianity. He then told me he was an atheist. He was formely Jewish but had come to the realization that he no longer believed in his faith. I said I guess your ancestors had "got it wrong for those thousands of years". I went on to say how sad it must be that you he had nothing to look forward to after this life of success. I told him I was glad I had something be hopeful for. Things don't always appear as they seem. St. Paul reminds us to"...fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen." During the 20th Century men fixed their eyes only on this world. Thus sprouted the dozens of "isms' that wreaked havoc on the world and still do. Marxism, Socialism, Communism, Facism, Nazis, Secular Humanism, Liberalism, Capitalism, Consumerism, Nihilism, Moral Relativism and on and on. Lest we forget that the carnage left after all of these brilliant ideas (or at least they appeared brilliant)were put in effect was some estimated 170 million deaths to people for what they did or didn't believe. Another legacy is a society that shrugs its shoulders at God and morality. We have slid very far in the 50+ years I been walking this planet. How did we become so smart? I really don't know. My second point has to do with simplicity. I have come to believe that when you "whittle down" all the superficial stuff you get to the truth. In psychology of which I have been a student of for many years, the skilled therapist has to get to the truth about one's thoughts and feelings. We humans build these facades. We have both our own perception and the perception that others have of us. In some case we build these large complex and dynamic mechanisms that allow us to cope with things. It is only when we are able to strip the the layers, that we can discover who the real person is. Anybody who knows basic chemistry can tell you that by understanding the atom the very basic unit of matter we can better understand the why a substance does such a thing and what are it's characteristics. In athletics, we know that there are simple basic muscle movements that are essential in building strength and speed. In the Gospel of St. Luke 10:21 Jesus speaks In that same hour, he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. The reason the truths about God are not obvious to many is that they cannot see the simple. They are used to looking at all the window dressing. If you were to put your face up to touch your computer screen you couldn't read these words. Back up several inches and they come into focus. The truth is that we have to take a step back. We have to shut out all the junk that surrounds our lives, only then can we begin to see "these things that are hidden..." Quiet, contemplative time alone with your Creator allows Him to reveal Himself. It is as simple as that.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rejoice Again I Say Rejoice

Brothers & Sisters rejoice! The theme that runs through the Liturgy of the Word today on the Third Sunday of Advent is rejoice. The Prophet Isaiah in the first reading says " I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul". We echo those feelings again in the Responsorial Psalm. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians begins "Brothers & Sisters: Rejoice always." Finally in the Gospel of John, John the Baptist responds to those desiring to know who he is that"I baptize you with water, but there is one among you who you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to unite", announcing to them to get ready for someone very special! Sometimes we can't contain our joy especially when we are awaiting something special. Have you ever had a "special occasion" or event that was in the not too distant future that you counted the days until it arrived? Perhaps it was a birthday, a vacation, a trip to see a loved one, awaiting a soldier returning home. You are intoxicated by the joy of what is to come and it can't help but infiltrate your thoughts not matter what what you do. That is message today as we await the greatest event in human history. The Incarnate, the Word becomes flesh, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Wait, we me must but that doesn't mean we can't take a peek into the Manger and hear the Angels singing "Gloria in excelsis Deo" . The joy, the wonder and the splendor are all there in that tiny manger. I recently wrote a letter to the editor complaining that Christmas had been hijacked by the secular world. I was worried that my message would be misunderstood or discarded for being a "humbug". There is joy in the shopping expeditions, the gatherings at the restaurants, picking out the right present for that special somebody, the office Christmas party, and sometimes just spending time out with family and friends. My point is that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. Can we swing the pendulum back in that direction? Can we stop running over people at Walmart? Changing gears.....Another joy that I have this time of the year is listening to Handel's Messiah. I believe that great art reveals the wisdom and wonder of the Creator. Handel's Messiah can lift my soul to places never before felt. It is a masterpiece. Here are a few items taken From Roy Greenhill's page on Handel's Messiah As Handel was described by his servants:

"He was praying, or he was weeping, or he was staring into eternity" -late summer, 1741

Ludwig Von Beethoven (1770-1827), in his own hand, copied every word and note of the Messiah, so much did he desire to absorb every detail and nuance. It is my desire that you have the matchless experience of reading the Holy Scriptures of the libretto, aloud to yourself, and then to someone else. You will enter into an intimate fellowship with Handel and Beethoven. And then, hearing, or participating in, the great performances of this saga of redemption will bring new thrills for your spirit. Beethoven was reputed to have first picked up Handel's Messiah with these words, "Here is a different fellow" and proceeded to play the most interesting looking passages. On another occasion he is said to have remarked, "Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived", and spoke of the oratorio as having "sublimity of language". The music of Messiah so permeated Beethoven's being that on his deathbed he is reputed to have quoted from The Messiah stating that if there were a physician that could help him "His name shall be called Wonderful".

Handel, upon reading these Scriptures from the Old and New Testaments (compiled by a friend) (August, 1741) was overcome by their power. The music began dancing and exploding within him. He immediately shut himself in and worked night and day, often forgetting to eat. The servants could, from time to time, hear his sobs as he labored over the inspired text. He finished the original libretto and score in twenty-four days. A complete musical performance requires nearly three hours; the Scripture texts, thirty minutes. Read these as Handel did and you will experience God and eternity.

Rejoice, the time draws near, and relax put on Handel's Messiah "For Unto Us A Child is Born"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

When You Least Expect It

Sometimes just getting started is the most difficult part. An exercise program, diet, or beginning today's entry in your blog, all fall in that category. Forgiving a family member, reconciling with God (whether it's your anger with Him or your belief that He's angry with you), turning away from sin, getting help for addictions, or going to Church, sometimes takes years for it to happen. In most cases it is really a matter of understanding. You can put the past behind maybe not all in one day but gradually, healing from inside and out, from the head to the heart. The Chinese proverb that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step" is true. Our modern world has contributed to another fallacy, we must not fail. This philosophy has lead to schools, parents and even communities, to doing ridiculous things. Self esteem is the most overrated word in our vocabulary today. In an effort to preserve it for our children often obstacles are removed. Pain and discomfort even in their mildest forms are viewed as a bad thing. You may disagree because you think I love my child and I don't want anything bad to happen to them. However, I will speak from my own experiences. My philosophy is it's okay for them to fail from time to time, failure is a great teacher. The most important thing is to be there for them, to teach them that there is a tomorrow and that over coming failure builds character. You learn that you can rebound. You can make amends. It does far more good for your self esteem. Our role as parents is to love, guide, and pray (yes real prayers on a daily basis) that they have the information, moral fortitude and tools to do the right things in their decision making processes. If they do make a mistake, that they will not cause irreparable harm to themselves or others. Along the same lines when dealing with a child's spiritual life there is a parallel mindset. You must first love, guide (by being an example of a good follower of Christ), and pray. Your job is to build the foundation so that at some point their faith will become internalized. We all fall off the path, we are all sinners. If your child turns away from his or her faith, be patient, be loving, be an example, show them how loving and merciful God is. Keep praying, that's what St. Monica did and Augustine came around. God can use even fools like myself to do His work. Lest I remind you Moses killed a man, David, who was called a man after God's own heart, was an adulterer, who had Bathsheba's husband Uriah put on the front of battle lines so he could have her. Peter who spent three years living with Jesus witnessed His miracles, was present at the Transfiguration, denied Christ three times. Failure is not a problem when forgiveness awaits you and sometimes it's when you least expect it. Close your eyes and create this image in your mind. The prodigal son is returning and his father sees him off in the distance and he runs to him. That is your Heavenly Father running to you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Catholic Perspective

Greetings. Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. If you are not aware of her story please go to Google and search it. There are many, many websites that are much more informative and insightful than I would be. It is a remarkable event in history and Our Blessed Mother continues to reveal to a sinful world the need to repent and turn towards her loving and merciful Son, who is our only means to salvation. The need of repentance is one of the three, what I may call "hallmarks" for a lack of a better term, of the Catholic Church. They are often missing in our separated Christian brethren. This is not intended to slam or denounce those outside of the Catholic Church. It is intended for thoughtful dialogue. I make no claims to be a theologian nor a Biblical scholar. My sole basis for this discussion is strictly from my Catholic heritage, namely what I learned growing up Catholic. I fully support the Catechism's view that "Catholics must gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments for our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren..." "Nor should we forget anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can contribute for our own edification." I have witnessed a movement in many Protestant denominations towards what I call "feel good" Christianity. Preachers play up God's enormous love and His faithfulness. The congregation can live life "abundantly" if they respond by their faithfulness. Of course like many issues in the Protestant world the term "abundantly" can mean anything and more than often is used a panacea for whatever ails you. I can't speak for other countries but in the USA where many people look to the government for the solution to their woes this belief that God wants you to be successful, wealthy, etc is a tidy fit, a companion safety net. If the government can't take care of your needs God will. I personally have no faith whatsoever in what the government can and will do for me. I do believe that God does provide for me and Jesus himself taught us to pray "for our daily bread". We should look to our Heavenly father for our needs but as Paul Harvey says there is "the rest of the story". I rarely hear the word repentance from these ministers, lest they disturb the congregation. I know the concept is in the Bible so they can't blame that on it being a Catholic thing. Yeah, I know there is this thing about being justified by faith. Sin is a dirty word. It is a dirty word for Catholics too! It has been through the modern times diluted to mean "only really bad things" you know what they are. Sin and the need to repent is the first "hallmark". G. K. Chesterton noted that, and I am paraphrasing , it's not how saintly saints are but how human they are. They recognize the sinfulness, where as we don't. The second hallmark is obedience. Christ was obedient to His Father's will. Jesus said, "If you love me you will obey my commandments". We can find the concept of obedience in Genesis, Adam & Eve disobey God in the Garden of Eden. Satan and his fallen angels are cast out of heaven for disobeying God. Abraham is asked to sacrifice his own son and is rewarded for his obedience. Catholics understand (or should understand) that obedience to the Magisterium is that same obedience that Jesus had for His Father's will. Of course the Protestants rejected the Church and now no such obedience exists. We can find all kinds of stories that the Church is one thing or another and the Pope is the Antichrist. Our nation was founded on rejection and revolution. There was a prevailing attitude in our country of "rugged individualism, you know, "you can't tell me what to do and how to live". That kind of attitude makes it easy to blame the Church, blame the Pope, blame anybody who reminds you that God established the order and the means to salvation. American's just don't enjoy taking orders. This explains the plethora of protestant denominations, if the church don't fit start a new one. The third "hallmark" is mystery. I believe that as you better know and love God you realize that there are many mysteries in our faith and that it's is exactly how God wants it. Let me set the record straight here, the Wisdom of God and the wisdom of man are not the same. God is all knowing, omnipotent, Creator of all things, the maker of heaven and earth and of things seen and unseen, always was, always will be. There are many things we "puny minded" humans cannot grasp intellectually. Guess what? That's OK. We have many mysteries to ponder. Our faith cannot be totally answered by Biblical interpretation. Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mysterious to me! The Holy Trinity. Mysterious to me! His redemption. A mystery! That the Creator would become one of us and be a tiny, little helpless baby whose arm's could not reach the animals that were surrounding Him in the stable. That's a mystery! That He would love me, a worthless, sinful man and love me unconditionally, that He would pursuit me! A mystery!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ

It's snowing here in Southern Louisiana! A beautiful blanket of white covering everything. Since I just started this blog a couple of days ago and passed the November 23rd Feast Day, I am a little out of order chronologically speaking in discussing Blessed Miguel Pro. However since tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at least culturally in I am line. Blessed Miguel Pro was a remarkable human being. With the election of General Plutarco Elias Calles to president, thus began the systematic persecution and attempt to eradicate the Catholic Church in Mexico during 1920's. Churches were burned down priests were hunted down and hung, religious were either jailed or murdered. Every attempt was made to shut the down the Catholic Church. Father Miguel Pro was born in Guadalupe, the son of a miner. He joined the Society of Jesus, and was forced out of Mexico to California. He was eventually sent to Belgium where the Jesuits were there having also been tossed out of France. He was ordained in Belgium in August 1925. He returned to Mexico in 1926 but things there were worse not better. Blessed Miguel Pro was not deterred either spiritually nor in service to his people. He would often disguise himself in order to celebrate Mass and was always cheerful in his disposition. This, during the most horrible of times when you could find priests strung up hanging from power lines. He was arrested on phony trumped up charges that he attempted to assassinate the ex president. In November of 1927 he was ordered to be executed despite no evidence or even a conviction. The Mexican government was going to use his execution as a propaganda to show that the Catholics were cowards. On November 23, 1927,as Fr. Pro walked from his cell to the courtyard and the firing squad, he blessed the soldiers, knelt and briefly prayed quietly. Declining a blindfold, he faced his executioners with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other and held his arms out in imitation of the crucified Christ and shouted out, "May God have mercy on you! May God bless you! Lord, Thou knowest that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!" Before the firing squad were ordered to shoot, Pro raised his arms in imitation of Christ and shouted the defiant cry of the Cristeros, "Viva Cristo Rey!" -"Long live Christ the King! Bullets were fired but Blessed Miguel Pro would not go down. When the initial shots of the firing squad failed to kill him, a soldier shot him point blank. At his beatification on September 25, 1988 Pope John Paul II honored Fr. Pro with these words:

Neither suffering nor serious illness, neither the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could stifle the radiating and contagious joy which he brought to his life for Christ and which nothing could take away. Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to him, even unto death

When I hear the excuses that people give about missing Mass and how this or that is so difficult, I remind them of the many martyrs who throughout the ages paid with their lives so the Faith would continue. Men will die but the Church will never die as Christ promised. We are to live our faith with joy and courage. If you look at the Catholic Church and truly understand its history and its message of hope and love you will recognize that our faith is a faith worth living and worth dying for. Viva Cristo Rey!.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

He Emptied Himself

We now are into the 2nd Week of Advent, a time of preparation and a time of joy. In one sense we are looking inward, repenting, "making our paths straight". On the other hand we are looking up to the sky for the Star from the East. Order is good for life. The Church has guided us throughout the the liturgical year reminding us to be diligent, inspired, mindful of the things God has done and continues to do for us. The Jewish people of whom our Lord was born into were a people of seasons. They were precise in their in their celebrations, in what was to be done in what period of time and for how long. The secular world follows the calendar year and celebrates specific events on specific days. When you think about it isn't January 1st just another day? In the Book of Ecclesiastes the author writes " There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven" So it is good that the Church exercises her role of guiding and instructing for the Church is Christ and Christ is the Church. It is our duty to be fully involved and open to the opportunities that the Holy Spirit will present to us as we ponder the great mystery of the Incarnation. This mystery is difficult to grasp at times. The enormity of God's humility and love is sometimes for me beyond any human comprehension. It is the first lesson the God teaches us.
A few nights ago I watched the tv version of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" the 1984 movie with George C. Scott as Scrooge. It is wonderful. There is a point in the story were Scrooge is taken to the home of Bob Crachit by the spirit. The family are awaiting Bob and Tiny Tim and are busy about the home doing their preparations. Finally Bob Crachit and Tiny Tim arrive. I will pick up the dialogue exactly as Dickens wrote it. "And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Crachit, when she rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob hugged his daughter to his heart's content. "As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church because he was a cripple and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see." That is the humility that God seeks us to have. Jesus instructs in Matthew 18:4"Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Paul reminds the Philippians of imitating Christ's humility. " Do nothing out of selfish ambition, but in humility consider others better than yourself." He describes Jesus as one who"did not consider equality with God something to be grasped" and "he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" How do we posses this kind of humility? We first have to shed our pride. This is a difficult thing. We can reflect on Scripture meditating on Christ's humility, we can also look to the Blessed Mother and the saints for example. I would read about Maximilian Kolbe or Mother Teresa. We can pray for the desire to be humble. We can practice it on family members, co-workers, neighbors, and yes even strangers. All virtues grow with practice and repetition. There is always a choice that is before each of us. The secular world which has rejected God and teaches us quite the opposite of humility. Will you follow the "world" or the example of Jesus Christ? We can approach our day with the attitude of what good thing can happen for me or the example of Jesus Christ which is what good thing can I do for others. When we surrender our heart to the will of God which is totally unconditional love, we can love others as we love ourselves. One other thing....I don't know about you but I get from time to time emails that are sort of "good feeling, God loves you, chain letters". You are suppose to forward these letters and "something good will happen" Whereas I don't deny or want to imply that God doesn't love you or that these letters are harmful in any way, my suggestion if you want something good to happen for yourself and others is to link to one of the charitable websites to the left of here. You will be genuinely helping someone who is truly in need. We Americans have far too much. Can't you give just a little for someone else?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What the problem is?

I started this blog from a deep desire and purpose. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of hope. The world that I knew when I was a young man and all it's landscape has been transformed. It has become devoid of civility, outrageously selfish and materialistic, ignorant and anti-intellectual, weak, seeking answers in all the wrong places, anti-life, anti-children, headed on the path that the Evil One has paved. It has mistakenly removed God from all enterprises, knows not the past, in fact is either misinformed or just doesn't care. I am a unworthy servant, a sinner, not too articulate, too old and too tired to fight but God has whispered to me and whether I like it or not I am compelled to speak out. Both G.K. Chesterton and Bishp Fulton J. Sheen were prophets in their own times. They recognized the evils that were on the horizon. I am here to say that the evils of our modern world are a harbinger of even greater evils; when churches will be outlawed, one will be punished or executed for speaking out against immorality, voices of the Truth will be hunted down. You may say I'm crazy, foolish, an idiot. Those are the things that were said throughout time to those who shined the light on the wrongdoings in each period. In the Gospel of John NIV 1:10-12 John writes " He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not recieve him." Many don't recognize him today. However I said that the Gospel was a gospel of hope for John continues in verse 12-13 " yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." So just what exactly is the problem? It is complex and requires much work to discern the right path. It can't be corrected merely through dialogue. It will require a transformation of heart and must begin with our own. Please heed the call and contribute here and don't despair for "with God all things are possible"