Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Another Sign the Inmates are Running the Asylum

Inspiration Messages Banned at Georgia High School.
"Do Unto Others As They Would Do Unto You" too much to take, extremely offensive, has no place in a school environment...

St. Ignatius Prayer for Tough Times

O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love
and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand,
Your purpose, Your will through all things.

By Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Pope Benedict on Christian Unity

St. Jerome

St. Jerome was a Biblical scholar and translator who aimed to introduce the best of Greek learning to Western Christianity. He sensed the inferiority of the West, and he labored to add scholarship to the public glory of the church.

In 373 Jerome decided to travel to the East. He settled for a time in the Syrian desert southeast of Antioch. There he mastered Hebrew and perfected his Greek. After ordination at Antioch he went to Constantinople and studied with Gregory of Nazianzus. In 382 he returned to Rome, where he became the friend and secretary of Pope Damasus. We have Damasus to thank for the first impulse toward Jerome's Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate.

Jerome's greatest accomplishment was the Vulgate. The chaos of the older Latin translation was notorious. Working from the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT, Jerome, after twenty-three years of labor, gave Latin Christianity its Bible anew. Although the text became corrupted during the Middle Ages, its supremacy was reaffirmed by the Council of Trent in 1546, and it remains to this day the classical Latin Bible.

A second and related part of Jerome's heritage lies in his expositions of Scripture. Like all biblical interpreters of the early church, Jerome affirmed a threefold (historical, symbolic, and spiritual) meaning of Scripture and repudiated an exclusively historical interpretation as "Jewish." The mere letter kills. What he demanded was only that the historical interpretation should not be considered inferior to the allegorical (or spiritual).
He is a Doctor of the Church and In art, he is often represented as one of the four Latin doctors of the Church along with Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose, and Pope Gregory.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tongues of Fire - Not Quite

Listen to Your Angel

"After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life."
Angels have been with man on this salvation journey from the very beginning. The cherubim in the Garden was there to help man. Had Adam & Eve eaten from the Tree of Life they would have remained in a state of sin forever, it was the mercy of God, through his banishment that allowed the salvation plan to begin!
"In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."

Gabriel announces Mary's role in the plan of salvation and he proclaims here "full of grace", when an angel says you are full of grace, that means something and we believe that Mary was not born with the stain of original sin!
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.

Angels announce the birth of Our Saviour!

"And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
Angels sing the first Gloria!

"When he arrived at the place he said to them, "Pray that you may not undergo the test."
After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done."And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground."

Angels can come to us and strengthen us in our time of need!

"But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised."

Angels confirm that fact that Jesus Has Risen!
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven."

Angels tell us to get on with the work of proclaiming the Gospel!
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host - by the Divine Power of God - cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Him We Live, Move, and Have Our Being

Even some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers engaged him in discussion. Some asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others said, "He sounds like a promoter of foreign deities," because he was preaching about 'Jesus' and 'Resurrection.' Acts17:18
Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: "You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious.For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, 'To an Unknown God.' What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. Acts1722:23

The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.For 'In him we live and move and have our being,' as even some of your poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.'Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination. Acts 17:24-29
Today people grope for Him and after the thousands of years of pondering Him, we find a culture that seeks personal divinity in the gold and silver of our time. That includes materialism, consumerism, obsession with sex, power and fame.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Departure is Always About Right Now - Hans Urs Von Baltazaar

Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-88) was a Swiss theologian, considered to be one of the most important Catholic intellectuals and writers of the twentieth century. Incredibly prolific and diverse, he wrote over one hundred books and hundreds of articles. Click here for a complete list of his works available from Ignatius Press.

In seeking the Divine we are not surrendering to just anything, we are surrendering to love & truthfulness. We are seeking blissfulness and being made blissful. We are seeking a Being, beyond ourselves. Seeking God is about the right now and the eternal. The departure is always Right Now!

Love Authority

"When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at his teachings, for he taught them as having authority, and not as their scribes." Matthew 7:28-29

After years of infusion of secular thought,and enlightenment thinking, most people consider themselves outside the realm of authority - for authority resides within themselves. This line of thinking will reveal itself eventually especially when it comes to conversations about God. The notion that there is a Divine Being who is in "essence" a Father, who has anything to do with their lives or that one would relinquish one's will to a Higher Authority is completely contrary to their very being.
The paradoxical truth is that when one grasps onto one's being and holds it within themselves they are the least free they could possibly be. For grasping onto the natural world is letting go of the supernatural life and the supernatural life is so much finer. In surrender to the Authority of the Supernatural, the Divine Being, we begin to make an entry into Higher Cause, a Higher Place, we are lifted from the ordinary to the extraordinary. That is what so tragic about being entrenched in secular thought - under the false notion of being free- to one's own authority, one's own beliefs, one's own set of rules and principles- one has closed the door to a greater truth, nay the Greatest Truth; Jesus Christ. This is exactly the "modus operandi" of the Evil One, to take what is true and to twist it and repackage it so as to believe what is false is true.
People in all walks of life each and everyday miss out on the opportunity of God's overwhelming love to bring them eternal life - to allow us to be participants at the Heavenly Feast. Not only should we believe His authority we should run to it. We should surrender all to His Will. In our obedience, we love God and in turn the preparations are being made for "eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him,"

When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at his teachings, for he taught them as having authority, and not as their scribes."

Friday, September 25, 2009

False Theology

Father Richard O'Brien, professor of Theology, Notre Dame University has put forth a preposterous notion that Eucharistic Adoration is not necessary. Have you ever heard a story told by someone and the first reaction is there is something that doesn't jell, something amiss, strange, weird, wrong etc.? I could tell you how bad this theology is, how it does not hold to the Magisterium's teaching authority, how arrogant it is and how it makes the mistake of thinking that it owns the mystery of God. But I don't need to. Why? Here is my Theology - God the Omnipotent, All Knowing, All Powerful, Love Itself, The Alpha and The Omega, Creator of myself and Father O'Brien could never, never, I mean never! receive enough praise and adoration. Never! and it doesn't take a professor from Notre Dame University to figure that out.

Killing Conscience in Seven Steps

The following article byRev. Philip E. Dion C.M. describes the seven phases one experiences in the process of losing one's conscience and becoming unavailable to the Holy Spirit and God's grace.

An elderly French couple, having retired after long years of work, were enjoying a tranquil, bucolic existence in a cottage outside of Paris. While rocking on the porch one evening, they were discussing what the other would do if one of them died. After some thought, the husband said, "Well, if one of us dies, I'll move back to Paris."

How human! It's always easier to think of others dying, rather than ourselves. You'll die and you'll die and you'll die, but I won't die. Something of the same mind also shows up in our attitude toward sin and sinners. It's easy enough to see other's faults and sins but not always easy to see our own. It's not that we cannot see them but just that we don't have the courage to look at them. They hurt our pride, or make us uncomfortable or dissatisfied with ourselves. We prefer to live in a fool's paradise of denial instead of tackling the exertion to get rid of them.

As with dying, it's easy to philosophize about sin and evil in the world and to cluck the tongue about the wickedness of this generation and be scandalized by it. It's so easy to make up a litany of social sins like injustice, dishonesty, graft, mugging, big industry pollution of water and the atmosphere, violation of so-called animal rights and sexism. But it is not so easy to face our personal sins, their causes and consequences. We don't want to look straight at that inner self which we struggle to bury in our subconscious.

Actually, each of us has three selves. First the public self which functions while we are in the presence of others, as on a stage. We're always trying to make a good impression, wondering what others are thinking of us and how we are impressing them. We are putting on a show. But a time comes when we leave the stage and slam the dressing room door behind us. We find ourselves alone. Then our private self takes over. We do things we would never do if others were looking at us: checking the waistline from the side, trying to get a look at the bald spot, making faces in the mirror, checking the cavities in our teeth. There's no need here in private to put on a show or be on display.

But besides these, each of us has a third self, our inner self. That's the one we don't want to face up to. That's where, if it happens, we take a good hard look at what we really are before God and why. Generally, we abhor confronting this self, so we constantly try to distract ourselves when it rises up into our consciousness. We wake in the middle of the night and it looms and disturbs us so we snap on the radio to see what's going on with the talk shows. When awake, we can't stand being alone, because that vision of what we really are might show up again, so we must get with the crowd, change into the fast lane, find some distraction.

This is why today, when the world does evil, it's the fashion to ignore and forget what's done, or to excuse it, to call it a mistake. Anything but sin. Our behavior is socially unacceptable or we're not relating properly to others. Moreover, it's always easy to look around and see that what I did is no worse than what others do.

But the top of the line brand of rationalizing and shirking responsibility, a practice that enjoys a booming popularity today, is not only excusing one's misdeeds and sins but actually defending them and maintaining they are simply not sins. They are my right; they are necessities of life; they are manifestations of freedom and not misdeeds at all. Besides, everyone's doing it. They are only reasonable allowances that must be made for life in the 21st century. After all, there is such a thing as exaggeration and losing one's sense of proportion. Thus each person becomes his own pope, do-it-yourself pontificating. But if each one is his own judge, who will be condemned? What spawns such a state of mind? A few centuries ago, St. John Fisher described the successive steps of the tragic process which leads to a such a dead conscience.

First Step

The English martyr bishop once preached a Lenten course to the Court of Henry VIII when Henry was still a true defender of the faith. In that series, the bishop traced out what he described as seven steps to the development of a bad will or dead conscience. The first step on this road, he claimed, has one wrestling with a temptation to do an evil or sinful act. The evil appears to him under the guise of a good, to do which promises pleasure, satisfaction or reward of some kind. For example, he might be tempted to rob a bank or to seduce a friend's wife or to some other sinful aberration from God's will, the gravity of which is testified to ultimately by the ordinary Magisterium of the Church. If the act promised no satisfaction or enjoyment, obvious there would be no temptation. No one was ever tempted to sneak a dose of castor oil, like an alcoholic snatching a furtive drink for the kick involved. Pleasure, satisfaction, titillation are essential to temptation. At this stage, of course, there is no question of the person sinning no matter how strong the temptation might be, provided the temptation is resisted.

St. Paul recalls even the Lord, like us in all things except sin, was subject to temptation in the desert. So there can be no guilt in the mere appearance of the sin to the mind, with all its enticement to anticipated pleasure or satisfaction. Moreover, God graciously permits no one to be tempted beyond his power to resist. "My grace is sufficient for you."

Second Step

On the other hand, should the person succumb to the temptation and decide to do the evil deed, that is, to grab the proffered satisfaction or pleasure, he thereupon takes the second step of the process. He has, at that moment, voluntarily committed the sin internally. "Whoever looks after a woman," in the sense in which Jesus spoke, "has already committed adultery in his heart." He has committed his will and incurred the guilt of the sin which, in the proposed example, would be serious or mortal and break his relationship of love with God.

Third Step

After incurring the guilt of the sin internally consenting fully to the temptation, should he continue down the steep ladder, he takes the third step of the process as proposed by St. John Fisher. All three synoptics described this step as it was taken by Judas Iscariot in betraying Jesus. After he had dickered with the Jewish chief priests and officers, it is written that he took the money and "then kept looking for an opportunity to hand him over without creating a disturbance" (Luke 22:6, emphasis added). Thus, the unfortunate dupe in our horrible example schemes and searches out the means to put his already determined plot into action. He "cases" the bank site, plans the location of a getaway car, discovers the least busy time at the bank; or, in the other case, he devises plans for contacting his friend's wife at the most opportune time and place. By taking this third step, he has increased his malice, guilt and culpability of his sin, since he has more firmly determined his will to externalize what was previously solely an internal sin.

Fourth Step

Having decided on the means he will use, if he persists in this resolve, he moves on to the fourth step. He de facto actualizes the sin by doing the evil act in the external forum. He robs the bank. He violates the other man's wife, or whatever. His sin has now further grown in gravity since it has accumulated the added guilt of the concomitant injustices to the bank depositors who have lost their money, or the insurance company which must raise its rates to subsidize the loss; or, in the other case, because of the hurt and injustice accruing to the husband and/or family of his seduced victim.

The culprit has now put himself into a state of more serious mortal sin than before he acted. But he can still hope for the grace of repentance and conversion in the normal course of God's dealing with his children. Jesus insisted that he had not come to call the self-righteous but sinners. "Those who are well need not a physician." Thus the person, while in a state of grave sin, has reason to hope that God's grace will ultimately bring him to repentance. In his inner self, when he faces it, his conscience still realizes the evil of his ways and the seriousness of his condition, however he may try to stifle it. While he is sick spiritually, it is possible for him to recognize that fact along with his need for the divine physician.

Fifth Step

But having externalized the evil act to which he was tempted, and having felt the pleasure or benefits of the sin, he can find it so appealing and satisfying that he is led to move on to the fifth step of the process. He can so forget the love of God and the God who loves him that he slips quite easily into repeating the sin again and again, i.e., robbing other banks or seducing other's wives until he develops a habit of bank robbery or seduction. Thus, he reaches a point where he has confirmed his will in habitual evil or mortal sin. His conscience is numbed.

But even at this tragic point, he can still hope for repentance and salvation in the ordinary operation of God's grace. Despite his habit of mortal sin, which he commits easily, with pleasure and without effort (a second nature), he still acknowledges in his inner self or conscience, when he faces it, that what he is doing is wrong. His conscience continues to function correctly though feebly and he is still amenable to the light of grace bringing truth to his mind and strength to his will. Thus, God can lead him to repentance and conversion even while he pursues his acknowledged evil.

Sixth Step

He continues in his condition until one of two things happens. He decides he can no longer live that way since he has no true peace, and so he repents and is reconciled with God. Or, if reconciliation does not happen, he then plunges into the next curve of the downward spiral leading to total confirmation in evil. When that happens, he has taken the sixth step of the process which effectively puts him in a condition of hopelessness.

The essence of this step is that he starts to tell himself seriously that, for him, these sinful acts, in which his will is habitually confirmed, are not sinful. He convinces himself that robbing banks or seducing married women or homosexual acts or contraception or abortion is all right for him. Circumstances make them acceptable and justifiable in his or other's cases. Those who say nay just do not understand the ramifications of the times or social conditions, or what people in general are doing. They should wake up and get with it, and slough off their "hangups." In a word, he has become a full-fledged dissenter from, at very least, the teaching of the ordinary Magisterium, the guardian of Christian morals, a teaching which demands religious consent and conformable conduct.

St. John Fisher insisted that at this point the sinner had reached a state of being practically hopeless for heaven because he has closed off every avenue by which truth can reach his person. First, his will is confirmed in a habit of mortal sin from constant repetition. Now, by taking this latest step of self-deception, he has blocked from his intellect the light of truth and the influence of the Holy Spirit. He is saying that wrong is right. There is no way for God's truth to reach him and he has willfully put himself into a condition of unavailability to the Spirit. His conscience is dead and he has killed it.

Note that the Holy Spirit, in influencing persons, does three things, if his operation is not resisted. First, he conveys truth to the mind. Then he moves the mind to grasp and understand the truth he makes known. "He will bring to mind all things I have told you." Finally, he moves the will to "do the truth in charity," as St. Paul says. That is, he moves the person to believe God's word as made known and guaranteed, ultimately by the magisterium of the Church, and moves his will to do God's will as he has made it known. All these operations, of course, are not coercive and require free acceptance and cooperation by the recipient.

However, by repeatedly resisting God's grace and refusing to listen to the Holy Spirit, one actually loses the ability to accept his love and mercy on his terms. This is the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit, who never ceases to offer his love and grace. This individual has confirmed himself in a crass, erroneous conscience and is reduced to calling black white and saying no is yes.

Pope John Paul II interceded for such types in his Marian prayer at Los Angeles. He prayed for "all those who are confused about the truth and are tempted to call evil good and darkness light." St. John the Evangelist puts it this way: "If we say we are free of the guilt of sin, we deceive ourselves; the truth is not to be found in us. But if we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong. If we say we have never sinned, we make him a liar and his word finds no place in us" (1 John 1:8-10).

So, by ignoring St. John's cautions and denying his sin, the subject has put himself in the state of being unavailable to God's action and, in effect, has made himself unforgivable. He commits moral suicide, doing tremendous damage to himself and others by blasting out the very foundation of hope, which is faith. He has reached the depths of infidelity, the loss of faith, which, by its nature, implies commitment to the will of God who is believed by faith. Such confusion in one's life finally produces a condition of slavery. Pope John Paul, on his visit to New Orleans, made it clear to any unfortunate who might find himself in such a state and would listen: "Even though you can come and go as you like, and do what you want, you are not free if you are living under the power of error or falsehood, deceit or sin." As the TV commercial used to say, "You can't fool mother nature."

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews described this state in even more frightening terms:

For when men have once been enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift and become sharers in the Holy Spirit, when they have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to make them repent again, since they are crucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt." (Heb. 6:4-6).

Such a person has left no access for God's grace to come to or operate in him, for the Holy Spirit will never force his acceptance. No power on earth, in heaven or in hell can possibly coerce the free will of a person to accept or act on the impulse of God's grace. No external cause or factor can produce faith. Nothing within a person can generate what is above the powers of nature. Thus, only a miracle of grace can bring about the conversion of a resisting heart.

But to expect such a miraculous conversion in the natural order exceeds the ordinary mode of operation of God's grace. To hope for such a miracle at the end of life or at any other moment, for that matter, is the sin of presumption in its purest form, for God is not mocked. Moreover, such a state, being completely incompatible with supernatural hope for heaven and the vision of God, can never produce true inner happiness, even on this earth.

Seventh Step

The first sign that habitual sinning and perversion is a disastrous turning off the road to God is sadness. Nature is relentless and ultimately strikes anyone who acts against her. As with the law of gravity, one can deny sin but he never escapes the effects of sin. Archbishop Sheen used to tell the story of the Spartan boy who stole a fox and hid it beneath his toga. While he was denying the theft, the fox was eating away at his entrails. The first warning of sadness springs from within, from the inner self and it remains because, though dull and subtle, it is persistent and inexorable.

Now, because no one likes to be the only one miserable, (misery loves company), a person confirmed in a habit of sin which he has foolishly convinced himself is not sin, boldly strides to the seventh and final step to spiritual destruction. He proceeds to pull out all the stops to convert others to adopt his convictions, to persuade them to think and act the way he thinks and acts. He wants to make others as unhappy as he is. His joy is to "debunk" others and try to free himself from guilt by projecting it onto others. He wants to make others as unhappy as he is.

Thus, he and his ilk take to shouting their conclusions and theories from the rooftops, whether they are about pornography, contraception, abortion, homosexuality or whatever is the blue plate special of the day. They resort to bitter, desperate self-defense to protect themselves in their own eyes against nay-sayers. They strive to indoctrinate others in their errors, seeking their approval. As St. Peter warns in his second epistle, "They will eagerly try to buy you for themselves with insidious speeches, but for them the Condemnation pronounced so long ago is at work already, and Destruction is not asleep" (2 Pet. 2:3, J.B.). So they are welcomed on Phil Donohue or Oprah or Sally or other TV or radio talk shows. Like magnets, they attract cliques at cocktail parties and spew their venom against the Holy Father and the Church's teachings; they write letters to editors; they join demonstrations; they carry signs to try in any way possible to get others to adopt and act on their views. Chicago Tribune Columnist Mike Royko stands up and psycho-babbles for the whole group: "I stopped being a Catholic many years ago (my family didn't want somebody like [Card.] O'Connor telling us how many children to have)." Like young boys whistling their way past a cemetery on a dark night, they pump up pseudo-courage to continue on their perilous path.

"After all, what does that old bachelor in Rome know about life; what does he know about marriage and love and contraception or homosexual activity? It is by Beelzebub that he is trying to cast out these practices he calls devils."

Thus, as a modernized version of St. John Fisher would have it, some put themselves in a state of unforgiveableness because they refuse to accept Gods' conditions for forgiveness, i.e., the willingness to admit their wrong doing. If a person is sick and admits it, there is some hope that the cause of his sickness can be discovered and remedied. But if a person is sick and insists that he is well, if he refuses to acknowledge that he might be ill, there is not much the Divine Physician can do for him. The worst thing in the world is not sin. It's the denial of sin by a false conscience. The unforgivable sin is the denial of sin.

Thus, objectively, confirmed dissenters from the Church's moral or dogmatic teaching cannot bring themselves to act contrary to the self-justifying conclusions of their own minds. Such resent the very authority upon which faith rests. If the truth is not run through the computer of their own judgment, they fear restraint of their liberty, the height of intellectual pride. Acceptance of truth on faith in God seems to them a reflection on themselves, an indignity to their human nature whose autonomy they regard as the primary operational principle. The truth is, submission by faith to the authority of God is not an insult, not a humiliation, not a degradation. It is rather a liberation from the five-barred cage of the senses, a guarantee that one will not be misled or tricked.

After all, the Catholic Church is a voluntary community and in deliberately choosing to remain part of it, all Catholics, clerical and lay, must provide "submission of mind and will" to the Church's ordinary magisterial teaching on faith and morals. The Church cannot force moral decisions on anyone since such decisions are made in the internal forum which is not subject to external forces.

According to St. John Fisher, one at this stage has reached the condition of hopelessness, because by infidelity, the opposite of faith, he has destroyed any basis of hope he may have had. He cannot really hope to be with one in whom he has no functioning faith. In the spiritual realm, such dissent is a disaster comparable to AIDS in the physical order. It threatens more than the physical life. "Do not fear those who deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna" (Matt.10:28).

Obviously there are many whose activity, objectively, indicates a dead conscience, because they have completed the seven steps described by St. John Fisher. They are what Mother Teresa calls the poorest of the poor of this world, however prosperous they may look, no matter what posh suburb they may inhabit. They must be the first concern of the Church in pursuing its fundamental option for the poor, and should be the object of unceasing prayer by all Catholics. When the Apostles asked Jesus why they could not expel a certain demon, he replied, "This kind you can drive out only by prayer" (Mark 9:29). There but for the grace of God go I.

Reverend Philip E. Dion, CM., is Director of Aging and Retirement for the Vincentian Eastern Province. Formerly Dean of the Graduate School of St. John's University, New York and the Seminary of Our Lady of the Angels in Albany, N.Y., he holds an S.T.L. from the Angelicum in Rome. He has published four books on the spiritual life and given numerous retreats to clergy and religious in the U.S.A., South America and Asia.

Meditations Based on The Introduction to the Devout Life

From the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales The Second Meditation
Union with God

1. Remind yourself of God’s presence.
2. Open your mind and heart to God.


Why has God placed you in this world? Simply, yet profoundly, to exercise
Divine goodness in you, to give you God’s grace and glory. You have the gift of understanding through which you can know God. You have the gift of memory through which you can be mindful of God’s presence. You have the gift of will though which to love God. You have the gift of imagination through which to recall God’s blessings and benefits. You have the gift of eyesight through which you behold God’s wonderful work, the beauty of creation. You have the gift of speech with which to speak God’s praise. You have these and many other gifts besides, all through God’s generosity. In light of the excellence of God’s abundant generosity toward you, all feelings, thoughts attitudes and actions contrary to your God-given destiny should be avoided whenever possible. Consider the temptation to focus more on the gifts that you enjoy while losing sight of the purpose of those gifts, namely, the glory of God and the love of neighbor. As important as
this material world is, and as worthy of respect is all creation, it is shortsighted to forget the ultimate destiny to which you are called: union with God forever.
Affections and Resolutions
Consider how frequently you forget the Divine source and giver of your gifts. Consider how easily you forget to use your gifts in the service
of God. Consider how easily you forget to use your talents in the service of
your brothers and sisters. Examine your past life. Consider the times you have wasted your gifts, your talents, your energies—your very life—in pursuing temporary joys, quick fixes, self-centered pursuits, self-serving designs.
Examine your present life. How are you using your abilities? To what
purpose and designs do you commit your efforts each day? Consider your future life. Where do you need conversion? Where do you need courage and insight? What must you do to remain faithful to God’s ultimate destiny for you: union with God? What pursuits, obsessions, anxieties or sins must you forgo in order order to become more of who God calls you to be? Turn to God. Make God the center of your life. Turn you mind away from all that displeases God. Fill your memory with the recollection of God’s forgiveness and compassion.
Let God be the focus of your heart and of your affections. Name those
things that heretofore have caused you to lose sight of the things that really

Give thanks to God who has created you for such an excellent purpose:
growing in love for God on earth and living in the love of God forever in heaven. Offer to God the power of your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, imaginings and senses. Ask God to purify these of anything that might cause you to lose sight of the One who is the source and ultimate purpose of your life. Pray to God. Ask God to accept these desires and resolutions. Ask for the grace to accomplish all that gives honor and glory to God. After completing your prayer, create a “bumper sticker” - a word or a
simple phrase - that will remind you of how, with God’s help, you plan to
live this day

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Following of Christ by Thomas A Kempis

In truth, sublime words make not a Saint and a just man; but it is a virtuous life that maketh one dear to God.

I would rather feel compunction, than know how to define it.

If thou didst know the whole Bible outwardly, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would it all profit thee without charity and the grace of

Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity, but to love God and serve Him alone.

This is the highest wisdom, by despising the world, to make progress towards the kingdom of Heaven.

It is vanity, therefore, to seek perishing riches, and to trust in them.

Vanity also it is, to court honors, and to lift up one's self on high.

Vanity is it to follow the desires of the flesh, and to desire that for which hereafter there must be a heavy penalty.

Vanity is it to wish a long life, and take but little pains about a good life.

Vanity is it to attend only to the present life, and not to look forward to the things that are to come.

It is vanity to love what is passing away with all speed, and not to be hastening thither where endless joy abideth.

Oftentimes call to mind the proverb: "The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing."

Study, therefore, to wean thy heart from love of visible things, and to betake thee to the things unseen; for they that follow the pleasures of their senses sully their conscience and lose the grace of God.


IF WE would really honor Jesus Christ, we must apply ourselves to know Him, to
love Him, and to follow Him in the practice of every Christian virtue. This is absolutely necessary for salvation, as we cannot become true Christians but by knowing, loving, and following Christ. To pretend to please our Blessed Savior by a profound knowledge of His Divinity, without endeavoring to follow His example, without living as He lived, would be most dangerously to delude ourselves.


WHAT will it avail me, O Jesus, to study and to know in part Thy supreme greatness, and the most sublime of Thy mysteries, if I endeavor not to derive advantage and merit from them, by cherishing Thy disposition and copying Thy virtues-----since, to save my soul, I must not only know, but practice what Thou hast taught me by Thy word and manifested in Thy life for my imitation
-----I must know and practice my religion? This, my Savior, is the grace which I now ask of Thee, with a firm hope that Thou wilt grant my petition. Amen.

475 Blog Entries - An Overview

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
This is my 476th entry in this blog which I began on December 9th, 2008 - the day when the Church recognizes St. Juan Diego of whom the Lady of Guadalupe appeared to.

Juan Diego deeply loved the Holy Eucharist, and by special permission of the Bishop he received Holy Communion three times a week, a highly unusual occurrence in those times.

Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by cathechisis and pictured him (who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf”) as a model of humility for all of us.

It is, and has always been my prayer that through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that I too, a tiny ladder, would be able to bring to someone out there something that might serve to propel their faith so as to walk closer to God. He sought us first and we are seeking Him. In continuing that with God's grace, I have made a vow to myself to bring out what inspires me at a given moment. My spiritual director has time and time again reminded me that my spirituality is personal and comes from within my heart. I so love Jesus Christ and His Church that I cannot contain this joy within me. It has to spill out into the streets and to those who I have been graced with the opportunity to interact with, some very close, some near and dear, others new acquaintances, some here locally, others on the other side of cyberspace. I am humbled by anybody who chooses to read my thoughts and the thoughts of others whom I have presented here. Even though you may or may know me personally, I hope to connect to you through Christ Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Though every entry is a random event, I do look to the feast days and memorials in the Church calendar year. The Blessed Saints who for centuries have fought the good fight and preached the Gospel will always hold a high honor on this blog, as well as those contemporary holy warriors.
There are some reoccurring themes that I try not to stray away from: Spirituality, Cathechisis, Orthodoxy, Theology, Apologetics, and Catholic Art/Music. I have avoided political stuff for the most part ( unless it strikes a nerve) and have no desire to emulate the many Catholic political blogs that are out there. If you have come to this blog and have found something that makes your Faith grow, then I give all Glory and Honor to Jesus Christ, whose name is above every name, and who we should confess is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father.

What is Faith? from (Cardinal Ratzinger ) Pope Benedict XVI

Faith is one of the capacities of man which set him apart from the rest of creation. Because man (homo sapiens) can grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, he can also be convinced that something is a truth or a falsity. He can believe. Generally, when we speak of knowing something, we mean we are certain of its truth. We have assented to it. In many cases, this certainty is gained through a convincing experience, or set thereof, or by some scientific demonstration, which presents enough evidence to compel us into assent. However, faith must always be a free response of the will, not a forced reaction to evidence. Therefore, the assent of the believer occurs differently in the structure of faith, than assent to other forms of knowledge.

A Concise Dictionary of Theology refers to three different types of assent, taking its distinctions from John Henry Cardinal Newman. Many of today’s Christians “believe” with notional assent, meaning they accept the abstract ideas of the Truth, but without fully being touched and changed by it, or, put more practically, without living according to the Truth. However, the belief of true faith requires “full assent to truth, especially concrete rather than abstract truths”. This real assent is the assent of faith which the early Christians claimed when they stated “I believe.”

When the Church fathers composed their statement of faith, they used the Latin word credo, “I believe.” Etymologically credo comes from the Latin words cor (heart) and do (to give). Therefore, when they stated their belief in Jesus as Christ, they were giving their heart to him. Moreover, biblically, the word for heart corresponds with what St. Thomas Aquinas refers to as the will. In other words, the ancient Christians testified that in believing in Jesus, they were giving their hearts, their wills, indeed their entire selves, to him, God enfleshed. But from what does this assent of faith come? To what exactly are we assenting?

Contrary to scientific knowledge or other types of certainty, the assent of faith comes from a personal encounter with God. He reveals himself to us, and we respond with the assent of faith. “Through being touched in this way, the will knows that even what is still not ‘clear’ to reason is true” and it assents to faith in God. “When the heart comes into contact with God’s Logos, with the Word who became man, this inmost point of his existence is being touched.” Or, put another way, “just as a person becomes certain of another’s love without being able to subject it to methods of scientific experiment, so in the contact between God and man there is a certainty of a quite different kind from the certainty of objectivizing thought.”

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

I was watching EWTN live last night and Father Stanley Deptula, Executive Director for the Cause for canonization for Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and the thought struck me - how little I mention him on this blog. I watched him on tv when I was a boy and I have watched him on EWTN in recent years; he is never stale and always on mark. His writings are wonderful, if you've never read him - check him out

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meditations Based on Introduction to the Devout Life

From the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, we have a meditation called "Your Destiny" based on "The Introduction to the Devout Life" by Francis de Sales

In this first Meditation called "Our Creation" the focus is on God's great gift to us all: our existence.


1. Remind yourself of God’s presence.
2. Open your mind and heart to God.


Consider that there was a time that you did not exist. The world had been around for a very long time before you ever appeared. The Divine has drawn you out of nothing and made you something:a son or daughter of the living God.
Consider the nature God has given you.Your nature is the greatest in this
visible world, capable of eternal life and of being perfectly united to God who is the source of all life.

Affections and Resolutions

Consider that God has brought you
out of nothingness. God has gifted you
with the possibilities of life in this
world and the promise of eternal life in
the world to come.
Give praise and thanks to God for the gift of your life. Ask yourself:
“How can I express thanks to God for
such generosity? How can I demonstrate my gratitude for the gift of life that God has given me?”

Consider how well you have used the gift of your life. Do you take it for
granted? Do you use it in the ways that God intends? In what ways have
you strayed from the path of life that God calls you to walk each day? How
have you misused the gift of your life? What sins or weaknesses prevent you
from being more of who God calls you to be? Remind yourself of your Godgiven nature. God has made you to grow in love on this earth. God has
made you to live in love forever in heaven. Remember: you are God’s
work of art. Be mindful of your fundamental goodness. Be honest about your sinfulness.Resolve to change your life. Recommit yourself to doing what is
right, just and virtuous in the eyes of God. Resolve to do good readily, frequently and cheerfully. Resolve to know and follow God’s will for you. Be faithful to the responsibilities of the state or stage of life in which you presently find yourself.

Finally, as God has been so generous and gracious to you, ask for the
strength, the grace and the courage to be as generous and gracious to others.


Give thanks to God. Bless God.
Let all that is within you bless and honor God’s holy name. Let all that is
within you bless and honor God’s creative, redeeming and sustaining
love for you. God has brought you out of nothingness and given you the promise of God’s fullness. Recognize that God has created out of nothingness all those whom you encounter each day. Resolve to treat others with profound care and respect. Dedicate and consecrate to God all of who you are and all that you have. Ask for the grace to use your time, talent and treasure in ways that give glory to God and that serve the needs of others. Pray to God. Ask for the strength to put your affections and resolutions into practice. Ask for the grace to put your change of mind and heart into action. Pray that others with whom you live, love, work, play and pray may likewise claim and honor the gift of life. Ask God to likewise help them to be fully who God calls them to be. Pray that they may place their lives at the service of others. Pray the Lord’s Prayer (and/or other prayers) to which you may feel drawn. After completing your prayer, create a “bumper sticker” - a word ora simple phrase - that will remind you of how, with God’s help, you plan to live this day.

It Behooves Us to Glory

Nos aútem gloriári opórtet
in crucem Dómini nostri Iesu Christi:
in quo est salus, vita, et resurréctio nostra:
per quem salváti, et liberáti sumus.
Allelúia, allelúia, allelúia.

Deus misereátur nostri, et benedícat nobis:
illúminet vultum tuum super nos, et misereátur nostri.

Glória Patri et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto:
sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper,
et in saécula saeculórum. Amen.

Nos autem gloriári oportet…

But it behooves us to glory
in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ:
in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection;
by whom we are saved and delivered.

May God have mercy on us, and bless us:
may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us; and may He have mercy on us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Sprit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

More Reflections by Father Leo Clifford O.F. M.

More on Sacred Music

Richard Morris is one of a very small number of organists to have appeared as soloist in Carnegie Hall. Other prestigious New York concert halls which have hosted his phenomenal performances include Town Hall and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. He has also appeared three times on NBC’s Today Show, and has performed on four occasions at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He has commented frequently on the sad state of affairs with Catholic liturgical music. "All you hear Catholics turning out these days are pop versions of the old Protestant anthems."And this speaks to the larger problem that no one wants to talk about: the restoration of the Roman rite is a precondition for a long-term fix for the problem.""For two thousand years, the Church has guided the development of music, carefully legislating to fuse artistic talent and aesthetic beauty with the demands of the Faith""Even Catholic parishes today are not wanting for talent. But no serious singer or organist will get anywhere near the typical music program, at least if he wants to retain his self-respect.""Catholic liturgical music, it would seem, is everywhere but in the Catholic Church itself."

In an interview given back in 1999
(an it is quite evident that nothing has changed) Morris sums up his thoughts: What are your thoughts on what passes for sacred music in most Catholic parishes today?

Morris: There's nothing sacred about it. The tunes, rhythms, and messages are drawn mainly from secular culture. When it isn't aesthetically repugnant and downright offensive to the Faith, it is utterly forgettable.

Ironically, we live in times that are awash in authentic sacred music. We hear it in concert halls, on our CD players at home, in our cars, in movies, on television, in shopping centers and even in Protestant churches.

Never have so many recordings of the great Masses and motets been in wider circulation. Record stores have whole sections devoted to the chant. Groups such as the Anonymous Four, the Tallis Scholars and the Monteverdi Choir perform Catholic music to sold-out audiences wherever they go.

I just heard a young honors chorus from Georgia, which consisted of a gaggle of Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian kids. They gathered together for a secular concert, under a world-famous conductor, and what do they do? A Haydn Mass, the Mozart "Salve Regina" and a Padre Martini motet-an all-Catholic program!

Catholic liturgical music, it would seem, is everywhere but in the Catholic Church itself. Only the Catholic Church seems blind to its power. This is one of the greatest travesties of the post-Conciliar period. We've abandoned the sacred treasury and replaced it with drivel.

A good number of Catholics have been raised on this bad music and when they hear that sing sing junk they can only be left with the impression that the Mass is just another event in their lives except that it is full of sing sing songs. I am confident that the younger future priests will restore the sacredness of the Mass before I die.

St. Padre Pio Pray for Us

I first heard of Padre Pio when I was a junior in high school. Brother William had told us of his amazing miracles and the stigmata. I made it a point to find out as much as I could. Here is a link to the Vatican website that
tells his story. St. Padre Pio pray for us.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Worthy is the Lamb, Amen!

Scroll down and listen to the words as you listen. George Frederic Handel was said to have been found weeping while he wrote this masterpiece

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,
and hath redeemed us to God by His blood,
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,
and honor, and glory, and blessing.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,
and hath redeemed us to God, to God by His blood,
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,
and honor, and glory, and blessing.

Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him, be unto him
that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb,

Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him, be unto him
that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb,

For ever and ever and ever and ever. Amen.

Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him, be unto him
that sitteth upon the throne, that sittenth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb,

Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him, be unto him
that sitteth upon the throne, that sittenth upon the throne, that sittenth upon the throne, forever

Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him, forever

Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him, be unto him
Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him, be unto him
Blessing! Honor! Glory! And power, be unto Him!
that sitteth upon the throne, that sitteth upon the throne
Forever and ever, Forever and ever.
Forever and ever, Forever and ever.
Forever and ever, Forever and ever.
Forever and ever, Forever and ever.
Forever and ever.
Forever and ever.


St. Pio de Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

Tomorrow is the memorial for Padre Pio, one of my favorite saints and I guess I'm just too excited to wait.

From Abandonment to Divine Providence

Perfection consists in doing the will of God, not in understanding His designs.

The designs of God, the good pleasure of God, the will of God, the operation of God and the gift of His grace are all one and the same thing in the spiritual life. It is God working in the soul to make it like unto Himself. Perfection is neither more nor less than the faithful co-operation of the soul with this work of God, and is begun, grows, and is consummated in the soul unperceived and in secret. The science of theology is full of theories and explanations of the wonders of this state in each soul according to its capacity. One may be conversant with all these speculations, speak and write about them admirably, instruct others and guide souls; yet, if these theories are only in the mind, one is, compared with those who, without any knowledge of these theories, receive the meaning of the designs of God and do His holy will, like a sick physician compared to simple people in perfect health. The designs of God and his divine will accepted by a faithful soul with simplicity produces this divine state in it without its knowledge, just as a medicine taken obediently will produce health, although the sick person neither knows nor wishes to know anything about medicine. As fire gives out heat, and not philosophical discussions about it, nor knowledge of its effects, so the designs of God and His holy will work in the soul for its sanctification, and not speculations of curiosity as to this principle and this state. When one is thirsty one quenches one’s thirst by drinking, not by reading books which treat of this condition. The desire to know does but increase this thirst. Therefore when one thirsts after sanctity, the desire to know about it only drives it further away. Speculation must be laid aside, and everything arranged by God as regards actions and sufferings must be accepted with simplicity, for those things that happen at each moment by the divine command or permission are always the most holy, the best and the most divine for us.

Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ

On Beauty

In his book The Feast of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) addresses the question of sacred music in a passage well worth pondering:
The movement of spiritualization in creation is understood properly as bringing creation into the mode of being of the Holy Spirit and its consequent transformation, exemplified in the crucified and resurrected Christ. In this sense, the taking up of music into the liturgy must be its taking up into the Spirit, a transformation that entails both death and resurrection. That is why the Church has had to be critical of ethnic music; it could not be allowed untransformed into the sanctuary. The cultic music of pagan religions has a different status in human existence from the music which glorifies God in creation. Through rhythm and melody themselves, pagan music often endeavors to elicit an ecstasy of the senses, but without elevating the sense into the spirit; on the contrary, it attempts to swallow up the spirit in the senses as a means of release. This imbalance toward the senses recurs also in modern popular music: the "God" found here, the salvation of man identified here, is quite different from the God of the Christian faith.

So what is beautiful and what is not? Well I reject the notion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I could upload several images for you to review and it would not be difficult to determine which one is beautiful and which one is not. The truth is beauty needs no explanation, needs no defense. Beauty is always uplifting. Beauty moves towards the perfection, it moves towards the Perfect One. What has permeated our modern culture is the notion that there are no absolutes and that we are obligated to "accept" the "beauty" in all things. It is this relativism that has cause us to put hideous music in our churches, build these utilitarian, multifunctional, high tech, audio/video buildings that have no art whatsoever in them and call them churches, to take a step down away from God in our worship and liturgy.

"Indeed," the Pope writes, "searching for a beauty that is foreign to or separate from the human search for truth and goodness would become (as unfortunately happens) mere asceticism and, especially for the very young, a path leading to ephemeral values and to banal and superficial appearances, even a flight into an artificial paradise that masks inner emptiness." Pope Benedict also calls on contemporary reasoning to rediscover the link between beauty, truth and goodness. "And if such a commitment applies to everyone," the Pope asserts, "it applies even more to believers, to the disciples of Christ, who are called by the Lord to 'give reasons' for all the beauty and truth of their faith

If we don't experience the liturgy of the Mass as something different, beyond what is in our daily "pagan" world, then we are stepping down and making our Creator and King of the Universe a caricature of Himself. We are "dumbing down" to the secular society. That is why it is imperative to retain a sense that what is happening in church is not what is happening outside. Jesus Christ in His splendor and glory is more than some tv reality show, let's stop being on "autopilot" and going through the motion when it comes to our worship.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Breaking News: Denham Spring Soldier Dies

Michael Cote, 20, a 2007 graduate of Denham Springs High School.

The following is straight from Baton Rouge's WAFB Television Station Website:

Blackhawk crash in Iraq kills Denham Springs soldier

Homily on the Gospel of John 1:1 by St. John Chrysostom

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. John1:1. Do you see the great boldness and power of the words, how he speaks nothing doubting nor conjecturing, but declaring all things plainly? For this is the teacher's part, not to waver in anything he says, since if he who is to be a guide to the rest require another person who shall be able to establish him with certainty, he would be rightly ranked not among teachers, but among disciples.

But if any one say, What can be the reason that he has neglected the first cause, and spoken to us at once concerning the second? we shall decline to speak of first and second, for the Divinity is above number, and the succession of times. Wherefore we decline these expressions; but we confess that the Father is from none, and that the Son is begotten of the Father. Yes, it may be said, but why then does he leave the Father, and speak concerning the Son? Why? Because the former was manifest to all, if not as Father, at least as God; but the Only-Begotten was not known; and therefore with reason did he immediately from the very beginning hasten to implant the knowledge of Him in those who knew Him not.

Besides, he has not been silent as to the Father in his writings on these points. And observe, I beg of you, his spiritual wisdom. He knows that men most honor the eldest of beings which was before all, and account this to be God. Wherefore from this point first he makes his beginning, and as he advances, declares that God is, and does not like Plato assert, sometimes that He is intellect, sometimes that He is soul; for these things are far removed from that divine and unmixed Nature which has nothing common with us, but is separated from any fellowship with created things, I mean as to substance, though not as to relation.

And for this reason he calls Him The Word. For since he is about to teach that this Word is the only-begotten Son of God, in order that no one may imagine that His generation is passible, by giving Him the appellation of The Word, he anticipates and removes beforehand the evil suspicion, showing that the Son is from the Father, and that without His suffering (change).

Do You Notice Any Difference?


Not this:

How About Some Sacred Music?

Based upon John the Baptist's reference inJohn 1:29 to Jesus ("Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world"), the text in Latin is:
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

which means:

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

We now turn from the Mass as a sacrifice of adoration and thanks (referring to God), to the Mass as a sacrifice of propitiation and petition (referring to us).

Notice we use two words, propititation and petition. They are not the same.

  1. The Mass is the most powerful means we have to obtain propitiation for sin. This occurs in different ways.

    • Through the Mass, God's mercy makes reparation for the want of divine love that we have shown by committing sin.
    • Through the Mass, God's mercy removes the guilt of repented venial sins and moves the sinner estranged from Him to return to God.
    • Through the Mass, God's mercy remits more or less of the punishment still due on earth to forgiven sins.
    • Through the Mass, God's mercy also remits more or less of the punishment which the souls in purgatory have to undergo before entering heaven.

  2. The Mass is a powerful means of petition to God for the graces that we and others need in our pilgrimage through life.

    • Graces are necessary for the mind to know what is God's will and how it should be fulfilled.
    • Graces are necessary for the will to desire what pleases God, to choose what He wants us to do, and to sustain our choice by loving Him above all things.
I am writing this for those out there who for some reason cannot comprehend what it means to ask for God's mercy. I believe that somehow this is missing from the Mass that I attend. The reason I say that is that the accompanying music to the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) sounds like it comes from "Sesame Street Live." It is not reverent and certainly does not sound like we are asking God for his mercy. I don't know how music directors get away with such hideous music. It is contrary to the liturgy when it does not enhance it. If you and I had done something wrong to someone else and when we approached them and asked for their forgiveness we did so by humming a "happy song", or spoke in a tone that did not reflect the affect(the specific emotion at the moment), then they would think we are not being sincere. The Agnus Dei is not a happy song. We are pleading for God's mercy just prior to receiving His precious body and blood. Pleading - you notice we ask for His mercy twice and then for His peace. Yet the music that I have heard for the past two weeks you could substitute " Kermit the frog, come over here and talk to me" and wouldn't miss a beat.

Pope Benedict XVI on the Letter from St. James

St. Matthew, Apostle & Evangelizer

St. Matthew was both an Apostle, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus and an Evangelist, for he wrote the very first Gospel.
Matthew is spoken of five times in the New Testament; first in Matthew 9:9, when called by Jesus to follow Him, and then four times in the list of the Apostles, where he is mentioned in the seventh (Luke 6:15, and Mark 3:18), and again in the eighth place (Matthew 10:3, andActs1:13). The man designated in Matthew 9:9, as "sitting in the custom house", and "named Matthew" is the same as Levi, recorded in Mark 2:14, and Luke 5:27, as "sitting at the receipt of custom". The account in the three Synoptics is identical, the vocation of Matthew-Levi being alluded to in the same terms. Hence Levi was the original name of the man who was subsequently called Matthew; the Maththaios legomenos of Matthew 9:9, would indicate this.(courtesy of Catholic Encyclopedia) Matthew is writing to his Jewish brethren, both believers and non-believers. Matthew begins with the Genealogy of Jesus that establishes and proves he was a descendant of King David demonstrating that Jesus was the Messiah as prophised in the Old Testatment. He writes to proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God who is announcing the beginning of his Messianic Kingdom. Matthew writes of the many miracles of Jesus, the commisioning of the 12 Apostles, the preaching of the Beatitudes, the Passion, Death & Resurrection, and "the Great Commision to "go and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." Matthew is represented in Christian art as the "winged man", the desciption found in Revelation4:7. The two significant things to me as I see Matthew is that he was first a "tax collector", now tax collectors were not seen as very high in the social strata. They were hated and despised. Jesus chose Matthew like he chose me, another despicable creature not worthy of Him.The second signifcant point is that Matthew wrote the very first Gospel, and how fitting that one who spent his time living, eating, walking, listening to Jesus and witnessing his glory and splendor would give the world his eye witness acount. The Holy Spirit works in that wonderous way, doesn't he?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Protecting the Seed

"Now the parable is this: the seed is the Word."

Without light you cannot walk along the spotless slain Lamb. This why my soul longs to see you and the others honest and courageous, not whipped about by any wind that might come along. See that you don't turn back , but always go forward, keeping in mind the teaching you have been given. Return every day to the garden of your soul to root any brambles that might choke the seed, the teaching you were given, and to till the soil. I mean, every day strip your heart clean. You really have to do it continually. I've seen many people who seemed to have been stripped clean, but I've found- more by their actions than their words- that they are not. It is in their actions that show where their heart is, though their words might show the opposite. So I want you to truly strip your heart clean by following Christ crucified...The pain of being deprived of all creaturely consolation has called me [to look at] my lack of virtue, to recognize how imperfect I am and how utterly perfect is the light of gentle Truth, provider and acceptor of holy desires, who plays no favorites. He has not witheld kindness from me because of my ingratitude or because of my dearh of light and knowledge. No, he has regarded only his supreme goodness.

--Saint Catherine of Siena

The Generous Beggar

John Evangelist Croese was born at Camporosso (Imperia), Italy, at Liguria's western border, on December 27, 1804. His family owned a modest house and maintained small parcels of farmland. Elementary education was provided by his pastor. A Confessor of the First Order, Saint Francis Mary whole life bore witness to that aspect of our life in Christ that realizes it is more blessed to give than to receive. He began his life as a shepherd in the tiny village of Camporosso, near San Remo, from which occupation he gladly contributed to the support of his family. Having always been considerate of other's needs, he joined the Capuchins of the Genoa province and stated "I came to the convent to be its beast of burden".

At 18, John developed a friendship with a Conventual friar which led to John's being invested as a tertiary among the Conventuals at Sestri on October 1, 1822. At his investiture, he received the name, Anthony. Not completely satisfied with the spirit and life he experienced among the Conventuals, he went to the Capuchin friary at Voltri where he poured out his heart to Alexander Canepa, a Capuchin from Genoa. Early one morning, in late autumn of 1824, Anthony quietly left the Conventuals and sought admittance as a postulant among the Capuchins, among whom he received the name, Francis Mary. After almost three years of postulancy, Francis Mary left Voltri for the novitiate of St. Barnabas in Genoa where he chose to be a non-cleric novice, confiding to a friend that his choice was based on the example of Saint Francis "who did not want to ascend to the priesthood, because it is preferable to be humble and obedient." Francis Mary helped wherever there was a need in the infirmary, kitchen, orchard, etc. Because of the great number of friars residing at Immaculate Conception, there were many questors, some of whom canvassed the city, and other. Francis Mary was very popular with ordinary people. His fame spread rapidly, as did the nickname, padre Santo, (i.e., "holy father" or "holy monk"). People confided in him and he always took the time to listen. Asked to do anything, he always seemed to do even more than what was asked. Francis Mary gave practical yet profound spiritual advice. While questors often were brought into contact with nobles and ecclesiastical dignitaries, most of Francis Mary's encounters were with parents, shopkeepers, sailors, and prostitutes. In unsophisticated language, he spoke to all of the reign of God. To those who sought advice he would say, "Have faith! Have faith" To those who thanked him for his intervention and prayers, he would remark, "I did nothing, it was the Madonna who helped you ." His sanctity was marked by affability, and his personal life was distinguished for its austerity, penance and obedience.

In 1866, cholera was discovered on-board a vessel docked at Genoa and all ships were subsequently quarantined. On August 5th, the first case within the city was reported. Despite his own and others' fears, Francis Mary continued to minister among the people, offering himself as a victim of charity, assisting the sick. By August 31st, there were 232 reported cases and 130 fatalities.

On September 17th, Francis Mary fell victim to cholera. His body was quickly entombed in a lead casket and taken to the cemetery at Staglieno. In life, Francis Mary offered himself as a victim of charity for those struck down by cholera. In death, prayers rose up from the populace to their padre Santo to intercede on behalf of their city. In a matter of weeks, the cholera epidemic subsided.

In 1911, Francis Mary's remains were transferred to the Capuchin church of the Immaculate Conception. On June 30, 1929, Pius XI inscribed his name among the blessed. On December 9, 1962, at the conclusion of the first session of the Second Vatican Council, John XXIII solemnly declared as saints: Francis Mary Croese, Peter Julian Eymard, and Anthony Mary Pucci